Choosing Gain

A project log for Muffsy Phono Preamp PP-2

An Improved AudioKarma CNC Phono Stage

skrodahlskrodahl 04/01/2015 at 08:530 Comments

By default, the Muffsy Phono Preamp lets you choose between these gain levels:

Which amplification should you actually choose?

The most natural choice would be the gain that gives a level that is closest to your other sources. But like everything, it's not always that simple.

(Picture by Michael Mardis, aka Pano, on

Ideally, you should have gain staging in mind (also known as gain structure or gain distribution).

Having too much gain so you need to bring down the signal level with your volume control or other means of attenuation, means that you will introduce more noise in your audio chain. The Signal to Noise level goes down, sometimes considerably and audibly.

The way to improve your setup is to actively distribute gain between your phono stage, preamplifier and power amplifier to avoid damaging your SNR level.

Michael Mardis, known as Pano on has written a very good article on the subject:

Even if you can't change the overall gain in your equipment, it still makes for an informative and useful read. It has prompted me to reduce the gain in my power amp.