While we have published a number of variations on a standard RIAA preamplifier for magnetic phono cartridges, we have not published a preamp stage for ceramic phono cartridges. Typically, these were supplied as turnover cartridges in record changers but there were higher quality versions such as the Decca Deram. These phono cartridges are piezoelectric devices which require a very high input impedance. Similarly, violin pick-ups made by Fishman, Barcus Berry and others are piezo devices. These two circuits have been requested for a violin pickup but could equally well suit a ceramic or crystal pickup. The op amp circuit uses a TL071 connected as a voltage-follower. It can run from a battery supply of ±9V.
The alternative transistor circuit uses a BC549 connected as an emitter-follower but with bootstrapping of the input bias network to provide a high input impedance. Both circuits have input coupling capacitors but since the transducers are capacitive (ie, piezo) they could possibly be omitted. Both circuits will probably need to be followed by further gain, depending on the output level. For a violin pickup, a parametric equaliser is also recommended, and for this we would suggest the 3-band parametric equaliser published in the July 1996 issue of SILICON CHIP. With a slight change to the feedback of the first op amp in this circuit, the extra gain required could also be provided.