It’s first important to understand the difference between a record player and a turntable as it’ll help you narrow down your options.
This blog will teach you the difference between the two and we’ll go through each of the turntable speaker options.
What’s The Difference Between A Record Player & A Turntable?
The two terms tend to be used interchangeably, however technically a record player is a turntable with built in speakers.
It’s an all-in-one “record player” without requiring any further components.
Just put on a record and enjoy your music.
This is a record player:
A turntable however consists of the platter, tonearm, cartridge & stylus.
It’s the part that you place your record on but it does not feature any built in speakers.
The turntable makes up part of your system, you’ll also need some powered bookshelf speakers or an amplifier + passive speakers. More on that shortly…
This is a turntable:
When you combine a turntable with an amplifier and speakers you now have a record player system.
Ultimately the short answer is “Yes, you need speakers for your turntable / record player” and the question becomes what type of speakers do you want?
Types Of Turntable Speakers
Now that you can see the difference between the two we’ll move on to your turntable speaker options.
1. Built In Speakers
If you just want to pop a record on and enjoy some music then a record player with built in speakers is your best choice.
You won’t need any additional equipment at all.
There are various brands and styles to choose from including a briefcase style portable record player which is great if you want to store it in a cupboard when not in use, or if you want to travel with your record player.
You’ll also find some much larger freestanding units that aren’t so portable.
Record player options are available from around £80 - £200
Pros: Compact, easy to use, can be stored away, ideal for light use or younger teenagers.
Cons: Speakers usually aren’t that great, limited to the built in speakers only.
2. Powered Speakers
With powered turntable speakers you pair a turntable with some powered speakers.
This gives you plenty of options at varying budgets.
Whilst there is a bit more involved than an all-in-one record player it’s quite simple to set up a turntable and speaker system.
If you choose a turntable with a built in preamp you can simply plug it straight into the input of powered speakers.
This system most commonly comprises of;
- Powered Speakers
These are our most common systems and you’ll find lots of turntables with speaker packages here.
Turntable with speaker bundles usually start around £200 and can go up to £1000 or more depending on which turntable and powered speakers you choose.
Pros: Amazing sound quality, easy to set up, lots of choice of speakers & turntables, powered speakers most often have Bluetooth so you can also stream music from your smartphone, most powered speakers have other inputs so you can connect a TV, computer or CD player to enjoy your music & content from multiple sources.
Cons: More expensive than all-in-one record players, takes up a bit more space and needs a permanent setup.
Note: A turntable preamp is required for a turntable as the signal from a turntable is a lot lower than that of a CD player or music streaming device. The preamp boosts the signal to a level that your speakers or amplifier can play.
A lot of turntables, and most you’ll find here, have a built in phono preamp so you don’t need any additional equipment.
Higher end turntables will typically need a separate preamp though so make sure you check the spec of your turntable.
Recommended Read: Do I Need A Preamp For My Turntable?
3. Amplifier + Speakers
Your final option is the most flexible of them all.
But with unlimited flexibility comes unlimited choices to make.
This system most commonly comprises of;
- Passive Speakers
If you’re a HiFi enthusiast and want the outright best sound quality then this is the way to go as you can customise every component of your record player system.
These are much harder to give you a budget for as there are so many options but typically you’d be looking at £500 to £10,000 or more.
You can of course go for cheaper components so this is just a guideline.
Pros: Best for sound quality, unlimited choices of amplifier, speakers and turntables
Cons: Lots of choices, unlimited costs, more involved to set up.
How To Connect Your Turntable To Speakers
Now that you know the different types of speakers we’ll have a quick overview of how each connects.
You’ll need a mains socket for the;
- Powered Speakers / Amplifier
- Standalone preamp (if required)
Once your turntable and powered speakers are plugged into the mains it’s simply a case of plugging the turntable into the speakers with an audio cable.
With Built In Preamp
If your turntable has a built in preamp then you’ll simply connect an audio cable from the turntable to the line input of your powered speakers.
This is typically an RCA audio cable, or a 3.5mm audio jack if you have an Audio-Technica LP60 turntable.
Some turntables have a switchable preamp (allowing you to turn off the built in one and use a separate one) so if your turntable features this make sure it’s turned on otherwise your speakers will play very quietly.
With Separate Preamp
If your turntable does not have a preamp and you’re using a separate standalone one then you’ll plug the turntable into the preamp using an RCA audio cable.
The preamp then plugs into your powered speakers, again using an RCA audio cable.
Wireless - Bluetooth
Some turntables are available with a built-in Bluetooth transmitter.
This allows you to wirelessly connect your turntable to your speakers.
Ideal if your turntable needs to be on the opposite side of the room to the speakers.
However, bear in mind that you will lose some sound quality when transmitting over Bluetooth.
If you want to connect wirelessly then make sure you buy a Bluetooth turntable and also ensure that your powered speakers or amplifier supports Bluetooth also.
You can then follow the manufacturer's instructions to pair the two together.
You should now have a good understanding of what speaker options you have and how to connect them up.
Most of the turntables you’ll find on our website will have a built in preamp, all of our packages are ready to play and include everything you need to get up and running.
Some quick FAQ’s to conclude;
Do Turntables Need Speakers?
Yes either built in or separate.
Can I Plug A Turntable Directly Into Speakers?
Yes if you have a turntable with built in preamp and your speakers are powered.
If your speakers are passive then you’ll need a separate amplifier.
If your turntable doesn’t have a built in preamp then you’ll need either a phono input on your speakers/amplifier or a separate preamplifier.
Do I Need An Amplifier For My Turntable Speakers?
Yes, either use a powered bookshelf speaker system which has a built in amplifier or a separate amplifier with passive speakers.
Either way you’ll need some form of amplifier to power the speakers.