Do You Have To Buy Speakers With A Turntable? Experts Weigh In

Are you considering buying a turntable but wondering if you need to purchase separate speakers?

The short answer is yes, you do need speakers to hear the audio from a record player. While some turntables come with built-in speakers, they often don’t provide the best sound quality.

In this article, we’ll explore why external speakers are a must-have for any serious vinyl enthusiast. From understanding the different types of speakers to knowing how to connect them, we’ll cover everything you need to know about buying speakers for your turntable.

So, let’s dive in and discover why investing in a good set of speakers is essential for getting the most out of your vinyl collection.

Do You Have To Buy Speakers With A Turntable

As mentioned earlier, turntables require external speakers to play records. While some models come with built-in speakers, they often don’t provide the best sound quality. External speakers are a must-have for any serious vinyl enthusiast who wants to experience the full richness and warmth of vinyl sound.

When it comes to buying speakers for your turntable, you have two main options: passive or powered speakers. Passive speakers require a separate amplifier to power them, while powered speakers have a built-in amplifier.

If you’re on a budget or have limited space, powered speakers are a great option as they don’t require a separate amplifier. However, if you’re looking for the best sound quality and have more space, passive speakers paired with a separate amplifier will provide superior sound.

It’s important to note that not all turntables come with a built-in preamp. If your turntable doesn’t have one, you’ll need to purchase a separate preamp or look for powered speakers with a built-in preamp.

Why Built-in Speakers May Not Be Enough

While turntables with built-in speakers may seem like a convenient option, they often sacrifice sound quality for convenience. Built-in speakers are typically small and lack the power and clarity of external speakers. They may also produce distortion and background noise, which can detract from the listening experience.

Additionally, built-in speakers are often not upgradeable. If you want to improve your sound quality, you’ll be limited by the capabilities of the built-in speakers. External speakers, on the other hand, can be upgraded or replaced as needed to achieve the best possible sound.

Another issue with built-in speakers is that they can be prone to damage. If one of your built-in speakers fails, you’ll need to replace the entire turntable or send it in for repairs. With external speakers, you can simply replace the damaged speaker without affecting the rest of your setup.

The Importance Of Sound Quality In Vinyl Listening

When it comes to vinyl listening, sound quality is of utmost importance. Vinyl records are known for their warm and rich sound, and to fully experience this, you need to have the right equipment. A good turntable paired with high-quality external speakers can make a world of difference in the sound quality of your vinyl collection.

One of the advantages of vinyl is that it can offer some sonic benefits when the source material is properly mastered. However, to fully appreciate these benefits, you need to have a system that can accurately reproduce the sound. This is where external speakers come in.

With external speakers, you can experience the full range of frequencies that vinyl has to offer. The highs will be crisp and clear, the mids will be rich and full, and the lows will have depth and impact. This is especially important if you’re listening to genres like jazz or classical music, where the nuances of the instruments are crucial to the listening experience.

Another advantage of external speakers is that they allow you to create a more immersive listening environment. With the right placement and setup, you can feel like you’re in the middle of a live performance. This is something that simply can’t be replicated with built-in speakers.

Types Of External Speakers For Turntables

When it comes to choosing external speakers for your turntable, there are a variety of options available. Here are some of the most popular types:

1. Bookshelf Speakers: These are compact speakers that can fit on a bookshelf or desktop. They’re a popular choice for those who want good sound quality without taking up too much space.

2. Floor-standing Speakers: These are larger speakers that stand on the floor and can provide powerful, full-range sound. They’re a great choice for those who want to create a home stereo system with their turntable.

3. Studio Monitors: These speakers are designed for professional audio production and offer accurate, flat sound reproduction. They’re a good choice for audiophiles who want to hear their music exactly as it was recorded.

4. Outdoor Speakers: If you want to enjoy your vinyl collection outside, there are outdoor speakers available that can handle the elements and provide good sound quality.

5. Wireless Speakers: If you want the convenience of wireless connectivity, there are Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled speakers that can connect to your turntable without any wires.

Ultimately, the type of speaker you choose will depend on your personal preferences and budget. It’s important to do your research and read reviews before making a purchase to ensure you’re getting the best possible sound quality for your money.

How To Choose The Right Speakers For Your Turntable

Choosing the right speakers for your turntable can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some factors to consider when selecting speakers for your turntable:

1. Speaker Type: There are three basic types of speakers to choose from: mid-range, subwoofer, and dome tweeter. Each type has a different function when it comes to offering you the best quality sound. Ideally, your speaker setup will come with each type in some capacity.

2. Compatibility: Make sure that your particular setup is compatible with the speakers you purchase. Passive speakers connect to your turntable via speaker wires from the amplifier’s output. If you have active-powered speakers, the RCA cables will connect to the turntable (with built-in preamp), or standalone preamp.

3. Connections: Take stock of what you already own to see what else you need in a speaker. Some active speakers like the Kanto SYD, YU, and TUK series provide grounding for your turntable, eliminating the need for a preamp (although they can work with one as well). Meanwhile, some models like the ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2 supply a pretty minimal speaker connection only, leaving the frills to the other components of your system.

4. Sound Quality: To get an immersive experience out of the vinyl, you should opt for something that offers crisp, clear, and distortion-free sound. Consider speakers like the KEF LS50 Meta which offer stellar sonic transparency.

5. Volume Control: Make sure the volume control is easy to work with and provides a good user experience.

Connecting Your Turntable To External Speakers

Connecting your turntable to external speakers is a straightforward process, but there are a few things to keep in mind. First, make sure your turntable has the necessary outputs to connect to your speakers. Most turntables have RCA outputs, which are the standard red and white plugs that connect to the inputs on your speakers.

If your turntable doesn’t have a built-in preamp, you’ll need to connect it to an external preamp before connecting it to your speakers. Some receivers have a built-in preamp, but if yours doesn’t, you’ll need to purchase one separately.

Once you have a preamp (if necessary), connect your turntable’s RCA outputs to the inputs on your preamp. Then, connect the outputs on your preamp to the inputs on your amplifier or powered speakers. If you’re using passive speakers, you’ll need to connect them to an amplifier using speaker wire.

It’s important to note that if you’re using a receiver or amplifier, you’ll need to select the correct input source for your turntable. Most receivers have a dedicated phono input for turntables, but if yours doesn’t, you’ll need to use one of the other analog inputs.

Tips For Optimizing Your Turntable And Speaker Setup

Once you have your turntable and speakers, it’s important to optimize their setup for the best possible sound quality. Here are some tips to get the most out of your setup:

1. Speaker positioning: The placement of your speakers is crucial for optimal sound quality. As a general rule, your speakers should be at ear height from your listening position. This means that if you’re sitting on a couch, the speakers should be roughly at the height of your ears when you’re seated. Additionally, make sure that your speakers aren’t flush against the wall and are angled slightly inwards to create a “listening triangle”. This will help create a balanced stereo effect.

2. Vibration isolation: The needle on your turntable is very sensitive to vibrations, which can affect the sound quality. To prevent unwanted vibrations, consider investing in vibration isolators or placing your turntable on a solid stand. Using speaker stands can also help isolate your turntable from sonic vibrations.

3. Room acoustics: The acoustics of your room can significantly impact the sound quality of your setup. Reflected sound can be a real problem when trying to achieve optimum speaker placement. To strike a balance between the front wall, back wall, and side walls, start with an equilateral triangle placement between the speakers and your listening chair or couch. If possible, place your speakers an equal distance apart and then an equal distance to your listening chair from the tweeter.

4. Bass response: Before optimizing for bass response, double-check that the phase is correct by ensuring that red connections are matched with red connections and black connections with black connections. Next, start with your speakers about six feet apart and three feet out from the back wall. Move them closer to the wall until the bass is too prominent and overpowering. Then bring them back out from the wall until it sounds just right to you.

5. Leveling: Ensuring that your turntable is level is one of the most basic steps of setup. Use a bubble level to ensure that it’s horizontal. If it doesn’t have adjustable feet, use coins or even a pad of post-it notes to get it right.

By following these tips, you can optimize your turntable and speaker setup for the best possible sound quality and enjoy your vinyl collection to its fullest potential.