How To Connect A Phono To A Receiver – A Step-By-Step Guide

Are you a vinyl enthusiast looking to expand your home entertainment system?

Adding a turntable to your setup is a great way to embrace the growth of vinyl records. But how do you connect your turntable to your receiver?

Don’t worry, it’s a simple process that can be done in just a few steps. In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of connecting your phono to your receiver, whether your receiver has a built-in preamp or not.

So sit back, relax, and let’s get started!

How To Connect Phono To Receiver

Step 1: Place Your Turntable Next to Your Receiver

The first step is to place your turntable directly next to your receiver. Consider an entertainment cabinet or shelving system that can dampen the vibration of both units with minimal shaking.

Step 2: Connect the RCA-Type Stereo Cable

Connect the supplied RCA-type stereo cable to the output of your turntable. If your turntable didn’t come with them, you’ll need to purchase a quality RCA-type stereo cable, readily available from retailers everywhere.

Step 3: Examine the Audio Input Options on Your Receiver

Look at the back of your receiver and examine the audio input options. Receivers with a built-in phono preamp will have inputs labeled “Phono.” If your receiver has such an input, simply connect the output cable coming from your turntable there, and you’re pretty much done! If your turntable is equipped with a GND (ground) wire, you’ll need to connect it to the GND terminal screw on the receiver.

Note: If you are using a turntable that gives you the option of selecting between “Phono EQ” and “Thru,” make sure the switch is set to “Thru” so both preamps are not running at once. In most instances, the receiver’s EQ will be better than the turntable’s.

Step 4: Connect to Any Available Input on Your Receiver

If your receiver does not have a phono input, don’t worry – many turntables have their own built-in preamp. (You can verify this in the owner’s manual.) As long as this is the case, you can use any receiver input, such as the ones labeled “Line,” “Audio,” “CD,” or “Auxiliary.”

Step 5: Set Up Your Pre-Amp Switch

In order to hear vinyl playing back from your turntable, be sure to check the input setting on the front display so that its name matches the rear panel input you used for connection.

To summarize, the output/input connections should look something like this:

Turntable Output: AV Receiver Input: Line, Audio, CD or Auxiliary

If your turntable has a Thru/Phono EQ switch, switch it to Thru to turn off its preamp. If your turntable has a Thru/Phono EQ switch, switch it to Phono EQ to turn on its preamp.

Understanding The Phono Input On Your Receiver

A phono input is an audio input that can be found on a preamplifier, an amplifier, or a stereo receiver. This type of audio connection accepts signals from analog turntables, which boosts and adds RIAA equalization to recreate the original sound. These records are recorded with the higher frequencies increased and lower frequencies reduced, but during playback, the frequency response is reversed to reduce audible background noise.

Most A/V receivers also have this type of input to increase the number of sound options available. Think of it this way: similar to how you might use an HDMI input to improve on the video quality available through an RCA connection, the same quality upgrade is possible with modern audio inputs. To improve audio quality over what’s available using a line input, using a phono input will bring a more high-fidelity sonic experience when listening to vinyl records on a turntable.

If your receiver has a built-in phono preamp, you can simply connect your turntable’s output cable to the phono input on your receiver. Just below the phono input is a metal post labeled “GND,” for ground. Connect your turntable’s ground wire (if it has one) to this post. This helps prevent any “hum” or noise coming from your turntable from playing through your system.

If your receiver doesn’t have a phono input, don’t worry – many turntables have their own built-in preamp. In this case, you can use any receiver input, such as the ones labeled “Line,” “Audio,” “CD,” or “Auxiliary.” The pre-amp switch should be in the phono position if you’re using a turntable with a built-in preamp.

Connecting A Turntable With A Built-in Preamp

If your turntable has a built-in preamp, connecting it to your receiver is even simpler. Here are the steps:

Step 1: Match the Colors of Your RCA-Type Stereo Cable

Plug in your RCA-type stereo cable (one red and one white on both ends) to the corresponding colors of the output of your turntable. Make sure to match the colors correctly.

Step 2: Choose Any Receiver Input

You can plug in any of the options of your receiver (it can be “Line”, “Audio”, “CD”, or “Auxiliary”). Simply match the red and white colors.

Step 3: Turn On Your Pre-Amp Switch

On a turntable with a built-in pre-amp, there is a switch called “Thru/Phono EQ switch”. Make sure to turn on the switch when connecting to a receiver without a built-in pre-amp.

Step 4: Connect Your Ground Wire

If your turntable has a ground wire, connect it to the metal post labeled “GND” on your receiver. This helps prevent any “hum” or noise coming from your turntable from playing through your system.

That’s it! With these simple steps, you can easily connect your turntable with a built-in preamp to your receiver and enjoy listening to your vinyl records.

Connecting A Turntable Without A Built-in Preamp

If your turntable does not have a built-in preamp, you will need to use an external phono preamp to connect it to your receiver. There are essentially two ways to connect a turntable that doesn’t feature a built-in preamp.

Option 1: Connect to the PHONO Input on Your Amplifier

The first option is to connect the turntable to the PHONO input on your amplifier, if there is one. This input is specifically designed for turntables and includes a built-in preamp. Simply connect the RCA cables from your turntable to the PHONO input on your amplifier, and then connect the ground wire from your turntable to the grounding post on your amplifier. This will help prevent any unwanted noise or hum during playback.

Option 2: Connect to a LINE Input on Your Amplifier via a Separate Phono Preamp

The second option is to connect the turntable to a LINE input on your amplifier via a separate phono preamp. This option requires an external phono preamp, which can be purchased separately. Follow these steps:

Step 1: Ensure Everything is Turned Off and Even Unplugged

Before you start connecting any cables, make sure that everything is turned off and unplugged. This will help prevent any damage to your equipment.

Step 2: Connect Turntable RCA Wires and Ground Cable to Your Phono Preamp’s Inputs

Connect the RCA cables from your turntable to the inputs on your phono preamp. There should be connections for white and red as well as a ground post. Make sure you connect the ground wire from your turntable to the grounding post on your phono preamp. Tighten all connections to ensure they are properly connected.

Step 3: Connect Output of Phono Preamp to Receiver Without Phono Input

Using another set of RCA cables, connect the output of your phono preamp to a line-level input on your receiver. Make sure you do not connect it to a phono input, as this will cause the music signal to be clipped off and sound terrible. Connecting it to a line-level input will ensure that the output signal is stronger and sounds good.

Step 4: Test Your System

Once everything is connected, turn on your system and test it out by playing a record. If everything sounds good, then you’re all set!

Troubleshooting Common Issues With Phono Connections

While connecting your turntable to a receiver is a fairly simple process, there are a few common issues that can arise. Here are some troubleshooting tips to help you resolve these issues:

1. No Sound

If you’re not getting any sound from your turntable, first check to make sure that the RCA-type stereo cable is securely connected to both the turntable and the receiver. Also, make sure that the receiver is set to the correct input. If you’re still not getting any sound, try replacing the RCA-type stereo cable with a new one.

2. Hum or Buzzing Noise

If you’re hearing a hum or buzzing noise from your turntable, it’s likely due to a grounding issue. Make sure that the GND wire from your turntable is securely connected to the GND terminal screw on the receiver. You may also want to try moving the turntable and receiver further apart, as they can sometimes interfere with each other.

3. Distorted Sound

If your sound is distorted or crackling, it may be due to a problem with your phono preamp. Make sure that you’ve connected your turntable’s audio signal cable and ground wire into your separate phono preamp box correctly. If you’re still experiencing distortion, try adjusting the gain on your phono preamp.

4. Low Volume

If your volume is too low, make sure that your turntable’s preamp is turned on (if it has one). You may also want to try adjusting the volume on your receiver or amplifier.

5. Feedback

If you’re experiencing feedback (a high-pitched squeal), it may be due to your speakers being too close to your turntable or receiver. Try moving them further apart, or using shielded cables.

By following these troubleshooting tips, you should be able to resolve any common issues with phono connections and enjoy high-quality sound from your turntable and receiver.

Tips For Enhancing Your Vinyl Listening Experience

If you’re a vinyl enthusiast, you’ll want to make sure you get the most out of your listening experience. Here are some tips to enhance your vinyl listening experience:

1. Level Your Turntable: Ensuring that your turntable is level is one of the most basic steps of setup. Use a bubble level to make sure that your turntable is horizontal. If it doesn’t have adjustable feet, use coins or even a pad of post-it notes to get it right.

2. Consider the Motor Type: Look for a turntable with a belt drive instead of a direct drive for the quietest operation possible. Many audiophiles claim that a directly mounted motor can vibrate through the platter, causing perceptible distortion.

3. Upgrade Your Cartridge: The cartridge contains the needle (or stylus). The cartridge included with your new record player is likely going to be of good quality, but you may choose to upgrade it for an even more nuanced sound.

4. Get a Phono Preamp: The signal that a turntable needle produces is very low—too low to produce sound out of bookshelf speakers on its own. For maximum convenience, choose a turntable with a built-in preamp or else you’ll need a receiver or standalone phono preamp.

5. Consider Your Tonearm: The tonearm mechanism defines how you physically interact with your turntable. While a built-in phono preamp is convenient and makes using a turntable easier, many audiophiles choose to use a dedicated phono preamp for improved clarity and nuance.

6. Use Quality Speakers: Vinyl produces a full range of audio frequencies and not all bookshelf speakers offer the performance necessary to accurately reproduce the nuances of this re-emerging format. Consider investing in high-quality speakers that offer exceptional sound quality and frequency response for deep bass and crisp, detailed highs.

By following these tips, you can enhance your vinyl listening experience and enjoy your favorite records like never before.