If you’re a vinyl enthusiast who loves to crank up the volume and enjoy the full experience of your records, then you might want to consider connecting your turntable to a good pair of headphones.
Not only can headphones provide an accurate soundstage presentation without the hassle of room acoustics or speaker placement, but they can also be a more affordable option compared to buying a great amp and speakers.
However, connecting headphones to a turntable can seem daunting at first. In this article, we’ll explore different methods for connecting headphones to your turntable and help you find the perfect setup for your listening needs.
How To Connect Headphones To Turntable
There are a few different ways to connect headphones to your turntable, depending on your equipment and preferences. Let’s take a look at some of the most common methods:
Understanding The Different Types Of Turntable Outputs
Before we dive into the different ways to connect headphones to your turntable, it’s important to understand the different types of turntable outputs. There are two main types of turntable outputs: phono and line level.
Phono level outputs are the traditional output found on most turntables. They require a phono preamp to boost the signal to line level, which is what most audio equipment uses. Without a phono preamp, the sound will be very quiet and lack bass.
Line level outputs, on the other hand, are already at the correct volume level for most audio equipment. These outputs are typically found on newer turntables with built-in preamps or on external preamps.
If your turntable has a phono output, you will need a phono preamp to connect it to your headphones. You can either use a standalone phono preamp or a headphone amp with a built-in phono preamp.
If your turntable has a line level output, you can connect it directly to a headphone amp. Some headphone amps also have line level inputs, which allow you to connect other audio sources like CD players or DACs.
It’s important to note that not all turntables have built-in preamps or even have the option to add an external preamp. Be sure to check your turntable’s specifications before purchasing any additional equipment.
Method 1: Connecting Headphones To A Turntable With A Built-In Headphone Jack
If your turntable has a built-in headphone jack, this is the most straightforward method for connecting your headphones. Simply plug your headphones into the jack and adjust the volume to your desired level.
However, not all turntables come equipped with a headphone jack, so this option may not be available to everyone. If your turntable does have a headphone jack, it’s important to note that the sound quality may not be as good as other methods. This is because the built-in amplifier in the turntable may not be as powerful or high-quality as a dedicated headphone amplifier.
If you’re looking for the most convenient and easy-to-use method, connecting headphones to a turntable with a built-in headphone jack is a great option. Just make sure to adjust the volume carefully to avoid damaging your hearing or your equipment.
Method 2: Connecting Headphones To A Turntable With A Preamp And Headphone Amplifier
If your turntable does not have a built-in phono preamp, you will need to use a standalone preamp to boost the turntable’s output to line level. Once you have the phono preamp, you can then connect it to a dedicated headphone amplifier to drive your headphones.
A headphone amplifier is designed specifically to power headphones and can offer better sound quality for your dollar compared to integrated amps or stereo receivers. It is also better suited for headphones that are difficult to drive. To connect your turntable to a headphone amplifier, you will need to use the RCA output on the phono preamp and connect it to the RCA input on the headphone amplifier.
One great option for a headphone amplifier is the ifi Audio Zen CAN analog headphone amplifier. This amplifier can be connected to your turntable via an RCA cable and then plugged into your headphones. As for headphones, you can choose any wired headphones that you like.
If your turntable has a built-in phono preamp, you can connect the headphone amplifier directly to the turntable via the RCA output. This method is more straightforward and eliminates the need for a standalone phono preamp.
It’s important to note that if you have headphones that require a cabled connection, you may also need an adapter or extension cable to connect them to the headphone amplifier. However, once all of your equipment is connected, you’ll be able to enjoy your vinyl records through high-quality headphones without any of the hassle of speaker placement or room acoustics.
Method 3: Connecting Headphones To A Turntable With A Receiver Or Amplifier
If you have a receiver or amplifier with a headphone output, you can easily connect your turntable to your headphones with just a few simple steps.
First, make sure that your turntable is connected to the receiver or amplifier with a phono preamp. If your turntable doesn’t have a built-in preamp, you’ll need to purchase an external one and connect it between the turntable and the receiver/amplifier.
Next, locate the headphone output on your receiver or amplifier. This is usually a 3.5mm or 6.35mm jack located on the front panel of the device.
Plug your headphones into the headphone output and adjust the volume to your desired level. You should now be able to hear the audio from your turntable through your headphones.
It’s important to note that the sound quality may not be as good as using a dedicated headphone amplifier, but it’s still a convenient and easy way to listen to your vinyl collection without disturbing others in your household.
If you experience any humming or noise while using this method, try connecting the ground wire from your turntable to the ground terminal on your receiver or amplifier. This can help eliminate any unwanted noise in the audio signal.
Tips For Choosing The Right Headphones For Your Turntable Setup
Choosing the right headphones for your turntable setup is crucial for getting the most out of your vinyl listening experience. Here are some tips to help you choose the right pair:
1. Consider the type of headphones: There are two main types of headphones – open-back and closed-back. Open-back headphones allow sound to pass through the cups, creating a more natural and spacious soundstage. Closed-back headphones, on the other hand, block out external noise and provide better isolation. Choose the type that suits your listening environment and preferences.
2. Look for headphones with a flat frequency response: A flat frequency response means that the headphones reproduce sound accurately without adding any coloration or distortion. This is important for getting a true representation of your vinyl records.
3. Check the impedance: Impedance is the measure of how much power is needed to drive the headphones. Turntables typically have a lower output level than other audio sources, so it’s important to choose headphones with low impedance (around 32 ohms) to ensure they can be driven properly.
4. Consider comfort: If you’re planning on using your headphones for extended periods of time, make sure they’re comfortable to wear. Look for headphones with soft earpads and an adjustable headband.
5. Set a budget: Headphones can range in price from under $50 to over $1000, so it’s important to set a budget before you start shopping. Remember, expensive doesn’t always mean better – there are plenty of great options available at affordable prices.
By considering these factors, you can choose a pair of headphones that will provide optimal sound quality and comfort for your turntable setup.
Troubleshooting Common Issues When Connecting Headphones To A Turntable
When connecting headphones to your turntable, you may encounter some common issues. Here are some troubleshooting tips:
1. No sound: If you’re not getting any sound in your headphones, double-check that they are properly plugged in to the turntable. Make sure the volume is turned up on both the turntable and your headphones. If you’re still not getting any sound, try plugging in different headphones to see if the issue is with the headphones themselves.
2. Distorted sound: If the sound in your headphones is distorted or fuzzy, it may be due to a dirty stylus. Clean the stylus using a stylus cleaning kit, as described in the previous section. If the problem persists, it may be due to a problem with the cartridge or tonearm assembly. In this case, it’s best to take your turntable to a professional for repair.
3. Sound only playing in one ear: If you’re only getting sound in one ear of your headphones, it may be due to an issue with the wiring or connections. Check that all cables are properly plugged in and that none of them are damaged. If the issue persists, it may be due to a problem with the turntable’s output or headphone jack. Again, it’s best to take your turntable to a professional for repair.
4. Hum or buzzing noise: If you hear a humming or buzzing noise in your headphones, it may be due to a grounding issue. Make sure that the ground cable is properly connected between your turntable and phono preamp. If you’re still experiencing issues, try using a Hum Block plug to connect your Hi-Fi system directly to the ground.
By following these troubleshooting tips, you can ensure that you get the best possible sound quality when connecting headphones to your turntable. Remember, if you encounter any serious issues, it’s always best to seek professional help rather than attempting complex repairs on your own.