Best Active Speakers for Audio-Technica AT-LP120

In this article, I have poured my heart and soul into finding the best active speakers for the Audio-Technica AT-LP120 turntable.

As an AT-LP120 owner, an electronics engineer that used to design consumer electronics and a Hi-Fi enthusiast for 25+ years, this is the kind of stuff I like to spend my free time doing.

I know. I should call the doctor.

The good thing is that I have found three fantastic active speakers that perfectly match the AT-LP120. And one of them is just amazing. So stay tuned.

Active / powered speakers are speakers that have an amplifier built-in and can connect directly to a turntable with a LINE output, like the AT-LP120. Without the need for a standalone amplifier or receiver. I will call them active speakers in this article. They are sometimes called powered speakers. Active and powered speakers are the same.

What makes great active speakers for AT-LP120?

One of the key principles for putting together a stereo setup that has held true in my 25+ years of being passionate about home audio and Hi-Fi is that the speakers are the most important components in the stereo setup.

The speakers are the component that transforms the electrical music signal into physical sound waves in the air. And have a huge impact on the sonic performance of the given stereo setup. A much larger impact than, for instance, the amplifier that has a much simpler job just boosting the electrical signal.

Because of this, the speakers should ideally be given the largest part of our Hi-Fi budgets. That is the general rule.

When I got back into vinyl records I while back, and decided to put together a vinyl playing stereo from scratch, I chose a pair of B&W 705 bookshelf speakers that cost $2100 to use with the $300 AT-LP120.

My AT-LP120 and B&W 705

In retrospect, I see that those speakers were not a good choice for the AT-LP120 at all.

Why?

They were totally overkill for a turntable that cost about $300. It didn’t hurt that the speakers were awesome, but I could have gotten almost the same sonic performance out of the AT-LP120 with much cheaper speakers. And saved a lot of money.

The message here is that it is not necessary not to spend as much money as possible on speakers for the AT-LP120 either.

The key is to spend the right amount of money so that the speakers match the turntable in performance.

A healthy budget for active speakers for the AT-LP120 is from $300 to $600

Above $600 we’ll start to get smaller and smaller increase in sonic performance for every dollar we spend. And most manufacturers seem to place their top of the line active speakers in the $300 to $600 range. Most acknowledged manufacturers switch their focus to passive speakers above $500-600.

Below $300, we start to compromise the sound quality too much to make the speakers qualify for being a perfect mach for the AT-LP120.

So, from $300 and $600 is the ideal range to look for active speakers for the $300 AT-LP120. We are following the golden rule of Hi-Fi. We spend the most money on the speakers. Without taking it too far.

Beside being in a price range that makes sense for the AT-LP120, the below criteria are also key when finding the best active speakers for the AT-LP120.

  1. Great sound
  2. Great value
  3. Great design
  4. Highly rated by owners and trusted reviewers
  5. Wide range of connections and features

After spending long nights researching, comparing and reflecting these three active speakers are my most genuine recommendations for the AT-LP120.

  1. Audioengine A5 Plus
  2. Edifier S1000DB
  3. Klipsch R-51PM

Let’s review each of them in more detail.

1. Audioengine A5 Plus

Click here to check price on Amazon.

This is the speakers I was so pumped about at the beginning of the article. These speakers are awesome!

My absolute favorite active speakers for the AT-LP120.

Loved by owners. And highly rated by trusted Hi-Fi publications such as What Hi-Fi. You can read their review here.

You can also watch a great YouTube review by Audio Advice here.

US made. Look amazing. And sound great.

And they have a amazing feature that almost no active speakers have.

They feature a fully analog amplifier.

This makes the whole music signal path, from the record to the speakers, fully analog. And as vinyl records is a true analog format, this makes the whole vinyl record listening experience more genuine.

Being fully analog is the reason vinyl records have that smooth, rich, and natural sound.

Almost all active speakers have a digital amplifier. Except these.

You can buy them with or without wireless Bluetooth. You save a bit of money if you can do without. The black and white finishes are also less expensive than the Bamboo finish.

Specifications and Features

Size8 x 7 x 11 inches
Frequency
Response
50Hz – 22kHz
Amplifier
Power
2 x 50W RMS
Class AB (Analog)
Wireless
Bluetooth
Optional
Tone Control
(Equalizer)
No
Phono Stage
(PHONO input)
No
ColorBlack
White
Bamboo

Pros

  • Look and sound fantastic.
  • US made genuine Hi-Fi product. Drivers and critical components designed are and manufactured in-house.
  • Built-in amplifier with fully analog design.
  • The bass has only dropped 1.5dB at 50Hz. That is deep bass for speakers of this size.
  • 3.75 meter speaker wire gives options for ideal triangle stereo placement to achieve a big music stage with width and depth.

Cons

  • Configured with optional Bluetooth and bamboo finish, they come close to the upper limit of our $300-$600 price range. But become very high value if you option for no Bluetooth and black or white finish.

These are the very best active speakers you can buy for your AT-LP120 without breaking the bank. They are perfect. And they have that extra X-factor in design, performance and looks.

Click here to check price on Amazon.

2. Edifier S1000DB

Click here to check price on Amazon.

Another great choice if you are looking for something that is cheaper than the Audioengine speakers above. They are also bigger in size than the Audioengine’s. And looks great. Especially in wood finish.

This is another highly regarded active speaker from one of the biggest players in the industry.

Specifications

Size8 x 12 x 13 inches
Frequency
Response
48Hz – 20KHz
Amplifier
Power
2 x 60W RMS
Wireless
Bluetooth
Yes
Tone Control
(Equalizer)
Yes
Phono Stage
(PHONO input)
No
ColorWooden
Black

Pros

  • Inexpensive. Great value.
  • Great reviews
  • Great sound
  • Looks great

Cons

  • Not much at this price point
  • 3 meter speaker wire is on the short side

A great choice if you are looking for inexpensive active speakers that perfectly match the AT-LP120. Great value but might lack the wow factor that the Audioengine speakers above have. But when it comes to pure value for money, these might be the best choice.

Click here to check price on Amazon.

3. Klipsch R-51PM

Click here to check price on Amazon.

Versatile powered speakers from the respected home audio manufacturer Klipsch. Designed in Indianapolis US. Feature a built-in phono stage and a PHONO input that also make them work with turntables without a built-in preamp.

They have that typical Klipsch design and look that have made them thousands of fans all around the world. I real quality item just as the other two speakers discussed above.

In typical Klipsch fashion, these are loud.

Specifications

Size7 x 9 x 13 inches
Frequency
Response
62Hz-21kHz
Amplifier
Power
2 x 60W RMS
(Digital)
Wireless
Bluetooth
Yes
Tone Control
(Equalizer)
No
Phono Stage
(PHONO input)
Yes
ColorBlack

Pros

  • Loud
  • Built-in phono stage
  • 4 meter speaker wire gives options for ideal triangle stereo placement to achieve a music stage with width and depth.

Cons

  • Not as deep bass as the two other speakers in this review
  • No options for wood finish

Probably the natural options for Klipsch fans. Another quality item from a highly regarded home audio and home theater speaker manufacturer.

Click here to check price on Amazon.

My top recommendation

I guess it is clear by now, but my very favorite are the Audioengine A5 Plus.

I want to order these.
I don’t need them.
But I want them.
In bamboo finish.

If there isn’t something about the two other speakers covered in this article that really caught your attention, I think these should be your choice.

All three options are great, you can’t go wrong either way, but this ones stands out in my mind.

I would go without Bluetooth connectivity to save the money and the connectivity issues that seem to always come with it. So the perfect configuration for my taste is bamboo finish and no Bluetooth.

How to connect active speakers to AT-LP120

As the AT-LP120 has a built-in preamp, all active speakers can connect directly to the AT-LP120. Also active speakers without a built-in preamp (phono stage).

It is very easy. Just connect the RCA signal cable from the AT-LP120 to the RCA or LINE input on the active speakers. Connect both items to power. And you are good to go.

NB! Make sure that the PHONO/LINE switch on the AT-LP120 is set to LINE. If set to PHONO the sound coming from the speakers will have very low, or almost zero volume.

How to place speakers for the best sound

The ideal way to place speakers is in a triangle where the distance between the speakers are roughly the same as the distance from your head to each of the speakers.

So that it forms a perfect triangle like this.

Placing the speakers like this will make the soundstage appear as big and detailed as possible. Both in width and depth.

Depending on how passionate music listener you are, this might not be super critical tho. But it is at least something that it is good to know about.

Tips for further AT-LP120 sound improvements

The AT-LP120 is a very popular turntable that is loved by thousands of vinyl enthusiasts all around the world. And there are a few popular ways to improve the sound quality of the AT-LP120 that make it sound even better than stock.

The simplest and most effective is to upgrade the cartridge. You can read more about that in this article.

Other popular upgrades are aftermarket turntable mats and removing the internal preamp. (PS! The last one is for advanced modifiers only!)

Active vs. passive speakers

Active speakers have a built-in amplifier and can connect directly to audio sources (turntables, computers, etc) without the need for a standalone amplifier or receiver.

Passive speakers, on the other hand, don’t include a built-in amplifier and need a standalone amplifier or receiver to power them.

If you want to know more about active speakers, then Wikipedia has a great article on the subject.

Recourses

Audioengine A5 Plus Home

Edifier S1000DB Home

Klipsch R-51PM Home

  • Tom
  • September 1, 2019