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Does A Turntable Need Speakers?

If you are new to vinyl records and turntables, one questions you might have is whether a turntable needs speakers or not.

If we ignore the very inexpensive all-on-one record players with built-in speakers, then all turntables need separate speakers. A turntable with separate speakers will offer much better sound quality and music listening experience than a record player with tiny built-in speakers.

Check out our amazing speaker guide to learn more about the best speakers for vinyl.

There are many reasons why a turntable with separate speakers is recommended over a record player with speakers built-in. We’ll look into all the reasons later in this guide.

(There is also a third option, and that is to use headphones to listen to records. You can read more about that in this article.)

Turntables vs Record Players

The terms turntable and record player are often used interchangeably, but there is actually a difference. Record players come with built-in speakers. While turntables need separate speakers.

Record Players

Record player with speakers built-in

Record players with built-in speakers are usually found in the lower-end of the price spectrum.

They can play records all by themselves without the need for a separate amplifier and speakers.

They are very charming and cute, but they don’t offer the best sound quality. And they are, unfortunately, often claimed to ruin records.


Turntable without speakers

Turntables need an external amplifier and speakers to play records. They usually offer much higher sound quality than record players with the speakers built-in. But turntables won’t be as compact, cute, and affordable as record players.

Pros And Cons

There are many reasons why it is recommended to buy the turntable and speakers separately if you are looking for a good and engaging music listening experience.

Pros and Cons of Record Players with Speakers

Record players with speakers built-in do essentially come in two types. The suitcase style like we saw earlier, and the retro/vintage style like on the picture just above.

They are definitely cute and compact. And they offer a very affordable way to play vinyl records.

But they should, unfortunately, be considered toys and not high-quality products suited to reproduce music from vinyl records with any level of fidelity.

They usually sell for less than $100. And to be able to manufacture a product that includes a chassis, a platter, a motor, a tonearm, a phono cartridge, an amplifier and two speakers to sell for that price, the manufacturers have to use parts of extremely low quality.

So they aren’t really built to last.

The speakers will also have to be very small to fit into the chassis. And speakers of that size will not be able to reproduce engaging sound and deep bass.

As a result, the sound quality will be mediocre.

But it gets worse.

All-in-one record players are often reported to come with way too high needle tracking force. The reason for this might be to prevent the needle from jumping around on the record because of vibrations from the built-in speakers.

The unfortunate result of the high tracking force is that the needle will dig into your records with much more force than recommended. Which is often reported to damage records.

So if you care about sound quality and your records, an all-in-one record player with speakers built-in might be something to buy and use with caution.

You might have an all-in-one record player that you are very happy with. And I definitely don’t want to take a way your pleasure of using it.

But if you are looking to buy one, please do your research so that you don’t end up with a model of very low quality.

Pros and Cons of Turntables without Speakers

Turntables don’t come with speakers built-in. So they need to be hooked up to speakers to play records. The speakers can be powered and have the amplifier built-in. Or you can use passive speakers and a separate amplifier.

The biggest downside with turntables is that it will cost more money to buy a turntable and speakers separately than a record player with built-in speakers. While an all-in one record player can be bought for less than $100, an entry level turntable with a set of entry-level powered speakers will start at around $200. The sound quality will, however, be ten times better.

Another downside with turntables with separate speakers is that it will require more space than a record player, where everything is included in one box. And it won’t be as portable.

That said, there are many benefits with a turntable with separate speakers.

As there will be no speakers built-into the cabinet, and therefore, much less vibrations in the cabinet, the needle will read the record with much higher precision which results in much better sound quality.

And the needle downforce will not need to be at a level where records can be damaged.

The quality of the parts will also be much higher in a turntable as there are no amplifier and speakers built-in that require their share of the manufacturing budget.

And being able to connect an amplifier and speakers of much bigger size and higher quality that the ones built-into record players, will result in dramatically better sound quality.

You can also expect to experience less problems and issues with quality and functionality as the overall quality level will be higher.

How To Connect A Turntable To Speakers

There are two main ways to connect a turntable to speakers.

The traditional way is to use a RCA signal cable that connects the turntable to the amplifier or to powered speakers.

An optional way, that has become increasingly popular in recent years, is to connect the turntable and speakers wirelessly using Bluetooth. This is, however, not something that is recommended for high-end (audiophile) applications as Bluetooth might reduce the sound quality slightly.


To connect a turntable to an amplifier or speakers wirelessly, you will need a turntable with Bluetooth capability and an amplifier or powered speakers that also have Bluetooth functionality.

Another way is to use Bluetooth adapters on both sides to make a regular stereo Bluetooth capable.

You can read more about this in my how to make a turntable wireless and what is a Bluetooth turntable articles.

RCA Signal Cable

The most common way to connect a turntable to powered speakers or an amplifier is by using a good old RCA signal cable.

There are many ways to connect a turntable to speakers. We can choose from a variety of setups and configurations.

The simplest configuration is to connect a turntable with a built-in phono preamp to speakers with a built-in amplifier (powered speakers).

This setup consists of only two items (turntable and powered speakers) and one signal cable. It looks like this.

On the other end of the spectrum is a configuration where all the necessary items are separate units. In this setup there is a separate box for the turntable, the phono preamp, the amplifier/receiver and the speakers. This setup looks like this.

There are also configurations that sit between the two examples above. For an in-depth guide on how to connect a turntable please check out this guide that will explain all the configurations in detail.

Here are two examples of popular record players with speakers. They will not need any additional components to play records.

Just click on the pictures to check price on Amazon.

Innovative Technology VSC-550BT-TQ Victrola Vintage 3-Speed Bluetooth Suitcase Turntable with Speakers

Victrola Nostalgic Classic Wood 6-in-1 Bluetooth Turntable Entertainment Center

There are many good turntables to choose from. They are available from around $100 to as much as $10,000 or more. The best options for people with regular budgets are found between $300 and $500.

Below are the ones we currently recommend starting with the most affordable one.

Just click on the pictures to check price on Amazon.

Audio-Technica AT-LP60X-BK (With Preamp and Bluetooth)

Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB (With Preamp)

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon (Without Preamp)

Rega Planar 2 (Without Preamp)

Below are the three speakers with amplifier built-in that we most often recommend here at Vinyl Restart.

With these speakers, you won’t need a separate amplifier or receiver. They are all powered speakers.

Just click on the pictures to check price on Amazon.

Edifier R1280DB (With Bluetooth)

Edifier S1000DB Audiophile Active Bookshelf Speakers (With Bluetooth)

Audioengine A5 Plus (With Bluetooth)

Can you plug a turntable directly into speakers?

A turntable can be plugged directly into speakers if the speakers are powered (have an amplifier built-in) and the turntable has a built-in phono preamp.

If the speakers are passive (don’t have a built-in amplifier) we’ll need to connect an amplifier between the turntable and the speakers.

If the turntable doesn’t have a built-in preamp, we’ll have to connect a standalone phono preamp between the turntable and the powered speakers.

Do I need an amplifier for my turntable?

A turntable needs an amplifier in one form or another. That can be a standalone amplifier or receiver. Or it can be an amplifier that is built into powered speakers.

If you have an all-in-one record player with speakers built-in, then the amplifier will be built into the record player as well.