Best Receiver for Turntable: choose the right one

best receiver for turntable

Turntables are wonderful in their own right. Just ask any vinyl connoisseur! But let’s face it: They’re not exactly the best if you want a room-filling sound that blows you away!

That’s where receivers come in. The best receiver for turntable setups sweetens the deal and bridges the dreaded analog/digital divide! They put your record player on the same level playing field as modern devices, improving sound quality and giving you that killer listening experience.

Do You Really Need a Turntable Receiver?

A turntable receiver is just that: A device to receive audio from the turntable! The role of this equipment is a mystery to some, but its purpose is rather simple.

You see, the output signal of a turntable is analog. Sure, you can enjoy those old-school analog vibes with a pair of headphones. Some record players also have the built-in components to amplify the signal a big for a bigger sound.

But if you want to truly appreciate everything your record collection has to offer, you’ll need to bump up the output and push the signal through better gear. The only way you can do that is by routing it through a receiver.

Receivers wear many different hats. However, a receiver’s main job is to act as a gateway for the analog audio signal. The equipment takes the signal, converts it to digital, and sends it to the appropriate source. In most cases, that final source would be some booming speakers!

A solid receiver can accept signals from numerous audio sources, making it a key component in a larger home theater or listening room setup.

Turntable receivers sometimes come with tons of different audio-enhancing features, too. You might see units with filter processing, RF modulators, preamps, and radio tuners.

What is a Phono Preamp For?

Let’s make one thing clear: Receivers are not the same thing as amplifiers or phono preamps. They can do a lot of similar tasks, but these components are all separate.

Phono preamps, sometimes called Phono Stages, have one very clear job. They increase the output signal of your turntable to a level that’s compatible with your other gear. As mentioned earlier, turntables produce a low-level analog signal.

Technically speaking, you could connect your turntable to speakers without a preamp. But, your music would be barely audible even at the highest setting. If you manage to hear something, it will likely sound thin and lack any bass at all!

A good phono preamp will raise the signal to line level, making it compatible with your receiver, amp, and every other piece of gear that follows.

Now, there are a couple of different configurations available. Some turntables will have built-in phono preamps. If you don’t have one of those models, you’ll need a receiver with a phono preamp.

If Phono Preamp is in the Receiver

Generally, we recommend getting a receiver that has a phono preamp in it.

The reason for this all comes down to control. Most turntable manufacturers focus on providing the best playback capabilities possible. The quality of built-in preamps is not a priority, as most serious audiophiles will use a receiver anyway!

Another big perk is control and flexibility. Preamps in receivers give you greater control and provide you with a wide range of connectivity options. Plus, a dedicated phono terminal can give you a bit more wiggle room when it comes to choosing a turntable.

If Phono Preamp is in My Turntable

Modern turntables typically have a phono preamp built-in so that they’re ready for play out of the box. If you have a unit with a USB output, it likely has a preamp!

These units are great because they simplify the process. The turntable is ready to connect to active speakers, making setup a cinch.

In terms of receiver compatibility, built-in preamps are great, too! That’s one less thing your receiver needs to have, which can bring down costs. Check out our list of the best receivers without phono preamps if your signal-boosting needs are already taken care of.

Review #1:
5 Best Receivers with Phono Input

Looking for some top-notch receivers to complete your rig? Find the best receiver for turntable music centers below. These units are best if you’re using a classic record player with no built-in preamp.

1_1. Best Sound Quality:
Sony STRDH190 Stereo Receiver

Sony STRDH190 Stereo Receiver

Sony is no stranger to making some great audio gear! This receiver is no exception. It’s a powerful and versatile receiver that will make your turntable sing!

On the back, you have your phono input, which is a must-have for record players that don’t have an input. Beyond that, you’re also getting four additional RCA inputs. Connect multiple devices and switch through them seamlessly. There are even Bluetooth and a line-in port for even more playback capabilities.

The receiver is also sporting two speaker terminals. Use them to listen to music out of two different sets based on your needs! It’s a truly versatile system that any vinyl junkie will love.

Pros:

  • Seamless A/B speaker switching
  • Built-in Bluetooth and FM tuner
  • Sleek low-profile design
  • Front-facing line-in and headphone ports
  • Super-easy controls

Cons:

  • Bass might be lacking for some

Key Features:

  • 200-watt output
  • Speaker Impedance: 6 to 16 ohms
  • Four RCA inputs

1_2. Most solid:
Onkyo TX-8020 Stereo Receiver

Onkyo TX-8020 Stereo Receiver

Onkyo might not be the most well-known brand out there, but this receiver certainly deserves some more attention. It’s a great multi-functional device that will act as the brains of your audio setup.

You’re getting a total of six inputs! That includes the phono input. Several additional inputs, as well as one output, let you connect other gear with ease. They’re even labeled to make cable management a breeze.

The unit is a great addition to a large entertainment system. You can use it to connect to your TV for booming sound and effortlessly switch to your turntable to enjoy some old-school records. Thanks to the easy controls on the front, switching between audio sources is uncomplicated enough for anyone to figure out.

Pros:

  • Mono output for subwoofer
  • EQ controller knobs
  • Minimalist design
  • Easy-to-read display
  • FM tuner with 40 presets

Cons:

  • No wireless capabilities

Key Features:

  • 100-watt output
  • Speaker Impedance: 8 ohms
  • Six RCA inputs

1_3. Best value:
Yamaha R-N303BL Stereo Receiver

Yamaha R-N303BL Stereo Receiver

No matter what you’re listening to, this Yamaha receiver covers all of your bases. It effortlessly combines modern tech with old-school analog! Use the phono input and additional RCA inputs for all of your classic devices. Meanwhile, you can use wireless connectivity and direct network input for streaming. This receiver even works with smart speakers!

In terms of quality, you can’t go wrong with this receiver. It’s built to handle high-resolution audio, including FLAC and Apple Lossless files. Your music collection will sound better than ever before. And if you’re an audiophile, the power and low-impedance design won’t disappoint.

Pros:

  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
  • Works with smart devices
  • Optical and network input
  • Large volume knob
  • Simple EQ controls
  • Two speaker terminals sets

Cons:

  • Wireless strength can be spotty

Key Features:

  • 100-watt output
  • Speaker Impedance: 8 ohms
  • Four RCA inputs

1_4. Best HiFi quality:
Denon AVR-X4500H Receiver

Denon AVR-X4500H Receiver

Check out this behemoth from Denon! Take one look at the back of this receiver and you’ll see why it’s on our list! This unit has a bevy of input and output options.

Of course, there’s the phono input for your turntable. You’re also getting five additional RCA inputs. But, the system is meant to be the gateway for all your entertainment tech. Connect a myriad of devices and effortlessly switch between audio sources!

This thing can handle 9.1 audio surround sound. It also has Dolby Atmos decoding. Pair that with the wireless streaming capabilities and this receiver will handle everything in your home. It might be overkill for those that are only looking for the best receiver for turntable rigs. But if you want a full entertainment system, this receiver has all you need.

Pros:

  • Simple button and knob layout
  • Surround sound ready
  • Analog and digital inputs
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
  • Simple EQ controls
  • Two speaker terminals sets

Cons:

  • Higher price tag
  • Setup can be complex

Key Features:

  • 710-watt output
  • Speaker Impedance: 8 ohms
  • Six RCA inputs
  • Eight HDMI inputs

1_5. Best Multi-Tasker:
Marantz PM6006 Receiver

Marantz PM6006 Receiver

Here’s another high-powered receiver with a lot going on for it. The Marantz receiver is quite versatile. It can output up to 120 watts and work with 4-ohm speakers. However, it also works with 8 ohms at 90 watts. You have a lot of flexibility here, giving you plenty of options in terms of connecting gear.

Speaking of which, this unit has two speaker terminals. Switch between your stereo pairs with a simple press of a button. The same goes for switching sources. Thanks to the high-powered amplifier module and DAC converter, you’re getting crisp and robust sound regardless of the source.

Pros:

  • Low-distortion connections
  • Two speaker terminal sets
  • Optical inputs and AC inputs
  • Easy speaker and source switching
  • Simple EQ controls
  • Clean playback

Cons:

  • No built-in wireless connectivity

Key Features:

  • Up to 120-watt output
  • Speaker Impedance: 8 ohms or 4 ohms
  • Five RCA inputs

Review #2:
5 Best Receivers Without Phono Preamp

If your turntable already has a phono preamp, we still have you covered! Check out our choices for the best receiver for turntable units that already have a built-in preamp.

2_1. Best Overall:
Yamaha R-S202BL Receiver

Yamaha R-S202BL Stereo Receiver

Another great option from Yamaha, this receiver offers great sound quality and tons of flexibility. You can connect up to devices through the RCA inputs. However, wireless capabilities give you even more streaming possibilities.

The unit is sleek and looks great as part of a larger media setup. In terms of performance, it’s quite impressive. It’s designed to use maximum power for greater clarity and warm sound. However, Yamaha also took several measures to ensure that you experience minimal distortion or interference.

This receiver doesn’t have a ton of bells and whistles. But for the dedicated vinyl fanatics, it does the job well! With its versatility, it’s a good choice for any music-listening setup.

Pros:

  • Two speaker terminal sets
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Comes with remote control
  • Push-button EQ
  • Modern brushed aluminum finish
  • Low-powered ECO mode

Cons:

  • Spotty wireless connectivity

Key Features:

  • 140-watt output
  • Speaker Impedance: 8 ohms
  • Four RCA inputs

2_2. Best Entry-Level:
Denon AVR-S540BT Receiver

Denon AVR-S540BT Receiver

Here’s a fine example of getting a lot of bang for your buck. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get the audio controls you’re after, and this unit proves that.

Like Denon’s pricier receiver, this one is meant to serve as the heart of your entire entertainment center. It’s not just for audio! Connect up to five HDMI inputs and connect the output to your TV. The system also has several speaker terminals, allowing you to create up to 5.1 surround sound.

Controlling the receiver is a breeze. Use the wireless remote or the push-button controls on the unit to quickly select your source. You can also make easy adjustments to the EQ to fine-tune your sound. Or, you can let the built-in calibration feature get the job done for you.

Pros:

  • Room calibration feature
  • Ready for up to 5.1 surround sound
  • Subwoofer outputs
  • Easy to set up
  • Wireless smart connectivity
  • Quick source-select buttons

Cons:

  • Limited RCA inputs

Key Features:

  • 70 watts per channel
  • Speaker Impedance: 8 ohms
  • Two RCA inputs
  • Five HDMI inputs

2_3. Best Sonic Fidelity:
Sony STRDH590 AV Receiver

Sony STRDH590 AV Receiver

The STRDH590 from Sony is another good option for those looking to create a multi-media center. This receiver is more than capable of handling your analog inputs and your high-information digital ones. It offers a nice balance, providing four RCA inputs and four HDMI inputs.

The system can easily handle 4K video and HDR. As for audio, it can do up to 5.2 surround sound. For those who aren’t in the know, that’s two subwoofer channels!

The sound quality is superb. Sony did a fantastic job of limiting distortion. It also has an automatic calibration feature, which can tune your speakers based on the design of the room. This feature makes the setup super simple.

Pros:

  • Ready for up to 5.2 surround sound
  • Smart connectivity and Bluetooth
  • Compact footprint
  • Automatic calibration
  • Low-distortion sound

Cons:

  • Can be problematic with smart TVs

Key Features:

  • 725-watt output
  • Speaker Impedance: 6 ohms
  • Four RCA inputs
  • Four HDMI inputs

2_4. Best Practicability:
KEiiD Bluetooth Amplifier & Receiver

KEiiD WiFi & Bluetooth Amplifier & Receiver

If you’re looking for a simpler receiver for your turntable, this one fits the bill. It only has a single RCA input. But, that doesn’t mean it will only connect with one device.

This unit has full Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities. Not only that, but you’re getting an optical input, line-in port, and mic port. There’s also a USB port on the front, which adds a lot of possibilities in terms of what you can connect. The receiver has a lot of flexibility and works surprisingly well as an audio hub for entertainment spaces.

The equipment is compact and offers plenty of power to make your turntable sound its best!

Pros:

  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities
  • Mic, USB, and optical inputs
  • Flexible EQ controls
  • Removable wireless antennae
  • Built-in overload protection
  • Subwoofer output

Cons:

  • Not the prettiest unit
  • Setup can be confusing

Key Features:

  • 80-watt output
  • Speaker Impedance: 8 ohms
  • Single RCA input

2_5. Most powerful:
Fosi Audio DA2120A Amplifier & Receiver

Fosi Audio DA2120A Bluetooth Amplifier & Receiver

At first glance, this unit doesn’t look like an audio receiver at all! However, the pint-sized unit can handle a lot more than what meets the eye.

Designed to fit in tight spaces, the receiver has only a few connectors on the back. You’ll notice that it doesn’t have dedicated RCA connectors. While not ideal, it’s perfectly manageable with an AUX-RCA cable. With the specialized cable, you can easily connect it to your turntable.

The unit is also equipped with wireless capabilities and other connection ports. With the right cables, it will work with CD players, TVs, computers, and more.

One cool thing about this receiver is the OLED display up front. The crisp display provides some quick information about volume and source. Other than that, the face is clean and minimalistic, allowing it to blend in with your other gear.

Pros:

  • Very compact design
  • OLED information display
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Optical, USB, and Coaxial ports
  • Single volume knob
  • Comes with remote control

Cons:

  • No dedicated RCA connectors

Key Features:

  • 100-watt output
  • Speaker Impedance: 4 ohms
  • No RCA input

Features to Look For in the Best Receiver for Turntable Rigs

Standalone receivers can run the gamut in terms of features. As always, the more capabilities your receiver has, the higher the price tag! You can get a unit with all the bells and whistles if you’re looking for something that’s going to be the epicenter of a larger audio center.

But, the best receiver for turntable setups can also be pretty straightforward, too. All you need a few essential features.

RCA Inputs and Accompanying Cables

Yes, those trusty RCA connectors still apply today!

Chances are, you’ve seen RCA connectors and their red and white cables before. They were the standard for a long time. That is, however, until HMDI and digital formats started becoming the norm.

Remember, your turntable still produces an analog signal. RCA handles those analog signals and sends them to your receiver. Without RCA connectors, the receiver can’t accept those messages.

RCA Inputs and Accompanying Cables

Don’t forget about cables, too! RCA cables handle the left and right channels separately, so cables should have a split. Red and white cables handle the right and left speakers respectively. Generally, the connectors feature a pop of color to make the connection easier.

You might also see additional colors. For example, yellow takes care of composite video in home theater setups. Meanwhile, other colors represent multi-channel audio for surround sound. Forget all of those other colors for now. Red and white are the two to pay attention to for your turntable!

Speaker Outputs

Speaker outputs are a must, too! Unless you plan on using headphones all the time, they are paramount.

In most cases, receivers will have several speaker terminals that you can use to connect your favorite bookshelves of tower speakers. Because you’re using a receiver, you’ll likely use passive speakers in your setup!

Some receivers may also have line-level RCA outputs. They’re similar to the inputs. However, you can use them to create a surround sound experience or to route the signal to rooms around your home.

Worthy Extras

RCA inputs and speaker outputs are your core essentials. But don’t shy away from other features if your budget can accommodate them!

A full-featured unit with filters, decoders, and modulators will let you fine-tune the sound even further.

Some of the most useful extras in our modern era are Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. Extra connectivity is always a plus, as you can take advantage of your entire music library, not just the vinyl!

The Final Verdict

As you can see, there’s no shortage of great receivers out there. The best receiver for turntable rigs can give you impeccable sound and turn your listening space into a flexible music powerhouse!

All of our top picks have a lot to offer. But here are our final verdicts.

Best receiver with phono: Sony STRDH190 Stereo Receiver
Best receiver without phono: Yamaha R-S202BL Stereo Receiver

For units with phono inputs, you can’t do much better than the Sony STRDH190. It’s not the most feature-rich option. However, it strikes a nice balance between offering ample flexibility and providing top-notch audio quality.

For receivers without a phono input, the Yamaha R-S202BL is your best bet. Like the Sony receiver, it masters the basics! It gives you impressive sound quality across the board no matter what you’re listening to.

Give one of these systems a shot and see what you think!       

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Giorgio P
Giorgio P
Music has always led the path and I’ve been following doubtlessly. After many years of recording in studios as a singer of a swing/cabaret band, I decided to create my own home recording studio and built a blog about it. It involves exactly the things I love the most which are writing, creating, and learning. And that’s why I called the blog Sounds Wow. It really does!