How to Connect a Turntable to Speakers?

Turntables are becoming as popular as pizza! If you are ready to play your favorite vinyl, the next thing you might want to know is how to connect a turntable to speakers.

How you will connect them depends on your specific needs and personal preferences. To get there, we need to check out the following:

  • What components do you need to connect a turntable to speakers?
  • Which of the possible scenario do you find yourself in?
  • How to connect your turntable to the speakers?
turntable to speakers

In this article, you will learn detailed instructions, illustrations, and some useful videos. Let’s get your turntable spinning!

Components You’ll Need to Connect a Turntable to Speakers

In order to listen to a record, the following four elements have to be present:

  • Turntable – Picks up and transfers electrical signals to the Preamplifier
  • Preamplifier (Preamp or Receiver) – Boosts the low-voltage signal from the turntable and prepares it for the Amplifier
  • Amplifier – Increases the electrical signal to line level for speakers. Can also power the speakers.
  • Speakers – Converts the electrical signal to sound.

Possible Scenarios You Find Yourself in

There are several possible combinations to put these components together. Do you have all the four standalone components? Or, do you have multitasking components, such as a turntable with a built-in preamp or speakers with a built-in amplifier? What if you have powered active speakers?

Check out what type of turntable and speakers you have. In total, there are six different combination options when it comes to connecting your turntable to speakers.

  1. Turntable + Preamp + Amp + Speakers (all standalone components)
  2. Turntable with a built-in Preamp + Speakers with a built-in Amplifier
  3. Turntable with a built-in Preamp + Amplifier + Speakers
  4. Turntable + Preamp + Powered Speakers
  5. Turntable + Preamp + Receiver + Speakers
  6. Turntable + Receiver with Phono input* + Speakers

Note: not all receivers have the input for the turntable. One way to know it is to check on the back of the Receiver for the “PHONOinput. If you don’t see this input you will need an external Preamp to send the signal from the Turntable to the Receiver. 

Another way to see if your receiver has a “PHONOinput is to look between the option buttons on the front side of the receiver. 

Check out the video below to have a better understanding of what a receiver can do.

6 Different Ways to Connect a Turntable to Speakers

Now it’s time to see how to connect a turntable to your speakers. Let’s start with the first combination of the ones listed above.

1st Scenario
Turntable + Preamp + Amp + Speakers

If you have the 4 standalone components here is the way to connect them.

Cables you need:

  • 2 RCA Cables
  • Standard Speakers Wires

Setting:

  • Place the Turntable on a solid and steady surface 
  • Connect The Turntable to the Preamp with an RCA Cable
  • Connect the Preamp and the Amplifier with another RCA Cable
  • Connect the Speakers to the Amplifier with Speaker Wires
  • Ready to spin
illustration how to connect turntable to speaker with a preamp and amplifier

2nd Scenario
Turntable with built-in Preamp + Powered Speakers with built-in Amplifier

Cables you need:

  • RCA cable (remember that the Red is the Right channel and the White is the Left channel)

Setting:

  • Place the Turntable in a steady and solid place 
  • Plug the RCA cable on the back of the Turntable and send them to the Speaker (The LEFT one with the RCA input)
  • Connect the Left Speaker to the Right Speaker with Standard Speakers Cables
  • Plug the Turntable and Speakers into a power socket
  • You are all set
illustration how to connect turntable with built in preamp to powered speakers

Questions you may have:

Q: How do I know if a Turntable has a built-in Preamp?

A: Your Turntable has a built-in preamp if you see on the back EITHER of:

  • A USB port 
  • A phono-line switch

Q: How to recognize a pair of Powered Speakers?

A: If Speakers come with a plug to go on the socket wall, it means they have a built-in Amplifier. As easy as that!

On the other hand, Passive Speakers do not come with a plug. They are connected through wires to the external Amplifier. The latter gives the necessary electricity for the speakers to work.

3rd Scenario
Turntable with a built-in Preamp + Amplifier + Speakers

Cables you need?

  • 1x RCA Cable
  • Standard Speakers Cables

Setting:

  • Place the Turntable in a steady and solid place
  • Connect the Turntable and the Amplifier with RCA Cable
  • Connect both Speakers to the Amplifier with Standard Speakers Cables
  • Plug the 3 Components on the socket wall
  • Ready to go
explain how to connect Amp

4th Scenario
Turntable + Preamp + Powered Speakers

Cables you need?

  • 2x RCA Cable
  • Standard Speakers Cables 

Setting:

  • Place the Turntable in a steady and solid place
  • Connect the Turntable and the Preamp with RCA Cable
  • Connect The Preamp To the Left Speaker with RCA Cables
  • Connect the Left Speaker to the Right Speaker with Standard Cables
  • Plug the Components on the socket wall
  • Ready 
illustration of how to connect turntable to preamp to powered speakers

5th Scenario
Turntable + Preamp + Receiver + Speakers

Cables you need?

  • 2x RCA Cable
  • Standard Speakers Cables 

Setting:

  • Place the Turntable in a steady and solid place
  • Connect the Turntable and the Preamp with RCA Cable
  • Connect The Preamp to the Receiver with RCA Cables
  • Connect the Receiver to the Speakers with Standard Speakers Cables
  • Plug the Components on the socket wall
  • Ready 
illustration of how to connect turntable to preamp to amp to speakers

6th Scenario
Turntable + Receiver Phono input + Powered Speakers

Cables you need?

  • 2x RCA Cable
  • Standard Speakers Cables 

Setting:

  • Place the Turntable in a steady and solid place
  • Connect the Turntable and the Preamp with RCA Cable
  • Connect The Preamp to the Left Speaker with RCA Cables
  • Connect the Left Speaker to the Right Speaker with Standard Cables
  • Plug the Components on the socket wall
  • Ready 
illustration how to connect turntable to receiver to powered speakers

Amplifier vs Receiver

As you may have noticed, we use either an Amplifier or a Receiver to connect turntables to speakers. But, what is the difference between these two components?

Let’s start with the Amplifier.

An Amplifier has only one job. To boost the signals coming from the sound source (in our case the Turntable) to the speakers while giving them enough electrical power to deliver the sound.

A Receiver, on the other hand, can do the job of the amplifier written above and much more depending on the model.

In most cases, Receivers are capable of connecting multiple pieces of audio equipment together. Instead of having multiple separate Amplifiers for your turntable, CD player, and radio, you can route everything through the Receiver. Think of it as the main switch that lets you listen to all of your gear from the same set of speakers.

To put things simply: all Receivers act as Amplifiers. But, not all Amplifiers have the multi-device capabilities as a Receiver.

Receivers can be classified in two different models:            

1. Stereo Receiver or Integrated Stereo Amplifier

Perfect for any Sound System Set-Up a Stereo Receiver has all the following functions:

  • Amplify Audio Signals (works as an Amplifier)
  • Have Volume Control 
  • Multiple Audio inputs and outputs (to connect Speakers, Turntable, etc.)
  • Have a Radio function and display in some models. 

2. A/V Receiver or Audio and Video Receive

Perfect for any Home Theatre and Sound System Set-Up 

Basically has the same functions as the Stereo Receiver but also has VIDEO input and output.

  • Amplify Audio and Video Signals
  • Multiple Audio and Video inputs and outputs

In an A/V receiver, you can plug a TV and Video Game Console while connecting the Speakers to receive the sound coming from both. 

The below video is well explained in just a few minutes. Put the subs on if the accent of the speaker is too strong. Great job btw.

Which One is The Best Setup?

There are pros and cons depending on the option. Let’s consider the first two options listed above. It’s enough to see the bigger picture. 

1. Four Standalone Components: Turntable + Preamp + Amp + Speakers

The pros of having the four standalone components are:

  • The possibility to upgrade your system over time
  • Better overall sound (standalone components tend to be more qualitative than multitasking ones ie. Powered Speakers with a built-in amplifier)

And the cons:

  • is the most expensive option (over 1000 dollars)
  • need more space at home to place all the components
  • more cables to connect and arrange 

2. Turntable with a built-in Preamp + Speakers with a built-in Amplifier*

The Pros of having a turntable with built-in Preamp and a pair of Speakers with built-in amplifier:

  • Reducing the cost to under 500 dollars
  • Very easy cable set up
  • Less space to place the 2 components

And the cons:

  • not easy to upgrade your sound system later in the future

* Speakers with a built-in Amplifier are also referred to as Active or Powered Speakers.

On the other hand, those that need an external one in order to work are called Passive.

Conclusion

I hope you have found this article useful as we have covered quite a lot of ground. Now you should be able to understand how to connect a turntable to speakers, no matter what model you have.

We also have many other articles about different types of turntables and speakers too. Feel free to navigate around or follow the links above. 

The videos I have included in the article should give you a quick and basic understanding of how to connect turntables to speakers. They helped me organize the content of this article and get extra knowledge of the different components regarding the topic itself.

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