Which speaker for turntables is best?
Your cherished record collection and high-quality turntable are nothing without the right pair of speakers to play them through, and certain models work better with the warm analog nuances of vinyl than others. The correct pairing of speakers, amp, phono stage and turntable will make a notable difference to your listening experience, but it’s also worth considering room size, speaker position and budget constraints when making your decision.
The KEF LS50 Meta, while expensive, are highly versatile speakers for turntables that excel with all musical genres.
What to know before you buy speakers for turntables
Types of speakers
While satellite speakers, subwoofers and soundbars work with many setups, most turntables work best with either a pair of bookshelf or floor standing speakers. These function well overall because their drivers and the enclosures that house them are optimized for performance. Bear in mind that these take up space, so aesthetics and placement should be taken into consideration.
Passive speakers require an amplifier to boost their signal, and this should be matched to the output of the speakers. For example, some speakers may require an amount of power between 30 and 100 watts to function at their optimum level. Active speakers have amplifiers built-in and don’t need a separate unit. While these can sound excellent and reduce clutter, they’re often limited in their functionality. Whether your speakers are powered or have a separate amplifier, a phono stage (also called a preamp) is required to boost the turntable’s signal if it doesn’t have one built-in.
Room size and acoustic properties
It’s important to consider room size before deciding on your speaker setup. A pair of bookshelf-style speakers might not sound their best in larger spaces and in the same instance, a powerful pair of floor standing speakers might overwhelm a smaller living space. Soft furnishings also affect the overall sound by absorbing soundwaves, while hard surfaces, such as walls and tiled floors, reflect sound. A mixture of the two works best in most domestic environments. If you choose floor standing speakers, consider using floor spikes to cut down on vibration and improve sound quality. Similarly, a good pair of directional wall mounts can improve the performance of bookshelf speakers.
What to look for in quality speakers for turntables
Many speakers are now using Bluetooth for wireless connection to the amplifier, but with these, there’s usually a compromise on sound quality. For the best results, seek wired speakers with a bi-amped connection, as these use two channels of amplification per speaker to separately drive lower and higher frequencies.
Your speakers are usually a focal point of your living space and as such, should look good as part of your overall entertainment center. Thankfully, the characterless black boxes of yesteryear are making way for sculpted designs consisting of interesting composites and exotic veneers that enhance the look of your room and don’t prioritize function over form.
The quality of a speaker is determined by how accurately it recreates the source sound. While no speakers are perfect, the best come very close to this by having a wide frequency response, and many high-quality speakers use a graph to represent this. The less variation in loudness between the frequencies, the better. In short, look for a “flat” frequency response when choosing speakers for turntables.
How much you can expect to spend on speakers for turntables
You can buy a pair of excellent-sounding speakers for turntables for as little as $250, but there will be compromises on build quality and aesthetics. A good mid-range pair of floor standing or bookshelf speakers costs around $500, whereas a pair of pro-audio speakers for turntables can run into several thousands of dollars.
Speakers for turntables FAQ
What’s the ideal speaker output?
A. A 15- to 30-watt speaker should suffice for home use in an averagely sized living space. You’ll come across speakers with an output of 100 watts or more, but these are better suited to use in large halls and public spaces.
Do I need a subwoofer?
A. Subwoofers amplify the frequencies at the lower end of the spectrum and produce deep, resounding bass. This is especially useful for home theater applications and for listening to EDM. In most instances, the frequency ranges covered by floor standing and bookshelf speakers are more than adequate for listening to vinyl at home.
What are the best speakers for turntables to buy?
Top speakers for turntables
What you need to know: This updated “Meta” version of these acclaimed speakers has a reworked driver array that further improves upon the previous generation’s excellent sound.
What you’ll love: The clarity and volume produced by these speakers belie their compact profiles. With 100 watts of power handling, there’s plenty of headroom when driving them hard, and they incorporate sound absorption technology to prevent distortion.
What you should consider: With so much competition available, you might feel you can get comparable results from a lower-priced model.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top speakers for turntables for the money
What you need to know: It’s hard to find better-sounding speakers than this pair from Elac, especially at this price point.
What you’ll love: The Debut B5.2 have woven aramid bass drivers and soft dome tweeters that deliver a flat response over a wide frequency spectrum. Their front-firing ports allow for more versatility of placement, and they even sound good when pushed up against a wall.
What you should consider: While sonically the results are impressive, they aren’t aesthetically appealing, with their too-familiar black MDF shells and fabric grilles.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: These floor standing speakers from Triangle look as impressive as they sound, with their walnut veneer enclosures and mismatched driver cones.
What you’ll love: Each Borea BR08 incorporates a silk dome tweeter, a white 16-centimeter mid-range driver and two fiberglass bass drivers. Between them, they deliver excellent clarity and plenty of bottom-end punch.
What you should consider: These speakers are at their best in larger rooms of 20-40 square meters in size.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Luke Mitchell writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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