5 Best Powered Speakers for Vinyl (Turntables) in 2018
Do you scour garage sales and flea markets for vintage vinyl?
Or, maybe you are part of the hip crowd that buys brand new remastered albums?
Whatever your reasons are, your perfect playback depends on great speakers.
Building your vinyl rig and decided on your speakers? Don’t swipe that credit card just yet. Check out these best powered speakers for turntables. Your ears deserve the very best, and so does your vinyl.
5 Powered Speakers to Get the Most Out of Your Vinyl
Take a look at these top powered speaker picks that even your resident audiophile will approve of.
Table of Contents
- 5 Powered Speakers to Get the Most Out of Your Vinyl
- A Detailed Buying Guide on Turntable Speakers
Want a nice marriage between analog and tech? The R1280T offers a standard speaker wire connection, but uses a remote control for volume.
In addition, this active nearfield monitor produces great sound for small spaces. The frequency response is 75Hz to 18kHz +/- 9dB. So, I found that most music had crisp highs and mids.
The bass doesn’t go that deep, but it’s expected of small bookshelf speakers.
The T15 by Polk Audio offers a good option for buyers who want an all-in-one option. These are mini-monitors designed to work in a surround sound system, but I found they work well by themselves, too.
They are mountable on the wall and are relatively balanced sound-wise. These speakers don’t come ready to use, though.
You may need to make a trip to the store to pick up some quality speaker wire first, as well as a receiver or amplifier if you don’t have one already.
3. Micca MB42
Already have your own receiver or amplifier? Take a look at these passive bookshelf speakers by Micca. The all-around sound is crisp and clear for such small speakers.
Keep in mind, though, that you do need your own receiver or amplifier to use them. Hopefully, your turntable already has a phono preamp built-in.
In case it doesn’t, you need to make sure your receiver or preamp has a phono input with RIAA equalization in order to play records.
Are you familiar with your speaker’s tweeters and woofers? Because the R-15M has special ones that may blow your old ones out of the water. They bring balanced sound to a whole new level.
These are still bookshelf speakers for small to medium rooms. But the speakers’ highs and mids are clear and sharp for better sound clarity.
Audioengine offers a pair of speakers that are sleek and versatile. So, when you aren’t using them for your turntables, they can also double as your computer speakers. They’re small and unobtrusive to your room décor.
These speakers have a built-in digital-audio converter (DAC) to decode your digital audio sources when you’re not using your turntable. It also features 3 input types so you can plug in a variety of devices.
Don’t know much about speakers? Don’t worry, these are also newbie-friendly. And everything you need is included in the box.
A Detailed Buying Guide on Turntable Speakers
Now that you’ve seen a few of our top speaker picks for turntables, take a look at some more buying tips. Because, you don’t need to take my word for it. If you want to check out other options, keep these things in mind.
To Preamp or Not
You have a turntable, but do you have a phono preamp? Do you need one? If you plan on playing your music through speakers or headphones, you need one.
Fortunately, many turntables have a built-in phono preamp. If yours already has one, all you need to do is connect your turntable to your receiver or line preamp with a pair of audio cables terminated with RCA connectors.
Your turntable doesn’t have a phono preamp? Not a problem. You can connect your speakers in one of two ways:
- buy a receiver with a phono stage
- buy a separate phono preamp and connect it to your receiver
Why Do You Need a Preamp?
Think of the preamp as the sound bridge between your turntable and speakers. That bridge translates the sound signal that comes from your record groove to needle. From there it travels through your pre-amplifier and turns into something you can hear.
Passive vs Active Speakers
Do you need passive or active speakers? The answer may lay in your personal preferences.
For simple plug and play turntables, active or powered speakers are the easiest to use. You just plug the speakers into the turntable and you get instant music. How? Your amplification is already built into your speaker box.
On the other hand, passive speakers require an amplifier or receiver to hear your vinyl. One perk of getting passive speakers is the option to upgrade your amplifier later. Also, if you already have a decent rig and just want to add to it, you may already have one.
Another consideration is the space you plan on using your speakers in.
Bookshelf speakers are usually used for small to medium spaces. You may be able to stretch the sound to another room depending on your home acoustics. But don’t expect more than that without sacrificing sound quality.
Want to throw a house party? Your powered bookshelf speakers may not be enough. Because they are meant to be used in small spaces, their frequency response is generally lower for maximum sound balance.
However, for casual listening on a lazy Sunday, powered speakers are a great option.
Did you finally find some speakers only to be disappointed by the way they sound? Your room or home acoustics may also play a part in that.
If you have a lot of hard or reflective surfaces in the room, your music may echo or even sound harsh. Some of the surfaces to watch out for are:
- Exposed windows
- Hardwood floors
- Tiled floors
On the other hand, rooms with thick carpets or drapes and over-cushioned furniture may have the opposite effect. Instead of sounding too sharp, you may hear it as flat instead.
The best setup is if your room has a mixture of both components. But unless your home is already set up like this you may have to switch it up yourself to achieve optimal sound.
When you are considering your turntable rig, you need to think realistically about space. For casual listeners, a suitcase-style turntable paired with a pair of active speakers may be the perfect option.
Active speakers don’t need additional speaker cables or components to play vinyl. And compact turntables can be stored away. So, if you’re pressed for space and your roommate is threatening mutiny if you bring in one more speaker, consider that option.
But, if you want to take the time to build your rig from the bottom up and have the space to spare, you may want to consider a full system to go with your turntable instead. This may get pricey down the line, but you can always buy basic components like passive speakers and an amplifier first.
Breaking in Period for Speakers
Did you know that you need to break in your brand new speakers? Most people don’t. They just start it up and judge it by its first notes.
Why do you need to break in your speakers? Because those ridged parts haven’t moved before. So you want them to flex and move first.
Breaking in your speakers means playing something with a large dynamic range. Like a body flexing every muscle after hours of inactivity, you want your speakers to stretch their legs, or woofers.
How long does it need to play before it’s officially broken in? There’s no set answer for that. A few hours? Sure. But you may want to think days instead.
Don’t worry, though. You don’t have to keep them on the entire time. Just know that the more you use them, the better your speakers will sound.
Finally, you may be tempted to break the bank when it comes to your speakers. And you could if you aren’t careful, but you don’t need to go over budget to get great sound.
When you are playing vinyl, you may want to be close to the turntable to change out the record. So, more than likely you will be in the same room. That may automatically equate to smaller speakers like a bookshelf size.
Additionally, if you buy powered speakers you don’t have to worry about receivers or preamps. And that also may save you some money down the line. But remember that you need two speakers to play music in stereo.
If you like really bass-heavy music, you may want to invest in a sub to go with your bookshelf speaker. A good subwoofer can improve any bookshelf speakers by preventing their woofers from having to move excessively to produce low bass.
Buying the perfect speakers to showcase your vinyl collection can be confusing. But it doesn’t need to be.
Because we all hear things differently, your perfect speakers may not sound the same to your neighbor. So, read reviews if you must, but the best judge will be your own ears.