8 Best Turntable Speakers for Vinyl 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 vinyl speakers for turntables. Your ears deserve the very best, and so does your vinyl.
8 Powerful Speakers to Get the Most Out of Your Vinyl
Take a look at these top speakers that even your resident audiophile will approve of.
Table of Contents
- 8 Powerful 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.
Along with the standard 3.5mm input, the R1280T speakers also have two sets of RCA inputs, a neat feature if you’d like to connect more than one device. The connectors are located on the back panel, along with the on/off switch. The bass, treble, and volume control knobs are located on the side of the right speaker.
The cabinets are made of MDF (medium-density fiberboard) in elegant wood finish. The included front grills sport minimalist, modern styling and are detachable.
They are 2-way speakers with a 4” cone driver and a 13mm silk dome tweeter. Also, the maximum power of the built-in amplifier is 21W per channel.
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.
The T15 speakers can handle to 100W of power. These are not active speakers so you have to supply your own amplifier (at least 20W per channel recommended).
These speakers are two-way with a 5.25” cone driver and a ¾” silk dome tweeter. The frequency range is 65Hz to 20,000Hz and the nominal impedance is 8Ω – these small speakers are easy to drive and the sensitivity is reasonable at 89dB.
The MDF cabinets are 7” deep, 6.5” wide, and 10.5” tall. The elegant black finish and grills will look cool in any environment.
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.
The MB42 is a two-way speaker with a 4” carbon fiber cone driver and a ¾” silk dome tweeter. The frequency response range is 60Hz to 20kHz, with the impedance is rated at 4 to 8Ω. They are inefficient at 85dB sensitivity so the volume will be lower. But don’t worry, just turn up the volume and they will sound great. These are passive speakers.
The MDF cabinets stand 9.5” tall, 6.5” deep, and 5.8” wide. They are rear-ported to extend the bass. Thanks to the compact size, these speakers can be placed virtually anywhere. The stealthy black finish and simple grills look elegant and will fit pretty much any décor.
The MB42 is an excellent option if you’re looking for quality, budget-friendly option.
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.
Klipsch installs a 5.25” woofer with copper-spun cone and a 1” horn-loaded aluminum tweeter on these bad boys. The tweeters feature Klipsch’s own Tractrix horns which enables them to put out some pretty impressive high and upper midrange.
The MDF cabinet has a rear-firing port. Brushed black polymer is the only available color option, which gives a nice contrast to the copper-colored cone. Detachable grills are also included. The R-15M speakers are 12.5” tall, 7” wide, and 8.11” deep and weigh 10.3lbs.
These are non-powered speakers so you’ll have to hook them up to an amplifier or receiver. The R-15M’s maximum power handling is 85W continuous or 340W peak. The frequency response is 62Hz to 24kHz. The sensitivity is very high at 94dB thanks to the horn design.
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.
These tiny 2-way speakers feature a 2.75” Kevlar woofer and a ¾” silk dome tweeter per side. While the amount of bass won’t blow anyone’s mind out, these speakers are designed for near-field listening and pinpoint imaging.
The built-in amplifier is rated at 15W per channel continuous and 30W max. The frequency response is 65Hz to 22kHz, which is surprising good considering the tiny 2.75” woofers.
The A2+ speakers come in with satin black MDF cabinets that are 6” height, 4” width, and 5.25” depth.
Edifier’s R1700BT speakers are among my favorite powered bookshelf options. They’re slick, modern, and come with a multitude of connection options. The letters “B” and “T” in their name stand for “Bluetooth”, meaning that you can connect the R1700s to your smartphone via Bluetooth like the rest of their “BT” brethren.
The speakers are two-way with a 4” woofer and a ¾” silk dome tweeter. The woofer, while not the biggest in the bookshelf class, offers more-than-decent low end. The frequency range is 60Hz to 20kHz. The built-in amplifier supplies four channels of amplification, one to each driver: 15W for each tweeter and 18W for each woofer (RMS power).
The elegant cabinets are made of MDF, with side-mounted vol/treble/bass controls and a rear-mounted connection panel. Like the rest of the BT models, they are finished in black with wood side panels. Each speaker measures 9.84” tall, 6.1” wide, and 8.35” deep.
7. KEF Q100
Like the rest of KEF’s famous Q series. the Q100 comes with a Uni-Q driver with concentrically mounted 5.25” woofer and 1” aluminum tweeter. These are certifiable hifi speakers for those who don’t mind spending extra for the experience.
The frequency response is 49Hz and 40kHz. These bookshelf speakers can play really loud, as evidenced by the maximum output (SPL) of 107dB. These are non-powered (passive) speakers and KEF recommends that you supply 10 and 100W per speaker. The nominal impedance of 8Ω means they’re not difficult to drive.
The MDF cabinets are extremely well-braced – if you tap on the wood you’ll hear a nice and reassuring thud. Each speaker is 11.8” tall, 7.1” wide, and 10.7” deep. The available color options are black oak, linear white, European walnut, and rosewood, allowing you to match your Q100 to any room. They also come with simple and easily detachable grills.
Audioengine’s A5+ are powered and don’t need an amplifier, making them perfect for vinyl lovers looking to set up a pure vinyl rig with just a turntable and a pair of speakers (assuming the turntable has a built-in phone preamp).
The two-way speakers come with 5” Kevlar woofers and ¾” silk dome tweeters. The built-in amplifier is rated at 50W per channel RMS, which is enough to fill a medium-sized room. The frequency response range is 50Hz to 22kHz.
Each A5+ speaker measures 10.75” tall, 7” wide, and 9” deep. The left speaker (the one where the amplifier’s located) weighs 15.4lbs, while the right one weighs 9.6lbs. The available color options include high-gloss white, solid carbonized bamboo, and satin black.
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.