Picking A Speaker Setup For Your Turntable

With more and more people getting into vinyl records, you should know what you’re getting into sound-wise. The turntable that you get end up getting has to be connected to a speaker system of some sort in order for you to hear the music. Turntable setups can be as simple as 2 speakers, or as grand as 7.1 Surround system; the wallet’s the limit! Before getting into examples and setups, you should that there are two different types of speakers: Passive and active. For the sake of being brief, a passive speaker is one that needs a separate amplifier to push it because it is weak volume-wise. An active speaker is a passive speaker with an amplifier designed within it. Both speakers have their pros and cons that I will go over as I discuss each of the setups.

Active Speaker Setup:

I will preface this by stating that I use an active speaker setup. I chose this setup because it requires less cables and clutter on my desk as a college student. My father has a surround system in the basement (which is passive) so I get the best of both worlds, but for my tiny 6 foot desk in my room, active speakers work best for me.

My turntable, a Technics SL-1200, has two male RCA cables that go into my ART DJ-PRE II. The purpose of the ART DJ PRE-II is to act as a pre-amplifier for my active speakers. It may sound like I have two amplifiers, which is technically true, but the ART DJ-PRE II is meant to amplify the sound the turntable is producing. From there, I have a Hosa RCA Male to ¼ TRS Male input cable connecting the DJ PRE II to the speakers. This is the simplest setup and provided me with the least amount of headaches.

There are a couple flaws with this concept though. Because your amplifier is in the speaker, if the speaker dies or the amp blows out, you’re out of luck. Plus, active speakers are generally more expensive than passive speakers since active speakers have the amplifier inside of them. Both of these flaws can be offset by the fact that this setup requires the least amount of cables and work for space efficient places.

Here’s an example of an active speaker setup

Active Speaker Setup

Passive Speaker Setup

Now a passive speaker requires more inputs, but there can be a great benefit from this. The turntable needs to be connected to a phono amp, such as the ART mentioned above, and/or a receiver. The receiver is what the speakers are connected to via speaker wire. Some receivers have a phono amp integrated into it, so you might not need a separate amp if it already comes with it. Passive speakers do not need to be plugged in to an outlet because they are being powered by the receiver or amplifier itself. The benefit to a passive speaker setup is that you can easily upgrade each piece of the setup. Upgrading speakers is not nearly as daunting and expensive.

Here is an example of a passive speaker setup:
Passive Speaker Setup

Both of these speaker setups lead to great results. If you have the space, a passive speaker setup is much more efficient and the quality of your music can go up quicker because speaker and receiver upgrades are easier to do. In both of these setups, do not forget to focus on speaker placement in relation to you as well as isolation pads if you are using monitors. Isolation pads are pieces of foam that go below the speaker, reducing the vibrations on the ground and tightening up the bass.

Edited by Lauren Fabrizio

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