When choosing a record player with speakers, you have many choices. The first choice you have to make is whether you’re going to go with a compact, all-in-one record player or a turntable and speakers. Most people go with the all-in-one for space and convenience however, this compromises quality. The best record player with speakers for sound quality is a turntable and separate speakers. This article explains why and also offers the best recommendations.
Why Avoid All-In-One Record Player with Speakers
I assume many people arriving at this article are looking for an all-in-one record player. While these units certainly look cool, they don’t sound cool at all.
I will admit, these record players do have their uses but they are not the best and the best is what we’re after right? If you want something with built-in speakers, I’ll be publishing something on that next month so be sure to check back in!
Firstly, as mentioned, the sound quality is not great. The speakers are small and tinny sounding, the needles are cheap, the tonearms are unbalanced which lead to damaging your vinyl records, the electronics are sub-par and the finishes poor.
In most cases, when purchasing an all-in-one record player, you won’t receive any after sales service or support. These all-in-one record players are not made to be repaired, they’re made to be replaced!
My advice is, forget how pretty the record players with speakers are and go for a decent turntable with some entry level speakers. Having said that, I do have a couple of record players with speakers if after reading this article still have to have one.
What to Consider When Choosing The Best Record Player with Speakers
Before we get to the best recommendations, I’d like to take you through a few features and accessories to consider.
Belt Drive vs Direct Drive Turntable
Belt drive turntable systems are the most common on the market. They cost less than direct drive systems but require some minor home maintenance. Over time the belt wears and needs to be replaced, it’s a simple procedure.
Simply put, the motor in a belt drive system is not directly connected to the platter. Instead, a belt connects the motor to the platter. The belt also acts as a noise buffet preventing the motor’s noise and vibration from affecting the sensitive needle.
In a direct drive turntable, the motor is connected directly to the platter, usually below the center of the spindle. Due to the motor being directly connected to the platter, additional dampening and shock absorption is required. These additional features make direct-drive turntables more expensive.
Unless you’re a turntablist or DJ who requires the torque a direct drive offers, neither system is better than the other. There are premium direct drive and belt drive turntables. Some may have another opinion but I don’t see belt or direct drive having a significant influence over choosing the best record player with speakers.
Turntable or Record Player with Active vs Passive Speakers
Active speakers have a built in amp, passive speakers require external amplification. That’s the simple definition.
For an active speaker to work, you need power from a socket and audio signal from your record player or turntable.
A passive speaker receives both power and audio signal from the amplifier. You can’t plug a device directly into a passive speaker.
If you’re looking for convenience, active speakers are the way to go. They are easy to set up and require minimal cabling. You may, however, need a phono preamp.
Some record players or turntables only have a phono output. It’s rare for an active speaker to have a phono input so, you need to go through a phono preamp. I will discuss phono preamps in the next section.
Passive speakers offer you more control. High-end home HiFi amplifiers have processing and crossovers.
The crossover is usually between 95-110hz. The low frequencies are sent to the subs and the mid/high frequencies are sent to the mid speakers and tweeters. Some systems may even have two crossover points to give you high, mid and low separation.
You also have the ability to include processing like equalization and room correction. Features can get in-depth and technical.
When amplifying a passive speaker, you need to be aware of load matching. Your amplifier needs to have enough power to drive the speakers. Too much or too little amplification can harm your speakers. When you purchase your passive speakers, the manufacturer will usually recommend the right amplification. If not, contact them for recommendations.
From a cost perspective, actives speakers are generally cheaper. Passive speakers require amplification and cabling which increases the cost. My advice, if you want something simple, go with active speakers. If you love the technical stuff and looking for more power, go passive speakers.
Phono Outputs and Preamps
A record player or turntable produces an analog phono signal. For the phono signal must be converted to line level before an amplifier can produce an audio signal which you then hear.
Some turntables have a built-in phono preamp. This converts the signal to line level so that you can connect your RCA cables directly to an active speaker or amplifier line in.
For the turntables with only a phono output, you will need a phono preamp. A phono preamp is a small box, usually with just a phono input at one end and a line output the other. Phono preamps are simple and inexpensive. You can pick one up for under $20.
As with everything in electronics, you do get premium phono preamps complete with valve tubes and premium parts. This will make a difference to the sound, but will only be truly appreciated on large systems. For your average bookshelf speaker or HiFi, it just isn’t necessary.
Bluetooth Record Player with Speakers
Bluetooth speakers have become the new standard in home theater systems. They offer convenience as well as eradicate unsightly cables. When it comes to digital audio, Bluetooth speakers are great. For analog audio signal from a record player or turntable, not so great.
Wireless technology is nowhere near as good as a cable… yet. The technology is evolving, but good sound still requires a copper (or gold if you have the money) cable.
Wireless is susceptible to noise as well as both frequency and volume loss. While most systems manage to remove the noise, the frequency and volume loss is still an issue.
So, when it comes to a turntable or record player, stick with a cable over Bluetooth. I realize that people want Bluetooth so they can also connect other devices. You can, however, go with Bluetooth speakers which solves this issue.
Bluetooth speakers usually have a combination of RCA or AUX input as well as a Bluetooth input. Use the RCA input for your turntable and the Bluetooth is then free to connect your phone, PC and other devices.
Cheapest Record Player with Speakers:
If you have your heart set on an all-in-one record player with speakers then the Crosley CR6231A is the cheapest and the best in this category. The CR6231A has classy vintage design features complete with large rotary faders.
For an additional cost, you can get the Bluetooth enabled CR6231D Bluetooth. This is a Bluetooth input which means you can pair your phone or other devices to the CR6231D’s speakers.
There are cheaper record players with speakers but the CR6231A is the best sounding in this category.
Best Value Record Player with Speakers:
For best value, considered turntables with premium features at the best price. I then matched the turntable with a quality pair of speakers.
For the turntable, I chose the Fluance RT80. The Fluance RT80 has a balanced, S-Type tonearm which will track the groves of your vinyl accurately without causing damage. The cartridge and stylus are completely interchangeable giving you the flexibility to change stylus your setup.
The Fluance has a phono preamp with the option to switch your RCA output to phono or line level. This will save you cost on a phono preamp and gives you the option to choose your preference.
The clean design and layout of the RT80 will look good with most decor. You have the option of a Piano Black or Walnut Finish.
I’ve matched the Fluance RT80 with a pair of Edifier R1280T powered bookshelf speakers. These 42W compact speakers will offer exceptional audio quality and come in at less than $100. If you wish to increase the power of your speakers, the Edifier R1700BT and R2000DB are also excellent choices – both are Bluetooth enabled.
Best All-In-One Record Player with Speakers:
Currently there is only one record player with speakers which, in my opinion, is any good. The HYM Seed from HYM Originals is the best version of a 21st century all-in-one record player.
The Seed is the result of a Kickstarter campaign from a Japanese and Taiwanese collective. The goal was to design and manufacture a record player that resembled a functional work of art. The record player with speakers is beautifully crafted with attention to detail and an array of features.
The HYM Seed comes with all the trimmings. WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, an Ethernet port, 80W sound system, remote control as well as various inputs and outputs. All these features packed inside a 13.8 x 15 x 9.8 inch housing.
Best Record Player with Speakers Under $500:
For a record player with speakers under $500 I’ve gone with premium turntable paired with basic speakers. Audiophiles may scoff at my suggestions but I believe the two products I have suggested give you the best value.
Good sound comes from a good source. In the professional audio industry we say “rubbish in, rubbish out”. If the source is bad, there’s nothing you can do in between to make it sound good. With this in mind I chose the award-winning Music Hall MMF 2.2. Here’s why…
First off, Music Hall is a US based company. They’ve been around since 1985 and specialize in designing and manufacturing turntables and accessories. They offer great after sales service and support.
The MMF 2.2 is Music Hall’s entry-level premium turntable but it sounds incredible. For $299, there are few turntables that match the MMF 2.2. That’s where I have put a large chunk of this budget and I believe this is where you should spend your money.
I’ve paired the MMF 2.2’s with the Edifier R1700BT powered speakers. And this is where the audiophiles will scoff but, at under $500, this is a decent setup. It’s compact and you will get a good sound out of the R1700BTs.
Once you outgrow the R1700BTs, upgrade to something better. But, if you only have $500 to spend, this is how I would spend it. I do also have an article on best speakers for a vinyl record player which you can read here.
The MMF 2.2 does not have a phono preamp. You can purchase one for under $20 though.
Spinnin Ripples Best Record Player with Speakers:
If you’re looking for a quality set up and have some money to spend, then this is a recommendation for you. Bear in mind, there are more expensive turntables and speakers on the market. My ultimate setup is with value for money in mind.
One of my favorite turntable brands is Pro-Ject Audio. Their turntables have won many European awards and they are well priced.
The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC is one of my favorite models and is also popular online. At $399 you simply cannot beat exceptional audio quality and value for money.
The turntable is beautifully crafted with clean, minimal finishes. The carbon tonearm comes with an Orofon M2 Red cartridge delivers exceptional sound quality.
I match the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC with a pair of Klipsch R-28PF floor standing speakers. Klipsch is an American company and one of the leaders in home audio and the R-28PFs kick hard at 260W. More than enough power for any living space.
The R-28PFs are powered which means no need for additional amplification or processing. In addition, they have an RCA phono input with built-in phono preamp. This eliminates the need for an external preamp. One cable from the turntable to speakers – done!
I know there are many audiophiles who would beg to differ, but this is the best record player with speakers. For someone who just wants to kick back and enjoy listening to their records, this setup is a dream.