Do you have a quality turntable but poor speakers? Have you just upgraded your turntable and are unsure which speakers to buy? This post will help you make a better buying decision when choosing the best speakers for vinyl record players.
The Klipsch R-41PM is a great-sounding and great-looking, compact pair of bookshelf speakers that also offers a load of connectivity options.
Best Speakers For Vinyl Under $150
The Klipsch R-41M is a brilliant-sounding little bookshelf speaker. While it lacks some of the modern connectivity options and requires an amplifier, it will give you the best sound in this price range.
Best Speakers For Vinyl Under $300
If you have some extra money, the Klipsch R-41PM offers the same high-quality Klipsch sound but without the need for an amplifier, as these are powered speakers. They also come with various connectivity options, including Bluetooth.
Best Speakers for Vinyl Under $600
ELAC Uni-Fi 2.0 UB5
If you’re in need of something with more volume than a traditional, compact bookshelf speaker, the ELAC Uni-Fi 2.0 UB5 is a large 3-way speaker that will fill even a large room with crystal clear, deep rich sound.
Best Speakers for Vinyl Under $100
I have two recommendations for the best speakers for vinyl under $100. Each of these choices is comprised of compact powered speakers, which are perfect for easy listening.
The Klipsch R-41M is another great speaker set for vinyl players. They follow the conventional bookshelf speaker design as a whole, but they are absolutely beautiful with the drivers exposed, showing the classic Klipsch bronze spun-copper drivers. These speakers tend to retail anywhere from $130 to $180, so they make it into the sub-$150 range. Note that these speakers are passive and need to connect to a suitable amplifier.
The R-41M has the most output for a speaker in the under $150 selections, with a 50-watt output. The Klipsch R-41M features a 4” woofer, a 1″ aluminum LTS tweeter, and a 90×90 square Tractrix horn. The result is a speaker with a classy, balanced sound signature with sufficient volume for both small and medium rooms and a lot of versatility.
The Tractrix Horn is developed to reduce artificial reverb, essentially looking to provide you with a better representation of the artist’s intentions. Sometimes the design of the speaker can result in artificial reverb. Even though the Klipsch R-41M is often included in home theatre setups, they offer much value to the casual vinyl listener. While the signature is nice and balanced, you can also use the treble and bass dials to adjust the sound to your liking. We often state that sound is more about preference; these speakers let you pick yours.
These speakers are extremely popular for a reason. They’re a reliable, affordable, and great-sounding pair of bookshelf speakers, and as long as you’re alright with having to wire them up to an amp and don’t require active speakers – these speakers are a really good choice.
Why We Recommend It
This speaker was selected for its overall sound quality, which is hard to beat in the sub-$150 range. While it does require an amplifier to drive it, they are hard to beat in terms of value. They are also quite compact, which is great for smaller spaces.
The Edifier R1280T is a budget-focused bookshelf speaker that is suitable for small to medium-sized rooms. It features individual bass and treble control, along with volume control. This speaker is available in two similar variations; the R1280T model is a wired solution, while the R1280BT incorporates Bluetooth connectivity.
These are compact speakers, measuring just 6.9 x 9.5 x 5.8″, and aesthetically blend in well with lighter room designs. The grilles are quite light, which makes them feel a little out of place in a dark room design, and we wouldn’t say they’re the best-looking speakers on this list, but their audio performance is still relatively impressive for the price range.
Behind the grille is a 4″ woofer along with a 1/2″ tweeter. The sound presentation, in turn, lacks some bass compared to the more expensive alternatives. If you’re looking for more bass, you can use the bass control, but there is some muddiness that comes through when cranking the bass, and it can overpower the lower midrange.
This speaker is best suited for those looking for an affordable choice and limited in space. They are best for casual listening.
Why We Recommend It
The Edifier R1280T is a safe purchase. While it doesn’t do anything particularly extraordinary and is somewhat limited in connectivity, the sound quality is good, and the build quality is also impressive. Because this is an active speaker, you won’t need to pay more for an amplifier.
The PreSonus Eris E5 is a compact and affordable reference speaker, and while its sound profile isn’t the best out there for reference, they do provide an affordable option for a vinyl speaker that can easily stand toe-to-toe with other speakers in a higher price range. These are some truly affordable speakers and can typically be found for around $100.
The rear controls of the Eris E5 allow for the adjustment of the input gain as well as acoustic tuning for mids and highs. In addition, there are controls over the low cutoff and acoustic space. You’ll find an unbalanced RCA, along with balanced TRS and XLR inputs, below the tuning controls.
When it comes to sound quality, you’re not going to get a lot of bass response out of this speaker, which is going to be something you need to consider, depending on what you’re looking to get out of the speaker. For casual listening at low volume levels, you may not miss it – but if you’re someone who tends to enjoy a bassy sound, this can be a deal breaker. The midrange and highs are much better represented, with a balanced sound that is appealing with few problems. There is something to be said about the high signal-to-noise ratio, though, but this can be somewhat expected at this price point.
Why We Recommend It
These are a great choice if you’re working with very limited space. They are extremely compact, and while not perfect – they do offer a great ‘plug and play’ solution for your vinyl player. The sound profile isn’t as balanced as some other reference monitors, but for vinyl listening, this isn’t going to be as much of a problem as if you were using them for production.
Best Speakers for Vinyl Under $350
The following speakers all fall between $150 and $350. These speakers tend to offer increased audio performance and additional features over the first selections. This is where the best value tends to lie.
Sony’s SSCS5 is one of the company’s more affordable bookshelf speaker models. Despite their moderate size, they are still more than capable of producing some solid sound performance. With the grille on, these speakers look fairly inconspicuous, but when removed and the drivers exposed – one can really get an appreciation for the design of the SSCS5. The rear of the speaker features a universal binding post, which supports both bare wire and banana plugs.
These speakers feature a primary 5.12” woofer and ¾” tweeter. The larger woofer is one reason the SSCS5 is a bit larger than some similar competitors. We’re typically used to seeing 4” woofers in speakers in this price range that perform to this level. One of the benefits of this larger woofer is the impressive bass response on these speakers.
The bass response is tight and punchy but with a solid thump to them. That’s not to say these speakers are heavily focused on the low range, as they are still mostly balanced. The frequency response range spans from 53Hz to 50kHz, and this broad response range is noticeable in the listening, with music depth being represented well across this spectrum.
Because they are a little bit larger compared to the AudioEngine A1, they won’t be ideal for compact vinyl environments where you don’t have much room to work with. But still, with the dimensions of 7.9 x 13.2 x 8.7”, they are far from large speakers and should cater well to most environments.
Why We Recommend It
This set of speakers features a three-way driver configuration that we don’t often see in speakers of this size. The dedicated low-end driver provides an improved bass response over the competition. If you’re looking for great sound with a deep bass response, these may be what you’re looking for.
5. Klipsch R-41PM Speakers
Not to be confused with the similarly named R-41M that we listed above, the R-41PM has a lot of similarities to the passive R-41M when it comes to appearance, but what’s ‘under the hood’ is a very different story. The Klipsch R-41PM is a powered bookshelf speaker that doesn’t need an external amplifier. It is a big leg up over the R-41M to many vinyl users who don’t want to increase the amount of space they are using with an additional amplifier.
In addition to the built-in amp, the R-41PM comes with a broad assortment of connectivity choices. While it doesn’t have Wi-Fi, it offers Bluetooth, phono, 3.5mm, USB Digital, and Optical Digital inputs. There is also a single output for connecting a subwoofer.
Regarding performance, the R-41PM sounds great and offers a similar sound presentation to the Klipsch R-41M in terms of signature. However, these speakers are louder. The sound signature is perhaps, if anything, a little more recessed in the low end than the 41M. These speakers offer a response range 76Hz – 21kHz, which impacts the low-end bass performance a bit, with not much low-end rumble. So if you’re looking to get a good bass response for EDM or Hip-Hop, it is likely that you’ll want to pair them with a dedicated subwoofer. For most other traditional genres, you may find the bass sufficient.
These speakers are a bit more expensive than their counterparts. The selling point for these is the combination of inputs along with wireless technology while retaining a great sound.
Why We Recommend It
These bookshelf speakers are very similar to the R-41M in some regards. Still, the broad range of connectivity options and active powering means that they are more versatile than the R-41M, but they do still carry a similarly high level of audio quality.
The Edifier R2000DB delivers an impressive combined output of 120W and could be thought of as the big brother to the R1280T we listed above. These powered speakers have multiple inputs, including two line levels, an optical, and Bluetooth.
Cables include RCA-RCA, RCA-⅛ inch, and an optical cable. A remote control allows you to control the volume, switch between inputs, and pair Bluetooth devices.
These speakers are available in two color variations, a classic wooden finish for lighter room environments and also a dark option that blends in well with darker room finishes.
They are larger than the R1280T and feature a larger 5″ woofer and 1″ tweeter, and produce a lot more volume.
When it comes to the sound profile of these speakers, they do suffer a bit when pushing the volume, and you won’t be able to crank them up without getting some low-end distortion. Similarly to the R1280T, these speakers do their best work in the midrange and the highs.
Why We Recommend It
These speakers have been selected for their overall value and extensive connectivity support. While somewhat similar to the R1280T, these have a better overall sound with improved low-end performance in particular. The Bluetooth connectivity is also a nice addition for those looking for better versatility.
Best Speakers for Vinyl Under $600
With a little more budget to play with, we can start looking at pairing passive speakers with receivers or amplifiers. This means more power and improved sound quality. This is where things start to get exciting!
In the under $600 price bracket, I’ve put together two of the best speaker choices with one amplifier. For amplification, I have chosen the Onkyo TX-8220 2 Channel Stereo Receiver with Bluetooth. The TX-8220 has multiple inputs, most importantly a phono with earth grounding. Other inputs include CD, DVD, cable/satellite, line, optical, and coaxial.
A pre-output for the subwoofer means you can connect a powered subwoofer if you choose. There is a line output should you wish to link out. The speaker outputs can drive up to 100W at 6 ohms. It’s recommended you use 18 gauge speaker cable for runs up to 25 feet and thicker for longer than 25 feet.
This speaker follows a familiar bookshelf speaker design, but this is no ordinary bookshelf speaker. While we’re used to seeing larger 3-way speakers readily available, it’s not often we come across a speaker of this size that offers a dedicated tweeter, mid-range, and bass driver. The highs are handled with a 1” soft dome tweeter, while a single 4” aluminum driver provides a warm mid-range. For the low end, there’s a 5 ¼ inch aluminum woofer.
ELAC is regularly associated with premium-sounding speakers, and the Uni-Fi 2.0 UB52 is a great example of this philosophy. The sound is the key feature of these speakers, and if you’re looking for an accurate and full experience – these speakers won’t disappoint. Because they have a dedicated bass woofer, you’ll find that the bass presentation provides a clean thump with a richness that is rarely found in speakers of this size. These bookshelf speakers excel across all frequencies with their balanced and warm presentation.
Because these are passive speakers, you’ll need to run them into an amplifier. They are 6 Ohm speakers and can be used with amplifiers that offer between 4 and 8 Ohms. Regarding power, the ELAC Uni-Fi 2.0 UB52 has a maximum input of 140W.
These speakers aren’t cheap and don’t have all the connections typically found in some active speakers. But if you truly love audio and want the best sound, finding a better-sounding bookshelf speaker for your vinyl player will be hard.
Why We Recommend It
The ELAC Uni-Fi 2.0 UB52 is a great-sounding bookshelf speaker that, despite its size, is able to produce a big sound that can fill a fairly large room. If you’re looking for a bookshelf speaker and have money to spend, this ELAC speaker won’t disappoint.
The Sony SS-CS3 is a moderately sized floor-standing speaker that has become a beloved home entertainment speaker over the last half a decade or so. When it comes to the size of these speakers, they fall into the small to medium size range, with a height of just over 36”. They’re larger than something like the Dayton Audio T652 but shorter than the popular Polk Audio Monitor 70 Series II which is around 5” larger.
The SS-CS3 is likely going to be overkill for just a vinyl player speaker set. However, these speakers offer the ability to provide all-in-one audio to your home entertainment setup. Naturally, as with most floor-standing speakers, these passive speakers require a suitable amplifier to drive. So if you’re looking for a direct speaker connection to your vinyl player, a phono amp will not cut it.
The volume on these speakers can easily fill a large room, thanks to the two 5.12″ woofers housed in each unit and a single 0.98″ dome tweeter in each unit. The peak power on these speakers is 145W, and they have an impedance of 6 Ohms.
One of the highlights of these speakers is the way they sound. While the bass is not very dominant, it is punchy and accurate. You won’t find any distortion or muddiness in the low end, and the mids and highs both shine with vibrancy. They sound really good across all frequencies. However, if you are someone who prefers a more V-shaped sound signature and requires a lot of low end in your music, you could add a subwoofer to fill out the low end even more.
The soundstage is particularly appealing, and when cranked, the sound from these speakers can swallow a small room – but still sound clear and intelligible.
Why We Recommend It
The SS-CS3 is another floor-standing option that brings great audio quality and substantial sound to the table. They’re not quite as large as some other floor-standing speakers, so if you are working with limited vertical space, these could be a good option for you.
Starting with the powered speaker pair, I have the Klipsch R-28PF. Each speaker features a dual 8″ subwoofer and 1″ dome tweeter. The combined power output is 260W!
The R-28PF comes with a built-in phono preamp with switchable RCA line/phono input. This will greatly reduce the amount of electronic equipment and cabling. If you’re looking for a clean, uncomplicated setup, you won’t find it better than a pair of R-28PFs.
Other inputs include USB, optical, and Bluetooth. This allows you to connect your PC, TV, and any Bluetooth device. A sub-out gives you the option to link to a powered sub. A pair of Klipsch R-10SW or R-12SW are good options to pair with the R-28PFs.
In terms of performance, these speakers have a lot of power to them and can easily fill large rooms with crystal-clear sound that can be pushed hard without distortion becoming a problem.
The R-28PF comes with remote control and cabling, including a speaker link.
Why We Recommend It
These floor-standing speakers provide a lot of features and great sound. It’s one of the few large speakers in this range to offer Bluetooth support, and with what it brings to the table in terms of audio performance, it’s hard not to recommend this speaker to those who need to fill a large room with quality sound.
Buyer’s Guide For Vinyl Speakers
If you’re not comfortable blindly buying a pair of vinyl speakers without understanding what makes them a good choice, we’ve put together this vinyl speaker guide that will run through some of the essential considerations and nuances of this purchase.
Understanding Active vs. Passive Speakers
When considering which speakers for vinyl to buy, you’ll come across the terms ‘passive’ or ‘active’ monitors. You may also see the term ‘monitors,’ which is just another term for speakers. More specifically, monitors are the speakers used as a listening reference and tend to focus on providing a balanced sound signature.
Active speakers (also referred to as powered speakers) are the most common type of speaker you’ll find in consumer goods. In simplest terms, active speakers don’t require an external amplifier. Active speakers have a built-in amplifier.
Active speakers plug into a power socket, and the audio signal is connected straight into the speaker, usually via RCA, ⅛ inch (3.5mm) AUX input, or Bluetooth.
Passive speakers are preferred in professional audio applications where the user requires more control and processing. You have to go through an amplifier to get a signal to a passive speaker.
Surround sound systems are a common example of a passive speaker application. A passive surround sound system will have several speakers, each with a cable connecting to an amplifier. Each speaker receives a signal and power from the amplifier. No amplifier, no sound.
Passive speakers do require some technical knowledge to match power and impedance. Usually, the manufacturer will indicate this in the spec sheet or description of the product. You should now understand the fundamental difference between active and passive speakers.
You may come across passive speakers that are cheaper than active speakers. You need to keep in mind that passive speakers will require the additional purchase of an amplifier. If you already have an amplifier, you must ensure you match the power and impedance correctly.
Phono vs. Line Level Outputs
Line level is the output found on all modern consumer electronics devices, usually via a jack or RCA connection.
Phono outputs are only found on record players and turntables. The word ‘phono’ comes from ‘phonograph,’ the original name for a record player. Some record players have a built-in phono preamp, which switches the output to line output.
If your record player only has a phono output, you can purchase a phono preamp for less than $20. Here is one from Pyle.
A phono preamp is a small box with an RCA input (phono from a record player) and RCA output (phono signal converted to line level). The line level output from the phono preamp can then be connected directly to your speakers without going through a HiFi amp or mixer.
RCA to ⅛ inch (3.5mm) Jack – This cable goes from your PC headphone output to the Line or PC input on a powered.
RCA to RCA – This cable can be used to connect the record player or phono preamp to the AUX input on speakers or HiFi.
Speaker Cable – The second speaker requires power and a signal from the powered speaker. This cable connects from Speaker Out on the powered speaker to the input on the second speaker.
Give careful consideration to the space you’re working with; for a home entertainment setup with a vinyl player included, you will be better off incorporating a full home audio speaker setup featuring something like floor-standing options that lack portability but have more volume.
On the other hand, you may have a small dedicated spot for your vinyl player in your office or bedroom, and having a compact speaker is going to be more beneficial. Before buying a speaker, consider what kind of space you’re working with and purchase according to your needs and capabilities.
Bluetooth is the preferred choice of speaker nowadays. Ease of use and eliminating cables are the main reasons people prefer Bluetooth. For digital audio formats like MP3, Bluetooth is acceptable. Record players and turntables produce an analog audio signal which does not work well with wireless connectivity.
Using Bluetooth to connect your vinyl record player to a set of speakers will result in frequency loss, changes in tone and volume, and may introduce noise. Regarding analog, a cable is the best option to ensure the best quality playback.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have Bluetooth speakers. I’d recommend you have your record player or turntable connected to your speakers via cable and then use the Bluetooth on the speakers to connect your phone and other Bluetooth devices.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I get active or passive speakers?
An active speaker will be a better choice for casual listening as there is typically no additional investment around amplification required. With that said passive speakers will sometimes offer better quality as you can pair them with a higher-quality amp.
Do I need Bluetooth?
Bluetooth isn’t very important for vinyl speakers, but if you’re looking to get more versatility out of your speaker setup and want to use your speakers for other music outside of your vinyl player – Bluetooth can be extremely useful.
What speakers should I choose for a large room?
Some bookshelf-style speakers can cater to a large room, but in most cases, a floor-standing speaker system will give you the best results for a large area.