Understanding Why Turntables Need Speakers

My girlfriend asked me last Saturday, “Hey, why does your turntable need external speakers? My dad just bought a record player, and he can straight away play vinyl records.” I explained to her the difference between her dad’s record player and my turntable and also why turntables need speakers in the best way possible.

If you have this question, chances are either you are planning to buy a turntable, or you are just curious to know the main difference between the two. Well, let me give you a straightforward answer.

Yes, turntables do need speakers because they don’t have an integrated speaker system of their own like an all-in-one record player.

To get a more in-depth answer, let’s get to know how a turntable actually works.

How does a turntable work?

Before we get to the importance of speakers, it is important to know how a turntable, which is slightly different from a record player, works. A turntable is an audio device that has a platter responsible for rotating vinyl records at different speeds, typically 33 1/3, 45, and 78 RPM (Rotations per minute).

As soon as the record starts spinning, the stylus (needle) starts tracking the vinyl grooves and produces vibrations that are further converted into small electrical signals. The electrical signals are then boosted by a preamp, amplified by an amplifier and converted into sound by the external speakers or headphones.

Why do turntables need speakers?

Understanding why turntables need external speakers

While record players are a complete vinyl-playing solution, Turntables, on the other hand, are only used for spinning vinyl records and don’t come with inbuilt speakers. Hence, to produce audio that you can hear, they need additional external speakers.

You may think that this is a limitation of a turntable, and you may be right to some extent. But like any coin has two sides, the turntable also has advantages and disadvantages. If you are someone who wants a tremendous sound experience, a turntable gives you an opportunity to connect top-notch speakers.

By connecting your turntable to a high-end speaker, you can fully enjoy the warmth and high-quality music that your vinyl records offer.

With this, let’s discuss the detailed benefits of having external speakers for your turntable.

No built-in speakers

Turntables don’t have built-in speakers; you need external speakers to get sound out of them.

While this may seem like a disadvantage to a few people, for audiophiles, this feature lets them enhance their audio setup according to their specific music needs. 

Better sound quality

Top-notch external speakers are designed to produce better sound quality and higher fidelity than record player built-in speakers. They can produce a full range of frequencies (from high to low), giving you a much better listening experience.

Reduced interference

The built-in speakers on a record player often suffer from interference or vibrations in sound caused by the motor or other components. Connecting external speakers helps solve this issue, thus offering a richer audio experience.

Easy to upgrade

Another advantage of having external speakers is that you don’t have to stick to a specific set of speakers. As your listening preferences change, you can easily upgrade your audio setup with the speakers that best suit your music taste. 

Fun Fact: In the first twenty years after the invention of the phonograph, from 1890 – 1910, more and more people were inspired to become music teachers and performers. 

Selecting the right speakers 

If you have money to spend, choosing top-notch speakers will greatly enhance your analogue setup. 

Here are the things to keep in mind while selecting the right speakers for your player.


Before making a purchase, check the speaker’s compatibility with your turntable. Some turntables may require an external phono preamp to boost the sound signals.


Decide what level of sound quality you want and how much you can spend on a speaker. Remember that a high-end speaker may be costlier, but it will always do justice to the music produced by your favourite record grooves.


Before ordering the speakers, consider the size of your room and how much space you are ready to give them. While big speakers provide excellent audio, they might be too large for compact spaces.


Don’t forget the speaker aesthetics, as it will be an integral part of your vinyl player setup. Look for a design that is more aesthetic, compliments your turntable and reflects your style.

Different ways to connect speakers to turntable

You have purchased your speakers, but how will you connect them? Let’s have a look.

Integrated phono Preamp

If your turntable has an integrated phono preamp, you can connect it directly to a powered speaker using the RCA cable (usually red and white).

Here is how you can do it:

  • First, connect the cable to the RCA output of your turntable.
  • Then connect the other end of the cable to RCA input in your turntable.

If your turntable and external speakers both have a 3.5 mm jack, you can also connect them using an AUX cable.

External phono preamp

If your turntable doesn’t have a built-in preamp, you don’t need to worry.

  • Just get an external phono preamp 
  • Connect the turntable RCA cables (red and white) to inputs on the external preamp.
  • Connect the output of the external preamp to the line input available on the amplifier.
  • Then, connect your speakers to the amplifier output.  

Bluetooth connectivity

If your turntable and speakers have a wireless connectivity option, you can easily connect them by following the steps mentioned in the instruction manual.

If you own an Audio Technica turntable, here is how to connect it to Bluetooth speakers and headphones.

Final beat

A turntable needs additional components, such as amplifiers and speakers, to produce sound. However, this also empowers it to produce excellent-quality sound compared to any record player’s built-in speakers.

With great external speakers, you can elevate your audio setup to a whole new level that creates an exceptional sound experience.

Also, in the comments, let me know which speakers you bought for your turntable and what you think about them. CHEERS!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do turntables come with built-in speakers?

No, turntables do not come with built-in speakers and can only spin the vinyl record. In order to produce sound out of vinyl records they need external speakers either connected through cable or Bluetooth. Some turntables also need external pre-amp if it’s not built-in.

Do expensive turntables sound better?

Top-notch and expensive turntables have better components such as well-balanced tonearm, great quality stylus and cartridge with appropriate downward tracking force that makes them sound better than the cheap turntables available.

Do all turntables need a preamp?

It depends on the turntable you are using. You don’t need an external preamp if the turntable has a built-in preamp.

Russel Hawkins - About the author

About the author

Russ Hawkins is a passionate audiophile who loves to collect vinyl records. In his leisure time, you will find him either listening to his favorite music albums or playing with his dog Max. He loves writing about vinyl, turntables, record players, and everything music!

Leave a Comment