Everything you need for a vinyl setup: The top turntables, speakers, and more

  • Published
  • Posted in Tech News
  • 9 mins read

There is a reason that vinyl has made a resurgence and is still around, even with more “modern” ways to listen to music like Spotify. Listening to vinyl records provides a unique experience that just can’t be replicated.

Also: The best record players

The sound of vinyl records is much more unique than the streaming services or CDs we have available today: it has a distinctly surface crackle and distortion that comes off as a warm, mid-range sound with better depth than other audio types. But there are a lot of different aspects when it comes to creating that vinyl sound listeners know and love. Aside from the turntable, there’s an entire setup of speakers, a stereo receiver, and more working together to produce that distinct sound.

If you’re getting into vinyl and just starting to create a setup in your home, I’ve broken down everything you may need for a beginner vinyl setup. As a vinyl listener with a vintage setup, I know it can be overwhelming when starting your vinyl journey. Hopefully, this guide will steer you in the right direction so you can have an easy-to-use setup (that you can eventually build out with higher-end equipment over time).

A turntable 

Although vinyl records are made to be listened to on a classic analog-style turntable, technology has allowed Bluetooth to be built into modern-day turntables to provide more options to different kinds of listeners. Below, I’ve included the best turntables with easy beginner setups.

If you’re starting from scratch, you probably don’t want to spend too much on your setup, and the Audio-Technica Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT-BK is a great budget option at just over $200. It has a fully automatic belt-drive operation so you can plug it in and play it, without having to mess with a belt. Its convenient features like a built-in phono amp, Bluetooth, and auto start-stop make it beginner-friendly, and won’t ruin your vinyl records like some other cheap turntable competitors.

The Fluence RT81 Elite is known for its pure analog listening experience, and it’s priced fairly well at $250, making it a great starter turntable. It comes equipped with an Audio-Technica AT95E Cartridge that produces clear sound free of noise and distortion since it rests on your records at just 2.0 grams of tracking force. There’s also a useful auto-stop feature to help prevent unnecessary wear on your needle.

The great thing about this record player is that there are different ways to listen to your music. You can connect it via AUX or phono output if you want to use the turntable amplifier, a receiver amplifier, or a dedicated preamp, meaning it works with both new and vintage setups.

I went hands-on with this turntable and enjoyed connecting it to noise-canceling headphones via Bluetooth and listening to the subtle vinyl crackles that come through the headphones while working.

ReviewAudio-Technica’s new turntable puts a modern spin on an old classic

For those looking to upgrade to a new turntable, this Pro-Ject one is a great option. The company prides itself in having “no hollow spaces” in its turntables, meaning there won’t be unwanted vibrations on the plinth. The heaviness of its 8mm thick glass platter reduces the tonearm wobble from those unwanted vibrations.

Just keep in mind that you have to handle the belt drive manually on this one.

A stereo receiver 

A receiver setup allows you to upgrade your speakers (or use vintage ones) or add a subwoofer, and a receiver usually has a built-in phono preamp so you don’t have to buy an external one. Especially if you inherited your parents’ turntable and are looking to put it to good use, a stereo receiver will be essential for your setup.

This receiver is an all-in-one device for your setup with features like a phono output, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth compatibility, optical and coaxial audio outputs for a TV, and it even works with Amazon Alexa voice control.

It delivers 100W per channel (two channels total), which is plenty of power. Plus, you can play around with its EQ settings to adjust the sound to your preference. 

At $150, this Sony receiver is a great budget pick that still packs a punch. It also has 100 watts of power, as well as a phono input, four stereo RCA audio inputs, and a 3.5mm input for headphones. Built-in Bluetooth lets you wirelessly connect to a Bluetooth turntable or your smartphone.

This reliable receiver is perfect for someone new to vinyl or just starting to build out their audio setup. Plus, its 100w power supply still packs a punch in sound.

If you really want to ramp up your setup with multiple speakers, this is the receiver for the job. It drives a single pair of speakers or two pairs of speakers via A/B speaker connections so you can enjoy listening to your vinyl record in a different room of your house.

In addition, the receiver’s low-impedance Wide Range Amplification Technology (WRAT) uses a massive EI transformer to drive your speakers accurately, so that the sound quality of your vinyl doesn’t suffer.


While some turntables come with built-in speakers, it’s best to avoid those setups (yes, I’m talking about the Crosley suitcase turntables). You’ll need separate speakers for vinyl to hook up to your turntable for the best quality sound. Here are some of my top picks.

The Audioengine A5+ are active speakers that give you high-quality vinyl listening sound. They have analog class A/B power amplifiers with dual analog audio inputs for connecting multiple devices simultaneously, a 24-bit DAC, and Bluetooth aptX HD. This means you can play Bluetooth from your phone or another device, an aux input from a computer or tablet, and an analog input from your turntable.

The great thing about the Kanto YU4 speakers is that they have a built-in phono preamp. Since (most) vintage record players don’t have a phono preamp built in, you’d need a receiver to act as the preamp, so if your record player is older, these speakers eliminate the need for a receiver.

These bookshelf speakers get up to 140W of peak power and have a frequency response of 60 Hz – 20 kHz.

These bookshelf speakers have numerous connections no matter what your setup looks like, including RCA, Bluetooth, auxiliary, optical, and coaxial. While the overall power is relatively low (42 watts for both speakers), the sound quality is still good for $150.

A pair of headphones

While speakers are the most popular way to listen to vinyl, listening to your turntable via headphones lets you forgo room acoustics and allows for a more accurate sound presentation. Plus, if you have roommates, it’s a great way to listen to your vinyl collection without disturbing others. The best headphones for listening to vinyl will have noise-canceling capabilities and comfortable features.

These Audio-Technica headphones were made for studio listening and have excellent noise isolation. With 45mm large-aperture drivers and aluminum wire voice coils, you receive strong bass matched by an expansive frequency range for greater clarity and detail. 

Plus, the swivel earcups and sound isolation pads provide extra comfort.

Also: The best studio headphones

The WH-1000XM5 headphones raise the bar, offering the best ANC technology yet, with 30 hours of battery life and a quick charging time of three minutes for three hours of activity.

You can even control and optimize your listening experience by customizing the equalizer, connection quality, and more via the Sony app.

Review: Sony’s WH-1000XM5 headphones are basically perfect

These open-back, over-the-ear headphones allow your vinyl music to sound clearer and more immersive, providing better sound quality. Listeners praise these headphones for their decent bass, good mid-sounds, and a forward and detailed treble.

The open-back design also allows for more comfort and a better build. However, this design does mean you’ll get more audio leakage. 

 You might also need:

There are a few other accessories you might find yourself needing in your vinyl setup, especially to keep your records in tip-top shape. 

Here are some key terms to familiarize yourself with everything from the turntable components to speaker qualities.

Plinth: Also sometimes referred to as the cabinet or chassis, the plinth is the main component that holds all of the other parts of the record player together. It’s the usually square or rectangle box that everything else sits on top of.

Platter: The circular surface that spins and where the actual record is placed.

Counterweight: A weight at the opposite end of the tonearm from the cartridge that allows you to adjust the weight placed on the cartridge to reduce wear on your stylus (the actual needle).

Tonearm: The tonearm holds the cartridge and allows it to glide through the grooves as the record spins effortlessly. There are three types of tonearm shapes: straight, J-shaped, and S-shaped.

Cueing level: Makes it so that the tonearm lifts and drops slowly, so you don’t damage the stylus.

Cartridge: Holds the stylus and is located at the end of the tonearm. Converts the vibrations into audio. 

Phono Preamp: An audio component that connects the record player and the amplifier. It boosts the audio signal to a level that can be played through your sound system. 

RPM: Stands for revolutions per minute and describes the different types of records. Records are classified as 78, 33 1/3, and 45. You’ll mostly find records that are 33 1/3 RPM or 45 RPM. 

It’s best to change your stylus every three to five years. Or you can change it if you notice the sound quality changing. To change your stylus, pinch the cartridge’s sides and gently pull out the old stylus. Then, position the new stylus with the needle pointing downward and away from the tonearm and slide it into the cartridge, pressing into it until you hear it click.

Be gentle throughout the process since the stylus is delicate and can be damaged easily.

News Article Courtesy Of »