As technology advances, minimalism becomes one of the latest trends, necessitating the reduction of large components. This is probably the biggest reason why some turntable owners feel that ditching the receiver makes sense.
Some are asking the question, “Can I connect my turntable directly to speakers without the receiver?”
While connecting your turntable directly to speakers without using a receiver is totally possible, it isn’t exactly conventional.
Also, you can only connect your turntable directly to speakers if, and only if, your turntable has an inbuilt preamp and your speakers have an inbuilt amplifier.
Using a receiver with the speakers results in better sound quality. It also enables you to easily switch between audio inputs, which are a huge bonus if you have multiple audio sources like a CD/DVD player, TV, and so on.
These are the reasons why most people still want to connect their turntable to speakers using a receiver. However, if you prefer minimalism and want to keep things as simple as possible, ditching the receiver could make sense.
Now you know that you can connect your turntable directly to speakers but before we discuss the how let’s take a look at what a standard setup (with receiver) is and the pros and cons of ditching a turntable.
A Standard Setup
A standard setup requires these major components (connection also follows a similar sequence) – the turntable, a preamplifier, an amplifier, speakers, some cables, and wires needed to connect these components.
A receiver is often needed to connect the turntable and other video and audio components to a speaker. The receiver usually has an inbuilt amplifier to boost the audio so that it can be played by the speakers.
Some receiver models, especially the older ones, have inbuilt preamps too. The preamp can sometimes be a standalone unit or integrated into the turntable.
The receiver also has several inputs for the different components, enabling you to connect your turntable, record player, CD player, TV, and so on at the same time.
With the receiver’s several inputs, you don’t have to connect or disconnect the speakers to the different audio sources, whenever you want to switch from one audio source to another. The receiver has several outputs, which enable you to connect different speakers.
Connecting a Turntable Directly to Speakers
This refers to connecting speakers to your turntable without any intermediate device like a preamp or amplifier (receiver).When you remove the receiver, you also lose the amplifier in it.
So, to connect a turntable directly to speakers without a receiver, you’ll need a turntable with an inbuilt preamp and a powered/active speaker (a speaker with an inbuilt amplifier).
Also, without a receiver, it becomes more complicated to switch between each of your audio sources. You would only have to manually rewire them together or have a separate set of speakers for each source.
Pros and Cons of Connecting a Turntable Directly to Speakers
Cost: Connecting a turntable directly to speakers helps to reduce costs. Buying a turntable, preamp, amplifier, and speakers as standalone units will generally cost more.
However, a turntable with an inbuilt preamp costs about $100 to $150 while a decent pair of powered speakers cost about $100 to $150.
Fewer Components: If you have less space to accommodate a standalone preamp and a standalone amplifier, then you need fewer components. This will make the setup look tidy.
More so, fewer components enable easy setup and the ability to take the setup with you somewhere – enhanced portability.
Fewer cables: As stated above, all the components of a standard turntable setup are connected using more cables and wires – signal cables, cables to ground the preamp, and speaker wires.
However, you only need one signal cable to connect the turntable with the speakers and two power cables to connect both units to power sources. This makes the connection look neat.
Poor Sound: Integrated units do not generate as much good sound qualities as separate components. For instance, if you love Hi-Fi sound production, you’ll need to use standalone components.
One of the reasons why manufacturers produce and sell integrated units is to make the system more affordable and not to make the system sound better.
Hence, standalone components will generate better sound quality than systems that bundle components together.
Upgradability: While integrated components improve portability, it deters upgradability. When components are bundled together, it becomes very difficult or impossible to upgrade the different components one by one.
Fewer inputs: Normally, the receiver is the component that enables the connection of the system with diverse sources, peripherals, and devices – thanks to the several inputs.
So, if you have lots of sources that you want to connect to the setup, integrated units are not the best as powered speakers have few input connectors.
A standalone audio receiver will drive passive speakers and still give you the option to connect a turntable, a CD/DVD player, a radio, your TV, a digital streamer, and so on. But powered speakers do not have all these options.
What Is the Difference Between an Amplifier and A Receiver?
Both terms are often used interchangeably as there are very few differences between an amplifier and a stereo receiver and these differences are not in the main function but additional features.
However, an amplifier is technically a component that takes low-level signals from input sources and amplifies/boosts them so that the signals become stronger on the output (speaker) side.
An amplifier can take the signal from a turntable, CD/DVD player, mic, and so on and boost it so that it can be reproduced by speakers.
A receiver, on the other hand, is also an amplifier but has several extra inbuilt features. For instance, a receiver can have an inbuilt radio, an inbuilt digital-to-analog converter (DAC), an inbuilt Dolby surround decoder, and so on.
Though connecting your turntable to speakers using a standalone receiver is better, the receiver isn’t everything, especially if you want to keep your setup as minimalist as possible.
When you remove the receiver, you lose the amplifier it contains. This means you need either an external amplifier or active speakers.
Also called powered speakers, they have an internal amplifier, so there is no need for an external amplifier with powered speakers.
Connecting your turntable to speakers without a receiver is possible and is fairly easy and straightforward (as long as your turntable has an inbuilt preamp and your speakers have an inbuilt amplifier), but you’re going to end up with compromised sound quality.
But if you want the best possible sound quality, foregoing the receiver is not the best idea. You can’t go without a receiver or amplifier and still expect a top-notch sound quality.
However, if that’s not a huge deal to you and you want to keep things simple, then all you need is a pair of active speakers (and perhaps a preamp if your turntable doesn’t have an inbuilt preamp).