As a beginner, you may be wondering what equipment you need to get your record player up and running? In this guide, you will learn what you need to know about the different accessories and gear that come with a turntable.
What accessories do you need for your new turntable?
You need to have at least the following accessories for your turntable to work:
- Preamplifier: A preamplifier boosts and converts the subtle signals from the needle.
- Power amplifier: The sound is processed for the speakers.
- High-quality speakers: Good speakers make listening to music on the turntable much more enjoyable!
These accessories are must-haves for a high-quality turntable:
- Solid cinch cable: This ensures a perfect transmission between the turntable and the amplifier!
- Brush for cleaning records: In order to keep your record collection in good condition, you can use to keep dust and possible scratches away. Read more here.
- Needle cleaning kit: This is used to clean the turntable’s needle.
- Hi-fi rack or phono furniture: A solid base for your turntable is essential for a great resonance-free sound.
- Good headphones: Another possibility is to use a good pair of headphones. Depending on the turntable this can be wired or Bluetooth headphones.
- The best records: Of course, your favorite vinyl records shouldn’t be missing either!
Exceptional cases are turntables that already have internal preamps or speakers or active speakers that already have a built-in amplifier. In the following, we go into each accessory in a little more detail.
Essential accessories to connect your turntable
What many beginners don’t even know: A turntable alone usually doesn’t make music! You can find out which accessories you absolutely need to get your new record player up and running here:
The preamp (short for preamplifier) prepares the signal from the turntable for the power amplifier, ie the “normal” amplifier, and adjusts it accordingly. If This is because the information that the pickup provides alone is still too “weak”. In addition, further settings can be made on the preamplifier :
- for example adjustment of the volume,
- but also corrections to the frequency response (i.e. the sound).
The purchase of this accessory is not always necessary, because the preamplifier is often already integrated into the device, and this more often the case with the more budget-friendly turntables. A lot of suitcase turntables come to mind but these are usually low-quality devices that can actually damage your vinyl records really fast. Therefore we have made a list of the best turntables with a built-in preamp.
The high-end vinyl lovers prefer a high-quality external preamp. The purchase of a separate preamplifier can, therefore, be a smart move since the “integrated” parts usually do not offer the best quality. In many cases, you can get a ” few percent more power ” with a separate preamplifier. We have made a list on what we think are the best budget preamps out there, as some models can get really expensive.
If you want to read more in-depth information on the different setups and need for a preamplifier follow our guide.
Tip: To find out whether your turntable has a preamplifier integrated either look into the product description or on the cable ports of the device. In addition, every turntable with a USB port has usually installed a preamplifier and with some models, you are able to turn it off via a hardware button so you are able to connect a separate preamplifier.
Power amplifier (the power amplifier)
The regular amplifier is also called the power amplifier. It increases the low-frequency audio signal from the turntable or pre-amplifier to a level at which it can be reproduced by the speakers. A good amplifier takes sound quality to the next level.
Phono cable (RCA or RCA)
The phono cable is used to transmit audio or video signals. The name “RCA” comes from the “Radio Corporation of America”, which introduced the design in the 1940s. The cable standard is still used today on all audio devices.
What do the colors mean on these cables?
The color codes for the cables have the following meaning:
- Yellow stands for the video signal,
- Red for the right audio channel
- White / black for the left channel of the stereo signal.
This trio can be found on the back of almost all audio or video equipment. The yellow video cable is not always included especially with the higher end audio equipment since these are not used anyway in a record player setup.
The speaker is the last part of the chain as it converts the electrical vibrations generated by the turntable and manipulated by the amplifiers back into mechanical vibrations (i.e. sound). Therefore, no boxes obviously mean no sound.
No matter what you do, do not save money on the speakers! Good boxes can usually be used for a very long time. So the money invested definitely pays off over the years, even if the purchase goes beyond your budget at the beginning.
- Bookshelf speakers fit into the smallest of spaces and ensure a decent sound.
- Floorstanding speakers fill larger rooms with music.
Accessories for the maintenance and cleaning of your turntable
Besides the accessories that are necessary to play your records, there is also equipment to help take care of your turntable and records. It is important as it can help with the endurance of your equipment and thus, in the long run, saving you money.
Even if you store your records in perfect conditions (dry, clean …), dust cannot be completely avoided. Unfortunately, vinyl tends to attract it like a magnet. So how can you clean your records?
Needle cleaning kit
The needle of the turntable is the most sensitive part of the turntable. When playing records, it jumps over every grain of dust – this is then noticeable in the familiar crackling, which is often associated with that warm vinyl sound, however, it is not particularly good for collection.
A simple cleaning set ensures the best conditions for your needle while listening to music with ease. If you want to know more you can read our guide on how to keep your record collection in great condition.
If your turntable has an integrated preamplifier, the following accessories are necessary.
- A (power) amplifier
- Cinch cable
The difference between amplifier and preamplifier is quite clear:
- A preamplifier amplifies a weak signal that the amplifier can work with.
- An amplifier, on the other hand, converts the signal for the speakers.
Read more about it in our article does a record player need an amplifier?