Boost Your Vinyl Playback with a Turntable and Soundbar Connection

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Vinyl records are making a comeback, but those crisp cracks and pops sound even better through a dedicated sound system.

Connecting your trusty turntable to a compact soundbar combines old school listening with modern convenience.

Let’s explore the method to hook up your record player for room-filling sound.

Can You Connect a Turntable to a Soundbar?

Yes, you can connect a turntable to a soundbar system to take your vinyl playback to the next level.

With the right cables and configurations covered here, the turntable’s phono signals can integrate with the soundbar for amplified, room-filling sound.

We’ll explore the connection process more below.

Why Connect a Turntable to a Soundbar

There are several good reasons why you may want to connect your turntable to a soundbar instead of traditional passive speakers.

First and foremost, enjoying vinyl records through a soundbar can provide improved audio quality over basic television or internal computer speakers.

Soundbars are designed to project sound clearly, creating richer bass and brighter treble than mini built-in speakers can offer. 

Additionally, soundbars provide a more compact audio solution than setting up a component stereo system with separate receivers, amplifiers and passive speakers.

Soundbars are self-powered all-in-one units, making them simple to position in your media console below a wall-mounted flat screen display.

Lastly, while dedicated hi-fi speakers usually provide superior sound performance, they also come with a higher cost.

Soundbars deliver genuine audio enhancement over TV speakers for vinyl playback at reasonable price points.

Equipment Needed

In order to connect your turntable with a soundbar system, you will need to following equipment:

Turntable with Built-In or External Phono Preamplifier

Most modern turntables designed for home hi-fi use will have a phono preamplifier built into the unit.

The phono preamp boosts and balances the phono level audio signal from the turntable to line level so it can then be amplified by a soundbar. 

Turntables lacking an internal phono preamp require connecting to an external phono preamp instead.

External phono preamps sit between the turntable and soundbar to accomplish the same goal.

Soundbar with Analog RCA Audio Inputs

Analog RCA inputs, sometimes labeled aux inputs, allow a soundbar to receive stereo audio signals from external devices like turntables.

Without RCA jacks, soundbars often only have digital optical audio inputs which turntables can not directly connect to.

You’ll want to check your potential soundbar choice has a pair of red and white RCA style left/right inputs on the back or side panel to accommodate analog sources.

Stereo RCA Audio Interconnect Cables

To span the physical gap between the turntable and soundbar, standard analog RCA audio cables are essential.

They relay the audio information from the turntable outputs to the inputs on the soundbar. 

RCA cables resembled red and white plugs at both ends, color coded left and right for stereo sound.

The cables should be long enough for your setup without excessive slack.

External Phono Preamplifier (Optional)

As mentioned above, an external phono preamp is only required if your turntable does not have one built-in.

It takes the place of an internal phono preamp to boost and balance the turntable’s signal for compatibility with the soundbar.

There are many budget-friendly phono preamps available to choose from. The key factors are RCA input/outputs and the correct impedance for your turntable cartridge.

Step-by-Step Connection Instructions 

Connect the Turntable

The first step is interfacing your turntable with the soundbar system. This involves connecting cables to the audio outputs located on back of your record player.

There will either be fixed audio outputs, or sometimes removable RCA-type output cables.

If your turntable model does not have an internal phono preamplifier, you must first connect the audio outputs from the turntable to the inputs on an external phono preamp.

The preamp outputs then interface with the soundbar.

Be sure the left and right RCA audio channels are connected to their correctly matching L/R inputs and outputs between devices.

Follow any specific setup instructions provided with your turntable and preamp.

Connect Cables to the Soundbar 

Now focus attention on the back of the soundbar unit. Locate the analog RCA style audio inputs, which are typically colored red for right, and white for left.

The inputs may be labeled AUX, Audio In, Phono, Analog In, etc. 

Verify the connections by tracing the left and right signals from the turntable or phono preamp outs to the corresponding soundbar audio inputs.

Connect the opposite ends of the RCA audio cables to the appropriate RCA jacks.

Take care not to force any connections.

The cables should easily slide into the opens ports when properly aligned. Fully insert each connector until you feel it click into place.

Configure Sound Settings

With all physical connections between the turntable and soundbar complete, the final stage is configuring the sound settings.

Power on both the turntable and soundbar if not already done.

On the soundbar, locate the input selector and choose the input paired with the RCA connections made earlier.

The name varies between models but may read AUX, Analog, Audio In, etc. This switches the active input away from default TV audio.

Next, adjust the master volume and any audio quality settings like bass, treble or EQ presets.

Start conservative with volume levels for both devices then tune to taste. Your vinyl playback chain is now fully operational!

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Despite best efforts, problems can occur when integrating analog turntables with digital-focused soundbars.

Here are some common troubleshooting tips for issues you may encounter:

No Sound

If there is no sound after dropping the needle on a record, first confirm the soundbar is set to the correct input source connected to the turntable.

Ensure volume levels are adequately raised on both the turntable and soundbar as well, avoiding muting. 

Check all physical connections between devices for loose cables or incorrect L/R channel matching.

Test cables and preamp equipment with other audio sources when possible to isolate faults.

Low Volume 

Volume may be lower than expected even at maximum levels due to impedance mismatches between components.

Passive speakers provide current draw, allowing more volume from receivers. Soundbars require matched input levels.

Consider adding a standalone headphone amplifier or other booster device into the signal chain to raise phono level signals up to necessary line level standards modern soundbars prefer.

Distorted Sound

Turntables produce delicate phono level signals sensitive to interference.

Nearby electronic devices, inferior cables, or a poorly matched preamp can introduce audible humming, buzzing or unclear audio when connected to soundbars.

Upgrade to high quality, gold tipped RCA cables securing firm connections between the turntable, phono preamp (if used) and soundbar.

Position away from wireless routers, cell phones or other electronics to limit distortion.

Conclusion

In summary, connecting a turntable to a soundbar is an excellent way to enhance your vinyl listening experience.

With the right cables and configurations, the improved audio quality over basic TV speakers brings new life to your classic records.

We covered the equipment needs, step-by-step instructions, and troubleshooting tips to make the integration process smooth.

Now drop the needle and enjoy your favorite albums as they were meant to be heard.

Dominic

Dominic is the chief editor of the Burton Acoustix blog which writes about acoustics and soundproofing to help readers with their queries and questions they might have with regard to improving any sound or noise issues that they faced in their life.