How to Connect a Turntable to a Soundbar

Written by Andrew Siemon
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If you're a record lover who also has a soundbar, you may be wondering if you can connect your turntable to it. A turntable and a soundbar are ultimately quite different from each other, but it is possible to connect them. If you're wondering how to connect them, you're in the right place.

How do you connect a turntable to a soundbar? To connect a turntable to a soundbar, you will need a phono preamp. A phono preamp equalizes the turntable's audio signal so it can be communicated through an external speaker system. It's usually built right into the receiver or the turntable, but it can also be an external device.

Connecting a turntable to a soundbar is a common practice for audiophiles because it's a quick and easy way of increasing the sound quality of one's audio system.

If you're in the market for a soundbar, check out this one on Amazon.

How Turntables are Traditionally Connected

Turntables are often connected to external speakers, such as a soundbar, through an amplifier between the turntable and the speaker system. The amplifier is an essential component when connecting these two devices if you intend on achieving maximum sound quality.

What is a Phono Preamp?

The phono preamp - also called a phono preamplifier, a turntable preamp, or a phono stage - is an electronic circuit that adds the right amplification to the signal received from the cartridge. It sends the signal to the audio system or to the input of a power amplifier at the appropriate level.

Without the phono preamp, the audio signal received from the needle tends to be shallow, and it often requires an amplifier to get it up to the standard line level (also known as AUX) which modern speakers often need. You can read more about setting up a preamp here.

It delivers the connection between the amp and the record player and then converts the phono preamp to the line level.

If you need to buy a phono preamp, you can grab one from Amazon. Check the price here.

Powered (Active) Speakers

As an alternative to the traditional route of using an amplifier between the external speakers and your turntable, you can choose powered external speakers. Powered speakers feature an in-built amplifier, which is most commonly powered through an external charger.

Connecting a Turntable with a Built-In Phono Preamp to a Soundbar

Connecting your turntable with a built-in phono preamp to a soundbar is easy.

  • If your turntable comes with a built-in phono preamp, you must attach the phono preamp to one of the receiver analog inputs — otherwise, the sound will be distorted. The distorted sound is a result of two phono preamps working together at the same time.
  • If your soundbar has phono input, it can be connected directly to the turntable that lacks a phono preamp.
  • In most scenarios, your soundbars will need a turntable with a built-in phono preamp, and it can also connect an external phono preamp between the soundbar and the turntable.

Another tip for connecting: if your turntable and receiver both come with built-in phono preamps and also have a switch that can allow you to bypass its built-in preamp, you can also experiment to check if either your turntable phono preamp or receiver sounds better.

Even in cases when your receiver has a built-in phono preamp, a separated phono preamp can still make an excellent upgrade. An external phono preamp usually contains higher quality circuitry. More importantly, external phono preamps provide additional settings which can help deliver higher-quality sound through subtle adjustments.

RCA or AUX Directly to the Soundbar

If your turntable is equipped with a built-in preamp, you can directly connect your turntable to any soundbar input that is labeled AUX, or another name such as LINE, Audio, etc. You can do this using a phono cable/RCA cable.

What if the Soundbar Doesn't Have an RCA or AUX Input?

If your soundbar doesn't have an AUX port or RCA inputs, you could use an HDMI cable to connect your soundbar to your TV.

HDMI is often considered as one of the best ways to connect a TV and a soundbar because HDMI cables can transfer a lot of uncompressed digital audio information.

More importantly, an HDMI cable has the ability to work with nearly any sound system from 5.1 to 7.1 surround sound, potentially even higher.

How to Connect the Soundbar to the TV Using HDMI

In order to connect a soundbar to a TV using an HDMI cable, the TV needs to support HDMI-ARC. ARC stands for "Audio Return Channel," and this means that the signal can travel back and forth along the cable.

If your TV has ARC capability, this means you can connect nearly all of your set-up, including gaming consoles and more, to your soundbar. You can use just one HDMI cable to connect the TV and the soundbar.

Connecting a Turntable with a Separate Phono Preamp to a Soundbar

This is the least commonly chosen path for connecting a turntable to a soundbar because it's common for there to be a phono preamp installed on both devices. If this isn't the case, you have to purchase the phono preamp. Once you have purchased the extra piece of equipment, this is what you have to do:

  • Connect the turntable audio cables to the separate phono preamp, and any other wire your turntable has.
  • Then, connect the phono preamp audio cables to the receiver’s analog inputs (your soundbar)
  • Finally, connect the phono preamp to its power supply and switch on.

If your turntable has a phono preamp, it’s faster to connect it to the AUX input, than through the receiver’s input. This process saves two phono preamps from trying to boost the same signal, which won't sound very good.

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About Me

Hi! I’m Jonah. I grew up addicted to different electronics. I began working for an Audio/Video installation company years ago and realized my passion for Home Theaters! The Home Theater DIY is a place for me to share my different findings and experiences about home theaters and home electronics. For more information, check out my about me page!

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