If you think vinyl is old fashioned, you couldn't be more wrong. While the basic technology behind turntables hasn't changed much in the last decade or so, the surrounding audio ecosystem has come on leaps and bounds. And it's not leaving the humble deck behind.
With the right kit – and the right knowhow – you can make your record player part of your multi-room system. Or, if you prefer, just play your records through a Bluetooth speaker on the other side of the room. Either way, you'll liberate your vinyl and breathe new life into your record collection. And we'll show you how.
What you'll need to get started
Before you get up and running, remember one thing: your records won't sound as good through a wireless speaker. Wireless means compression, which means losing some audio detail. Some wireless codecs compress less than others, but just bear in mind that you won't get an authentic vinyl listening experience playing over wireless. But the upside is you can play your vinyl throughout your home.
There are two main technologies you can use to play a turntable wirelessly: Bluetooth and wi-fi.
Bluetooth is a short-range technology that connects mobile devices to headphones, portable speakers, smartwatches, turntables and more. Wi-fi usually has a greater range, but because it needs a router to send out the wireless signal, it's more commonly fixed in place (for example, at your home or a coffee shop).
In order to play your vinyl wirelessly, you'll need five components (but not necessarily five separate products, as we will explain below):
- A turntable
- A phono preamp
- A wireless transmitter
- A wireless speaker
So, why doesn't that mean five separate devices? Well, for example, a wireless-enabled turntable can play straight to a wireless speaker, as the record deck will contain the phono preamp and wireless transmitter, while the speaker will include built-in amplification.
Or you could hook your more traditional turntable up to a phono preamp and a Bluetooth transmitter, to beam the music over to a pair of powered speakers equipped with a Bluetooth receiver.
How best to do it depends on your budget, existing components, space and preferences. Here are your options.
How to play vinyl wirelessly over Bluetooth
Option 1: a Bluetooth turntable
By far the simplest option is to buy a record player with Bluetooth built-in. Then all you need is a Bluetooth speaker, and you're good to go.
The advantage of this is it's simple. You just pair your Bluetooth speaker to your deck as you would a pair of wireless earbuds to your phone. Easy.
There are also hundreds of different Bluetooth speakers around, for all kinds of budgets, from cheap and cheerful little portable numbers like the JBL Go to more serious fare like the Audio Pro Addon C10 MkII. Obviously, sound quality will vary wildly between these two extremes.
Our current favourite Bluetooth turntable is the Sony PS-LX310BT, which has plenty of features, great usability and a wonderfully entertaining sound, all without breaking the bank. Check out our list of best Bluetooth turntables for a few more that we recommend (there are plenty more that we don't recommend).
One other thing to consider is which Bluetooth codecs the turntable and speaker support, as this will affect the connection between the two. For example, the Cambridge Alva TT V2 record player supports aptX HD, as does the B&W Formation Wedge. Sounds like a match made in wireless heaven.
Option 2: add Bluetooth to your turntable
If your record player doesn't have Bluetooth – and most don't – then don't despair. Providing it has a phono preamp built-in, you can connect a Bluetooth transmitter/adapter to it and achieve the same effect as a dedicated Bluetooth deck.
These transmitters can cost very little, but again, pay attention to which Bluetooth codecs it supports, as if there's a mismatch between it and the speaker, you'll fall back to one they both support, which will invariably be SBC, which doesn't sound great.
But what if your turntable doesn't have a phono preamp built-in? Then you'll need a Bluetooth transmitter that does have a phono preamp, like the Pro-Ject Phono Box E BT 5. This supports aptX HD and aptX Adaptive, so providing your Bluetooth speaker does as well, you should be in for an altogether more seamless wireless listening experience.
The big advantage of this method is that you don't have to buy a new turntable – just accessorise your existing one.
How to play vinyl wirelessly over wi-fi
Option 1: a wi-fi turntable
That's right, just as there are Bluetooth turntables, you can buy record players with wi-fi built in too. Check out Victrola's Works With Sonos models like the Stream Carbon – this will fit right into your home Sonos system and play music to every Sonos speaker on your network. You can even control it using the Sonos mobile app.
Pros? Sonos is very user-friendly, and its speakers usually sound fantastic. But they don't come cheap, and filling your house with them can be a costly business. You're also very limited as to your choice of turntables.
Option 2: add a wi-fi transmitter
Again, you don't need to buy a new turntable in order to play over wi-fi. You can just add a wi-fi transmitter instead.
You have a few options. The Award-winning WiiM Pro Plus is your best bet at the more affordable end of the market. It sounds poised, has a great app to control it and is very simple to use. If you want to step up a level for significantly better performance, it's going to cost a lot more money.
Option 3: hardwire... to your wireless system
This is cheating slightly, as technically you're not playing your turntable wirelessly. But you are still making it part of your home wireless system.
The Sonos Era 300, Era 100, Move 2 and Sonos Five all let you hook up a turntable via a wired connection. The Five has a line-in port so you can connect a deck directly, while the others require a line-in adapter to plug in via the USB-C port. Sonos will even sell you a turntable set to get you started.
Once you've connected to these speakers, whatever vinyl you play can be sent around the home to any Sonos speaker on the network. Enjoy!
These are the best Bluetooth turntables
And the best record players of all kinds
The best phono preamps to make your deck sing
Our pick of the best Bluetooth speakers