Best turntable speakers Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best turntable speakers you can buy in 2023.
Without speakers (or vinyl for that matter), your turntable is nothing but a pretty centrepiece, something to admire without actually being functional. Add a decent pair of speakers, however, and you've got the makings of a proper sound system.
The best turntable speakers will ensure you hear your vinyl at its very best and while the best speakers around should nearly all sound just fine with records, there are a few more technical considerations when it comes to choosing speakers for a record player. Read on for all the details – and our pick of the best turntable speakers.
How to choose the right speakers for your turntable
Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.
When it comes to choosing the right speakers, you need to do your homework so you know what you are looking for. The vast majority of speakers will need to be partnered with a stereo amplifier that has a phono preamp (aka phono stage) built-in, so they'll work with your turntable. If your amplifier doesn't have a phono stage, you can always add an external one to your system.
Powered or active speakers have amplification built-in, but this still doesn't get around the need for a phono stage in the chain. If you're yet to buy your turntable, it's worth thinking about getting one with a phono stage built-in. Also, make sure your active speakers have a volume control.
If your deck has Bluetooth, though, you can wirelessly connect your record player to any Bluetooth speaker, be it a single unit or stereo pair. It's a convenient way to connect, for sure, but perhaps not the best in terms of pure sound quality. It's a trade-off of convenience versus sound quality – and only you can tell whether it's one you're happy to make.
Right, that's the technical advice out of the way. Now on with the turntable speakers!
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The original LS50 launched all the way back in 2012, with a killer combination of superb sound quality, build and aesthetics. Now, nine years on, we have the Meta edition, which add to the original in one important way.
They look almost identical, but the Uni-Q driver array has been thoroughly reworked, with the notable addition of Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT) to absorb sound and prevent distortion.
Sonically, they're a real improvement on the LS50. While the basic sonic character is instantly familiar, the Meta have gained a level of clarity and finesse the originals only hinted at. The level of delicacy and precision is staggering, and for such small speakers, the presentation is surprisingly full-bodied. And that Metamaterial really works, delivering a much cleaner and more sophisticated sound than their predecessors. Looks like KEF has come a long way in nine years.
Read the full KEF LS50 Meta review
Elac's affordable standmounters are brilliant performers for the money. Solid and unfussy about placement, the Debut B5.2s have the dynamic expression, detail and tonal sophistication to handle anything you throw at them – not to mention enough stretch in their abilities to improve even further when hooked up to a high-end system.
The revised 5.25cm mid/bass unit uses a new blend of aramid fibres for the cone, combined with a different shape to improve stiffness and damping, while the tweeter claims a top-end response of 35kHz, adding plenty of sparkle to proceedings.
Tonally, they don’t have the luscious midrange warmth of the comparable Dali Spektor 2 (below), but they’re admirably balanced and capable of making the best of any recording – even those of poor quality.
Elac has been in the speaker business since the 1980s and has made many fine products in that time. It’s fair to say that these new Debut B5.2 speakers should be considered one of the company’s finest efforts. For this sort of money, they're exceptional.
Read the full review: Elac Debut B5.2
The successor to the What Hi-Fi? Award-winning LSX, this second-gen version of the successful all-in-one system takes performance and functionality to the next level.
Comprising a network streamer, a Bluetooth receiver and an amplifier – all built into a pair of stereo speakers – the LSX II is a great option for those looking for convenience and musicality in two compact boxes.
The original LSX offered plenty of choices when it came to sources – streaming over DLNA or from Tidal, Spotify Connect, Roon compatibility and Apple AirPlay 2 – but the LSX II expands on this with wider streaming support and the modern-day addition of HMDI ARC and USB-C for TV and laptop connectivity respectively. And, thanks to the integrated amp, if you have a record player with a phono stage built-in, then you can just plug it directly into these speakers.
Essentially, KEF has taken what was already a winning formula, introduced some key upgrades that improve functionality and usability and, without really altering the speaker hardware, has produced a talented set-up that sings with any genre of music sent its way.
The KEF LSX II is a stylish streaming system that comes with none of the baggage and boxes a separates set-up brings. Nothing else really comes close at this level.
Read the full review: KEF LSX II
To mark the 25-year anniversary of the B&W 600 range (in 2020), B&W decided to upgrade the 606s (and the rest of the range) - and it proved to be a wise move.
Cosmetically, there's not much new, but for an inscription on the tweeter surround and a new oak finish option. On the inside, there's an upgraded crossover that now features better-quality capacitors.
While retaining a broadly similar sonic character, the 606 S2 Anniversary Editions prove significantly more capable than their predecessors. The biggest differences are heard in the bass. The new version is so much more precise and controlled. There are improvements in clarity too, with voices offering extra subtlety, while the overall presentation is more natural and transparent.
Don't be fooled by the apparent minor upgrades, the B&W 606 S2 Anniversary Edition speakers deliver an impressive step up in performance.
Read the full review: B&W 606 S2 Anniversary Edition
Wharfedale's Diamond range now features a truly outstanding (and affordable) floorstander. Indeed, we were so impressed by the Wharfedale Diamond 12.3's musical performance we deemed it a What Hi-Fi? Awards 2021 winner.
At 98cm tall, the Diamond 12.3 aren't a particularly imposing pair of floorstanders, so they'll fit into most spaces. Sonically, they're smooth, even-handed and wonderfully refined for the money. Feed them a poor signal and they’ll round off rough edges and downplay unwanted aggression without sounding like they’re smothering the life out of the music.
As for build quality, the cabinets are carefully crafted with a traditional straight-edge design and a tidy feet arrangement. The 12.3 are available in four finishes – black, walnut, white and a classy light oak – all of which belie their relatively modest price tag.
If you're looking for some of the best turntable speakers with a reasonable price tag, the talented Wharfdale 12.3 are a superb buy.
Read the full review: Wharfedale Diamond 12.3
The BR08 are not short of competition, yet still they manage to stand out. How? It's not the rather basic-looking cabinets, though they are well made and neatly finished. Rather, it's the sound they produce.
Load them up with appropriately quality material, and you're in for a treat. They punch hard, combining high levels of detail with an enviable ability to tie it altogether to produce a cohesive and musical whole. Those twin bass drivers dig deep but, pleasingly, remain agile and articulate too. We can’t think of a better alternative when it comes to rhythmic drive either. These towers charge at full throttle, communicating the energy and momentum of the music brilliantly.
So what about downsides? While stereo imaging is pretty precise for speakers at this level, it’s not as spacious and layered as some we’ve heard. The same can be said about the overall tonal balance, which is even enough rather than ruler flat. You'll need a large room to hear them at their best, and they don't suffer lower-quality partner kit gladly. Still, if you have the right means, these are a great choice for music of all stripes.
Read the full Triangle Borea BR08 review
On paper, there’s little to differentiate Dali’s new Spektor 2 from any of their main rivals: the speakers stick to the classic budget standmounter formula like Superglue. They offer everything we would expect from a typical speaker in this price range, from two-way driver configuration and ported bass tuning, right the way through to the 25mm dome tweeter and 13cm mid/bass driver.
But these Dalis are much more than simply the sum of their parts: they offer a degree of entertainment that even their most talented rivals struggle to match. Powerful vocals are delivered with nuance and passion, grabbing the listener's attention, and dynamics are handled with subtlety and class. They're particularly composed at high volume, too, which is always an encouraging sign.
In short, they're some of the best turntable speakers money can buy. They'll do your deck proud.
Read the full Dali Spektor 2 review
The biggest and priciest of Wharfedale's Evo range are packed full of tech. The Air Motion Transformer tweeter is normally reserved for much more expensive speakers, while the dome midrange and twin Kevlar bass drivers also set these floorstanders apart from the crowd.
Make no mistake: these are big speakers that need a big room to thrive. They have a large-scale sound with plenty of authority, and can certainly go loud. So if you're lucky enough to have your turntable in a large space that can do them justice, they should fit the bill.
But they're not just all grunt. They also deliver transparency and subtlety, with a natural, easy-going presentation.
Rivals, such as the excellent Fyne Audio F501, might sound a little more exciting, but over a longer listen, the Evo 4.4’s easier-going presentation is more natural and convincing. This is a superb pair of premium floorstanders that will stand your deck in good stead for many years to come.
Read the full Wharfedale Evo 4.4 review
Despite being much smaller than the Q Acoustics 3050i, the Dali Oberon 5 have succeeded in topping our favourite floorstander at this price bracket.
There are no gimmicks or marketing hype, just pure performance thanks to skilful engineering and steady refinements over the course of many years.
Standing just 83cm high, they manage to sound notably larger, offering a great sense of fun, dynamic subtlety and rhythmic precision. They have a brilliantly musical performance, capable of doing any track justice, from Mozart to Stormzy.
They're built incredibly well, and their diminutive stature means they'll fit in most rooms with ease. If you have space to spare, the Q Acoustics are definitely worth an audition, but otherwise, the Dalis' greater sense of fun should seal the deal. Pair with your turntable and let them do their thing.
Read the full Dali Oberon 5 review
Fyne Audio’s standard F501 floorstanders are terrific performers, but these Special Production versions are a far more ambitious proposition, cramming in as much of Fyne Audio’s high-end technology as possible.
It makes a real difference. If you’re looking for excitement and energy we can’t think of an alternative that betters these at the price. The sense of drive and attack make it hard to sit still, while the bass has a surprising amount of weight and authority.
But they're not all about toe tapping. They have the dynamic reach to do classical music justice, beautifully rendering the sound of an orchestra in full flow. Position them well, partner them with the right kit, whack a record on and sit back and enjoy – you won't be disappointed.
Read the full Fyne Audio F501SP review
Ruark Audio has a bit of history when it comes to wireless desktop speakers. The Mk2's predecessors, the Ruark Audio MR1, were a standout pair, combining retro looks, an intuitive design and superb sound, even over Bluetooth, leading them to pick up two successive What Hi-Fi? Awards.
And we're happy to report the Mk2 are worthy follow-ups. These compact bookshelf speakers are packed with features and hugely versatile with Bluetooth aptX onboard for streaming from a wireless turntable.
They sound even better than the original MR1, which is no mean feat, and only makes them more appealing. If you're short of space but want to add big sound to a Bluetooth turntable, these are the speakers for you, no question.
Read the full Ruark Audio MR1 Mk2 review
How we test
Here at What Hi-Fi? we review hundreds of products every year, including plenty of speakers of all shapes, sizes and types with a selection of our favourite turntables. So how do we come to our review verdicts? And why can you trust them?
The What Hi-Fi? team has more than 100 years experience of reviewing, testing and writing about consumer electronics. We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in London, Reading and Bath, where our team of expert reviewers do all our in-house testing. This gives us complete control over the testing process, ensuring consistency. We always ensure we spend plenty of time with the speakers and turntables, trying them with different electronics and with different music.
All products are tested in comparison with rival products in the same category, and all review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than a single reviewer, helping to ensure consistency and avoid individual subjectivity.
From all of our reviews, we choose the top products to feature in our Best Buys, such as this one. That's why if you take the plunge and buy one of the products recommended above, or on any of our other Best Buy pages, you can be confident you're getting a What Hi-Fi?-approved product.
You can read more about how we test and review products on What Hi-Fi? here.
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