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.
The thing about choosing a pair of turntable speakers is that there isn't a "right" way of doing it, even if there are plenty of wrong options to trip you up. We've selected a wide range of speakers in various shapes, forms, sizes, sonic profiles and even prices, so that you've got plenty of options when finding the sound that will best suit your particular turntable. So whether you're after a pair of bookshelf speakers, prefer larger floorstanding speakers or even active speaker systems – there's something for everyone here.
Every pair of speakers on this list has been thoroughly tested by the team of experts at What Hi-Fi? in our dedicated, bespoke listening rooms, ensuring you can trust our buying advice to the letter.
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 for your turntable, 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.
Alternatively, your turntable might come with a phono stage built-in already, but you'll still need an amplifier in between the speakers and the deck.
You can also use powered or active speakers which 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 (although we still stand by our assessment that a purist turntable will always sound better). Also, make sure your active speakers have a volume control if you're going down this route.
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.
Of course, it's always worth making sure you check your budget and ensure you're buying a speaker that matches the turntable at the right level. A cheap pair of speakers won't do justice to your turntable that's worth thousands, for instance, and it's always worth auditioning speakers, if you're able to, before making a final purchase.
Right, that's the technical advice out of the way. Now on with the best turntable speakers!
The original LS50 launched all the way back in 2012, with a killer combination of superb sound quality, build and aesthetics. It took nine whole years for the Meta edition to arrive, which ended up matching their predecessors in almost every department while also adding to the original in one very important way.
They may look almost identical, but the Uni-Q driver array for the newer model is been thoroughly reworked, with the notable addition of Meta material Absorption Technology (MAT) to absorb sound and prevent distortion via a hockey puck-sized disc with inlets and grooves that give the appearance of a plastic circular maze, all layered and designed to each absorb a different frequency of sound to prevent sound back-firing.
What this gives you is a noticeable sonic improvement on the original LS50. While the basic sonic character is instantly familiar, the Meta 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 and earning our award for Innovation of the Year in 2020. 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, something that makes them well-suited to being paired with your diverse vinyl collection.
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 and will match up beautifully with a turntable of similar quality.
For this sort of money, they're exceptional.
Read the full review: Elac Debut B5.2
The successor to the former LSX Award-winners, this second-gen version of the successful all-in-one system takes performance and functionality to the next level, nabbing a What Hi-Fi? 2023 Award for themselves in the process. 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, 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.
Now in its eighth generation and going 20+ years strong, Bowers & Wilkins' 600 series of speakers has more often than not provided some superb speakers.
And that story continues with its entry-level 607 S3. The smallest and most affordable stereo speaker that B&W makes (even if that 'budget' price has increased in the last couple of years), the 607 S3 replaces the previous 607 S2 Anniversary Edition speakers and delivers a significantly improved performance.
The 607 S3 has been updated throughout, with a brand new 25mm titanium decoupled double-dome tweeter, a new elongated tube loading system, a revised motor assembly for the 13cm Continuum mid/bass driver, higher-quality components used in the crossover, and sturdier cabinet bracing. The two drivers overlap to improve integration, while B&W claims the use of titanium should result in more refined and detailed high frequencies.
The footprint remains the same and they're ideal for smaller spaces. Partner them carefully to balance out a somewhat forward, excitable treble performance, and you'll be rewarded with a terrifically detailed, rhythmically cohesive, agile, and energetic sound. The overall presentation is more open-sounding than before, while the treble performance is so much sweeter and more refined. For their size and price level, each note lands with precision and they even hold dynamic interest at low volume. Basslines are pulled taut and while they don’t go as bone-shatteringly deep as bigger speakers, they do land with real impact.
Overall, the 607 S3 are just incredibly fun to listen to. There’s clarity and refinement in the mix here, but we’re struck by just how entertaining, zippy and musical this pair sounds from the start. We’re glad that, alongside a newfound level of clean detail, openness and precise sound, the 607 S3 speakers have remembered to add in big doses of energy and dynamic prowess.
Alternatively, if you're after a larger scale of sound and need more oomph to your bass, you might want to consider the bigger, pricier and more mature-sounding B&W 606 S3 speakers.
Read the full Bowers & Wilkins 607 S3 review
Wharfedale's Diamond range received the addition of a truly outstanding (and affordable) floorstander in 2021, and we were so impressed by the Diamond 12.3's musical performance we've deemed it a What Hi-Fi? Awards winner in 2021, 2022 and 2023.
At 98cm tall, the Diamond 12.3 aren't a particularly imposing pair of floorstanders, so they'll fit into most spaces with relative ease. Sonically, they're smooth, even-handed and wonderfully refined for the money, meaning they shouldn't cloud your vinyl with unwanted tones or or an imposing character. 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, handy for when you need things to sound smooth and serene rather than sharp and jagged.
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, award-winning 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 all together 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 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
Q Acoustics' new 5000 series sits in between the budget 3000 series and the premium Concept range. The 5040 is the smaller of the two floorstanders in the range and should fit neatly into most rooms, with a solid and well-made build quality.
New to the range is the Continuous Curved Cone design for the mid/bass drivers. This new driver has a geometry that Q Acoustics claims to combine the rigidity advantages of a standard conical cone profile with the high-frequency break-up characteristics of a more flared design.
Q Acoustics' previous efforts have tended to be unfussy, but these 5040s need a bit more care with positioning and partnering equipment. Match them with more refined partnering electronics (these speakers can be rather transparent, impressively so), and the 5040 sound wonderfully clear and precise, with ample agility and grip to deliver a sense of great fun. We like the way these towers always sound composed and controlled, and that sense of organisation doesn’t falter when the music becomes demanding. It's a spacious, well-focused sound with impressive stereo imaging. Tonally, these floorstanders sit just on the lean side of neutral, but not so far as to cause issues.
Q Acoustics 5040 are even-handed performers that simply step out of the way of the music and let songs shine. When partnered with care they deliver a wonderfully expressive and insightful performance that’s class-leading at this premium level.
Read the full Q Acoustics 5040 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, Award-winning follow-ups. These compact bookshelf speakers are packed with features and are hugely versatile with Bluetooth aptX onboard for streaming from a wireless turntable (or you can use a line input with a standard deck). Got a turntable but limited space means that a hefty or bulky floorstanding unit is out of the question? The MR1 could be the ideal solution you and your vinyl collection have been crying out for.
The desktop MR1 MK2 sound even better than the original MR1 (no mean feat, by the way), while still retaining that original Ruark sense of clean, unfussy style. If you're short of space but want to add big sound to a Bluetooth turntable, these are the speakers for you.
Read the full Ruark Audio MR1 Mk2 review
These might be PMC's entry-level standmounts, yet they sound anything but. That's hardly surprising – they're measured and listened to alongside the firm's reference models, and feature the same 27mm soft dome tweeter and 13cm mid/bass driver taken from models further up the company’s line.
They also feature Laminair – the aerodynamic port which was first developed for the flagship QB-1 studio monitors. This smooths the passage of air exiting the speaker to minimise airflow noise and improve bass definition.
The design is pleasingly minimalist, though it lacks some of the high-end polish of PMC's pricier models. But sonically, they're stunning, boasting excellent detail, clarity and charisma. The midrange is full of dynamic expression and solidity, and the bass digs deep without losing definition. Low frequencies have pace and punch to complement that impressive presence and depth, too.
While the Prodigy 1’s precision and organisation warrant the label ‘analytical’, the speakers aren’t informative at the expense of entertainment. Systematic, yes, but anything but soulless.
Read the full PMC Prodigy 1 review
PMC has something of a reputation for high-end hi-fi, and while the superb Prodigy 5 have wound up as our best premium floorstanders on this list, they're actually miraculously good value.
The priority with the Prodigy 5, much like their Prodigy 1 standmount siblings, has been to eke out as much sound-per-pound punch as possible, letting considerations over design and aesthetic flourishes fall away in the pursuit of the best audio you can get for the price.
And boy has the effort paid off. PMC has hit the sweetest of sweet spots with the Prodigy 5, balancing subtle details and musical flourishes with a perceptibly heightened sense of presence, poise and confidence. In terms of sonic performance, we didn't hear many better speakers this year, and it was the Prodigy 5's musical chops that really earned them that 2023 What Hi-Fi? Award.
The Prodigy 5 seem to be adept at giving the best of all worlds without a hint of sonic sacrifice. While comparatively priced rivals substitute space for precision or dynamics for subtlety, PMC’s unassuming towers are truly comprehensive performers. There's so much scale and breadth to them, yet they never seem to sacrifice the intimacy or nuance of a piece, either. It's a remarkable trick, and one that had us wanting to test more and more tracks to see what the Prodigy 5 could do with them.
All in all, a marvellous success story. Worthy winners, indeed.
Read our full PMC Prodigy 5 review
How we test speakers for turntables
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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