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How to connect a turntable to a receiver

It's easier than you think

The author attempts to connect a turntable and receiver

Connecting a turntable to your receiver doesn't have to be a complicated process. All you need to know are a few basics to pair them, and then you're ready to savor the sweet sounds of vinyl records.

The key to getting these two components together starts with the phono preamp.

What's a phono preamp?

The cartridge on the end of your turntable's tonearm generates a tiny voltage as its needle traces the grooves on your record albums. This voltage, or music signal, must be properly equalized and amplified before it can play through your receiver.

Boosting this signal is the job of the phono preamp, also known as a phono stage, phono EQ, RIAA preamp, or turntable preamp. And just in case you were wondering, "phono" is short for phonograph, the old-fashion term for turntable.

Where is your phono preamp?

The three most common places to find a phono preamp in most systems are:

  1. inside your receiver
  2. built into your turntable
  3. housed in a separate box that plugs in between your turntable and receiver
A receiver with a built-in phono preamp

This receiver has a built-in phono preamp with a dedicated "PHONO" input to plug in a turntable. There's also a separate ground ("GND") terminal for connecting the turntable's ground wire.

Once you know where your phono preamp is, the rest is easy. Below we'll look at the three main ways most turntables and receivers connect.

System 1: Phono preamp is in the receiver

Connecting a turntable to a receiver with a built-in phono preamp

With this system, we simply plug our turntable's audio signal cable into our receiver's PHONO input, then attach the turntable's ground wire to the receiver's ground terminal, and we're done.

  • This turntable does not have a built-in phono preamp.
  • The receiver has a built-in phono preamp with an input labeled "PHONO".
  • All you have to do is plug your turntable's audio signal cable into the receiver's phono input.
  • Just below the phono input is a metal post labeled "GND", for ground. Connect your turntable's ground wire (if it has one) to this post. This helps prevent any "hum" or noise coming from your turntable from playing through your system.

System 2: Phono preamp is in the turntable

Connecting a turntable with a built-in phono preamp to a receiver

This system's turntable has a built-in phono preamp. That means we'll be plugging its audio signal cable into one of our receiver's analog audio inputs.

  • This turntable has a built-in phono preamp.
  • The receiver does not have a built-in phono preamp.
  • Simply plug the turntable's audio signal cable into one of the receiver's analog audio inputs. These inputs are oftentimes labeled Aux (auxiliary), Line In, Analog In, etc. You can even use your receiver's "CD" or "Tape" input, if needed. No other connections are required.

System 3: Phono preamp is a separate component

Connecting a turntable and receiver to a separate outboard phono preamp

This system's turntable and receiver both lack a built-in phono preamp, so we have to add one. We first plugged our turntable's audio signal cable and ground wire into our separate phono preamp box. Then we connect the preamp into one of our receiver's analog audio inputs.

  • Neither the receiver nor the turntable have a built-in phono preamp.
  • For this system, a separate outboard phono preamp must be connected between the turntable and the receiver.
  • Start by plugging your turntable's audio cable into the phono preamp's input. Be sure to connect your turntable's ground wire (if it has one) to the grounding post on the phono preamp.
  • Now plug the phono preamp's audio output into one of your receiver's analog audio inputs, connect the preamp to its power supply, and you're all set.

What if your turntable and receiver both have built-in phono preamps?

If it turns out that both your receiver and turntable have a built-in phono preamp, be sure to connect your turntable to one of your receiver's line (or auxiliary) inputs instead of its phono input. You don't want two phono preamps trying to work together at the same time.

Tips for getting better sound

  • If your receiver and turntable both have a built-in phono preamps, and your turntable has a switch that lets you bypass or turn its built-in preamp off, you can experiment to see if either your receiver's or turntable's phono preamp sounds better. You might discover that one sounds significantly better than the other.
  • Even if your receiver has a built-in phono preamp, a separate phono preamp might still make a good upgrade. Outboard phono preamps often contain superior quality circuitry, and may provide settings and adjustments that can help deliver better sound.

Skip the wires altogether with a Bluetooth turntable

A few turntables come with built-in Bluetooth for wireless connection to Bluetooth speakers, headphones or receivers. A wired connection will offer greater fidelity, but Bluetooth lets you make a cleaner-looking installation and opens up placement options you may not be able to achieve by running speaker wire.

Expert advice for your system

Setting up a turntable and connecting it to your system might seem a bit intimidating if you've never done it. We’re here for you — every step of the way.

Our advisors can help you choose the right turntable and receiver, and our in-house tech support is available seven days a week to answer questions after you buy.

Want to read more about choosing a turntable? Check out our turntable buying guide for more info. We also have a buying guide for external phono preamps.

Watch our how to set up a turntable video to be sure you get the best sound.

Please share your thoughts below.

  • junhua cui from Glendora, CA 91741

    Posted on 12/30/2023

    I just purchased your record player and I think it is very suitable for me. Your service is also very considerate and meticulous. I have a question for you. There is no phono input terminal on my power amplifier. Which terminal on the power amplifier should I connect the phono player to? I don't speak English, please give me your guidance. Thanks!

    Commenter image

    Ned O. from Crutchfield

    on 1/2/2024

    Hi Junhua Cui, Thanks for you comment. Which model turntable did you purchase? If it has a built-in phono preamp, make sure it's enabled on your turntable, then connect it to one of the inputs on your amplifier. If it doesn't have a built-in phono preamp, you'll need an outboard phono preamp. And remember, if you bought it at Crutchfield, you can get in touch to take advantage of our free lifetime tech support.
  • George

    Posted on 10/22/2023

    Is there a wireless workaround to connecting a dual turntable to a Sansui receiver? Thanks!

    Commenter image

    Ned O. from Crutchfield

    on 10/23/2023

    Hi George, There are a few ways you can play your turntable wirelessly through a receiver. But if your receiver doesn't have wireless capability already — and I'm not aware of any Sansui receivers that do — then you'll need to add it. You'll also need to add a wireless transmitter to your turntable. The transmitter/receiver could use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. I've asked one of our Advisors to get in touch to learn more about your specific setup and help you find the best solution.
  • Julius from San Antonio, TX

    Posted on 6/10/2023

    I have a panasonic sg-v400 turntable it has the standard speaker wire inputs. How do I replace or add rca plug-ins so I can plug in to speakers with rca inputs? Hope this makes sense. Thank you

    Commenter image

    Eric A. from Crutchfield

    on 6/12/2023

    Julius - I'm assuming from this question that you want to connect to a set of powered speakers. The signal coming from your turntable is already amplified, so you'd need something like the line output converters we use in car audio to step it back down to line level. There are some out there for home audio, but we don't happen to carry any. You may prefer to buy some passive speakers rather than run all that gear in between. Sorry there isn't an easier solution!
  • Jim Slichter from Freeland, WA

    Posted on 1/21/2023

    Great, simple advice. Thx!

  • Stephen E Linne from Detroit

    Posted on 1/18/2023

    Turntables and receivers should not be connected using speaker wire. High quality shielded cable should be used.

  • Rich Briere from Holyoke,

    Posted on 1/18/2023

    Although I haven't purchased anything recently that's because I did the right thing and did my purchasing with Crutchfield rather than the 759 other Adio Outlets who send me Stuff.......You have one of the only Emails I actually look forward to receiving several times a week. Keep up the good work as I'm sure you'll find a way to get a bit more cash out of me soon. :)

  • Phil Shupe from North Little Rock

    Posted on 1/18/2023


  • Mike Sevigny from Brentwood

    Posted on 9/7/2022

    How can I determine whether or not my receiver has a phono preamp? The manual doesn't say. The receiver is a Yamaha RX A-2020.

  • Michael from St Paul, MN

    Posted on 8/31/2022

    I am new to vinyl and inherited a Gerrard GT-35 from a friend and connected it to a new Klipsch The One ii Phono powered speaker. Three issues; buzz/hum at all volumes unless I unless I unplug the black RCA, buzz/hum that intensifies if I touch the player, no stereo sound so certain songs I am missing the "stereo sound" of the background music sounds on a song like 'Money'- Pink Floyd. Is stereo sound even an option for this setup? How do I get rid of the hum altogether?

  • Jack Evans from Unionville Tn

    Posted on 8/10/2022

    I bought an old Garrard turntable online now I find that it has no cable connections. I don't mean no cables but no place to connect cables. I am at a loss.

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