Create a super-simple record playing system

Turntable plus powered speakers


Dave Bar

Dave Bar has worked for Crutchfield since 1981. After a brief 23 year stint in the sales department, he now writes about home audio gear and camera equipment for Crutchfield's catalog and website. Dave has been hooked on electronics ever since putting together a 5-tube AM radio in his high school shop class, and still enjoys tinkering with stereos in his spare time. His interests include gardening, cooking, fishing, photography, and music.

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Getting great sound from records used to mean multiple (and oftentimes expensive) components. It also required meticulous setup and plenty of technical know-how. But it doesn't have to be that way. Nowadays, you can savor your record collection while keeping things simple and saving space. All it takes is a pair of high-quality powered speakers and the right turntable.   

Music Hall USB-1 and Audioengine A2+

A surprisingly dynamic duo. Music Hall's USB-1 turntable and Audioengine's A2+ powered speakers (shown with the optional DS1 desktop speaker stands).

For our simple desktop "system", we chose the Music Hall USB-1 turntable and Audioengine's A2+ powered speakers. Virtually ready to go right out of the box, the Music Hall is an easy setup even for a novice. Simply plug the headshell with its pre-mounted cartridge into the tone arm, drop the platter onto the spindle and attach the belt, set the tracking force, plug it in, and you're ready to go.

The USB-1's built-in phono preamp means you can plug it straight into the A2+ speakers using the included patch cords. That's it. Nothing else needed.

The combination of these two components delivers impressively rich and robust sound. And even when placed side by side on a desktop and played at high volumes, the USB-1's vibration-damping feet prevented any acoustic feedback — a problem that creates distorted noise when a turntable placed near speakers picks up their vibrations. For good measure, we placed a pair of the Audioengine DS1 desktop stands under the speakers to angle them upward for greater clarity and vibration damping.

While the mighty little A2+ speakers are formidable in their own right, they don't go exceptionally low in the bottom end. If you're a fan of deep bass, you might consider adding Audioengine's S8 powered subwoofer. The A2+'s line output jacks make it easy. And if your room is large, or your listening position is far away, stepping up to Audioengine's larger A5+ speakers could make sense.

No one trick ponies here

Audioengine A2+

The Audioengine A2+ powered speakers offer flexible connections for hooking up your audio gear.

If all our little system could do was spin vinyl and sound fantastic, it would be well worth the price of admission. But both of these components provide some cool extras that really up the ante.

The Audioengine’s built-in DAC (digital-to-analog converter) and USB port gives you a direct digital connection to your computer. That connection bypasses your computer's built-in sound card and headphone jack circuitry for far greater fidelity from  your computer music sources. Plus additional auxiliary inputs allow you to connect other music sources, like a smartphone or tablet.

Along with playing your albums through the Audioengine speakers, the Music Hall’s USB output and included software let you plug straight into your PC. This allows you to digitize your record collection and transfer it to your favorite portable player for listening on the go. Now that's a pretty cool thing that any vinyl lover could get behind.

Add both to your shopping cart

Last updated July 30, 2015
  • Richard niece from Meridian

    Posted on 8/9/2015 8:38:21 AM

    I have a Bose 360 turntable ... But unfortunately , can't find the rest of the system ... Is there anyway to make the turntable work again ?? Or is it a now a bookend ??

  • Dave Bar from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/10/2015 9:58:58 AM

    Richard, It's hard to say whether or not your Bose 360 turntable is salvageable. I did find a Bose support page you might try contacting to see if they can provide any guidance.

  • glen from broken arrow

    Posted on 8/13/2015 7:44:08 AM

    I have 2 magnavox stereo console record players from the 60's or 70's.. Remember these ~ they're about 4 feet long and look like a piece of furniture.. Seems the amps have gone on both models.. DO you have replacement amps for these?

  • Dave Bar from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/13/2015 11:15:47 AM

    Glen, I grew up with a 60's Magnavox console in my home listening to everything from the Beatles to Louis Armstrong to Eddy Arnold and Frank Sinatra, so this really takes me back. I'm pretty certain that replacement amplifiers for these consoles have long since disappeared from the marketplace, and the cost to repair what you have might possibly far outweigh their monetary and performance value (but, of course, never their nostalgic value!). It might be possible to substitute modern integrated amplifiers for the built-in ones, but that would require some advanced technical chops, and you would still be facing possible issues with worn out speakers and mechanical problems with old turntables. I almost hate to say it, but you might simply be better off with a new system. Modern amps and speakers sound a lot better, and newer turntables are much gentler on your vinyl.

  • Alan Miller

    Posted on 9/28/2015 4:00:08 PM

    One concern is the ease and cost for changing the needle on a system. What feedback can you offer regarding that issue on this one?

  • Dave Bar from Crutchfield

    Posted on 9/30/2015 1:42:54 PM

    That's a fair question, Alan. The Music Hall USB-1 comes with a factory-mounted Audio Technica AT3600L cartridge. A quick look around the Internet shows a range of prices for a replacement stylus somewhere between $10-$14. So, not too bad. As for the difficulty level of changing the needle? Piece of cake! You simply pull the old one out of the cartridge body, and slide the new one into place. No adjustments required.