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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.

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.

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

  • Roland from Santa Ana

    Posted on 12/6/2018

    If your new receiver has no analog ouputs, do they have phono boxes that can connect via hdmi cable? From the phone box to the receiver?

    Eric Angevine from Crutchfield on 12/7/2018
    Roland - Since HDMI is largely concerned with transmitting visual information, I don't think that will work. It's technically possible to convert your turntable's analog signal to digital with an external converter once it's gone through a phono preamp, but I can't say I'd recommend that course of action, either. Ideally, you'd want to go to a dedicated analog phono input on your receiver, but it sounds like you don't have that option. Maybe one of our sales Advisors can help you find a receiver that will do everything you need. Thanks for contacting us!
  • Chris from Orlando

    Posted on 8/10/2018

    Quick question. I have a shelf unit with a record player (yes I'm stuck in the 80s) that only has speaker out. Is it possible to use a car "line converter" used to connect amps to factory headunits, to connect the record player to my receiver?

  • Michael from Cincinnati

    Posted on 7/18/2018

    Super helpful article. ... especially for someone new to the initial setup of a turntable. Thank you for your simple and educational article.

  • Catherine from Brooklyn, NY

    Posted on 6/30/2018

    We have been given a Yamaha HTR-5550 and already had a technics sl-120 mk5 so we purchased a rolls vp29 pre-amp. When the receiver is on TV, all the speakers work but when it is switched to the AUX the top speakers do not work. Any insight on why that may be?

  • Justin from Peoria

    Posted on 6/29/2018

    I have a Denon AVR-3300w. A audio Technica AT-LP5. I also have a Pyle PP999. I am unable to get any sound, can you please assist?

  • Eric Angevine from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/15/2018

    Wayne - I'm a big fan of the Audioquest Evergreen - they're reasonably priced and work great. I'd go so far as to say if you use them and still get hum, the problem is not the cables.

  • Eric Angevine from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/15/2018

    Andrew - Some old hands will tell you to find some metal part of the turntable and touch the ground wire to it to see if it helps. Metal can be kind of hard to find on that model, however. I understand the impulse to "drive it until it breaks down," but if you decide to upgrade to a newer model with ground built in, give us a call, and we'll help you find one that suits your budget and your ears. Thanks for the question!

  • Eric Angevine from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/15/2018

    Andrew - Some old hands will tell you to find some metal part of the turntable and touch the ground wire to it to see if it helps. Metal can be kind of hard to find on that model, however. I understand the impulse to "drive it until it breaks down," but if you decide to upgrade to a newer model with ground built in, give us a call, and we'll help you find one that suits your budget and your ears. Thanks for the question!

  • Andrew

    Posted on 5/13/2018

    I have an Audio-Technica AT-PL50. It doesn't have a ground. So I get the constant hum when I listen to it. I have it hooked to my Onkyo receiver which has a spot for a ground next to the Phono input. I just want to know if there's a way to ground the turntable so I don't have that irritating hum while I listen to my music. PS There's a built in preamp in both devices, and I have the turntable's preamp turned off.

  • Wayne Nelson from Sonora

    Posted on 2/7/2018

    I have a persistent hum/buzz coming through speakers on phono input only. No noise through CD input. I've tried various cheaper (less than $20) RCA connector cables but still have buzz. Do I need to invest in a better shielded cable? I've been looking at Audio Quest cables. What would you suggest?-

  • RANDY from WINNEMUCCA

    Posted on 12/31/2017

    YOU DID NOT COVER PHONO NO PREAMP (OLD PIONEER) TO A/V RECEIVER HDMI (MODERN PIONEER). I HAVE RCA TO HDMI FOR OLDER VIDEO GAMES AND VCR. I SUPPOSE YOU COULD USE PROJECT PHONO BOX MM (FOR PREAMP) THEN RCA TO HDMI FOR RECEIVER CONNECTION OR WOULD THESE ELECTRONICS BE COMPATIBLE. I HAVE SPENT TIME SEARCHING FOR PHONO PREAMP WITH HDMI OUTPUT, NO LUCK. IS THERE SUCH UNIT TO YOUR KNOWLEDGE AND IS IT WORTH IT. I AM VERY HAPPY WITH MY CLASSIC 70S PIONEER TURNTABLE, SOME SOUND JUST CANT BE MATCHED WITH MODERN (CRAP) ELECTRONICS.

  • Michael from New Ulm

    Posted on 11/21/2017

    My receiver a JVC RX515V has a phono input but NO ground for it ... my new turntable has a ground wire ...what do I attach that to...getting a horrible hum when I try to hook it up without ground...

  • Steve from Buffalo, NY

    Posted on 11/14/2017

    "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. " Quoted for posterity! This is so very true. I have a decent turntable [Goldring GR-2, similar to Rega P3 (previous gen not 2017)] and was using the built-in phono on my AVR, then I found a deal on a Parasound Zphono which I think lists for around $200 normally, open box for $125 - what a MASSIVE difference in clarity and fidelity. Whether your turntable or AVR/amp have phono inputs or not, go with a separate phono preamp, you won't regret it.

  • Charles Nyce from Willow Spring, NC

    Posted on 11/14/2017

    Agreed that the hook-up of a turntable is no rocker science project. However I bought a turntable from Crutchfield Denon DP200USB. It has no ground cable attached with the turntable. So far I have not found a solution if the GND is required. I've never had one that didn't have the ground cable.

  • Allen Tice from Brooklyn, NY

    Posted on 11/12/2017

    I use a Bose Wave unit as my speaker set-up, and an Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB Direct-Drive Professional Turntable with separate left/right RCA Stereo outputs. The turntable has a built-in pre-amp that gives a flat output with weak bass and strong treble at fairly low volume. I connect these outputs to the Bose's two RCA inputs, and listen on the Bose's AUX setting. All is super, but the Bose has no accessible tone controls, so the sound lacks enough bass, has excess treble, and requires a high volume setting on the Bose. What do I need to put between the turntable output and the Bose?

  • Miranda from NYC

    Posted on 7/28/2017

    I am trying to connect a Technics SL-B100 turntable with a NAD stereo amplifier 3220PE to Monitor speakers. I cannot figure out what cable I need to connect the stereo amplifier to the speaker. I think I need to purchase a new cable but I am not sure which one to buy. The stereo amplifier has four holes for bare wire spring plugs which are filled. I believe the other end of the bare wire connect to the speakers but I am not sure how. Any advice would be helpful. Thank you!

  • coolcasey21

    Posted on 6/29/2017

    Hi there! I recently bought a very cool retro looking Record Player from my church's rummage sale. It comes with built in speakers but the sound isn't a good quality. I have a very good home theatre/stereo system at home that I'd like to connect the Record Player to. Unfortunately, the record player does not have Phono Out or any Audio Out; my Kenwood receiver comes with Phono In. My question is, how can a rig my Record Player for it to have Phono Out/Audio Out. Thank you for your help!

  • Lori

    Posted on 6/25/2017

    So...I'm going to purchase a turntable at some point soon. I retired my old workhorse Denon 2 yrs ago and bought a Marantz 1605 receiver for it's much smaller footprint, and HDMI connectivity. It has no phono input and honestly at the time I figured I would never need it...but I was sadly mistaken:). Whether or not I buy a turntable with a built in phono amp or choose one that will need an external one, all my inputs on this newer receiver all digital? Since it's connected mainly via HDMI to all my stuff, it only has a couple RCA audio inputs for basically CD, DVD, and CBL/SAT. Thats it. No line in elsewhere. Those are all digital. It seems no matter what input on my receiver I use to connect a turntable, it's going into a digital input. The million dollar question is, will the built in phono amp or an external phono amp allow an analog sound through my receiver to my speakers? Just sayin??

  • Laura Boughner from Oakland

    Posted on 6/3/2017

    Can I buy an output cable with 2 RCA-type pins on one end and 1 DIN-type plug on the other end? I inherited a Rotel RP-3000 and do not have the cable. I am trying to connect it to a Pioneer VSX-5400S receiver. Thank you for your assistance.

  • Callissa from CEDAR RAPIDS

    Posted on 5/27/2017

    Trying to connect a sansui stereo receiver R-5 to Mesa-65 SV turntable. Suggestions?? Do i need a separate set of speakers?

  • Richard

    Posted on 5/25/2017

    If I plug a turntable with a built in preamp and USB input into the front USB port of a surround sound receiver, will I get decent sound from it?

  • Richard

    Posted on 5/25/2017

    If I plug a turntable with a built in preamp and USB input into the front USB port of a surround sound receiver, will I get decent sound from it?

  • ronald hill from los angeles

    Posted on 1/9/2017

    on a yamaha receiver tsr -6750 can hook turntable to this unit

  • Erkki Metsälä from Helsinki

    Posted on 1/3/2017

    Hi! Have a question about connecting HT-354 turntable to Onkyo TX-SR605. I was planning to purchase one of the cheaper phono preamps like Behringer PP400 Microphono Ultra Compact. Is that compatible with the turntable and and the AV receiver and does it matter which analog audio input do I use on the receiver end?

  • Joe H from Jersey City

    Posted on 1/2/2017

    This is a great article. Thank you! I've always wondered why there was a separate input for phono on receivers and DJ mixers, and why it sounds so bad if you plug a standard component into it. An article that I thought would be super basic really cleared up the confusion!

  • Walter from Kent

    Posted on 1/1/2017

    What other inputs can I use if I don't have PHONO inputs on my receiver?

  • Ash

    Posted on 12/7/2016

    I have a bsr 26cx and was wondering what kimd of receiver i should buy?

  • Joe from Boca

    Posted on 11/11/2016

    I recently bought a Denon AVR-2300 receiver and a Music Hall USB-1 turntable, which has a pre-amp. I tried plugging my RCA cable into the CD input, but I'm getting no sound, only a muted sound from the turntable itself. What am I missing? Could my cables be bad?

  • Jack from Statesboro

    Posted on 10/25/2016

    Is it possible to hook up a realistic lab-340 turntable with panasonic re-787 speakers?

  • Steve from Boulder, CO

    Posted on 10/21/2016

    Thank you very much for such a clear post . . . i was connecting a turntable and receiver that both had phono preamps. Thanks to you, my awful sound problem is now fixed!

  • William Malone from New Canaan, Connecti

    Posted on 9/29/2016

    How do you confirm that th left channel is produced in the left speaker and vice versa?

  • Dave Bar from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/16/2016

    Well JP, the answer is sort of yes and no (it's complicated). The only one I currently know of is PS Audio's NuWave Phono Converter. But the HDMI output on back is for I2S (a special, unconverted native digital signal), and only works with a select few components that have a corresponding I2S input. So unless you have a DAC that can handle that type of connection, the "real world" answer is basically no.

  • JP Loize from NYC

    Posted on 5/16/2016

    Do they make a phono preamp with an HDMI output?

  • Dave Bar from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/17/2016

    I couldn't find much info about that 'table, Dan. What I did find would seem to indicate that it was part of a rack system, and was designed to be powered only by the receiver that came with that system using a special plug. So I'm going to have to say "highly unlikely" as to compatibility with your receiver.

  • Dan Haydon from Napa, Ca.

    Posted on 4/16/2016

    I have a Pioneer vsx 9700s receiver. I want to hook up a Pioneer turntable PL - 777AZ. Is it possible?

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