Using a Turntable with Sonos


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Thinking about getting a turntable setup with your Sonos system and wondering where to start? We've got you covered.

If you're looking for a quick overview before you dive into the details below, check out the info we have over on our blog and on our website here.
 

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Before getting started, we need to ask a simple question— Does my turntable need a phono preamp?

Although some turntables have a built-in phono preamp, most of them don’t. Turntables output their signal at phono level, which is a low, quiet signal rated in millivolts. A phono preamp converts the audio output to line level, which is a louder signal rated in volts. If your turntable does not have a built-in phono preamp, you’ll need to place one between the turntable and Sonos player.

We don’t recommend any phono preamp in particular, but we’ve heard great things about the Music Hall Mini, U-Turn Pluto, and Bellari Rolls VP 29.

Your audio receiver may have a phono input, which means you can wire the turntable directly to the receiver. To pass the analog signal along to Sonos the receiver should have a Tape/CD Out, Rec Out, or Zone 2 Out. (Note: additional configuration may be required to trigger the audio output on the receiver)

Which Sonos player do I need?

There are five Sonos players that have a line-in port— the Connect, Connect:Amp, Sonos Amp, Sonos Port, and Play:5. While all four can be used with a turntable, they each have a different application. The Connect is perfect if you already have an amplifier and a set of third-party speakers that you don't want to part with. You'll want to use a Connect:Amp or the new Sonos Amp when you already have a pair of third-party speakers but lack an amplifier. Our Play:5 is an all-in-one speaker with the amplifier and speakers all housed in a compact, solid enclosure. Now, no matter which player you plan on using, you'll have the ability to send the music to all of the other Sonos speakers around your house and at the same time. We get it, just because your collection sits in one room, that doesn't mean you have to.

For those just getting into vinyl or looking to upgrade, we now carry the Pro-Ject Essential III Phono in our online store for the US. This is a great turntable that includes a built-in phono preamp so it can be used out of the box with a Sonos Amp, Sonos Port, Play:5, Connect, or Connect:Amp right after the initial setup. We also have the newer Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Sonos Edition and some more options here. We know that Record Store Day is approaching so for those of you in the U.S. looking to upgrade your table, get a new Play:5, or both, we have a set that may interest you.

To connect the Play:5 to your turntable or phono preamp, you’ll need a 3.5mm male to RCA cable, which is more commonly referred to as an RCA y-cable. The y-cable will connect to the RCA Out on either the turntable with a built-in phono preamp (shown below) or the RCA Out of the standalone phono preamp. The 3.5mm end will then be connected to the Line-In port located on the back of the Play:5. Although they are not seen all that often, there are some phono preamps that include a 3.5mm out. In this scenario, you’ll want to use an aux cable, which is 3.5mm male to 3.5mm male.

 

 

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After the Play:5 has been set up, you’ll want to make sure to tweak the line-in settings. Trust me, I know the excitement of getting a new turntable setup and the first thing you want to do is drop that needle but reviewing the details below will help save time and answer a lot of questions you may find yourself asking. These settings are available for all of the Sonos players with a Line-In connection.

To make these adjustments, we’re going to use the Sonos app on a mobile device and head to More > Settings >  System > (Play:5 name) > Line-In.

To start, you can set the Line-In Source Name. This is used to specify what kind of device is connected to the Line-In port. By default, there isn’t an option for a turntable, so I recommend setting a custom name. The source name is then what’s displayed when selecting Line-In as an option under Browse > Line- In > Turntable: Den

The Line-In Source Level is extremely important, so make sure that if you’re skimming this thread just for info on settings, pay attention to this paragraph. There are two common reasons why music can be barely audible after getting a turntable setup with Sonos. One reason, the turntable doesn’t have a built-in phono preamp (covered above) and the other is because the line-in level is set too low. The line-in level is the voltage in which the signal is going to be detected and the higher it’s set; the louder audio will be. By default, Line-In is set to level two, which isn’t very loud for a turntable. Each class of audio equipment is different and therefore the output impedance will vary from device to device, so make sure to consult your product’s manual. Ideally, you’ll want to set the line-in level to match the output of your phono preamp according to the principle of gain staging. Since most phono preamps don’t have a very high output impedance, you should be able to set line-in all the way to ten if you don’t hear the audio clipping.

The line-in voltage levels are below:

2.2V - Level 1
2.0V - Level 2
1.8V - Level 3
1.6V - Level 4
1.4V - Level 5
1.2V - Level 6
1.1V - Level 7
1.0V - Level 8
0.8V - Level 9
0.6V - Level 10

These adjustments can be made under More > Settings > System > (Play:5 name) > Line-In > Line-In Level.

The Autoplay Room setting, which is turned off by default, automatically triggers Line-In as the preferred source for audio playback in a designated room. This means that whether music is already playing or you’re just getting ready to kick back and sink into an album that, once the needle meets the groove, autoplay will take care of the rest. Additionally, when autoplay is enabled, the designated speaker will drop out of a group it may be part of unless Include Grouped Rooms is enabled.

While the autoplay feature is great, it won't be ideal if you’re dealing with a cartridge that is a bit noisy, there is trouble getting a solid ground connection, or if there are power fluctuations from the outlet being used. This can cause music to abruptly stop when streaming from an online music service or local source.

 

 

 

 

General Troubleshooting

 


Audio Dropouts

 

 

 


A simple but often-overlooked reason you may hear audio dropping or skipping is due to the turntable and speaker(s) being on the same surface. While it may be aesthetically pleasing or the only option in a tiny room, a turntable is designed to measure vibrations, so any other external vibrations may induce skipping or distort the music. Again, if keeping them on the same surface is the only option, you can use foam or other absorptive material under the turntable or speakers to help.

One of the main causes for audio dropping during playback is wireless interference. Before following the steps below, try to clean up the wireless in the area as much as possible.

Audio drops may also occur on larger systems when there are multiple rooms grouped together. When there is a large group with multiple speakers, there will be a greater strain on the wireless communication. To help mitigate that strain, there are two options:

 

 

  • Set the line-in level to 4. Using level 4 will increase the buffer size from 75ms to 500ms.
  • Adjust the audio compression. Use compressed rather than uncompressed or auto as it will increase the buffer size to 2000ms. This is found in a slightly different location, More > Settings > System > Audio Compression

 

 


No Audio

 


Check the connections. I know this sounds silly, but we’ve all been there. Connecting an In to an Out or just plain forgetting a connection altogether.

Use a different device. After making sure all cables are connected and seated properly, grab a device that can be used with a y or aux cable. Can you hear sound now? If yes, then there may be a setting on the turntable or phono preamp that needs to be adjusted or checked.

 

Speaker Placement

 


The subject of speaker placement is a very expansive topic, so I'm not going to go into too much of the nitty-gritty, but I still believe it's important to cover some of the basics. These are some of the best practices to make sure you'll get a great soundstage and imaging. This will also change from one Sonos speaker to another, or if you're using your own speakers with a Sonos Amp.

 

 

 

  • Make sure the speakers are away from the walls. Specific to Sonos, this will also help to reduce potential wireless signal loss.
  • You've gotta keep'em separated. As a general rule of thumb, place the speakers as far away from each other as the distance they'll be from where you'll be listening.
  • Keep them at ear level.

 

 


209 replies

Fixes for common problems:

Setting the line-in audio compression from auto to compressed can help with audio interruptions when there are multiple players grouped together.

Don't forget the often overlooked trick of setting the Line-In source to 'Airplay Device', thereby increasing the buffering from ~70ms to ~500ms whilst leaving the stream Uncompressed.

The name can be over-typed with something more meaningful afterwards.
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Definitely. I am too old to get beyond the aesthetic beauty and rituals of turntables and vinyl, but I have noticed in charity stores here in Scotland, vinyl is now starting at £2 for even non descript stuff, whereas CDs are now 3 for £1.
In a wee Victorian house with Victorian wallpaper, my compromise has involved painting not only my Sonos 5s, but also my pre-amp and TT too. She is happy, and tbh, I think it's ok too! Nice clean lines if nothing else.

Don’t worry about voltages, just set the line in level to what it needs to be to get adequate sound levels from the play 5. Even if it means setting it to 10.

@Bruno92  I have set mine at 10 in both places I use Line In to have sound levels maintained at about the same volume level setting regardless of which source is in use - Line in or Wireless.

If that isn't a requirement, and you now get adequate sound levels without running the 5 units at full volume, it might be a good idea to back off the setting down to 7 or 8. The only risk in running 10 is input signal clipping if the signal voltage is too high for sensitivity of the Line In at 10, which can cause music to subtly distort. I haven't read or heard anywhere that there is also any associated risk of damage to the 5 unit though.

FYI, there is no risk in running the 5 units at close to max volume levels, if that is what you need to do with the Line In levels backed off a little as suggested.


If im using a mixer on two turntables will i still need a pre amp?


Using a mixer is not really possible with Sonos. The Sonos line-in is delayed about 70 ms in order to buffer the input for streaming. This will cause a noticeable delay from input to output, which makes live performances like DJ mixing or vocals/Karaoke basically impossible.
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I wouldn’t bother with a Bluetooth turntable, they are typically junk. TRNTBL has a reputation here for not delivering, and not responding to emails. Probably to be avoided. So many great classic turntables available at garage sales, Craigslist, etc for a song, which will greatly outperform the Crosley junk.
Totally agree. Here in Scotland, I picked up a Thorens TD150 (albeit with a cracked Perspex lid) for £20 ($27?) from a charity store. Decent Ortofon cartridge fitted too. For me, an old school properly engineered TT plus pre-amp will blow away any Bluetooth enabled plastic dinner plate mass produced in China to a bargain basement price.
I have a playbar with a 1990s Onkyo record player. I connected the record player by going through a preamp, then a analog to digital converter, and finally an optical splitter so I can connect both my TV and record player. Worked perfectly.
Open the Sonos app on your phone or tablet. Go to the Browse Menu and select Line-In. Choose the source of your music. Then press Play Now and the record playing on your turntable will start up.
That won’t assist mikegoldnj above though, as he doesn’t have a line-in to connect to, as Bruce was suggesting, he will still need some further hardware, like a Connect, or a Play:5 for example.
Please ignore last post have played around with connectors from pre-amp to Sonos 5 and was a faulty connection. Duh!

The plus minus buttons work to change the volume levels if the Connect is set to variable as opposed to fixed in its settings.

Much after I bought mine, Sonos introduced a feature that I therefore don't know the exact whereabouts of, that makes the unit buttons inoperative. It is somewhere in the app, in settings. Check this isn't the reason.

Variable/Fixed operates on wireless levels as well, to the best of my memory!

Set the line in to Compressed.

Thanks, Bruce, will that have a significant impact on audio quality?  I usually think of ‘compressed’ as a problem?

If you prefer to run the line-in audio uncompressed, then goto the Port’s line-in Settings where you can change the audio buffer size by selecting an 'AirPlay’ device as the line-In “Source Name” … you can then overtype the name to something like 'Turntable’, or any name you prefer and then see if the bigger buffer helps to resolve your issue.

If the tip suggested by Ken also does not serve, then compressed mode is probably the solution. And no one has established that any difference in quality heard via that mode is not just psychological.

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Seeing the symptoms you present you probably do. You don’t mention make and model of you record player; some players have a built in preamp but require it to be switched on

If your turntable does not have a built-in preamp, you’ll need to place one between the turntable and Sonos player.


Good thread; is it a sticky as it needs to be?

The other input is with reference to the quote: these preamps are not expensive any more and if one is spending more than USD 100 for one it is probably too much. Close to half of that ought to get a perfectly adequate gadget. Some attention is needed to compatibility of the preamp with the cartridge type on the turntable - Moving Magnet or Moving Coil. Those compatible with both tend to be more expensive.
@davidpaterson99 Now you got me curious…..

There's a switch at the back of the turntable that turns on the preamp. No mention in the instructions! As a novice, this was all a bit frustrating. The Pro-ject instructions were poor and there's no holistic instructions from Sonos, who sell the package. Got there in the end...
All solved! Hadn't taken the cap off the needle when setting up NEW turntable. What a silly.
Good; although it isn't easy to unknowingly place a capped needle on the LP. Alls well that ends well, I suppose.
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All solved! Hadn't taken the cap off the needle when setting up NEW turntable. What a silly.

I'm glad to hear you were able to solve the problem. I hope the vinyl wasn't damaged!!!!
How does line in on a Play 5 compare to the quality of using line-in on a Connect?
Nope; no difference to the extent that it will be audible. Whatever difference will be heard will be due to the sound signature of the speakers employed in the Connect based set up. In your case, if the 5 units are the current generation ones, sound quality is unlikely to be bettered, personal preferences aside. With a Sub in the mix, what you have is a HiFi set up of excellent quality.
It sounds like it's better to compress the phono line-in signal to minimize drop outs. I've noticed a ton of drop outs when listening to vinyl through my gen 2 play:5 line-in feeding into the rest of the livingroom setup of playbar, sub, and 2 play:1s.
I currently have a cheapo Pyle pre-amp connected to my Technics MK-D3 turntable (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00025742A) - would there be a noticeable sound difference if I replaced the Pyle pre-amp with something more substantial like a tube amp?

Drop outs detract from the listening experience to the extent that suffering a slightly lower sound quality is much preferable. That said, I don't know anyone that has confidently picked out the difference in a blind test. But before using this option, try the Airplay trick mentioned earlier in this thread.
As long as the Pyle is working, it will do all that is needed. Tube amps meet the needs for eye candy, more often than not. Missing features are a different thing; but the headphone feature may well be available on cheaper devices.
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I currently have my Technics SL-1200MK4 connected to my Mies i100 pre-amp which is connected to both my Sonos Connect & my AirPort Express. The Connect is tied into my SonosNet through the BOOST. This allows me stream my vinyl through Sonos while also having the ability to AirPlay to Sonos without having my TV on which is connected to AppleTV.
Fixes for common problems:

Setting the line-in audio compression from auto to compressed can help with audio interruptions when there are multiple players grouped together.

Don't forget the often overlooked trick of setting the Line-In source to 'Airplay Device', thereby increasing the buffering from ~70ms to ~500ms whilst leaving the stream Uncompressed.

The name can be over-typed with something more meaningful afterwards.


OK why doesnt someone ACTUALLY EXPLAIN how the heck to do this?
Actually, anyone that understands the sound quality limitations of even 180gm vinyl has moved on to digital audio a long time ago.

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