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.

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 four Sonos players that have a line-in port— the Connect, Connect:Amp, Sonos Amp, 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, 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.

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 > Room Settings> (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 > Room Settings> (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. The is found in a slightly different location, More > Settings > Advanced Settings > 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.

168 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.

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!
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 ( - 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.
Actually, anyone that understands the sound quality limitations of even 180gm vinyl has moved on to digital audio a long time ago.
The line-in can be used as a source on any and all other Sonos devices.
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Happy to find this thread ... I have 2x Play 5 G2, 2x Play 1 and 1x Play 5 G1 ..... I also have Technics 1200 MK2 turntable ... I believe they have built in Pre-Amp, also built in RCA and ground wire .... so if I connect the TT to one of the Play 5 G2 ... the album will play across ALL my Sonos system? ... or it will only play on that one Play 5?

To expand on what jgatie confirmed, it will do both. You can set up the Line-in so that it will autoplay to just the PLAY:5 that's connected to the turntable. You can then group all other rooms with that PLAY:5 in order to have the turntable audio throughout the rest of the house. Conversely, if you keep everything in your household grouped at all times, you can use the "Include Grouped Rooms" option so that the PLAY:5 is not automatically removed from the group when the autoplay feature kicks in.

I haven't come across it yet with a new turntable and its factory-fitted cartridge, but there's always a first time. I have seen it where people have tried to swap a cartridge themselves and got muddled. I have also heard of one cartridge manufacturer getting the wiring wrong during production.

Check all the rest of our wiring first , but if it's all good and vocals are still recessed on just the turntable then it's worth investigating the phase of the wiring further.

You were right, it's the turntable. Wiring is defective and it's being returned. Many many thanks for your help and response and also thanks Andy B, appreciate your help as well! It's just the worst not knowing what the h*ll is wrong so you can fix it but TT is getting replaced and soon I'll be able to enjoy my vinyl again on the Sonos 🙂.
All is well with the world!

I think I still see my Linn Sondek, Cyrus component amps and power supplies hooked up to my beloved Sonus Fabers as a superior beast, I must admit to definitely being a convert to this Sonos malarkey. In terms of house coverage, ease of use, and pretty damn good sound, I really am starting to like it.

I will always retain my passion for the sheer ritual of protecting, caring for and playing my vinyl albums (as well as loving album artwork and sleeve notes), but my days of dismissing the Sonos revolution are now gone forever. Both concepts have their place, and biggest surprise of all for me is that they aren't mutually exclusive. Exciting times!

Happy for you and the tag team of Bruce + Kumar wins again:-).

At some time convenient, replace the cable that has things like splitters etc with the simple and standard 2 into 1 multi jack RCA cable - even good enough ones are no longer expensive.

I understand your notions of superiority - been there, done that. But I suspect that they largely stem from the sound signature of the Sonus Fabers. I found them a little thick with their sound delivery, but that is a personal noting while admitting that Italians make fine cabinetry, any of their speakers look very classy, and that always influences perceptions of sound quality. And they are built to last. Try once to feed them with streamed music via the Cyrus kit using even the USD 35 Chromecast audio as a source, and you will understand what I am saying. If you like what you hear, consider adding the USD 350 Connect as a streaming source to the Cyrus. It will sound the same as the Chromecast, but usability is better because of the buttons on the box and the way it will integrate with the other Sonos kit you have. The risk you run is reduced use of the TT thereafter!

That said, there is no denying the pleasure in the vinyl rituals - pipe smoking versus streamed cigarettes! I just got tired of the ritual and sold my TT. I did not have a huge/rare vinyl collection, so there wasn't that reason to hold on to it. But the Sondek is a fine product with the fine visual engineering that is missing in digital kit like CDP players and Sonos, so it is worth cherishing if it floats your boat.
The home cinema isn't a good idea - the processing involved in the Onkyo downstream of the Connect may leave the music from the eggs out of sync with the rest of your Sonos speakers, unless you turn the amp to stereo or direct mode, defeating the use of all eggs because only two will then play.

Why don't you just try it with the Cyrus + stereo pair Fabers? Worried about the consequent fate of the Linn?!

And a Connect can just as easily be a source to any valve amp, so long as the amp works! Digital audio source + the magic glow of tubes and their warm liquid sound - I haven't forgotten the jargon, you will note.

And to Bruce: having done the audiophile thing - power supplies, colourful and thick cables and all - for a decade before getting tired of the hobby, to my ears my play 1 pair + Sub sounds as good as any audiophile set up I have known for up to twice the price of the former. And I have known audiophile set ups that cost more than that which did not sound as good.
My living room setup. A vintage Sony PS-X65 turntable nicely matches the QUAD ESL-63 electrostatics in appearance, and is a great performer. An antique Chinese cabinet holds a small phono preamp and a Sonos Connect:Amp, which powers the QUADs with sufficient power for the Jazz I listen to. The Sonos is set up to auto-detect a signal on line-in, so playing a record is painlessly simple. An Echo across the room now serves as the voice portal for streaming content. I can’t imagine a better, simpler setup.

I have one of the great tuners, the Kenwood Supreme 600T, with an 8-gang front end (the average FM tuner has 3 gangs), and a couple of the amazing little Sony XDR-F1HD DSP tuners, but sadly, there’s just not enough quality FM content available anymore to bother with. The big Kenny tuna has a deviation meter, which shows how much dynamic range compression the station is using. With virtually all commercial stations, the meter stays static, at maximum output; the loudness wars have determined that all content must be played as loud as possible, with almost zero dynamic range. The meter fluctuates wildly on the listener supported stations, but sadly, the music content has been moved to their HD2 channel, with lower fidelity than a 128K mp3 stream. So, even though the little Sony tuna can play it, it’s just not worthwhile vs TuneIn.

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I'm looking to setup my turntable remotely. I do not want to use songs as an amp, I already have a great amp and a multi-room setup. I merely want move my turntable to my living room (for convenience) while leaving the rest of my setup in the basement. Am I correct in assuming the following setup: Turntable > Pre-amp > Sonos Connect > wirelessly transmits to second Sonos Connect > Receiver.

If you want to save a little money you may want to check out this Instructable I wrote describing how to set up a Raspberry Pi as a line-in for Sonos: Cheaper than buying a Sonos Connect 😃