Whether you want to host a party with the latest records, or you’re simply looking to invest in a quality piece of technology, an amplifier is going to up your audio game. And if you’re a vinyl aficionado, or more so if you’re a newbie, getting the best amplifier for a turntable is a sheer necessity.
There are several features to look out for when purchasing your optimal amplifier. First and foremost, it all depends largely on whether you already have a preamplifier built in your turntable or not (preamps are usually present in all-in-one record players). If you do, then you’ll need to get a power amplifier. And if you don’t, then a main (integrated) amplifier or a combo of a preamplifier and an amplifier would be the best fit. We took this into account, so whatever your needs are, you’ll find something on our list. Other features we looked at are the frequency response of an amplifier, which refers to the frequency range it amplifies, the impedance, and the total harmonic distortion, among many other.
Top 5 Amplifiers for Turntable Review 2020
The time invested in our extensive research through various sources has brought you an in-depth review of the best amplifiers for a turntable. This article also includes a table comparing all products we reviewed, a buying guide, and a FAQs section to ensure you have complete knowledge of the product at hand.
Integrated amp boosting a full range of sound and featuring high-current WRAT, solid design and handy sensory settings
Integrated amp with an unbeatable construction and decent sound for the price, can be upgraded to Bluetooth
Power amp with a smooth sound, Bluetooth compatibility, and advanced power-saving system
Power amp with Independent Bass, Treble, and Balance control and A/B terminals to set up a connection between speakers
Integrated amp at an excellent price with LED indicators and Bluetooth compatibility at a great price
Onkyo A-9050 – Editor’s Choice
- Type: integrated amplifier
- Audio: 2 channels 75 W/Ch
- Impedance: 8 Ohm
- FR: 10 Hz to 100 kHz
- THD: 0.08%
- Power output: 160W
More features: built-in MM phonoequalizer, phono overload 100 mV (MM, 1 kHz, 0.5% THD), WEEE certification, 192 kHz/24-bit-capable coaxial and 96 kHz/24-bit optical inputs
The Onkyo A-9050 delivers high-current WRAT (Wide Range Amplifier Technology) power with a budget-friendly twist. It boasts of a high-quality sound system above all ranks, with a relatively strong headphone amplifier for the accuracy of hearing.
This amplifier is quite resourceful, too. With subtle low output-impedance speakers, it allows for Hi-Res Audio prospects, casual in-house theatre nights, as well as treating yourself to spur-of-the-moment vinyl days. The sound is clear and transparent, yet the amp is able to give heavy bass frequencies when you need them.
That’s not all. The device’s chassis adds a modern-day twist to introduce its sleek technology. Consisting of an extruded aluminum heat sink with gold-plated transparent speaker posts, the Onkyo A-9050 definitely delivers you value for your buck.
Another good thing is that there is no need to purchase a preamplifier for your turntable if you don’t have one. The Onkyo A-9050 features it built-in, connecting directly to your turntable.
It also comes with a remote-control system, once again proving to add value to your investment, and sensory settings. This means that the device can be adapted to automatically switch off, provided it does not sense any signals within a 20-minute time frame.
Unfortunately, the amplifier is not able to automatically switch on, as it does off. This is because there is no installation of Bluetooth technology (as of now). Therefore, it will only turn off and be reset when discharged.
Many users have complained about the Onkyo A-9050’s aesthetics, or a lack thereof. The amplifier has a straightforward, simple design that won’t necessarily leave a vivid impression in one’s mind. But that don’t have to be a problem if you aim for performance.
- Full sound
- High-current WRAT at a budget
- Built-in preamplifier
- Remote control system
- Sensory settings
- Not Bluetooth compatible
Yamaha A-S501BL – Runner-up
- Type: integrated amplifier
- Audio: 2 channels 85 W/Ch
- Impedance: 8 Ohm
- FR: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
- THD: 0.019%
- Power output: 120 W
More features: auto standby (8 hours), gold plated analog inputs including phono
The Yamaha A-S501BL is an amplifier with a durable build. It’s chunky, feels solid, and probably will last you for years. In addition to an excellent performance for this price tag, it’s also packed with many useful features.
The detailing is to be paid close attention to, from its remote control handset down to its intended chunky finish. This amplifier definitely gives us old-school, retro vibes and somehow resembles the best vintage amplifiers from the past.
The design itself also speaks volumes. Unlike its counterparts, buyer’s intuition has overwhelmingly been in favor of the Yamaha being long-lasting.
Why so? Its range of features such as its 5-line level inputs, standby power consumption of 0.5W, and a moving magnet phono stage all corroborate that. The only thing that it lacks is a USB capability to connect to a PC, but it’s not a deal breaker for many of Yamaha admirers, as people more often report using it with a TV, a Blu-ray player, or, of course, a turntable. Another small drawback is that there is no built-in Bluetooth, but you can easily fix it by adding am outboard unit, the YBA-11.
The device also sets itself apart from its previous version due to the installation of digital inputs and optical and coax connections. Another feature that the Yamaha A-S501BL boasts about is its weight and feel. Buyers of the Yamaha’s predecessor complained about its bulkiness. It looks like the new and improved version has taken this into consideration, with this newest model garnering a more positive feedback for its lean and bright balance. The sound definitely got better, it’s clean and more even.
- High power outage
- Spacious sound
- Excellent build
- Easy-to-operate layout
- Bluetooth compatible through an outboard unit (YBA-11)
- Bluetooth isn’t built in
- No USB connection
Yamaha R-S202BL – Best Power Amplifier for Turntable
- Type: power amplifier
- Audio: 2 channels 100 W/Ch
- Impedance: 8 Ohm
- FR: 40 Hz – 20 kHz
- THD: 0.2%
- Power output: 100 W
More features: 40 station FM/AM preset tuning
The Yamaha R-S202BL Stereo Receiver prioritizes stereo sound with simplistic connectivity. It has installed RCA inputs and outputs, as well as a headphone output. This allows for recordings to be transferred to external devices such as a CD.
Don’t forget, however, that this is a power amplifier, so there is no option to directly hook your turntable. Either the turntable would need to possess a phono preamplifier, or a completely separate one would need to be bought.
Onto its design; this amplifier has the ideal circuit layout because of its positioning. Sincethe power transformer is located next to the power amplifier. It allows for reduced power loss while simultaneously improving power supply for higher output. It also comes with an IR remote-control system and produces up to 100W/channel at 8 Ohms. Additionally, there is plenty of room for storage for up to a maximum of 40AM and FM stations that can be carefully chosen from either the receiver itself or the remote-control.
Another strength of this amp is its simplistic design that allows buyers to easily locate the buttons and knobs on the device. It also delivers Bluetooth functionality to stream music services from several devices. It means that you can easily connect your Bluetooth turntable to avoid dealing with all that countless cords and wires.
As a cherry on top, this amplifier boasts of an advanced power-saving system. It converts to standby mode after some time and allows for a 2, 4, 8 or 12-hour setting.
- Powerful sound
- Bluetooth compatible
- Simplistic design
- Advanced power-saving system
- 2-year limited warranty
- Can’t power more than one set of speakers at the same time
Onkyo TX-8020 – Most User-Friendly Design
- Type: power amplifier
- Audio: 2 channels, 50 W/Ch
- Impedance: 8 Ohm
- FR: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
- THD: 0.08%
- Power output: 90W + 90W (6 Ω, 1 kHz, 1% THD, 1 channel driven, IEC)
More features: 40 FM/AM random presets, 5 analog audio inputs and 1 output
The Onkyo TX-8020 specializes in versatility on a budget. It has a two-channel audio performance, ideal to power audio in a range of devices including your PC, TV, Blu-ray player, and CDs through digital and analog inputs.
Speaking of analog audio inputs, this amplifier contains 5 inputs and 1 output, inclusive of Phono input for a turntable. The versatility of this product also shines through other factors, in that it is known to be compatible with a range of devices such as the DS-A5 AirPlay RI Dock for your Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, and iPod). Overall, this amplifier has a user-friendly design system and layout. Many buyers seem to mention the relatively easy-going nature of the device.
Another great feature is an independent Bass, Treble, and Balance control. These controls come in handy when trying to maximize characteristics responsible for the correction of acoustics and the frequency response. The TX-8020 also boasts of an authentic, dynamic, and a mid-range sound with the accuracy of timing for all kinds of music and its settings.
Where this amp really shines is in its sets of banana-plug compatible speaker terminals, which make it possible to set up a connection between speaker A and B. This feature allows people to listen to the same audio in different vicinities.
This model comes with a remote-control option. The fairly simple control system makes organizing audios and videos much quicker. A simple connection of the DS-A5 is all that is needed to start the playback.
A drawback to this model, however, is that this amp doesn’t support Bluetooth. But if Bluetooth connectivity is critical for you, there is a newer Bluetooth-compatible model of this Onkyo available.
- Independent Bass, Treble, and Balance control
- The inclusion of A/B terminals
- Fairly simple control system
- Not Bluetooth compatible
Grace Digital GDI-BTAR513 – Budget Pick
- Type: integrated amplifier
- Audio: 3 channels, 40W, 50W, 60W
- Impedance: 47 Ohm
- FR: 20 Hz – 20 KHz
- THD: < 0.1% at 50W
- Power output: 100W
More features: 1-year warranty, included AC power adapter, audio cable, remote control, Bluetooth compatible
The Grace Digital GDI- BTAR513 is our most budget-friendly pick of all the amplifiers discussed. However, does the starting price of $69.99 online contribute to the value factor of this device? Let’s take a look at its main features.
The amplifier runs in compact sizes, convenient to carry around or place in your cozy bookshelves and desktops. The budget-friendly Grace Digital device is not just a minimalistic aesthetic piece though, it also encompasses Bluetooth technology for all your streaming pleasures, an aux-in jack system for a supplementary audio function in the cable, and a UL-approved AC power adaptor.
This amplifier also comes with a remote-control system with batteries. Furthermore, its frontal base not only displays the bass, treble, and balance options, it also has LED indicators not found in any of its competitors and a standby button.
Major advantages of this amp also include the ability to power an optionally powered subwoofer and a more satisfactory aesthetic appeal than its competing amplifiers, according to buyers.
However, we can’t say that you get more than what you pay for. The amp is known to have some faulty let-down issues, and there were complaints about redundant battery usage and major Bluetooth music streaming glitches.
- Excellent price
- LED indicator
- Powers an optionally powered subwoofer
- Good aesthetic appeal
- Several faulty let-down issues
- Redundant battery usage
- Bluetooth music streaming glitches
When trying to figure out the best amplifier to purchase for your turntable, it is important to identify which device caters specifically to your needs. This supplementary buying guide and FAQs section will ensure that any and all of your queries have been met, leaving you satisfied when walking out of the store with your amplifier in hand.
What is an amplifier and why do you need one for your turntable?
An amplifier is basically a device that supplies increased strength to a signal. It helps boost the level of signals, current, and voltage. It is a part of most audio devices that use wireless communication and broadcasting.
To help you understand the need for an amplifier for your turntable, it is critical that we discuss the types and roles of an amplifier.
There are two types of amplifiers for a turntable – the ones with a built-in pre-amp, called integrated amplifiers, and the ones without it, also known as power amplifiers or stereo receivers.
Luckily, most modern turntables come equipped with a pre-amplifier. These work with the turntable’s cartridge signal, amplifying and equalizing it.
For turntables without a built-in preamplifier, there are plenty of options featured in this article to choose from.
What makes the best turntable amplifier?
Choosing the right amplifier for your turntable is no joke. Having sad that, there are some essential details such as the power output, the number of channels, the impedance, frequency response and total harmonic distortion, and the auto standby options in an amplifier that you should pay attention to when looking to purchase an amplifier that will deliver the most bang for your buck.
Below is everything that makes a turntable amplifier stand out.
Power output and number of channels
The power output that an amplifier can produce is the most accurate representation of how well an amplifier can perform. The United States Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has designed a uniform system for grading power rating for amplifiers and other stereo components. The system introduces root mean square (RMS), the average power an amplifier can give out without any damage.
Having talked out the importance of power output to when investing in the right amplifier, the number of channels is also a critical factor. Simply put, channels in an amplifier represent the number of speakers the amplifier is compatible. For example, a 4-channel amplifier is able to support 4-speaker systems. A 5-channel amplifier on the other hand, is capable of power four speakers and a subwoofer.
Impedance, frequency response, THD
Most amplifiers work with loudspeakers of 4, 8, and 16 ohms of resistance. However, for best performance and results, it is recommended that you choose an amplifier that is a correct match for your loud speakers.
Matching an amplifier with the right impedance of your system can be a complete game changer. Wondering why we say that? Consider this. If the total impedance of your loud speaker is low, the power delivered to the loudspeaker will be higher and it can possibly overload the system and damage your amplifier. Whereas, if the impedance is too high, the power being delivered to the speakers will be too low.
Furthermore, we suggest that you pay close attention to the frequency response of all the devices as they vary. The 10 Hz to 100 kHz range of the Onkyo A-9050 delivers vastly different results than the 20 Hz to 20 kHz range of the OnkyoTX-8020.
In today’s day and age, we’re all prone to a hands-free approach when it comes to our technology. The auto standby option is super convenient for people who aren’t bothered to keep tabs on their amplifiers activity. The Yamaha R-S202, Yamaha A-S501BL, or the Grace Digital GDI-BTAR513 would all be a suitable pick here.
Individual features are also important. Not all amplifiers possess an ideal infinite bandwidth or a zero common-mode gain. Always make sure to ask for feedback on the devices you intend to buy.
How to connect an amplifier to a turntable and to headphones?
Connecting an amplifier to a turntable is a fairly simple process.
There are two methods involved, each for the option of the preamplifier installation. If there is the need for an external preamplifier, then a set of cables (most probably RCA ones) will have to be linked to your audio system. If the preamplifier is built in, proceed by attaching the turntable’s ground wire (if needed) to the grounding post on the phono preamplifier.
Connecting your amplifier to your headphones entails connecting the power supply of your device by plugging it in with an EP stereo plug (for example, the MXP-38 (Jack) to EP Converter) and then just simply connecting your headphones to the headphone amplifier.
Sound capabilities battle down to the Onkyo A-9050 and the Yamaha R-S202BL. It’s a relatively hard choice, since both receivers specialize in top-notch sound systems. Ultimately the decision could boil down to the power outputs concerned. The Onkyo A-9050 has a power outage of 155 watts, whereas the Yamaha R-S202BL’s power outage is 100 watts. It’s also wise to consider that both options employ headphone priority. The Onkyo boasts of a powerful headphone amplifier for sound precision, as well as the Yamaha that comes with a headphone output. Perhaps the more versatile amplifier could take the lead. The Onkyo A-9050 has a Hi-Res Audio option that allows for different settings to play out. It’s prepared to give you a club night or a casual dine-in experience with the latest records. The Yamaha also providesa few attractivefeatures, such as allowing recordings to be transferred to external devices such as CD players.
There are several amplifiers that fit well and provide accommodation for your Apple products. First and foremost, as mentioned above, the Onkyo TX-8020 comes with a range of devices such as the DS-A5 AirPlay RI Dock for your Apple devices (iPhone, Ipad, and iPod). This amplifier stands out from the rest for this exact feature. Other receivers branching out to support the Apple ecosystem include the RAL KEB02IP DAC headphone amplifier, the SHURE SHA900 (portable) headphone amplifier, and the Sony PHA-3 USB DAC headphone amplifier. Other options that are labeled as a slight variation of the amplifier, but still very much compatible with Apple products include the Fostex HP-P1 headphone amplifier and DAC and the Ultrasone NAOS HI-RES DAC for any smartphones. The overwhelming choices available should not coerce you into buying an amplifier not suited best to your needs. That being said, the Onkyo TX-8020 is the most reputable choice on the market.
The option for embedded music-streaming services is an integral value booster for any amplifier that buyers are looking to purchase. From the amplifier options reviewed above in detail, the Grace Digital GDI-BTAR513 and the Yamaha R-S202BL both offer this technology. But it's not as easy as a choice to make. Why may you ask? As discussed in the article, the Grace Digital GDI-BTAR513 has been reported by several experienced users to have major Bluetooth glitches. This issue, coupled with the Grace Digital amplifier’sreported battery issue could be enough encouragement to get you opting for the economical and glitch-free Yamaha R-S202BL. Ultimately, it’s a win-win situation where the customer would be getting a better value for their buck.
Our final verdict comes down to a set of the most valuable factors when cherry picking your device. The Onkyo A-9010 Integrated Stereo Amplifier and the Yamaha R-S202BL Stereo Receiver are categorized in the highest ranks for several reasons. Firstly, both amplifiers are known to specialize in something, be it the glorious sound system of the Onkyo, or the versatile connectivity options of the Yamaha R-S202BL. Therefore, we picked the Onkyo A-9010 to be the best integrated amplifier for turntable, shortly outrunning the Yamaha A-S501BL in performance and consistency. Although, the latter can be extended to Bluetooth compatibility. The best power amplifier, accordingly, is the Yamaha R-S202BL.
Our most user-friendly option for a power amplifier would be the Onkyo TX-8020 with its sleek and simple design and A/B terminals.
Finally, for users on the lookout for the supreme added value factor, the budget-friendly pick would be of major influence. If you are willing to overlook Bluetooth glitches, or if that type of technology is simply not a deciding factor, then the Grace Digital GDI-BTAR513, priced from $69.99, may be a suitable fit.