Not having been in the market for a new turntable in a few years, my curiosity was piqued when I came across reference to “wireless turntables” while compiling reviews of the Best of 2016.
My initial assumption was quickly confirmed. Wireless turntables transmit a signal to an existing wireless speaker or network of wireless speakers using Bluetooth technology.
Next obvious question was addressed in the first article that I found on this subject (The rise of the streaming turntable – is wireless really more?)
If you’re using a turntable, you’re probably wanting the musical qualities of analogue, so why then convert to digital in order to stream to a wireless system? Aren’t you losing the warmth of analogue?
Well the simple answer is you’re chosing to sacrifice the unique qualities of analogue for the convenience of streaming. You already have a streaming system that is piping tunes throughout your home and you just want to be able to hear your latest LP acquisition everywhere – not just in your listening room (if you’re fortunate enough to have such a room).
There’s also some financial considerations. If you have a wireless system already and want to add a means to play your old vinyl or start collecting new vinyl, going with a Bluetooth enabled turntable allows you to avoid the expense of additional components. By this I mean either an integrated amplifier or receiver, or a phono pre-amp that would allow you to plug into most wireless systems.
This will also save you some furniture real estate and reduce the wire clutter. Not to mention that it frees you of the restriction of having to run cables between the turntable and other components. in fact, the turntable and speakers don’t even have to be in the same room.
These turntables can also connect to Bluetooth headphones without any need for a pre-amp.
There is also future compatability with a wireless turntable as they almost always include RCA plugs that make them compatible with standard analogue systems. If you only have a wireless speaker system and hope to add an analogue amp and wired speakers in the future, a Bluetooth turntable may be a good consideration.
There’s some added flexibility too. You can have your turntable plugged into your analogue system for that analogue experience and then flip over to Bluetooth for that whole home streaming experience.
Some of these Bluetooth turntables also have a USB output to link to your computer which allows you to rip your vinyl. The sampling quality can be higher than you get with streaming services such as Apple music. This isn’t new, but it is a nice feature of these turntables.
A point to note, not all wireless speakers have Bluetooth. The most popular, Sonos, does not. It uses your home WiFi only. Systems by Denon and Bose also use WiFi for multi room streaming but also allow for Bluetooth as an input source.
If a Bluetooth turntable interests you, check out Audio-Technica AT-LP60 BT for a highly rated Bluetooth turntable.