Entry-level sound system question

This is my first foray into building any kind of system, so apologies in advance for being clueless.

Got given a very nice new turntable for Xmas…only to discover upon setup it did not have either built in amp or speakers. So, with my 30th approaching, I wanted to rectify this…just want to be sure where to start.

In the long term, I’d like to have the ability to update speakers to a higher quality, but for now I’d be happy with adequate ones. Ideally Bluetooth (or any wireless form… just presume sonos is far too pricey). If my budget is roughly £200-250 am I being realistic…or should I just get an amp and save for speakers in the future?


I hear LCD ones are good


Have a pair of these myself, might be similar to what you’re looking for?

Just to check with the turntable, do you mean it doesn’t have a built-in pre-amp or just that you had hoped it would work directly into headphones?

I am not the most technical man with vinyl stuff but I bought my Bush MTT01 turntable because it had a built-in pre-amp, but that still means I need an amp to play the music, it’s just that the level that comes out of it is the same as - say - the line out from your DVD Player or iPod. If you don’t have a pre-amp then you either need an amp that has a built-in pre-amp for a turntable or you will need to buy that stage separately too.

I would start with Richer Sounds TBH. Even if you don’t buy from them they’ll give you a bunch of good options. If you’re going for proper separates then Cambridge Audio always had good reviews and tended to be in a reasonable price range. (I never went in for separates because of the 19" width and never having the space to devote to them.)

Probably you want the likes of @BodyInTheThames in here to answer the specific turntable questions btw.

I wouldn’t bother with bluetooth, Sonos or anything like that to be honest. Not so much as I am a purest, but the old fashioned way is more flexible and you can build on it. The basic way to get up and running is an amp and speakers.

For 200 there is an amazing amp at the moment at richer sounds that I nearly bought.

But to get into your budget then these two items at 169 and 49 might squeeze in, you need a little more for speaker cable but should still be under 250. You could go for the Onkyo and very cheap speakers and upgrade later maybe. But as a start the two below seem decent enough.

One last point, even for 250 with enough time and research you could get a really good system that is older and second hand but there is a bit of a gamble with second hand stuff of course. But amps that sold for 1k 20 years ago go for not much these days if you shop around. And technology hasn’t improved that much.


What’s the make of the turntable?

Honestly I would go 2nd hand, the number of amps & speakers you can get for next to nothing these days is ridiculous. There’s tons of hifi from the 60s/70s/80s that was built specifically with turntables in mind and was totally over engineered and built to last

I’d even go to charity shops and Google anything I see that looks interesting. Make sure it has a dedicated phono input and ideally an MM/MC selector (moving magnet/moving coil)

Amps can be a bit tricky with scratchy volume pots and dried out capacitors etc so maybe a repair/recondition place that sells on with a 3 month guarantee or w/e (do cash converters have a guarantee?) might be an option depending on what’s near you but speakers have so few moving parts that you can pretty much tell by looking at them if they’re gonna be fine or not. (The one thing that’s not readily apparent is if the speaker cone has moved ever so slightly out of centre so a manual test is to gently push the centre of the woofer in and out to feel if there is any rubbing. If it moves freely it’s fine)

Another issue is space - I mean there’s no point getting 12” woofers if you live in a tiny room and equally there’s no point getting 3” ones if you like bass and/live in a barn

So, without knowing your circumstances or even what kind of turntable you have it’s hard to give concrete advice but £200-£250 is more than enough to get a decent amp & speakers on the 2nd hand market - even £50 might be enough if you’re lucky - and @I_LIKE_CATS’s recommendations look decent if buying new

One other point is that you’ll need to think about where to place your speakers - don’t place them on the same surface as the turntable (they will feed back) and don’t place them against the wall/in corners as this is acoustically very bad. The number of people who spend a fortune on audio gear only to install speakers in the wrong place & totally muddy all sound is obscenely high, so maybe even price in some wall mounts/stands


My current setup. The speakers were very good in their day, for £200 quid speakers at least. You can get them for about 50-60 quid now. Amp was about 1k when it came out. Now under 200. Both from the 90s. So yeah, as Body says, if you are look around you can get some half decent kit.

Sony SS 176 speakers
TEAC 500 Reference Amp

It’s a sad fact that as you get older, you have more money to buy top end hi-fi equipment, but that it is offset by a decline in hearing and tinnitus.

I should have asked for a 5K bank loan when I was 21 to buy a decent stereo. Cause that’s the only time I could appreciate it before I wreck my hearing at gigs to come.

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Going to reply to people systematically, but thanks to everyone for your advice. For starters, I have a Denon-DP29F (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Denon-Automatic-Turntable-Built-Preamp-Silver/dp/B0000E6GMR/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_504_t_0?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=JSMN6G0DVZTJZ1ZH34WS)

@1101010 So it states in the manual that it has a “built in RIAA equalizer amplifier”…and goes on to say it can be plugged into an amplifier without an PHONO input jack. I don’t fully know what this means but I’m presuming it can be typically connected up to most amplifiers (for speakers)?

@I_LIKE_CATS as BITT says…these probably look like the best new options…and that is tempting for me as to buy second hand would feel like an added risk given my ignorance. @BodyInTheThames fantastic advice, thank you, which I can use regardless of whether I go second hand, I will do some research to at least assess my options.

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If you don’t need a Phono in on the amp (which you don’t) this opens up the options for you, otherwise you would need a small box called a pre-amp. The richer sounds has some Camridge Audio ones that might be good.

However, once again the purist in me (spelt correctly this time) would use the turntable without this function (if possible) and get an amp that is meant to take in phono.