In a word, yes. You absolutely can play records through your Sonos system. It’s why we both support and love the work that Sonos are doing. Founded in 2002, the US-born company set out to conquer the digital music market. They originally began without speakers in their line of products, instead offering bundle packs consisting of earlier version Connect and Connect Amp products. However, it wasn’t long before they were introducing smart speakers into the mix. Fast track to 2021 and Sonos are now a global player – in more than 60 countries, in seven languages, and through thousands of retailers. They’re big, really big. So how can you play LPs through your Sonos?
There are several ways to go about this, and I’ll detail all of them individually below, but whatt's important to know first is exactly what you’ll need before you choose to connect to any Sonos product. Important also is to understand exactly what a Sonos speaker is and how it applies to a traditional analogue music system.
There are four core components to any analogue music system, and without one of these four core components you’re not going to be able to play records.
Now, when we talk of a Sonos speaker, it’s not really just a speaker per se. It's an ‘active’ speaker, meaning there’s a tiny amplifier built into the speaker housing that powers the tweeters and woofers that produce the music. You don’t use an external amplifier to drive these speakers because they’re already equiped with their own. This is important to note, because if you’ve got yourself a Sonos speaker you’ve affectively got yourself two of the four core components necessary to play vinyl records: the amplifier and speaker. So what you’ll need in order to complete the list is (a) a turntable, and (b) a phono preamplifier. But there’s no need to purchase these two separately, and in fact what’s often most attractive about a Sonos music system is its minimalism – all you need is a wall socket and you’re in action. So, having a turntable with a built in phono preamplifier is an equally attractive option to customers interested in Sonos, and we sell many.
So what can you connect to?
There are three products within the Sonos range that you can connect a turntable to. Those are the Sonos Play:5, the Sonos Connect, and the Sonos The Amp. Each have their own unique functions, and we’ll go into the details in a little bit, but be aware. These are the only products you can connect a turntable to. You cannot directly connect a turntable to any of the other products in the Sonos line-up as these products don't have inputs that will accept a turntable. They’re all speakers you can group your turntable’s music to, provided you’re already hooked up to the right Sonos product, but it must be physically connected to one of three devices:
This one’s my favourite. It’s easily Sonos’ highest performing music speaker within the range. It’s a monster. Six digital amplifiers perfectly tuned to their respective speaker drivers (three tweeters and three mids) that can be stereo paired, if you’re buying two, as well as acoustically tuned to the room you’re playing it in. They’re an impressive speaker.
On the back of the Play:5 you’ll find a small Audio Line-in input. It’s a 3.5mm auxiliary (AUX) input that will allow you to connect your turntable directly into the back of the speaker. What you’ll need, and what most turntable’s with inbuilt phono preamplifiers offer, is an RCA (two cables, red and black) to a single male auxiliary jack (looks like the end of a headphone chord). The RCA’s connect to your turntable and the auxiliary input connects to your Play:5. Simple.
What’s so cool about this setup is that the Play:5 will immediately recognise you’re playing vinyl the minute the needle hits the record. No need to go into your system setup and switch lines, Sonos does it automatically. Also, you can group any existing Sonos speaker to the Play:5 and they’ll play simultaneously, sending a wireless signal to other Sonos products in the house. This is the perfect choice for folks who have existing Sonos speakers but no home audio system with amplifier and passive speakers.Tip: You can get started with one Play:5 or grab yourself a pair.
With the Sonos app you are able to create a stereo pair when you have any two of the same Sonos speakers, this means that you have a left and right channel and you will be listening to your music just as was recorded in the studios.
Say you’ve got a bunch of Sonos speakers around the house but you’ve got one sweet spot you want to put a new turntable and there’s no room to saddle up a Sonos Play:5 beside it. You want vinyl tunes throughout the house but you want the turntable in a very specific spot. Not a problem. The Sonos Port is your perfect Sonos product.
You hook up your Turntable (with inbuilt phono preamplifier of course) to a Sonos Port and it will wirelessly transmit the signal to any other Sonos product in the home. Now, bear in mind you’re not going to get any music from the Port itself, because it isn’t a speake. It’s that easy.
At the back of the Sonos Connect is an Analogue Audio line in. This is a set of RCA connections (Red and White) for your turntable to plug in to. There is also a Analogue Audio Line Out so that your Port could be plugged into an existing system to turn it into a Sonos system. It also comes with Optical and Coaxial inputs as well, should you wish to connect a CD/Network player. But we’re not talking about those. We’re talking records.
This is the kind of setup for people with a very particular aesthetic. They’ve got a beautiful cabinet picked to display their brand new turntable, the showpiece of any respectable home, and they don’t want it cluttered with other junk. You hide the Port in the cupboard and display only the turntable. It’s simple, it’s chic, it’s everything you’ve ever wanted.
Alright, alright, alright. We’re down to the last of the three components to get analogue tunes through your digital Sonos speaker system. And much like the name suggests, there’s very little difference between the Port and the Sonos Amp. One is simply a Port, the other has an inbuilt 125W per channel amplifier and speaker terminals to drive some passive speakers. Pretty simple stuff. It does everything the Port does only the Sonos Amp also has the power to drive a set of speakers that aren’t Sonos.
Say you’ve got a pair of existing bookshelf speakers. The remnants of a stereo system you once played religiously. But your partner wants an upgrade – maybe you want an upgrade – to something sleeker, more intuitive, and a little 21st century. Only, you never could part with those old three-ways. Now you don’t have to! You plug the turntable into the Sonos Amp and it fires up those old gold speakers like they were brand new again.
Now, you might just be wanting a brand new set of speakers from a highly regarded speaker brand but you’re also looking to stream tunes. No need to buy an amp and separate streaming; the Sonos Amp is an all-in-one. Now you can stream music through 80+ streaming services and control it all with the convenience of a mobile device. No more remotes, mate. We’re done with that. You control your tunes through your smart devices. The future is here, folks.
The point of the Sonos range is to add a little convenience to the music in our homes. If you’ve only got a small apartment or a single bedroom you’re playing from then a more traditional system will work best. But for music throughout the house it couldn’t be more simple than Sonos. And the best part is they’ve recognised the importance of analogue tunes in the minds of music lovers the world over and chosen to work with it rather than against it. This is the product for those who do just as much streaming as they do flipping LPs. And they’re handy as hell for playlists when you’re entertaining guests. Go forth, vinyl junkies, the future looks bright for both forms of music, analogue and digital.