How to Plug a Turntable Into an Amplifier

Written by matt gerrard
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How to Plug a Turntable Into an Amplifier
The "phono" cable is named after the turntable--or "phonograph" to which it's commonly connected. (Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Record turntables play back sound by tracking a tiny needle, or stylus, across the grooves in a record. The undulations in the grooves are picked up as vibrations through the needle. These vibrations are then converted into an electrical signal by the cartridge that supports the stylus. The electrical signal can be heard through a pair of headphones, which convert the signal into the movement of their speakers. Or this can be done by connecting the turntable to an amplifier, which can boost the signal before sending it to a pair of loudspeakers.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • RCA stereo phono cable

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  1. 1

    Ensure the amplifier and turntable are powered off, and the volume on the amplifier is turned down to zero. Never attempt to connect a live cable to a device; it can cause sudden spikes in unregulated voltage that can result in damage to either part of the system.

  2. 2

    Connect the two plugs of the phono cable to the sockets on the underside of the turntable. The plugs and sockets should be colour-coded white and red -- white for the left channel, and red for the right. There will possibly also be a threaded ground pin on the turntable. If this is the case, you will need an additional ground wire to help eliminate hum and noise. Phono cables are available with these already incorporated. They are usually called "turntable cables."

  3. 3

    Slide the fork-shaped connector under the locking nut on the ground pin, then tighten the nut to secure the pin. Check that none of the exposed metal on the ground pin is near contacting the phono plugs.

  4. 4

    Connect the phono plugs to the rear of the amplifier. There will likely be a dedicated set of inputs labelled "Phono," with a pair of colour-coded sockets matching those on the underside of the turntable. Connect the phono plugs to the sockets, and screw in the ground wire, if necessary.

  5. 5

    Power on the turntable, then the amplifier. Place a record on the turntable and start it playing. Gradually increase the volume on the amplifier until it is at a comfortable volume.

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