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Old 07-27-2011, 08:53 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Audio Amateur With a Turntable Needs HELP

Hello,

Before I proceed with my questions, I need to ask that you pardon my ignorance of all things audio tech.

Here's my situation: I recently inherited an old record player (turntable) and a substantial record collection from my folks. My initial excitement soon gave way to (again, ignorant) confoundedness at the incompatibility of the RCA cabled-record player and my digital 1/8 inch speakers. I tried to find a cable at Radio Shack that would convert from the one technology to the other, but I was unable to find a converter that had two "female" ends, as needed. I was told by the clerk that no such converter exists, and many searches on the internet seemed to confirm this. My roommate then counseled that I could use a second converter (male to female) on top of the RCA-1/8 inch converter, but with the admonishment that it would drastically diminish the quality of the sound. I was informed, also, that even if I managed to hook up the turntable to a set of speakers, I might still need additional pre-amplification. The plot thickens...

Not wanting to part with these gifts, I have arrived at the conclusion that I simply need to buy speakers with "female"-ended RCA inputs and sufficient amplification. Not knowing whether such speakers are still made, or if they ever existed to begin with, I'm looking for something reasonably compact and not too expensive (certainly under 500 dollars). If you know of a website where I might find such a product, please let me know. If you think I need to reconsider going for ONLY speakers - and not additional pre-amplification devices - go ahead and let me know. Really, any expert advice would be most appreciated.

Thank you for your time.
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Old 07-27-2011, 10:45 AM   #2 (permalink)
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The speakers you have are active. (This term refers to speakers that operate without the need for external amplification, since they contain internal amplifiers. This enables them to be run directly from any given source without the need for another box)

As such, they're designed to be fed from a line level source, such as a PC headphone jack, or CD player. In PC use, this is not a problem, as a PC soundcard is capable of mixing together lots of sounds and sources and controlling them via software, so only one output is needed and all rerouting of signals and so on, is handled by the PC software.

In proper HiFi however, the CD player, Turntable, Cassette Deck, and any other equipment, exists in the form of seperate boxes, with individual Line Level Outputs. While feeding these into active speakers WORKS, to change from listening to CD to listening to Cassette, you would need to unplug and swap the cables each and every time, causing a lot of wear, a lot of hassle, and prematurely destroying the connectors if a lot of changing is done.

Turntables are not Line Level sources however, they're comparitively very, very low level sources. even if you did find a way to put the RCA Phono connections from your turntable into a set of Active speakers, the inbuilt amplification is designed to boost signals that start off at much stronger voltages. You would get a very, very quiet sound. It would also be very noisy, as that kind of extreme volume control level on active speakers, would result in lots of nosie being boosted too.

Because of this, Turntables require preamplification, to bring their low level (Which is usually only a few millivolts at the absolute most.) signal up to Line Level (Which is 2V at the peaks).

So yes, you will need a preamp. I would also recommend using a proper stereo amp and passive speakers, they'll be much better than nigh-on anything active you can find.
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