Regardless of what you’re shopping for, the prices affixed to the upper and lower echelons of a product differ dramatically. And speakers are no exception. When searching online, you can easily find speakers that double, triple, even septuple your budget (that’s 7 times, if you were wondering).
But is paying the steep fees worth it? What causes speakers to be more expensive? Do record players need speakers? To answer these questions and more, read ahead.
Factors that Determine Price For Speakers
How much does a turntable speaker cost is a question best understood in parts. Speaker parts, to be exact. Different aspects of a speaker will cause some to be priced higher than others. These factors include:
- Size of the speaker
- Type of speaker
- Bluetooth capability
Size of the Speaker
As far as trends go, the larger the speaker, the pricier it will be. Think of those massive concert speakers—regardless of quality, make, design, etc.—they are going to be more expensive than a tiny handheld speaker you clip onto the rearview mirror of your car. But why? What is it about the shape of a speaker that ensures larger speakers are costlier?
To describe why size matters, let’s breakdown how a speaker operates.
Basic Breakdown of Speakers
In its essence, a speaker can be thought of as three components working in tandem:
- Permanent magnet
- Electromagnetic coil
- Paper or plastic cone
As an electronic signal comes in from your record player, aux cord, or Bluetooth device, the signal reverses the polarity of the electromagnetic coil. This rapidly changing magnetic field attracts and repels the cone toward and away from the permanent magnet. The cone compresses the air into sound waves, thus amplifying the electronic signal into music.
This almost sounds like magic, doesn’t it?
Now you might be wondering, what does any of this have to do with the price of the speaker? Good question.
The limiting factor in this equation is the cone. As you turn up the volume, the electric signal increases in intensity. This causes the magnetic push and pulls to strengthen, which in turn punches the cone back and forth with more force. Too much volume causes the cone to vibrate forcefully and tear. If you’ve ever heard the term “blown out speakers,” it’s when the cone tears and produces a fuzzy or staticky sound.
Size of the Speaker (Part 2)
With this knowledge firmly in mind, the bigger the speaker, the louder you can crank the volume; thus, the more expensive a large speaker will be.
What also follows from this is how larger speakers have a better sound quality when played at the same volume as a smaller speaker. Because it’s utilizing less force to create the tunes, the music sounds crisp and delicate.
Type of Speaker
Another reason the size of a speaker would cause the price tag to jump is that large household speakers often come with multiple types of speakers wrapped up in one. This means a single speaker could come with a subwoofer, a mid-range, and a tweeter.
- Sub Woofer – The subwoofer is what offers music that heart-thumping, gut-punching bass. You know, the kick drum, the bass guitar, the rumble of a hearty baritone’s voice. The low frequency of a subwoofer will bring out sounds as low as 10-200 Hz, which on the lower end of the spectrum, our ears can’t even pick up. That’s why bass is for feeling the vibrations.
- Mid-Range – The mid-range speaker is your standard, solo artist. It picks up most of the audible spectrum except for the highest of highs and lowest of lows. If you think of any handheld, phone, or computer speaker, it’s likely a mid-range. The frequency range is around 250 to 2,000 Hz.
- Tweeter – Think of the high-pitched tweeting of a bird. Tweeters pick up and bring out the subtly of a crash symbol, an opera singer’s belt, and the squeal of an electric guitar or violin in a heated solo. While a mid-range speaker might cut off the high notes or clump them together at the end of its spectrum, tweeters will offer the notes in its entirety. The range of tweeters typically reaches from 2,000 to 20,000 Hz.
If you were curious, the range of human hearing in healthy adults typically runs from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. As you age or as you continually listen to music at loud volumes, this range decreases. (For those who use headphones, try to avoid using them at full blast—the headphones send the waves straight into your eardrums without protection.)
Type of Speakers vs Price
A large speaker that comes equipped with all three types (sub, tweeter, and mid-range) will be more expensive because it eliminates the need for a multi-channel setup.
Between the three speakers, subwoofers and mid-ranges tend to be on the more expensive end of the spectrum. Tweeters are a cheap addition that takes little power to operate.
Another factor that will increase a speaker’s price tag is if it has Bluetooth capability. As you’ve probably noticed, almost all new electronics come with the Bluetooth button ready installed, and that includes wireless speakers. However, if you’re wondering why older speakers are cheaper, check to see if it’s because they don’t have that all wonderful, wire-ridding option.
In the simplest terms, the wattage refers to the volume capabilities of the speaker. And before you audiophiles raise your pitchforks and torches, yes, yes, it’s not the only factor, but it is important. The volume also depends on the amplifier, the power source, and the quality of the speaker (in theory, a 30W speaker can outperform a low-quality 50W speaker). But unless you want to spend an afternoon doing algebra, consider the wattage as a good replacement for volume.
How much wattage do you need?
- For the car – Although the distance the sound has to travel in a car is small, the music has to compete with the noise of the freeway, traffic sounds, honking, and other road noises. It’s suggested to find speakers that sum up to 50W for an ideal car stereo system.
- For your living room – Depending on the size of the room you want the music to fill, the speaker wattage should be between 50 to 100W.
- For a bedroom – Typically smaller and more intimate than a living room, a bedroom might only need between 30 to 70W for a comfortable listening experience.
- For a party – As far as indoor parties go, DJs and musicians tend to rely on the 5W per person rule. If you’re having thirty people over for a New Years’ bash, find stereo speakers with 150W. If your party is outdoors, double that to 10W per person.
Remember that these are general rules of thumb. Going with a higher wattage doesn’t mean that you have to blast your speakers at full volume. Many consider the safe option is to overshoot the wattage than to undershoot it. You can always turn the volume down; you can’t always turn it up.
Determining What You Need From Your Speakers
Putting all these factors together may help you understand why different speakers cost what they do, but the final step is making the decision all about you. To find the perfect set of speakers, you should consider what you want from your speakers.
- Throwing parties vs intimate listening experiences – If you want to sit at home with a scotch and a record, you won’t need 100W concert speakers set up in a triangle around your chair. Similarly, if you want to throw a party, don’t rely on a record player’s built-in speakers.
- Size of the room – Finding the right speaker for the room is typically best done with common sense. If the speakers you choose take up a tenth of the room, that’s too much. Similarly, if you want your garage to act as a dance studio, you’re going to need more than a small pocket speaker.
- Genre of music – There is a subset of electronic music known as Bass. As you can probably imagine, the audio tends to come with a heavy source of low tones. Thus, with this genre of music, you should focus more on finding a high-powered subwoofer and a mid-range to compliment. If you enjoy opera, rock and roll, or classical symphonies, you’re going to want to find speakers with the full range of frequency. Whatever the genre, there’s a speaker made just for it.
Victrola to the Rescue
When it comes to finding the best record player speakers, Victrola offers many different products and price ranges. Consider these three pricing options for your music budget:
- Low-cost speakers ($24.99 - $49.99) – From light string speakers to bookshelf speakers, these will be able to comfortably bring music into any room of your home. Plus, all Victrola speakers come Bluetooth equipped so you can toss that speaker wire.
- Mid-cost speakers ($49.99 - $99.99) – At this price range, you’ll be able to wake up any room with sound. Consider Victrola’s rotating Bluetooth Tower Stereo, with four spinning speakers to create the perfect space for any occasion.
- High-cost speakers ($99.99+) – If you want your speakers to be multi-functional, consider Victrola’s Bluetooth speaker furniture. With high-powered speakers built into the furniture, you can safely stow your vinyl record player and vinyl records, furnish your living room, and start a party whenever you please.
- Vinyl turntable with speakers ($49.99 - $199.99) - If you want the ease of set up, a Bluetooth turntable with built-in speakers is probably the way to go. Whether you prefer more retro or modern turntables, Victrola's wide selection of record players will quickly become your go-to device to play through your vinyl collection.
In sum, different sizes, qualities, and functionalities will change the price tag of speakers for turntables. For it to be worth the cost, ensure your speaker has both the volume capacity and frequency range to support your music.
Whatever your budget, there’s a speaker for you that will make your vinyl sound amazing. Happy listening!