What if Sonos made a turntable? It didn’t. But if Sonos were to build a vinyl-playing platter, it would surely look a lot like the Victrola Stream Carbon.
The aesthetic nod to the wireless audio company is no accident. Victrola developed the new turntable in close consultation with Sonos to earn the company’s certification as a device that works with the Sonos wireless audio system.
As such, this is the 115-year-plus-old company’s first Wi-Fi capable turntable, and the first one designed specifically to work with existing Sonos speaker systems.
Victrola CEO Scott Hagen told me Victrola studied Sonos's customers and found that 50% of surveyed listeners play vinyl records at least once a month. That number sounds high to us, but the vinyl market did balloon to $1.5 billion in 2021.
The roughly 14-pound record player is a modern and pleasing blend of aluminum, steel, and carbon. It sits low to the ground but is, according to Victrola, protected from vibrations. Its 2-inch-tall vibration-dampening feet are hidden inside the player.
The belt-driven turntable also includes the built-in Wi-Fi system and a lot of empty space that the engineers used to shield the audio components from Wi-Fi interference.
Poised on top of the turntable is a carbon fiber tonearm that comes equipped with an Ortofon Red cartridge.
It’s a high-end $799 record player (it will not be available outside the US at launch), which means there is a counterbalance on the other end of that arm. However, Victrola made sure that all aspects of the turntable setup are as easy as, well, a Sonos setup.
When you add the weight to the tonearm, there are markings that show you exactly where to place it. Victrola claims that each system will arrive perfectly balanced.
Similarly, the setup and connection to an existing Sonos system are designed to reflect Sonos' frequently-lauded ease of use. Victrola representatives explained that once you finish setting up the Victrola Stream Carbon and turn it on, you can scan a QR code on the Victrola box that will open the Victrola app on your phone. It will show you the record player in the app and then ask you to select your Sonos system’s Wi-Fi network.
There is, on the front of the player, a single large knob for volume control. In fact, depending on which Sonos speakers you have connected, it can control the volume on all of them.
The only other control is for playback speed: 33rpm or 45rpm. Next to the control is a machined adapter for your 45rpm records.
Victrola gave us a brief demo, playing tracks off Dina Washington’s For Those in Love and Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska. Both sounded, as you would expect from vinyl, warm and lovely.
Of course, that sound was coming through an array of Sonos speakers and sound bars dotted around the midtown Manhattan demo space. As promised, when the Victrola engineer turned the large knob on the record player, all the speakers got louder. Later he showed me the Sonos app where we could control the volume of each speaker individually.
Despite its Sonos abilities, the Victrola Carbon Stream is a fully capable analog record player and includes the necessary RCA output jacks. There’s also an Ethernet port if you want to go old-school with network connectivity.
Even before this turntable hits the market, Victrola is planning more Stream record players, potentially with different materials, and in different colors and styles.
The Victrola Carbon Stream is now in preorder and ships in October with, yes, a dust cover that I did not see on display.