We have come a long way from the gramophone. A lot of today’s turntables aim to please contemporary listeners who are all about convenience – they’re more all-rounders than the painfully specialized viols used to play Slavic funk records, especially in reverse. The Victrola Stream Carbon takes that convenience even further.
Sure, it’s designed to deliver great audio quality and style, but it’s also Wi-Fi-enabled and the first record player to be officially certified works with sonos Program. This means you can play your vinyl through your Sonos speakers, wire-free. At £899, the Stream Carbon is a high-end turntable for those who’ve already invested in Sonos. But is it any good? Let’s scru-scru-scriggedy scratch through the surface and find out.
Design: Back to the Future
The Victrola Stream Carbon is probably based on what people in the 1970s thought the future of home audio would look like. is the wind of 2001: A Space Odyssey This. It’s minimal, ditches pitch shift, and has a large volume knob that emits a bright, white hue.
Rounded edges and a sleek front panel help it fit in seamlessly with my decor. The die-cast aluminum platter is finished with a silver matte material, and at only 11cm tall, the whole thing sits very comfortably on a shelf. It also comes with a dust guard and protector, which we think needs a little better design: It’s not attached to the turntable, so we mostly just tossed it on the floor or in a record crate.
Every element of the turntable feels sturdy and with a reassuring weight to it. A low-resonance, veneered MDF plinth is sturdy, and passes the dependable ‘doesn’t drop when we bash the table’ test. Overall, it looks pretty much the part.
Set Up: Moving Around
Victorola’s in-app instructions walk you through the basics. After attaching the platter comes the only fiddly bit: attaching the belt to the motor spindle. This took a few tries (and with the help of chopsticks). Next up is the Slipmat, which is made of silicone material about 5mm thick. It’s rubbery to the touch, and extra grippy.
A lot of turntables don’t come with headshells and needles, and if they do they’re often ones you should think about replacing almost immediately. A slimy needle will eventually have no problem ripping your record to shreds. But with the Victrola comes an Ortofon 2M Red, which is a solid in-the-box cartridge. The engine provides an output of 5.5mV and optimized sound reproduction with the elliptical diamond stylus.
There is no number on the counterweight. Rather, it is only a silver block, which is a plus for us. This is perhaps a personal complaint, but we feel that the counterweight number dial should have evolved over the years. The carbon fiber tonearm moves with solidity, and clips into its holder with a satisfying click. From there, it’s just to pop the included 45RPM adapter into its holder—definitely an upgrade from the 20p plastic one—plug it in and watch it boot up automatically.
Setting up the Sonos integration is only slightly more complicated than playing a record: You can do that by popping a needle on the vinyl, by the way. After connecting the turntable to your Wi-Fi via the companion app, it will automatically search for and connect to any Sonos speakers on the same network. You can then choose which speaker or room to send your audio to.
Features and Sound Quality: Trust the Process
We tested the Victrola Stream Carbon using a sonos one, which typically streams music and podcasts from a smartphone. Our first record, Thundercat’s album drunkComes through perfectly, with greater depth and clarity than the MP3 or streamed version. Piano keys played by Japanese house musician Shinichi Atobe shimmer through the speaker, yet are incredibly palatable with a punchy kick.
That’s a relief, because the Stream Carbon’s EQ customization begins and ends with the Sonos app. A volume knob and 33/45RPM dial are the only twistable items, so you’re trusting Victorola to know its stuff—it does a lot, just for the sake of clarity. The limited settings in the Victrola app only let you tinker with the wireless audio delay, enable or disable the RCA signal, and adjust the RCA delay. The Sonos app has more customization, with slideable markers for bass and treble, and a TruePlay function that allows you to tune your Sonos to your room.
There’s also a 3ish second delay in streaming from the turntable to Sonos. This isn’t a problem for most listeners, but it means the Victrola won’t double as a DJ-friendly turntable. However, there are very few DJs who opt for a Victrola over a Technics or Pioneer turntable.
It’s possible to hook the Victrola up to an external amp or mixer thanks to an additional RCA output, although there’s no phono output. Our generic Stanton Direct Drive turntable (actually our first one ever, and owned for nearly two decades) was swapped out for a Stream Carbon, and wired into an Omnitronic TRM-202 MK3, two-channel mixer . It worked well enough, but you can’t play records through the mixer and then through your Sonos speakers.
Victrola Stream Carbon Verdict
At £899, the Victrola Stream Carbon is a premium turntable, but real high-end turntables are a bottomless money pit, it really sits at the low end of the price spectrum. Its USP will really only appeal to those with an existing Sonos system, rather than those looking to start from scratch, and those with existing wired setups might be better off looking elsewhere.
For the already converted, though, there’s no denying the Stream Carbon’s wireless convenience.
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