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Ask an aging audio head about the old days and more than a few will tell you about some of the amazing gear that Radio Shack released under its house brand, Realistic. Not everything was great, but the best gear—including the Minimus 7 bookshelf speakers—has a following to this day.
Monoprice has grown from its origins as the best source for cheap HDMI cables to replace Radio Shack as the go-to source for unflashy-but-quality audio gear. Its Monolith turntables continue the company’s tradition of delivering excellence at a surprisingly low price. This review covers the belt-driven Monolith model 600046, which has a walnut-colored finish. The Monolith 600047 is virtually the same product, but with a glossy back finish.
The Audio‑Technica AT‑VM95E cartridge that Monolith bundles with both turntables includes an elliptical stylus and is well-known for its strong output level. (A third model in the lineup—the Monolith 600045—is available for $50 less because it comes with the lower-end Audio Technica AT-3600L cartridge.)
If you’ve set up a lot of turntables in the past, you’ll appreciate the cartridge housing with threaded inserts, so you can mount the cartridge with just screws and forget about dropping the nuts on your first dozen tries.
Monolith 600046 turntable features
The Monolith turntable comes with a dust cover, an AC power adapter with multiple plug options that can be switched based on where you live, a die-cast aluminum platter, a 45 rpm adapter, a counterweight, an anti-skating weight, a Monolith-branded felt slip mat, a cartridge alignment protractor, and a USB-A to USB-B cable. The turntable weighs in at a very light 9.7 pounds.
Controls are very simple. There’s an on/off power switch on the back of the turntable, a start/stop knob on the right front near the tonearm, and a 33/45 rpm selector on the left front of the plinth.
The Monolith is a manual turntable, so you’ll need to drop the needle to begin playback and pick up the tonearm and return it to its rest at the end of a side.
Setting up the Monolith 600046 turntable
The Monolith isn’t quite ready to go out of the box. The setup isn’t difficult but it may be intimidating for someone who’s never owned a turntable before. The instruction manual that comes with the turntable is helpful and well-illustrated.
You’ll have to loop the belt over the motor pulley, which isn’t hard but the next step involves putting the counterweight onto the tonearm and then balancing it. Experienced users will fly though this step but first-timers will want to be patient and take it slow. The same goes for the installation of the anti-skating weight, which involves aligning thin filament with the right slot on the tonearm and looing the weight through a wire support.
If you’ve never done these steps before, look for videos on YouTube or ask someone to walk you through the steps. Sure, there are plenty of plug-and-play turntables out there, but the Monolith is worth the extra steps and patience required.
How we tested the Monolith 600046 turntable
I tested this turntable with a Naim Mu-so speaker for Bluetooth streaming, a 2021 MacBook Air for vinyl recording and a system that includes a NAD Phono Preamp PP-1 through a NAD Stereo Preamplifier S100, a NAD Monitor Series Amplifier 2400, and a pair of vintage Bowers & Wilkins P5 floor-standing speakers.
As I set up the Monolith and turned it on, it automatically found and connected to the Naim Mu-so. Listening quality was exceptional. If you have a great Bluetooth speaker setup like this one, the Monolith turntable and Audio-Technica cartridge are good enough to take advantage of your investment in a high-end speaker setup.
I also tried it out with the portable Tronsmart Bang, a very good Bluetooth speaker that’s obviously in the same category as the Mu-so, but is closer in price to the turntable. The Monolith connected easily, stayed connected, and sounded very good. No matter your setup, the Monolith delivers.
Ripping vinyl with the Monoprice 600046 turntable
Monoprice suggests using the free application Audacity for recording records onto your computer. The audio input settings on my Mac took trial and error to be set just right, but I believe that’s more a function of the current state of Audacity’s interaction with the Mac OS than anything to do with the turntable.
The quality of the WAV files recorded from vinyl was outstanding. I’ve used half a dozen turntables with USB cables over the past decade (including the more-expensive Pro-ject Debut Carbon), and the results I’ve been getting from the Monolith 600046 are superior to anything I’ve experienced before.
If you have a stack of records you’re looking to convert to digital, the Monolith 600046 is a great choice and, of course, you can choose any digital recording software you prefer if Audacity isn’t right for you.
Listening to the Monolith 600046 turntable with stereo gear
The Monolith’s built-in phono preamp is obviously getting the job done for Bluetooth listening and USB recording. It’s also a more-than-adequate option for analog stereo listening. I was impressed with the audio when I set the turntable to Line Output and plugged it directly into my NAD preamp.
Changing the turntable’s setting to Phono Output and using the NAD Phono Preamp PP-1 as a phono stage, however, gave the sound a huge boost. The Monolith 600046 offers excellent sound for the price but it’s capable of even better performance if you’re able to give it that extra boost.
Monoprice doesn’t put an analog RCA cable in the box, so you’ll need to order your own if you don’t already have one and plan to use the turntable with a stereo system. Monoprice offers a wide variety of RCA audio cables in various lengths, so you can order one to go with your turntable.
The turntable has a post to attach a ground wire, and I used an RCA cable that came with a ground wire. There was zero hum when the ground wires weren’t attached to the turntable and NAD preamp, so I found that I didn’t even need the ground.
Our bottom-line opinion of the Monolith 600046 turntable
The Monoprice Monolith is an outstanding turntable for the price. Even if you only need one of its three capabilities (Bluetooth streaming, vinyl recording or stereo system playback), it’s an excellent choice. If you need all three, you get a great-looking and capable turntable that’s remarkably versatile.
Best Prices Today: Monoprice Monolith 600046 Turntable