Victrola Stream Onyx review: The unofficial Sonos wireless turntable
Victrola Stream Onyx3.0 / 5
AppleInsider may earn an affiliate commission on purchases made through links on our site.
Sonos, the wireless speaker company, doesn't make a turntable, but if it did, the Victrola Stream Onyx might be what it would look like.
The Stream Onyx is sleek and modern and can connect to one or more Sonos speakers over Wi-Fi.
The Stream Onyx is Victrola's second stab at a technology-driven turntable. The first was Stream Carbon which only debuted last year and retailed for $899.
Now, with Stream Onyx, the long-time music company is lowering the bar to entry for its Works with Sonos products.
There are some differences with the hardware, but not as many as you might expect for a $300 difference.
We enjoyed using the Stream Onyx connected to bookshelf speakers with RCA cables, but this line of turntables from Victrola is geared toward Sonos customers.
So, when considering a purchase of the Stream Onyx, or Stream Carbon, the choice comes down to whether you value the wireless aspect and how much you value the finest details.
The benefits of a wireless record player
When you consider the juxtaposition of the fiddly nature of listening to music on a turntable and still wanting the convenience of connecting it to wireless speakers, some mental juggling occurs.
For this reason, we have primarily avoided any Bluetooth-enabled turntables over the years and stuck to a wired connection.
Victrola's use of Works with Sonos changes the equation a little, though. The Stream Onyx has Wi-Fi built-in and when on the same network, can instantly see and connect to any selected group of Sonos speakers.
This nicety and advantage go above and beyond other Bluetooth solutions in our minds. Plus, a stereo pair of Sonos One speaker or a Five speaker are great options for music listening.
Listening on the Stream Onyx
The Victrola Stream Onyx turntable is a sleek piece of hardware. Unlike Stream Carbon, it has a low profile and comes in a stealth black color. We preferred this color option to the silver variant.
RCA connectors are on the back, along with an ethernet port for a wired network connection.
A single knob on the front is primarily for adjusting the volume on wirelessly connected Sonos speakers but can be used for power or factory reset.
The tonearm is aluminum and includes an adjustable counterweight. In addition, there's an anti-skiing adjustment available, and the unit has an automatic start.
To round out the features, there's a two-speed belt drive to play 33 1/3 and 45 RPM vinyl records, and it comes with an Audio Technica AT-VM95E cartridge.
In our use, the turntable seemed well-made and played records as expected. It had a premium feel, but we're not sure the components justify a $600 price.
Lowering the tonearm with the built-in lever was bouncier and less stable than most others we've tried — including the Stream Carbon.
The playback was flawless when wired to bookshelf speakers. We listened to records ranging from Sufjan Stevens to Mos Def, and the reproduction of the music was as expected.
On the wireless side, we ran into audio dropping out at time. Changing the audio delay in the Victrola mobile app from minimum to high helped with this but didn't resolve it 100 percent.
Eventually, we moved from using Wi-Fi to wiring an ethernet cable directly into our router to try to avoid any random occurrences. This still didn't resolve the dropping of audio playback from time to time. We also made sure the unit was up-to-date and tried factory resetting it more than once.
Of course, this network aspect will depend on people's home Wi-Fi and external factors. We have a modern network configuration so it was disappointing to experience any unreliability.
We did like the instantaneous playback to our Sonos Play:Five when we lowered the needle. It was easy to go into the Victrola app and choose a new speaker group too.
Similarly, the volume knob on the Stream Onyx was a brilliant addition. It made adjusting the volume a breeze.
The less attractive parts of the Stream Onyx
Unfortunately, we were less than thrilled with the finer details of the Stream Onyx. The front knob had a slight wobble to it.
The dust cover leaned more toward the side of art than utility, which was unfortunate. It needed to be removed entirely with each use rather than tilted back. It also didn't do a great job of keeping dust off the top of the unit.
The faults and detractions from the Stream Onyx were minimal but avoidable, making them feel even more disappointing.
Is the Victrola Stream Onyx worth its price?
The Victrola Stream Onyx is a fine turntable that gets most of its value from its Works with Sonos integration.
While it may sound surprising, we still think the Stream Onyx is a solid option for those who are all-in on the Sonos ecosystem. The network issues were random enough that it's hard to write off the unit for everyone. It's something we'll continue to keep an eye on over the long term.
We do recommend considering the Victrola Stream Onyx for anyone who self-identifies as a music lover searching for a specifically modern option. In a lot of ways it felt like an unofficial Sonos turntable.
But most people interested enough in listening to vinyl records are also willing to go through the trouble required to get a better value on a less expensive turntable or spend more on better components.
- Works with Sonos integration
- Volume knob is handy and worked well
- Sleek and stylish design
- Audio drop-outs when using wireless or ethernet
- Dust cover could be more functional, easier to use
Rating: 3 out of 5
The rating would have been higher if this product had been $50 to $100 cheaper and had fewer connection issues. However, we did like Stream Onyx better than the Stream Carbon for the savings.