Victrola Stream Onyx review: The unofficial Sonos wireless turntable

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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.

Victrola Stream Onyx
Victrola Stream Onyx


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.

Stream vinyl records wirelessly to Sonos speakers
Stream vinyl records wirelessly to Sonos speakers


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.

Side view
Side view


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.

Showing the back of the unit
Showing the back of the unit


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.

Dust cover is molded around the arm and sits on top
Dust cover is molded around the arm and sits on top


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.

Pros

  • Works with Sonos integration

  • Volume knob is handy and worked well

  • Sleek and stylish design

Cons

  • 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.

This turntable is available for purchase at Victrola for $599.99.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 3
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 18,020member
    Great review, thanks. As a musician, I can’t escape asking “who is this product for?“ as you noted in the article, people who are going to invest in a turntable ecosystem, aren’t necessarily going to choose this. Is someone who’s been fascinated by analog versus digital music and how consumers respond to them, I don’t really get this one. Who would invest in an analog system just to run it over Bluetooth? It’s not really analog anymore, even without the network issues.  Certainly not Hi-Fi people.  The people I know who are into this kind of thing won’t even run a turntable through an integrated receiver. This product really seems like some sort of urban chic thing to me.  

    retrogustobaconstang
  • Reply 2 of 3
    retrogustoretrogusto Posts: 1,119member
    sdw2001 said:
    Great review, thanks. As a musician, I can’t escape asking “who is this product for?“ as you noted in the article, people who are going to invest in a turntable ecosystem, aren’t necessarily going to choose this. Is someone who’s been fascinated by analog versus digital music and how consumers respond to them, I don’t really get this one. Who would invest in an analog system just to run it over Bluetooth? It’s not really analog anymore, even without the network issues.  Certainly not Hi-Fi people.  The people I know who are into this kind of thing won’t even run a turntable through an integrated receiver. This product really seems like some sort of urban chic thing to me.  

    Yeah, the only target group I can think of besides that might be someone who had a lot of vinyl because they bought it back in the day or inherited it but has money to burn and really just wants a stylish way to play the records without prioritizing sound quality. I can imagine my mother enjoying something like this to listen to my grandfather’s old jazz records periodically if she didn’t already have a way to do this. 
    sdw2001
  • Reply 3 of 3
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 18,020member
    sdw2001 said:
    Great review, thanks. As a musician, I can’t escape asking “who is this product for?“ as you noted in the article, people who are going to invest in a turntable ecosystem, aren’t necessarily going to choose this. Is someone who’s been fascinated by analog versus digital music and how consumers respond to them, I don’t really get this one. Who would invest in an analog system just to run it over Bluetooth? It’s not really analog anymore, even without the network issues.  Certainly not Hi-Fi people.  The people I know who are into this kind of thing won’t even run a turntable through an integrated receiver. This product really seems like some sort of urban chic thing to me.  

    Yeah, the only target group I can think of besides that might be someone who had a lot of vinyl because they bought it back in the day or inherited it but has money to burn and really just wants a stylish way to play the records without prioritizing sound quality. I can imagine my mother enjoying something like this to listen to my grandfather’s old jazz records periodically if she didn’t already have a way to do this. 
    I think if they have a lot of vinyl and just want to listen occasionally, there are much cheaper options.  You can buy an entry level system with bookshelf speakers for around $250.  For $400 you can get an Audio Technica system with powered speakers.   Not Hi-Fi, certainly, but definitely good enough for casual listening.  

    I again come back to this being for the urban chic crowd.  This is for people who have some vinyl because it's trendy and retro.  They have apartments, are in their 20's and 30's, already own bluetooth speakers, and have $600 to spend on this fashion accessory that also plays records.  It doesn't mean it's a bad product.  But if I got into vinyl, I wouldn't even consider it.  
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