12 Best Turntables for 2023
Updated: February 02,2023
Can’t get enough of good music?
That’s why we tested some of the best turntables this year.
Tune in and you’ll explore:
- Our selection of the top turntables for every music junkie.
- Detailed reviews based on features, design, price, performance, and most of all – sound quality.
- A comparison between turntables and record players.
- Some tips in choosing the best sound deck for you.
Now let the music play!
1. Pro-Ject Carbon Debut Evo
This classic record turntable is fine-tuned to perfection. It’s taken the essential parts of the original Carbon Debut and threw in some Evo upgrades. The deck now comes with better stability, durability, speed control, and overall audio performance. Its various colorways and finishes rock a stylish design too!
If you’re a fan of vintage record players, there’s a good chance you’ve heard about the star-studded Debut lineup.
We first saw them in the 90s. After it came a series of upgrades that led us to the peak of evolution – the Pro-Ject Carbon Debut Evo. It’s a more refined sibling to the brand’s top-rated turntable, the original Carbon Debut DC. At first glance, you’ll hardly find any difference at all. It’s still got that lightweight body, carbon fiber tonearm, high-frequency cartridge, and all the gorgeous, flashy styles – from glossy blacks to satin yellows.
But underneath the surface, you’ll find all the sweet spots.
The Evo turntable now stands on three damped aluminum feet with an all-new thermoplastic elastomer (TPE). It’s the same thing you’ll find in Pro-Ject’s high-end X1 turntable, which gives it a wider stance and better stability. This also allows you to adjust its height for better positioning.
It comes with an improved motor suspension that almost separates it from the main body. It’s mounted with isolation washers, so you can expect little to no vibrations as you listen to the best vinyl records.
For most record players, a speed change usually requires you to take off the platter and move the belt. This deck spares you from that maneuver. It has an electronic turntable speed changer that gives you full control with a simple rocker switch. You can go from 33⅓ to 45 to 78 RPM records just by pressing the button on the plinth!
With this type of build, it’s no question that the sound quality is fantastic. It’s got those warm and luxurious tones, which is typical of a Pro-Ject turntable. And it takes that playback even further with detailed vocals and rich textures.
What’s missing is a built-in phono preamp, so you’ll have to get it separately before you can integrate it into your home speaker system.
All in all, this audiophile turntable looks and sounds like it was made for heavy-duty record-spinning. We can only compare it with its previous model, which means that it’s in a league of its own.
At $499, you get a well-designed deck that can last you a lifetime. So if you’re on a mission to find the best record player, take the Evo!
2. Rega Planar 3
From Planar 3 to RP3 to Rega Planar 3, this highly-renowned turntable combines decades of development into one refined record player. It’s among the top turntables for home listening! With a simple, ergonomic, and tech-loaded build, you can expect magnificent sound quality from this analog deck.
Looking for the best that Hi-Fi can give? Rega turntables are an obvious choice.
The Rega Planar 3 has been snagging Product of the Year awards at least five times since its creation. If that’s not telling enough, we’ll let all the features do the talking.
Looks-wise, not much has changed since 2016. But that’s actually a good thing. It’s got that simplicity and neatness with the glossy, laminated plinth. It also comes with a dust cover to keep your deck in perfect condition.
The double-bracing technology used in the plinth also makes it a solid turntable record player. The phenolic bottom and top braces, with metal skin for the latter, provide a strong region between the tonearm and the main bearing. More stability, less stress!
But the real stunner here is the new 9-inch RB330 tonearm. It features a new bearing housing, which makes way for zero-friction movement and adds even more precision. It can gather the tiniest details on your vinyl and deliver a smoother playback even for long-playing records.
It’s built with the latest 3D CAD and CAM technology, which puts it in the tier of high-end turntables. It basically eliminates all possible interfering resonances. It’s pre-mounted, too, so setting it up won’t require a lot of stretches.
It’s a manual, belt-driven turntable. That means you’ll have to take off the platter for a speed change. If you’re switching between 33s and 45s, this can be a drag. But no worries – Rega has a great alternative for that. If you’re willing to add an extra purchase, you can buy a TT-PSU power supply. This allows you to change the speed with the push of a button.
Speaking of extras, you’ve got two options here. You can either get the analog turntable without the cartridge for $945. Or, you can get the one with the pre-installed Elys 2 cartridge for $1,145.
We’d say it’s a worthy $200 upgrade since the Elys 2 cartridge does wonders for the sound quality. It’s what gives more clarity and detail to your playback. It’s also packed with a natural dynamic performance and engaging stereo imaging.
Overall, it’s a great home audio turntable at a reasonable cost. Its solid build and performance easily justify the price point.
3. Audio-Technica AT-LP120XBT-USB
This Audio Technica turntable is a cross between the traditional and modern touches of record playing. With various connectivity options, including a Bluetooth aptX output, you can enjoy listening to your vinyl records wirelessly. And at $300, it’s the best budget turntable as well!
Audio-Technica AT-LP120XBT-USB perfectly marries analog and digital phonograph records in this basic, budget-friendly manual deck.
For its low price of $299, it brings in a lot of pleasant surprises for new and intermediate users.
First off, it comes with a built-in phono preamp. That’s a rare commodity, even for the best turntables you’ll find here. With this inclusion, there’s no need to buy extra pieces to connect your turntable to a Hi-Fi, stereo, or powered speaker system.
The deck also gives you an easy listening experience with a quick plug-n-play setup. When you uncover the box, set the platter in place, attach the cartridge to the tonearm, and connect the hinges to the dust cover. Then you’re good to go!
At the heart of its modernity is the various connectivity options available in the turntables package. You can go hardware by using the RCA cables that come with it. For this, the deck comes with a switchable phono stage.
But if you’d like to go the wireless route, there’s Bluetooth connectivity offered here. You can pair it with your loudspeakers or headphones to enjoy wireless vinyl listening.
Additionally, you can use it as a USB record player too. By connecting it to a computer through a USB cable, you can even make digital copies of your vinyl records. All you need is a good digital audio workstation to pull it off!
Sound quality isn’t the best, but it’s good enough to capture the same tonal quality that a vinyl record is known for. It’s warm, full-bodied, and detailed - pretty much checks the boxes for a good analog turntable. It can play speeds of up to 33⅓, 45, and 78 RPM too, so it can deliver accurate sound information across the board.
The plastic finish takes it way below the high-end tier, but it’s no less sturdy and durable than its big competitors. It’s the best turntable for under $500, and it doesn’t disappoint when it comes to overall quality and build.
4. Fluance RT-81
The best value turntable is this deck by Fluance. It looks classic and retro with the glossy wood finish, and it sounds even better with high-performance pieces! The Audio Technica cartridge. The Texas Instruments preamp. Each component of this turntable is made of superior quality. And it’s affordable!
Your first turntable purchase can be a little stressful, especially when there are so many options on the market. But that’s where the best budget turntables come in – combining practicality, quality, and usability in one. Take the Fluance RT81, for example.
At $299, it’s one of the cheapest analog decks that offers more than its low cost.
It sports that classic, retro vibe that looks simple but not underwhelming. The wood plinth, made with medium-density fibreboard, has a glossy walnut finish that looks quite expensive. It also stands on isolation feet and a rubber slip mat, which reduces vibrations really well.
It’s a belt-driven turntable, but unlike most record players of this kind, you don’t have to move it when you need to change the speed. All you have to do is switch the metal knob when you play 33⅓ or 45 RPM records. Now that’s pretty convenient!
Unlike some typical good turntables, its top selling point is the high-performance Audio Technica cartridge. It has a diamond-tipped stylus, and it runs through the grooves smoothly. But not only that; it also brings out high-definition audio with no skips and skates.
The plastic tonearm looked a little suspicious at first, but there was more than meets the eye. It tracks records nicely, and it allows you to adjust the force yourself.
It also features a built-in Texas Instruments preamp, which saves you extra bucks. With this, you don’t have to buy an extra preamp to connect your turntable to a power amplifier. You can just plug it directly and enjoy vinyl listening through a speaker system!
You’ll also find RCA outputs along the rear, so you can set up a channel stereo sound for your playback.
The only trouble we’ve had is that the speed can run inconsistently for long-playing records. So if you’re more of an LP player, you might wanna scroll around for other options.
But if you’re simply looking for an entry-level, semi-automatic turntable that looks and sounds great, the Fluance RT81 is your best bet. The sound quality is excellent, plus the ability to play records at multiple speeds gives it a nice head start in the vinyl race.
5. Denon DP-300F
Searching for a fully-automatic turntable? Then the Denon DP-300F is our top choice for you. It features a lot of button functions, which makes it quick and easy to use. Its unique aluminum base also keeps your noise and vibration levels at low levels. With rich detail, you can listen to tracks exactly how the artist wants you to.
Since 1910, Denon has been producing some of the best consumer audio electronics we’ve seen throughout history. Fun fact – it’s one of the pioneers of the iconic gramophone!
So, it’s no surprise that it offers only the best vintage turntable of today – the Denon DP-300F.
This fully-automatic turntable is the perfect match for beginners and vintage lovers who want to rekindle their passion for vinyl. It’s incredibly easy to use and supports hands-free operations.
Its motor is belt-driven, with the ability to play records at 33⅓ or 45 RPM speeds. But unlike other turntables sets that require a belt maneuver for a speed change, this one does not. It comes with a DC power supply that lets you switch between rotation speeds. Just push the button beside the tonearm!
On that note, the straight-arm tonearm features an all-new design that includes an adjustable track force and anti-skate setting. In it, you’ll find the DSN-85 cartridge and stylus, which is a standard variant for entry-level turntables systems. Needless to say, the sound quality here is pretty average.
But that’s why it includes a detachable headshell. With it, it’ll be easier to switch cartridges. So if you have a better brand in mind, that gives you the ability to upgrade this set.
The deck stands on an aluminum base, which is quite a departure from the usual MDF finishes you’ll find in most wood plinths. It’s a great choice since it reduces noise and vibration. You get audio performance with this heavier build, and you get a richer and detailed sound playback. Plus, the gloss coating and die-casting add to the aesthetic value!
Not all vinyl turntables come with an equalizer, so you’ll be happy to know that this one has it. This also acts as a built-in phono preamp, so you can instantly connect it to a receiver for your speaker system.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to do USB sound recording with this deck. Cheaper ones like the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XBT-USB have it, making you wonder why it isn’t featured here.
But if that’s not a dealbreaker, it’s definitely the best affordable turntable you can get for just $329!
6. Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT
This affordable Technica turntable does more than what you would expect in a budget deck. It brings in a lot of connectivity options that let you switch between wired or wireless vinyl sessions. It’s light and incredibly compact too, so it’s easily the top portable record player on our list.
Audio Technica’s top turntables in the entry-level range are simply the best in the competition. Just look at the AT-LP60 or the AT-LP120XBT-USB. Real fine pieces, and for a low price.
If that’s what you’re after, then this set is a great option.
The $150 turntable is all about easy playability, accessibility, and standard quality. Just a little over five pounds, it’s the best portable record player you can get. Obviously, it’s a space-saving deck, so positioning it ‘round the house won’t be a challenge. The neat, matte-black finish is a great design touch as well.
It’s mostly made of plastic, which explains the lightweight body. It certainly doesn’t feel as luxurious as Pro-Ject turntables, but the overall build is quite good.
It stands on solid ground, with a die-cast aluminum platter that delivers its purpose. With this type of material, you won’t get bugged by unwanted resonances on your playback. It also keeps the vibration levels at an all-time low.
Its tonearm has been redesigned along with the headshell to track your records flawlessly. It’s also packed with the high-fidelity Audio Technica cartridge with a diamond-tipped stylus that’s easily replaceable.
In addition, this vinyl record player has a built-in phono preamp, so no need to buy a separate unit for connecting it with your speaker system. You’ll also find RCA outputs and cables on this unit, in case you’re planning to use it with your channel speakers.
And have we mentioned it’s a Bluetooth turntable too? That’s right – you can listen to your vinyl records through your headphones or speakers for a wireless experience.
The overall sound quality is rich and warm, and the playback speed stays consistent even for long plays. But since it’s a super affordable set, it isn’t as detailed and crisp as the ones you’ll find in high-end sets.
Otherwise, it’s still the best turntable for under 200 bucks.
7. Rega Planar 1
If you’re gunning for the cheaper side of Rega turntables, you can take the Planar 1 for a spin. It’s a deck that costs just under $500, with fine pieces you’ll find in their high-end variants. That includes a high-quality tonearm, Rega Carbon cartridge, and phenolic platter that keeps your record spinning consistently.
Ease of use
If you’re on a budget and your eyes are fixed on Rega, Planar 1 is your most suitable option. It features new upgrades from the iconic RP1 and packs them all into one complete vinyl deck.
Save for the belt drive, sub-platter, and dust cover, everything has been remodeled to perfection.
Aesthetically, it looks elegant with the all-new matte finish on the plinth. You can get it in matte black or white colorways, which both look equally exquisite.
Like the standard Planar units, it stands on isolation feet that increase stability and reduces the vibration transfer.
The first thing that got a facelift is the award-winning RB110 tonearm. It contains precision bearings that are made for low friction movement. It also comes with a fully-adjustable bias that works automatically, which gives it that plug-n-play capability.
It also comes loaded with the Rega Carbon cartridge. This alone can put the P1 in line with an expensive vinyl player.
It’s got that speed consistency that’s become the trademark of Rega turntables since their heyday. Much of that comes from the Planar lineup’s signature phenolic platter. It’s heavier and thicker than most platters, which accounts for that kind of sound quality.
It’s also the first entry-level Rega deck to feature a 24v synchronous AC motor. Along with the aluminum pulley, the motor works to do each record’s speed some justice. It’s one of the quietest turntable motors we’ve seen too!
However, the Rega Planar 1 doesn’t include a built-in phono preamp. So, you’ll have to buy one before you can plug it into a receiver or power amplifier.
The Planar 1 costs $475. For those who know Rega, this is already considered an entry-level deck. But for those who’ve never handled a turntable before, it’s a mid-range set. Either way, it’s still the best turntable under 500 dollars.
8. Cambridge Audio Alva TT Turntable
Fancy record turntables? The Alva TT promises top-notch vinyl performance with its robust direct-drive motor. Paired with a high-quality Rega tonearm, this set tracks grooves with the sharpest detail. Its wireless setting also gives you a high-resolution streaming experience just by using Bluetooth connectivity.
The Cambridge Audio Alva TT turntable sits on the high-end section of vintage record players. The company made sure it’s one of a kind. It’s among those fine electronics designed to celebrate Cambridge’s golden anniversary.
It’s a collection of three audio pieces wrapped into one:
- Direct drive turntable
- Built-in moving coil and moving magnet phono preamp
- High-resolution Bluetooth connectivity with aptX HD codec support
This deck is one of the most premium-looking turntables we’ve seen thus far. Aluminum top and a tapered bottom, smoked dust cover, charcoal gray and silver finishes. It has luxury written all over it.
The unit stands on a base of medium density fiberboard that provides more durability, stability, and reduced vibrations.
Having a direct-drive motor makes for easier playability. You don’t have to adjust the belt position when you need to switch between 33⅓ or 45 RPM records. Additionally, it also provides faster start/stop times and keeps your turntable speed consistent all the way through.
Alva TT uses a single-piece Rega tonearm, and it comes with a pre-installed moving coil cartridge. That means no figuring out wirings and proper needle alignment to get the right spin.
Now, turntables connected to stereo systems always need some sort of preamplifier to get up and running. Good thing the Alva TT has a built-in phono stage. You can listen to your records through a channel stereo system without buying a separate preamp.
If you’d also like a turntable with Bluetooth, this deck’s got your back. You can stream your music through it, and you can do so in high definition of up to 24-bit/48kHz resolution. Pairing the set with your headphones, wireless speakers, or stereo system is easy. The only trouble is that it forgets paired devices when you connect a new one.
The digital turntable also lets you do an analog recording to digital tracks through music or DJ software. It isn’t that smooth-sailing though, as we’ve noticed a slight latency in the encoded audio.
For $1,199, you get a premium turntable that gives great sound performance through multiple channels. We’d say a wired connection still gives a warmer and deeper sound output, but the wireless option gives you more leeway to shake things up.
9. Sony PS-LX310BT
Making your first entry to the world of vinyl? This affordable, fully-automatic record player is your best companion. And it’s not just easy on the pocket – it’s the best portable turntable too! You can also enjoy a wireless listening experience with Bluetooth connectivity available.
Entry-level turntables can be a hit or miss. Since they’re relatively cheap, one good quality is usually stripped away to make room for another.
Well, that is not the case for Sony PS-LX310BT. It offers features, performance, and sound quality that all remain uncompromised.
The deck looks like a standard, no-frills turntable – it’s lightweight, simple, and minimal. The all-black finish adds an extra touch of elegance and sleekness. Since it’s made of plastic, it’s nowhere near as premium as the Rega Planar 3 or Alva TT. It’s clearly not a high-end player, but it doesn’t try to be one.
It’s designed for a plug-n-play listening experience. Once you take it out of the box, all you have to is install the platter on the bearing, and set the slipmat. Everything else is pre-installed. You can literally just put your records on and hit the ‘start’ button.
Not everything is plastic, though. It’s equipped with an aluminum tonearm that tracks records with great stability. It delivers a rich and detailed playback too. The platter on this record turntable has the same aluminum material, which helps reduce vibrations and eliminate disturbing resonances.
An Audio Technica cartridge is also permanently installed, saving you time to think about mounting or manually adjusting a counterweight.
It’s a Bluetooth record player, and you can pair up to eight devices with this thing. You can enjoy a seamless connection with your headphones or speakers and listen wirelessly.
On the flip side, if you prefer a wired connection instead, this turntable has a phono preamp installed. That means you can directly connect the deck to a line input on a receiver. The great thing about it is that the phono preamp can be turned on or off. So if you prefer to use your own preamp, you can just flick the switch.
If you also aim to execute analog to digital conversions as well as for multitrack recording, this USB turntable has got you covered. With just one cable, you can connect it to a computer and do your tasks on music software.
For a low price of $198, the features and performance of this turntable are surprisingly impressive!
10. U-Turn Orbit Plus
Looking for an analog turntable that’s not too vintage for your modern home? Take a look at the U-Turn Orbit Plus. Its aesthetic and sound quality checks a lot of boxes for those who want a simple vinyl record player. Its acrylic platter isn’t just a great design touch; it’s also an effective vibration-absorber.
If you’re a fan of neat and classy turntables sets, the U-Turn Orbit Plus is the right match for you. Its minimalist build blends well with any modern interior – perfect if you’re not really the retro type.
Considering it sits on the low-end section, the sound quality isn’t too shabby either. You can get it for just about $359.
It’s one of the very few vinyl decks that feature an acrylic platter. It’s a smart upgrade since acrylic has even more isolation and thus giving off fewer vibrations. It also has lower resonance, so you hear every detail as accurately as possible.
Speaking of accuracy, the record turntable also features an OA2 gimbal tonearm. This allows for even more precise tracking and less distortions. It also comes with an anti-skate setting and a counterweight, so you can be sure the tonearm won’t wear out fast.
Along the stick is also where you’ll find an Ortofon OM5E cartridge. It’s built with a diamond-tipped stylus, which is basically the gold standard as far as cartridges go. This material is more durable. But more importantly, it’s what gives that warm and rich vinyl sound we all know and love.
The deck also comes with a built-in Pluto phono stage. That gives you the ability to plug it into an external preamp directly. So, you can connect your turntable with speakers for more immersive and powerful sound playback.
What’s missing, though, is a USB output. If you’re planning to migrate your vinyl record collection to the digital space, you won’t be able to do that. Other cheap sets like Sony or Audio Technica record player have this feature, which puts Orbit Plus behind in that aspect.
But if you simply want a turntable that looks and sounds good, it’s still a worthy investment! The audio pieces sourced from well-reviewed brands give it that great sound quality.
11. Technics SL-1500C
Technics is known for producing the best turntables for DJs, but the SL-1500C brings the fun closer to casual users. All complex functions from older decks have been removed to make way for this simple, fool-proof turntable. It’s also stereo-ready since it comes with a built-in preamp and a pre-fitted moving magnet cartridge.
Technics is a brand that hits close to home for DJs and audiophiles. If we go back to vinyl’s golden age in the 70s, the SL-1200 and SL-1000R models were like the iPhones of today.
Now, the company is back with a vengeance – introducing the SL1500C. It’s a hybrid of those two iconic mixers and has now become the best Technics turntable of today.
It’s a scaled-down, simplified version of the SL1200. It’s still got that classic S-shaped tonearm, speed control buttons, and that DJ-esque headshell. Only this time, all the other DJ-style elements have been removed to make it suitable for home use.
The new Auto Lifter function makes it ten times more comfortable to listen to your vinyl collection. When you put a record on and the tonearm reaches the end, it automatically raises the cartridge so you don’t have to. It’s an added convenience, but it also prevents wear-and-tear on your stylus and your records.
An electronic speed control for 33¼, 45, and 78 RPM also gives you more ability to switch between record speeds more efficiently.
One of the pieces that remain signature to Technics is its coreless direct-drive motor. It’s widely known for that stable rotation that no other direct drive turntable can come close to. It’s an upgraded version, too, and it doesn’t fail to read the high-accuracy and high-precision signals of a record.
It also comes with a built-in preamp and a preloaded moving-magnet Ortofon 2MRed cartridge. For those who know Technics all too well, this may come as a surprise. Turntables with preamps are not their thing, so this is one special edition. This saves you the extra purchase of an external preamplifier.
Although it does an okay job, it’s not the best-sounding preamp. Good thing the phono stage is switchable, so you can use another preamp if it doesn’t meet your standards.
But as a unit, the sound quality is exquisite, which has always been Technics’ trademark. Bass is its strongest asset. The cartridge also does a great job at balancing the tonal quality.
It’s a much pricier deck than most of the top turntables out there. But the $1,119 price tag is justified with its premium build and excellent performance.
12. Pro-Ject T1
With pieces taken from Pro-Ject’s high-end decks, the T1 model is a great starter set for vinyl collectors. The zero-plastic build gives a premium listening experience that also makes this turntable future-proof. It stands on vibration-absorption feet to keep your playback crisp. In simpler terms, it’s the best audiophile turntable that can satisfy players on a budget.
The Pro-Ject T1 is the closest you can get to an audiophile turntable without going over the 500-buck mark. For just $329, it promises an affordable yet upscaled vinyl experience – from the high-frequency tonearm to zero-resonance build.
One of the key highlights of this audio deck is that it contains no plastic parts at all. Generally, turntablists steer away from plastic builds simply because they have less durability and longevity. So if you’re planning to invest in something that can spin records in the long run, you’ll love this piece.
So what is it made of, then?
The CNC-machined plinth carries the whole deck. The glossy finish you can get in black, white, or walnut finished looks simply exquisite. And guess what – the plinth has no hollow spaces inside. In that case, there’s little to no room for vibrations to spread through the chassis. This type of build is typical of a Pro-Ject turntable, which easily makes it a top choice for many.
It’s also built with a glass platter that gives this turntable that extra premium feel. It’s also thicker and heavier than most platters. That goes without saying it does a better job at eliminating all unwanted resonances as you play your vinyl records.
The one-piece aluminum tonearm for this LP player comes with some fine pieces too. That includes:
- a headshell
- a highly-acclaimed Ortofon OM5E moving magnet cartridge
- some low-friction bearings
Those keep the tracking accuracy on your grooves on point, even for long-playing records.
But unlike the Pro-Ject Carbon Debut Evo, its height isn’t adjustable. The tonearm’s anti-skate settings aren’t configurable too, but that’s not much of a downer. Pro-Ject’s done a good job with the factory presets that need no tweaks at all.
There’s no built-in phono stage for this turntable though. You’ll have to buy a separate preamplifier to incorporate your vinyl into an audio system.
However, since the T1 model has multiple variants, you can get one that does come with a pre-fitted preamp. That’s the T1 Phono SB, which costs around $490.
The Best Turntables for 2023
- •Pro-Ject Carbon Debut Evo - Best overall, high-quality turntable
- •Rega Planar 3 - Best for home use
- •Audio-Technica AT-LP120XBT-USB - Best Bluetooth turntable
- •Fluance RT-81 - Best for entry-level players
- •Denon DP-300F - Best automatic turntable
- •Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT - Best affordable record player
- •Rega Planar 1 - Best mid-range stereo turntable
- •Cambridge Audio Alva TT Turntable - Best direct-drive turntable
- •Sony PS-LX310BT - Best cheap Bluetooth record player
- •U-Turn Orbit Plus - Best for modern, minimalist players
- •Technics SL-1500C - Best all in one turntable
- •Pro-Ject T1 - Best for budget audiophiles
What Is a Turntable?
Vinyl records have been off the charts lately. In fact, music stats have shown that LPs account for 27% of total album sales in the US. That’s 27.5 million vinyl albums sold in just one year!
No wonder the demand for the top turntables remains outrageous.
A turntable is basically an audio device that plays vinyl records. It’s the modern word for what we call the “phonograph”. It contains a belt-drive or direct-drive motor that spins the platter where you place the record. It also carries a tonearm with an attached headshell, cartridge, and stylus that tracks the grooves of the record. Through this process, the sound is produced using analogous electrical signals.
Aside from its vintage charm, vinyl reproduces sound elements more accurately than a compact disc or a digital record. That’s why vinyl players are still very much on-trend today!
Turntable vs Record Player
Many people think that turntables are the same as record players.
Well, they’re not.
A turntable is just one component that completes a record player. It’s basically the device that holds and spins the vinyl record. Unlike the latter, a turntables package only includes the parts that carry out this function. That includes the motor, platter, tonearm, cartridge, and stylus. It doesn’t include speakers or amplifiers to make it a complete audio set.
Turntables are typically sold as standalone decks. That’s because most audiophiles prefer having separate audio electronics for their vinyl setups.
When you do find a turntable with a built-in speaker, that’s when you call it a record player. It’s the whole audio system built into one - they are much bigger and bulkier than turntables sets. Since they contain more components, they offer extra playability. Aside from vinyl records, you can also play a compact disc, compact cassette, or plug in a microphone into the system.
Because of that, they are relatively pricer than turntables.
So, let’s get to the bottom of it. If we talk record player vs turntable, which one is better?
Turntables provide more scalability and upgradability than record players. Since the latter comes with built-in pieces, the output is limited to what you get in the package. That gives you no room to improve the quality and enhance the overall audio performance of the unit.
Record players are also much more expensive. You can find greater value in buying a turntable at a lower cost and adding separate audio components.
What Should I Know Before Buying a Turntable?
Lots of the best turntables here, but how will you pick the right deck for you?
Generally, there are three kinds of vinyl records – those running at speeds of 33¼, 45, or 78 revolutions per minute (RPM). Each number is an indication of how fast the record is meant to spin on the turntable.
33¼ vinyl is the long-playing record or LP, which typically contains a standard album of 16-20 tracks. Records playing at 45 RPM mostly carry singles. The rare 78 RPM is the older speed, which was already phased out as early as the 1950s.
However, there are still few turntables systems that can play all three speeds – including the elusive 78 RPM. That includes the Project Carbon Debut Evo, Audio-Technica AT-LP120XBT-USB, and Technics SL-1500C.
All the rest of the turntables on this list have the ability to play 33¼ and 45 RPM records.
Turntables also come in two different build types – belt-drive and direct-drive.
Most turntables today use belt drives to spin the platter. They offer superior sound quality and speed consistency. Their elastic material also helps reduce vibrations from the motor. They are more adaptable and low-maintenance, giving you better playability.
Some examples of belt-drive turntables sets include Rega Planar 3, Fluance RT-81, Denon DP-300F, Pro-Ject T1, and Rega Planar 1.
On the other hand, a direct drive turntable attaches its platter directly to the motor. As a result, the platter can pick up vibrations and noises from the motor. But they are more durable and stable than belt-driven decks, which is a great choice in the long run.
Cambridge Audio Alva TT and Technics SL-1500C are two of the best direct-drive turntables currently on the market.
Manual vs. Automatic
Manual turntables are a lot like manipulating a real, vintage record player. You’ll have to raise and lower the tonearm so that the stylus touches the record and starts the playback. Some examples of good manual turntables include the Pro-Ject Carbon Debut Evo, Rega Planar 3, and Rega Planar 1.
On the other hand, automatic turntables will let you play records and adjust their speed with just a press of a button. Sony PS-LX310BT and Denon DP-300F are fully-automatic decks that can still give you the full audiophile experience.
Semi-automatic turntables also exist, which is basically a combination of two. Fluance RT81 is an example of that.
Built-in Phono Stage
If you’re buying a turntable, then you must be planning to plug it into a separate audio system, correct? Most turntables require a preamplifier to make that work. It’s also known as a phono stage, or an equalizer. It boosts the output signals taken from the cartridge that can be processed by an A/V receiver or powered speakers.
So if you’re searching for turntables with preamps installed inside, these are your options:
- Audio-Technica AT-LP120XBT-USB
- Fluance RT-81
- Denon DP-300F
- Audio Technica AT-LP60XBT
- Cambridge Audio Alva TT Turntable
- Sony PS-LX310BT
- U Turn Orbit Plus
- Technics SL-1500C
Okay, so now you have preamps for your turntable. The next thing you should look into is the type of outputs found in the deck, so you can properly connect them with the right devices.
Most of the top turntables have the most basic output needed to integrate your turntable with speakers, which is through RCA cables. Audio-Technica AT-LP120XBT-USB and Fluance RT-81 have particularly great RCA outputs.
If you want to turn your deck into a wireless turntable, you can do that with Bluetooth connectivity. Without having to plug in RCA cables, you can just pair your headphones or speakers and listen to your vinyl records wirelessly. The Sony PS-LX310BT is a turntable with Bluetooth. Other Bluetooth-enabled decks also include the Audio Technica turntables and the Cambridge Audio Alva TT Turntable.
A USB turntable also lets you connect your vinyl records to your computer. With this, you can open a digital audio workstation and convert your analog tracks to digital. If you have classic vinyls stored in your basement and you want to keep them forever, you can use this trick! Most sets above offer USB connectivity, except for some turntables like Denon DP-300F.
Most of the good options on the turntable market are anywhere between $100 to $1000.
If you’re simply after entry-level decks, the best budget turntables are:
- Fluance RT-81
- Denon DP-300F Sony PS-LX310BT
- U-Turn Orbit Plus
- Pro-Ject T1
- both the Audio Technica turntables.
These sets are below the $500 mark.
If you have the budget, mid-range sets like Rega Planar 1 and Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo are great choices too. The Carbon Debut Evo, in particular, is the best turntable under 1000.
And if you can jump into a massive purchase, you can consider Rega Planar 1, Cambridge Audio Alva TT, or Technics SL-1500C. These turntables are quite pricey, but they still offer a bang for your buck.
In the age of music streaming, it’s easy to think that turntables are near-ancient by now.
But clearly, they’re here to stay.
Digital music platforms may give you that instant, accessible jam. But only a good ol’ record player can give you those warm, rich, and deep-seated tunes like no other.
So go ahead and have yourself a vinyl listening party.
The best turntables are here for the taking!
What is the best turntable on the market?
The top-rated turntable is the Pro-Ject Carbon Debut Evo. It’s a complete package:
- excellent motor suspension
- electronic speed change
- high-performance tonearm
Plus it has that gorgeous, ergonomic design that looks classically vintage and simply modern.
What is the best turntable for home use?
Rega Planar 3 is the best home audio turntable.
What is the best turntable ever made?
The Technics SL1200 is considered one of the best turntables we’ve seen in history. It was the most famous DJ mixer back then. It’s not as popular now, but during vinyl’s heyday, it’s the holy grail for many popular DJs and audiophiles.
Is Crosley better than Victrola?
Both brands have put out some of the best turntables for the past years. Victrola is a way more established, but Crosley took the race by storm with its rich variety of players. We’d say Crosley has the upper hand, especially with the Crosley Musician Turntable. It’s the best all-in-one stereo system with a turntable. It can play multiple speeds, has built-in speakers, and a bunch of connectivity options. Plus it works as an AM/FM radio and cassette deck too!
Nero is an all-around wordsmith with a degree in Communication Arts— not the vicious emperor you might know in history books. He's an avid reader. A frisky writer. A tech enthusiast and occasional binge-watcher. He likes long walks on the beach. Enjoys deep thinking and shallow conversations. Hates ketchup. Panic! At The Disco.
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