What Hi-Fi Turntable Review: Is It Worth The Hype?

Vinyl records have made a comeback in recent years, and with that comes the need for a high-quality turntable. But with so many options on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one.

That’s where we come in.

In this article, we’ll be reviewing some of the best hi-fi turntables available today. From entry-level options to high-end models, we’ve got you covered.

So sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of hi-fi turntables.

What Hi-Fi Turntable Review

First up, let’s talk about the Rega Planar 1 and the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon. These two turntables are often compared as the best entry-level options on the market. While both provide excellent sound quality, the Rega Planar 1 lacks the fancy carbon tone arm of the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon. However, it still sounds great and is well-damped thanks to its phenolic resin platter. The Rega Planar 1 is easy to set up, but you’ll need to provide your own phono preamp. On the other hand, the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon comes with a pre-installed cartridge and offers more usability features. Ultimately, both turntables are great starting places for audiophiles on a budget.

If you have 78s in your collection, the Dual CS 518 is an excellent option. This high-quality unit has a unique double-gimballed tonearm design that provides gentle yet consistent playback, even of your most cherished historical artifacts. The included Ortofon 2M Red cartridge is often on the list for audiophiles, but the tonearm is equally equipped to do justice to even the most high-end cartridge and stylus.

For those looking to upgrade from an entry-level turntable, the Pro-Ject Debut Pro is a great option. This high-quality record player offers many usability features that the competitive Rega Planar 3 doesn’t. The Sumiko Rainier cartridge comes pre-installed, and the combination of adjustable feet and electronic speed change makes it user-friendly. The only downside is that setting up the tracking weight can be finicky without a stylus force gauge. Once set up correctly, though, the sound produced by the Pro-Ject Debut Pro is simply astonishing.

If you’re looking for a turntable that also has a traditional design, then the Sony PS-LX310BT is an affordable option that looks elegant and sounds great for its price range. It features Bluetooth as standard and has been praised for its surprisingly musical sound by What Hi-Fi.

Lastly, we have the Reed 3P tonearm and Muse 3C turntable combination. These two pieces of engineering and manufacturing prowess make an outstanding combination that produces exceptional sound quality.

Understanding Hi-Fi Turntables

When it comes to understanding Hi-Fi turntables, it’s important to know that these devices are designed to optimize the sound quality and character of vinyl records. They are generally higher in quality and price compared to mass-produced, plastic-bodied turntables. A turntable is a standalone device that plays records and sends the signal out to a Hi-Fi system for amplification. The core components of a turntable include a plinth (the base), a platter (the spinning turntable), and a tonearm, cartridge, and stylus (the components that track the record).

It’s important to note that turntables do not have built-in speakers, so you’ll need to connect the device to a receiver or amplifier before the music can play through a set of speakers. In-between the turntable and your amplifier, you will also need a phono preamp to produce a full-frequency response. All record players output a weak ‘phono’ signal, which omits many bass frequencies and heightens treble. This is because of the way vinyl records are manufactured, and how frequencies need to be physically tracked over the whole record. As lower frequencies require wider grooves, omitting the bulk of them saves physical space and increases runtime to 22 minutes per side. However, due to the lack of frequencies, phono signals are unlistenable. That bass-reduced signal needs to be converted into a ‘line level’ signal, which is the balanced standard for the majority of other sources. That’s where a preamplifier – specifically, a phono preamp – comes in. It adds in those missing bass frequencies and tames the enhanced trebles.

High-End Picks

For those who are willing to invest in a high-end turntable, the Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2 and the Alva ST are two excellent options. The Alva TT V2 is a direct drive turntable that streams using the aptX HD format, which encodes the warm sound of your vinyl at 24 bits / 48 kilohertz, providing true high-resolution audio. The innovative moving coil cartridge delivers remarkably high output levels, and the built-in preamp is designed expressly to handle the output of the cartridge. The direct drive motor ensures that your LPs will play at exactly 33-1/3 or 45 RPM, with no variation, and with no unwanted noise. On the other hand, the Alva ST features a Moving Magnet AT95E cartridge and a die-cast aluminum platter. Both turntables offer exceptional sound quality and are perfect for audiophiles who want to experience their vinyl collection with the highest fidelity possible.

For those who want a turntable that combines great sound and elegant design, the Rega Planar 1 is an excellent choice. This traditional purist turntable doesn’t come with digital features like USB and Bluetooth, but it offers great sound, elegant design, and great build-quality. The Rega Planar 1 Plus is also available for those who want a built-in preamp.

Lastly, for those who have 78s in their collection, the Dual CS 518 is an excellent option. Its unique double-gimballed tonearm design provides gentle yet consistent playback of even your most cherished historical artifacts. The included Ortofon 2M Red cartridge is often on the list for audiophiles, but the tonearm is equally equipped to do justice to even the most high-end cartridge and stylus. Overall, these high-end turntables offer exceptional sound quality and are perfect for serious audiophiles looking to take their vinyl listening experience to the next level.

Features To Consider When Choosing A Hi-Fi Turntable

When choosing a hi-fi turntable, there are several features to consider. The first consideration is whether you want a belt-driven or direct-drive turntable. Belt-driven turntables are generally more affordable and provide better sound quality, while direct-drive turntables are more durable and often used by DJs due to their fast start-up times.

Another feature to consider is whether you want a built-in or external preamp. Built-in preamps are more convenient but may not provide the same level of sound quality as an external preamp. Additionally, some turntables come with USB outputs, which allow you to digitize your vinyl records and listen to them on the go.

The quality of the cartridge and stylus is also an important consideration. Higher-end turntables often come with better quality cartridges and styluses, which can help to minimize distortion and read the record more accurately.

The weight and build quality of the turntable can also affect sound quality, as heavier turntables tend to have higher rumble ratings and are less likely to pick up vibrations from external movement.

Finally, it’s important to consider your budget and what you’ll be using the turntable for. If you’re just starting out in the world of vinyl, an entry-level option like the Rega Planar 1 or Pro-Ject Debut Carbon may be sufficient. However, if you’re looking to upgrade your system or use the turntable for DJing, you may want to invest in a higher-end option like the Pro-Ject Debut Pro or Reed 3P tonearm and Muse 3C turntable combination.

Maintenance And Care Tips For Your Turntable

Regular maintenance of your turntable is crucial to ensure it runs smoothly and produces high-quality sound. Neglecting the care of your turntable can lead to dust buildup, which can impact sound quality and cause damage to your vinyl collection. Additionally, poor maintenance can cause certain parts of your turntable to wear out, further increasing the risk of damage to both the turntable and your records.

Here are some tips for maintaining and caring for your turntable:

1. Keep it clean: Use a microfiber cloth and rubbing alcohol to clean the surface of your turntable regularly. A stylus brush can also be used to remove any dirt or debris that may have accumulated on the needle.

2. Calibrate tracking force, anti-skate, and height settings: Correct calibration ensures that your stylus sits perfectly in the center of the groove as the record spins, reducing record wear and skipping needles.

3. Replace the belt: If you have a belt drive turntable, replace the belt once every few years or when it begins to slip lower than usual on its pulley.

4. Buy a support for your turntable: Place your turntable away from any source of vibration to avoid distorted sounds. A carbon fiber brush can also be used to clean the stylus.

5. Align the anti-skate counterweight correctly: Correct alignment ensures that your stylus sits inside the record grooves properly, improving sound quality.

By following these tips, you can keep your turntable in top shape and enjoy high-quality sound for years to come. Remember that regular maintenance is key to ensuring that your turntable lasts a long time and protects your precious vinyl collection from damage.