Vinyl records have made a comeback in recent years, and with that comes a renewed interest in vintage turntables.
But with so many options available, it can be overwhelming to decide which one to buy. Do you go for a classic model from the ’70s or ’80s, or opt for a modern turntable with vintage-inspired features?
And what about the cost and availability of replacement parts?
In this article, we’ll explore some of the best vintage turntables on the market and what makes them stand out. Whether you’re a seasoned audiophile or just starting your vinyl journey, we’ve got you covered.
So sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of vintage turntables.
What Is The Best Vintage Turntable To Buy
When it comes to vintage turntables, there are a lot of factors to consider. Build quality, reliability, availability of replacement parts, and of course, sound quality all play a role in determining which turntable is the best for you.
One of the most highly regarded vintage turntables is the Thorens TD-125. Produced in the 1970s, this fully suspended turntable design introduced electronic speed control and a motor control board, making it revered for its speed consistency. The removable tonearm board also allows for customization with pre-fitted Thorens tonearms or aftermarket options like SME tonearms.
Another classic turntable is the Linn LP12, which has a reputation as one of the best turntables amongst audiophiles. Its wooden exterior provides a warm vintage look, and its upgrade paths make it a popular choice for those looking to customize their setup.
Other notable vintage turntables include the Michell Gyrodeck, Roksan Xerxes, Oracle Delphi, Well Tempered Lab turntable, SOTA Sapphire, and older Lenco or Garrard models. However, these options can come with a higher price tag and may require more maintenance or repairs due to their age.
It’s important to note that not every vintage turntable is worth considering. Some may not have the same level of build quality or availability of replacement parts as others. It’s important to do your research and consult with experts before making a purchase.
Factors To Consider When Choosing A Vintage Turntable
When looking to purchase a vintage turntable, there are several factors to consider.
Firstly, it’s important to decide on a budget. Vintage turntables can range from fairly affordable to a major investment, so it’s crucial to determine what you’re prepared to spend. Quality, demand, and rarity are three key factors in the price of a vintage record player. Figure out where you’re willing to compromise to save money and what your non-negotiables are. With that information and a solid budget in mind, you can be a much smarter shopper.
Secondly, it’s essential to do your research before making a purchase. The best vintage turntables are classics for a reason, so it’s important to know which models are worth your attention. Some of the most highly regarded vintage turntables include the Thorens TD-125, Linn LP12, Michell Gyrodeck, Roksan Xerxes, Oracle Delphi, Well Tempered Lab turntable, SOTA Sapphire, and older Lenco or Garrard models.
Thirdly, when choosing a used turntable, it’s crucial to look for decks that stand the test of time. It’s important to be meticulous in checking for signs of wear and tear. Ideally, check the turntable condition in person to ensure it’s in good working order. Where this isn’t possible, be sure to ask plenty of questions and request additional images (or even a video) to reduce the chance of disappointment.
Fourthly, it’s important to consider the availability of replacement parts and the cost of any necessary repairs. Vintage turntables can require maintenance or repairs due to their age, so it’s important to factor in these costs when making a purchase.
Finally, it’s essential to consult with experts before making a purchase. Whether it’s seeking advice from an experienced audiophile or consulting with a trusted vintage audio dealer, getting expert opinions can help guide you towards the best vintage turntable for your needs and budget.
Classic Turntables From The ’70s And ’80s
The ’70s and ’80s were a golden age for vinyl and turntable manufacturers. During this time, there was an abundance of turntable manufacturers, such as Technics, Luxman, Acoustic Research, Linn, JVC, Denon, Pioneer, and Sony. Many of these companies are no longer in business or have shifted their focus to other areas like headphones or home theater. However, some companies are getting back into hi-fi and vinyl, releasing new audio components as well as reissued and reimagined versions of their classic models.
One such example is the Technics SL-1200 turntable series, which was produced in huge quantities during the 1970s. The Thorens TD-125 is another classic turntable from this era that is still highly regarded today. It is a fully suspended turntable design that introduced electronic speed control and a motor control board, making it revered for its speed consistency. The removable tonearm board also allows for customization with pre-fitted Thorens tonearms or aftermarket options like SME tonearms.
When considering classic turntables from the ’70s and ’80s, it’s important to note that certain vintage turntables offer superior build quality and reliability but that also comes with a higher asking price if repairs need to be done or parts need replacing. Vintage turntables have become extremely popular during this new golden age of vinyl, but it’s important to do your research and consult with experts before making a purchase.
Modern Turntables With Vintage-Inspired Features
For those who want the vintage look and feel of a turntable without the hassle of finding and maintaining a vintage model, modern turntables with vintage-inspired features may be the perfect option.
One such turntable is the Victrola Vintage 3-Speed Turntable. This belt-driven turntable has three speeds (33 1/3, 45, and 78 rpm) and offers premium sound quality. It’s also housed in a vintage suitcase for easy portability and has sound isolating feet to prevent vibration. Plus, you can stream audio from your smartphone to the turntable’s Bluetooth speakers, or connect external speakers via the stereo RCA outputs.
Another option is the Navigator by Victrola, which features a classic design on the outside but a more modern design on the inside. Equipped with a built-in CD player and cassette player, this turntable is also compatible with Bluetooth devices and comes with a remote control for easy use. It has built-in speakers, a three and a half millimeter aux input, and a sixty-foot cable, as well as three speed options to play all types of vinyl.
When considering modern turntables with vintage-inspired features, it’s important to note that they may not have the same level of build quality or sound quality as true vintage models. However, they offer convenience and ease of use for those who want the vintage look without sacrificing modern technology.
Budget-Friendly Options For Vintage Turntables
For those on a budget, there are still some great vintage turntable options available. The Dual 1229 is a popular choice for those looking for a quality turntable under $500. This belt-drive turntable has a medium-mass tonearm and a built-in record cleaning brush, making it a great value for its price point.
The Marantz TT-15S1 is another budget-friendly option, offering exceptional sound quality and build quality. It features a belt-drive design and a high-quality tonearm, making it a great choice for those looking for a solid vintage turntable without breaking the bank.
The Pioneer PL12D and Lenco L75 are also great options for those on a budget. The PL12D is a belt-drive turntable with a medium-mass tonearm, while the Lenco L75 is an idler-drive turntable with a high-mass tonearm. Both offer excellent sound quality and build quality for their price.
When considering budget-friendly vintage turntables, it’s important to keep in mind that maintenance and repairs may be necessary due to their age. However, with proper care and maintenance, these turntables can provide exceptional sound quality and a unique vintage aesthetic to any home audio setup.
Where To Find Replacement Parts For Vintage Turntables
If you decide to purchase a vintage turntable, it’s important to know where to find replacement parts in case any components break or wear out. One option is to search for replacement parts online. Websites like eBay and Amazon often have a wide selection of vintage turntable parts available for purchase. However, it’s important to be cautious when buying from third-party sellers and to make sure the parts are compatible with your specific turntable model.
Another option is to visit local audio repair shops or vintage audio stores. These establishments often have a selection of replacement parts on hand or can order them for you. They may also be able to provide advice on which parts are best for your turntable and how to properly install them.
It’s also worth considering joining online forums or communities dedicated to vintage audio equipment. These communities can provide valuable information on where to find replacement parts, as well as tips and tricks for repairing and maintaining your turntable.
When searching for replacement parts, it’s important to keep in mind that some components may be harder to find than others. Parts like cartridges and styluses may be more readily available, while more specialized components like tonearms or platters may require more extensive searching.
Maintenance And Care Tips For Vintage Turntables
When it comes to vintage turntables, maintenance and care are essential to keep them performing at their best. Here are some tips to help you maintain your vintage turntable:
1. Check for signs of wear: Remember that vintage turntables are often decades old, so it’s important to inspect them carefully before making a purchase. Look for cracks in the plastic or wood that could indicate a larger problem with the motor or idler wheel.
2. Replace the stylus: The stylus is the piece that connects directly with the grooves of a given record and picks up the vibrations. It’s generally recommended that you replace the stylus every 1,000 to 1,200 hours of playtime. If you’re picking up a vintage turntable, it’s probably better to replace the needle entirely and start from scratch.
3. Clean the stylus: The stylus should be cleaned each time you use your record player. Use a cleaning brush that’s specifically designed for the stylus or a paintbrush if you don’t have one. Wipe the tip of the stylus from back to front, avoiding wiping from side to side, which could bend the needle.
4. Replace the cartridge: The cartridge contains the electronic bits that transform the vibrations from the record and needle into an electrical signal, which in turn becomes amplifiable sound. If your vintage turntable has a cartridge without separate needle housing, you’ll have to replace the cartridge entirely each time the needle wears out.
5. Use appropriate replacement parts: When replacing parts on your vintage turntable, make sure to use appropriate compatible units. There are many manufacturers that build cartridges and needles, but not all of them are compatible with every turntable.
6. Be careful with maintenance: While it’s important to maintain your vintage turntable, be careful not to damage it in the process. Follow online tutorials and guides to ensure you’re doing everything correctly.
By following these tips, you can help ensure that your vintage turntable performs at its best for years to come.