Are you a music lover who craves the warm, rich sound of vinyl records?
Or maybe you’re just looking for a new way to enjoy your favorite tunes.
Either way, choosing the right turntable can be a daunting task. With so many options on the market, it’s hard to know where to start.
But fear not! We’ve done the research and testing for you, so you can make an informed decision.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the best turntables available today, and help you find the perfect one for your needs and budget.
Whether you’re a seasoned audiophile or a newcomer to the world of vinyl, we’ve got you covered.
So sit back, relax, and let’s dive in!
What’s The Best Turntable To Buy
When it comes to choosing the best turntable, there are a few key factors to consider. First and foremost, you’ll want to think about your budget. Turntables can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand, so it’s important to set a realistic price range before you start shopping.
Once you have a budget in mind, you’ll want to think about the features you need. Do you want a turntable with built-in Bluetooth or USB connectivity? Do you need a preamp built-in, or will you be using an external one? What about the cartridge – do you want a model with a replaceable cartridge, or are you okay with a fixed one?
With those factors in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best turntables on the market today.
Understanding The Basics Of Turntables
Before diving into the world of turntables, it’s important to understand the basic components and how they work together. The turntable itself is the foundation of your setup, and it’s responsible for spinning the record at a consistent speed. Look for a turntable with a high signal to noise ratio to ensure clear audio without background noise.
The tonearm assembly is responsible for holding the cartridge and stylus, which reads the grooves on the record. A high-end cartridge and stylus can make a significant difference in sound quality, so it’s worth investing in a quality model. The tonearm should also be engineered for optimal performance, with features like adjustable tracking force and anti-skate control.
The plinth, or base, of the turntable is also important for reducing vibrations and resonance that can affect sound quality. Look for a plinth made from high-quality materials like wood or metal, and consider a model with an isolated motor to further reduce vibrations.
Finally, consider whether you need a built-in preamp or will be using an external one. A preamp boosts the signal from the turntable to the amplifier, so it’s essential for proper playback. Some turntables come with a built-in preamp, while others require an external one. If you’re using an external preamp, make sure your turntable has a phono output to connect to it.
By understanding these basic components, you’ll be able to make an informed decision when choosing the best turntable for your needs and budget. Remember to prioritize quality materials and engineering for optimal sound performance.
Top Considerations When Choosing A Turntable
When choosing a turntable, there are several important factors to consider. The first is size and speed. Vinyl records come in different sizes and play at different speeds, so it’s crucial to make sure your turntable can handle the records in your collection. Look for a turntable with adjustable speed switches or one that can play 12-inch records at 33RPM and seven-inch records at 45RPM, as these are the most common sizes. If you have any 10-inch records that play at 78RPM, make sure to find a turntable that can handle them.
Another important consideration is your budget. While some consider anything under a few hundred dollars to be a budget turntable, it’s important to think about the overall setup and the quality of sound you desire. If you’re looking to save money, consider hunting for trustworthy used options or restoring a vintage turntable. However, keep in mind that the best bet is likely to search for used options from reliable sellers.
When it comes to comparing turntables, manufacturers use some esoteric-sounding specs to help you make comparisons. Look for a signal-to-noise ratio above 65dB, as this measures how much background noise you can hear and you want a lot more music signal than noise. Most turntables give you 33-1/3 and 45 RPM capability, but if you purchase a ‘table for spinning 78s, make sure it can handle modern “microgroove” pressings. Wow and flutter is another spec to consider, as this tells you how accurately the turntable spins the platter. A lower number is better here, ideally below 0.25%.
Lastly, think about the physical experience of listening to vinyl records versus streaming music. A good turntable should be easy to use while also delivering sound quality that brings the music to life. Consider brands like Audio-Technica or Rega for beginner turntables, while Pro-Ject and Clearaudio offer mid-range options with even better sound quality. Remember that the higher in price you go, the more you’ll need to budget for extras like speakers and headphones.
Best Turntables For Beginners
If you’re new to vinyl and looking for a good entry-level turntable, there are a few options that stand out. One of our favorites is the U-Turn Audio Orbit Basic. This manual turntable is easy to set up and comes with a pre-fitted Audio-Technica AT91B cartridge that provides great sound quality. While it doesn’t have many extra features, it was designed with optimal audio performance in mind and is a great choice for those who prioritize sound quality.
Another solid option for beginners is the Audio-Technica LP60X. This fully automatic turntable has a built-in preamp and Bluetooth connectivity, making it easy to connect to wireless speakers. It’s also very user-friendly and built to last, with a sturdy construction that can withstand regular use. While it doesn’t have a replaceable cartridge, it’s a great choice for those who want a reliable turntable that’s easy to use.
For those who are willing to spend a bit more, the Pro-Ject T1 Phono SB is an excellent choice. This turntable boasts high-quality electronics and a top-of-the-line chassis, with an electronically regulated precision-speed AC motor that effectively prevents speed fluctuations. It also has a specifically designed built-in phono MM stage and an electronic speed dial between 33 and 45 RPM, making it easy to use and contributing to the smooth, accurate playback of your LPs. While it’s more expensive than some other options, the T1 Phono SB is a great investment for those who want a high-quality turntable that will last for years to come.
Best Turntables For Intermediate Users
For those who are looking for a turntable that offers great sound quality without breaking the bank, there are several options available. One of the most popular models is the Audio-Technica AT-LP60X. This turntable has a built-in preamp and Bluetooth connectivity, making it easy to connect to external speakers or headphones. It’s also fully automatic, making it a great choice for those who are new to vinyl and want a turntable that is easy to use.
Another great option for intermediate users is the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC. This turntable features a carbon fiber tonearm, which helps to reduce unwanted resonance and deliver clear, detailed sound. It also has a replaceable cartridge, allowing you to upgrade the stylus as your collection grows. The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC is available at a mid-range price point, making it a great choice for those who want high-quality sound without spending a fortune.
For those who are willing to spend a bit more, the Rega Planar 3 is an excellent choice. This turntable has been around for decades and has been consistently praised for its excellent sound quality and build quality. It features a precision tonearm and a high-quality cartridge, delivering rich, detailed sound that will bring your vinyl collection to life. While it’s not the cheapest option on the market, the Rega Planar 3 is a great investment for serious music lovers who want the best possible sound quality from their turntable.
Best Turntables For Audiophiles
If you’re an audiophile looking for the best possible sound quality, there are a few turntables that stand out from the rest. The Pro-ject Debut Carbon Evo is currently our top pick, delivering smooth, rich sound and injecting authentic analog style into your favorite tracks. It’s packed with the latest audio tech, including USB ports for ripping your vinyl collection and turning your tracks into digital files.
If you’re on a budget but still want great sound, the Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT is a solid choice. It delivers impressive sound and comes with Bluetooth connectivity built-in, making it easy to connect to your favorite speakers or headphones.
For those looking for a more high-end option, the Rega Planar 3 and Rega RP-8 are both excellent choices. The Planar 3 has been hailed as the highest-value, entry-level, audiophile record player since its introduction in 1977. It features a high-gloss acrylic laminate plinth designed for low mass and high stiffness, as well as a low-mass, low-friction tonearm with precision bearings and steel counterweight. The RP-8 is a high-end offering from Rega that delivers incredible sound quality. It features a light-weight plinth made of closed cell polyolefin foam and delivers snappy treble, joyfully bouncy bass, and an incredible mid-range.
Finally, the Crosley C10A is a solid runner-up for those on a budget. It was engineered with help from Pro-Ject and offers more refinement than you may expect from either company. While it may not be quite as good as some of the other options on this list, it’s still an excellent choice for those looking for great sound at a lower price point.
No matter which turntable you choose, make sure to consider your budget and the features you need before making a purchase. With so many great options available today, there’s sure to be a turntable that’s perfect for your needs.
Turntable Accessories To Enhance Your Listening Experience
While a good turntable and a collection of vinyl records are essential components for an enjoyable listening experience, there are several turntable accessories that can enhance the quality of your sound and prolong the lifespan of your records.
One of the most important accessories for your turntable is a phono pre-amplifier. This device boosts the volume of sound coming from your turntable before sending it to your speakers through an A/V receiver. Some turntables and A/V receivers have a built-in preamp, but if yours doesn’t, we recommend getting a high-quality option like Pro-Ject’s Audio Phono Box. This preamp will work with any turntable, and it’s easy to use. Simply plug your record player into the RCA inputs on the back, and use a pair of RCA cables to connect its outputs to your A/V receiver. We recommend this preamp over others because of its small size, ease of use, and Pro-Ject’s excellent reputation in the audio space.
Another essential accessory is a cartridge alignment protractor, such as Pro-Ject’s Align It tool. This tool allows you to align the phono cartridge’s edge so that the needle tracks better in the record’s grooves. It also prevents the needle from jumping on the vinyl, which could damage the stylus. When using one of these tools, you align the stylus to ensure it tracks the grooves correctly. Having a misaligned stylus will create pops and crackles in the music, giving it a distorted effect that is always unwanted.
Clamps and weights optimize record playback by improving contact with the turntable platter. Weights also add mass, which can help with speed consistency. In the case of mild warps, they can help mitigate the issue and improve tracking. Weights sit on the record spindle; record clamps are different in that you physically clamp the record to your platter using a screw-based record clamp that also sits on the center spindle.
Finally, consider investing in external speakers and an external amplifier for your turntable setup. While built-in speakers on a record player may be sufficient for small settings, using an external speaker system can provide louder volume with greater depth of sound. An external amplifier can boost the audio signal, reduce feedback, and bring out the best sound quality while still maintaining that unique vinyl sound.
In conclusion, adding these accessories to your turntable setup can significantly enhance your listening experience while prolonging the lifespan of your records. With careful consideration of your budget and specific needs, you can create an ideal setup that will allow you to fully enjoy your vinyl collection.