Turntables are a great way to listen to your favourite vinyl records, but they can be tricky to choose. Whether you’re looking for something simple and affordable or an audiophile-grade turntable with all the bells and whistles, there’s something here for you. We’ve done the research so that you don’t have to!
The main difficulty people face when trying to choose a record player is knowing what to look for. Different players will offer different features, so it’s important that you know what your needs are before making a purchase decision.
This buyer’s guide is structured in two parts: the first part covers our picks for the best turntables currently on the market. This includes budget-priced models that are great value for money along with our recommendations for more expensive, high-end models if you’re looking for something truly special or feature-packed. We then cover all of the basics about turntables and record players to help you make the right selection for your home.
Best for Most People: Audio Technica AT-LP60XBT-WH Wireless Turntable
Audio-Technica’s AT-LP60XBT is an automatic turntable that can be plugged in or wirelessly connected to speakers. It features a Dual Magnet phono cartridge with replaceable stylus.
The ability of this player starts from its wireless operation which consists of plugging into speakers via USB cable (or Wifi) or else connecting wirelessly through Bluetooth. This makes setting up easier as there’s no need to always use wires when everything should work just fine without them – even if you have your own wired connection setup at home already!
The AT-LP60XBT turntable lets you listen to vinyl in high fidelity. The Bluetooth connectivity means your sound can stream wirelessly from one room or floor of a house, and with its CSR BT chipset, it’s also able to connect devices that support the aptx codec for much improved sound quality over standard SBC codecs.
The turntable can play both 33-1/3 and 45 RPM records. It also comes with dual RCA cables (for wired connection) and a detachable dust cover to keep your records in pristine condition while it’s not playing or being used. The product is available in black of white options so you have some colour choices!
Best with Smart Features: Yamaha TT-N503 (MusicCast Vinyl 500) Turntable
With this wireless, belt-driven turntable you can spread the joy of your record collection to any room in your home. With its straight tonearm contributing to sound transparency and openness, Wi-Fi built-in including support for 2.4 GHz and 5GHz bands or Bluetooth connectivity with a range up to 30 feet away from speakers.
Enjoy built-in music streaming services like Spotify Connect, TIDAL Streaming Service as well as internet radio stations such as SiriusXM Satellite Radio on Pandora Webradio, which will be seamlessly streamed wirelessly through MusicCast multiroom capabilities so that no matter where you are at home there is music playing throughout!
The Yamaha TT-N503 (MusicCast Vinyl 500) Turntable is a great option for those looking to play albums and listen in both wired mode or wirelessly. It comes with Bluetooth connectivity as well as aptx codec support.
Upgrade pick: Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo
The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo is our premium pick and represents a solid step-up from the original Pro-Ject Debut Carbon. The turntable has been upgraded with improved vibration dampening, a carbon fibre tonearm, an Ortofon Red cartridge as well as better motor insulation.
This is perfect for those looking to enjoy vinyl records without any interruptions in sound quality or interference from vibrations that could otherwise affect playback.
The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo is not just compatible with all speed formats, but it also has a sleek design that will make any room look great. The 33 ⅓ & 45/78 RPM rocker switch hides in the plinth and ensures you have one touch control of your favorite speeds.
Also Great: Rega PLANAR 1 Turntable
The Rega PLANAR 1 Turntable is not only an elegant piece of audio equipment, but it also has a sleek and beautiful design that will look great in any home.
It boasts a high-quality sound system which is perfect for those wanting to enjoy vinyl records at their best quality without any interruptions. The Rega Planar One Turntable is compatible with 33 ⅓ & 45/78 RPM speeds and can easily be switched between both speed settings thanks to its rocker switch on top of the plinth.
The Planar 1 from Rega has recently received a fresh new look. The sleek matt finish brings out all of the finely detailed work that goes into building this award winning machine, and with every single aspect designed for performance it’s not hard to see why so many people have come back time after time again since its release in 2004!
Not only has tonearm design been improved upon by using hand-crafted RB110 arm fitted with ultra low friction bearings, but they have also used high grade materials such as an EBLT belt which delivers greater accuracy and increased speed response from your records.
Turntable Buying Guide
Here are the key things to keep in mind wheen choosing a turntable for your home:
There are a few different types that you will come across, but the two most popular and best performing options are ‘Belt Drive’ and ‘Direct Drive’.
Belt Drives tend to be more affordable but have a slower start up time. Direct drives allow for lower wow & flutter rates as they use an electronic speed controller rather than relying on the motors momentum from spinning your records (which can cause fluctuations in sound).
The difference between them is easy to understand when you think about how each functions; belts transfer power from your input mechanism (usually a motor) which turns the platter where your records sit while direct drive means there’s no need for an intermediate component and so it powers directly from the input device itself.
Belt-drives often offer greater torque but because their motors spin slower than those found on direct drives this makes them easier to match up with appropriate amplifiers; also, since these models have naturally lower RPMs they’re less susceptible to external vibrations.
Direct drives often produce a better sound quality but are more expensive which makes them difficult for some buyers on a tight budget; also, their motors spin much faster (usually between 33-45RPM) and so this results in higher levels of vibration.
Damping is an important feature of any record player, it helps to reduces the vibrations created by your records when they are played. This is achieved through a ‘felt mat’ that sits between your record and turntable’s platter, which also has an effect on sound quality as well as keeping dust off of your vinyl (this will need replacing periodically).
This is what connects your stylus (needle) to the grooves in your records. It should be stiff enough to resist any pressure from outside forces but flexible enough so that it can move with the groove inside the record without potentially damaging either party; for this reason ‘straight’ tonearms work best at providing optimum tracking performance.
The most common types tonearms are straight or S shaped arms. Straight tonearms have the benefit of being easier to assemble and are more rigid, which can be a good thing if you’re going for speed. They also often have the best sound quality because there is less contact between different points on the arm when it moves in order to track your vinyl’s grooves.
S shaped arms, on the other hand, though they are generally more expensive – provide a gentler, less direct contact with the groove that can help to reduce distortions and noise.
This is what sits at the end of your tonearm and carries your stylus (needle). The cartridge then connects with an amplifier inside that converts its signals into those we hear as sound from our speakers or headphones.
This component should be chosen based upon personal preference but generally speaking models with higher price tags will provide better performance than cheaper ones; all things being equal though, cartridges don’t make too much difference so long as they’re not damaged in
This is a device to keep the tonearm from skating across the record while it plays, which can happen if your playing weight (usually provided) isn’t set correctly or you’re placing too much pressure on one side of the needle. A good anti-skate will provide balance for optimum tracking performance as well as prevent damage to both vinyl and stylus.
The most common types of anti skate are springs, weights or magnets; each has its advantages depending on your turntable’s setup but usually anything within reason works just fine in these regards so don’t fret over this piece too much when making an initial purchase decision.
Why do I need a turntable?
The simplest answer is that you can’t listen to vinyl records without one. But there are other reasons too: if your old record player has stopped working, or if you’ve just bought an expensive collection of vinyls and want the best listening experience at home (or on-the-go). If it’s been years since you last listened to any music in this way, then maybe it’s time for some nostalgia! A quality turntable will also produce better sound than most CD players and give you plenty of options for how your new purchase sounds. As with most audio equipment, higher prices usually correlate with better performance but not always; so choosing wisely is important.
Do more expensive turntables sound better?
When you spend more on a turntable, you’re paying for better build quality and a wider range of features. Most people will notice the difference in sound from a cheap turntable; those with less discerning tastes may not be able to tell if they’ve got an expensive one or not though! In order to get the best performance out of your new vinyl player, it needs to stay level during operation – instruments such as spirit levels are available which can help achieve this.