Best Record Player: Find the Top Turntable of 2017

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This guide will help you find the best record player for yourself, regardless if you’re a beginner or not. Also, reviews and information from several sources are included here to provide a complete idea on how to choose a turntable. Updates will continuously be added, so bookmark this guide now for your future reference.

That said, now is actually the best time to gift yourself or your loved ones with a turntable. With all the Valentine’s sale and deals right now, you will most likely get the best bang for your money. And besides, wouldn’t you want to play some love songs on a brand new record player?

The Best Record Player Based on Reviews

Top Record PlayersRatingSpeeds (?)Pre-amp / Speakers (?)USB (?)Price
Audio_Technica_AT-LP1240-USB[1]Audio Technica
AT-LP1240-USB
4.5 out of 533/45/78Pre-ampYes$$$
See the exact price
pro-ject debut carbon dcPro-Ject Debut Carbon DC4.4 out of 533/45NoNo$$$
See the exact price
Audio_Technica_AT-LP60_USB[1]Audio Technica
AT-LP60 USB
4.3 out of 533/45Pre-ampYes$
See the exact price
jensen jta-230Jensen JTA 2304 out of 533/45/78SpeakersYes$
See the exact price
audio-technica-at-lp120-usbAudio-Technica AT-LP120-USB4.5 out of 533/45/78Pre-ampYes$$
See the exact price
electrohome EANOS700Electrohome Signature4.1 out of 533/45/78SpeakersYes$$
See the exact price

The best record player is the one that fits your needs and preferences. In the table above, the top turntables and their features are compared with each other to help you pick the best fit. To know what the features mean and why they are important, click the question marks inside some of the blue cells.

The Record Player: A Guide to the Features

For beginners, the record player may be as confusing as it is amusing. And so, what follows are simple explanations of what turntable features are and why they are important.

Record Player Speeds

To ensure that you’ll be able to play your vinyls, check the record player’s speeds. Basically, the speeds are just the number of times the platter can spin in a minute (expressed in RPM or revolutions per minute). If you have pre-1950 vinyls, you’ll need 78 RPM in addition to a special cartridge or stylus for the wider grooves of such records. Otherwise, 33 (or 33⅓) and 45 RPM would be just fine.

Back to comparison table

Built In Phono Preamp and Speakers

As a player’s needle glides through a record’s grooves, small voltages are generated. These voltages must first be amplified before they get to come out of the speakers as the music that you hear. Such amplification is done by what is called a phono preamp, and it’s something that you can’t do without.

Record players with phono preamps, and speakers even, are convenient since they allow you to listen to music immediately. That said, those without them allows you to experiment with your turntable’s sound. You are more likely to get the best possible sound with stand-alone phono preamps and speakers.

Back to comparison table

USB Record Players

USB record players allow you to copy your vinyl’s music to other devices, like a computer or a smartphone. This let’s you preserve your collection, specially that the very act of playing a vinyl is known to be destructive to records. Furthermore, it let’s you listen to your vinyl records on the go, using other devices that are more portable.

Back to comparison table

Best Record Player Under $100

Here, you’ll see the best record players under $100 based on most people’s reviews. Turntables below $100 have substantially better features than cheap options, and yet, they aren’t that much more expensive. So if you want to narrow down your choices based on price instead of features, here are best under $100 (at the time of writing):

  1. Audio-Technica AT-LP60

    audio-technica at-lp60

    Click the image to see the other available colors.

    With its surprisingly low price yet high quality, the AT-LP60 is a popular choice for most people. It is available in four colors so you’ll likely find one that you’ll choose too. And for something considered as a budget turntable, it is quite durable and user-proof.

    Compared with the cheapest options, the sound quality is noticeably better too. And for below a hundred bucks, getting a turntable with a phono preamp is actually a steal. Moreover, the AT-LP60 is easy to use and is simply a great, affordable vinyl player.

  2. Ion Audio Max LP

    ion audio max lp

    Click the image for a zoomable version.

    For only a little under $100, the Ion Audio Max LP lets you play and digitize records painlessly. It plays at all 3 speeds, comes with speakers already, and may be setup with a home stereo easily. It also has a jack where you can plug your headphones for private listening.

    It sounds good for its price, but of course not as good as top tier turntables. Surprisingly though, the speakers have reasonable volume. As for digitizing records, you just connect to a computer via a USB cord and use its conversion software (more details here).

    Other Turntables Under $100

  3. gadhouse-brad

    Gadhouse Brad

    See more information

  4. crosley-lancaster

    Crosley Lancaster

    See more information

  5. sylvania-srcd838

    Sylvania SRCD838

    See more information

Cheap Record Players — How About Them?

Cheap record players, like the ones featured here, are good for beginners and those with tight budgets. Audiophiles may decry them, but there are actually some that are fair for the price. Besides, not everyone can afford or start with a top of the line option (and this is true for most other products).

If you’re keen about vinyl records though, or if you inherited rare or valuable ones, you’re better off saving your money for something nicer. Now, if you can’t wait and you’re only a casual listener, here are the best inexpensive record players to get:

  1. Jensen JTA-230

    jensen jta-230

    Click the image for a zoomable version.

    Contrary to what its price (see how low) might suggest, the JTA-230 is actually highly praised. Also, it delivers more than what you would expect. For example, it even has pitch and tone controls which are rare in the budget range.

    The JTA-230 also has built-in speakers and is portable, making it easy and convenient to use. And for more volume, you can set it up with bigger speakers . So while the JTA-230 may be a low end turntable, it certainly deserves its high ratings.

    Other Cheap Turntables

  2. crosley executive

    Crosley Executive

    See more information

  3. 1byone stereo turntable

    1byone Turntable

    See more information

Record Player Reviews

Here, you’ll find record player reviews with in-depth information about some of the turntables featured in this guide. They are based on personal experience with items that are either owned or were tried through family and friends. If you don’t have time to read everything, below is a summary of the reviews for your quick reference.

Record PlayerReviewsProsConsValue for Money
Audio_Technica_AT-LP1240-USB[1]Audio Technica
AT-LP1240-USB
4.5 Stars4.5 / 5Lots of features and has a built-in phono preampMight be a bit too much for beginnersFeatures add to the price but are worth it
See the price
pro-ject debut carbon dcPro-Ject Debut Carbon DC4.4 Stars4.4 / 5The sound has excellent clarity and detailSpeed change is manualVery impressive sound quality for the price
See the price
Audio_Technica_AT-LP60_USB[1]Audio Technica
AT-LP60 USB
4.3 Stars4.3 / 5Plays precisely and has a replaceable stylusCan't upgrade or change the phono cartridgeThe best bang for the money of most people
See the price
jensen jta-230Jensen JTA 2304 Stars4 / 5Comes with all you need to start listening to vinylSound is decent but noticeably lower qualityQuality and features are fair for the low price
See the price
audio-technica-at-lp120-usbAudio-Technica AT-LP120-USB4.5 Stars4.5 / 5Lots of practical features and sounds greatThe RCA connections are hard wiredHas the best balance of price and features
See the price
electrohome EANOS700Electrohome Signature4.1 Stars4.1 / 5Vintage design and featuresNo line out, but the speakers are goodThe nostalgia is worth it
See the price

Audio-Technica AT-LP1240-USB Review

audio-technica at-lp1240-usb

Click the image for a zoomable version.

The Audio-Technica AT-LP1240-USB is one of the best record players right now. Most reviews agree. What a lot of people find impressive is that, compared with most turntables, it simply has better and more features.

The AT-LP1240-USB has a phono preamp that is better than most of those in other turntables. Still, it’s selectable so you can also use external ones. It also includes a 45-RPM adapter, so it can spin at all three speeds and will certainly play all of your vinyls. But more importantly, the sound quality is simply great.

However, the AT-LP1240-USB doesn’t come with speakers or a cartridge, and this may put off some beginners. Nevertheless, it’s an opportunity to use your preferred accessories, specially if you’re an audiophile with an ideal system in mind.

For what it left off, the AT-LP1240-USB makes up with even more features, specially for DJs. After all, it’s a direct drive turntable with a high torque motor. There are two start/stop buttons, speed adjustment dials, a pitch slider, and more (see the list of features).

In addition, there’s a USB port that let’s you digitize your vinyls for mobile listening and for backups. Unfortunately, all of those features add up to the turntable’s reasonable, but high cost. Nevertheless, the AT-LP1240-USB is very much worth the price.

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC Review

pro-ject debut carbon dc review

Click the image for a zoomable version.

The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC is among the top turntables out there, based on most people’s reviews. I think so too. After all, it’s an update to the earlier non-DC version, which was already a great value for money to begin with.

Most people will probably agree that the stand out feature of the Debut Carbon DC is its sound quality. Compared with most other turntables, it has greater dynamic range and better bass definition, primarily due to its higher end cartridge and tone-arm. It is also pitch accurate and with a relatively lower background noise.

Unfortunately, it lacks a phono stage and is a bit more fussy to use despite what you might expect from the minimalist look. Changing the speed is by hand: you would have to remove the platter and manually move the belt to switch between 33⅓ and 45rpm.

You can also change the cartridge, but you likely won’t want to because it’s a beautiful Ortofon already. In addition, you get a carbon fiber tonearm, a well sized steel platter and an MDF body. Needless to say, the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC offers a lot for its price.

Other Reviews of Turntables

  1. Audio_Technica_AT-LP60_USB[1]

    Audio Technica AT-LP60 USB Reviews

    Read here

  2. jensen jta-230

    Jensen JTA 230 Reviews

    Read here

  3. audio-technica-at-lp120-usb

    Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB Reviews

    Read here

  4. electrohome EANOS700

    Electrohome Signature Reviews

    Read here

How to Choose a Record Player (Bonus Tips)

Set a Reasonable Budget

Turntables can be bought at just about every imaginable price, from as little as $20 to as much as $30,000. Generally speaking though, the $300 to $500 range offers record players with the best balance of quality and price. On the other hand, those around $100 are generally considered cheap but still good. Just like most things in life, when it comes to turntables, you do get what you pay for.

Decide on the Design

Before you go turntable shopping, there are general designs to choose from: modern, vintage and vintage-looking. If it’s your thing to rehabilitate old record players — good for you. But if you’re only after nostalgia, a current but old-looking turntable is the one for you. Such record players could also have other “vintage” features like AM radio or a cassette player.

Consider Other Turntable Features

Wow and Flutter

The wow and flutter indicates speed variation, or how consistent the speed is of the record player’s platter when it spins. Inconsistent speeds will affect the sound quality and your listening experience, for example, by changing the music’s pitch or by making a wavering effect that’s loud enough to hear. And so, the lower the wow and flutter is, the better (under 0.25% is ideal).

Signal-to-Noise (S/N) Ratio

The signal-to-noise ratio is the amount of background noise (in dB or decibels) that correspond to different levels of music signal. Of course, you want more music than noise, so a high ratio is better. Above 65dB is usually recommended, but 50 dB is actually good enough for most listeners.

Type of Drive

To play a record, you put it atop the platter which is spun by the turntable’s drive. If such is directly below the platter, what you have is a direct drive turntable. If it’s at a side and is connected to the platter by a belt, then it’s a belt drive record player instead. Belt drives are more popular since they are usually less costly, while direct drives are used by DJs because of the high torque motors.

Tonearm Operation

By pushing a button, the tonearm of automatic record players will position itself and then start playing. When the album is done, it will return by itself to where it came and the player will shut down. Hence, automatic players are best for those whose hands are unsteady or those who fall asleep while listening.

Meanwhile, in manual record players, you’ll have to position the tonearm in place by hand. Even so, most manual players have a cueing lever or manual lifter to help move the tonearm. Moreover, manual operation allows you to begin playback anywhere, in case you want to skip songs (and you will probably want to).

Type of Cartridge

The cartridge (with the stylus in it) is the one that literally “reads” your record. There are three kinds of cartridges: fixed, P-mount and standard 1/2”. The latter two are both upgradeable. However, there aren’t too many P-mount options, so standard 1/2” is a far more popular choice. Fixed cartridges can’t be upgraded, but they do allow needle replacement. If you want to improve your turntable’s sound, you’ll hear significant improvement by changing your cartridge.

Future Proof Your Choice

Before choosing a record player, think if it would work well with your current sound system or equipment. If it wouldn’t, will you be willing to make upgrades? The point is, it won’t matter if you get the best ever turntable if its hooked up to subpar speakers and whatnot. And it also goes the other way — how far do you think you’ll go in upgrading your record player? Because if you’re in it for the long haul, you better get a flexible and more future proof turntable.

Honorable Mention

Being an honorable mention doesn’t mean that it’s not as good as the others. It’s just that the list had to be cut, because any longer and it wouldn’t be recommending the best of the best anymore. Check back regularly because this section will periodically feature a different record player as an honorable mention.

  1. Victrola Nostalgic Aviator

    victrola nostalgic aviator

    Click the image for a zoomable version.

    The Victrola Nostalgic Aviator is a turntable that can spin at all three speeds. That means that you can play old vinyls that you’d expect a vintage looking record player to do so. And with its classy wooden body and old style rotary tuner, it’s as nostalgic as its name suggests.

    It’s not all vintage though. Besides its AM/FM radio and cassette player, there’s Bluetooth that wirelessly plays music from modern devices. For non-Bluetooth devices, there’s a headphone jack and 2 aux-in. With the Aviator, you get all these features and the price is reasonable too.

  2. Wrapping It All Up

    The turntables featured here satisfied the needs and preferences of most people, and hopefully, there was one that also did for you. If this post was helpful, my guide about record player stands might also be of help. If you know someone who could use some help too, just share this guide using the social network buttons below.

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1 Comment / Add your own comment below

  1. I have the Crosley Executive Turntable, and it’s perfect for playing music in my room 🙂

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