The Best Turntables

Table of Contents

While music is incredibly accessible through smartphones and laptops, the richest sound and best listening experience arguably comes from vinyl. What used to be a forgotten collector's item has now seen somewhat of a resurgence in popularity of late. Now, all of the major musicians are releasing vinyl copies of their best and latest albums for fans and collectors alike. In order to listen to all of your favourite albums on vinyl though, you'll need a turntable.

Turntables are essential in playing music from your vinyl record to your speaker. By placing a record on its surface, or "platter", you can connect it to a set of speakers — wired or wireless — to bring out the best sound possible. Whether you're using it to entertain family or you're using it to relax and lounge at home with your partner, it's a great addition to any living room.

Below, we'll show you some of the best turntables to buy, from brands like Pro-Ject Audio Systems and Denon, as well as a couple others with which you may be unfamiliar. Don't worry, you’re in good hands. Check out our list to learn more about preamps and speakers below, as well.

1. Editor’s Pick: Pro-Ject Debut Carbon (DC) Turntable

1. Editor’s Pick: Pro-Ject Debut Carbon (DC) Turntable
  • The best quality for the most affordable price
  • Gold-plated RCA connectors ensure your connections only deliver what’s being outputted — no additional noise or disturbance
  • Received awards for its design and performance as recently as 2018
  • A handful of buyers have reported a hum cause by the power supply

Key Specs

Drive Principle: Belt Drive
Platter: 300mm metal with felt mat
Preamp: Not included
Product Dimensions: 32 x 41.5 x 11.8 cm
Product Weight: 5.6 kg

When this turntable was released in 2012, it wowed audiophiles around the world with its ingenious use of its carbon-fibre tonearm, and its platter and size. When you place a record on its surface, the tonearm will keep it spinning in place with minimal vibration or slipping. This is an excellent choice if you're a first-time buyer and are just starting to grow your collection. It has a bunch of ports and features to potentially upgrade your speakers or turntable's sound. What's more, it also comes with a dust cover and felt mat to wipe your records.

2. Runner Up: Fluance RT85

2. Runner Up: Fluance RT85
  • Available in Piano Black, Bamboo, and Walnut
  • The balanced S-shaped tonearm fits perfectly into the groove — to extra pressure to cause wear on the vinyl
  • The three rubber feet (that are height adjustable) ensure as little environmental vibrations as possible to alter the sound
  • No preamp
  • The tonearm is the weakest point in the whole turntable

Key Specs

Drive Principle: Belt Drive
Platter: High mass acrylic
Preamp: Not included
Product Dimensions: 34.93 x 41.91 x 13.97 cm
Product Weight: 7.6 kg

Utilizing only superior components and expert audio engineering, this turntable will give you a beautifully warm sound and with an attractive polished wood cabinet, it will be a welcome addition to any family room or study. Not only is the cabinet stunning, but its Ortofon 2M Blue Cartridge and high-density acrylic platter makes the sound come off smooth and clean. Because of the cabinet shielding the turntable, the sound gets absorbed right into the wood plinth so you hear nothing but the clean sounds of your record, each and every time.

3. Best Digital: Denon DP-450USB

3. Best Digital: Denon DP-450USB
  • You can digitize in both MP3 and WAV directly onto a USB with the click of a button
  • When you reach the end of the record the tonearm automatically raises off and the motor stops spinning
  • Dust cover is designed to hold your album cover so you can display the artwork while you listen
  • The autostop isn’t immediate — some buyers report it doesn’t work at all

Key Specs

Drive Principle: Belt Drive
Platter: Not specified
Preamp: Built-in phono equalizer
Product Dimensions: 34.19 x 41.4 x 10.49 cm
Product Weight: 5 kg

If you’re looking for the best playback and the opportunity to digitize your favourite records, look no further. Denon has thought of everything with this turntable. It has an integrated USB-A port lets you digitize your vinyl collection and create quality records in MP3 or WAV file formats. With its angled tone-arm and weighted, belt-driven platter, you can spin your record at three different speeds — 33 1/3 rpm, 45 rpm or 78 rpm.

If you have a speaker or other sound accessories, you can pair them with this turntable as well. You can connect its USB cord to any amplifier or system. What's more, the turntable features a compact, yet sophisticated cabinet that fits seamlessly into your existing Hi-Fi system. A removable dust cover doubles as a display stand and also helps to protect your records as well.

4. Best Budget Pick: Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT

4. Best Budget Pick: Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT
  • Available in Black and Red
  • Bluetooth connectivity — use your favourite wireless speakers
  • Compatible with aptX codec
  • Bluetooth is finicky to set up with wireless headphones (you may have to go through a smartphone in order to make it work)
  • No power on/off switch

Key Specs

Drive Principle: Belt Drive
Platter: Die-cast aluminum platter
Preamp: Switchable phono pre-amp
Product Dimensions: 48.26 x 43.18 x 17.78 cm
Product Weight: 453.59 g

This turntable will allow you to listen to your favourite records privately or wirelessly. It utilizes an integral dual moving magnet cartridge to maintain its incredible performance while its spinning your favourite records. Designed to prevent slips and scratches, it has a fully automatic wireless belt-drive to ensure your vinyl isn't damaged while playing. What's great about this model, as mentioned, is its ability to connect to Bluetooth speakers or other Smart Home devices. It also has a built-in, switchable. phono pre-amplifier with RCA output cables. No worries — it comes as 3.5mm audio cable as well.

5. Honourable Mention: Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB

5. Honourable Mention: Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB
  • Available in Black or Silver
  • Switchable phono preamp means you can use this with speaker systems that both have a phono in or not
  • The only direct drive model on the list
  • If you’re looking for more than casual listening, you’ll need to look elsewhere

Key Specs

Drive Principle: Direct Drive
Platter: Stroboscopic platter
Preamp: Selectable phono pre-amp
Produt Dimensions: 55.88 x 45.72 x 25.4 cm
Product Weight: 9.14 kg

Rounding out our list is a second pick from Audio-Technica. The AT-LP120XUSB is the older sibling of the previous model, and as such, it comes with a little bit more of features. With a USB out, you can connect it directly to your computer and convert all of your favourite records into MP3 or WAV files.

You won't have to do worry about your records skipping as its balanced S-shaped tone arm has a hydraulically damped lift control and lockable rest to ensure its spinning great music at all times. It minimize vibrations to avoid skips and its anti-skating tech performs reasonably well. This turntable also has great playback controls, including a stroboscopic platter with speed indicator, and a variable pitch control and quartz speed lock.

Tips & Tricks: Belt Drive and Direct Drive

In order to get the platter of your turntable turning, you'll need to know more about belt-driven vs. direct driven models.

Belt Driven

With a belt driven turntable, the motor spins a rubber band that loops around your turntable, which spins the platter, and voilà, sound is produced. This tends to be the preferred method of turning the platter over the direct drive versions for a couple of reasons.

First, one of the major issues with turntables is the distortion of sound because of vibrations coming from anywhere inside and out of the cabinet. Because the needle has to sit just right in the groove, even the gentlest bump will cause an audible distortion. The benefit of the belt is that any vibrations from the motor itself are dissolved through the belt, which means the platter should spin easily with little effect from the motor. The downside of the belt driven version — as well as cheap models — is that the belt may slip off the platter and you’ll have to get in there and place it back in the right position.

Direct Driven

Direct drive means the platter is directly attached to the motor, so the platter spins with the motor with no external factors at play. What’s great about a direct drive is the consistency. Elastic bands have a little bit of agency given their nature, whereas when connected to the motor the platter is only ever going to spin just as fast as it’s supposed to.

But it’s a rather rigid system. Motors do cause vibrations, and with no real buffer to take the brunt of these disturbances the platter (and your record in turn) has the potential to offer a more distorted sound. Ultimately though, audio experts pretty well agree that the preference between the two is completely individual and up to nothing more than personal taste.

Preamps: Do I Need Them?

When you buy a turntable, you’re not buying a necessarily audible experience — you’ll need to already have or invest in a speaker system that will work with your turntable.

If your turntable doesn’t have a built-in preamp, this means you’ll most likely need to also then purchase a preamp as the middle man between your turntable and your speakers. If you’re new to the Hi-Fi world, do yourself a favour and get a turntable with a preamp to save yourself some time, money, and the hassle of needing yet another piece of gear.

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