Buyer’s Guide: Which Turntable is Best for Me?

A close up on a record playing on a turntable.

Listening to the perfect record is like therapy. That warm, room-filling sound has a distinct quality you just can’t get from digital, and audiophiles will tell you they hear the difference in texture immediately. Yes, streaming is infinitely more convenient than vinyl. The act of listening to digital playlists, however, requires a lower level of engagement. There is depth and detail involved in playing records, from flipping sides to admiring cover art and inner sleeves. Whether you’re an aspiring DJ or the best record collector in your own living room, there’s a turntable to match. We’ve compiled a list of some record players you don’t want to miss.

 


TEAC TN-400S


For those who want classic style, this turntable comes in a contemporary matte-Bordeaux finish with extras. Connect it to your PC via USB and create a portable digital archive equivalent to CD quality. The high-density MDF cabinet provides vibration suspension, and the newly developed attrition-resistant spindle guarantees stable rotation speed. Three speeds (33-1/3, 45, and 78 rpm) offers plenty of flexibility, and an S-shaped, static-balanced aluminum tonearm provides accurate tracking.

 


Sony PS-HX500

Sony is a name you can rely on. As a hi-res USB turntable, the PS-HX500 is a gem that lives up to the brand’s reputation. It can also convert your vinyl tracks into digital-audio files that can go anywhere with you. A sleek black design with a 1.18-inch-thick acoustic-grade MDF cabinet ensures quality and style. An insulated structure with rubber dampers on the bottom eliminates any vibration.

 


Fluance RT81

Fluance’s turntable does not have a USB output and can’t be hooked up to your PC or Mac to convert tracks to digital. However, it is your perfect partner when it comes to offering outstanding analog playback for much less. This record spinner is designed for those seeking high quality in an affordable package. The RT81 belt-driven turntable is built with premium Audio-Technica components that produce formidable clarity. An elliptical diamond-tipped stylus tracks your record grooves with precision. With a Texas Instruments preamp, ground terminal, and gold-plated RCA outputs, the result is a crystal-clear signal. And here’s the best part: This turntable is enveloped in a beautiful walnut finish over solid MDF, and it is yours for about half the cost of a hi-res USB-equipped model.

 


Pro-ject Debut Carbon DC

Pro-ject’s original turntable was one of the first ones marketed to consumers after the invention of the CD, and it left a significant impression in the 1990s. The most prominent improvement in this updated model is the tonearm. It’s made from a carbon tube that increases stiffness and decreases unwanted resonance, something normally reserved for ultra-high-end products. A welcome sight.

What else can you expect? Bare bones and no frills; this is a record player for minimalists. A larger, heavier platter results in a smoother rotation and better overall sound quality. A precision belt drive with synchronous motor provides quality playback, resulting in a highly satisfying listening experience. Dust cover and felt mat included. High performance and nothing more.

 


Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB

Audio-Technica’s direct-drive professional turntable will wow the room. With analog and USB outputs and compatible with Mac and PC, this is the record player for aspiring DJs. One of the best features is that it lets you adjust the pitch of playback as much as ±20 percent. A high-accuracy, quartz-controlled pitch lock keeps the rotation ultra-stable. Select from 33-1/3, 45, and 78 rpm speeds and spin the night away. A high-torque, direct-drive motor allows for quick start-ups, and a selectable internal phono preamp lets you plug this baby directly into components with no dedicated turntable input.

Looking for something different? Why not buy two record players and a mixer and take things one step further.

 


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