Whether or not you’re on board, the vinyl hype train is in motion – it’s back, baby. There’s even vinyl for sale in some larger supermarkets and there’s also stacks on online retailers like Amazon. After years of apparent obsolescence, we’re in the middle of the great record revival, so it follows that record players are continuing to release regularly, meaning people need to know which ones to consider.
Vinyl has an inherent desirability to it, and a greater sense of permanence and ownership compared to other platforms. Whether it be the larger album artwork compared to a CD, the physical act of having to get up and turn over the disc to listen to the other side, or that many consider it to sound superior to other formats.
If you’ve been interested in jumping aboard the vinyl bandwagon, but have yet to get yourself a turntable, look no further. We’ve gathered together a bunch of the best record players available today.
Our pick of the best turntables to buy today
For its asking price, the AT-LP3 remains our top pick. It’s a fully automatic belt-driven turntable featuring the AT91R phono cartridge that’s easy enough to swap out. The sound is fantastic thanks too, thanks to the anti-resonance die-cast aluminium platter. You will need a decent pre-amp to get the most out of it, but make no mistake, this is a stellar player if you’re connecting it to an amp and speakers. If you want something with its own preamp, then read on…
Lenco L-400 direct drive turntable
Swiss hi-fi company Lenco’s L-400 slots in behind Audio-Technica in our list but is still a quality purchase for around the same money. There’s a pre-amp with the Lenco though, so you can plug it directly into a system’s aux input via a phono cable (included in the box). Also included is a USB cable so you can plug the turntable into a PC to digitise music, although we’re surprised if many people do that these days. Oh, and it’s available in grey, black and white, too.
The Crosley Cruiser is a cheap and cheerful all-in-one player that comes in loads of colours. Everything you need to start spinning records is inside the briefcase style case. All you need to do is plug it into a power source and you’re away. Put your record in place, put the needle down and that’s it. There are built-in speakers on the front, and a pair of RCA outputs on the back so you can connect it to a bigger set if you wish. An auxiliary input for playing songs from your phone is on the back too, and a headphone jack is on hand for private listening.
Pro-Ject is an audio company that knows a thing or two when it comes to making turntables (also see the multicoloured Primary turntable lineup). The company has won numerous awards for its products and the Elemental represents an affordable choice. It has an unusual design, with the platter being fitted to a single-piece central frame but this adds to the quirky appeal.
Roberts is best known for its radios, but that hasn’t stopped the British company from producing a turntable. The RT100 has a traditional look as well as a built-in pre-amp so you don’t need to connect it to a phono stage. As with several of the other turntables in this list, a USB connection lets you rip your vinyl collection to your computer.
Gearbox Automatic MkII
This new player from jazz record label Gearbox Records is a follow-up to the original clear-box player that takes design cues from the iconic 1955 Braun PC 3 SV record player. The main upgrade is the addition of a higher-quality Ortofon OM 10 cartridge which provides a significant improvement in quality. Its transparent design won’t appeal to all, but we loved it when it was sitting in our living room since it’s such an eye-catcher. It’s heavy on the tech, too, with the ability to send its audio to a Bluetooth speaker and an accompanying app that’ll recognise tracks and add them to Spotify playlists for you. There’s also a built-in valve phono stage so no need for extra hardware – it can be plugged straight into a line-in.
Sony has its own range of turntables too, and the PS-HX500 is an excellent choice. It looks great, sporting a sleek black finish and can also record your vinyl collection to your computer. Where the Sony differs from other turntables on this list though, is that it can record in high-resolution audio. Vinyl can be recorded in DSD and WAV and an editing app for PC and Mac lets you edit your tracks and split them if you record an entire side of a record at once.
Make sure the device you want to listen to your digital tracks on can support high-resolution audio. Some phones can natively support it, while others such as the iPhone, will need a dedicated app.
Another super choice from Audio-Technica, the AT-LPW40WN was introduced at CES 2019 in January so it is brand new out of the blocks. It has a snazzy walnut wood veneer finish which looks a lot more appealing than many designs, a newly-designed cartridge and a preamp so it can connect directly to powered speakers should you choose to do that rather than use a traditional amp-and-speaker setup.
TEAC is another hi-fi brand with a heritage in vinyl. The TN300 is one of the company’s latest turntables and is available in a range of colours. It’s engineered to a high degree, comes supplied with an Audio Technica cartridge and has a USB output to storing your vinyl collection as digital files on a computer.
The best records to play on your new turntable
Now that you’ve hopefully got your turntable sorted, you’ll want some records to play on it. A lot of older albums are being reissued on 180g vinyl, which will give you a better quality of sound. Records should have a sticker to indicate they’re 180g, so make sure you look out for it when you go shopping. What’s more many come with either Amazon Auto-Rip MP3 versions for free, or download codes to get digital copies. Win win.
To help get you started, we’ve picked out five of our favourite classics:
- Oasis – Definitely, Maybe – See it on Amazon UK – See it on Amazon US
- Pink Floyd – Dark Side of Moon – See it on Amazon UK – See it on Amazon US
- Amy Winehouse – Back to Black – See it on Amazon UK – See it on Amazon US
- Fleetwood Mac – Rumours – See it on Amazon UK – See it on Amazon US
- David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust – See it on Amazon UK – See it on Amazon US