Record players are becoming very popular lately for various reasons. Some use them to relive history by listening to the favorite music of their ancestors, while others just love to collect vinyl records as some sort of a hobby. As a matter of fact, the sales of vinyl records are said to have increased significantly this year. This goes to show that a lot of people are still showing interest in listening to vinyl records despite the availability of online streaming services. If you’re one of the people, then it’s time to invest in the best record player.
When it comes to record players, it’s important that you invest only in a reliable record player so you can get the best value for your money. It should be something that you can make use of and is capable of delivering the best sound quality. Above all, it should be easy for you to use and should last for a long time. So here’s our guide to buying the best record player.
In this modern day and age of the Internet, streaming music has never been easier. You simply have to go online, do a search, and play the music that you want! But despite the technological advancements that we’re enjoying in the music industry at the moment, there’s nothing that can compare to the quality of sound that a vinyl record produces.
Sure, playing physical media such as vinyl records might be more complicated and time-consuming than online streaming, but record collectors know that it’s all worth it. And if you’re someone who loves music, then you will understand why.
The record player might be a bit bulky and sometimes expensive, but it’s truly a fulfilling and rewarding experience for music lovers and record collectors. They love the feeling of digging through their old collections and visiting garage sales and antique shops to hunt for bargains.
If you listen to the music that these record players produce, it’s easy to tell that the sound quality is definitely superb. This is one of the reasons why a lot of people devote their time and money to collecting vinyl records. Even if you don’t have any plans of becoming a collector, you might just be surprised at how exciting and fun it is to play old records.
When you get into this hobby, there will be plenty of options for you to explore in terms of equipment. These include getting a matching phono preamp to go with the turntable, which will result in a better quality of sound.
So to address the question on why you should get a record player, the answer is simple – if you are really serious about your love for music and you want to enjoy it to the fullest, then you should definitely get one. Also, if you have made a hobby out of collecting old vinyl records, then investing in the best record player makes a lot of sense.
But is there a difference in the quality of sound that the analog and digital music players produce? This topic has long been debated in the music industry. Sound waves are analog by nature and vinyl records are equipped with grooves carved in a surface that mimics the waveform of the original sound.
With this, no information is lost, which is why the waveforms are more accurate in analog than in digital audio. If you listen closely, you’ll realize that there’s a huge difference in sound richness.
The biggest drawback is that the grooves of the vinyl records can eventually accumulate specs of dust that can scratch and damage the vinyl. This will result in static, rumble, and crackle of music. These noises are even more obvious during the quiet section of the music.
This drawback is also the biggest advantage of digital music since it won’t degrade as time goes by. Yet digital music may also sound cold and clinical. They tend to take snapshots of the analog signal and don’t completely capture the sound wave.
Things to Look for When Shopping for the Best Record Player
When looking for the best turntable or record player, there are lots of important features that one must take into consideration. Among these are the speed choice, drive types, overall build, and quality of the model, type of speaker, connectivity, and the size.
Below is a list of features to take into consideration when buying a record player.
Type of Drive
For the type of drive, you can choose between direct drive and belt drive. In direct drive, the platter is attached and spins directly from the player’s motor. These players are usually faster to start and produce a more accurate and constant speed.
On the other hand, those with a belt drive come with a platter that spins with the help of an elastic belt that’s attached to the motor. The belt drive record players produce fewer shocks and vibration, and therefore, less noise will be transmitted when playing the music.
If you already have an idea in mind about the overall built of the player that you want, then another thing to check is the type of needle or stylus that the player has, which should be included in the player that you’ll purchase.
While this factor is only a concern for those who have increased knowledge of these products, the standard cartridges are usually the ceramic stereos. However, if you expect your vinyl to produce near perfection sounds, a cartridge will no doubt provide the result that you want.
Most vinyl records have one of these three speeds – 33 RPM, 45 RPM, and 78 RPM. RPM means rotations per minute. A lot of these records have a rotating speed of 33 1/3 speed and others have 45 RPM.
It’s important that the record player that you will choose can accommodate such speeds. This can be a bit challenging if you’re planning to play a record that has a speed of 78 RPM.
Record players usually come with built-in speakers, but the sound level that you can enjoy will be limited. For some people, having a built-in speaker is already enough to fulfill their audio needs.
However, for others who need to carry their record players when traveling, having an additional accessory like the speaker can be inconvenient. So if you expect to carry your player with you wherever you go, then this is something worth considering.
Bluetooth and USB
For those who want to listen to their vinyl through an additional component like a phone, speakers or a computer, choose a model that’s either Bluetooth or USB compatible. This factor can be an issue for turntables since they require additional components before you can listen to your vinyl records through Bluetooth or USB.
Another factor to take into consideration for those who want their record players to be portable is the size. Contrary to what many people think, turntables and record players are not really bulky. Perhaps, in the older times they were.
But these days, the players are more compact, portable, and streamlined. Of course, if you want a complete entertainment system to enjoy your records, then you should allocate an extra room for the added bulkiness. Either way, size is an important factor to check out when looking for the best vinyl record player.
Common Terms You Should Be Familiar With
This is a tiny box where the magnets and stylus are kept. It produces an audio signal that is then set back to amplification. The cartridge is available in two different types – the moving coil or MC and the moving magnet or MM.
The moving coil is known to offer a much better quality of sound and is understandably more expensive. Also, it requires proper care and maintenance in order for you to get the most out of it.
This refers to the wand where the cartridge is attached and pivots around in order to allow the stylus to be able to track across the record. The tonearms are available in different sizes, shapes, pivoting style, and weight.
It’s important that the cartridge of the record has decent synergy with that of the tonearm. The cheaper models have the tendency to put too much pressure on the vinyl record that will devastatingly ruin your precious collections.
This refers to the needle and has a tiny diamond tip, although the tip can be shaped in many ways. The exotic shapes are often more expensive, yet they track better on the grooves, which enhances the detail retrieved and minimizes wear. This part is the most delicate point in the turntable and must be kept away from prying fingers.
A spindle holds the round portion where the record is sitting on as it spins. The spindle can be made from different types of materials such as resin, metal, glass, ceramic, acrylic, and vinyl-coated MDF. Sometimes, it comes with wool or rubber mat.
Phono Stage or Pre-Amp
The audio signal that comes from the cartridge is usually very faint. Therefore, a Phono Pre-amp will be required to amplify the signal before it’s sent into a line input.
The cheaper standalone versions will work only for the MM cartridges and the more expensive models that are MC-compatible offer a wide range of options to perfectly match them with a specific cartridge. The plug and play models usually come with a built-in Phono Pre-amp.
Belt Drive or Direct Drive
Most of the modern hi-fi turntables are usually belt-driven and equipped with a rubber band that runs around the motor pulley and into the platter or the sub-platter. This method helps to minimize vibrations from the motor. As for the direct drive, the motor is attached to the spindle below the platter and has the advantage of ensuring a more consistent rotation speed.
What about Second-Hand Record Players?
In an effort to save some money, some people go for a second-hand record player that they can buy for a very cheap price online. When it comes to this, it’s important that you double-check the player that you intend on buying. It should be in excellent condition. Otherwise, the player could end up damaging your precious collection.
Also, consider buying a brand new needle or stylus to go with your second-hand record player. And make sure you choose a player that’s still in mint condition. There’s no doubt that you can save a lot of money when buying second-hand turntables. However, you need to exercise due diligence to make sure that you’re getting exactly what you need.
The vinyl records are available in three different formats of speed – 33? RPM, 45 RPM, and 78 RPM. RPM stands for Revolution or Rotation per Minute. Faster formats usually last less and could possibly fit shorter durations of recording, although this also depends on the physical size of the record.
In general, those with a 78-RPM speed were the first commercial variety but they are rare in this day and age. What you will usually find are the 33? RPM and 45 RPM speeds.
Remember that the RPM speed can certainly make a difference in the overall performance of the record player. The ability of the vinyl’s grooves to capture sonic detail will usually depend on the RPM.
Best Record Player in the Marketplace
Whether you’re new to the world of vinyl records or have been collecting for a while, it’s important that you invest in the best record player. To give you an idea, here’s a list of the best ones in the market, along with a review of each one of them. This should help you make the best decision.
1 – Denon DP-400 Review – (Best Turntable with Speed Auto Sensor)
If you take the time to read record player reviews online, the Denon DP-400 will surely stand out. Indeed, it’s one of the top-rated record players online because a lot of customers are very pleased with the way it works.
According to the manufacturer, this turntable is built on a heavy-duty plinth, which is 41 cm wide. This will save you lots of space and is compatible with the Denon Design Series.
An integrated sensor that has a semi-automatic action controls the speed of this record player. So when the stylus arrives at the end of the vinyl side, the playback will stop and the tonearm will be lifted. However, the arm doesn’t go back to the cradle.
As such, this compromise can help to improve the sound quality since the gearing for the tonearm return doesn’t have to be included. The gearing will only add noise to the turntable, which will lower its sonic quality.
Equipped with an exclusively designed dust cover that doubles as a display stand, the manufacturer of the Denon DP-400 advises users to attach the dust cover vertically on the base. That way, you will be able to display your favorite album artwork while the music is being played.
Comes with a built-in Phono equalizer
Easy to set up and install
Features a wide variety of rotating speeds
Loaded with many features
2 – Audio-Technica ATLP120USB Review – (Best Direct Drive Professional USB Turntable Under 500)
For the newbies, the Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB is a great turntable to consider. It has the ability to play vinyl records of three different speeds – 33 ? RPM, 45 RPM, and 78 RPM. With this player, there’s not an album that you cannot play. Furthermore, this player is equipped with a built-in Phono pre-amp so you won’t have to worry about getting it separately.
Aspiring collectors will surely appreciate this turntable’s features and easy setup. Expert users will love the fact that it allows them to dial in the tracking force, vertical tracking angle, and headshell that’s easily replaceable. Sure, this might seem like a rip-off of the Technics SL-1200 but at the fraction of a price, yet, it’s definitely worth it.
As one of the best vinyl record players in the market, the Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB is known for producing the best sound quality. In fact, a lot of customers agree that the sound quality delivered by this player is near perfection.
Comes with hinged dust cover
Perfect for both newbies and pros
Produces great sound quality at a cheaper price
The software is compatible with both PC and Mac computers
Mediocre USB output
The overall build is made of cheap plastic
3 – Wockoder CMC Portable Turntable Review – (Affordable Record Player With Built in Speakers)
Looking at the Wockoder CMC Portable Bluetooth turntable, it’s easy to tell that this model is definitely a show-stealer. Featuring an Old World Charm, this device is a great choice for those looking for the best vintage turntable to buy.
The player’s retro look and stylish design are truly attractive, especially the subtle sky blue color. If you prefer something portable, the briefcase style is what you should go for.
The Wockoder CMC Portable turntable is equipped with an upper cover, which keeps it protected from the accumulation of dust. Furthermore, the player comes with three built-in speakers that can be found on the side.
Indeed, this turntable is truly impressive, especially in its ability to blend old with new. Although it looks very retro and classic, the features are sophisticated and modern.
This turntable can play vinyl records of different sizes – 7?, 10? and 12?. Furthermore, it’s very lightweight and compact, which makes it one of the best portable record players in the market. With this device, you won’t have to worry about it occupying a lot of space in your desk, car, or wherever you take it.
Compact and lightweight
Eye-catching retro and vintage design
Easy to set up and use
Features Bluetooth allowing you to listen to music from your smartphone
Sound is not loud enough for people who prefer loud music
4 – Sony PS-LX310BT Review – (Best Vinyl Record Player Under 200)
When looking for the best turntable under 200, the PS-LX310BT is a great product to check out. This affordable turntable is lightweight and comes with excellent black plastic casework.
New users will love how easy this turntable is for them to use. There’s no longer a need for them to go through YouTube tutorials to figure out how the device works. It comes with button arms that are fully automatic. The arm might be a bit clunky, but they are sufficient enough given the price.
For those who are veterans in the vinyl world, lifting the tonearm to play the music might be a ritual that’s hard for them to let go. But those who would prefer to quickly and easily spin a tune might find the buttons a bonus. The PS-LX310BT can be connected up to eight Bluetooth devices.
Customers are quite satisfied with the sound it produces. According to them, the connection is strong enough that even if you go to another room and close the door, it will still work. Sony also included a fully automatic deck with this plug and play turntable.
Easy to use
Plug and play setup
Produces a truly entertaining sound
Purist alternatives would sound better compared to this turntable
5 – U-Turn Audio High-Performance Turntable Review – (Hand Built in the USA & comes with Lifetime Technical Support)
For a sleek, elegant, and stylish turntable, the U-Turn Audio – Orbit Plus Turntable might be a great device to check out. Despite its stylish design, this turntable is easy to use and definitely packs a punch.
Manufactured by U-Turn, this turntable is definitely a must for music lovers. In fact, it’s very affordable and a great choice if you are looking for the best turntable under 200.
Featuring a retro-style design, the U-Turn Audio – Orbit Plus Turntable is the best vintage turntable to buy. But don’t be fooled by its classic look because this record player is loaded with up-to-date features, which make it produce high-quality sounds.
Its clear acrylic disk is another thing that makes this player stand out from the rest. When it comes to the overall appearance and design, this turntable is truly the best. It’s also at par with the more expensive models when it comes to its performance. This turntable plays records consistently and at the right speed while relaying sounds perfectly.
Includes dust cover
Easy to use and set up
High precision tonearm
6 – Victrola Wood and Linen Fabric Record Player Review – ((Built-in Bluetooth Connectivity & Loud Speakers)
When it comes to the most stylish looking record players, the Victrola Hampton Record Player is often top on the list. Built from real wood and wrapped with woven fabric, this beautiful record player is made by Victrola, an innovative tech company founded 15 years ago. These days, the company has more than 50,000 retail outlets in 10 different countries around the world.
Featuring a 3-speed turntable that’s belt-driven, the Hampton Record Player is capable of playing speeds of 331/3 RPM, 45 RPM, and 78 RPM. It comes with built-in Bluetooth technology that can wirelessly stream your favorite music up to 33 feet.
When looking for the best record player with speakers, this record player is an ideal choice. It comes with linen-wrapped speakers that feature 50 watts of power output.
3-speed turntable that’s belt-driven
Made with real wood and wrapped in linen fabric
50 watts power output
The warranty is only valid if the original box is still present
7 – Victrola Navigator Classic Record Player Review – (Built-in Stereo Speakers Plus Remote Control)
Another great turntable from Victrola is this Navigator 8-in-1 Classic Bluetooth Record Player with USB Encoding. This record player will make you feel like you are stepping back in time, with its good old-fashioned design.
Featuring three different speeds of 331/3 RPM, 45 RPM, and 78 RPM, this record player also comes with a built-in stereo speaker that allows you to effortlessly listen to music through Bluetooth devices.
The Victrola Navigator record player is equipped with a headphone jack and aux-in, which means you can use it for various purposes. It’s also equipped with a CD player and cassette player. Not only that but it has an old-fashioned rotary tuner that will truly bring you back to the old days!
You’ll also get a full-function remote control when buying this Navigator 8-in-1 Classic Bluetooth Record Player. Customers are satisfied with the luxurious and stylish design of this record player since the wood looks authentic. If you prefer to record your music, this device will allow you to do so without the need to use a computer.
Blend of vintage and modern design
Equipped with a built-in stereo speaker
Possible recording even without a computer
8 – Lauson CL502 Turntable Review – (Easy Vinyl Record Player Conversion to Digital Format)
For those who are looking for the best record player under 100, the Lauson CL502 Turntable is a great turntable to check out. This impressive record player is capable of converting files into digital records. Plus, it’s equipped with a power indicator, white speakers, auto-stop switch, and a dust cover.
In addition, this record player comes with added features like the RCA line output, tone control, and volume control. Given these features, you will be able to enjoy a customized sound system depending on your mood.
Not only that but you can perform several other tasks with this device, such as recording and editing. Despite being affordable, this record player is very versatile and capable of performing multiple functions.
Easy to install
Incredible sound system
Upon looking at this turntable, it’s easy to tell that this is the best vintage turntable to buy. Despite its classic look, this product is filled with a lot of sophisticated and modern features.
The weight and size are comparable with the Audio Technical models. This device comes with built-in speakers, USB port, and software that you can use to convert vinyl records into digital formats.
The software that comes with the Jensen JTA-230 3-Speed Stereo gives you the option to edit, record, and transform files to the MPR format. This model is equipped with all the bells and whistles that are designed for the younger fans of vinyl records.
Auxiliary input jack
Equipped with USB port and cable
Comes with a stereo speaker system
The Fluance RT80 Vinyl Turntable is a high-quality record player aimed at producing and capturing audio in the way that the artist wants to be heard. Featuring an AT95E Audio Technica cartridge this turntable will treat you to sound quality with outstanding clarity.
This turntable comes equipped with diamond elliptical tipped stylus and is designed to track the vinyl’s grooves while offering greater precision and accuracy.
The Fidelity Vinyl Turntable offers playback through the balanced S-Type tonearm as well as the RCA line outputs. All are gold plated and it includes a ground terminal that helps to ensure a generous choice of attaching the required output for the devices.
In addition, the turntable’s signal clarity is easy to achieve, thanks to its Texas Instrument Preamp. This unit offers two RPM speed, 33-1/3 rpm, and 45 rpm. Aside from looking sleek and stunning, this record player offers perfection in its audio offering.
The handcrafted design ensures superior isolation from any unwanted vibrations that could potentially affect the sound quality. It also comes equipped with counterweight features and anti-skating functions.
Built-in preamp isolation feet
Gold plated elements
Great precision and accuracy
Walnut cabinet is visually stunning
What’s the Best Record Player Brand? If you are looking for the best record player that can give you the best value for your money, we couldn’t recommend the Audio-Technica ATLP120USB Direct Drive enough.
Of all the record players in this list, this device has gained the highest number of positive feedback and has a rating of 4.4/5. This player allows you to conveniently play your favorite record since it comes with a USB output that can be directly connected to your computer.
Furthermore, this player is compatible with PC and Mac computers. When you purchase this device, you’ll also get the cables, removable dust cover, and software included.
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