Record players are back in style in a big way. Real audiophiles understand that vinyl offers a depth of sound quality that simply can’t be matched by digital, but there’s something to be said for the talismanic quality of records as well. Collecting vinyl can be one of the most satisfying hobbies around, but if you want to make the most of it, you’re going to want a good record player to anchor the experience.
Fortunately, the resurgent wax craze has caught the attention of multiple manufacturers, and there are a ton of great turntables available. If you’re on the market for a new record player, we’ve helpfully compiled a list of turntable reviews for 12 of the best models.
View the Best Record Player, Below.
- Audio Technica AT-LP60BK-BT
- REGA Planar 1 Plus Turntable
- ION Audio Max LP Record Player
- Crosley C100 Belt-Drive Turntable
- Denon DP-400 Vinyl Record Player
- Victrola Nostalgic Aviator Record Player
- Sony PSHX500 Hi Res USB Turntable
- Audio Technica AT-LP1240-USB XP
- Pioneer PL-990 Automatic Stereo Turntable
- Victrola Vintage suitcase Record Player
- Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB Turntable
- Jensen JTA-230 3 Speed Stereo Turntable
1. Audio Technica AT-LP60BK-BT
Audio-Technica's AT-LP60BK-BT is a great indicator of how far the standards for a good turntable have come in the past few years. It's easy enough for even the newest collector to use, it syncs easily with any Bluetooth speakers in your arsenal, and it manages to deliver this all at a reasonable price. On top of that, it sports a sleek but appealing aesthetic that will look good on any record player stand.
Of course one of the biggest selling points of record players in the first place is their analog sound, so it's a good thing that this affordable record player also supports a wired option. The ability to adjust the rpm is easily accessible right underneath the vinyl plate, and the tonearm and cartridge don't require any calibration. The result is a sensible entry level option that offers versatility without requiring a hefty investment.
2. REGA Planar 1 Plus Turntable
Regar's Planar 1 Plus costs significantly more than Audio Technica's entry-level model, but if you're confident that you're willing to invest in records for a while and you want to make the most out of their superb sound quality, it's absolutely worth the price. The Plus takes the acclaimed Planar 1 design and pairs it with the equally well regarded Fono Mini A2D pre-amp. The design is exceptional: essentially constituting a simple black tray with the arm and platter jutting out. It's a minimalist approach that strips out all but the essentials and creates a slick and unique aesthetic.
The sound quality is great right out of the box, but once it's had a few days to really get broken in, it settles into something incredible. No matter what genre of music you prefer, you can expect an unprecedented level of clarity and depth from this audiophile turntable.
3. ION Audio Max LP Record Player
You wouldn't know that the Ion Audio Max LP was a cheap record player just by looking at it. The sleek design with built-in speakers, available in both a black and wood finish, belies the fact that it bears a price tag of under $50. This is potentially the best turntable for new collectors due to that price and the wealth of features. The three speeds ensure it can play every record in your collection, but it's also a USB turntable. Vinyl isn't always the most practical option, and the ability to easily convert your records into digital files is a welcome one.
New users worried about accidentally scratching their records don't need to be. The tone arm lever is automated, and the four spring loaded feet create a great sense of stability. And while it doesn't produce the best sonics, it should be enough for most casual listeners.
4. Crosley C100 Belt-Drive Turntable
Crosley is mostly known for their complex and retro suitcase record players, but they've entered the more traditional entry level market with the C100. It's the first time Crosley has gotten the fundamentals right here, and it has the fundamental anti-skating and cueing features that you'd expect in a decent record player. While there's no speakers built in, that makes it great for those looking to customize their own kit. The sound quality is a little thin, but you can bolster it by hooking it up to a decent phono stage and speakers.
Record player needles are a feature sometimes overlooked when evaluating models, but Crosley gets it right with the inclusion of an exceptional diamond needle and Audio Technica cartridge. It's also the first Crosley model to provide tone arm adjustment. It's not the best record player on the market, but it's a reasonable, decently priced entry level choice.
5. Denon DP-400 Vinyl Record Player
The space age look of the Denon DP-400 represents the modernist sensibilities of this vinyl player. This may not be a Bluetooth record player, and it may not offer digital ripping like the ION Audio Max LP, but Denon has packed some sensible technology into the DP-400's frame. An integrated sensor ensures that the tonearm stops and lifts ten seconds before the end of the record's groove to minimize the risk of scratching, and the built in preamp can be turned off if you want to use an external unit.
Less technologically driven is the inclusion of a dustcover that can be used as a display stand for an album cover and a design that mixes metal and plastic to create a greater sense of stability and reduce irritating vibration. While the DP-400 makes use of an MM cartridge by default, it can easily be swapped out for an MC.
6. Victrola Nostalgic Aviator Record Player
Victrola's legacy in the industry is well-worn, so it should come as no surprise that they've fashioned an antique record player designed to appeal to consumer nostalgia. But what is surprising is the modern features packed into the Aviator. While the record player is the star of the show here, it's just one of eight components that also include an AM/FM tuner, CD player, and tape deck. Your mileage may vary as to how useful these are in 2020.
But while this may look like a vintage record player, it's actually exceedingly modern in design. Built-in Bluetooth lets you stream music directly to wireless speakers, while a 3.5mm outlet provides compatibility with more traditional devices. The inclusion of a USB port means you can rip music directly to a thumb drive or computer. The Aviator isn't the best sounding record player, but it does just about everything.
7. Sony PSHX500 Hi Res USB Turntable
There's something almost contradictory about a record player's ability to wirelessly broadcast or record audio, given the fact that the analog experience is a big part of the appeal. But Sony's USB record player ups the game by offering ripping at unparalleled quality. They call it DSD 5.6, and it's far and away the most unique feature of the PS-HX500. It's the best way to ensure backups for your rare reissues and limited edition Record Store Day releases.
And that's a nice feature, but record players are first and foremost devices to play music directly. Luckily, the PS-HX500 delivers admirably in that respect. There's a crispness and coherence to even the most complex arrangements when playing through Sony's Hi-Fi record player, and the depth and quality of the sound stage is truly something to write home about. The recording may be a nice perk, but the performance sells it.
8. Audio Technica AT-LP1240-USB XP
While most of the record players on our list focus on traditional consumer-end needs, we'd be remiss not to spotlight a DJ turntable. Audio Technica's AT-LP1240USB is one of the best options for professionals, offering great sound quality but really bringing things home with the substantive depth of features. The built-in phono pre-amp and detachable RCA output cables transform this into a highly portable record player, while variable pitch control, start/stop buttons, and a forward/reverse function ensure it will fulfill everything a DJ could possibly need. It can even record digital files via USB.
And considering the amount of work DJs put their turntables through, it makes sense that Audio Technica has been so diligent with the build quality. Despite its portability, it's a highly durable piece of machinery that still manages to deliver a solid soundstage and crisp audio reproduction.
9. Pioneer PL-990 Automatic Stereo Turntable
The PL-990 is sleek, stylish, and right to the point, fitting with Pioneer's confident reputation within the industry. A built-in equalizer and direct auxiliary support mean that you can just plug and play, so beginners will love more than just the entry level price tag. Anti-vibrating materials built into the legs minimize the risk of shaking, and the tone-arm has a solid and sturdy automatic design. Transition between 33.33 and 45 RPM can be handled with a single switch, a modest but rarely incorporated convenience, especially on entry level models.
And while there's a strobe that lets you manually adjust the speed, this is a feature light turntable. The focus is on the sound quality, and it excels on that front. Don't come in with the expectation of a ton of features, but if performance is what matters the most, you're sure to love the PL-990.
10. Victrola Vintage suitcase Record Player
Suitcase record players may have fallen out of style with the latest vinyl resurgence, but that doesn't mean there aren't still great options on the market. The Victrola Vintage is one of the better options. As with all suitcase models, it's a record player with speakers, so you can just pack it up and expect it to work without the needs of packing up any extra equipment or accessories. And it just so happens to bear a price tag well under $50.
As you might expect from a Victrola, this is a handsome and dignified looking turntable, and it's available in a wide variety of different colors and styles. Of course, don't expect it to sound as good as a $500 alternative. It offers a pretty impressive level of sound performance considering its price, but the bass is a little anemic.
11. Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB Turntable
Priced lower than the AT-LP1240-USB XP, this model finds a comfortable middle ground between consumer and professional turntable. It's enough for DJs just getting their start, but its effective performance means it's a reliable choice if you just want a new addition for your stereo system. The USB compatibility allows for audio ripping, but it's not quite on the level of Sony's Hi-Res model. But the inclusion of a direct drive motor on a turntable in this price range is a real treat. The AT-LP120-USB also includes its own pre-amp.
Setup is a simple process, especially since it can plug directly into your speakers without the need for an auxiliary device. It probably won't meet the needs of serious pros in the studio or the club, but it can work great as a backup to a more serious rig or a starter option for beginning DJs.
12. Jensen JTA-230 3 Speed Stereo Turntable
Rounding out our list is another super budget-conscious option that clocks in under $50. It's a suitable choice for anyone working on a tight budget, but you may be better off looking at something more substantial if you have a little more money to spare. That said, it's not a bad little turntable. The stylus can be replaced to ensure a longer life, and the speed stability is actually far more accurate than you'd guess from such a low-budget model. It also offers play at three different speeds, and it surprisingly comes with its own speakers, so it's an all-in-one device. The inclusion of a USB cable and editing software rounds out the package. It's not the best choice around by any metric, but it hits all the major checkmarks regardless.
Best Record Players Buyer’s Guide
Frequently Asked Questions
Our record player reviews can help you understand the advantages of each option, but they only tell half the story. Below we answer some of the most common questions from first time buyers.
What is the Difference Between a Belt Drive and a Direct Drive?
Belt drives are the standard in most traditional turntables. A simple belt wraps around the platter and utilizes a remote motor to turn it. Belts will eventually need to be replaced, and these drives can take a bit of time to reach the appropriate RPM. Direct drives place a motor directly underneath the platter, causing no resistance and allowing them to hit the right speeds quickly. So do you need a direct drive? Probably not, unless you’re a DJ. Belts aren’t going to wear down that fast, and the difference for catching up to speed is usually just a matter of a few seconds. Casual consumers will likely not notice much difference.
What is a Phono Stage?
Many of the turntables on our list come with a phono stage, also known as a pre-amp, built right in. This is a big advantage if you’re trying to reduce the amount of equipment you need to buy for your stereo system. While phono stages were once built into amps and receivers, that’s increasingly not the case. A phono stage essentially amplifies the sound from the record player so it’s loud enough for the needs of your speakers or amplifiers.
That means that if your vinyl player doesn’t come with a pre-amp, you’re going to need an external one, so you’ll have to take that into consideration when weighing the value of the options available. Fortunately, record players with pre-amps are more the exception than the rule these days. If you already have an external pre-amp you’d rather use, there’s no need to worry. Most players with phono stages included allow you to turn them off so you can make use of an external alternative instead.
Does the Platter Matter?
At their core, record players are pretty simple devices, and one of the most important factors is stability. The records need to stay as flat as possible while spinning to produce the best sound and prevent skipping. The build of the turntable itself can have a major impact on core stability, but even more important is the quality of the platter. Metal platters are the recognized standard, though quality can vary in this regard. Die-cast aluminum is ideal, while alloy metals require a little bit more scrutiny. Beneath these in terms of quality are plastic surfaces, usually present in the lowest budget options. While not all plastic platters are going to be horrendous, and there’s a lot more to sound quality than just platter materials, plastic platters are significantly more prone to wobble.
What Are the Differences Between Record Player Types?
A record player’s type will have a significant impact over how much control you have over your records playing. Three options are available: semi-automatic, fully-automatic, and manual. Most casual consumers will want fully- or semi-automatic. Semi-automatic turntables require you to place the needle automatically when you start a record, but they’ll lift when the record is done to prevent scratching your precious wax. Fully-automatic turntables will both lower and lift themselves automatically.
Manual record players obviously require the user to manually lower and raise the needle. It’s a feature that’s necessary for DJs but one that’s only a minor inconvenience for more casual listeners. While there’s some risk of scratching your record with a manual or semi-automatic record player, you shouldn’t worry too much. The technique is easy to pick up, so unless you really have your sights set on a particular type, you should be fine with any of the three variants.
The record revival signifies a shift away from an increasingly digital world towards something more tactile and analog, and it fortunately doesn’t have a great barrier of entry to getting involved. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your existing setup or simply try out a record player for the first time, our list offers a huge variety of options for any budget or sensibility.
We hope you’ll find what you’re looking for. And if you want to really make the most of the fidelity that turntables offer, take a peek at our guide to the best headphones under $100.