Belt-drive, fully manual turntable with excellent sound quality. Includes a 45-rpm adapter. Plinth is made of anti-resonance MDF with an attractive wood grain finish. Built-in preamplifier. Hydraulic tonearm lets you place the needle with ease. Headshell is removable.
Does not have USB connectivity, which some consumers wanted.
Attractive color. Lightweight and easy to carry. Built-in speakers provide enjoyable sound for the size and price. Consistent playing without warbling or skipping in testing. Doubles as a Bluetooth speaker for a smartphone.
Only accepts Bluetooth input. Does not output from vinyl to Bluetooth speakers.
The old-fashioned look and features of original Victrolas with the latest technology, including the ability to play vinyl and listen to it on a Bluetooth-compatible device. Plays 33-, 45-, and 78-rpm records. Very attractive design.
Sound quality isn't exceptional. Wobbly turntable. Reports of CD unit malfunctions.
Brightly colored leatherette case makes a fun fashion statement. Fully portable suitcase design and retro handle. Plays 33-, 45-, and 78-rpm records. Has built-in speakers. Boasts line-in and line-out jacks as well as a headphone jack.
Tinny sound. Stylus pressure may damage vintage vinyl.
Direct-drive motor allows for speed and rotation control. Impressive vibration-dampening platter and mat in loud or bouncy booths. Granular controls for tonearm height and playback control. Sports a cuing light. Offers switchable preamp. Three-speed.
Less suited for relaxed listening. Pricey.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Believe it or not, music on LP is back with a vengeance, as a new generation of listeners has fallen in love with the ritual and warm sounds that only vinyl can bring. And if you’re ready to see what all the fuss is about, you’ll need a good turntable.
While our tastes may be retro, modern turntables are anything but. New turntable models practically perfect the art of bringing out the best in vinyl, and add new, convenient features, like Bluetooth connectivity, built-in preamps, and even USB compatibility for making digital audio files from your favorite records.
Here’s everything you need to know to pick out the perfect turntable: The classic features that have been perfect since the beginning, the new innovations that change everything, and the models that stand above all the rest.
Before you buy a turntable, make sure you have the right gear to connect it to, namely, an amplifier and speakers. If your turntable doesn’t include a built-in preamp, you’ll need to make sure your amplifier has an input marked “phono,” or you’ll need to buy a standalone preamp. Once you’ve got that set up, you’re ready to start shopping!
The base of the turntable is called a plinth. Modern plinths are noticeably dense or heavy in order to dampen as much external vibration as possible.
Sitting atop the plinth is, among other things, the device's padded platter. The platter holds the record and rotates via the motor. There are two different ways this can happen. Belt-driven systems use an elastic band, which can reduce vibrations. Direct-drive systems are often more expensive, but they don’t wear out and are more consistent. Many audiophiles swear that belt-driven turntables sound better while direct-drive models are more durable; the debate isn’t likely to end any time soon.
Situated beside the platter is the tonearm. The tonearm guides the stylus and cartridge (see below) as they trace the record’s grooves. An unbalanced tonearm could drag the stylus across the record’s surface and damage it. For this reason, some high-end turntables include adjustable counterbalance weights that help prevent the stylus from skidding and scratching.
Be patient and gentle with your turntable. Your records will thank you 20 years from now.
The stylus, also known as the needle, emits a slight vibration while following subtle nuances in the record’s sound grooves. The cartridge picks up this vibration and amplifies it. Electric impulses feed into a powerful preamp before reaching the main audio speakers.
Some turntables — especially those with cables marked “phono” — come with factory-installed preamps. Others require a separate preamp purchase.
Finding a turntable with the features you want is key. We’ll discuss two big feature options here: digital recording, and portability.
Using a USB cable and some software, you can save vinyl tracks as digital files to a computer via a turntable with a digital recording option.
Trade magazines and professional reviewers routinely give high marks to USB-equipped turntables for their ability to preserve vintage analog-recorded music. Critics warn that manufacturers who make USB-equipped machines may cut corners in other areas, reducing overall audio quality.
As you shop turntables, you’ll likely notice there are two main categories to choose from: models that are designed to integrate with an existing stereo system, and models that are built as standalone, portable units.
If you’re thinking of getting a portable turntable, consider the unique benefits:
You can take it with you easily.
They often include built-in speakers for easy listening.
Standalone units often include built-in Bluetooth or CD players.
Just don’t forget that there are some compromises, like:
Our bottom line: If you’re a casual listener or you need a turntable you can easily take anywhere, buy a portable model. If you’re buying a turntable for the sound quality, get one that integrates with your existing stereo.
Shopping for a new turntable can be tricky. To the untrained eye, little visible difference exists between a $100 entry-level model and a $2,500 audiophile's dream. To make a long story short, the extra money you'd pay for a high-end turntable goes toward craftsmanship and performance.
But what if you're deliberating between several turntables in the same price range? In such a case, it helps to read the manufacturer’s spec sheet. For example:
A. Dust and dirt can harm both your stylus and your records. Carefully remove unwanted particles from the needle with a stylus brush made of carbon fiber and a dab of cleaning solution. Dust your vinyl with the same type of brush, and gently wipe the records with a mixture of distilled water (never tap water!) and record-cleaning solution. Always store vinyl records vertically in a protective paper or plastic sleeve.
A. That depends on what kind of turntable you have. Some turntables include a preamp; others don't. If you find a turntable that you like that doesn’t include a built-in preamp, you can always buy a preamp separately.
A. While it’s true that digital music is more consistent and readily available, the reality is that most streaming services compress audio to conserve bandwidth — so in most cases, the sound quality you’re getting isn’t as good as it could be. Vinyl records offer uncompromising, uncompressed sound and use analog hardware to reproduce it, so while records often have the occasional click or pop, the sound quality in most cases is superior.
Perhaps most important of all: When you buy records, you own the music, so you can sell, trade, or give away your LPs as you see fit. If you stream or download music, you’re really just renting it. Many vinyl enthusiasts prefer the warm sound of records and enjoy listening without any monthly fees from streaming services.
A die-hard enthusiast would tell you that investing in a turntable and listening to a favorite album from the 1960s is not just about audio quality. It's also about hearing the songs the way the original artists intended them to sound.
A. Vinyl is all the rage right now, and you're likely to find it at a record store near you. Other major online retailers also carry them.