Direct descendant of the 19th century phonograph, a household staple since the 1960s, and the best friend of disc jockeys since the 1980s, the vinyl turntable is an instrument resolutely steeped in nostalgia.
Since its comeback in the 2010s with the vintage fashion, the offer has considerably widened, and it is easy to get lost between the different models offered.
Belt or motorized models, to decorate, scratch or simply enjoy your favorite old vinyl records, there are as many uses as users.
The prices can also vary considerably, and the choice becomes even more delicate.
To make the best choice, don’t panic: follow this guide!
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Best Turntables for Audiophiles
1. Technics SL1210 MK 7
With its simple and clean design, the SL1210 MK7 from Technics hides its game well.
It is by far the most praised turntable by connoisseurs.
With its direct drive system, i.e. a rotation driven directly by the motor and without a belt, it is perfectly suited for scratcher!
Another key feature for this particular audience is the LED lighting on the needle, which allows you to see the grooves clearly before resting the arm, which is essential for DJs who mix in dark places.
Other popular features include reverse playback capability and silicone feet to reduce vibration.
It has a slot to keep a spare cartridge.
Very useful for this model which plays, which is rare enough to be noticed, the 78 rpm.
If all turntables are adapted to the classic 33 and 45 rpm, the reading of 78 rpm remains relatively anecdotal on the market.
It is possible here, provided that you have the appropriate cell.
With its more than 9 kilos, it is clearly not a portable model.
It will not satisfy the nostalgic novices looking for a practical and decorative vintage object.
Requiring the purchase of additional cells and with an optional preamplifier, not to mention its consequent selling price, it is reserved for connoisseurs.
2. Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-SV
Direct drive, 78 rpm playback… The Audio-Technica ATLP120X is reminiscent of the high-end models already mentioned.
Also a well-known brand, it offers here a material perfectly adapted to DJs.
Some features and accessories are also provided, for the greatest pleasure of the initiated.
A cartridge is included, even if heavy users recommend to invest in a better quality cartridge.
Another highly appreciated feature is the USB function.
It allows vinyl lovers to record their classics in digital format.
The 2 meter cable is also included.
However, some features present on the previous models have disappeared, which is generally deplored.
The operation is entirely manual: no automatic stop and the arm must be moved by hand as well.
Another big omission is the reverse playback, which professional turntable users seem to miss.
With its price much lower than the Technics models, in particular, it is a very interesting middle ground for professionals who want to acquire quality at a lower cost.
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3. Numark PT01
Square of 30 centimeters on a side for barely 2 kilos, the Numark PT01 Scratch is the transportable model par excellence.
That’s why it’s used by many artists, especially street performers.
Often mentioned, its solidity, essential to guarantee its durability even when it is regularly abused on the road.
Beware, as its name indicates, this model is mainly addressed to scratches! Very surprising point, its drive is by belt.
It is generally established that scratching should be done in direct drive, because it facilitates the handling of the disc by hand.
Here, however, the professionals do not see any disadvantage.
Once again, the quality and strength of the belt means that it can hold its own.
It can read 78 rpm and has a USB port.
The possibilities are thus multiplied for those who want to play rare vinyl records as well as for those who want to record their original productions.
However, some deplore the poor quality of the crossfader, which allows to modulate the effects on the track.
Also to be noted, the amplification system is insufficient for some users.
Two points that can increase the price of this turntable, although it is not very expensive.
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4. Thorens TD402DD
Back with the Thorens TD402DD on the top of the range, and the price that goes with it, but simplified to be accessible to most people.
Main positive point: the turntable is semi-automatic.
It offers start and stop without any manipulation.
Another appreciable quality, an integrated preamplifier, very important for an already expensive turntable.
The absence of need of assembly, which makes the turntable usable as of its reception, is put forward by the mark.
However, some buyers indicate that the assembly of the counterweight can be laborious.
However, some concessions were necessary.
For example, it is impossible to listen to 78 rpm vinyl records on this model.
It would also have been possible to add a USB function which is not present here, which will eliminate the model for those who wish to digitize.
No reverse playback either.
We can imagine that mixers will prefer specialized decks. It is however based on a direct drive system, which makes it suitable for scratching.
What puts it in the top half of the ranking is mainly its undeniable quality of manufacture.
Thorens is a Swiss company whose reliability is indisputable.
It specializes in record players and offers a range of products that are acclaimed by experts.
5. Pro-Ject Debut III
Another extremely appreciated brand, Pro-Ject offers models mainly reserved for connoisseurs.
This is the case of its Debut III model, for which “debut” clearly does not mean that it is intended for beginners.
Indeed, the first obstacle is the necessity to assemble the whole turntable.
Its laborious assembly should therefore be carried out by a user who already has a solid knowledge in the field.
It is undoubtedly a high quality turntable.
The sound produced, after the purchase of an amplifier not included, is irreproachable.
Its quality-price ratio is excellent, but it is to be expected that for such a high performance model, it has very few features.
No USB, no automation, no reverse playback or 78 rpm.
Even switching from 33 rpm to 45 rpm speed has to be done manually, and there is no button for that, unlike on most models.
Belt-driven model, it is more intended for listening to vinyl records than for mixing.
Its minimalist aesthetic will satisfy purists and the included protective cover will satisfy even the most maniacal.
It’s a little jewel that needs to be taken care of and for which you can consider buying accessories or spare parts to make it a little more functional.
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We start the second part of our ranking with a model intended for a radically different audience.
No world-famous brand, no professional functionality, but this Udreamer model will still satisfy a large number of users.
If we can talk about low-end, the turntable is among the most qualitative in affordable prices and for those who do not wish to scratch or mix.
What we particularly appreciate is its aesthetics.
The design is simple, it is not imposing, but its wooden finish gives it a certain charm for those who are looking for a decorative object as much as a vinyl player.
A certain fragility of the device is to be noted.
Its durability is therefore dependent on the care that is taken.
Technologically, this time, the model is very modern.
Indeed, it offers a USB connection, which allows you to record, as well as a Bluetooth function to play songs from your phone directly on the speakers of the turntable.
The speaker is integrated.
It is possible, and desirable for some, to connect other speakers through its RCA port.
One could reproach it for not being entirely automated.
The stop is automatic, but the arm must be put down manually.
A much lesser evil if you are looking for authenticity at a reasonable price!
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7. Ion Audio Mustang LP
As much a fan of old cars as of old songs, the Ion Mustang model is made for you.
A true collector’s item, its aesthetics are the emblem of an entire era.
But its qualities are not only visual.
Equipped with a USB port, an interesting feature as we have already seen, it will allow you to digitize your favorite vinyls.
Lightweight, it is easily transportable.
To add to its deeply retro features, it is one of the few turntables to offer an FM antenna, to listen to the radio like in the good old days.
The speaker is integrated, but it is recommended to invest in better quality speakers to amplify the somewhat weak sound noticed by some users.
Its arm is not automatic and it does not offer a Bluetooth function, which justifies its seventh place in our ranking, since this is what we can expect from a modern model and intended for the general public.
In short, it is a decorative object and a quality turntable for those who are not very demanding or connoisseurs.
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8. Lauson YT077
Another object in the pure vintage tradition, the Lauson YT077 turntable is a real little piece of furniture.
Its legs, which can be folded away, allow you to turn it into a small coffee table once the case is closed.
Interesting for those who do not plan to use the turntable very often.
Despite its retro style, it offers essential features for a modern model.
The USB function allows recording.
The bluetooth function makes it a speaker for your phone.
Other devices can be connected through its auxiliary port.
Be careful though, like many models in this price range, it may be better to invest in external speakers, those integrated lacking a little power.
The quality of manufacture is not as good as that of the biggest names in turntables either, but to extend its life, a replacement needle is provided.
Obviously, no need to hope to scratch from this device.
But for an occasional and not very demanding listener, it has the advantage of being quite accessible and easy to use.
Visually very similar to the high-end models previously presented, the Viflykoo turntable does not claim to be equal to them in quality.
Its compact aspect makes it an interesting choice for those who would like to rediscover the pleasure of vinyl without getting bogged down, but it is not particularly adapted to the fine connoisseurs.
The main asset is its quality-price ratio! Very inexpensive, it is nevertheless faithful to its main function: spinning records.
Like most cheap turntables, the integrated speaker will not be enough for a really pleasant listening.
However, its very low price allows you to remedy this problem without having to spend a lot of money on external speakers.
Some features are very interesting for a turntable that we didn’t expect so much.
It has a USB port for encoding vinyl records into mp3.
Like others, it turns into a speaker thanks to its bluetooth functionality.
It also offers an auto-stop function, interesting to avoid the needle to wear out too fast, which can be more fragile on this range.
10. Victrola Classic 6-in-1
To finish this ranking, we have chosen a model which, despite some technical problems, deserves its place in our selection thanks to its originality.
Aesthetically, first of all, the Victrola Classic 6-in-1 is unlike any other.
It is imposing, but it really looks like something our grandparents would have had.
What’s most amazing is its six features that will delight all generations.
Whatever media you’re into, you can play it on this turntable.
Vinyl, of course, for the older ones, or the young fans of vintage fashion.
Radio, a feature rarely offered.
Even rarer, you can play cassettes and CDs on your Victrola.
And for the youngest still, we find here the bluetooth function that allows you to link your phone and read all the music you want.
A family object, therefore, since everyone will find its account.
Big absence however, the USB port.
If Victrola is not a big name of the turntable, it is however a specialized brand.
We could have expected a quality higher than the average.
Alas, some problems are to be deplored on this model.
Many users mention in particular difficulties to switch on, or to switch from one mode to another (turntable, cassette player, bluetooth…).
The turntable does not seem to break down frequently, but it is often necessary to wait a few moments before being able to turn it on again, which is of course a big problem.
Also, and this is to be expected, a lack of power in the speakers could push to invest in external speakers.
This is what justifies its last place in our ranking, despite its undeniable charm (we think particularly of its rotary dial for FM stations).
Its price is far from the high-end models, but it can be considered as high considering the problems often encountered.
Our buying guide
As we said, there are as many possible uses as there are users of the turntable.
You should therefore ask yourself some essential questions before making your choice between the many models proposed here, or that you will find everywhere on the web or in specialized stores.
A turntable that sits in a living room to listen to a few vinyl records for nostalgia will not necessarily be the same as the DJ’s turntable that is put to the test during scratch sessions.
What do you want to do with your turntable? There’s no need to go for semi-professional models if your only purpose is recreational listening.
There is also no harm in simply wishing to acquire a superb decorative object for your retro decoration.
From less than 100 euros to more than 1000 euros, the budget you will give to your turntable depends on the use you will make of it.
Plan your spending limits in advance, while respecting a few requirements. For a decorative object, you won’t have to spend much.
If you want to use the turntable as a mixing instrument, you will have to spend a lot of money.
When choosing a turntable, it is very important to consider the budget for additional accessories or spare parts.
For many models it will be necessary to invest in external speakers and amplifiers.
Some parts can also be changed or broken, such as the diamond, and can be a blow if you use your turntable intensively.
There is of course a great visual dimension in the choice of your instrument.
The turntable can quickly become imposing, and you must reserve a place of choice to highlight it.
Beware, most visually impressive turntables are more decorative objects than true quality products. However, this detail can be fixed with the replacement of some parts.
In addition to its pleasing appearance, find out the size and weight of the model you choose.
A turntable that is too heavy will not be supported by all furniture.
If you plan to travel with it or perform with it, it shouldn’t be too bulky either.
There are many obstacles that can get in the way of your record player.
From the moment you assemble it, make sure you’re comfortable with the mechanics of the turntable if you’re going for a highly technical model that isn’t sold as a turnkey unit.
Ask about the replacement of parts, which is quite common.
Some models will also require you to master the change of platter rotation speed manually.
Check all these characteristics before making your choice, to be sure not to launch into an inaccessible project and for which you would invest unnecessarily.
FAQs about turntables
What is a cell?
The cell, however small, is the key element of your turntable.
Equipped with its diamond (also called needle or stylus), it is this pickup that will analyze the grooves of the vinyl to allow the machine to produce the sound.
It is this particular element that will make the quality of the whole turntable.
The better the cell, the purer the sound.
Placed at the end of the arm, it is always removable and replaceable.
Why change cells?
There are two main reasons why you should change your cell.
The first is that many models offer basic cells of just decent quality.
Connoisseurs will almost always change the cell of the machine they are buying for a better and more accurate one.
Different shapes, different weights… It should also be chosen according to the use you will make of your turntable.
This is the second reason.
First, think about the records you will play.
For a 78 rpm, it is impossible to keep the same cell as for a 33 or 45 rpm.
So, scratcher will have to invest in suitable cells to avoid damaging the vinyl.
Obviously, the simple wear of the part will require its replacement if you use it frequently.
How to change a cell?
This will obviously depend on the model, but most of the cells are simply unscrewable.
You just have to remove the previous one to fit the new one.
However, some models will require more knowledge.
Remember that it is the cell that carries the needle, and that it is absolutely necessary to keep a perfect alignment if you want to obtain a correct sound and, above all, not to damage the diamond or the vinyl you will be playing.
Read the instructions thoroughly before choosing your model, and make sure you have a mounting plan for the particular cells.
There is virtually no room for error.
What is a crossfader?
The crossfader is the essential tool of the DJ.
On mixers, this is the knob that you turn up and down to adjust the different tracks.
Some turntables are equipped with it, in particular to modulate the balance from left to right.
It is obviously a totally useless element for a simple lounge listening.
What is scratch?
Scratching appeared in the 1980s.
By placing his hand on the vinyl, the DJ will play with the speed of playback, producing sounds perfectly recognizable and typical of hip-hop music.
From front to back, we give effect to the track and change the tones.
It’s an art that may seem simple, but it’s actually very precise and requires a lot of practice to master.
How to encode a vinyl in mp3?
This is sometimes the only feature that turntable buyers are looking for.
You have old vinyl records that you love, but you would like to be able to listen to them anywhere without having to take out your old turntable: it is possible to convert your vinyl tracks into mp3.
This encoding requires a turntable equipped with a USB port.
You will then have to connect the turntable to a computer, and with the help of an adapted software (like Audacity), you will be able to record the track played on your machine.
Is it necessary to invest in speakers?
No! We have repeatedly mentioned the relatively poor quality of the speakers built into most turntables.
Most high-end machines don’t have them at all, since it’s actually quite complicated to integrate quality hardware into this rather small object.
If you opt for a model without pre-amplification, you will obviously have to invest.
If you like a powerful sound and your goal is to listen to your vinyl very loudly, you will also almost inevitably have to buy external speakers.
However, it’s perfectly possible to make do with the turntable speakers if you don’t plan to play the music loud and aren’t particularly interested in power.
So it’s not a mandatory step, just preferable in many cases.
It would be appropriate for us to finally recommend you the article that we have placed at the top of our ranking.
And yet! If we had to keep only one of the presented models, it would be the Audio-Technica ATLP120X, which we ranked second.
We appreciate first of all its more than affordable price for a definitely high-end turntable.
Some details are obviously to be reviewed, and you may have to change the cartridge depending on the use you will make of it, but it allows you to afford quality without breaking the bank.
With its multiple features, it is suitable for turntable professionals as well as for beginners and simple vinyl lovers.
For an advanced use, the replacement of parts is easy.
For a simple use, there is nothing to fear with this model.
Its disadvantages are really small compared to its great qualities.
The possibility to encode in mp3 with the USB functionality is a non-negligible plus.
We simply appreciate its simple and pure design, available in black or silver.
A real favorite to enjoy your favorite tunes, mix or scratch.
Technics SL1210 MK 7
Pro-Ject Debut III
Ion Audio Mustang LP
Victrola Classic 6-in-1
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