Adam holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Linguistics, and creative writing has always been his greatest passion. For more than 25 years he's been working for several well-known automobile and travel magazines as an editor and expert consultant, but when Adam started his writing path here, at WisePick, it turned out that he's capable of writing practically anything about everything.
Initially being an engineering specialist, Tom has never stopped learning and acquiring other knowledge and skills. Now he’s involved in technical support for a well-known household appliances manufacturer, so no wonder he knows everything about almost everything you buy for your home.
Last updated: August 29, 2021
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There’s never been a better time to own a record player or turntable then right now. Enjoying a massive come back, they have grown in popularity immensely in recent years. People are now finding joy once again in this popular form of entertainment. More and more of us are rediscovering what good quality music used to sound like in the good old days when played on the best record player or turntable.
This is a jam-packed review which selects no less than eight of the very best turntables and record players currently on the market. Focusing our attention on features such as drive type, speeds available, build quality, and Bluetooth compatibility, we also look at any additional features you can find with these products. Furthermore, we discuss the difference between a record player and a turntable and which one would be the most suitable for your individual needs.
Researching the market for you, we present our information in an informative table. Here, we rate each model based on our extensive reviewing knowledge while providing a list of pros and possible cons to look out for. With the addition of a buying guide, we offer answers to some of those most commonly asked questions about such products. We’re thoroughly confident you’ll not only enjoy these reviews but ultimately find yourself able to select the best record player or indeed best turntable to suit your very own needs. We believe this purchase will provide you with some fantastic entertainment for many years to come!
This may be the highest priced turntable here, but with the goal of deriving sheer audio pleasure, this model doesn’t skimp on any musical detail or subtle nuance. A music lover’s dream, the ION is visually stunning, with its walnut finishing and striking clear protective case which finishes off the contemporary look perfectly.
This turntable offers Bluetooth capacity, so you can choose to listen to all your music wirelessly on any speaker that works with Bluetooth here. Additionally, there is an EZ Vinyl/Tape Converter software included with this purchase. It allows you to convert directly and quickly whether through a Mac or PC.
It features a belt drive system which is quiet, a mechanically isolated motor, a non-slip rubber mat, a die-cast heavy aluminum platter, and a low mass straight tonearm, and you can also access here precision dampened cueing and adjustable counterweight! The RCA jacks are fantastically finished in gold plating, while the built-in switchable phono is pre-amplified. It’s completed with adjustable feet and a leveling bubble. Even the controls are brushed aluminum. Not just perfect in audio quality, the ION would not look out of place in any home, making it the ideal addition for all kinds of vinyl lovers.
Customers of the ION Audio Air LP have full praise for the clean sound control this turntable emits. The price is therefore considered by many well worth paying out to gain a higher audio quality. As well as looking great, it’s also regarded as swift when pairing with most Bluetooth speakers.
The Sony PS-LX310BT turntable is a smart system that is in the middle price category. It brings a connection variant that only a few devices of this type have. A wide variety of devices can be wirelessly connected to the record player via Bluetooth. Visually, the device comes in a classic, timeless black style. The design appears to be of high quality. The most important product features at a glance are the Bluetooth interface, the diamond needle, and both phono and line outputs are supported. It has two speeds: 33 1/3 and 45 revolutions/minute.
The Bluetooth interface enables a wireless connection to loudspeakers, soundbars, headphones, and other Bluetooth devices. So you can decide for yourself what you want to hear your favorite records about. Cable clutter is a thing of the past. Alternatively, suitable devices can be connected directly via the built-in output.
The audio level of the records can be adjusted via the amplification switch in such a way that distortion-free music enjoyment is ensured. The Sony turntable has one-step autoplay, which means that the device automatically lowers the tonearm, finds the groove, and plays the music. After the record is over, the tonearm automatically returns to its rest position. The tonearm itself is made of sturdy aluminum construction, which, in addition to stable playback, should ensure clear sound and powerful bass.
The cover of the turntable ensures that the device is completely dustproof. While listening to music, the dust cover should also ensure better stability and less distortion. However, it is possible to take it off if so desired. The turntable is equipped with a belt drive with a robust die-cast aluminum plate.
What stands out?
Tonearm automatically returns to starting position
The Fluance RT81 is a high-fidelity model geared towards capturing and producing audio just as the artist intended it to be heard. Made up from the more premium of components, the Fluance features an AT95E Audio Technica cartridge. This gives the user high performance and outstanding clarity during operation. Complete with a diamond elliptical tipped stylus, this is designed to track the grooves of your vinyl and thus give greater accuracy and precision for that higher of definition audio every time.
Playback is available via the aluminum balanced S-Type tonearm and a selection of RCA line outputs, all gold plated, and a ground terminal ensures generous choice for attaching the required output devices. Additionally, the clarity of its captivating signal is all achievable through its high-quality Texas Instrument Preamp. The Fluance offers 33 1/3 and 45 rpm.
As well as perfection in its audio offering, this model is sleek and stunning, with a solid wood cabinet, walnut finished. This is handcrafted and ensures super isolation from those unwanted vibrations. It achieves this through its isolation feet, rubber slip mat, and aluminum platter. There’s also adjustable counterweight features and that all-important anti-skating function all built into this model.
Customers of the Fluance RT81 love this entire unit, claiming not only does it offer an enriched sound each time it’s used, but it also has a perfect build and more exceptional finishing to match the high quality of its audio rating.
The Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB comes from a company with over five decades of developing audio products. A simplistically designed model, but ultra-sleek visually, this is purely about obtaining a higher listening level every time. Finished in silver or black, this is a professional turntable with a direct drive motor which is high torque. This enables you to access a quicker startup plus the ability to connect it directly to your computer through its USB output. Also, there are three speeds to select here from 33, 45, and 78 rpm, which is rare for turntables.
A high-accuracy selectable pitch lock, quartz controlled, it’s also included along with a slider control for the pitch change. With the ability to select forward and reverse in play capability, you can also access here a start and stop button, with peace of mind each time through the cast aluminum platter with slip mat.
The AT-LP120-USB can be plugged directly to components and provide a selectable internal stereo pre-amplified phono with thoroughly impressive sound quality. What’s more, with this model you instantly receive adapter cables, a USB cable, and Audacity software to convert your favorite vinyl to digital audio files. This software is compatible with both Mac and PC.
Customers of the Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB find the sound quality delivered through this model is near perfection. Many really do hear a difference when upgrading to this turntable from an entry-level player.
The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC is a perfect accompaniment for all those vinyl lovers who don’t want a load of frills from their model – just pure quality audio throughout! Perhaps one of the more plainer looking of turntables visually on this list, what this model can do for your vinyl is anything but simplistic! Its use of an Ortofon 2M red cartridge, pre-installed for the most exceptional of detail retrieval, is just the start. Utilizing a carbon-fiber 8.6-inch tonearm with increased stiffness, the extra platter size of this particular model ensures an improved but equal weight distribution.
The DC power supply is an updated version ensuring more resolute speed stability with the overall result a high-end analog sound – and all at a reasonable cost to achieve it. The motor is a low-noise version and gives effective decoupling, while the isolation feet ensure a stable and protected stance from any vibrations. Smooth rotation is guaranteed every time with all vinyl choices through its precision belt drive and synchronous motor. This motor also boasts a new Sorbothane suspension. With a depth and spaciousness unseen in many turntable options, this model is definitely visually attractive, minimalistic, and piano-gloss finished to sit perfectly in any room.
Customers of the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC claim this is a turntable that rivals those of the more expensive types on the market. With a stunning sound offered through each play time, its craftsmanship is also highly praised by many a satisfied customer.
What are our favorite features?
No frills model
Fantastic pure audio quality
Ortofon 2M red cartridge included
Increased platter size
Low motor noise
Quality sound assured
What could be better?
Higher price tag
Some report ongoing problems with anti-skate element
The Victrola Nostalgic Aviator Wood 8-in-1 Bluetooth Turntable makes our list for the Best Record Player for The Money. With that sense of stepping back in time to the good old days, this immensely nostalgic record player is more than capable of handling just vinyl! Offering three speeds through its turntable of 33 1/3, 45, and 78 rpm, it does offer a built-in stereo speaker – as well as allowing you to effortlessly play music via Bluetooth devices. Added to this are an aux-in and headphone jack, for multi-purpose uses!
Then there’s the built-in CD player, built-in cassette player, and finally an AM/FM radio. As if an eight in one entertainment system wasn’t enough, the receiver actually has the old fashioned rotary tuner ensuring you get to experience the days gone by! With a remote control that offers full functions, the design and layout of this system are just beautiful. The wood is luxurious and real, and the color choice offered is vast. For those who like to record their music, you don’t even need a computer here – with the possibility of recording directly from CD, vinyl, and cassette all directly to USB whenever you choose. Ultimately, this model combines vintage style alongside today’s technology.
Customers of the Victrola Nostalgic Aviator Wood 8-in-1 Bluetooth Turntable love its diversity and multi-functional offering, as well as commenting how well it all works together. The sound quality is claimed to be proper, working perfectly for those more causal of vinyl players.
What makes it stand out?
Eight in one functions!
Built-in stereo speaker
Cd, Cassette, Radio options
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Not considered a regular vinyl solution
Needle quality disputed
More entertainment system than overall record player
The Victrola 50’s Retro 3-Speed Bluetooth Turntable is our pick here for its retro design. This is a fun-filled record player which offers an amazing host of additional features besides just playing vinyl! A most retro style, and available in some funky color choices, this model is a three-speed belt driven product offering 33 1/3, 45, and 78 rpm choices.
There are built-in stereo speakers, providing a fantastic audio level throughout, but it’s also possible to put your audio through other devices as well. Here you can wirelessly Bluetooth your music throughout the room, at up to 33 feet in total range. The USB connection also offers you the choice of playing through a laptop or PC. The software is included with your purchase to enable you to do this with ease. There’s also an aux-in and headphone jack for that more personalized music experience!
Furthermore, the Victrola has a CD facility through its built-in CD player, as well as an AM/FM radio with a tuner. Therefore, the musical possibilities with this product are endless. Adding to the beautiful visual aspect of the most retro model is a backlight on the radio face, as well as stunning silver controls and a faceplate, all inspired by a 50’s theme.
Customers of the Victrola 50’s Retro 3-Speed Bluetooth Turntable find this an extremely vibrant record player which not only looks great but offers a fantastic choice of audio preferences and great sound qualities each time. Its retro characteristics are a massive hit with all customers!
Why are we impressed?
Stunning retro look
Great color choice
What negatives must you be aware of?
Considered by some as a gimmickier record player
Overall sound/volume claimed to be lower quality than expected
The Byron Statics record player comes in a retro design and at the same time has contemporary features. The model is praised in various customer reviews for its sophisticated look and sound that should be outstanding. This complete package is available at affordable conditions.
The turntable is designed not only to play records but also to digitize old recordings. It has an electric motor that drives either a leather belt. It is a belt drive system with a ceramic cartridge.
It’s a turntable with no USB interface but a Bluetooth interface. Thanks to the possibility of coupling to any electronic device, the recordings can be digitized.
The record player without a USB port or a comparable interface is, so to speak, self-contained and designed exclusively for playing music or other sound recordings.
A special feature of the turntable is three available playback speeds, namely 33, 45, and 78 revolutions/minute. Thus, in addition to vinyl records, unlike other devices, the old shellac records can also be played and the valuable recordings digitized.
Another feature is two integrated stereo speakers. If they are not enough, you can connect additional loudspeaker boxes to the turntable via the cinch output on the rear of the device. With a weight of only 5.46 pounds, the Byron Statics is mobile and handy, and a robust handle ensures more safety during transport.
What do we love it for?
Three playback speed
Features two built-in stereo speakers
Has a replacement needle and a vintage suitcase
What were we disappointed with?
Doesn't feature a USB connectivity function
Things to Consider
Now that you’ve had a chance to read through the wonderful models we’ve reviewed in this guide, you should have a clearer idea of what to expect from each type. Yet, before you make that final decision as to the best record player or turntable for your needs, why not take a quick look through the following buying guide? This has been written to expand a little further on the many features we touched upon in the above reviews.
What to get: a record player or a turntable?
A question most commonly asked with such models here is which should I choose – a record player or a turntable? Though it may not immediately seem as though there’s much of a difference here, there actually is. A record player is generally the cheaper of the two and more accessible for it has built-in speakers, alongside numerous other ways of listening to your vinyl through it. The most significant difference with the turntable though is that it doesn’t have built-in speakers or amplification. You, therefore, have to purchase special speakers for vinyl and an amplifier for turntable. However, a turntable is considered the higher end of such products and often has a bigger price tag to match.
In addition to these differences are expert opinions, with many claiming the record player is an adequate audio product for occasional use, whereas the turntable provides greater sound clarity for the more frequent of vinyl players.
Ultimately, the choice of which type is better will primarily come down to personal preference and often rests on the additional features that you wish to see in your purchase.
Features to consider before buying
The most popular features we suggest looking out for before purchasing consist of important ones such as drive types, speed choice, the quality build of the model, connectivity, speaker types, and overall dimensions. There are also additional features some prefer to see when selecting these products.
Drive type: direct-drive vs. belt-drive
Those models with direct drives, such as the Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB, will have their platter attached and this will spin directly from the motor. These are often quicker to start and give more accurate and constant speeds. Models with a belt drive, such as the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC, for example, will have a platter that’s spun via an elastic belt which is attached to the motor. These tend to encourage less shock and vibration and therefore less noise transmission during play.
Most vinyl will come in one of three speeds. This includes 33, 45, and 78 RPM. RPM stands for rotations per minute. Many records tend to be 33 1/3 RPM with some 45 RPM. You will need to ensure that your model accommodates this and look notably harder if you’re planning on playing a record with 78 RPM, such as the Sony PS-LX310BT, as these are usually harder to locate.
Built: stylus, cartridge, and platter
If you have a specific idea of the build of your record player or turntable, you may wish to check the type of stylus/needle that is used, the platter design, and indeed the cartridge which is included with your purchase. Though these may appeal more to those with an increased knowledge of such products, standard cartridges are ceramic stereo ones. But, if you require near perfection from your vinyl, then a cartridge such as the Ortofon 2M Red cartridge, found in the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC will undoubtedly offer a level of detail unlike any other.
Bluetooth and USB availability
If you’re planning to listen to your vinyl on an additional component, such as speakers, phones, or computer, you’ll need to make sure that the model you choose here is Bluetooth compatible or has a USB port. This is more of an issue when it comes to turntables as they have to use an additional component before you can listen to your vinyl through these. If you’re content with just listening through the built-in speakers, models such as the Victrola 50’s Retro 3-Speed Bluetooth Turntable provide adequate audio. However, the Akai Professional BT500 is an excellent example here as it offers both Bluetooth and USB connectivity.
Record players will offer built-in speakers, but you may be limited as to the sound level you can derive from them. For some people, the built-in speakers are enough for their audio needs, such as those in the Victrola Nostalgic Aviator Wood 8-in-1 Bluetooth Turntable. Additionally, you may decide you don’t want to be bothering with additional accessories such as speakers to play your vinyl on, mainly if you’re intending to travel with your record player, so a good set of built-in speakers is crucial here.
Record players and indeed turntables are not usually bulky products. Gone are the days of the stacked hi-fi’s and now it’s more a case of streamlined, portable, and compact models, as demonstrated by the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC! However, if you’re opting for a complete entertainment system, such as the Victrola Nostalgic Aviator Wood 8-in-1 Bluetooth Turntable, you may have to be prepared for the extra room it requires and its overall bulkiness.
We’ve included a selection of record players here that offer more features than just vinyl players. Here you can look at added extras such as CD players, radio, and even cassette players. In addition to these, you may also want to ensure that your record player or turntable has a protective cap/lid that will ensure it is kept in peak condition throughout use.
For example, our top record player pick, the Sony PS-LX310BT, offers much more than an excellent vinyl playback. You’ll be able to use it as a CD or cassette player, a radio, and also record your favorite vinyl.
Aim to keep all your vinyl in suitable covers. Whether that be the ones they come with or whether you have to invest in a couple of plastic covers. Never be tempted to leave them out without protection.
Consider a box, cupboard or shelve to store your vinyl on or in. Make sure this is away from floor level, out of the direct sun and in a cool area of the room. Damp conditions will result in a deterioration of the covers and sleeves and over time damage the vinyl itself.
Adapt a cleaning routine and regularly clean both your vinyl and the record player or turntable itself. Microfiber cloths are fantastic at this as they do not scratch but rather absorb any oils while hanging onto grime and dust. Be sure to de-fluff the needle/stylus regularly as well.
Keep the lid of your record player or turntable shut when not in use. This way it has less time to collect dust and dirt when you aren’t playing your vinyl on it. It will also protect it from any other possible damage.
Try to keep your turntable or record player on an even flat surface whenever it’s in use. This not only ensures a grander sound but can prevent against damage of tipping or bumping, therefore reducing scratches or dents to this and the vinyl played upon it.
As you can see from the various models reviewed here, record players and turntables come in a variety of price brackets. However, these prices can be roughly categorized dependent on the features or additional requirements you expect to see in your chosen model.
As a guide, record players are usually the cheaper of products with prices tending to start around the $40 mark for a basic model and extend to just over the $100 mark for those with more entrainment features included.
For a good quality turntable, you’re looking at the $200 plus mark as a minimum with a variety of models here fetching as much as up to the $1000 mark.
Though both play vinyl, a record player will have built-in speakers while a turntable has none. Therefore, you can immediately start playing your record player and get instant audio. However, you will need to purchase additional components for the turntable. This is the most significant difference, but they do both play vinyl exceptionally well. You may prefer to choose your own speaker solution rather than being limited to the built-in ones, or such built-in speakers may well be enough for your needs, sound wise.
As with all vinyl, new or old, the rotating speed will usually be printed on the label of the record itself. It’s most likely this will be 33 RPM or 45 RPM though. It’s then just a matter of locating this number and changing your record player or turntable accordingly to accommodate this number.
If your turntable has a built-in pre-amp, you’ll be able to play your vinyl through this without needing to purchase separate equipment. However, for those without pre-amplifiers built into them, you will need a different device that will process the output and produce a line level signal to your speakers.
It’s strongly recommended that you clean your vinyl regularly. There are two main reasons for this. One, for the obvious increased sound quality of your music and two, for the prolonged life of the vinyl itself. Dirt present on vinyl can build up to harmful levels, therefore, creating noises that you don’t want to be hearing as your records play. It also clogs up your turntable or record player and prevents it from working to its best capacity. Cleaning your vinyl can be as simple as running a microfiber cloth over it and doesn’t have to be expensive.
We hope these detailed reviews have increased your appetite for such beautiful products. More so, we feel that by now you’re armed with enough information as to which turntable or record player could best suit your needs.
Our top-rated model and the best turntable is the ION Audio Air LP chosen for its pure ability to offer a level of audio perfection that no vinyl lover should be without. The best record player we believe is the Sony PS-LX310BT. This is due to its amazing features while providing excellent quality audio results. Third, on the list is the Fluance RT81 as we think this is a visually attractive model which has crystal clear audio to match.
In concluding, we know there’s something for every vinyl and music lover in each one of these reviewed models. The only problem we foresee now is you having to make up your mind as to exactly which one to choose!