Top 5 Vintage Turntable Brands – Combining the Good Old with the Brand New

Many years have likely passed since your parent’s old vinyl record collection was dusted off in the basement or garage, but the vinyl revival is finally here and sticking around. Vinyl records offer a sound quality and physical feeling to music that digital tracks just can’t match, and more and more people are making the switch from computers back to turntables. If you’re one of them, you may be eager to know which good old turntable manufacturers are still there and deliver best vintage turntables combined with new style and most advanced features.

Today’s turntables are undoubtedly modern and offer a huge variety of features that can leave the uninitiated buyer’s head spinning. To make it easier to jump into playing vinyl records on a modern turntable, we’ve put together reviews of our five favorite turntables on the market today. Our process compared the huge array of technical features that separate these turntables and combed through hundreds of customer reviews. The end result is a set of turntables that offers something for everyone, from those on a budget to those who are looking for the all-around best turntable no matter the price.

Top 5 Vintage Turntable Brands 2018

The table below highlights our picks, and you can read detailed reviews of each of the five turntables below. Plus, check out our Buying Guide to find out what features can make or break a new turntable.

Name and Features Image Rating Price
1. Akai Professional BT500 (Editor’s Choice)
Summary: An advance turntable featuring everything we might desire, from the excellent build and sound quality to Bluetooth compatibility. You don't need any wires anymore, just connect this turntable to Bluetooth speakers. Also, it's easy to use, which is good for beginners.
Akai-1
2. TEAC TN-300 (Runner-up)
Summary: TEAC has the excellent build quality combined with a nice look. The wooden base helps to reduce vibrations, and the aluminum platter and belt drive are also designed to reduce record wobble for a high-fidelity vinyl playback. Integrated USB port enables recording of vinyls to digital audio files.
TEAC-1
3. Rega’s RP2 (Best Performance Turntable)
Summary: Rega planar is well-known among audiophiles. It uses a phenolic resin platter, a low vibration motor, and a hand-built tonearm. All this contributes to amazing sound quality for the price. However, it has no pre-amp, so you will need to buy an external amplifier.
Rega-1
4. Audio Technica AT-LP60BK (Budget Pick)
Summary: This Audio Technica is perfect for beginners. It's fully automatic, easy to use, and the price is really affordable. The turntable features a non-replaceable, though well-built cartridge and a replaceable diamond needle. You can also upgrade it by connecting to an external amp.
AudioTechnica-1
5. Denon DP-300F
Summary: The Denon is an excellent entry-level turntable that can be easilly upgraded if necessary. It is rather inexpensive, but provides a good sound quality and reduces vibrations well thanks to several smart features included.
Denon-1

Detailed Product Reviews

Features
  • Speeds: 33 1/3 and 45 rpm
  • Dual Magnet cartridge with replaceable stylus
  • Die-cast anti-resonance aluminum platter
  • Drive: belt drive
  • RCA output cables
  • Built-in switchable phono pre-amplifier
  • Isolated DC motor
  • Fully automatic operation
  • Dust cover
  • Wireless streaming to any Bluetooth speaker
  • Leveling bubble with adjustable feet

OVERALL RATING: 10 out of 10

Akai

For the serious audiophile, this turntable from Akai has almost everything you could want. Because this player is catering to a more advanced audience, the price tag is the heftiest of the turntables in our roundup. However, for those looking for the best audio quality short of spending into the thousands of dollars, this turntable is an excellent choice.

The secret to the amazing audio quality is the attention paid to the turntable itself. The platter is die-cast aluminum and uses a belt-driven motor like all of the other turntables we reviewed. However, the motor is designed to be mechanically isolated from the rest of the player so as to drastically reduce vibrations. The beautifully finished base has a rubber non-slip mats beneath each foot that further isolate the turntable from vibration. Finally, the turntable has a built-in bubble level so that you can ensure there’s no record wobble when playing back your vinyls.

What else contributes to perfect sounding?

The tonearm is the other source of audio quality for this record player. The arm itself is fully automatic, and its lightweight design allows high precision when tuning the needle weight on each record. The height and anti-skate adjustments are easy to use. The turntable comes with a high-quality AT95E cartridge, which can be easily upgraded for those looking to raise the sound quality even more.

With sound quality handled well, Akai took this turntable one step further and added a variety of ways to listen. Unlike most current turntables, the Akai can pair wirelessly with Bluetooth speakers. It also has an auxiliary input jack, enabling you to use the built-in pre-amp (which itself produces great sound quality) and Bluetooth compatibility to play music from other devices. If desired, the pre-amp can be bypassed to an aftermarket amplifier to further improve sound quality and raise the volume.

PROS:
  • Excellent sound quality thanks to vibration isolation
  • Comes with high-quality AT95E cartridge
  • Bluetooth compatible

CONS:
  • Cannot play 78-rpm vinyls

Features
  • Speeds: 33 and 45 rpm
  • Audio-technica VM (MM) type cartridge
  • Aluminum die-cast platter
  • Drive: belt drive
  • Built-in MM-type preamp
  • Built-in USB digital output and analog phono/line output

OVERALL RATING: 9.5 out of 10

TEAC

TEAC is a well-known brand in the niche of turntables. Originally founded as the Tokyo Electro Acoustic Company in 1953, TEAC combine their solid many-years experience and the latest developments to create the best all-in-one record players and vintage-style turntables available in the market.

TEAC’s TN-300 turntable is pricey, but one of the nicest turntables currently in the market for both sound quality and appearance.

A quick look at the turntable lets you know that it’s a solid build quality – the base is made of a single slab of polished wood, and the components are stylishly minimal. But there’s more to that polished design than just aesthetics – the light weight of the wooden base actually helps to reduce vibrations when a record is spinning, leading to better playback quality. The aluminum platter and belt drive are also designed to reduce record wobble for the highest fidelity playback.

This turntable is also extremely easy to use. The switch between 33 1/3- and 45-rpm records does not require any more changes than flipping a switch on the top of the turntable. The arm is fully automatic, and controls for the arm height and a skating adjustment are inconspicuously located on the base of the arm for fine tuning the playback tone. The turntable can be connected via included RCA out cables to an amplifier or directly to powered speakers using the built-in phono equalizer. Although the phono can be upgraded, the built-in phono is already of high quality. However, there is no Bluetooth capability to connect to wireless speakers.

Extra great features of this TEAC

The turntable comes with a universal MM-style Audio Technica cartridge with a diamond-tipped stylus, which offers excellent playback and can also be easily upgraded to get even more sound of your record’s grooves.

Another nice feature of this turntable is that it has an integrated USB port for connecting to your computer. This enables recording vinyls to digital audio files for those looking to digitize their record collection.

PROS:
  • Excellent build quality with wooden base
  • High-fidelity vinyl playback
  • Easy to use and all main components can be upgraded if needed

CONS:
  • No Bluetooth capability
  • Cannot play 78-rpm vinyls

Features
  • Speeds: 33 and 45 rpm
  • Rega Carbon MM cartridge
  • Hand-assembled Rega RB220 tonearm
  • Float-glass Optiwhite platter
  • Drive: belt drive
  • No built-in amplifier

OVERALL RATING: 9.0 out of 10

Rega

Rega’s turntable offers audiophile quality at a price that is far more accessible than similarly-featured turntables, which makes it one of the best turntables under $1000 – almost a halfway under, actually.

The gem of this turntable is the tonearm, which was hand-assembled by Rega and is lauded by customers as among the best tonearms they have seen even compared to turntables that cost in the thousands of dollars. The cartridge at the end of the arm is a high-quality Rega Carbon magnetic cartridge, which provides excellent sound quality and can be readily upgraded for those looking to get even higher playback performance. Controls for the tonearm, including arm weight and anti-skating, are located at the base of the arm and enable precision control. The only downside to the tonearm is that the RCA cables were hard-wired into the arm, so that after-market interconnects cannot be used to replace the wiring.

Rega was invented for true audiophiles

Another great feature of this turntable is the drive system. Instead of a die-cast aluminum platter, the Rega turntable uses a phenolic resin platter underlain by a specialized low vibration motor. These upgrades over lower quality turntables drastically reduce record wobble and vibration hum – two of the primary detractors of sound quality. Although the system isn’t fully suspended, as is the case on truly top-end turntables, the vibration reduction is significant for a unit at this price point.

The major downside to this turntable for the average user is that it truly is designed for audiophiles. It has no built-in phono equalizer, so it cannot be readily used with speakers and instead requires connection to an after-market amplifier. In addition, there are no non-essential features such as Bluetooth capability or a USB port.

PROS:
  • Amazing sound quality for the price
  • Hand-built tonearm
  • Phenolic resin platter and low vibration motor

CONS:
  • No built-in pre-amp
  • No Bluetooth or USB capabilities
  • Cannot play 78-rpm record

Features
  • Speeds: 33 1/3 and 45 rpm
  • Integral Dual Magnet Audio-Technica phono cartridge with replaceable diamond stylus
  • Anti-resonance, die-cast aluminum platter
  • Drive: belt drive
  • RCA output cables
  • Built-in switchable phono pre-amplifier
  • DC servo motor
  • Fully automatic operation
  • Removable hinged dust cover

OVERALL RATING: 8.5 out of 10

AudioTechnica

For listeners on a budget or who just want to dip their toe into the vinyl world without diving in fully, this turntable from Audio Technica is a great budget choice. At under $100, this turntable offers decent sound quality and, importantly, has just the threshold of build quality required to ensure that it won’t damage your record collections like cheaper turntables might.

This turntable is built with beginners in mind. First, the turntable is fully automatic, meaning that once you start a record, the player will automatically return the needle arm to its holder when the record ends – a useful feature for those not familiar with record players.

Second, the turntable has a built-in pre-amp that enables you to connect it directly to a set of speakers without a receiver in between (the speakers must have their own power source). The pre-amp is the main hindrance to better sound quality on this turntable and cannot be replaced without upgrading the entire turntable. However, for those looking to hook their turntable into a more advanced sound system, the pre-amp can be switched off and the turntable connected to an amplifier using the included RCA output cables. This turntable is also available with Bluetooth, albeit for nearly twice the price, to enable a wireless connection to Bluetooth-enabled speakers.

Good build at an affordable price

In terms of the turntable build, it uses a die-cast aluminum platter built for 33 1/3-rpm records. An adapter to enable playing 45-rpm records is included with the turntable, although the player cannot play pre-1950’s 78-rpm records. The turntable uses an Integrated Dual Magnet cartridge with a diamond-tipped stylus. While the cartridge quality is good, it is also not replaceable – so if that breaks for any reason, the entire turntable will need to be trashed. The needle itself is easy to replace with an inexpensive spare.

This turntable also comes in a USB-enabled version for roughly $30 extra. The USB output enables recording vinyl records to digital MP3s on your computer. The unit must be purchased with the USB option, as it cannot be added later.

PROS:
  • Inexpensive
  • Fully automatic
  • Options for USB output or Bluetooth

CONS:
  • Cannot play 78-rpm records
  • Pre-amp limits sound quality
  • Cartridge is not replaceable

Features
  • Speeds: 33 1/3 or 45 rpm
  • Removable MM cartridge
  • Die-cast aluminum
  • Drive: belt drive
  • DC servo motor
  • Fully automatic operation
  • Built-in phono preamp

OVERALL RATING: 8.0 out of 10

Denon

This turntable from Denon is an excellent entry-level turntable that offers a solid mix of playback quality and price, with plenty of room to upgrade as your music collection grows.

The tonearm is fully automatic and comes with a magnetic MM cartridge. Although the included cartridge does not provide amazing playback, it is easily removed and upgraded. Many users found that the controls to balance the tonearm were difficult to use, which can be a source of frustration with this turntable.

More about the build

The turntable itself uses an aluminum platter and is suitable for 33 1/3- or 45-rpm records. It offers several features to reduce vibrations. The first is a heavy base, which helps to reduce vibrations from the stand to the turntable. The second is a 5-mm thick turntable sheet that uses hologram analysis to reduce vibrations as your record plays.

The turntable comes with a built-in pre-amp that can be turned on and off via a simple switch. This makes it easy to install your own amplifier later via RCA outputs and bypass any changes to sound quality introduced by the built-in pre-amp.

Unfortunately, there are no options to connect to Bluetooth speakers or to record vinyls to digital audio files using this turntable.

PROS:
  • Inexpensive
  • Moderate vibration reduction
  • Built-in pre-amp

CONS:
  • No Bluetooth or USB capability
  • Tonearm adjustments are difficult
  • Cannot play 78-rpm vinyls

Buying Guide

Now that you’ve reviewed our five favorite turntables, it’s important to understand what features go into making a turntable stand out from the competition and that can play into your decision on what turntable is right for you.

Speeds

Vinyl records come in different size standards – 7, 10, and 12 inches – played at 33 1/3, 45, and 78 rpm, respectively. The oldest records available were recorded at 78 rpm back in 1900–1920, and after World War II, 33 1/3 (often referred to as the 33 rpm) and 45 rpm mainly replaced the old 78 rpm format. All turntables on our list play newer 33 and 45 rpm records, therefore, check carefully whether the record player you intend to buy can play all the records from your collection.

Cartridge and stylus

turntable_cartridgeThe cartridge that comes with a turntable can make a huge difference in sound quality, since this is the component that is actually translating the grooves in the record into music. All of the cartridges for the turntables in our roundup are moving magnet (MM) type cartridges as opposed to the alternative moving coil (MC) type cartridges. MM cartridges are often preferred because they can be easily replaced, for those looking to make a significant upgrade to their turntable, and because the stylus can also be easily replaced when it wears down. MC cartridges are lighter, allowing them to provide slightly better tracking and thus sound quality. However, the stylus cannot be replaced at home. Upgrading the MM cartridge that comes with your turntable typically costs around $100, although there is no upper limit on how expensive cartridges can be.

The stylus, or needle, is also a secondary consideration. Most styluses included with turntables are diamond-type needles because they provide solid sound quality and last for hundreds of hours of use. Sapphire-type needles are also available for some cartridges and provide a slight boost in sound quality, but must be replaced every 50-100 hours to prevent degrading playback and wear on your vinyls.

Vibration dampening

All of the turntables in our round-up were belt-driven turntables, and there’s a good reason for this – belt-driven players tend to cause far less record vibration than direct-driven players. The former separate the motor from the turntable itself, whereas in a direct-drive turntable the motor is directly spinning the record and likely introducing a large degree of vibration that can negatively affect playback fidelity. Vibration dampening can also be influenced by the turntable’s base material and weight, as well as by the type of platter used – die-cast aluminum or, in the case of the Rega turntable, a phenolic resin platter. Higher quality (and more expensive) turntables fully suspend the record from the base to reduce vibration even further.

Pre-amp

pro-ject-aplifierWhether or not a turntable has a built-in pre-amp or phono equalizer determines whether it can be connected directly to a pair of powered speakers, like computer speakers, or whether it requires buying an after-market amplifier. Having to buy an amplifier can greatly increase the actual price of a turntable setup, but can also dramatically increase sound quality and allow more customization of output settings. If you plan on upgrading to an amplifier later, make sure that the turntable you choose can be switched to bypass the built-in pre-amp – these pre-amps often negatively alter sound output relative to an after-market amplifier. If your turntable has no pre-amp, and you need to buy one, there is a wide range of them available on the market. You might want to consider affordable DJ PRE II or Pro-Ject, or more pricey Yamaha.

Secondary functions

It’s also worth considering in your choice of turntable whether secondary features, like Bluetooth compatibility or a USB output, are important to you. If you already own a pair of high-quality Bluetooth speakers or know that you want to be able to output the sound from your turntable wirelessly, then it is worth looking specifically for turntables – or amplifiers – that can offer Bluetooth. In addition, if digitizing your record collection is important to you, a USB output to connect your turntable to a computer may be a necessary feature. However, note that digitizing records can be done cheaply compared to the cost of choosing a turntable with this specific function.

Conclusion

Vinyl records are back in style, and audio manufacturers have met the revival with a wide range of turntable options that offer performance playback from this classic media. The number of modern turntables has proliferated so quickly that it can be difficult for someone new to vinyl to tell which features are worthwhile, and which are just hype. Our guide gives you straightforward reviews of our five favorite vinyl players and lets you know what to look for when choosing a new turntable.

vinyl-infographics

10 Total Score
Akai Professional BT500 - Editor's Choice

Out of all the turntables we reviewed, our overall favorite was the Akai Professional BT500. Although the price sets it above the entry-level models in our round-up, the features that it brings to the table are well worth the price. Sound quality is excellent thanks to the detail that Akai paid to reduce vibrations, from the lightweight wooden base to the special wobble-reducing design of the aluminum platter. Plus, the built-in phono equalizer is of good enough quality to suffice for most users sound quality needs. With all those features, there will be little need for most listeners to ever upgrade the player components. But what makes the Akai player even better is that it can grow with its users, since the cartridge is replaceable and the phono can be bypassed to connect to an aftermarket amplifier. Plus, the player is Bluetooth compatible. For all these reasons, the Akai Professional BT500 is our favorite overall vinyl player on the market today.

Cartridge and stylus quality
10
Vibration dampening
10
Upgrade and durability
10
PROS
  • Excellent sound quality thanks to vibration isolation
  • Comes with high-quality AT95E cartridge
  • Bluetooth compatible
CONS
  • Cannot play 78-rpm records
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