The 8 best budget turntables that won’t ruin your records

The 8 best budget turntables that won’t ruin your records

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Since it was originally published in March 2014, our guide to the 8 best budget turntables has proved to be the most visited article on the whole site.

But a lot has happened in two years. Amazon sold more turntables than any other home audio product this Christmas and a wide range of new turntables have hit the market, from Sony’s hi-res audio deck to the rebooted Technics SL-1200. Even faux-vintage brand Crosley made a turntable worth buying.

While the deck Amazon sold may well destroy your records, and a new Technics SL-1200 will cost you a small fortune, we’ve also been treated to a lot of new options at the budget end of the spectrum, meaning it was about time we gave this list a refresh.

Four of the eight decks from the original piece have been replaced with new models, all of which cost under £400 and won’t chew your records to pieces.


Words: Paul Rigby


London-based label Gearbox Records focuses on a mixture of jazz vinyl reissues and new artists. It also owns a recording and mastering studio, using one of the purist analogue systems in the world. Its owner recently remarked on vinyl’s current popularity, not just in terms of record sales but also decks. “Turntable sales have shot through the roof,” reckons Darrel Sheinman. “We sell the Rega RP1 Performance Pack with the mini phono stage, just to get people on the road. But Rega’s order book is full. As a wholesaler, even we have to wait three to four months for stock. That’s how popular turntables have become. Other manufacturers are saying the same thing.”

The problem with the, admittedly welcome, increase in turntable popularity is the pitfalls opening up for the unwary. I’m talking about the wide range of cheap, cheerful and wholly nasty budget models that are regularly being advertised in lifestyle magazines from companies such as Crosley and Steepletone, GPO, AMOS and ION.

Under a hundred pound from Amazon, they may be, but they will quickly destroy your vinyl collection as their high cartridge tracking weight – the downward force of the needle – will plough a very pretty furrow in your wax. Great for planting cabbages but not for playing music.

Also, don’t be caught out by those normally reliable, ‘go-to’, Japanese brands that are also pushing cheapo turntables onto unsuspecting innocents. Teac, a usually admirable outfit, is offering an all-in-one mini system that uses a deck as terrible as those offered by the likes of Steepletone and Crosley. Sony, meanwhile, is supplying very poorly designed turntables at low prices while Pioneer, a normally innovative company, has a batch of cheap decks that are simply nasty in terms of build quality.

What follows are highly recommended turntables that are safe: physically and sonically. Buy one and feel the relief running through you…


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Orbit Basic
Price: $179
uturnaudio.com

Made in Boston, USA and only available in the USA and Canada for now (although the company says that this will change), this belt-driven deck features a unipivot arm and a pre-installed Audio-Technica cartridge. Including dust cover, felt mat and dual speed option, this turntable offers great value and holds its head aloft in budget turntable circles.


essential2_1

PRO-JECT ESSENTIAL 2
Price: £199
www.henleydesigns.co.uk

Very easy to set-up, this low cost turntable fools you when you unpack it. It feels rather flimsy with a wonky arm and a plastic belt that is initially tough to remain fixed on the outside of the platter. Mere initial irritations, however, because, once up and running, the Essential sounds great, offering all of the, well, essential elements of sound from a vinyl source. Built to a price, sure, but it delivers the sonic goods.


Elemental2

PRO-JECT ELEMENTAL USB
Price: £219
www.henleydesigns.co.uk

Looking for a dirt-cheap turntable that features a USB port (to enable recording onto a computer) but won’t mangle your precious records after a single play? Try this cutie, which also includes a built-in phono stage and a great little OM cartridge from Ortofon to save you even more cash. A real plug’n’play design that can be tweaked, later, to improve performance.


 

Rega

 

REGA RP1 TURNTABLE
Price: £229/£300
www.rega.co.uk

This is the deck mentioned above by Gearbox and a great little turntable it is too. Solid and easy to set up, it arrives in a couple of flavours: as a basic turntable or with the upgraded drive belt (improving speed stability and accuracy); Bias 2 cartridge (better bass and stereo image) and turntable mat (improved general sound). Alternatively, you can buy the turntable now and add the Performance Pack later as a welcome upgrade.


NAD

NAD C556
Price: £249
www.nadelectronics.com/home

If this turntable looks familiar, that’s because it should. It is based upon the Rega RP1. The differences are relatively small but they are there. First up you get a different paint job but you also get a different cartridge. This is a Rega-built cartridge that has been built under NAD specifications. Apart from that, you get three rubber feet and the RB101 arm.


Edwards

EDWARDS AUDIO TT1
Price: £380
www.talkelectronics.com

The price includes both the arm and a cartridge. The first turntable design from the company, the Edwards uses the highly respected Rega RB251 tonearm and the equally useful Goldring Elektra cartridge. Sporting a 12mm thick transparent platter, the TT1 does not include a mat (worth testing without and, if you have one to hand, with). Good design and, considering what you get for your money, good value too.


Flexon

FLEXSON VINYLPLAY
Price: £330
www.flexson.com

A turntable that you can easily attach to the Sonos multi-room audio system which will allow you to stream your vinyl output all over the house. The deck features analogue outputs plus all of the relevant cables including a USB cable to connect to a computer. Even better, the turntable utilises components from Rega, which should add to the confidence in buying one.


Onkyo CP-1050

ONKYO CP-1050
Price: £399
www.soundhifi.com

This particular Onkyo deck has been tweaked and improved by Sound HiFi to improve its speed and stability. Offering great value for money, this turntable is big, bold, meaty and built like a tank. It also includes nice quality RCA connectors. The good thing about this deck from this company is that Sound HiFi is known for its customer support, so you should expect lots of help if you need it plus lots of upgrade possibilities.

  • Geoff Rymer

    Uhh…why have you (correctly) stated that Sony is producing nasty, record-killing turntables, and then featured the Marantz which is EXACTLY the same table as Sony sells, just rebadged?

    • Paul Rigby

      Hi Geoff
      Sorry for the delay in replying. Chatting to Marantz, they quote a tracking force between 2.5g-3.5g which, for deck in this price range of this basic build, is pretty gentle when compared to the immediate competition. There is less chance of ploughed grooves with the Marantz.

      • Eddie Mouton

        Woah! I’ve learned the hard way that correct tracking force is preferable to lighter. When the stylus rides solidly in the ‘trench’, there’s less chance of damage to the upper edge of the groove and will yield to unnecessary vibration AND SURFACE NOISE. With lighter tracking the diamond just barely sits in the groove, there’s far more movement (—and a diamond WILL cut vinyl). Resist the urge to think that lighter force will cause less wear, it also will ruin a mint platter.

      • McKinleyME

        I’m curious to know whether you actually tested the VTF on the Marantz. Audio-Technica quote a VTF of 3g for their LP60 turntable, which uses the exact same motor/tonearm/cartridge/internals as the Sony and Marantz, but it’s quite common for these to weigh in at 5g (or more!) in the real world. Ditto for the Aiwa-badged version of the same turntable.

        The ONLY advantage these turntables offer over Crosley et al. is that they use a magnetic cartridge rather than a ceramic cartridge, and a diamond stylus rather than a sapphire stylus. Considering that they’re commonly tracking at 5g, 6g or even higher (and with no way to adjust them), it is still quite possible, and probable, to cause premature record wear with these turntables.

        • Paul Rigby

          Hi SierraTango – you seem pretty confident about your facts. Did you obtain review samples, do a full review with sound and physical tests comparing the Marantz with the Audio Technica and then, later, comparing those to the Crosley? Be interested to read your findings if you made notes.

          • McKinleyME

            No, I did not obtain review samples from the companies. I dealt with actual turntables “off the shelf” rather than those that have been hand-picked for reviewers. I tested the VTFs with a digital VTF scale. Every one of them registered at 5g or higher. The VTF scale was checked and calibrated with a brass 5g weight. The scale is accurate to 0.01g.

          • McKinleyME

            Your reply seems slightly defensive, which is understandable, but I’m still curious to know if you tested the VTF or not. It’s perfectly fine to trust manufacturer specs, but “trust and verify” is a valid approach too.

          • shemp013

            I do personally own a tt5005. After a few months of spinning my vinyl on it and learning about vtf I got curious and bought a set of micro digital scales. The tracking force weighed in at 5.6grm. I quickly ordered a better table with adjustable vtf.
            In the time I was using the Marantz (around 4 or 5 months) I played quite a few records on it, some repeatedly, and there is no noticeable damage when played on my new table tracking at 1.5grm, but over a long time I’m sure there would have been.
            I still have it, but mainly for guests or second hand records and so I can be cool and have 2 turntables!! 😉

          • McKinleyME

            Is a diamond tracking at 6g gentler than a sapphire tracking at 7g? Yes. But does that make it gentle in general? My opinion is that it does not.

          • Paul Rigby

            Goodness – a flurry of messages. No, I wasn’t being defensive (although I’m not quite sure what your ‘hand picked’ comment means, I’m afraid). It was a genuine statement. You seemed confidant in your statement so I wondered if you had tested a range of turntables and arrived at a set of conclusions, I was interested. Nothing more than that. No, I didn’t test each and every turntable (some, not all). I have never pretended to and never stipulated that I know each one intimately – hence my reply to Geoff above. My recommendations are derived from personal experience and the experience and comments of colleagues who I trust (in terms of the Marantz, from a colleague at the specialist hi-fi magazine, HiFi World). In terms of tracking force, in general terms, it’s actually worse to have too *low* a tracking force (producing skipping). As far as my introduction is concerned, I obviously should have elaborated and entered into more detail. I apologise for not doing so. How the components are put together is often more important than the components themselves (although you do note a difference on the Crosley cartridge). In relative terms, Marantz is a top quality hi-fi outfit. Has been for many years. Many audiophiles use their kit. I would prefer to pick up a low cost Marantz than pick up a competitor’s product, many of which have been known to have misaligned arms and cartridges and just about everything else (combined with that heavy tracking force that would make things worse) including Crosley that will plough that furrow described above. The Crosley et al standard of manufacture is not very high – that can be confirmed (once more, this time via ION) with my recent feature on ‘vertical’ turntables which you can see elsewhere. Please excuse the length of this reply.

          • Dargo

            Well Paul, you can test ALL available turntable on the market and the only conclusion will be that some of them are better than the others. Shortly said, the quality of a turntable depends basically on two factors, First, and maybe a little more important than the other is “the mechanics” . Then is the quality of the carriage, at he fact that one stylus id diamond and the other is sapphire is relevant only for how long will last , BTW, sapphire stylus can also “cut” the vinyl. Which is not the case because of the rounded profile of the stylus. The quality of your turntable also doesn’t depend on the brand name or the name of the turntable but on the type of the cartridge too. As for the optimum pressure on the LP, a max of 3-3.5g for the electromagnetic cartridges and about 5g for the piezo ones. 7g and more? Are you kidding me? That’s enormous. I do not agree also with your theory about a higher pressure would actually extend the life of your LP. One more thing. The ceramic cartridges have been , are and will be of poorer quality and performance as they are heavy, while the electromagnetic ones will be always better. And another thought, while the older vinyl LPs were maybe carrying a lower quality recording, they were superior mechanically (material quality), to most (not all) of the today’s. recorded LPs. And again, in the 80’s automatic stop, automatic return, “s” shaped arm and lift lever were common to the middle level to high level turntable, Moreover, you could find often enough most of these features on some low level turntables. A turntable is a very simple device so I do not understand why the big companies that are producing this type of players are asking astronomical sums for so called high quality turntables. If you ever bother to disassemble one, you will understand me.No turntable should cost more than , let’s say, $200.

      • Fearafter Thought

        Preformed multiple tracking tests across the full range of motion on my Sony PSLX300USB using a digital arm load meter (calibrated) with the results being 3..72g (+/- 0.04g). This does not seem too absurd to me, am I wrong? I have previously purchased both the Denon DP29f and Audio-Technica ATLP60 models as intended upgrades, but winded up returning both, as I found no practical differences in design or improved sound quality over the Sony. Mind you, both of those turntables are commonly regarded as more refined and of a higher grade than the despicable PSLX300USB. I don’t get it.

        Regardless, I decided to try Mr. Rigby’s Marantz advice and removed the lid of the Sony in order to improve playback, and wow! There is a “sparkle” never before present most noticeable in the upper mids with wonderful new sonic detail. It absolutely lifted a veil and increased frequency extension, so I do thank the author for that suggestion! A must try for other owners of similar heavy acrylic lided machines.

        • Paul Rigby

          Glad the ‘iid’ advice worked for you. And that, when it comes down to it, is all I offer ‘advice’. The analogue world is packed full of variables and personal nuances that only pertain to you. Hence, to fully explain the readings in your first para, I’d need to know a lot more about you and your system. When it comes down to it, though, as products in themselves, divorced from any other influences, the Sony, Audio Technica and Denon are not that far apart in sonic terms. If you are looking to stand upon the first rung on the audiophile ladder, though, look at the Pro-Ject Essential turntable as as an introduction.
          For now? You’ve done the ‘lid thing’ you could possibly look at isolation as the next tweak. This means looking carefully at where the deck is situated and what sort of vibrations are going on in and around it. This subject really needs a feature in itself to explain properly but, for now, the best option is a wall shelf, next is a specialist shelving solution (both expensive), further down into budget territory is a single, strong simple table from the likes of IKEA, solidly situated and level – I mean truly level, ‘spirit level’ level. Don’t be tempted to place a turntable on a massive table packed with other electronics ‘stuff’. It might look solid but it’s a hive for noise. Also look to lift your deck off the table surface with isolation pods, if possible. Good isolation helps sound quality. Anyway, I’m wandering off into a massive subject here so I’ll back off and leave you with those few points.

        • Nigel Carroll

          Hi,

          Do you mean you removed the lid from the hinges?

          Thanks

          • Paul Rigby

            Hi Nigel – yep!

  • Emiliano Espinoza Espinosa

    Wow!

    • Paul Rigby

      Should I thank you or call for assistance?

  • Sophia B

    What about the Audio-Technica AT-LP60? Heard good things about it as a budget turntable. How does it treat records?

    • Paul Rigby

      The bad? Build quality is basic, speed wavers a little, it is reportedly rather sensitive to vibration so skipping is likely if you don’t site the turntable securely, while the stylus is a basic design. The good? Audio Technica have excellent cartridge designs and the stylus on this deck can be upgraded to a better model for around £15. The tracking force is, like the Marantz, relatively low (at 3g) and gentle for this category of deck.
      As with all these £100-£150 decks, do yourself a favour, save for a bit longer and grab yourself a deck in the £200+ region. If you are desperate and there is no hope of extra cash then the Marantz and AT-LP60 ‘will do’.

      • dhp1161

        thank you for this, as I have been looking at the LP60 on amazon and read similar bad reviews. They all suggested the $400 Pro-Ject Carbon… I still dont have any player yet and unsure of what to get… Even the Pro-Ject Essential 2 is too expensive for me…

        • Paul Rigby

          Well, you are talking $60 between the two models. What is the priority for you, the sound quality or the added facilities available on the Audio Technica? If it’s sound quality then I would advise you to save for a Pro-ject or consider buying second hand where you can pick up great value decks (if you are careful). The AT, though, does come with a host of useful extra features.

          • dhp1161

            My main concern with the AT is that it may damage my records… I do want the Carbon but its out of my budget right now… I’m going to have to wait maybe 1 year before I can even listen to my records…

          • Paul Rigby

            Oh no, no, no. We can’t have you not playing your vinyl for a year. Just won’t do.
            I don’t think that the LP60 will harm your records. As I say, the tracking force is not that bad and Audio Technica’s cartridges are some of the best on the market. Even their cheapos are decent budget fare. Go for one.
            If you are unsure, however, and feel nervous about it, consider second hand. I can see a second hand Rega RP1 on eBay right now, for example, for £27. Just an example, of course, but it shows the possibilities.

          • dhp1161

            Wow, Mr. Rigby thank you so much. I bought my first vinyl ever a few weeks ago and currently have 3 records. I’ve never owned vinyl or a record player and I was very excited to start… and then was sad for a bit hearing that I would need $400 more to buy a player. Now I am very happy because I will follow your advice and purchase the AT from Amazon sometime soon. (I could not find the Rega RP1 on ebay). Once again thank you very much sir.

          • Paul Rigby

            Yes, the Rega I mentioned was on the UK site, I assume that you are calling from the USA? No worries, it was just an example of the sort of savings found on there.
            More to the point, though, congratulations on your new turntable! And happy listening 🙂

  • I’d like to add the Reloop 1000M as an option. A very affordable, entry level turntable. Basically a belt-driven SL1200 clone, it’s sturdy, comes with a fairly decent AT 3600L cartridge and sounds great. I use this as a home HiFi turntable and am very happy with it.

    • Paul Rigby

      Glad you like your deck – anything to keep vinyl turning. Have you had time to listen to other, more accepted ‘audiophile’ designs as a comparison or do you need your Reloop for DJ tasks?

      • My main reason for purchasing this over an ‘audiophile’ or ’boutique’ turntable was that I required something that sat between regular home use and with some DJ features. I’m not a DJ in the modern sense but I do present a show on an internet based radio station, so Stop/Start and cueing functionality were quite desirable.

        That said, the quality of this deck is pretty damned good, especially when compared to other decks in the same price range which are typically ‘vinyl shredders’. There are going to be plenty of people who want to get into vinyl and do so on a budget where even entry level systems from the likes of Pro-Ject or Rega are still out of their reach. In a response you posted to Sophia B, you advised that “with all these £100-£150 decks do yourself a favour, save for a bit longer and grab yourself a deck in the £200+ region”. In my humble opinion, this deck bucks that trend and delivers far more quality and far less damage than those you refer to. And for that reason, I would recommend this as a very decent starting point or a secondary turntable.

        I am hoping to replace my main tunrtable, currently a 20+ year old Pioneer, with something like a Pro-Ject or Rega fairly soon. But if push came to shove, and funds didn’t allow, I’d be perfectly happy getting another RP1000M 🙂

        • Paul Rigby

          As a tool, the Reloop seems ideal for your requirements. What’s the radio station, btw? I’d love to hear it. The only problem I have with DJ decks for general use is this: when designing any turntable, you are given a budget that reflects its final retail price. So the Reloop is, what, £130? A lot of that budget will be devoted to performing its DJ functions well and less of that budget will be geared towards sound quality. After all, that’s the whole point of this particular deck and that’s the market Reloop is aiming at.
          Also, what tracking force do you use on the Reloop? I think, if memory serves, that it has an upper limit of 4g on there but, again, if memory serves, it arrives with an Audio Technica cartridge (what model?) Audio Technica produce top quality cartridges so you’re one up on that score immediately.
          Main thing, though, is that you are happy with the deck so it doesn’t really matter what I say or think 🙂

          • Your last statement is true, but honest opinions are always valuable 😉

            The radio station is the rather peculiar named Radio Pure Gently (there is a reason) and you can find schedules and links at radiopuregently.com

            So, to answer your question, yes, I paid £120 (haggled Juno down by £10). The deck is undoubtedly aimed at the fledgling DJ who is probably still on a pittance. However, it does have, as you say, the Audio Technica cartridge, a 3600L which has a VTF of 2.5g to 3.5g. I find 3.5g works well for me. You can, should you wish, swap the headshell and cartridge out for something nicer should you wish. Yes, the upper limit is 4g on that arm.

            It’s a sturdy build, has some good feet on it and feels well built. I know it’s not got all the bells, whistles and design enhancements of the pretty boys but I really do think there is a sizeable chunk of the market who are either new to vinyl or returning after many years and it can be a tad financially daunting to see that entry level turntables are a few hundred quid. I don’t doubt the quality and the price is fairly representative of that quality, but it is off-putting. Let’s not forget that these are the people we probably want to be encouraging back to the format because with them, we stand a better chance of more vinyl being pressed and at better prices.

            And therefore, I really do think that the RP1000M is a little gem that really ought to be considered by those kinds of people. It’s price tag is far more palatable and it will undoubtedly lead them to better hardware in the future.

          • Paul Rigby

            Yep, I take all of those points and agree absolutely with them all. You may, at a later date, be able to upgrade the stylus, if not the cartridge to improve sound matters later. I would also advise looking at isolating your turntable as much as possible. It will make a tremendous difference for little money. I have a feature on here somewhere which offers product advice.
            Listened to the Mixcloud file of your show, btw. Pure genius to start with PiL.

          • Haha! Can’t beat a bit of Lydon to get the juices flowing! Played their RSD release last week 🙂

            Yes, I agree regarding isolation and will check out your feature. Space is a bit tight in my studio, but certainly something to consider for the new deck when I get it for my main rig 🙂

            I intend on looking at a replacement cartridge soon. Possibly an Ortofon, but I will research.

            I’m on live tonight from 9pm, by the way…

            http://mixlr.com/radio-pure-gently/

          • Paul Rigby
  • Elliott Buckingham

    the Stanton t92 is a very good deck under £300

    • Paul Rigby

      That’s a more DJ-oriented design and fine for that environment. If sound quality is your principle concern, however, then a Rega RP1 with added performance pack will blow it out of the water. If you need the DJ facilities, though, then you can ‘make do’ with the Stanton as a deck to listen to, sure.

      • blake kersey

        Although you can’t go wrong with that table. Especially with the Groovemaster V3 which is elliptical stylus and designed with hi fidelity in mind.

    • blake kersey

      Yes it is!

  • BokChoyExpress

    Hey Paul, neat article and some choices I’m already familiar with. Here’s a question though: what do you think of Dual turntables (have you used them even)? I’ve been looking at the CS440BP and the slightlier more expensive CS4551M. My current turntable now is dreadful and does damage my records, so I’m looking to replace it soon. Cheers

    • Paul Rigby

      Hi Dave
      Yep, a Dual from the likes of eBay can be bought for around £100 or less. Duals, where always seen as a steady budget buy back in the 80s and have fallen off the map of late but they are a decent start deck.
      The one thing that you will have to bear in mind, though, is that, depending on the age and condition and source, the £100 or so that you pay might not be the end of it. For example, does the motor run steady and true? The belt might have been stretched over time and might need replacement, the cartridge/stylus might need a change, any lubricants may have dried up and might need changing, wires can age and trigger a nasty hum, etc.
      Buying new might actually save you money in the long run. What’s your budget?

      • BokChoyExpress

        I was actually looking at the new Dual turntables, because 1) I’d like to avoid any “vintage issues”, as you’ve mentioned, and 2) I get a discount at my local store. All the Duals available to me appear to be Automatic and run from about $300-600 (before discount). As far as my budget goes, I think I’m willing to spend somewhere between $200-$375. Right now it’s between a new Dual, like the CS440BP, and the Audio-Technica AT-LP 120. Thanks

  • Edi Raka

    Hi Paul

    What is your view on getting good sound out of vintage turntables?

    I’m looking at an ITT Stereo 2030 for sale. I can purchase a new cartridge/stylus online for it, but will that be enough to protect my records with an old machine like this?

    Thanks
    Edi

    • Paul Rigby

      Check out my reply to Dave Kitchenham listed just below and then get back to me Edi.

  • Efrosine K.

    ΗI Paul! I have already ordered the Stanton T-55, so there’s no alternative now, but I just wanted your opinion on it. It’s basic use( although it does have some Dj features) will be just home audiophile use. Will it do the job? Thanks!

    • Paul Rigby

      Hi Efrosine
      It’s passable but most of the budget that is devoted to the construction of any DJ deck is aimed at DJ features with less targeted at the audiophile side of things. Its the reverse for an audiophile deck, of course, which is why the two markets happily sit next to each other, aimed at different customers.

      • Efrosine K.

        Ε ενταξει, whatever he says, I’m sure it’s fine for us. For now. I love u nitsi.
        Efrosine Kokkori

  • Ana

    Hi, what about the Numark TTUSB? Is it better than the Audio-Technica AT-LP60?

    • Paul Rigby

      In terms of sound quality, there are decks out there that sounded better than both. Is that you only choice? Whats your budget? Audio Technica are more recognised as a ‘hi-fi’ brand, if that will help.

  • TwoCents

    Thanks for this awesome and helpful information. Now I’m down in choosing between RP1 vs AT-LP120-USB. I know AT is a bit expensive than RP1 but I’m more concerned of which is the better product and the one which will not destroy my vintage records later on. Would you care helping me on this further? Thanks!

    • Paul Rigby

      Hi Socrates – I’d go for the RP1 in terms of sound quality and an upgrade path. You can buy a Rega for £229 and then, when you have the cash, upgrade it with the Performance Pack for £85 later on.

  • Brooke Walsham

    Hi there, I want to get my husband a turntable for his birthday. I know nothing about them and it would just be to play our (large selection) of vinyl (some being very rare) I have collected for him over the years. We did have a vintage record player that was fine till it decided to blow up. I don’t want to spend to much as we are not DJ’s or pros and just prefer the sound of vinyl to digital music. What would you recommend out of all the above I was originally looking at a Steepletone Norwich purely for aesthetics.

    • Paul Rigby

      Oh my goodness – am I too late?! Just seen your message, I do apologies. What’s your budget? Once I know that, we can quickly progress from there. Oh, do you want an ‘all in one’ system or a separates (i.e.: with a separate amplifier, speakers, etc)?

      • Brooke Walsham

        Hi Paul all good not too late still have just over a week. I don’t want to spend anymore than £150 I would want some speakers not sure about anything to be honest!

        • Paul Rigby

          OK, we are right at the bottom of the budget here so can you go second hand or does it have to be new?

          • Brooke Walsham

            I have no problem buying second hand I have seen the Audio Technica AT LP60 for that price is it any good?

          • Paul Rigby

            Yes, for that budget. Audio Technica is also viewed as a ‘proper’ hi-fi company. Their cartridges/stylus assemblies are great quality. When you say that you’ve ‘seen’ one, is that second hand or new? What price? Do you still need speakers? How much cash do you have left?

          • Brooke Walsham

            I saw one new on eBay for £100 I have room
            To move just we just have an agreement to not spend more than that

          • Paul Rigby

            OK, good. As you are in a rush, try and find a pair of Wharfedale speakers for £50 and you’re done. Chances are that a pair will be available somewhere there. Any will do. They are a good, broad, general bet. I’m just thinking of time here. Try and buy the newest and the one that looks like it’s in the best condition and if everything is in FULL working order. Otherwise, don’t worry if they look old fashioned, etc. Wharfedales tend to sound nice whatever the age.

  • Amy Carey

    Hey. Im looking to buy a turntable for my partner and lets just say i don’t no where to start. He is looking for something with good sound quality. He has mono and stereo vinyls (i don’t know if that makes a difference?). i don’t know whether its best to get one with built in speakers or separate. My budget is probably around £150-£200. Is there anything you advise or recommend.

    • Paul Rigby

      Basic turntables will handle mono and stereo play without modification – don’t worry about that. If you get really serious about mono play then you can buy a mono cartridge which is designed for mono play. For now, as I say, don’t worry about it. Is that £200 tops for a turntable, amp and speakers or just the turntable? If it’s a turntable only – buy a Pro-Ject Essential II (around £200 from Amazon). Cheapest way to get a decent system for £200 is to hit eBay, pick up a decent deck such as a Pro-Ject Debut II for around £70 via auction and a pair of powered speakers. Roth OLi POWA speaker are good but a bit pricey (£150). You might be able to pick up an old pair of Boss MA-12V, made by Roland. There’s a pair of Roland MA-20 speakers on eBay right now on auction, with a start bid of £20.

  • Mousseau

    Paul, I am not sure of you are still available for questions about
    turntables, I am looking into buying a turntable for a Christmas gift
    and I came across this article during my research – I am looking at the Audio-Technica
    AT-LP60 F – currently – There is an upgrade for the USB/computer option but I don’t want to loose quality for that option. I want this to work with a sound system that we
    currently have – or have options to ad speakers to it – how do I know
    if the belt- drive is good enough to unsure my records don’t sound out
    of tone. We have multiple records already, no need for DJ efforts at
    this point, just a starter to get us enjoying our vinyl again. budget
    $150ish – Thanks in advance – music lovers

    • Paul Rigby

      I’d go for a Project Elemental (£159 at Amazon) but if USB is important and you will need it at some point then, fine, go for the AT.

  • T. Lewis Ash

    Hi. I have a budget of £250 for a turntable and I have narrowed choice down to Music Hall MMF2.2. (currently being sold for £250) and the Pro-Ject Debut 3 SE (£265). They look like remarkably similar turntables and I cant really see what the major differences are, if any. Be interested to hear your opinions of the two…. I know you have reviewed the Music Hall and seems to compare favourably, but wondered if the Debut 3 SE is much of a step up from the Pro-Ject Essential?

    I’d ideally go for the Debut Carbon but this is just a stretch too far for my budget.

    Thanks!

    • Paul Rigby

      Hi Mr T. – Well the Music Hall, so I hear, is produced in the same factory that produces the Pro-Ject so the decks should be very similar but I would *just* edge the Pro-ject in terms of sound.

      • T. Lewis Ash

        Thanks Paul. I purchased the Pro-ject last weekend, set it up last night, and have been listening to Keith Jarret’s Koln concert most of today! Gotta say its pretty stunning sound quality, i’m really pleased, though I dont have anything to compare it to directly as I haven’t owned a proper record player since I was a teenager. But certainly knocks the socks off all of my tapes and CDs. Recommended!

  • ryan spera

    hello i need a new table. my table is all jacked up and slows down while playing 45’s… i want one that is from $100 to $200 any ideas it has to be phono?

    • Paul Rigby

      Are you happy to buy from eBay? You can find some bargains there. The Marantz is good for a rock bottom price, though.

  • Aaron lindoff

    Hi Paul

    I’m looking to buy a player, what would u recommend in the £150-£250 range

    • Paul Rigby

      A Pro-Ject Elemental can be yours for just over £150, Aaron.

  • Aaron lindoff

    Hi Paul

    I’m looking to buy and player between £150-£250 what would you recommend

    Thanks Aaron

    • Paul Rigby

      Rega RP1 if new, RP3 is you want to take a punt on second hand (a safe bet, though).

  • Stephen

    Hey Paul! My Partner and I are going to be investing in a record player after Christmas, and were dead set on the Marantz TT5005. Unfortunately, we were unable to purchase this in our area. So, we have three questions if you can help:
    1. If the TT5005 is unattainable, are there any other good Marantz turntables that are affordable?
    2.I have been looking at the http:Audio-Technica AT-LP60, is it any good?
    3. Which amp/speakers would you recommend? Wharfedale?
    Thank you, and Season’s Greetings!

    • Guest

      What;s your budget for all of this Stephen. It will affect my recommendations.

      • Stephen

        Roughly $400, but willing to up a shade it should the right player pop up!

        • Paul Rigby

          There’s a range of Pro-Ject turntables or the Rega RP1 which would just slide under your budget, Stephen. Check out Amazon.

    • Paul Rigby

      What is your budget for all of this Stephen? It will affect my recommendations.

  • Scottb721

    From Australia,
    Which of the following (most are listed above) could be considered ‘best value for money’ ?
    I’ll be playing on a non-phono Receiver and will receive limited use with only a handful of records.

    Pro-ject Elemental $299 + Behringer PP400 Phono $44 = $343
    Marantz TT5005 $349
    Stanton T92 $379
    Audio Technica LP120-USB $399
    Pro-ject Essential II $369 + Behringer PP400 Phono $44 = $413
    Pro-ject Elemental USB $414
    Pro-ject Essential II USB $440

    I think Rega’s are out of my approx $400 budget.
    USB output would be nice but not necessary. I have captured manually plenty in the past if I need to.
    Thanks

    • Paul Rigby

      There’s no use spending any more than you have to if you are not going to use the turntable very much, Scott. The cheapest set-up in your list is acceptable.

      • Scottb721

        Thank you. I ended up getting the Audio Technica. I’m currently holidaying in Japan and saw a Red 2 in the shops. May pick it up if I’ve got some money left.
        Cheers

        • Paul Rigby

          Good stuff – glad you found what you were looking for.

    • Guest

      For audiophile use? Any of the Pro-Jects.

    • blake kersey

      I have the T.92 Stanton with a SU-V76 Technics amp, Hifi quality Groovemaster V3 cartridge (elliptical stylus) and Sharp bookshelf speakers. It does the job extremely well and I’m not even a DJ. Definitely a “hifi-esque” setup, which shows you really don’t have to spend a boat load of money for hi fidelity sound.

  • Randall Mincer

    Actually it is the cartridge that destroys the vinyl not the tracking force. A ceramic cartridge will probably destroy your records inside of 5 plays because that is all the stylus is good for before it needs changing. A diamond stylus is good for around 500 hrs or about a year of regular use before it needs changing. Tracking force is set to the recommended manufactures setting, a high setting ie 3.5 grams does not mean it is bad, Ortofon Red OM2 is 3.0 and it is a great cartridge.

    • Paul Rigby

      Sorry Randall, do you mean the 2M Red or something like the OM3E? If so, both of those run at around 1.8g. If you force any stylus into a groove then it will do damage to grooves. No matter what. It’s when you get to figures such as 4.5g+ that you have to be careful. A lot of the cheap decks have that sort of force behind their carts. And, yes, your right, a worn stylus will also do damage. Diamonds last a lot longer than sapphires too, yep.

  • Martin F. Pope

    Hi Paul, I’d like to use a deck like one of these to make a modern “Dansette” style player.
    Do you know if it possible to buy the basic Guts of a deck, I’ll be making the case. Also do you know of a good amp to match these that could drive reasonable speakers.
    Thanks for your time, Martin.

    • Paul Rigby

      If you have the engineering know-how, Martin, then why not buy yourself a real Dansette and give it a once over to bring it up to modern spec? After all, the chassis is basically there for you which would save on woodwork. Apart from that, you can buy a deck, like the Audio Technica AT LP120 and plug that into a pair of active speakers like old Boss actives or a new pair of Roth speakers and you basically have the same thing but not in a compact form.

      • Martin F. Pope

        cheers for the info Paul.
        Might well have to dust off my electronics skills and knock up some active amps. I’ll keep you posted.

  • okan özataş

    Hi Paul, I would like to buy AT LP120. We have Harman Kardon AVR138 for home theatre. Do you know if I use this speaker with AT LP120. Thanks in advance.

    • Paul Rigby

      I’m not too familiar with that amp but you should be fine, yes.

  • mayra barron

    Hi, I have recently taken an interest in vinyl, however I don’t have the sightless idea as to what to buy. I merely want it to listen to the music, so if any one can give me a sense of direction, that would be great, and much appreciated.

    • Paul Rigby

      What sort of budget do you have? Favourite musical genres? What sort of configuration are you looking for? Separates? All in one?

  • jon hawkuns

    Hello Paul. Recently dug out my old vinyl collection and have enjoyed listening to it. However, I feel my deck isn’t the best (one of those Ion usb ones) and wondered what the best budget option would be. Don’t mind 2nd hand but don’t really eantvto go above £150-£200 max. Got some KEF (Q10) speakers and an old techniks amp I was given.
    Many thanks, Jon

    • Paul Rigby

      Destroy the ION with the nearest light sabre that you have to hand. Once done, with that budget you could buy a Pro-Ject Elemental for £159. It is pretty much plug-and-play and arrives with an arm and cartridge already installed.

  • Sargon the bone crusher

    What a rubbish selection. There are MUCH better choices out there at the price points mentioned. A paean to ignorance

    • oiche

      You could suggest them then rather than then leaving unhelpful comments.

    • Paul Rigby

      Well, we are limited to space and like to give a fair spread of types to address varying price points. As oiche says, though, what did we miss out in your opinion?

  • John Campbell

    Hi Paul, just looking at starting up a collection as I’ve been keen to do it for years and after a bit of advice re: start up gear. Basically I have a budget of £500-600 and am tossing up whether its worth saving the money by getting the LP120 with the built in pre-amp and getting better speakers or going with the project essential 2 or RP1 as I have no idea about pre-amps. For speakers I’ve read good things about the wharfdale diamond 9.1’s and the Audioengine A5+. Thoughts?

    • Paul Rigby

      Whenever you see a turntable with a built-in anything then you are talking ‘compromise’. The built in whatnot is often a great convenience but the quality of the thing will not be as high as one that is sold to do that job and that job only. I always recommend separates in terms of sound quality. Also makes things easier to upgrade later on. Don’t worry about pre-amps with this budget. Look for an integrated amp – an all-in-one amp – that includes the pre and the power bits of the amp. Essentially, the ‘pre’ bit is the part of the amp with the knobs, switches and sockets. Either of those turntables sound good to me. You can buy a cheap pair of second hand Diamonds for around £80-90 via Amazon or eBay. They’re nice, yes. I’d recommend a Cambridge amp. The Azur.

  • Dr Sapenstein

    Hello Paul,
    I already have an old Technics SL D20. Will any of these above improve the sound of my vinyls?
    Thanks for you time!

    • Paul Rigby

      In short, my good Doctor, yes.

      • Dr Sapenstein

        Thanks a lot, Paul!

  • Chris Barrett

    All I want is a record player that out of the box will play my vinyl from time to time (it wont be my primary listening device) and won’t ruin the records. And yeah on a shoestring budget too (under 100 quid)
    Any help would be massively appreciated. The article was a great read by the way!

    • Paul Rigby

      Thanks Chris. Hmm. £100? I won’t be responsible for the condition of your records after too much play on anything priced at £100, all in. What I would recommend is second hand and eBay. As a sort of ‘best of the worst’, I would look at all-in-one music centres and mini hifi systems from big name Japanese outfits. You can often find these things for £50 or so. Try to shop around, be meticulous and picky. Before you hand over the money, contact http://www.musonic.co.uk and see if they can supply a replacement stylus for it. If so, budget for that too and then buy your eBay item. Fingers crossed.

  • Josephine Unwin

    Hi Paul. Are there any portable record players that do not destroy records. My daughter is looking at the Crosby Cruiser as she has started collecting vinyl from charity shops and is becoming a bit of a jazz and blues fan. I imagine it is the retro appearance that appeals as well as the portability and price. I have my doubts…

    • zombeck

      Crosley is notorious for bad quality. It’s literally ALL looks and nothing else. Sound quality is bad and will eat into your records.

    • Paul Rigby

      Please avoid the Crosley-type record player, they will destroy your records. The best portable out there is an original Audio Technica Soundburger (you might need to scan eBay for this one). Plug in a pair of headphones and you’re away! Otherwise, what’s your budget?

  • Sam Macpherson

    Hi, I’m looking at the Project elemental, but slightly put off with the lack off dust cover, there are a couple going for £129 pounds on amazon(used) is it worth taking a punt? Also what are your opinions on the Pioneer PL990? Budget:around £130(stretch for elemental if absolutely necessary)

    • Sam Macpherson

      Also, opinion on audio technica lp60?

      • Paul Rigby

        Hi Sam
        Just for playing records or transferring data via the USB plug? If you just want to play records I would recommend the Pro-Ject Elemental. I’ve seen one that’s ‘used’ on Amazon for £129.

    • Paul Rigby

      Sorry for the late reply. No list cover is good, actually. In terms of sound quality. Whenever you get a budget turntable with a dust cover, take it off to improve the sound. Back to your point. Search for a cover – anything really – that will cover the ENTiRE turntable. Not just the platter. That should solve the case.

  • Roberto Carrizo

    very good!!

  • Hi, I have a question about the Audio Technica LP120 USB. I like the design of it because it reminds me of the Technics SL 1700 I had back in the 80’s (also the only turntable I’ve ever owned). Where you mentioned other turntables in the list having better sound quality I was wondering if the LP120 could also achieve a better sound / higher fidelity with a different cartridge or by other means. I’ll use this strictly for listening to albums thru a Sony receiver with phono in jacks. The USB and built in preamp is nice but they may never be used. Thanks!

    • Paul Rigby

      Yes, in theory, it can. I suppose if added damping pads inside the chassis, improved the cartridge, added a damping mat, clamp plus more dramatic improvements. My question to you would be: Does that give you value for money? It might be better to use that money for a better quality deck. Especially as you won’t be using some of the 120’s facilities.

      • Hi Paul, thanks for the reply. It’s probably best to spend for a better turntable like you mentioned. I guess I’m being nostalgic by focusing on the appearance of the LP120. I have fond memories of my SL 1700 and for the life of me I can’t remember if I sold it, lost it or gave it away. Either way it’s been gone 25+ years and I have a hankering to play my old vinyl again.

  • Balog Tamás

    Hi Paul! I’m sorry for writing one year after the article. I just got into vinyl, bought a couple of great records and used a turntable i borrowed from a friend. I had to give it back tho and want to get my own, but I can’t decide between the Pro-ject essential 2 OM5e and the Pro-ject Debut Carbon ortolan OM10, which is like 100 bucks more. I’m trying to decide if it’s worth paying a bit more for, but I have absolutely no idea about what all these differences they list mean. Can you help me run down if it’s worth the extra money? Thank you!

    • Paul Rigby

      Don’t worry about it. I’m still here! 🙂 Yes, it is worth paying more. Basically, better quality components, better build, each element adds more to the sound quality. Pro-jects are good value because they make their turntables in their own factory which cuts their costs.

      • Mich

        Hi Paul

        I’m also interested in buying a Pro-ject essential II. (so that’s about my price range (up to 300€), costs about 280€ in Europe)

        You write that it’s worth paying more in your answer above, and I saw an Audio Technica AT-LP120USB HC in sale (difference in price about 20€) but I was wondering if the Audio Technica would be a better turntable for my purpose which doesn’t include deejaying at all but just audiophile listening (mainly indie, old folk, reggae and dubplates) without ruining my plates

        Which budget turntable would you recommend for me? Would my vinyls with dub sound good on the Pro-ject Essential II? Or is there an other valuable alternative on the market?

        Thanks a lot!

        • Paul Rigby

          For pure audiophile vinyl listening, I would go for the Essential II. The entire deck is geared to nothing but playing vinyl well for that price.

          • Mich

            Thank you, a Pro-ject it will be :-)!

  • cavan

    Hi Paul
    ii accept entirely what you say regarding the Crosley record player and similar. they seem little more than toys. however i do fancy the idea of a stand alone, admitedly old fasioned, record player rather than a deck which has to be plugged into a sound system.
    do you think there are any record player available which are of reasonable quality? or could you point me in the right direction?
    Cavan

    • Paul Rigby

      What’s your budget Cavan? (more the better 🙂 )

  • Andrés Sánchez Badía

    Hi Paul! I know it is a little bit late to be writing comments more than 1 year after this article was published, but since I saw you were still replying as of today, I took my chances.

    I am new to this whole vinyl business, I have never owned or listened to one, and I am looking to start. I would like to buy all the necessary elements to play it only with headphones, from research I’ve done I will need a turntable, a phono preamp, a headphone amp and headphones. My budget would be something between 800-1000 USD. I would be looking for something that could be very personalizable or upgradeable, in order to avoid having to spend considerably more than that now.

    Could you please advise me? Could I get a good package with that budget? Am I missing any piece of equipment? What brands/models you suggest to look at?

    Kind regards and thanks in advance.

    • Paul Rigby

      Hi Andres – I assume that you are contacting us from the USA or close by? As such, I would heartily recommend grabbing a VPI Nomad turntable which includes the arm, the cartridge, a phono amp (which will allow you plug in speakers later, if you wish) and a headphone amp. This thing is ready to roll! All you need to do is find yourself a pair of headphones. Price is just under $1,000.

  • David Nelson

    I want to like this article, but it is just too short on details about quality and actual tracking force.

    • Paul Rigby

      Well, thanks for trying David. It’s supposed to be an overview, no more than that. As you can see, those looking for more details have tended to post questions here which you are also welcome to do.

  • Mary Lawrence

    My daughter lives in London and is embarking on her vinyl journey. She needs something to listen to both new and old vinyl. Priorities: 1. won’t destroy her collection 2. sound, sound, sound 3. budget (she has £100 and I can double that for her) 4.dual voltage. Is there an all-in-one that fits the bill or can you put together turntable/speaker/receiver recommendations? She takes her music very seriously, and listens to a variety of genres. If you recommend used, where in London can she go where she won’t be ripped off? Thank you!

    • Paul Rigby

      No. Basically. I can sort a turntable for the [doubled] budget, sure. But not an entire system. At least, not one that would satisfy point no 1…or 2 for that matter. For this budget and for your requirements, you might want to consider eBay or similar and go second hand. Just today, I’ve seen a Pro-ject turntable on there for £64. You can pick up a phono amp for £40 or less and then I’d recommend a pair of active speakers (speakers with an amplifier built into them). I can see a pair of little Boss actives (which I still use myself, by the way) for just under £33. When going for active speakers, aim for recognisable brands. If you are not familiar with the names, do a bit of digging and avoid trashy Chinese variants.

      • Mary Lawrence

        First thank you for your reply. We are now looking in the £600-700 range. We have also discovered the same models can be purchased in the US at quite a reduction in price and shipped to London. Ex: Audio Technica AT-LP120USB costs about $150.00 less on Amazon.US than on Amazon.UK Is there a difference in models found in the US v. those purchased in the UK? This is a model she is interested in but we were wondering if we should purchase something geared more toward playing/listening as opposed to DJ’ing and if so what do you suggest? Thank you again.

  • tobias aumann

    Dear Paul,

    I can’t decide between the Pro-ject Essential II and the Rega RP1 Performance which would still be in my price range. Is the Rega much better (soundwise) that it pays off to pay the double price? (here in Austria it’s 500€)

    Thanks!

    • Paul Rigby

      I’d tend to move towards the Performance-Powered Rega in terns of sound quality, Tobias, although the Essential would be cheaper.

      • Vinay Timotheus

        Hi Paul. I have just bought a rega rp1 with the performance pack and have plugged it into my Panasonic Sc-btt590 blu ray home cinema system. Only problem is that it sounds no different playing vinyl than my digital music, is this because it is a home theatre system? I am not getting that “warm” vinyl sound.would I need to buy an amp and speakers? If so, what should I buy? I can only spend around £100 as I have just spent a lot on the turntable and pre_amp. Many thanks. Vinay Timotheus

  • Betch

    Hi, I’m thinking about starting a record collection and I’m looking to buy a turntable. I was considering getting a Crosley, but judging from what people have been saying about them I guess that option’s gone out the window. What are your thoughts on Motorinos?

    • Paul Rigby

      Hi Betch

      The fact that the Motorino includes an amp and speakers built into the chassis means that the sound quality in compromised. It depends what you want, of course and, for you, maybe this set up is ideal. In terms of pure sound quality, though, I would avoid. You didn’t mention a budget?

  • YoGabbaGabba

    Hi Paul,

    I’ve got some decent Sony speakers and an old fully working Akai stereo integrated amplifier and was wondering what turntable you recommend for a budget of between £100-£170? I don’t mind going second hand.

    Thanks,

    YGG

    • Paul Rigby

      If eBay and the like don’t scare you then check out decks like the Rega, Pro-Ject Thorens and even Dual. Ask lots of questions re. condition and working parts before you had over your cash. If you can, pick it up yourself and ask for a demo to make sure that the platter freely rotates (if not, the bearing has gone), there’s no electrical noises (wiring could be faulty), the stylus is in good condition, etc. There’s plenty of decks over there within your budget. UPDATE: That said, just had a look on eBay, there are a few ‘new’ Pro-Ject Elemental decks on eBay now (under Buy It Now) for around £160. Do a quick search. Again, ask lots of questions, especially as to how the seller actually defines the word ‘new’.

  • Nick Rice

    Hello Paul – thanks very much for this article – a great overview. You also are very graceful when dealing with some of the churlish comments a handful of people feel it necessary to make. And seriously helpful to beginners and boffins alike – Cheers.

    I’d like to join the long list of people you’ve helped with just a few questions that you can probably solve in no time. Right off the bat – why don’t more turntables have an automatic arm return when the side is finished? It seems that this – to my mind incredibly useful function – is absent from most players across all ranges, low to high-end. What’s that all about? Are vinyl lovers expected to not leave the room while a record is playing? Many a time I’ve left the room and been distracted, only to return hours later and feel my stomach sink to the awful hiss of the needle scratching away at the inner circle of the record. Or fallen asleep drunk and woken hours later to be greeted by the same heart-sinking hiss. Presumably it’s a basic operation, so why the hell don’t the top end models include it – Rega etc.??

    Can you please recommend a decent turntable with a pre-amp built in (I want it to be as portable as possible) with an automatic return function. Budget around £250. I just want to be able to get a good turntable and plug it into some active speakers (audioengine A5+ maybe??) and play a record. Simple, quick and relatively portable. With no messing about when it comes to finding or changing the stylus. As you’ve probably guessed… I’m pretty ignorant of the finer aspects of audiophilia (sounds a bit like a condition). I only just learned about VTF hereon your website. Which alarmed me – I’ve been using a Fidelity HF42 I bought on eBay. No idea what the stylus is or how long it had been in use… it says LPS in it. I haven’t been damaging my records have I? They sound OK… some records seem to play a bit slow but it’s bearable.

    Anyway… apologies for the epic message… and sincere thanks for any tips and pointers.

    All the best, nick

    • Paul Rigby

      Sorry for the delay in replying Nick. Thanks for your kind comments. Modern decks don’t have an auto return because it adds to the cost, first and foremost and, secondly, in sonic terms, it’s just another thing to ‘get in the way’ of the sonics. It adds noise and distortion to the sound. That said, it’s very convenient and, if you really need it, I’d recommend ‘going vintage’ and seeking out a Dansette-like record player (of similar quality to your HF42 but looks nicer) with built-in speakers, amp et al. Unless you are handy with a soldering iron, I’d try and find a reconditioned model because grease and oil hardens over years of use, capacitors and resistors become noisy, etc. You will pay a premium for a serviced model, though. You can, of course, take your wallet in your hands and buy a bargain from eBay but ‘buyer beware’ in that case. I wouldn’t play my prized records on such kit but if you are a bit more relaxed about these things then just enjoy yourself and to hell with these preaching hifi journalists 🙂

      If modern turntables, per se, are a bit scary and you want portability and you have powered speakers to hand why not look for an original Audio Technica Soundburger? Rather more recent vintage in terms of age but still vintage-esque. No ‘auto return’ but good sound quality, replacement ‘needles’ are easily found, is easy to use and easily luggable. Check out: http://www.thevinylfactory.com/vinyl-factory-releases/take-me-for-a-spin-the-8-best-portable-record-players-around/

  • Liana

    Hi. I was wondering about where the Flexson Vinylplay turntable stands in this discussion. I’m aware it’s not a high end model (can’t afford to be looking at higher priced ones at the moment). It is the one that I own. Was just wondering how protective/ disastrous it is for my records. Thanks.

    • Paul Rigby

      I have yet to test the Flexson but I have a suspicion that it’s not a bad little deck. More suited to those who want to connect their analogue system to a multiform system like Sonos, though because it features relevant hardware for that task. What is your budget?

  • twirlyhurrell

    Hi Paul, I am looking for a turntable for my son (20 years old) who always just played records we snagged at Goodwill but now that he is at college studying music I think he secretly wants a much better player, but he can’t afford one (all his money spent on a custom guitar) I would like to get him one for Christmas. He tends to be a bit of a perfectionist so I’m looking for suggestions, our budget is around 400 US dollars.

    • Paul Rigby

      ProJect Debut III – $300 or Carbon DC if you want to spend your $400. That should do the trick. Amazon stock them (as do others, I’m sure)

    • Alex Steele

      AUDIO TECHNICA LP120 USB

  • Luis F. Hirose

    Hello Paul! It’s been a year and a half and still one of the most looked articles. Thank you for sharing your knowledge! Not to complain, but to ask for help. I live in Japan so Japanese brands are cheaper here, still not much tho. TEAC has evolved and I think Pioneer did as well. After almost a year of research, browsing, studying, saving, listing and buying vinyls, I am finally ready to buy my TT! But since here they don’t focus on audiophile lovers(with low cash), turntables that costs £300 will be costing £450+. I just want you opinion about my last choices, so:

    1* TEAC TN-350 with the S-300NEO speakers: £530
    2* The new Crosley C10 sounds promissing: £260
    3* Orbit PLUS with acrylic plate and Grado Blue1 Cartridge: £320
    4* Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit SB (DC): £400

    5* Onkyo CP-1050: £240

    I understand that’s a lot, but those are the ones I can afford. Although the Pro-Ject is really hard to get, since it doesn’t ship outside US, I know the more you spend, the better you get so despite complications, it’s still on my list. I’m tempted about Onkyo and TEAC for they can be bought without credit card(mine has a very low limit). Also I’m looking to buy DENON PMA-390REK (£110) as my Integrated Amplifier. And maybe Onkyo D-109E Speakers.

    As Nick said, really sorry about the titanic text. Hope you can shed a light over my doubts. Thank you for your timee and apologies for the trouble.

    • Paul Rigby

      The Teac and Onkyo are well built and solid. I’ve heard the Onkyo fairly recently too although thought that it sounded a mite analytical for my taste. The Pro-Ject is the best balanced of the decks in your list.

  • hollytrehearn

    Hi Paul,

    I love this article! it’s great you’ve been replying to so many posts over the last 2 years and I’ve been reading your responses to try and get clued up but I have a few questions if you would be kind enough to answer just a few more from me.

    My boyfriends mind was blown when a friend played him some vinyls recently, and as we both love music I’d love to get him one that plays both my parents old records and brand new ones. As a student, I’d love to spend more but my budget is around £150. Sound quality is probably my most important factor as I don’t want to buy a brand new cheap one that sounds apalling, so I realise looking second hand is the way to go as you have suggested to others on a tight budget, for the brands you’ve listed in the article.

    After reading your reply to YoGabbaGabba, I’ve been looking at the Pro-ject Elemental and the Rega RP1. I know nothing about how record players work so I was wondering, for people like me who are looking at Ebay, if you could please outline what parts of a record
    player can be easily replaced if listed as old/ well used, and what sort of
    damage/wear to avoid when buying second hand. For instance, I really like the
    look of this RP1 and seems a good price considering the rrp:

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Rega-RP1-Turntable-/301785623353?hash=item4643d32b39:g:R1oAAOSw5VFWNkYe

    but have no idea if the stuffthis guy mentions would mean we’d have trouble playing anything without having extensive knowledge like people such as yourself, or if that is minor.

    I guess you never really know with second hand, so maybe to be sure I should spend a bit more for a new one would be better. But, if im gonna pay the money and drive an hour to pick one up I wanna know that I’m not gonna be ripped off and leave my boyfriend
    disappointed.

    Any words of advice would be much appreciated!
    Thanks in advance, Holly

    • Paul Rigby

      Hi Holly

      Buying second hand, I don’t have to tell you, is always a gamble but there’s the lure of bargain prices… To prevent being ‘ripped off’, you really have to visit the chap and ask him to fire up the turntable and listen for yourself and be aware of obvious issues: crackling electrics, crunching sounds as the turntable revolves, obvious missing parts, odd or weird sounds and other scary noises.

      If you are setting your gaze towards a Rega RP1 then you can always replace the cartridge (this bit that holds the ‘needle’) for around £27. Also, the belt the spins the turntable (these than become over-stretched in time) for a few pounds as well as the felt mat (which can become stuffy if not looked after). Apart from that, as a beginner, if other aspects of the deck make you wary, then walk away from it. For the price, it’d probably cost more to repair. You maybe lucky, though, and pick up a perfect deck that’s ready to go.

      In this case, the chap’s description sounds fine to me BUT I cannot be held responsible if the whole thing ends in disappointment. It’s your responsibility to check it out and you need to be happy before you hand over your hard-earned.

      There are many excellent second hand finds to be had from eBay and other second hand sites out there (eBay is, of course, just one source) but many of these bargains are older models and I would recommend more knowledgable users to go for those. For raw beginners, more modern designs (like Rega, Pro-Ject et al) are recommended.

  • gus a

    Hi Paul! That is a good guide for people who do love music and vinyl but can not afford some too expensive turntables.
    For years,i have a Technics slbd20 and i can say i am pretty happy (my first turntable,it is emotional…).Well in my mind there is a thought of replacing it. Is it the project or rega the next step?What about brands like Akiyama or the (new) Lenco?Or just a better cartridge (e.g an audiotechnica) will do the job?

    • Paul Rigby

      Tel me about it, my first was a Technics SLB2 – 14 years old I was. In fact, at that time, I remember the Internet being all fields… You need to provide much more info, Gus. Why do you want to upgrade? What is your budget? Music you enjoy? Would you go second hand?

      • gus a

        Well my Technics is starting having problems with the arm(falls on the record too slow and in some recs it destorts the sound.e.g. Portisheads’ third album sounds like there is Scott Walker on vocals…But on other albums there is no problem.Strange.).I have it for 15 years!
        I was thinking to spend about 270 euros( 190-200 £?),and project seems fair enough.Even though,i think i like rega more.
        A variaty of music genres passes from my turntable.From folkrock,to indie rock and jazz and some electronica.
        I would prefer a new one Paul and my main concern is service as i live in Greece and not in Athens!

        • Paul Rigby

          Fair enough – I’d go for either the Pro-Ject Debut SE III or, I think I go with you on this and go for Rega. In this case a RP1 but also get the Performance Pack. You’ve got enough budget.

          • Paul Rigby

            Oh, you can buy that from Amazon – so delivery shouldn’t be an issue.

  • Tamara Sturtz

    Hi Paul
    How brilliant this post is still going strong after two years! I’m looking to buy my husband a turntable (probably secondhand) and speakers, but am a complete novice. The advice below has been very helpful. One question though… do I need something called a pre-amplifier? This is where it starts to get confusing. Also, what other ‘accessories’ would you recommend?
    Thank you so much.
    Tamara

    • Paul Rigby

      Well, Tamara, if this section carries on much longer and in this way then I’m going to introduce my own currency and declare independence.
      For now? Let’s start with the basic question of money. How much do you want to spend?
      Basic advice? There’s two ways to go here. There’s the convenience road which has all the bits and pieces stuffed into one chassis. So, you plug it in and go. These days, such a beast is rather unfashionable so systems like this tend to be either old (70s-era, etc) and cheap (the list is too long to print here), second hand and collectable and rather expensive (things like Bang & Olufsen) or beautiful and wonderful and mega-bucks (works of art from the likes of Braun).
      The other road is the world of separates. The idea here is to take all the bits that you need to get going but, instead of stuffing them into one box, you separate each bit out and put each bit into it’s own box with its own power supply and own plug. The bad thing about this is that, in very general terms, it’s more expensive (on average, there are exceptions). The good things is, the separates road tends to sound a lot better, they are easier to purchase new and you can pick and choose which bits go to make up your system.
      Basically, to get your turntable on the road you need: the turntable itself (many come with an included arm and the needle/stylus bit already added, fitted and configured). After that? You’ll want an amplifier. This bit increases the tiny signal from the turntable and makes it loud enough for you to hear. Lastly? Speakers to produce the all important music. So, three bits.
      Now, the one complication to this is a possible 4th bit. In lots of amplifiers, there’s something called a phono amplifier. This bit is a special ‘Phono’ amplifier. It’s entire job is to boost the signal made by the needle. It makes the general amplifier’s job a whole lot easier.
      Most of the time, this ‘Phono’ amplifier is inside a main amplifier so there’s no issue. There are some amplifiers out there where the phono amplifier is *not* included. Thus, you’ll need to buy a phono amp too. Like I say, though, most of the time, you’re looking at a turntable, amplifier and speakers.
      You need to decide which road you want to go down, budget and new or second hand?
      PS: You generally won’t need a Pre amplifier unless you’re talking about serious hifi for serious money. For your information, the ‘pre’ amplifier is that part of the amplifier which features most of the buttons to select this or that feature.

  • Stephanie Ryan

    We had a Zenith radio/cassette, multi-record player in the US that we brought to the UK. However, with plugs and conversions it is still running at the wrong speed. Looking for something in the UK that we can plug our Bose speakers into, that looks great as a show piece, and won’t ruin our records- all without killing our budget since we will only be here for a few years. Of these 8 listed- which do you recommend for those purposes? 🙂

    • Stephanie Ryan

      Note: The cassette/radio aspect isn’t important to us 🙂

    • Paul Rigby

      Do you have a budget? I guess you’d want an all in one system or would you go for separates? That is: turntable and a separate amp, etc?

      • Stephanie Ryan

        We’d be up for either. I’d say if we could stay in the 200£ – 300£ range that’d be great

        • Paul Rigby

          Hmmm, you’re a ‘special case’ Stephanie, you’ll be glad to hear 🙂 You’re looking for style at a low price which is nigh on impossible for that budget, new. Hence, I would seriously consider, on this occasion, going second hand and seeking out an all-in-one system from Bang & Olufsen. This brand is all about high-flying style but offers a vastly under-rated sound output and still looks good, even after previous owners. You know about the vagaries of buying second hand, I’m sure, so I’ll leave the pros and cons of that to your good self but please ask lots of questions to the buyers about working condition, is the stylus new, how much for a replacement if not, are the connections solid or do they crackle when moved, does the turntable platter move freely, same question re. the arm, etc.
          If you go down that route then you should also be able to retain your cassette deck and radio. In terms of specifics? Look out for something called a ‘Beocenter’. There are various ‘Beocenters’ out there of different specs and prices. Here is a sample link that also includes free B&O speakers, so the speaker ‘style’ would fit the main centre (I would recommend them over your Bose samples).
          http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/BANG-AND-OLUFSEN-B-O-BEOCENTER-2200-SYSTEM-FREE-BEOVOX-X25s-AT-FULL-PRICE-/262112073586?hash=item3d0718d772:g:8~IAAOSw2VJVfzpO
          Now, this link is for your information only, IT IS NOT A RECOMMENDATION TO BUY. That is your decision, I cannot be held responsible for any possible, later problems or issues that you might have with this seller. I don’t know the guy from Adam. I’ve just stumbled over him now, as you might after browsing. I have no connection whatsoever with this seller.
          All that rather stern legal chatter aside, as you can see, this one arrives complete with packaging and has had an overhaul and only fetches £250. This model was originally introduced in the early 80s and would have been a high priced item when it was originally released. If it works as it should then this is one of your bone fide bargains. Good luck!

  • Randy Williams

    it would be really nice if the prices were in dollars….

    • Paul Rigby

      If you need a dollar recommendation, Randy, I can help.

  • Realllly happy with my Uturn Orbit (added the integrated pre-amplifier). Starting at $179, its just great for the price! http://store.uturnaudio.com/

  • jingotsi

    quick one, do i really need a direct drive turntable for home entertainment. Can belt drive still deliver ? is there a significant difference in quality of output ?

    • Paul Rigby

      No, you don’t need a direct drive. Belt drives are behind some of the best turntables that world has ever seen. The main difference? (In very general terms) probably tighter bass with more impact. Belt drives can shock you though, in that department. Are you looking to buy ?

  • Dan Cooper

    Reading the replies, hoping you can make a recommendation for me. I’m in the US, looking for an all-in-one (turntable and speakers) solution for listening. Plenty of vinyl sitting around collecting dust because I have nothing to play it on! Thoughts?

    • Paul Rigby

      What’s your budget Dan? New or second hand?

      • Dan Cooper

        Not really sure what my budget should be. Don’t have a fortune to spend, but don’t mind spending a little money for something that will serve me well. Could go new or secondhand.

        • Paul Rigby

          Personally, I would look for a Bang & Olufsen Beocenter – there are various ‘Beocenter’s out there of varying spec and price. All turntable models are no longer made so you’ll need to trawl around eBay but they look good, sound great (for an ‘all in one’) and tend to need less servicing (but don’t rule that out). Prices can range from around $300 upwards. Let me know how you get on if if that recommendation is unsatisfactory.

          • Dan Cooper

            The Beocenter’s that I’ve been seeing on eBay are marked ‘for parts or repair’, and seeing as I make my living as a chef, I’m not sure ‘repair’ is something I’d be able to do. I’ll keep an eye out, but if you have any other recommendations I’d be happy to hear them.

          • Paul Rigby

            Such is the vagaries of the second hand market, Dan. When I mentioned that model initially, there were 6-7 almost new models available. Keep looking on a daily basis, firstly. These things appear and disappear on a regular basis. Actually, if you care to search right now then you’ll see three for sale. One has a cartridge missing but they can be bought elsewhere (I can supply a link) Quick! If you miss out, come back and we’ll talk.

  • Serge

    DUAL Turntables
    If someone is interested in turntables “made in germany”, have a look at this side
    The small factory in the black forrest is developing and producing different players between 140 € and 1299 €. Only the cheapest one is made in far east.
    Greetings from Germany 🙂

    http://www.alfredfehrenbacher.de/Plattenspieler/Dual-Phono/107.html

    • Paul Abo

      Hi Serge. Dual made and makes great turntables. I currently own four Dual turntables (Dual 1249, Dual CS 455, Dual 505 and Dual 621). It is strange that no Dual turntable was mentioned in this list of 8 best budget turntables.

  • Karla Elizondo

    Hello, I was wondering if you could help me picking a turntable. I don´t want to spend more than 250, maximum 300 dollars, I have little knowledge about them, but I want one that is worth the money. I do want it to be pretty. I do not like the ones with clear cases.

    • Paul Rigby

      Style costs money, Karla. As you know 🙂 That said, beauty is in the eye, etc, etc. The Pro-Ject Elemental is priced at $250 or so from Amazon. It has a minimalistic air to it.

  • Allie Wong

    Hi, I’m looking for an affordable and good portable record player. I’m a uni student so my budget is preferably under $200. I have some old records from my dad and they are precious to him so I want one that would not destroy them. I’ve also heard that the Crosley cruisers will scratch the vinyls? Thank you so much!!

    • Paul Rigby

      See above Allie (re. Paula’s query) and let me know if that’s what you’re after,

      • Allie Wong

        I was thinking about the Audio Technica LP60PK? Is it good? I know it needs speakers. What about one under $250 that already has built in speakers? Thanks so much!!

        • Paul Rigby

          A good turntable would be a Pro-Ject Elemental ($250) which scores in terms of sound quality. That will need an amp (with a phono amp included) plus speakers to get going though.
          Not sure if you know but the phono amp is essential. It amplifies the sound from the needle and delivers this sound to the amplifier which then amplifies *that* sound to the speakers and then your ear.
          A basic amp, on its own, can’t do that job.
          Phono amps travel about a bit. You can find them all over the place. Many amps feature a phono amp, built-in. Better quality phono amps can be bought as stand-alone boxes. Budget decks sometimes feature a phono amp built into their chassis (this doesn’t help sound quality but it gets you moving in terms of listening to vinyl). The latter means that you only need to plug the turntable into a pair of powered speakers (also called ‘active’ speakers) and you are away.
          Are you sorted for a pair of active speakers?
          In terms of a deck, you can either go second hand and portable and an Audio Techinca Soundburger (great if you have little space to hand): prices vary. The Audio-Technica you listed can be used, if you wish too. It’s serviceable, not bad but there are better decks out there that will dig out more detail from your precious vinyl. It will get you underway in terms of vinyl though.
          If you do get the vinyl bug, as soon as you graduate and get a job, come back to me and ask about an upgrade 🙂

  • Bene Mcmanus

    Hello, I bought the Audio Technica turntable and the wharfedale diamond speakers as per the recommendation below but when my other half opened his present it turns out he cannot connect the speakers to the turntable as a result of the back of the speakers being the ones with the wire ends needing to be wrapped around the input/output nobs. This type of cable was not provided. Where can I get this from? Did I buy the wrong type of speakers? I thought it would just be the ones that you push the standard pins into the back of. Please help as I want to get sorted asap so husband can enjoy his present.

    • Paul Rigby

      Hi Bene – Nope, you did right. Don’t worry. It’s just that there is a box that you need that normally sits in the middle, in between the turntable and the speakers. This is the amplifier. This is the thing that magnifies the sound so that the weedy scratchings from the turntable can be heard through those speakers of yours. Got any cash left? If so, tell me how much and I’ll point you in the right direction.

  • Paula

    Hi Paul! Thanks for this article, it’s great! I am looking for a compact turntable, I don’t have much room in my current place and will be moving around in the upcoming years so I can’t buy a big system. I had seen the Crosley briefcases that looked like what I need but I’m worried that it would ruin my records. Are there any high quality portable, or at least compact, turntables you would recommend?

  • I bought a Rega because of articles like this one telling me how great it was. Totally disappointed by sound quality AND the bizarre ‘hair-bobble’ style belt to change speeds, hidden under the deck. It was so utterly impractical.

    Instead I took it back and got a TEAC TN-300 and wouldn’t swap it for ANYTHING on this list. It has an Audio Technica AT95E MM cartridge, the option to go via phono or a pre-amp, and USB connectivity that’s literally plug n play. And the build is gorgeous. Should definitely be on your list!

    • Paul Rigby

      Glad you found the deck for you, Didymus. This article is a rough guide (although the notes area underneath can provide more specifics, as you can see). As you yourself has seen, though, hi-fi and turntables especially, are often very personal choices.

  • Lucyreb

    Hi Paul,
    I’m looking at buying a new turntable for about £200. I’ve not had one before but want to get a good one that will last a while. I know before you’ve said the Pro ject essential ll is good? Would you still suggest that as the best one? I’d rather wait and save up if there are much better ones for a bit more money. I’d also rather not have the phono stage built in so I can upgrade things when I can. I’ve got my parents old aiwa amp and speakers which I will use for now.
    Thanks for your help and previous comments!

    • Paul Rigby

      The Essential is a good deck, absolutely. One alternative, if you can save up a little bit more, is the Rega RP1 for £229 from Amazon. The nice thing about this deck is that you can later purchase a Performance Pack upgrade which will allow you to directly upgrade parts of the RP1 when funds allow (£85, again from Amazon)

  • Will

    Paul,

    I have enjoyed many of your articles here, many thanks for all of them!

    I don’t know if this is the best place for this comment, but I am currently using a JVC JL-A1; if you could advise me how to get the best out of it I would be forever indebted to you.

    For what it’s worth it’s currently attached to some pokey little speakers (not my house 🙁 ) but when I move sometime this year I’ll get it going through my Celestion Ditton 44s again. I listen to all sorts: funk/soul/reggae/rock/prog/metal.

    I’m not averse to replacing some of the old kit but I imagine I would struggle to better it for a low price?

    Thanks in advance
    Will

  • iokabuloglu

    Hello! Any comments on the Pioneer PL-30-K Stereo Turntable or any of the crosley brand? It is for my brother and he is very picky (audio & design) so trying to find the best deal for under 300 US. Thank you!

    • Paul Rigby

      See above for my thoughts on Crosley. Are you looking for a turntable only or an ‘all in one’? Is sound quality a priority? If so then Amazon are – right now – selling a Pro-Ject Debut 3 (superior to the Pioneer) for $300, down from $400! But there’s only 2 left!!!

  • John

    Paul, the thread is great. It there any all in one TT that you’d recommend buying? It’s a gift for my wife who has loads of old vinyl. She won’t want ‘the works’ but equally I can’t see the point in buying an all in one if they are essentially all novelty items. What’s your advice? Many thanks

    • Paul Rigby

      Well, that ‘depends’ John and I would only recommend second hand. If you’re looking for heady nostalgia from days gone by and you don’t mind the bulk or the weight but yearn for that golden glow sound then head for a class Dansette from the 60s but only buy a reconditioned model service by a Pro. This will not be cheap – around £350 for a decent model. Go for a model with a Garrard platter which sounds better than the comparable BSR. For a more modern, stylish model then look for the B&O all in one systems. You can find these on eBay and they range in price because B&O produced a variety of different variants. Avoid the Crosleys, IONs, etc, of this would. They look tempting but offer false economies. Buying one of those is a bit like buying badly made MP3 player which does nothing for your vinyl’s sound quality or your vinyl. Come back to me if you need more help. Avoid those 70s all in one things from the likes of Ferguson, Sanyo, Hitachi et all

  • James Seaward

    Hi Paul,
    I’m slowly building an awesome collection of vinyl that has been sat waiting patiently for me, so I would like to ask you a couple of questions. I’m getting back into vinyl in a big way and have decided to build a quality ‘separates’ system. I know that you only get what you pay for, so with that in mind, if you had £500 to buy the best turntable you’ve ever heard with, which exact make and model would you go with in your experience? Keeping in mind that sound quality is the most important thing, as I would rather invest into a solid quality turntable that does it’s job really well, rather than a turntable with a whole bunch of different features.
    Also can you advise me on a separate quality amplifier for around £500 that would be compatible and quality speakers for around the £500 mark also. I really do appreciate your help, thank you so much!
    Cheers!
    James

    • Paul Rigby

      Before I launch into this…do you, therefore, have £1500 to spend? If so, I’d recommend spending a higher proportion of your budget on the turntable, less on the amp and less again on the speakers. If you’d like to go down that route then I can proceed on a different pathway. Let me know how you want to play it.

      • James Seaward

        Yeah, thinking about it, I’ll probably be available to run to £600 tops for a turntable…. Which one would you personally buy for that sort of money? And what about the stylus? Could you give me some info on different stylus?
        Many thanks!!

        • Paul Rigby

          The Project Xpression Carbon UKX is nice for £599 (or less). The Rega RP3 is a stonewall classic at around £550. The Funk Firm Vector is excellent if you can stretch for £750 or the Thorens TD 235 for around £570. They should include a cartridge/stylus but check before purchase.

  • Ines

    Hello there, I’ve been reading the comments from this article, which were very helpful, and I wanted to ask you a little thing. So, I really wanted to buy a turntable and after reading your article I thought Marantz TT5005 would be a nice way to go.

    Now my major concern, albeit I can’t spend more than 200£ for now, isn’t exactly the sound quality (If needs be I can wait and buy the speakers later), but the preservation of my vinyl (I have some limited edition ones). After reading one comment I really can’t decide if I should buy Marantz TT5005 or Audio Technica AT-LP60RD.

    I hope you can help me out, I’d be much appreciated!

    • Paul Rigby

      In which case, go for a Pro-Ject Essential II, Ines. Take care of those limited editions and squeeze as much detail from them as possible.

  • craig

    Hey! I live in uk. I am about to spend £250 on the Beatles mono vinyl box. Can you recommend a turntable for up to £250 that won’t chew up my lovely records? i’d be happy to plug it into my docking station speaker just now. my main concern is not damaging the vinyl.
    thanks!

    • Paul Rigby

      Get yourself a Rega RP1 turntable. When you can afford it, go for the RP1 Performance pack upgrade (£85) to improve sound later on. Rega also sell a seperate Mono cartridge (RB78 Mono – £68) which will improve the sound quality of your box set over and above a basic stereo cartridge on that Beatles vinyl set of yours.

  • Amir A

    hello. can you please suggest some good and budget turntable, something with very good sound quality and i’ll probably buy some separate speakers. my budget about 200$. i’m also interested in that ”vinyl to digital files” converting turntables. been interested in ION turntables but heard that it takes a lot of time to convert one single song. anyway, what i really care for is sound quality. i wanna hear maximum sound goodness from my vinyl records.

    • Paul Rigby

      If you are talking pure sound quality then I’d go for a Pro-Ject Elemental which I know Amazon have on offer for a few dollars above $200 (only a few extra from third party sellers). If you need a USB output? Try the Audio Technica AT-LP60USB ($115) or, if you can save a bit more, the Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB Direct-Drive ($250)

  • See-Ye Tan

    Excellent article, thanks Paul. I have been playing vinyl since the 80s but stopped in late 90s to 2000s due to lack of vinyls in shops but obviously it is now back in vogue. Therefore I have dusted off my trusted Pro-ject Debut 1 which I bought in early 90s…now, I want to ask you if there is really much improvement at all with the newer Pro-ject Debut 2 or Essential, etc… to warrant buying them as replacement for my turntable (Pro-ject Debut)…?? I am quite happy with it but simply curious if I will notice any distinct difference in audio quality if I upgrade? Also, I happened to play my turntable with lid off, purely for reason I love watching it spins (and my 9 y.o. daughter is fascinated by it as well) so I didnt know that sound improved with lid off, once again thanks, Paul.

    • Paul Rigby

      The improvements are there and are gradual but not enough for you to go out and by one of a similar ilk. You would hear improvements, yes, but if you are thinking of upgrading then you really need to jump up a rung in the ladder. If you get to that point, give me a budget and I’ll throw a few suggestions your way.

  • sherlock

    Hi there, i’m new to vinyl and i just bought Pro-Ject Elemental as a solid turntable to begin with.The problem is that i don’t have any idea about amplifiers and speakers and as a unistudent my budget is tight.Can anyone suggest me a decent amplifier and speaker with a total cost no more than 150 ?

    • Paul Rigby

      Sounds like you need a pair of active speakers which feature the amp actually inside the chassis of the speaker itself. There are real bargains out there. For example, a pair of of Boss MA-70s are excellent value and can be sourced for around £50 second-hand (or less, in fact). Fostex offer their PM 0.4 speakers for around £145 via Amazon. The Roth OLI POWA5 offer plenty of connectivity options and sound better but are priced at around £225 (a bit over your budget but worth it).

      • sherlock

        while searching for PM 0.4 ,I found FOSTEX PM0.3 brand new for 90$. Is it worth it or should I stick with the above?

        • Paul Rigby

          The 0.4s are better but go for the 0.3s if you’re tight on cash.

          • sherlock

            Thank you very much for the information,but it seems i have one last question.Is there any difference between the products you suggested above and speakers that are considered to be for DJing, especially

            Numark N-Wave 580 (which i can buy around 50$ at the local stores) ? Thanks for the awnsers again.

          • Paul Rigby

            DJ kit has been designed and developed to be used successfully and efficiently for DJ activities. They are designed primarily as tools and they highly successful as such. This is why audiophile kit wouldn’t last 5 minutes in that environment. Conversely, audiophile kit is primarily designed for nothing else except superior sound quality.

  • peggy armendariz

    Yes, IF you are choosing the best one then no need to worry, just keep in mind some point while buying and you will get the best one.
    http://buyanewrecordplayer.inube.com

  • Jason Ng

    Sir, I am also looking to buy a new table in the US for pure listening purpose. I bought 2 Technics Mk5 from Tokyo, which I stupendously blew one up because of using wrong power converter… 🙁 (so If you know how to fixed burnt table, please show me some guidance!!!). Anyway, those 2 babies are in Hong Kong my home town now. Right now I am in the US, and I am dying for a good sounding turntable, which is good for House and Techno (tight bass and clean hi-hat sound) and also good for converting the vinyl into MP3. I am deciding between Pro-ject Essential II, Elemental USB, and Debut III. Would Elemental USB saves me much hassle with its USB feature without sacrificing much of the sound quality, as compared to its more pricey peers? I hope you can help me out! Thank you for answer everyone’s questions!

    • Paul Rigby

      Sorry for the delay in replying to you Jason. Pro-Ject offers great value for money and their priority is always sound quality so the inclusion of USB within their decks has been performed sympathetically without any great sonic degradation. In terms of pure sound quality then I’d go for the Pro-ject. Having said that, if you you are a real techno/bass freak then direct drive does provide very tight and punchy bass output. The Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB is on offer from Amazon in the USA for $229 that provides a good, low cost, bass monster option.

  • Alex Steele

    AUDIO TECHNICA LP120 USB C, I bought this one a few months ago and absolutely love it. My only complaint is that for a $300 table it has no auto return and will track the lock groove until I get up and lift needle up. Other than that, It’s great!!

    • Paul Rigby

      The option of ‘auto-return’ is no longer in fashion, as it where, Alex because it is allied to a reduction in sound quality. Hence, that bit of extra work that you have to do helps to improve sound (as well as keeping the price down).

      • Alex Steele

        Thanks for your answer Paul. I was really baffled that it didn’t have auto-return when many less expensive tables I’ve had in the past did have it. Y’know I hadn’t bought LPs since about 1990 when cds got a bit cheaper and last May I got the fever for them again and I really dig it. I’ve got almost the whole Stones catalog (except most compilations) on new pressings or mint originals off Amazon.com and many more artists too of course. Mp3s and cds don’t require the meticulous care and the extra work that LPs do and it makes the music listening experience more personal and involved. Thanks again for your reply.

  • Infidel4Ever

    I second the recommendations of the Pro-ject and Rega turntables. While not in the same league as my VPI / Triplanar / Sigma Genesis combo, they offer good sound for the money. My son got into vinyl with a Pro-ject deck and I was pleasantly surprised by it’s overall good sound quality.

  • Whalley Range

    Heya Paul. I know it’s sacrilege, but I’m in the market for an all-in-one. My Pop’s got his heart set on one and was, in fact, completely satisfied with a Crosley Traveler until the revolution of the platter started to slow at one spot in the turn and until he read that the stylus was probably destroying his records. Still, he wants everything built in and no fuss. Musts: Auto-return (without adding a Q-up), built-in pre-amp, tone control, new vs. used (no interest in dealing with refurbishment or repairs). So, two quick questions:

    1. If you HAD TO buy a new all-in-one, is there a model you could live with? Is the Teac LP-1000 any good? How about any of the ones on the Third Man Records site (made by Denon, I think)? Can any of these be improved by changing the stylus?

    2. If I can convince him to go with an Audio-Technica AT-LP60, do you know if the new Blue Tooth version is reliable? I’ve read reports that it won’t work with most speakers. What I’m envisioning is a simple set-up of the Blue Tooth LP60 and a set of Blue Tooth speakers and he’s good to go. No need for Q-up or pre-amp. Can you recommend a set of speakers that has tone control dials on the speakers themselves (since the turntable won’t)?

    Thanks so much for any help. And just let me add that I am deeply lamenting the day, in 1988, that my sisters and I replaced his Lafayette turntable/radio with a poor Pioneer substitute. That Lafayette had an incredible, deep, rich sound and had a spindle such that you could load up a few records at a time and walk away. None of us can remember what happened to it. But, oh, if only it was in an attic someplace!

    • Paul Rigby

      You don’t mention a budget but as you’re talking about the Audio-Technica AT-LP60 (dodge the other suggesstions) then I guess it’s a rock bottom figure. Hence, I would avoid Bluetooth speakers: most low, low, priced Bluetooths sound pretty poor. Grab yourself a pair of second hand wired active speakers from eBay and plug them into your turntable. The Boss MA-20 (aka Roland MA-12C) are good for around £40-£50 (with tone controls on the front). New? Look at Yamaha, Fostex and the like but expect to pay upwards of £100. One alternative to all of the above is the Bang & Olufsen Beomaster range which came in different versions and was deleted many years ago but there’s still plenty around on eBay (these are ‘all-in-one’ everything is included and they sound fab)

      • Whalley Range

        Thanks for the tips. I’ll try to set him up with an LP60 and a pair of wired speakers, as I think he’d prefer new equipment over used. Those Beomasters sure are beautiful though.

  • FernandoCrisantos

    I think that the LP 120 Audio Technica is the best bang for the buck. Here’s a second opinion vinyltreasure.com/best-turntables/

  • FernandoCrisantos

    vinyltreasure.com/best-turntables/

  • PapaTango

    I’m not sure how I happened upon this site but extremely good reading it has provided and prompts me to ask for advice myself.

    In the early ’80s, I bought an AR77XB with Sugden A48 and an Ortofon MCA-76 pre-amp with a pair if Celef PE1’s and was in heaven with the overall sound quality. At the time I lived in England but now in New York.

    I am looking for options to either upgrade the AR with a new pulley & motor to run on 110v as, although running the 240v TT through a step-down converter, it’s making too high platter speeds and is clearly not compatible. Vinyl Nirvana would probably do the work BUT perhaps you might suggest a contemporary alternative within a budget of the work … say about $300?

    The Celefs probably need attention too since they are sounding listless compared to what I remember so with additional budget of about $200, could you suggest a pair worthy of the large, cathedral-ceilings within which I live?

    Back in the day, no-one ever heard of active speakers but that was then and this is now and as I took care with my records then, I’d like to enjoy them now with perhaps better technology. What do you think?

    • Paul Rigby

      You might have budget issues if you want to retain your ‘big’ sound Papa but let’s see what we can do. Firstly, instead of grappling with your current turntable, look at a Pro-Ject Essential II ($300 from Amazon inc arm, cartridge, etc). This will provide top quality sound for the price with no speed issues 🙂 To properly replace the Celefs (aka ProAc) with new designs, you would need to spend several hundred pounds/dollars so I would head on over to eBay instead, if you want to replace the stature of your speakers on ‘like for like’ terms. New and at your current budget? Well, you are looking at great value for money designs such as Q Acoustics or Wharfedale but they will not give you anything like the bass response or epic presence (although they are excellent sounding speakers in their own right). As I say, take a gander at eBay for good quality second-hand editions. You can find some bargains over there but buy sensibly and carefully.

      • PapaTango

        That’s sensible advice I think, having only just had a look at the ProAc site!

        Could you give me an idea of speaker models I ought to be considering within either of those two brands, as it’s been such a long time since I’ve needed to review these things. I don’t have a problem buying used but I need guidance to model selection and, since you are more knowledgable on current trends, should I opt for a used pair with a greater bass response, perhaps you could suggest another brand more suitable. I’m far from a bass head-banger, but I do appreciate a full spectrum of range.

        Thank you very much for your help.

        • Paul Rigby

          Well, any of the floor standing ProAcs on eBay will be worth a look. The only issue is if they will sit in your price range. Try your best to see them before you buy or, at the very least, ask [no, demand] a series of close up photos of all connections and drivers to check condition.

          • PapaTango

            Thank you for your assistance & help on this matter.

  • T C

    Hi. I would like to get back to vinyl and I looking to buy a record deck. I do however have an old SME arm in the loft from way back then and never had the heart to bin it. Is it considered a viable/realistic thought to get this fitted onto a new turn table? Or should I just buy a new deck?

    • Paul Rigby

      Which SME arm is it, TC? There’s a few variants out there. More to the point, what’s your budget on the proposed new turntable? It might be easier to buy a new deck based upon that resulting figure or, alternatively, it might be an idea to buy a second-hand turntable and then fit the SME afterwards (are you confident in terms of fitting arms to turntables?]

  • Paul Scott

    Hi, this a great thread!

    Due to space restrictions I’m looking at the most simple set up of a turntable and active/powered speakers for a total of £500.

    Speaker-wise I’ve been looking at the Ruark MR1s and the Roth OLi-POWA-5 which seem to produce sound of a good enough quality (judging by the reviews I’ve read)

    For the turntable I have nowhere near enough room for a standard size amp so I guess a turntable with either a built in pre-amp or a small phono pre-amp is needed?

    This will sit on a very solid unit in my dining room. It’s not a den or a listening room so super-duper hi-fidelity is not required at this moment. Well, until the kids move out and one of their bedrooms eventually becomes my bolt-hole…

    However, I need something space-saving which ultimately has a quality to the sound that will tide me over for a few years. Build quality and durability is also important.

    Oh, and they need to be white 🙂

    Any help and advice would be much appreciated thanks

    • Paul Rigby

      Hi Paul – glad you could make it.
      To business then. The Roths, for example, will cost you £223 on Amazon. They offer good sound and are fully featured but, if you can stretch a bit further, grab a pair of XTZ Tune 4 actives (they’re Swedish, http://www.xtz.se) for around £390, which sound better. Let’s assume you’re buying Roths for now, though. A phono-amped turntable for £275 or less? Either the Pro-Ject Essential II Phono USB (well, nearly, it’s £285) or the Flexon you can see above (which I can see on Amazon now for £239), which is basically a tweaked Rega RP1.

      • Paul Scott

        Hi, I thought you would like to know what I finally bought. I went for the Flexson VinylPlay turntable from Richer Sounds at £230. As the components are Rega it gave me confidence regarding the build quality plus it had the all-important phone stage I was looking for. Speaker-wise, I bought the Ruark MR1s from Superfi where I negotiated a small reduction for the display models. These were the only option small enough as I do not have the space for larger speakers. Just a smidge over £500 and all dead easy to set up. And you know what? Not only are they white, it sounds really, really good 🙂

        • Paul Rigby

          Excellent! Thanks for the feedback Paul.

  • Jaisimha Besadi

    If I ought to pay online to buy one of these products, can it be shipped to India?

    • Paul Rigby

      I would check directly with your favourite online source of choice Jaisimha. To avoid any heartache.

  • Art V

    Ugg … IMHO, except for the Onkyo … all of these are of questionable quality …

    • Paul Rigby

      Good, Art V – opinions are fine things and we encourage them here. Don’t forget the budget constrictions on this feature, though.

  • Damir

    Hi..maybe you could check this site also..great turntables for a fare price :))

    http://www.sam-audio.biz/

  • Celisou

    Hi everyone !
    I was walking around at Urban Outfitters and I saw those Crosley record players and I found it so cool. I wanted to buy one, but if it is to start a Vinyls collection, I would rather have a good quality for the record player. I read bad reviews about Crosley. So, I wanted to have your opinion, what would you recommend me? I read good reviews about Electrohome and Jensen, what do you guys think about these brands? Should I start with one of those to start?
    I am not a hipster (no offense), I am more interested about the Vinyls and I would like to learn more before buying anything.

    Thanks in advance 🙂

    • Paul Rigby

      How much money are you looking to spend Celisou?

      • Harry Parkhill

        I am in a similar situation, I’m interested in having decent sound quality (or at the very least not ruining records, as I’ve heard Crosleys do!). I can buy an AT LP60 for 89.99 basically new. Should I?

        • Paul Rigby

          Hi Harry – it is preferable to a Crosley, so yes 🙂

          • Harry Parkhill

            Tis done, thanks for the advice!

          • Paul Rigby

            No problem, Harry.

  • trashbat

    as someone who shifts between 33 and 45 a lot – sometimes on the same piece of vinyl – I’ve been put off the RP1 and derived decks due to the manual change. Especially as the manual suggests keeping the turntable running during a record playing session.

    What would be your recommendation for the best of these with an automatic speed change?

    • Paul Rigby

      Can you give me a budget figure for that one trashbat

      • trashbat

        Around £300. It’s feeding into a Mission amp and a pair of Q Acoustics 2020i, mounted on sand-weighted stands. So the low end of ‘good’, and we are unlikely to ever spend more than 300 on Amy component.

        For what it’s worth – we already have a Dual (in the loft due to loss of speed stability and barely worth cost of repairing), a Weltron 2005 with a BSR turntable – vintage fun, but not sure I trust it with my records, and two Gemini XL-500 with Ortofon carts – one of which is being used as our main deck.

        Again, my main concern is using a DJ deck as our main deck – due to the difference in needles and heavier tracking weight.

        Since posting I’ve shortlisted the TEAC TN-300 as a likely option as hits the spot with the speed-change, and built in pre-amp, allowing me to ditch one more box from front room setup.

        The Onkyo looks a good bet, apart from fact that aesthetically it would have no place in our front room. The Orbit Basic probably about the same as the Dual or TEAC TN100 and looking to go better than that.

        • Paul Rigby

          A lot of lower cost audiophile designs remove the speed select partly for budget reasons and sonic reasons: it takes money away from more sonically demanding parts and the cheap switch adds noise to the sound quality. That said, have you looked at the Audio Technica AT-LP120

          • trashbat

            Thanks – I must have looked at the AT-LP120 at some point as in a pri bar Amazon list – my hunch is probably little different from the Gemini in terms of direct drive and speed stability – so maybe I should just be looking at a different headshell / cartridge for domestics use.

          • NG

            I’m sorry to say this but Gemini has one of the worst reputations in quality of build and quality of sound.. they probably do the job but even Audio Technica is a far better option than Gemini. Happy with my Technics Mk2’s. If you want a cheap decent turntable, get a Vestax PDX-A1 – just make sure you don’t get the straight armed variant.

          • trashbat

            But the difference in price from a pair of Technics at this stage is quite staggering, especially considering these days we only gig maybe 6 times a year.

            I can report that I’m very happy with the TEAC – a huge and noticeable improvement in sound, same AT cartridge as the LP120, while also looking great.

            (As in, I don’t actually want a Technics style deck in there. It’s probably been 15 years since I had two decks set up at home).

            I’ll keep an eye on the AT as a replacement for the Gemini when they begin to fail, though. Because I don’t see Technics ever coming back down below ‘pro’ prices.

            (Ironically, the only reason I dumped mine in the early 2000s was that everywhere had decks, it felt pointless having my own)

          • trashbat

            Thanks anyway.

  • John C

    Paul
    I wonder if you can help me. My system is a Denon Mini (DM38? maybe) with Tannoy Mercury speakers both about 8 or 9 years old now. I’m in my 50s and when CDs first came out invested in that medium and carefully stored all my vinyl (about 400 LPs). Looking at the vinyl revival now I have dug these out and 90% of these have stored well. I am going to invest in a turntable. I require one that will play 45 & 33. My previous turntable was a Dual and that didn’t survive storage. Can you recommend something please.? Obviously with the set up I have I will require a built in phone amp as the Denon doesn’t have a phono in. My budget is around £200 – £250. In the longer run I will be looking to upgrade the whole system so would prefer a turntable better than the system I have ie future proof the turntable. Any recommendations or am I dreaming

    • Paul Rigby

      And what’s wrong with dreaming? I do it all the time John 🙂 Thanks for your query. I’d go for a Rega RP1. Firstly, if you ever decide to enter it into storage, it’s robust enough to survive that, I reckon. Secondly, you can buy one for £229 from Amazon, for example, and then upgrade the deck later, when funds allow with Rega’s own Performance Pack for around £85 to keep your deck ahead of the game.

      • John C

        Many thanks Paul. Price from Amazon is spot on. Ordered

        • Paul Rigby

          Hope you enjoy it, John 🙂

  • Steven Turner

    There are many turntables out there that will not ruin you vinyl The main thing is the arm and cartridge as for the Pro-Ject Essential 2 ok it may not ruin you vinyl but its £219 its well over price for a piece of junk when for a mere £20 you can buy the far superior NAD C556

  • Kendra Iggy Inman

    I have an “all in one” from crosley I absolutely love it.

  • Connor Stratuliak

    Hello Paul, I have recently started to collect vinyl and I was looking for a table that has pretty good sound quality, as I listen to more rock than any other genre. I am willing to spend 250$ on a table but was curious about the above listed pro-ject tables, would either one of these work for me? Is there anything I should know about them and should I get different stylus’ for them?

    • Paul Rigby

      Pro-Jects offer great value because they are made in the company’s own factory which keeps process down and increases value. The free arm and cartridge are both excellent and should serve you well for a long time.

  • Mateo Sanboval

    I am choosing between the U-Turn Orbit Plus, The Rega RP1 w/Performance Pack, or the Project Debut Carbon DC. My top priorities as one might imagine are overall quality of the product/how it treats my records, fidelity/sound, longevity, and ease of use. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    • Paul Rigby

      I lean towards either the Pro-Ject or Rega in terms of quality and would advise you to find yourself a good deal online or via a local dealer to sway your decision. Both decks are excellent.

  • Paul F

    Hi Paul,
    Having bit by bit disposed of, retired or lost my deck and separates over the years I now want to re-build. My children (bless them) got me one of those Ion decks at Christmas which has a) re-ignited my interest in my vinyl collection and b) made me scared to play my records on it…
    I don’t have a huge budget to start with so I was wondering if you could recommend a decent(ish) deck/phono amp/amp/speaker combination for around £1000 to get me going again? Thanks

    • Paul Rigby

      Rega RP1 (deck, arm & cartridge all sorted there; £229), Cambridge Topaz amp (£180) and Q Acoustics 2020i speakers (£120). If you really want to spend your £1000 then I can provide better equipment options for you.

  • Simon Roy

    Hi Paul,
    I know i’m kinda late to this article, but I was recently caught up in this Vinyl world since my girlfriend is collecting those and wanted a turntable since she was a child. So I was looking to get her one for the upcoming Christmas, but I am soooo lost in this. I’m looking for a decent one that won’t damage her collection and she will be able to enjoy her music.

    (I’m so sorry for my spelling, i’m french canadian and not used to speak/write in english a lot)

    • Paul Rigby

      What sort of budget are you looking at Simon?

    • Paul Rigby

      What’s your budget Simon?

  • river83

    OMG!! What about audio technica LP-60 ?

  • Bigfrank

    Hi Paul, I came across this as I was just about to buy a Steepletone Rico for my 11 year old daughter and wanted to find a review of it before buying.

    I was looking for an all in one because she is 11, has a small room so space for seperates like speakers is a real issue and the budget is really limited – we can only afford about £150.

    Do you think the Rico would be disastrous? I am planning to donate some old vinyl to her so don’t want it ruined too…

    Any thoughts or suggestions for an alternative?

    Thanks so much for reading!

    Frank

    • Paul Rigby

      You might want to look at my Akai, all in one, review elsewhere on this site, which can be had for £40 or so. You can ‘upgrade it’ by adding separate speakers later on.

  • Nokturnal Vlad

    Hello, i am new to the vinyl land, i have a small budget of something like 130-150€, i want a SH turntable that is compatible with my aiwa 8700 amplifier and onkio m55 speakers.
    If possible, i would like to not use the whole budget because i have 0 LP’s so i need to buy some.
    I think it would be useful to say the music i listen : old rock (AC/DC METALLICA IRON MAIDEN, jazz, classic music)
    18 yo, student 🙂
    Thanks ib anticipation of response

    • Paul Rigby

      The best ‘new’ ‘audiophile’ turntable anywhere near your price is the Pro-Ject Elemental for around £159. You can go for a sub-budget design but it will certainly not be “SH”. Second hand might be an answer for you on eBay, in that case, if you have the confidence to purchase from there and are aware of the drawbacks and what to look out for.

  • Karno Baghdassarian

    Hello Dear
    I am looking forward to buy a vinyl player, I dont mind spending few hundreds on it (400-500-600 range), however i want to get a decent player, since im gona use it for listening in my recording studio. i have a reference listening environment so i wana have some fun sometimes with the vinyls (which im new too as well). what do u recommend within that budget, and what do u typically recommend even with more money? thank you

    • Paul Rigby

      The Rega RP3 won’t disappoint.
      In terms of ‘more’ money? Well, that’s ‘how long is a piece of string’ territory. There are recommendations for every price category.

  • Thank you so much for a most useful post!

    Would you consider any of the “Audio Technica” turntables?
    I can see a few comments regarding those.

    If so, which model would you say looks good to you guys?

  • Jennifer

    Hi Paul,

    I would like to buy a Vynil player but I am not very familiar with the brands. I was reading the comments and I’m quite confused as there are alot of choices depending on what you are looking for.

    I live in Montreal, Canada and I would like to buy a good Vynil player around 150$ CAN. I usually listen to House/Trance, Rnb and Reggae music. I’d like to buy something that will last that I could also plug in to my audio system. Which Vynil do you suggest for my price range and also if I could wait and save more, would you have another suggestion in mind?

    Thank you in advance!

    • Paul Rigby

      Do you have an amplifier and speakers to run off a turntable Jennifer? If so, do you mind telling me what you are using? I would opt for the Essentials II listed above. Not sure of the price in Canada. Otherwise, a second hand model might be the best option. See my comments to Beth, above.

  • Beth Dunne

    Hi Paul! Great feed! Similar situation. Husband wants to start collecting vinyls which I’ve bought a couple of for Xmas. He wants a vinyl player but hasn’t got round to buying one yet. Thinking of splashing out for Christmas but don’t usually spend too much on it. Might split the present so his mum and my mum chip in a little or get the speakers etc. Budget is probably £200 including the need for extras like speakers/amp etc. He is very particular about ‘sound’ quality, but equally hasn’t got a good enough collection (just starting out on this) so thinking about a cheaper more basic model (that’s good quality) to get him going. He can always get a better one in future if it becomes something he is passionate about!!!

    • Paul Rigby

      A tough one if you want the turntable, amp and speakers for £200. Tight squeeze, Beth. Maybe an all-in-one might be best. How are you shopping for second hand stuff on eBay? A Bang & Olufsen all in one player will have all of that stuff in a quality package for (sometimes) not a whole lot of cash. Of course, this is eBay, so you have to be savvy and careful. Look for the ‘Beocenter’ models. There’s plenty to choose from because the company released many variants over the years so please do your research, take your time and make sure you ask questions of the buyer based on condition, does everything work, any buzzing noises, etc. You can get a new all in one from the likes of Crosley but I would advise against going there. Might look nice and shiny but the sonic experience will not be a good one. If you do get one, buy a new stylus (bin the one you get with the purchase) from a third party outfit like Musonic (https://www.musonic.co.uk)

  • Sue

    Hi. I hope you can help me…I know absolutely nothing about turntables! I would love to buy my husband a turntable for his birthday at the beginning of December, failing that, for Christmas. He has a selection of records (Saxon, Iron Maiden Black Sabbath etc) that he hasn’t listened to for about 30 years. I have a maximum spend of £400 but want a quality turntable that won’t jump/skip or ruin the record as they hold a lot of memories from his teenage years. I have looked at few online and read a lot a reviews but am quite frankly now very confused! I know we have an Onkyo amplifier and mission speakers in the attic that I was hoping to use with the turntable, I am assuming that would be alright. I know he would like a more ‘traditional’ turntable as opposed to the modern looking ones I’ve seen, also it must have a lid. Hope this list of requirements dosnt send you running for the hills!

    • Paul Rigby

      A Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC would be a a good fit for you other components. Costs around £325.

  • Majki

    Hi My budget is £350 and I found a promotion on amazon AKAI Professional BT500(from £430 to £349) what do you think about this? Do u recommend this AKAI?

  • Safari Love

    What is your advice when purchasing a Bluetooth turntable? Any suggestions?

  • angryllama

    In the 70’s, my dad had a stacking, fully automatic turntable w/ adjustable anti-skating, angle adjusting, weight, speed-switch and calibration (apologies for improper terminology). Never any problems w/ this unit even though I was “allowed” to operate it at age of 7 and, as you would imagine, would do everything possible to torture that poor thing when my dad wasn’t looking. It still works great to this day. A Sansui? I find it disgusting that I cannot purchase a quality fully automatic turntable in this day and age that has the appropriate adjustments onboard to minimize vinyl & needle wear just like the snobby “fully manual” turntables. The models that seem okay are riddled w/ quality problems in the reviews or are lacking some of the necessary adjustments. Even more discouraging are the endless threads of vinyl snobs who are quick to rip on those of us looking for a high quality turntable w/ convenience. News flash: they existed at one time. Comments citing sonic degradation from stacking, auto-return mechanisms, cost, etc. miss the point. That DJs don’t need features of convenience also miss the point. The point is, awesome turntables should exist that are convenient. I find that expectation much less ludicrous than a $4000US price tag for a turntable that needs to be babysat during playback. One should be able to sit back, enjoy a record while they eat, bounce kid on knee, cook dinner for the spouse, finish homework, *anything* w/out having to drop what they’re doing to rescue the needle from endless round and round and round… am I alone in this frustration?

  • JeepKing39

    Hi Paul, I’m currently looking for a turntable in the $300-400 range +/-. I really like the wood table look so I was checking out the new House of Marley turntable. It seems so recent that I can only find ads, no real reviews. I wonder if it’s a rebadged unit. What other wood options in that range would you recommend if my listening will vary greatly from Johnny Cash/Fleetwood Mac/Zeppelin, to 90s grunge.

    Also, does auto return no longer exist? Seems in the middle of hosting a supper or board game night, there might be times I’ll need a few minutes before going to the player. Tell it to me straight if this feature greatly reduces my options and makes me miss out on better units.

    Great site, just found it yesterday. Lots of great info so far.

  • Holliwood

    Hi, I need some help please, I would like to buy a turntable for my husband for christmas. I would like to to be good quality, not cheap and not to expensive. Background: He is musically inclined (plays piano, guitar) he has a good ear for sound.(He also went to school for audio engineering even though he is in different industry now). I am thinking about a turnable that can be upgraded through time, but has some cool features and is a solid choice with good sound. I have been reading tons of reviews: It seems that most reviews like the Audio Technica LP120 USB, Pro-ject Debut Carbon, but then I read good things about the Sony PS HX500. I would prefer to stay under $500, but I will spend a little more if there is a turnable that is right. We have not owned a turnable in a while, but it will be a welcome edition to our stereo family. Thank you for any help.