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(Pocket-lint) - Whether or not you're on board, the vinyl hype train is in motion - it's back, baby.
After years of apparent obsolescence, we're in the middle of the great record revival, so it follows that record players are continuing to release regularly, meaning people need to know which ones to consider.
Vinyl has inherent desirability to it, and a greater sense of permanence and ownership compared to other platforms. Whether it be the larger album artwork compared to a CD, the physical act of having to get up and turn over the disc to listen to the other side, or that many consider it to sound superior to other formats.
If you've been interested in jumping aboard the vinyl bandwagon, but have yet to get yourself a turntable, look no further. We've gathered together a bunch of the best record players available today, testing their audio quality, ease of use and design aesthetic to work out which are the very best options available.
Our Top Pick: Best Turntable
- Understated design
- Reasonable price
- No pre-amp
For its asking price, the AT-LP3 remains our top pick. It's a fully automatic belt-driven turntable featuring the AT91R phono cartridge that's easy enough to swap out. The sound is fantastic, too, thanks to the anti-resonance die-cast aluminium platter.
You will need a decent pre-amp to get the most out of it, but, make no mistake, this is a stellar player if you're connecting it to an amp and speakers. If you want something with its own preamp, then there are other options.
Other great turntables
Here are four other impressive turntables you could consider for your audio setup.
- Handy digital converter
- Amazing sound
- Not sure about the dust cover
- Very expensive
Also available as the DP-400 without the USB connectivity at the front (for digitising your vinyl direct to USB storage), these Denon players are some of the more accomplished record players around and we loved having it to stay. In terms of playing vinyl, the sound reproduction is superb, while the players also have auto-stop and can play 78rpm records as well as 33/45s. There's a built-in phono stage, but you can bypass it should you wish.
The dust cover won't be to everyone's taste, since it isn't hinged and comes completely off. But it's made from good quality perspex and is strong, while the stand it sits in (while a record is playing) can be used to display the record sleeve.
- Great wood finish
- Impressive sound
- No dust-cover
Roberts is best known for its radios, but that hasn't stopped the British company from producing a turntable. The RT100 has a traditional look, as well as a built-in pre-amp so you don't need to connect it to a phono stage.
As with several of the other turntables in this list, a USB connection lets you rip your vinyl collection to your computer.
- Cool minimalism
- Excellent recording options
- No dust cover
Sony has its own range of turntables, too, and the PS-HX500 is an excellent choice.
It looks great, sporting a sleek black finish and can also record your vinyl collection to your computer. Where this Sony option differs from other turntables on this list though, is that it can record in high-resolution audio.
Vinyl can be recorded in DSD and WAV and an editing app for PC and Mac lets you edit your tracks and split them if you record an entire side of a record at once.
Make sure the device you want to listen to your digital tracks on can support high-resolution audio. Some phones can natively support it, while others such as the iPhone, will need a dedicated app.
- Great design
- Handy dust-cover
- Not the cheapest
Another super choice from Audio-Technica, the AT-LPW40WN. It has a snazzy walnut wood veneer finish which looks a lot more appealing than many designs.
There's also a newly-designed cartridge and a pre-amp so it can connect directly to powered speakers should you choose to do that rather than use a traditional amp-and-speaker setup.
Other products we considered
The Pocket-lint editorial team spends hours testing and researching hundreds of products before recommending our best picks for you. We consider a range of factors when it comes to putting together our best guides including physically testing the products ourselves, consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. Many of the devices we consider don’t make our final best guides.
These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5:
How to choose a turntable
Your vinyl collection almost certainly means a huge amount to you, unless you're just getting started - either way, you'll want to pair it with a good turntable. Here are some questions to think about while you shop.
What sort of look do you crave?
Vinyl is vintage, there's no escaping that - even if it's still a current bit of tech, it harks back to the good old days. So, are you looking to embrace that with a wood-finish or acrylic look, an old-school turntable? Or would you rather find something modern and minimalistic to prove that vinyl belongs in the here and now?
Thankfully, its resurgence in popularity means that you should be able to find a turntable that fits into your aesthetic, as there are enough on the market to serve most needs.
How important is a dust cover?
One big variable aside from looks, though, is whether turntables include a hinged or removable cover, to protect your disc and turntable from particles when you're not using it. For us, these look classic but also serve a genuine need, but not everyone will think they need one.
Do you need a pre-amp?
You might have an audio set-up that already incorporates a pre-amp, to boost your audio signal for high-end hi-fi, but if you don't you could opt for a turntable that incorporates one, as some do. However, if the term "pre-amp" is meaningless to you, and you just want a vinyl player that can connect to some decent speakers, chances are you can ignore the issue entirely.
More about this story
Every product in this list has been tested in real-life situations, just as you would use it in your day-to-day life.
If you're into vinyl, there's nothing like having a good turntable to hand - you can get super high-fidelity audio and feel like you're a little more connected to the process than you do when using a streaming service. Judging these turntables means looking into their audio chops, and testing them against each other, but also deciding which look and feel the best for the prices being asked.
It's a delicate series of judgements, but it's what ends up creating our final order of preferences.
We aren’t interested in pointless number crunching or extraneous details - we just want to provide an easy to understand review that gives you an idea of what it's going to be like to use. And don’t for a second think that the products aren't tested fully because the reviews are concise.
We’ve been covering tech since 2003, and, in many cases, have not only reviewed the product in question, but the previous generations, too - right back to the first model on the market. There is also plenty of models we've considered that didn't make the cut in each of our buyer's guides.