Have you been wondering whether there is a better way to enjoy your favorite music other than through the modern digital technology? Living in the 21st century we have experienced unprecedented growth in technology affecting all spheres of life.
How we entertain ourselves with music has not been left behind in this technological revolution. Analog technology brought music in its recorded form to the ears of music lovers in the mid to late 20th century. This saw the popularity of the turntable as the main method of enjoying music soar across the globe.
However, much has really changed; in came the radio cassette, in the 80’s and early 90s, which was seen as an improvement to the turntable. The close of the 20th century brought in the digital era. Today, music lovers can play and dance to their favorite music genres from digital devices including mobile phones and home theatres among others.
Let’s highlight the following turntables that we feel, after intensive research, are among the leading gramophones in the market today.
Table of contents
Best turntables under $100
If you are operating on a low budget but still need a reasonable turntable that has reasonable performance, this could as well be what you need. This 3-speed stereo gramophone comes with adjustable speed and in-built speakers. Being a low budget turntable, it is quite easy to use and to set up. Jensen JTA-230 is great for you if you are new to the vinyl technology and if you are not so choosy about sound quality.
As low end as it is you can still use this device to transfer your records to your computer and convert your music from analog to digital; it’s USB port cable that is included for that purpose. The cartridge of this record player is made of ceramic, a characteristic of many low-end gramophones, and comes in handy in helping the tiny player to keep external noise at much lower levels during playback.
Be ready to experience sudden volume changes or strong bass during playback since the stylus in ceramic cartridges is fond of getting out of the groove especially when playing at low frequencies. Talking about the stylus, this unit is equipped with a stylus that can only play 33 1/3 & 45 rpm records. However, you can still buy a different stylus for playing with this unit. Though you will enjoy the convenience of an automatic stop when the record is over, the arm will not automatically return to its rest; you have to return it manually. Beware this might not be the only manual operation you perform.
You might be tempted to doubt the performance of Jensen JTA-230’s speakers due to their small size. However, when you turn them on you will realize the performance is rather dignified though don’t expect these speakers to get too loud. Though this record player does not promise high fidelity sound, it is still good enough to attract the attention of a low end purchase.
Audio Technica AT-LP60BK
This is a budget turntable that features full automation. If you don’t mind a 2- speed gramophone then this will serve you quite well. It comes with 33 1/3 and 45 rpm speeds. You can connect this unit directly to your computer, powered speakers, home stereo any other devices that are not dedicated to turntable input. Supplied with an Audio-Technical Magnet phono cartridge, the Audio-Technica comes with a replaceable stylus.
The good thing about magnetic cartridges is that they produce much better audio signals. The unfortunate experience you might have to go through with this cartridge is that it produces lower level electric signal but you can improve on this by amplifying it to a line level by use of a preamplifier. Another drawback you might face with this type of cartridge is that it has a higher sensitivity to external vibrations. Despite these downs, the magnetic cartridge will certainly do a better job than a ceramic one.
Note that this unit does not come with a counterweight to help you set proper tracking force. Rather, the tracking force cannot be adjusted as it is factory adjusted. The stylus will give you about 400 hours of good performance but as it gets worn out you will notice some skipping and loss of the high frequencies. The ATN3600L stylus is a good replacement for the original stylus. If you still want a better music experience with this device, you can still achieve it but the options are limited to upgrading other components such as the speakers. Otherwise, the turntable itself cannot be upgraded.
The automatic design of this record player is a feature you will enjoy. Unlike many other turntables in this range, the AT-LP60BK is fully automatic. Pressing the start button, the tonearm automatically positions at the beginning of your record. As soon as the needle touches the end of the record, the tonearm automatically returns to its rest. However, if you want to play selected tracks, you can still operate the tonearm manually using its lift button. What is certain about this gramophone is that at its price it won’t disappoint you with the quality of music it produces.
Best turntables under $200
Audio Technica AT-LP60BK-BT
Here is another great LP60 but this time with an internal Bluetooth transmitter. So, with this device, you don’t have to worry about wires running all over the abode. You can just set up the turntable in one room and stream the music directly to the other rooms without running cables all over the place. The gramophone can connect to up to eight devices with Bluetooth capabilities.
The sound reproduction with the Bluetooth feature is better than you would expect given that this is not wired technology. But if you really want to feel classic with the wires sprawling across the room, the At-LP60-BT turntable allows you the luxury to do just; its wired-operations option gives you this opportunity.
Though you can go that traditional way with this device, it doesn’t mean you will compromise your comfort and convenience. With the ease of its automatic operation, you are able to start enjoying your music with the just the push of a button. One other good thing about this model is that you don’t need a counterweight in order to prevent the needle from the occasional skip.
The tracking force of this product is preset since the cartridge is attached permanently and counters the need for any adjustable counter weight. The downside with this device is that though device connects to your computer, you cannot use it to digitize your records. In any case, you can get solace from the fact that the primary reason you want a gramophone in the first place is to get better music in its natural than you can get from digital music.
Fluance High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable Record Player
Fidelity carries the meaning of trustworthiness and this is what this record player delivers. Built with premium segments, this belt-driven turntable creates a pure analog listening experience that aptly captures the artist’s presentations. Its premium components enable this turntable to deliver the original analog experience and give you the true feel intended by the artist. You can count on the high-performance cartridge to produce outstanding clarity.
The playback function using the balanced aluminum tonearm makes sure the stylus rests deep in the record’s groove and produces each audio detail just like it was in the original recording. The tinted dust cover not only prevents dust from settling on the device but blends perfectly with the MDF cabinet material to give it a nice appealing look that supplements the overall curb appeal of your room.
When you scout for a remarkable record player that will give your favorite 33 1/3 and 45 rpm records the true natural feel and connect to your sound system, you will not be disappointed by giving Fluance High Fidelity a chance.
Best turntables under $300
Audio Technica AT-LP120BK-USB
Are you ready to get a good quality record player without having to dig deep into your pocket? Audio Technica AT-LP120BK-USB might as well be your safe bet. This player is becoming very popular due to its sound quality, speed accuracy, durability and of course, reasonable price. One of the good things about this player is that you can improve the sound quality anytime by simply upgrading the necessary components. The dual magnet cartridge produces very clear and well-detailed sounds.
The turntable is a master in excellent audio playback and high accuracy tracking, thanks to its elliptical diamond stylus. With this record player be sure of minimal tracking errors; the S- shape of its tonearm plays a crucial role in reducing tracking errors. Audio Technica AT-LP120BK-USB allows you can select the speed at which you want to listen to your music from the three available speed options of 33, 45 and 78. What’s even better is you can plug this gramophone directly to other components that have no turntable inputs thanks to the selectable internal pre-amplifier.
If you are one of the people who like digitizing their music, this device gives you an opportunity to do this since you can connect it to your computer using the USB or the analog audio. When fitted with the right appropriate stylus, this record player makes an excellent DJ starter turntable. Its high torque, direct drive motor and its other features such as fast start-stop, accurate speed, reverse playback, pitch adjustment, and strobe speed indicator account for this possibility.
Bear in mind that this turntable cannot emit sound without the necessary speakers, so it should always be connected to powered speakers or stereo receiver.
This is another belt driven analog record player that promises to deliver vinyl music as it is meant to be. This genuine belt drive, two-speed turntable comes with an MM phono pre-amplifier and a vital USB output is great for home use. TEAC TN-300 is one of the record players that allow you to play your vinyl with stereo.
With this gramophone, you can use the USB digital output you are able to record albums to your local computer. Though it is fully manual, it delivers sound with layering and depth. TEAC allows you to copy your music to a MAC or PC using the USB connection thus creating a digital archive.
Reading the vinyl records has never been so advanced and accurate thanks to the Audio-Technica cartridge installed to allow for this superior performance. The platter and record rotation is highly stable making this turntable to perform remarkably well when it comes to spindle accuracy. Any amplifier will work with this turntable since it has an integrated Phono pre-amplifier so whether it has a phono equalizer or lacks one the device will still stay faith and play your records.
The sound you get from this record player is certainly fit for its price and quality expectations; the bass is pleasant and the notes will hardly go awry. Though some people have an issue with the gramophones’ place of manufacture, the machine has not attracted any noticeable backlash. In any case, what matters to any serious buyer is the quality of the product.
Best turntables under $500 (click for the full list with reviews)
Pro-Ject – Debut Carbon DC
Unlike other turntables in its range, this record player is easy to set up, making it a favorite especially to people who don’t want to struggle with setups. The sound quality that comes from Pro-Ject DC is simply amazing. This unit features a motor suspension and a 33 1/3 and 45-speed rpm and is equipped appropriately with a belt drive.
This new Debut carbon comes with a noticeable improvement in the form of a carbon tube included in its tonearm. This is important if you appreciate the need for a stiff tonearm with decreased resonance. The Pro-Ject – Debut Carbon DC offers improved sound quality due to its increased platter weight and size which make it achieve much smoother rotations.
As you enjoy your music from Pro-Ject – Debut Carbon DC, you will hardly hear the sound of the motor due to the superior drive belt design used in assembling this product. In addition, its low weight and small size make transporting it quite easy. If you play singles frequently, you need to adjust the play speeds that often too. The manufacturer has developed optional speed boxes for people like you.
When correctly connected between the turntable and the mains power supply, you can electronically change speed from 33 to 45 at the push of a button. If you opt for this turntable you will enjoy the luxury of choosing the design you want from a range of not less than 7 colors.
Audio Technica AT-LP1240-USB
Aptly referred to as the professional turntable for the DJ, this equipment lives true to its reputation. Turntablists across the world have a lot of respect for these powerful turntables. So, if you are a DJ or want to practice and enhance your spinning skills, this is the gramophone for you. It is designed basically for use in all sorts of nightclubs, mobile applications and for touring.
That is why the upper body is all steel while the lower portion is extremely heavy rubber material deliberately put there for isolation and dampening purposes. Whether you are a professional DJ, an aspiring DJ or you just want to disk-jockeying for fun, this gramophone allows you to play your records at 33, 45 and 78 rpm. This does not mean you cannot use it for your entertainment at home. In order to offer exceptional music reproduction, this product utilizes a very powerful direct-drive, three-phase motor that delivers speed stability.
Other than the excellent motor, the turntable has numerous additional features that make your music experience simple fantastic. These features include: separate start and stop buttons, adjustable pitch range buttons in the range of 8%, 25%, and 50%, speed adjustment knobs, internal power grounding, and a replaceable pop-up light.
Other than for those who might want this for their home entertainment, we strongly recommend Audio Technica AT-LP1240-USB to any Turntablist or DJ who is committed and serious to his career and needs a serious machine to polish their skills.
Best turntables under $1000 (click for the full list with reviews)
Denon DJ VL12 PRIME Professional Turntable
• The isolated motor provides best-in-class signal-to-noise ratio since almost no mechanical humming sounds make it into the reproduction
• Users can easily switch between low and high torque motor settings
• All-metal tone arm design is extremely durable, which is perfect for DJs who move around all the time
• Consumes a fairly healthy amount of power with approximately 65 watts of current draw
• Lacks any sort of premounted cartridge on the tonearm, though a headshell is included
• Doesn’t come with a dust cover and lacks mounting screws to add one yourself
Denon was clearly aiming for the professional nightclub DJ market when they designed the VL12 PRIME. It’s an entirely new design that was engineered from the ground up with input from people who work in the music industry as well as from technicians. This might help to explain some of the more showy features like selectable color RGB lights that can make your records look like they’re flying saucers.
By no means is this a triumph of form over function, however. Everything from the quartz speed controller to the rubber dampening feet is designed to prevent any excess noise from making it into any tracks you mix. Even the stock 45 RPM adapter is much better than the standard pack-in plastic inserts most people are used to. At nearly 28 pounds, the VL12 is quite a hefty turntable. Unfortunately, build quality comes at a price and it tends to run higher than the competition.
If you’re into scratching cuts, then you’ll appreciate the switchable torque settings to get the right amount of pressure. When you dial the pressure up, you still shouldn’t find that too much sound bleeds over into twin stereo RCA output headers. The PRIME should certainly serve those who are looking for a serious phonograph that can travel with them.
Audio-Technica AT-LP7 Turntable
• Dual moving magnet cartridge system provides excellent multi-channel separation
• A metal gimbal helps provide remarkable stability to the tonearm
• Drive motor speed sensors automatically maintain accurate platter rotation even with records that might be a bit bent
• Some users don’t care for the stock stylus and opted to upgrade it
• While the medium density fiberboard chassis is excellent when it comes to deadening vibrations, it might warp over time when exposed to humidity
• Adjustable counterweights need to be calibrated before use, and it can suffer from anti-skate issues overall as a result
While the AT-LP7 is more of an audiophile’s turntable at heart, there are some features that should certainly make it attractive to DJs as well. For instance, a switchable phono and line-in preamp are built right into the chassis. This makes it easy to connect the LP7 to devices without dedicated phono input headers. At only slight over 18 pounds, it’s also considerably lighter than many competing designs.
Audiophiles looking to use it at home will like the VM520EB dual moving magnet cartridge, but those who want more power will find that the AT-HS10 headshell is easily upgraded. While it does cost more than most other belt-drive turntables, the AT-LP7 is still priced more affordable than a majority of direct-drive tables that come with similar speed-sensors.
Why buy a turntable?
This new mode of entertainment is of course considered modern and a mark of sophistication. But an increasing number of music lovers are turning back to the turntable. As someone with a passion and taste for good music you might as well wonder, why buy a turntable in this time and age?
Two compelling reasons make this option very appealing to this increasing number of music enthusiasts. What have these people realized? And, should you be left behind? Reason number one; listening to music from a turntable is a lifestyle statement. Possessing an album on vinyl and then having the right equipment to play it, depicts certain polished ways of listening to music and living.
Listening to music from a vinyl record ensures you will really listen to the music to its very end. Holding a record gives you the feel of actually owning that particular work of art. Knowing the historical place of records in music history, you feel special with one of the major landmarks of modern music in your hands.
The second and more important reason that should make you buy a turntable at the earliest opportunity is the quality of music delivered by these gadgets. Listeners have realized that digital sound does not sound natural. Why? Because when music is digitized, it actually loses some of the vital natural aspects. The digitization process makes use of snapshots to capture the sounds in the music.
Some aspects of the music are lost in-between snapshots. Granted, your ear might not outrightly detect the missing aspects but the fact is, there is something about the original music that misses in digitized music. So, if you want to listen to recorded music in its natural form in the 21st century, get a turntable and the accompanying vinyl records.
Turntables are not devices we buy frequently in this era. So, anybody who wants to go for this option might not be very sure of what to look for in a good turntable. To make matters worse, some of the terminologies that are used with this technology are no longer in popular use. Let us first start by defining these terminologies if only to make it easy for you to understand the contents of this review and to also empower you to use this terms authoritatively as you shop around for the best turntable.
Common terminologies to guide you in the selection of the right turntable:
This is the movable part of the turntable (it actually looks like an arm) that carries the pickup and allows the needle to accurately follow the groove on the record.
This is a magnetic transducer that is essential for the playback function of records on the turntable.
For the record to spin it has to be placed on a surface that will rotate together with the record. This rotating, round surface that resembles a flat plate, is the platter.
This is the component that offers a connection between your record player and the amplifier.
This the process of ensuring the cartridge sits on your record on the turntable with the optimum amount of weight. This makes your record sound much better and prevents the tonearm from scratching and flailing uncontrollably.
This is the adjustment made to the magnitude of the angle between the physical tape and the tape heads. The preferred angle is a perpendicular 90 degrees.
Vertical tracking angle
When the tonearm places the needle on the record, it does it at an angle which is critical for good sound quality; it refers to the angle made between the surface of the record and the cantilever.
This refers to the method used to rotate your turntable platter. There are many methods such as belt drive, DC belt drive and FG Servo Belt drive among others. Each of these methods has its strengths and weaknesses.
These terminologies summarize the key areas of concern you should consider as you shop for your ideal turntable.
It is now clear why the turntable is coming back to the lives of an increasing number of music lovers; vinyl music is more natural and appealing to the ear than digitized music. There are numerous brands of turntables on the market that cater to the needs of every budget. So, you can get a good turntable at whatever price range you prefer. This review has highlighted what we feel and know are some of the best gramophones in the given price ranges. You don’t have to miss out on the superior music experience offered by the analog technology. Search keenly from this best turntable list and you will thank yourself that you did.