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Best Turntables for Great Vinyl Listening

  1. Technics SL-1200MK2 Turntable
  2. Audio-Technica ATLP120USB Turntable
  3. Music Hall Dual-Plinth Turntable
  4. Numark PT-01USB Portable USB DJ Turntable
  5. Rega RP3 Turntable
  6. Sota Moonbeam II Turntable
  7. Pioneer PL-30-K Audiophile Stereo Turntable
  8. Reloop RP-8000 Turntable
  9. ION Audio TTUSB USB Turntable with Dust Cover
  10. Denon DP-300F Turntable
  11. Pro-Ject Essential Turntable
  12. U-Turn Audio Orbit Turntable
  13. Buyer's Guide

DJing has undergone a recent change from the days of two turntables and a mixer. Controllers have arisen as an all-in-one practical way of playing music. However, the fact of the matter is DJs still widely use turntables to rock a party. Popular software programs often require a hardware box that is meant to bridge the gap between the digital and analog world. Turntables and mixer are connected to a hardware box, bridged to the laptop, and ultimately out through the speakers. This makes the turntable a musical mainstay, not just to play your favorite jazz or classic rock record. And of course there are DJs who strictly play analog! Some prefer to stay averse from the changing, sometimes trendy technologically advancing scene and keep their style close to the original style of DJing. The best turntables in 2022 listed were chosen because they are all durable, feature modern upgrades, and are direct-drive, meaning the platter and spindle are directly connected to the motor which requires less maintenance. Furthermore, consistent match in speed between spindle and platter is needed for the demanding nature of scratching and beat matching that entails applied pressure to the vinyl. Anti-skate technology popularized by Technics have been mastered by other brands such as Reloop and Stanton. Wider ranges of pitch control give DJs unprecedented control over mixing and sampling. Combine this with MIDI capability, an auto beats per minute counter, and USB connectivity in some models, and its apparent that the wave of new features are staggering and promote new avenues to creativity.

Best Turntables of 2022 Reviewed in Detail

Technics SL-1200MK2 Turntable - Best Turntable Overall

Most DJs regard the Technics 1200 is regarded as the turntable that “started it all.” This turntable revolutionized parties forever, giving birth to live mixing of songs and scratching of records. Its place as a staple in the DJ scene for over 35 years was driven by its seemingly indestructible construction, gaining a reputation for being a long lasting instrument, which is why they have withstood the test of time. Pitch control ranges from +/- 8%, setting the bar for future turntables. Powerful torque makes for quick start and slow speeds and accurate playback. In fact, this old thing still holds the title for the fastest start/stop time of 0.07 seconds! Moreover, a tonearm that closely resembles many of today’s tonearms was originally constructed for this series.

Audio-Technica ATLP120USB Turntable - Runner Up

Audio Technica gives Stanton a run for their money with their direct drive LP120. Their mid-range USB turntable features pitch lock for bpm changes that will not affect the pitch. 12, 10, and 7-inch records can be converted with three different speeds: 33, 78, and 45 RPM respectively. Pitch ranges vary from +/- 10 percent to 20 percent for dynamic mixing capability. Audacity software is included for straightforward analog-to-digital conversion. Reverse playback is also an option for further creativity. Audio-Technica’s 95E cartridge, a favorite among vinyl lovers for its clarity and strong low-end, is mounted on the headshell. They threw in a removable dust cover for the classic record player look, as well as a slip mat and all the necessary cables.

Music Hall Dual-Plinth Turntable - Honorable Mention

Music Hall’s USB-1 is a belt-drive turntable ideal for digitizing analog music. As an entry-level turntable, it is built durably and includes everything needed to start converting, listening, or both. A pre-mounted reputable Audio Technica AT3600L cartridge is included, made ideally for high quality playback and crisp conversions. The tonearm comes with antiskate technology for even more reliable playback. Although this is not the most suitable for scratching, it will produce excellent digital versions of analog music. Torque on this turntable yields a start/stop time of less than a second when spinning at either 33 or 45RPM. Pitch control of +/- 10 percent allows listeners to tweak songs for recording or to dabble with mixing.

Numark PT-01USB Portable USB DJ Turntable - Consider

Portability defines Numark’s 01USB. This lightweight device is ideal for collectors and crate diggers who enjoy visiting used vinyl stores and previewing records before they purchase for purposes of sampling, or casual listening of course. In addition to RCA outputs, there is a miniature speaker built right into the turntable and optional battery operation for on-the-go sound. It comes with 33, 45, and even 78 RPM. Numark included their CZ-800-10 cartridge, a tool designed for balanced stereo playback. Pitch control is also wider than previous portable models at +/- 10 percent so mixing is still made possible if desired. The tonearm is a bit lacking with no antiskate or adjustable height but without scratching this becomes a negligible shortcoming. A USB output and Line Input makes it easy to convert all types of analog, including vinyl and cassettes. EZ Vinyl conversion software is included.

Rega RP3 Turntable - Best Audiophile Turntable

Rega has been making turntables for a long time, and the RP3 is proof that Rega is not resting on its laurels or simply tinkering with old technology. This is a strikingly modern and clean looking design featuring a phenolic double-braced plinth and belt-driven clear acrylic platter. The newly designed tonearm was fine-tuned using computer modeling for minimal resonance, and has a friction-free range of motion due to its precision bearings.

The RP3 incorporates a 24V DC motor for minimal noise and improved pace (timing accuracy) as compared to lower voltage DC units. Although most audiophiles only play LPs that spin at 33 1/3 RPM, you'll need to purchase the additional Rega TT PSU if you want to play 45s without removing the platter and moving the belt on the pulley. Otherwise, changing speeds takes a moment, but is a simple task.

This is a player that was designed to bring out every nuance in the music, with a sweet and natural midrange, at a great price. It has that Rega quality. Either with the recommended Elys 2 moving magnet cartridge, or with a cartridge of your choosing, you cannot go wrong with the Rega RP3.

Sota Moonbeam II Turntable

Sota Moonbeam II Turntable - Best Audiophile Turntable

The SOTA Moonbeam II is by far the least-expensive turntable in the SOTA line, and offers a great entry to the world of audiophile vinyl reproduction. This turntable utilizes special polymers for the chassis and belt-driven platter to keep vibrations and resonance super low at this price point. A synchronous AC motor drives the platter and provides the pace and timing unique to AC motors. That being said, rumble specs are not as good as some DC motor-driven choices, but still fall in the category of "very good." Speed changes are manual via belt adjustment on the pulley. The SOTA S100 tonearm does the job and can be mated to a wide range of cartridges. The Moonbeam II's pricing allows you to think about really looking up the product line of companies like Grado, Ortofon, Denon etc.

The SOTA Moonbeam II, like all audiophile turntables, was designed to get out of the way, and it is known for bringing out lots of low-level detail. You'll enjoy this turntable, and, if you really get bitten by the hi-fi bug, appreciate SOTA's lifetime trade-in policy.

Pioneer PL-30-K Audiophile Stereo Turntable - Best Budget Turntable

This best pick for budget turntable is a little different than the rest. If you need USB built in then look elsewhere. But, if you already have a sound card with RCA inputs, or simply want a good quality starter turntable, The Pioneer PL-990 fits the bill.

The PL-990 is a fully automatic turntable with a straight tonearm and belt-driven platter that will spin at 33.33 or 45 RPM. It comes with a moving magnet cartridge with a universal mount. Universal mount makes it easy to replace or upgrade the cartridge in the future. However, note that the built-in phono preamp is not switchable. So, more than likely, if you are at the point of considering a cartridge upgrade, you may very well be on the path to a more expensive turntable as well.

As with all turntables in the budget category, specs are good, but not great. The Pioneer PL-990 is a good entry point to vinyl reproduction, and with less going on in the inside, there is less to go wrong as well.

Reloop RP-8000 Turntable - Best High-End DJ Turntable

A superior turntable meets controller. The Reloop RP8000 features all of the sturdiness and reliability of the RP7000, combined with MIDI. Vestax released the world’s first MIDI capable turntable, and Reloop took it a step further with Serato mappings readily available. Eight pads line the left side of the turntable with different combinable modes of playback: cue, loop, sample, and user. User mode offers DJs fully customizable pads. Pressing two of the mode buttons simultaneously splits the 8 pads into two banks of 4. Furthermore, each button can be held down to assign a second function. A rotary sits right above the mode buttons for easy access to track navigation. Practically all features are adjustable including the 3 ranges of pitch, torque, and start/stop time from 0.2 to 0.6 seconds. The digitized pitch fader is listed as being even more accurate than the RP7000 at a 0.02% deviation!

ION Audio TTUSB USB Turntable with Dust Cover - Best Budget DJ Turntable

ION designed a turntable meant for beginner DJs to cut mixes together. There is no pitch control on this turntable, rendering it more suited for events where beatmatching is unnecessary and “fade in, fade out” mixing is more appropriate. This turntable can also be effectively used in conjunction with a software program where the pitch is controlled through the computer. ION’s TTUSB shares a name and similar features with its competitor, the Numark TTUSB. This belt-drive turntable has a tone arm with adjustable anti-skating helps to keep an even stereo sound while protecting against skipping. The 33 and 45rpm speeds are supported and resonate through a fairly good cartridge that comes with the turntable. USB and 1/8 inch connections are used to convert records into MP3 files.

Denon DP-300F Turntable - Best Turntable Overall

The Denon DP-300F is in a mid-grade turntable designed for people that enjoy the automatic features of starter units. It is fully automatic; pushing a button starts the platter, raises and moves the arm, and sets it on the record. It has a built-in phono preamp for direct connection to receivers that only accept line level connections.

But the similarities end when it comes to build quality. The DP-300F uses a belt-drive system with DC servo motor that provides better isolation of motor noise and better wow and flutter specifications (0.10 percent). Instead of plastic, the chassis is made of aluminum. The straight tonearm is noted to be very good, and comes with a removable universal mount headshell. On the downside, the included cartridge is a weak point. If you are willing to be in this price range for a better turntable, you will want to upgrade the cartridge. Finally, we need to note that this is a very attractive turntable, with a piano-like finish and clean design. It looks nothing like DJ turntable because it isn't. It's a serious spinner of records that just so happens to be fully-automatic.

Pro-Ject Essential Turntable - Best Turntable Overall

Pro-Ject's least expensive turntable is a great way to bring audiophile-grade sound to a mid-fi budget. The Essential is a fully-manual turntable with MDF used for the chassis and platter instead of plastic. It includes a cueing lever but no other frills. Unlike other models on the list, this is a two-speed, belt-drive turntable with no electronic speed control. To change the speed you must move the belt on the pulley.

Right away, this can be a non-starter for people unaccustomed to this level of manual control. However, components like this are designed with the notion of fewer mechanical parts equals fewer things to affect the sound. Wow and flutter specs are similar to other choices on the list, but signal-to-noise ratio is better (-65 dB) due to the belt-driven design.

The straight tonearm is crafted from aluminum and has a fixed headshell with the very good Ortofon OM3E cartridge included. The difference a better cartridge makes in tracking and fidelity cannot be overstated. The Essential does not offer USB outputs, and is fully manual. It may not be the best choice for many users looking in this price range. However, it will certainly be the best sounding.

U-Turn Audio Orbit Turntable - Best Turntable Overall

If you have not heard of the Orbit Turntable and U-Turn Audio, that's because this is a new product from a new company. But, the design is decidedly old school audiophile. The Orbit is a completely manual turntable with audiophile-grade sound, positioned just slightly above the budget turntable price range.

There is no USB output, nor built-in preamp. There is not even a tonearm lift. What you are getting, however, is a real deal vinyl playing machine. The basic Orbit model uses a belt-driven, machined MDF platter, mated to an AC synchronous motor. The wow and flutter is listed at 0.2 percent which must be a conservative rating considering the drive system. The motor is isolated from the plinth using a rubber suspension, with a signal-to-noise rating of -62 dB. . Speed changes from 33 1/3 to 45 are manual via moving the belt on the exposed pulley.

The Orbit turntable's tonearm is also quite a bit better than what is normally found at this price range. It is a straight design crafted from aluminum, with very high quality bearings, and silver-plated wiring. RCA cables are included and removable for transit and upgrade purposes. If you have visions of really getting into high fidelity audio, the Orbit will be a very good choice. If you do want to be able to digitize your vinyl, the Orbit plus a USB phono preamp is a very nice combo. If you need automatic features, look elsewhere. Finally, be aware that Orbit is a new company, but one with a clear vision of affordable audiophile-grade sound.

Buyer's Guide

Turntables are electronic devices used to play the vinyl disc. Turntables are part of a larger record-playing system. It is a circular plater that spins the disc as the pin reads the sound stored in it.

Turntables are quite old-fashioned but they are extant and add an air of vintage to any space. Turntables decode the electrical signal stored into vinyl discs and forward them to amplifiers that in turn strengthens the signals to be good enough for loudspeakers to produce as audible sounds. The electrical signals in the vinyl disc are called ‘phono’.

Are Turntables and Record Players the Same?

The quick answer is no. Although both names are sometimes used interchangeably, one is a part of the other.

Turntables merely read the phono signal carved into vinyl. They do not output sounds. Turntables need external amplifiers and speakers to convert the electrical signals into audio sounds. Record players, on the other hand, are a single unit of the vinyl player with an inbuilt turntable, amplifier, and speaker(s).

So, while a turntable includes only the tonearm and plater to decode the phono signals, a record player includes a turntable, an amplifier that boosts the phono signal, and speakers that collect the boosted phono signals and output them as sounds.

What are Tips for Setting Up Turntables?

Since turntables do not readily come with some devices, there is a need to set them up. Four important external devices are needed to set up a turntable including the turntable itself. The other three are preamp, amp, and speakers.

Preamp

Preamplifier picks up the phono directly from a turntable. It could be separate or incorporated with the turntable.

Amp

The amplifier receives the phono from the preamp and boosts the electrical signal to be strong enough to be decoded as sounds by speakers

Speakers

Take the phono and ‘boom’ it out.

What are the Things to Consider Before Buying a Turntable?

Turntables are not exactly the kinds of technology popular amongst people, especially among millennials and Gen Z. They are old technology that people fashion for their aesthetic features, and also, there are distinctive features sounds from analog sound players have that are missing in the raving new technology audio players.

There is a lot of turntable devices to choose from, from actual old ones to new models. It might be a daunting task researching through features that make a good turntable. We take it upon ourselves to give you the best turntables buying guide.

What is your Budget?

The price of turntable varies from as low as $50 to jaw opening thousands of dollars. Before you consider anything, it is necessary to consider your budget and how much you are willing to spend on a turntable. If you are looking for low-end turntables, you could get vintage ones and they are often as good as new models.

Low-end turntables, around $100 and below, might be lacking in some features like magnetic cartridge, digital input options, counterweight, and other adjustment features. They often come with ceramic cartridges and their platters are belt driven.

However, except you want a turntable for some grand purposes, cheap turntables are good enough in most cases.

What Are the Necessary Components of a Turntable?

With the new interest in turntables and the new models produced, there are some novel components and features added to turntables but there are six main components that are important to the make-up of turntables. They are platter, tonearm, plinth, cartridge, stylus, and speed selector.

Platter

This is the part the disc stays on and spins.

Plinth

It is the slab that the whole turntable rests on.

Tonearm

This is the part that holds the cartridge and takes it across the vinyl as it plays. It stands on the plinth.

Cartridge

The stylus is attached to this part. Cartridge converts the movement of the stylus to the electrical signals that later get outputted as sounds.

Stylus

This is also called ‘needle’. It is the part of the turntable that decodes the vibe, tune and music encoded into the vinyl disc.

Speed Selector

You can choose the play speed of your turntable to suit your mood. Turntables come with 33 RPM, 45 RPM, and 78 RPM. RPM means ‘Revolution per minute’, the speed at which the turntable spins.

Direct Drive or Belt Drive?

Turntables have two modes of rotation: direct drive and belt drive. Turntables that use direct drive have their motor shaft connected to the center spindle. So the motor, spindle, and platter rotate interconnected.

Turntables with belt drives are a lot different from this. The motor is connected to the platter with an elastic belt. So when the motor moves, it drives the belt which in turn drives the platter. In belt-drive turntables, the motor and platter rotation is not intertwined and happens at different speeds because of the distance between both.

What are Turntables Adjustment Features?

Adjustment features in turntables are counterweight, pitch adjusts, anti-skate adjust, and height adjust.

Counterweight enables you to adjust the weight of the tonearm on the disc. Pitch Adjust is mostly used by DJs, it used to tune the playback speed of the turntable. Anti-skate adjust comes in handy in maintaining the tonearm’s stability on the rotating disc. And height adjust helps the tonearm maintain a suitable height and parallel angle to the record during playback no matter the thickness or height of the vinyl.

How Much Do Turntables Cost?

This is really a question of how much you are willing to spend. Basic turntables could cost $50 - $150. Those may have limited features and most possibly are vintages. More grand vintage ones and new models could cost as much as $10000 – up to $10000 for a turntable? Yes, people buy them.

Turntables FAQs

Q – What do turntables do?

A – Turntables enables you to play the vinyl discs

Q – How to set up a record player?

A – Record players already have all necessary things inbuilt, just plug it in.

Q – Who invented turntables?

A – Turntables were invented by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville in 1857. It was a phonautograph, not the typical turntable we are used to today. It couldn’t exactly playback but it recorded airborne sounds on paper.

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