If you're buying a Turntable, it's probably because you like the sound of vinyl. In earlier days, they were called Gramophones, Record Players, Vinyl Players, LP Players. Turntables have changed a lot from when they were launched.
They have been upgraded in many ways.The best record players you can buy in 2021 are completely different to the clunky old turntables that you might have stored away in a cupboard somewhere gathering dust.
Many of the best turntables in this guide also come packed with new features that you'd never find on old record players, including Bluetooth connectivity.
Dust off your record collection and get ready to listen to your favorite tunes with our pick of the best turntables of 2021!
1. Audio Technica AT-LP60X-USB:
The name and model might sound familiar to some people, and that’s because this is a newer version of the fantastic AT-LP60-USB.
So what’s actually different then? The tonearm for one. This, alongside a redesigned headshell is stated to improve tracking and reduce resonance.
With the AT-LP60X-USB fully automatic belt-drive turntable you can experience your vinyl’s high-fidelity audio directly or convert it to digital as it is equipped with a USB output that allows direct connection to your computer.
For a very reasonable price this turntable offers decent sound and a foolproof interface, so you can get that vinyl creating dulcet tones at the simple push of a button.
33-1/3 RPM, 45 RPM
Reasons to buy:
It is very affordable when you compare it to Audio-Technica alternatives and similar Record Players out there.
It has been designed to a lower learning curve by offering fully automatic operation at the press of a button, which makes it an excellent entry level turntable.
It comes with a detachable RCA cables, a 45 RPM adapter and a removable hinged dust cover.
As it is equipped with a USB output that allows direct connection to your computer, it lets you convert your vinyl records to digital audio files.
The redesigned tonearm base and headshell provides improved tracking of your vinyl records and reduces resonance.
With a phono pre-amp built-in, the AT-LP60X-USB connects to almost any Hi-Fi or speaker system..
2. Denon DP-29F:
At its price point, there is absolutely nothing to complain about with this Denon. It is easy to set up, comes with a built-in preamp and it can be used with anything.
At the touch of a button, DP 29F features an automatic system that starts the music and the tone arm will automatically return to its original position once the record is finished. The DP-29F also has a molded aluminum support disc, which is massive enough to effectively stabilize the rotational speed and absorb unwanted vibrations.
33-1/3 RPM, 45 RPM
Reasons to buy:
If you are not after the vintage looking turntable or an antique for that matter, then you will like the modern polished silver finish of the DP 29F.
The DP 29F has been designed with rigid die cast aluminum to allow a stable turntable rotation that creates quality audio.
The dynamic range delivered by DP 29F is smooth and has a rounded bass response.
The player has a built-in RIAA phono amplifier for connection to any free line input of an integrated stereo amplifier.
It delivers the highest quality at a very reasonable price.
Denon DP 29F is light in weight and has a compact design.
Reproduces the records precisely.
The sound is clear, the device doesn’t skip tracks and it can have quite a long service life if maintained correctly.
3. Rega Planar 1 Plus:
If you are looking to get back into vinyl and want a serious performance that will last you a lifetime, then look no further. Rega turntables have always combined fantastic performance with ease of setup.
The Rega Planar 1 Plus is a belt driven unsuspended turntable. You can plug this turntable into just about anything and it’s ready to go.
The P1 Plus takes advantage of Rega’s latest technological advances in plinth design, so even their entry level table shares the same lustre as their more expensive tables. Simple elegance has always been the word at Rega.
24 V Synchronous AC motor
33-1/3 RPM, 45 RPM
23mm, High Mass, Phenolic Platter
Reasons to buy:
It comes with a built-in phono pre-amplifier, allowing simple connection to a wide variety of products.
The Tonearm has a pre-set bias assembly negating the need for the user to set bias, making this on of the the most ‘Plug & Play’ turntable.
The Tonearm, RB110, comes fitted with unique designed ultra-low friction bearings.
This Turntable comes with a lifetime warranty against manufacture defects
The platter is a 23mm, high mass, phenolic platter with improved flywheel effect for improved speed stability.
Latest custom foot design to increase stability and reduce vibration transfer
It comes with a high quality low noise synchronous motor.
4. Marantz TT5005:
Marantz is a manufacturer with a rich history of hi-fi products. It's one of the truly great brands in audio that have somehow managed to survive in the market. Marantz has a reputation for innovation, manufacturing consistently and producing high quality and reliable products.
Little larger than a record itself, the Marantz TT5005 is more compact than most turntables and so easy to place.
The TT5005 Turntable is an easy to set-up turntable that can work with any amplifier or receiver. It is fully automatic making it easy to operate with minimum effort.
In addition, Marantz TT5005 comes with an MM cartridge so that you can begin to enjoy your analogue record collection as soon as you connect it to your home hi-fi system.
33-1/3 RPM, 45 RPM
Rigid Aluminum Die Cast
Reasons to buy:
With a preset tone arm and attached MM cartridge, the TT5005 is ready to go out of the box
Due to the built in phono,TT5005 is an easy to set-up turntable that can work with any amplifier or receiver with an RCA Auxiliary input
The belt drive system gives a naturally well-damped and low distortion sound quality
Solid construction, including an aluminium platter further enhances the sound quality by resisting mechanical interference
The low profile lid keeps the dust out and helps keep the style neat and unobtrusive
Selecting the speed is easily controlled by a button rather than manually moving the belt on its pulley
5. Pro-Ject Primary E:
Over the years Pro-Ject has established a firm grip on the turntable marketplace to the point where it offers one of the most extensive lineups of any hi-fi company.
The Pro-Ject Primary E is an unsuspended, belt driven turntable.It is singly unremarkable in terms of its basic design and appearance but it is both a significant and surprisingly innovative product.
As a complete starter option, this will make a lot of sense to many as it can be connected to any amplifier or active speaker system with a stereo RCA line-level input without anything additional needed.
The Primary E confidently nails the basics, from an even tonal balance to a delivery that’s clear and clean and spacious enough to keep things coherent.
Synchronous AC motor
33-1/3 RPM, 45 RPM
Ortofon OM 5E Moving Magnet
Reasons to buy:
The plug & play design with pre-adjusted tracking force and anti-skating for the included Ortofon OM cartridge, is extremely efficient in handling for the users
The MM cartridge is excellent at producing high volume sound and easily compatible with budget hi-fi speakers
The tonearm is made from aluminium and employs sapphire bearings for smooth travel
Having no sign of pitch instability and background noise levels commendably low, there is a reasonable & pleasing sense of dynamics to music
It comes with gold plated RCA cable for accurate and precise audio signal transmission
When it comes to the Direct Drive, most people always wonder about the differences between a direct drive & belt drive. Check out TRC’s guide to the types of turntables which will help you choose your first turntable.
When it comes to types of turntables, most people wonder about the differences between a direct drive & a belt drive. This TRC guide covers the pros, cons & use cases.
A lot of turntables use belt drives to spin the device’s platter. For regular listening, a simple Belt Driven Turntable does the job. A belt drive is an elastic belt. This belt is attached to the turntable’s motor, offering quick & precise movements. The player’s platter rests atop a bearing, isolated from the device’s motor.
Pros of Belt Drive
The elastic belt soaks up the shock and prevents vibrations that are produced by the motor from catching the platter.
Separating the motor from the platter reduces the noise transmission to the tonearm.
Because belt drive reduces vibration noise, a record player’s sound can be cleaner. There are several record player owners whose top priority is focused on motor noise reduction.
Cons of Belt Drive
They have a lower torque than direct drive turntables, which means a slow startup speed & more vulnerability to extraneous forces.
But because the belt can only be so taut, the rotation speed is not quite as consistently accurate, due to stretch and potential slipping. This can be a problem if either the belt is not of the same thickness all the way round, or the spindle or platter is not machined to be perfectly cylindrical.
Over time a belt drive may need to be replaced. Belt drive elastic can wear down, and it can eventually break.
A modestly priced belt driven turntable can provide a good sonic performance due to the simple design of a belt driven turntable. Due to wear, the belt drive will require replacement. Belts are typically very affordable and easily replaced by the user, however.
Direct drive turntables simply have the motor located beneath the platter, rotating it directly. The centre spindle is a component of the motor. An electronic brake is usually incorporated to carry the platter to a fast stop, supporting preserving the right location on the record from which you desire your next song. A pitch control could also be given to fine tune the speed of the platter. Because a direct-drive design has fewer moving parts and no belt, it is also very durable and there are no “wear” parts in the drive to replace. To minimize the amount of motor vibration that reaches the stylus assembly, good motor design and good dampening of crucial components, such as the platter and tonearm, are required.
DJs are the main purchasers of direct drive turntables. They prefer them due to the lack of lag or resistance to platter. The high torque which is responsible for a fast startup speed, gets the record up to speed very quickly & stays at the correct speed no matter what else is happening. This is crucial while mixing records and while scratching. During transitions the beat from one track to the other needs to match.
Pros of Direct Drive
Because of fewer moving parts, direct drives tend to last longer and need fewer repairs or maintenance.
The ease of manipulation of platter make it an ideal device for DJs
They tend to have strong motors
There is nothing between the motor and the platter, hence the speed is more accurate as compared to belt driven turntables
A direct-drive turntable helps you to spin the platter backward to make special sound effects which are preferred by DJ’s.
Cons of Direct Drive
The downside of a direct-drive turntable is that the rotation of the motor produces unwanted vibrations which can affect the sound quality.
A good motor design and good dampening of crucial components, such as platter & tonearm, is required in order to minimize the amount of motor vibration; leading to a higher cost when compared to belt driven turntables.
While direct-drive turntables are great for DJs, many of us purchase a turntable simply to listen to music. For this, a direct-drive may not be the best option. For vinyl lovers, the goal is less about changing speeds and mixing music, and more about hearing all of the nuances in the record grooves with as little distortion as possible.
After decades in decline, record players have enjoyed a spectacular renaissance over the last few years—and, whether they sound better or not, they can certainly teach us interesting things about how sound works. Let's take a closer look!
Record players were in widespread use until the late 80s and early 1990s, when the rising popularity of CDs made them obsolete for everyone except a few professional DJs.
Turntables are relatively simple machines powered by an electric motor. The motor either turns the turntable directly using gears (known as direct drive) or using a thin rubber belt looped over the motor and the central axle of the turntable (known as belt drive).
Powering the turntable at exactly the right speed is absolutely critical for playing the music correctly. If the turntable spins too slowly, the music slows down too.
In order to understand the working mechanism of a turntable you need to know what sound is.
Soundis a vibration that reaches our ear. It is a wave that is transported by air or some other medium.
Horizontally you see the time of the wave and vertical the height of the wave. Both parameters can be changed, when the wave becomes higher; the sound is getting louder. When the wave becomes more compact (more waves per second) the sound is getting higher.
When the vibrating air reaches our ear, our eardrums get hit by the molecules. The vibrating wave is marketing our eardrums vibrate as well. These vibrations are received by neurons, converted into electrical pulses and transported to our brain. Our brain then interprets these electrical signals as sound.
What we hear as sound is thus air that makes our eardrums vibrate.
A record player exactly does that, making the air vibrate in the way that is coded into a vinyl record.
How does a record player work?
Vinyl record players are electromagnetic devices that change sound vibrations into electrical signals. When a record spins, it creates sound vibrations that get converted into electrical signals. These signals are fed into electronic amplifiers. Electric amps vibrate and feed the resulting sound into speakers, which amplify it and make it louder. Record players still use the whole needle and groove methodology that a phonograph used, although record players today are much more high tech.
The Turntable is made of the following main parts:
The platter spins the record with the aid of a belt or a direct drive system. As the record turns, a stylus reads the grooves.
Microscopic image of a Turntable Stylus tracing a Vinyl Record Groove
The stylus is set at one end of the cantilever and is a cone-shaped component made from diamond, which is the hardest natural material on Earth.
The stylus picks up vibrations along the groove of the vinyl record. These same vibrations travel along the metal band at the end of the cantilever and arrive at the cartridge at the tonearm’s end.
The cartridge contains coils within a magnetic field, and when the vibrations hit these coils, they are transformed into electrical signals.
These electrical signals can be amplified and broadcasted through the speakers.