Best turntables for 2017/2018
With sales up by over 50 percent, it’s about time you got involved with the vinyl renaissance. Just in time for Record Store Day 2017, we’ve rounded up six great turntables for you to choose from. It’s incredibly easy to listen to whatever music you want these days.
Our phones are MP3 players and streaming services like Spotify and Deezer mean we have countless songs at our finger tips. However, none of these modern digital methods can recreate or match the feeling of removing a piece of vinyl from its sleeve, putting it on a record player and carefully placing the needle on.
There are tonnes of different types of record players around with different features and prices. We’ve chosen six contrasting turntables to suit a wide range of budgets, styles and features.
1. Rega Planar 1
If you like clean, minimalist design then you’ll love the Planar 1 with its glossy finish and striking clutter-free look. The simple power switch is hidden underneath where three large, well-designed feet absorb movement and vibrations. That understated design comes at a cost though, as you need to remove the platter and move the belt in order to change from 33- to 45rpm.
It’s well worth it, however, as the Planar 1 offers silky smooth performance and quality throughout.
Partly thanks to excellent build-quality along with the Rega Carbon cartridge and RB110 tone arm. It can also be attributed to the 24v low noise synchronous motor which previously wasn’t found in entry-level devices from Rega. This option in our group doesn’t have a pre-amp so you’ll need some other equipment.
It also doesn’t have features like USB, Bluetooth or even a headphone jack like a lot of others – the focus here is quality performance rather than frills.
2. Pro-Ject VT-E BT
It’s the most expensive turntable in our group but you can see why. At first glance, the Pro-Ject is perhaps a novelty turntable but it’s far from it. You can use the VT-E BT flat if you like, but it’s really designed to be used vertically.
You can attach a leg to the back or even wall-mount it so it’s a great option for those who want a record player but have a lack of space. The sacrifice is that the turntable is a little fiddly to use, namely as you need to screw on a clamp to hold your records in place while they play. The visible belt looks cool and makes it easy to change the speed of the platter.
It works with a spring-loaded tonearm which has a surprisingly nice action and sound quality is decent thanks to the Ortofon OM 5E cartridge and a built-in pre-amp.
You get the choice of phono or line out connections (a nice cable is included) and the Pro-Ject even has a Bluetooth transmitter which automatically connects to a speaker. The only thing missing is a headphone port, really.
3. House of Marley Stir It Up Turntable
We like the style when it comes to House of Marley products and the Stir it Up turntable is no exception tption thanks to its eye-catching sustainably harvested bamboo and recycled plastic body. Included in the box is an ‘earth-friendly’ canvas fabric cover and a basic phono cable.
Using the record player will be easy for beginners with a large speed dial and automatic on/off system. The platter starts and stops simply by moving the tonearm.
House of Marley has opted for a pretty decent Audio-Technica cartridge and there’s even an anti-skating dial should your record suffer from skipping towards the middle. There’s no Bluetooth on offer here but a USB port means you can convert your collection into digital files easily enough.
There is a built-in pre-amp, though, which is a handy feature. Also helpful is the front-mounted headphone port but there’s no volume control for this which is an omission.
4. Audio-Technica AT-LP60BT
Well-known audio brand, Audio-Technica, has a very old-school style turntable with modern features to tempt you. The AT-LP60BT has a basic plastic build so doesn’t feel particularly premium but it’s an affordable choice if you want an automatic system.
Harking back to some of the turntables from 40-odd years ago, this model has large chunky buttons and once the record is in place you can shut the lid but remain in control.
It’s billed as a fully automatic system and although the turntable will move the tonearm on and off with ease, you can’t switch between tracks without moving it manually yourself. Just remember to change the size of the record before you start so the cartridge doesn’t get slammed into the platter by mistake. Modern features come in the form of a USB port for digital conversion, Bluetooth connectivity and the choice of line or phono output via the 3.5mm jack.
5. Lenco L-85
Like the Audio-Technica, Lenco’s L-85 offers a plastic build but it’s well-made and makes the turntable affordable.
The L-85 is a semi-automatic belt-driven turntable and we like the solid platter which comes with a grippy slip mat. The tonearm and cartridge are distinctly basic but get the job done. It’s semi-automatic as moving the tonearm with start and stop the platter.
However, when you’re playing a record hit the huge ‘Reject’ button at the front – a harsh choice of word – and everything will stop and be put back into place for you.
We’re pleased to see a built-in stereo pre-amp and a phono cable is provided. One of the headline features is direct MP3 encoding, from vinyl to USB with auto-track splitting. That’s handy if you want to convert your collection but it’s a shame the slightly ugly USB port adorns the front of the turntable.
6. Crosley Executive
Crosley is well known for its portable suitcase designs and we think the Executive model looks great, although a logo on the outside would finish it off nicely.
The casing itself is well-made, although the platform with the platter is a little wobbly. Strangely the platter won’t turn if you have something plugged into the jack input, even just a cable and no device like a phone. It’d be good if there was a simple switch, but it’s not the end of the world.
You probably won’t want to make use of that feature much anyway as the built-in speakers are side facing and, as you might expect for the price, don’t sound great.
If you’re using an external source, you’ll need to switch the device on but leave the volume a minimum so the music doesn’t come out of both. Using an external speaker, the sound quality isn’t too bad considering the low price and cheap parts. We’re not so keen on the distracting hum, though.
There’s even an optional auto-off feature, three speed settings and a headphone port for personal listening.
The portability and affordability are the main draws here.
- ^ Best music streaming services (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Best Bluetooth Speakers (www.techadvisor.co.uk)