The best record player is a must for anyone who loves listening to their music in vinyl format. The way we listen to music has changed many times with cassette tapes, CDs, MiniDiscs (who?), and MP3 players all having their golden age. Now, most of us consume most of our music via our phones and favorite streaming service, but vinyl has endured, and collecting records is once again a solid pastime for people who are really into their music.
There are many options available, ranging from ultra-cheap standalone players with built-in speakers to audiophile setups costing thousands of dollars and comprising nearly a dozen different components.
For this guide, then, we have looked at the middle. None of our picks offer the convenience of built-in speakers (trust us, most of the models aren't worth bothering with), but nor are they high-end enough that you'll be expected to buy components like the cartridge or tonearm seperately.
If you're interested in speakers that come ready to go and can be used across the whole home and even outside, take a look at our guide to the best Bluetooth speakers. But for our pick of the best record players, keep reading.
The best record players
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It's a fantastic record player offers excellent sound without costing the earth. It's well made, and we're big fans of its minimalistic design. Of course, spending a great deal more on a record player is perfectly possible, but we think the Debut Carbon is a great sweet spot between price and performance.
Of course, you won't get some of the modern conveniences of a more expensive record player at this budget price point. For example, there's no preamp built-in, so you'll need to buy one separately or plug the turntable into your amplifier's phono input (if it has one). It also lacks a USB output, and you'll need to manually change between its two speeds. However, this means complete control as you can spec up the preamp and speakers to get the exact sound you want.
Like the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon at our number one spot, the Rega Planar 1 is a stripped-down record player featuring the bare essentials. Unfortunately, that means no phono preamp and no USB connectivity.
But by not spending the budget on these niceties, Rega has been able to focus wholly on offering a significant level of audio performance and build quality. As a result, the Planar 1 offers astonishing amounts of detail and accuracy in whatever records you choose to play on it, meaning you should be satisfied with its performance for years to come.
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In terms of functionality, the Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB can rip records to a USB stick or hard drive and includes a phono preamp.
Depending on your needs, there are a couple of differences that might make it worth considering. The first is that it's a little cheaper than some other offerings, making it a great choice if you want USB ripping capabilities at a lower price point. Secondly, it also includes a 78rpm mode, in case you own any older records that need to be spun at that speed.
Sound is a little less capable than both record players listed above, but it's a great value pick if you're working with a tighter budget.
If you are looking for a record player's classic design and vintage appeal, then the Fluance RT81 is for you. This beautifully finished record player is crafted from solid wood, giving it a sturdy feel. In addition, the aluminum platter, isolation feet, and rubber slip mat allow no unwanted vibrations to inhibit the sound.
At under $300, this record player provides outstanding value and quality in a tiny package. The gold-plated RCA line outputs mean you can expect a truly authentic sound from your records, so they're playing just as the artist intended. If you're looking to take the plunge and treat yourself to a record player, users have no complaints regarding the style and functionality of this turntable.
If you want to get into vinyl as cheaply as possible, then the Audio-Technica AT-LP60 is the cheapest we'd probably advise you to go.
You'll have to endure surprisingly few functional compromises at this price point. The deck is fully automatic and can be operated using a simple start button on the front of the player. However, the setup is a little more complicated as it requires you to manually set up the belt and platter the first time you use it.
Sonically you'll be making a little more of a compromise, however. The detail of the turntable is acceptable for the price, but the overall sound lacks the same solidness and heft as its rivals. Nevertheless, if you want to buy a starter record player and spend the absolute minimum, then there are far worse places to start than the LP60.
This deck is an excellent buy for budding DJs and music enthusiasts alike. It is a high-torque, direct-drive turntable with an incredible arsenal of features and Technics-duping design. It needs more manual intervention than some of our other picks, but it'll be a breeze if you've set up a turntable.
If not, the helpful owner's manual will guide you through to get going in no time. Helpfully, the integral LED scans the grooves of a record for easy cueing in a dark room, which is great for gigs.
What's the difference between a record player, vinyl, and turntable?
The record player can (sometimes) also be referred to as a vinyl player, turntable, or deck, but what do they all mean? The difference between them is, well, there is no difference. They all do the same thing; play music, but the different terminology used to describe that music player targets foreign audiences. So, for example, you're more likely to hear a DJ refer to it as a deck.
What is the best record player?
If you're after the best record player (in our opinion), we recommend buying the record player. This great mid-price option offers the perfect balance of sound and affordability. Of course, you will need to buy a preamp to go with it and factor in a speaker, but it plays great and looks great, too.