Best record player: top turntables for lovers of vinyl

The very best record players to help every music fan do justice to their vinyl collection

best record player Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO
(Image credit: Pro-Ject)

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 over the years with cassette tapes, CDs, MiniDiscs (who?), and MP3 players all having their own 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 a massive variety of options available, ranging from ultra-cheap standalone players with built-in speakers to audiophile setups costing thousands of dollars and consisting of close to 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 that do 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 in 2022

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO

1. Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO

Best record player overall

Specifications

Dimensions: 415 x 118 x 320mm (WxHxD)
Motor: Belt drive
Phono preamp: No
USB: No
Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45 rpm

Reasons to buy

+
Great sound for the price
+
Simple to set-up and use
+
Good selection of finishes

Reasons to avoid

-
No included phono preamp
-
Manual speed change

It's a fantastic record player that offers great sound without costing the earth. It's well made and we're big fans of its minimalistic design. It's perfectly possible to spend a great deal more on a record player, but we think the Debut Carbon sits at a great sweet spot between price and performance. 

Of course, at this budget price point, you won't get some of the modern conveniences of a more expensive record player. There's no preamp built-in, so you'll need to buy one separately, or else plug the turntable into your amplifier's phono input (if it has one). It also lacks a USB output and you'll need to change between its two speeds manually. However, what this means is full control as you can spec up the preamp and speakers to get the exact sound you want.

Rega Planar 1 Stereo Turntable

2. Rega Planar 1 Stereo Turntable

Best record player for sound and build

Specifications

Dimensions: 450mm x 115mm x 385mm (WxHxD)
Motor: Belt drive
Phono preamp: No
USB: No
Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45 rpm

Reasons to buy

+
Easy assembly
+
Great, refined sound
+
Solid build

Reasons to avoid

-
No phono preamp
-
No USB out

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. That means no phono preamp and no USB connectivity. 

But by not having to spend budget on these niceties, Rega has been able to focus wholly on offering a fantastic level of audio performance and build quality. The Planar 1 offers fantastic 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. 

Audio-Technica ATLP120XBT Bluetooth Stereo Turntable

3. Audio-Technica ATLP120XBT Bluetooth Stereo Turntable

Best record player for affordable versatility

Specifications

Dimensions: 450 x 352 x 157 mm (WxHxD)
Motor: Direct drive
Phono preamp: Yes
USB: Yes
Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45, 78 rpm

Reasons to buy

+
Includes preamp
+
78 rpm mode
+
Super spec

Reasons to avoid

-
USB files could be better quality
-
Sounds a little 'tinny'

In terms of functionality, the Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB has the ability to rip records to a USB stick or hard drive and includes a phono preamp.  

There are a couple of differences that might make it worth considering depending on your needs. 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. 

In terms of sound, it's 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. 

Fluance RT81 Elite High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable

4. Fluance RT81 Elite High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable

Best record player for classic design

Specifications

Dimensions: 54.5x42.5x22.4 (WxHxD)
Motor: Belt drive
Phono preamp: Yes
USB: No
Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45 rpm

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent signal and sound clarity
+
Built-in phono stage
+
Great build quality 

Reasons to avoid

-
A great classic player but some might long for the USB functionality of others

If you are looking for the classic design and vintage appeal of a record player then the Fluance RT81 is for you. This beautifully finished record player is crafted from solid wood, giving it a sturdy feel, and the aluminum platter, isolation feet, and rubber slip mat allow for no unwanted vibrations to inhibit the sound. 

At under $300, this record player provides outstanding value and quality in one small 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 when it comes to both the style and functionality of this turntable.

Audio-Technica ATLP60XBT Bluetooth Stereo Turntable


5. Audio-Technica ATLP60XBT Bluetooth Stereo Turntable

Best budget record player

Specifications

Dimensions: 360 x 97.5 x 356 mm (WxHxD)
Motor: Belt drive
Phono preamp: Yes
USB: Yes
Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45 rpm

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to use
+
Rips files to USB
+
Good entry-level

Reasons to avoid

-
More flimsy sound

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. 

There are surprisingly few functional compromises you'll have to endure at this price point. The deck is fully automatic and can be operated using a simple start button on the front of the player, although 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 fine 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 want to spend the absolute minimum, then there are far worse places to start than the LP60. 

Pioneer DJ PLX-1000 High-torque Direct-drive Analog Turntable

6. Pioneer DJ PLX-1000 High-torque Direct-drive Analog Turntable

Best record player for DJs

Specifications

Dimensions: 453 x 159 x 353 mm (WxHxD)
Motor: Direct Drive
Phono preamp: No
USB: No
Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45 rpm

Reasons to buy

+
 Similar to Technics, but for a more competitive price 
+
 Helpful features specifically for DJ-ing 
+
Good choice if you want to get on stage

Reasons to avoid

-
 Tonearm can feel a bit loose 

This deck is a great buy for budding DJs and music enthusiasts alike. It is a high-torque, direct-drive turntable, with a surprising arsenal of features and Technics-duping design. It needs more manual intervention than some of our other picks, but if you’ve set up a turntable before, it’ll be a breeze.

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, 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 essentially do the same thing; play music, but the different terminology used to describe that music player is to target different audiences. 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 you buy the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon (opens in new tab) record player – a great mid-price option that offers the perfect balance of sound and affordability. You will need to buy a preamp to go with it and factor in a speaker, but it plays great and looks great, too.

Lindsey is Editor of Realhomes.com and Editor in Chief for Home Ecommerce at Future. She is here to give you aspirational, yet attainable ideas for your home and works with her team to help you get the best buys, too. She has written about homes and interiors for the best part of a decade for brands including Homes & Gardens, Ideal Home and Gardeningetc and isn't afraid to take the inspiration she finds at work into her own space – a Victorian terrace which she has been (slowly) remodelling for the last eight years. She is happiest sipping a cup of tea with a cat on her lap (if only she had a cat).

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