6 best turntables 2018: the best record players for any room in your house

Shopping for the best turntable got your head in a spin? Let us slow things down and help you find the best deck for your needs, whether you’re a superstar DJ or an at-home audiophile

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As all audiophiles will surely agree, the pursuit of the best sounds is a noble thing, and no matter if you’re diggin’ on ‘70s soul or repping the newest releases, you want to experience it in the best way you possibly can. Whether this is your first foray into the world of analogue, you’re looking to upgrade your setup to do justice to your considerable collection, or you’re somewhere in between, there’s a turntable for you, and we intend to help you find it.

If you’re a vinyl veteran, the following won’t be news to you, but for complete beginners, it makes sense to go over the very basics, and what to look out for when buying your first turntable. First of all, what’s the difference between a turntable and a record player? Put simply, a record player can stand alone to produce sound, and amplifies while it spins, while turntables like the ones on our list need external amplification and speakers.

Then, there’s the kit: the plinth is the very foundation of your turntable, while the platter is the rotating plate on which your beloved records rest, and is set to match the cut of the record — either 33, 45 or 78 revolutions per minute. Generally, the heavier the better: not only does a hefty base feel more high-end, it guards against vibration and keeps things stable for high-quality playback. Some of today’s turntables don’t just play records though: there are some that, via USB, will convert songs for digital storage, a great backup if you have a big collection.

“Budget” will generally mean under £200, although if you’re new to the format, only play very infrequently, or just don’t have a lot to spend, we’ve included a great sub-£100 option. A high-end turntable with all the gadgets and gizmos can run to £1,000 and beyond, but we’ve reined it in to below £700. With all that in mind, keep reading for the low-down on today’s best turntables.

1. Rega Planar 1

Refined and refined again for a user-friendly experience and superior sound

Specifications
Best for: User-friendly
Size: 381 x 444.5 x 114.3 mm
Speed: 33.3 and 45 RPM
Output: 6.8 mV
Reasons to buy
+ Improved design + Great beginner model that’ll last 
Reasons to avoid
- For the price, none 

The Planar 1 by British brand Rega not only sounds great, it’s totally foolproof with minimal set-up, making it the most user-friendly option on our list. Each feature has been chosen and refined to make the best sound possible, including a low-noise motor and an improved tone arm with precision bearings and automatic bias adjustment, plus a higher-mass platter for more speed stability. It looks great, too, all clean lines and gloss finish that’ll look sharp in any modern home. For the mid-range price, there’s simply no faulting it. 

2. Sony PS-HX500

Back those tracks up with this plug-in-and-save USB turntable

Specifications
Best for: Best USB turntable
Size: 430 x 366 x 104 mm
Speed: 33 and 45 RPM
Output: Analogue
Reasons to buy
+ Backs up your vinyl collection to a digital format + Looks smart 
Reasons to avoid
- Software doesn’t automatically separate tracks 

USB turntables might sound like a bizarre meeting of old-school and new-school, but they’re really quite inspired. If you have a huge vinyl collection and want to preserve your beloved tunes in immortal digital, or take them on the road by backing them up to your mobile music device, get yourself this Sony number. The belt drive system is superbly stable to capture the best playback, the smart-looking dust cover keeps vibration to a minimum, even when down, and the whole package looks neat on any desk or console. 

3. Project Debut Carbon Esprit SB

Make your debut in style with this solid investment turntable

Specifications
Best for: Mid-price turntable
Size: 415 x 320 x 118 mm
Speed: 33 and 45 RPM
Output: 3.5mm aux
Reasons to buy
+ Great build quality + Easy to set up 
Reasons to avoid
- Still on the pricier side 

This mid-range turntable is a great intersection between high-end performance and reasonable value, making it a great investment for those looking to upgrade a basic model, or serious beginners who know it’ll be used for years to come. The acrylic platter, more commonly seen on far more expensive models, makes a huge difference to the sound, while the overall build quality is excellent. First-time users also reported that it was easy to set up and get started. 

4. Crosley Cruiser Deluxe

The great-looking record player for any hip home

Specifications
Best for: Beginners
Size: 355 x 390 x 150 mm
Speed: 33 ⅓, 45 and 78 RPM
Output: 3.5mm jack and RCA with Bluetooth
Reasons to buy
+ Looks amazing + Easy to use for absolute beginners; no amp needed 
Reasons to avoid
- Don’t use it to play your favourite records 

While hardened audiophiles might scoff at Crosley’s hip appeal, we couldn’t let a list of the best turntables go by without mentioning their wares, because there are two very good reasons for these players’ popularity. First, there’s the bright colours, retro suitcase style, and robust-feeling wood and leatherette construction; then, there’s the fact that it’s extremely easy to use, with its built-in speakers making it technically the only record player in our list. The caveat? The sound isn’t great even for this price range, and the arm exerts a whopping 7g of weight on records, which can cause very quick wear. As a conversation piece, though, it’s fab. 

5. Pioneer DJ PLX-1000

This mid-range DJ-friendly turntable is up to scratch, and then some

Specifications
Best for: DJs
Size: 56.6 x 47.2 x 27.4 cm
Speed: 33 ⅓, and 45 RPM
Output: RCA x 1
Reasons to buy
+ Similar to Technics, but for a more competitive price + Helpful features specifically for DJ-ing 
Reasons to avoid
- Tonearm can feel a bit loose 

This high-torque, direct-drive turntable, with its surprising arsenal of features and Technics-duping design, is our best turntable for DJs. 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.  

6. U-Turn Orbit Plus

Cutting-edge construction in a swish modern package

Specifications
Best for: Modern style
Size: 16.75 x 12.5 x 4.25 in
Speed: 33 and 45 RPM
Output: 3.5mm aux
Reasons to buy
+ High-end acrylic platter for improved performance + Excellent value 
Reasons to avoid
- Manual speed adjustment 

Like the Carbon Esprit SB, this minimal, modern-looking turntable boasts a cutting-edge acrylic platter for consistent speed and deliciously clear playback, and especially for under £300, that’s mighty impressive. The rest of the build is pretty good too, with the external belt drive eliminating noise from the already quiet motor, and an adjustable-counterweight tonearm. If the exclusively monochrome offerings throughout this list appeal to you, but you want way more bang for your buck than the Crosley can offer, this is a brilliant choice. In fact, it’s a brilliant mid-range buy all-round.