8 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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The mainstream may have since moved on to CDs, digital music, and more recently streaming, but there will always be those that can't get enough of vinyl records. 

If you're looking to rediscover the format, or maybe if you're getting into it for the first time, then our guide to the best turntables has all our top picks for the best record-playing hardware available. 

The debates around whether vinyl sounds better or worse than digital music have been raging for decades, so we're aware that we're unlikely to change anyone's opinions today. For what it's worth though, while modern digital recordings undoubtedly offer more detail and clarity, nothing beats the warm character of a vinyl record. 

We'd argue neither digital nor analogue is better in terms of raw sound quality, but that both have something different to offer. 

The former can count convenience as one of its biggest strengths. You can access literally millions of tracks at the press of a button, and immediately listen to them regardless of where you are. 

Vinyl is nowhere near as convenient, but there's more of a ritual to it. Instead of a small music file you get a large record sleeve complete with artwork, and instead of being able to skip from track to track you're more likely to listen to an album in its entirety.

In terms of the hardware needed to play vinyl there are a massive variety of options available, ranging from ultra-cheap standalone supermarket players which even include built-in speakers to audiophile setups costing tens of thousands and consisting of close to a dozen different components. 

For our guide we've taken a middle ground. 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 separately. 

Where they differ is in whether they offer a phono preamp, but we'll outline what each will need in the individual sections.  

1. Pro-Ject Debut Carbon

An excellent turntable for most people

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
Reasons to avoid
-No included phono preamp-Manual speed change

The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon is a fantastic turntable 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 turntable, 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 turntable. 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. 

But put the work in and you'll be rewarded with a fantastic sounding analogue experience that doesn't cost the earth. 

2. Sony PS-HX500

Everything a modern turntable should be

Specifications
Dimensions: 430 x 104 x 366 mm (WxHxD)
Motor: Belt drive
Phono preamp: Yes
USB: Yes
Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45 rpm
Reasons to buy
+Hi-res USB ripping+Open and dynamic sound
Reasons to avoid
-Plastic construction

If the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon is a stripped down traditional turntable, then the Sony PS-HX500 is a turntable equipped with all manner of modern bells and whistles. 

The headline feature here is its ability to rip hi-res audio files (loosely defined as files that are a higher-resolution than standard audio CDs) to a USB stick. This is a great way of backing up any old vinyl that you have in case the record itself is ever lost or damaged. 

Outside of its USB capabilities, the HX500 is also equipped with a preamp for convenience (don't worry, you can use an external one if you so choose), and has an automatic speed-changing dial. 

All of this adds up to a very capable turntable indeed. Its plastic construction isn't going to win any beauty contests anytime soon, but functionally its a very capable turntable that offers a great sound and loads of flexibility. 

3. Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB

An easy to use, well-equipped turntable

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
Reasons to avoid
-USB files could be better quality

In terms of functionality, the Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB is very similar to the Sony PS-HX500 in so far as it has the ability to rip records to a USB stick or hard drive and it 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 Sony's offering, 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 turntables listed above, but it's a great value pick if you're working with a tighter budget. 

4. Regar Planar 1

An amazing value buy

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
Reasons to avoid
-No phono preamp-No USB out

Like the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon at our number one spot, the Regar Planar 1 is a stripped down turntable featuring the bare essentials. 

That means no phono preamp and no USB connectivity. 

But by not having to spend budget on these niceties, Regar 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. 


5. Audio-Technica AT-LP60

The cheapest you should be prepared to go

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
Reasons to avoid
-More flimsy sound

If you want to get into vinyl as cheaply as possible, then the AT-LP60 from Audio-Technica is the cheapest we'd probably advise you going. 

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 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 overall sound lacks the same solidness and heft of its rivals. 

Nevertheless, if you want to buy a starter turntable and want to spend the absolute minimum, then there are far worse places to start than the LP60. 

6. Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit SB

Make your debut in style with this solid investment turntable

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

7. Pioneer DJ PLX-1000

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

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 
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.  

8. Fluance RT81

Cutting-edge construction in a swish modern package

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+Great build quality 

This beautifully finished turntable is crafted from solid wood, giving it a sturdy feel, and the aluminium platter, isolation feet and rubber slip mat allow for no unwanted vibrations to inhibit the sound. At under £300, this turntable 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 played 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.