The best record player is a must for anyone who loves their music in vinyl format. The way we listen to music has changed over the years with cassette tapes, CDs, MiniDiscs (who?), and MP3 players all having their golden age. Now, most of us consume most of our music through our phones and favourite streaming services, but the vinyl has endured and collecting records is once again a solid pastime for people who are really into their music.
There is a massive variety of options available, ranging from ultra-cheap standalone players with built-in speakers to audiophile setups costing 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. They are priced from just over £70 to just over £500 with most sitting somewhere in the middle. You can find plenty of choices of speaker to pair with them on our speaker hub page.
Where they differ is in whether they offer a phono preamp, but we'll outline what each will need in the individual sections. If you do need one you can find a top rated phono pre-amplifier on Amazon – one will set you back £30–50 on average.
What is the best record player?
The record player can (sometimes) also be referred to as 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.
If you're after the best record player (in our opinion), we recommend you buy the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon 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.
Keep scrolling for more record player which have been shortlisted in our guide.
Best record players 2020: ranked
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.
Buy the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon
If the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon is a stripped down traditional turntable, then this record player from Sony is 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.
Buy the Sony PS-HX500
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 record players listed above, but it's a great value pick if you're working with a tighter budget.
Buy the Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB
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.
Buy the Rega Planar 1
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 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 record player and want to spend the absolute minimum, then there are far worse places to start than the LP60.
Buy the AT-LP60 from Audio-Technica
New to vinyl and want quality without splashing too much cash? Look at the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit SB. 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.
Buy the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit SB.
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.
Buy the Pioneer DJ PLX-1000
If you are looking to 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 aluminium 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 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.
Buy the Fluance RT81