Americans are buying more vinyl records than ever. In fact, US vinyl sales have gone up 14 straight years in a row. Ready to get back into the groove? The best record players will help you make the most of your vinyl record collection.
Whether you’re seeking a rich, warm sound or simply a USB connection, you don’t have to spend a fortune – we’ve come up with top-tier options from $200 to $2000.
So, which record player is best for you? Most budget record players are plug-and-play and come with a tonearm, cartridge and built-in phono stage (the device that amplifies the sound to normal levels), meaning they can be plugged straight into powered speakers or amplifiers.
The makers of pricier, high-end record players, however, usually provide the option to select a specific arm and cartridge combination. Chances are you’ll also need to partner a high-end deck with a separate phono preamp. You’ll also find Bluetooth turntables for streaming vinyl to wireless speakers, while USB turntables allow you to plug your turntable into a computer to digitize your vinyl collection.
Our experienced review team has comprehensively tested all of these record players in our dedicated test rooms, comparing each record player to its closest rivals in a controlled environment. So you can be sure you’re getting a genuine, expert recommendation.
How to choose the best turntable for you
The source of your hi-fi system, be it a streamer, CD player or record player is a crucial component; as the saying goes, ‘rubbish in, rubbish out’.
First things first, decide on your budget. It should be no more than around a quarter of your system’s cost, otherwise it’s unlikely your amplifier and speakers will get the most out of your deck. Similarly, make sure you read up on the sonic characteristics of all your components – even five-star products benefit from the right partnering.
Once you’ve decided on your budget, decide on the features you require. Belt drive or direct drive? Do you need a phono stage built in? What about the cartridge? Wireless? USB? Make sure you have a checklist based on your needs to help you narrow the search.
Once you have chosen, it’s also crucial you set up your turntable correctly. While some record players are relatively “plug and play”, many require a little more time and effort to hear at their best. Want to know more? Read our complete guide to choosing the right turntable.
Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO
Pro-Ject has worked hard at making the Debut a current class leader, but also one with the potential to morph into a steady mid-range competitor by offering a series of affordable add-ons. However, as you can see from the five stars, the basic deck is impressive enough as it is.
Among the upgrades are improved motor mounting, new height-adjustable damped feet, and a heavy steel platter that weighs 1.7kg and features a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) damping ring on the inside for quieter operation.
Perhaps most welcome, though, is the addition of a rocker switch on the bottom of the deck, which allows you to adjust the rotation speed. No more removing the platter and manually readjusting the belt when you want to go from 33.33rpm to 45.
Despite the lack of branding, its identity as part of the Pro-Ject family is revealed immediately as the room is bathed in its rich, full-bodied tone.
But it is also partnered with a great deal of detail and texture. Where competitors might beef up their sound in an attempt to disguise a lack of real insight, Pro-Ject here welcomes you to explore its vast sonic range, proving its aptitude for making a deck that is both easy to listen to and prepared for deeper, more analytical sessions.