We are often asked the question, “I’m just getting into vinyl, what turntable should I get?" These entry-level turntables will help you enjoy analogue audio at home.
Below are five of the best turntables that we recommend for the vinyl enthusiast, any of which would be a very solid foundation for someone starting out. Each of them feature high-quality materials, solid tonearms and cartridges and the majority offer a wide range of upgrades should you want to pimp your ride. Each of the turntables we have selected represent the most bang for your buck in terms of design, sound quality and ease-of-use. We've even included a second-hand turntable that would be a great find for any budding record collector.
Photograph: Pro-Ject Audio Systems
The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo sounds brilliant. Turntables don't get simpler or more elegant than this. Instead, Pro-Ject opts for high-quality components in the simplest configuration possible. Take the carbon-fibre tonearm; its stiff and lightweight design produces perfectly timed music with minimal interference. The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo is also conveniently pre-fitted as standard with a Danish-made Ortofon 2M Red cartridge, which allows an easy upgrade path for anyone just getting into vinyl.
Photograph: U-Turn Audio
The clear, acrylic platters and bright colours of U-Turn's Orbit Plus might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it does deliver on sound and looks at a (relatively) affordable price. It's a manual turntable, which means that you physically move the belt from one rung of the motor to the other to change the speed (this is easy to do even if you’re new to vinyl). If you don't like the sound of this, you're better off looking for a fully automatic table. In this case, the Sony PS-LX310BT below might be a better option. Just one thing to keep in mind, there's no phono preamp on this one, so remember to leave room in your budget to buy one.
3. Second-hand Technics SL-1210 (under €500)
Many people believe that Technics’ legendary turntable was originally made for DJs. The truth is that Technics made the SL-1200/1210 for the hi-fi market, but because the player was so solid (it's built like a tank), it was quickly picked up by DJs who needed a reliable turntable. If you're looking for a sturdy build quality, good sonics and class-defining reliability, the SL-1210 ticks every box.
The PS-LX310BT is more than just a great ‘my first turntable’ option. For those wanting a fully automatic deck, this is one of the best we've seen. It's a Bluetooth enabled turntable, which means that you can rip records to your computer. It's also the perfect choice for anyone who likes to set a record on and be able to forget about it. Rather than having to constantly watch for when a record needs flipping, the stylus will lift and return itself to a resting position when it detects one side of a record is finished.
British audio company, Rega Research, has been making turntables since the 1970s. With a solid reputation for making good quality products, it’s not surprising that they’ve managed to create such a simple and well-preforming entry-level turntable. The RP1 is noted for its great dynamics and performance. The main downside noted by some users is the low-end Ortofon cartridge, but again, this is something that can easily be upgraded.
At the end of the day, any of the above four turntables would be a great starter turntable. Each has its pros and cons, but most would admit that the differences are slight. While others are discussing minutiae, you could be spinning records, and isn’t that what it’s all about?
Header photo courtesy of Adrien Corte.