The 7 Best Turntables to Buy in 2017

Turn back time with these classic turntables

The classic, time-tested vinyl record player may seem like a simple machine at first blush, but it’s actually a fairly complicated (and beautiful) piece of audio equipment. If you grew up listening to compact discs and MP3s, you may have trouble finding the entry point in an analog turntable. But once you get past the weeds, there’s nothing quite like that warm analog sound. And who doesn’t love showing off their collection of 12-inch LPs? If you’re new to the market or just looking to upgrade, check out our list of the best turntables by category.

Audio-Technica is one of the classic names in sound, especially when that sound is coming out of an old-school record player. If you’re looking for something that will impress your ears as well as your eyes, and you don’t mind paying top dollar, there’s hardly a better choice than the AT LP120BK. It’s equipped to handle straight analog or analog to digital audio, with a built-in pre-amp, phono and line-level RCA outputs and a USB output. It even includes Audacity, a digital audio and recording program for Mac and PC. And it looks great, with a chrome-plated finish and an S-shaped tone arm assembly, not to mention that iconic Audio-Technica platter branding. Some audiophiles may be turned off by the direct drive motor, which is usually considered inferior to belt-driven systems, but your average listener will not be able to tell the difference.

The U-Turn Orbit Plus is not really meant for novices or folks who are used to queueing up Spotify tracks via Bluetooth. This is very much a 20th century machine. There’s no USB output, no built-in pre-amp, and no automatic motor function. But what it does offer in terms of analog tech is top-of-the-line. Like all classic record players, it’s got a precision belt drive (33/45 RPM) and a machined acrylic platter, both of which help ensure a smooth, quiet rotation. The package comes equipped with a dust cover, RCA cables, felt mat and an adjustable counterweight. It’s also got a one-year warranty. Available in black, blue, or white, the Orbit Plus can be found for a little over $300.

Some people looks at record players as industrial works of art, and they think the design of their music machines should reflect the aesthetics of their home. If you’re one of these people, the Pro-Ject Elemental is definitely worth looking into. It’s not just a crafty, design turntable, it’s a veritable high-end record player with top-of-the-line sound quality. You may look at it and think, “Wow, that looks pretty delicate.” Not so much. It’s got a huge artificial stone central mass point to keep the turntable balanced on any home surface and to minimize the effect of external vibrations. As for audio capabilities, the Pro-Ject Elemental has an 8.6-inch lightweight aluminum tone arm with Ortofon OM-5E cartridge, a belt-driven motor and a stainless steel platter bearing with a Teflon bottom.

Don’t let its low-price fool you. The Audio-Technica AT-LP60 is a seriously good value with the features to back it up. Along with a clear and balanced sound, the AT-LP60 offers incredibly easy operation that plays both seven-inch and 12-inch records. The onboard Bluetooth allows for a wireless connection to any Bluetooth-ready speakers along with wired compatibility for audio systems that have yet to give up the cord.

The Bluetooth connection allows up to eight different pairs of speakers, headphones or other wireless devices that can be all stored in the turntable memory for easy reconnection with the single push of a button. At 18 x 6 x 16 inches and weighing 8.4 pounds, the AT-LP60 is fairly compact for a turntable in its price range, which makes it all the more attractive as a value option. Add in two-speed operation at 33-1/3 and 45RPM, auto-resonance, a die-cast aluminum platter, as well as an integral dual moving magnet phono cartridge with a replaceable stylus and you’ll find this Audio-Technica model is well worth its asking price.

Another suitcase record player, the Electrohome Archer is sort of a step up from the Crosley Cruiser. It costs about $40 more, but it’s got a slew of extra features that make it a more comfortable transition for digital-friendly millennials. The fully automatic belt-driven motor spins 7-, 10-, and 12-inch vinyl records, but it can also stream digital audio through the USB input or 3.5mm headphone jack. Any music playing device will do the trick—smartphone, tablet, computer, whatever. It’s also got the familiar play, pause, back and skip buttons. And all of it fits into a slim, transportable, 1960s-inspired briefcase design. Once again, though, this is something of a budget device. If you’re looking for a long-lasting turntable to pass down to your kids one day, this isn’t it. Some of the parts are a bit flimsy, and the sound quality is just decent. But if you want something that’s relatively cheap and digital-friendly, this is a solid entry-level vinyl record player.

Marantz is a company that believes in valuing sound quality above all else and that philosophy is without a doubt extended to the Marantz TT-15S1. Created in collaboration with German company ClearAudio, the 15S1 comes installed with a ClearAudio Satisfy tonearm made of anodized aluminum, as well as ClearAudio Virtuoso Wood Ebony moving-magnet (MM) cartridge, which has a 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response and a voltage output of 3.6 mV.

But let’s continue: The arm/cartridge resonant frequency of approximately 8Hz produces solid bass extension, but isn’t as firm as a damped tonearms gives. It features a silicon-belt drive design and operates at both 33 1/3 and 45 rpm. (You can switch by adjusting the belt to different slots of the motor pulley.)

The gorgeous design also has clear influence from ClearAudio, with a free-standing motor intended to reduce vibration and a high density acrylic platter that is 25mm thick. But in the end, the reason you buy a turntable is for the sound, and reviewers on Amazon agree the 15S1 won’t disappoint, with one noting that “you'll hear detail you've never heard before.”

Beautiful design, great sound and a price that’s more than wallet friendly, the 1byone Belt-Drive 3-speed stereo turntable is a worthy contender on this list. The beautiful wooden finish and protective dust cover feel more vintage than modern. The included front-facing speakers won’t knock you down, but they offer full-spectrum sound to listen to both your vinyl records and MP3’s via USB. You can also connect the 1byone to your home sound system via RCA input.

It has selectable speeds of 33/45/78 RPM alongside the 45-RPM adapter to play just about every vinyl in your collection. Digitally, the 1byone can record your favorite vinyl to any plugged-in USB key that can be transferred to a computer for portable listening. Separately, playing MP3 music via USB is as simple as a few button presses. And at five pounds and 14.8 x 11.4 x 5 inches, the 1byone is the perfect size for any entertainment center or room in your home.

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