Vinyl Is Making a Comeback
As you browse the bookstore or electronics store, you may have noticed that records are making a comeback. Records were once thought to be a thing of the past, due to advancements in the music industry like CDs and before that, tapes (remember those things?). Just a few years ago even CDs became practically unnecessary for all but die-hard collectors and fans who appreciate the jacket art, due to the availability of streaming music from iTunes, Amazon, and other services.
But believe it or not, vinyl record players and turntables are making a comeback. That’s right: I’m talking about the type of large, circular disk that your grandparents, and possibly your parents, used to put on a turntable and groove to.
Better Quality Sound
Vinyl records produce a “warmer” sound that fills the air with a richer listening experience than your average CD. Essentially, the record is placed on a turntable or record player which spins the record, effectively dragging a needle over the grooves of the vinyl, which in turn vibrates in response to the grooves, and the amplification of those vibrations is what creates the sound of music.
Once CDs and tapes came around, record players started disappearing from homes. Within the last few decades, the only people who have continued to utilize records are DJs and hip-hop artists who can utilize the record itself to make certain noises associated with a “remix.” However, more and more people are starting to enjoy the sound of vinyl records again, right from the comfort of their home.
If you’re looking to pick out a turntable for your home, you might be a little lost regarding which one of the many brands available is the best for your needs and your budget. In the reviews below, we’ll explore some of the options you have for purchasing a turntable in 2018.
Best Value for Beginners
The Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB is an excellent starting point for those looking to get into the vinyl game. With its multifaceted ability to accommodate a number of different record types (33 ⅓, 45, and 78 RPM), you won’t have to worry about whether or not you can play your favourite album.
It’s generally selling for around $300, so you’ll have to shell out more than you would for CD player obviously, but if you’re looking to enjoy the quality sound produced by records, the price tag is well worth it.
It comes with a built-in preamp, so you won’t have to buy that extra piece in order to connect your turntable to a set of quality speakers (the preamp is a piece that allows great quality sound to be transferred into speakers).
It also comes with a USB output that allows you to record the records you’re playing if you’d like to convert them over to a totally digital format for accessibly listening from your computer or phone when you’re not near your beloved turntable.
Best Turntable On The “Dollar Menu”
This turntable is not really an item you’ll find on the dollar menu, but it does come with a significantly lower price tag than other models out there—generally around $100.
So if you’re looking for something less expensive, and don’t mind trading in versatility for a lower price, the Audio-Technica AT-LP60 may be for you. While it can’t play the 78 RPM records that the LP120 can, it’s portable, inexpensive, and automatically returns to rest when the record ends.
While the preamp on the LP60 is also built in, the quality of the sound may seem a little bit lower to those with an extremely discerning ear, but hey—that’s the tradeoff for its much lower price tag. Fortunately, the needle can be replaced, which is a great feature that can save your records from the wear and tear they might experience on other similarly priced turntables.
Best High-End Turntable
The Marantz TT-15S1 is a more serious investment than its less expensive cousins (generally retailing around $1,500 or more), but it comes with incredibly high-quality parts and a “banging” design.
In fact, the Clearaudio Virtuoso cartridge (this is the part that actually interfaces with the record itself is around $1,000 by itself when purchased separately. The quality of the cartridge (also called a stylus or pickup) is directly proportional the quality of sound your turntable will produce, so you’re sure to enjoy the finer points of your favourite albums like you’ve never enjoyed them before.
Its setup requires a little bit more know-how than some of the more user-friendly turntables on our list, but if you’ve gained some experience with record players and are looking for a superb, quality, sound-producing machine, this model is for you. It does not come with a preamp, so you’ll need to buy that particular piece of equipment to facilitate the home concerts in your living room.
Another downside is that it does not play 78 RPM records, but those ones are rarer, so in all probability, you’ll have no problem enjoying your favourite albums.
Automated and Beautiful
The Denon DP-300F is quality turntable with a quality appearance as well. While the cartridge it comes with (DSN-85) is not the absolute best, it’s good enough to make your music sound extremely full and detailed.
It does not have a USB, but it does come with a preamp. However, one of its best features is its automatic queuing and stopping, which means you won’t have to worry about damage to the needle if you fall asleep to your favourite record (normally it would continue to spin and wear down the cartridge piece).
The buttons appear to be a little on the cheaper side, but the overall plastic design is functional and aesthetically pleasing. A clear, square top can fit over the entire ensemble, protecting your record and providing the equipment with a sense of definition. This functional turntable is available for around $280.
There you have it…four different turntable options for your home, based on varying factors and needs you might have when it comes to your music, such as sound, design, pricing, and features. Whatever you choose, you’re sure to enjoy the amazingly rich, detailed, and warm sound that emerges from your turntable, and feel like your favourite band is playing right in the room.