Turntables have been back in vogue for several years and our review will help you find the best model for your valuable collection of vinyl.
Our expert testers review auto and manual turntables to tell you which models:
Our Recommended models will help you easily see at a glance which turntables come in top of the pops in our test.
List of brands we tested in this review.
Recommended retail pricing is used, where possible. Shop around to find more competitive pricing from retailers.
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We recommend turntables with an overall score of 75% and above.
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Automatic models move the tone arm and lower and raise the stylus.
Direct drive turntables can guarantee rotational speed accuracy, but some people prefer belt drive, arguing that it isolates motor noise from the platter.
This makes it easier to simply hook the turntable up to many of the current range of amplifiers. Some enthusiasts may not want this feature, so models with a pre-amp on/off switch offer versatility, particularly if you are in the process of upgrading your whole music system. If you have an integrated amplifier, simply plug straight into the phono input. If you use a pre-amp, then you connect to a line input instead.
While most of the turntables comfortably play the more common speeds of 33 and 45rpm, the older shellac 78rpm records present issues not just related to the different speeds. A pulley kit is available for the Thorens TD 170-1 to play 78s.
Our tester assesses the initial setup of the turntable out of the box, including attaching the platter, belt, and any adjustments that are needed before operation. He also looks at the thoroughness of the instruction manual. Operational aspects assessed include speed selection and cueing a track.
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To test sound quality we use a listening panel of two experts. They assess each turntable using classical and rock/pop music passages. The speakers are positioned about two metres away from the listeners, with the panel assessing overall quality of the sound.
Some models have a lever or push button selection to alter the speed of the platter from 33 1/3rpm to 45rpm but other models require you to take the platter off and change the belt (shown as belt shift in the table) from one pulley to another which can be a hassle if you frequently move from one speed to another.
Cheap turntables tend to use ceramic cartridges. Moving magnet (MM) cartridges are a superior technology and should satisfy vinyl fans and on all the models in this test. Some enthusiasts argue that a moving coil (MC) cartridge delivers more tonality and transparency, but the effort to get the right equipment may be too much for many people.
A Similar model is identical in most aspects except for a few. This means that a majority of its test results are identical so you can reasonably expect to get the same results from the model we tested, but for those aspects which aren't identical, we'll note these as "Not Tested" in the Compare tables.
A Tested model refers to a model that is still current and available in the Australian market. You should be able to order this model through your local retailer, or find it online.
These models can't be found in retailers or online or are no longer manufactured. You may still find these models on second hand websites, or in second hand dealers. Test methods may change over time, so criteria which can't be directly compared will contain an N/A.
An Identical model is exactly that. Performance characteristics will be identical and the only difference will be something trivial such as colour, which won't have an impact on performance.
These are models we haven't yet tested but that are available.