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Turntable and record player reviews

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Last updated: 07 August 2017

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. 

  • If you're not sure what the difference is between belt and direct drive, or wondering what we mean by "wow and flutter", let our turntable buying guide separate the signal from the noise.
  • You can also learn more about how we test turntables.
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Our expert testers review auto and manual turntables to tell you which models:

  • have the best sound quality,
  • which are easiest to set up and use
  • which have features such as built-in pre-amp, tone arm clamp and 78rpm support.

Our Recommended models will help you easily see at a glance which turntables come in top of the pops in our test.

  • We've also reviewed USB-enabled record players at the cheaper (and nastier) end of the market – you can read the test report for free right now in our USB turntable reviews.
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Brand

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List of brands we tested in this review.

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Recommended retail pricing is used, where possible. Shop around to find more competitive pricing from retailers.

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Operation

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Automatic models move the tone arm and lower and raise the stylus.

Drive type

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Direct drive turntables can guarantee rotational speed accuracy, but some people prefer belt drive, arguing that it isolates motor noise from the platter. 

Built-in pre-amp

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Some of the models have an inbuilt pre-amp, making 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.

78rpm support

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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 to play 78s for the Thorens TD 170-1 while the Pro-Ject Audio Debut Carbon DC requires a special cartridge to play 78s.

Test results

Ease of use score

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Our tester assessed the initial setup of the turntable out of the box, including attaching the platter, belt, and any adjustments that were needed before operation. He also looked at the thoroughness of the instruction manual. Operational aspects assessed include speed selection and cueing a track.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 0 and 0

Listening score

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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.

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Specifications

Speed change mechanism

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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. 

Cartridge type

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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.

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  • Recommended
  • Overall score
  • Listening score
  • Ease of use score
  • Technical score
  • Good points
  • Bad points
  • Brand
  • Status
  • Model
  • Price
  • Built-in pre-amp
  • Tone arm clamp
  • Damped cueing
  • 78rpm support
  • Pitch stabilisation
  • Removable hinged lid
  • 45rpm spindle adapter
  • On/off switch
  • Stop/start
  • Tracking force adjustment
  • Anti-skate bias adjustment
  • Drive type
  • Speed change mechanism
  • Tone arm material
  • Cartridge model
  • Cartridge type
  • Stylus model
  • Recommended tracking force (gf)
  • Stylus type
  • Stylus shape
  • Platter construction
  • Platter mat
  • Motor type
  • Operation
  • Number of feet
  • Dimensions (H x W x D, mm)
  • Weight (kg)
  • Country of origin
  • Warranty (years)
  • Website
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