Are you looking for the best record player you can buy? Of course, it has to sound good, and you want to rely on it for years to come. But you know else? You want it to look nice, too.
After all, in the 21st Century, a record player is a niche item to own. That means your eyes, and others will be drawn to it every time, which is why you want it to accent your personal style. That means you can forget about buying the cheapest piece of junk you come across, and instead really search for the best record player for you.
Are you old enough to remember when record players were standard in everyone's home? There was a time when they weren't niche items. It's like televisions or computers today where every home has one. Well, so it was with record players. That lasted well into the late 1980s when CD players and digital music took over. By the late 1990s, the record player was an endangered species.
What are your plans? Will you use it listen to music, or do you plan to use as a decor piece? The answer to that question will go a long way towards determining the best record player for you.
So You Want a Record Player
Think about this for a moment.
Vinyl DOES sound better than digital. That’s not just the personal opinion of every hipster to walk the earth. Science can prove it.
You see, all music gets created in analog. But to get that analog sound to your ears via a digital medium (MP3 or CD, for instance) the sound needs to be broken into data packets, and then those packets read by a laser or electronic wave. Then that information is transcoded back into analog, albeit much weaker than the original. So it needs to get boosted through an amplifier. Finally, you can hear the music. By the time it has gone through all of that, the music has lost much of the original sound.
Which is why digital doesn't sound as good as vinyl from a record player.
And that's why you want a record player.
How do they work?
When a vinyl record gets created, machines dig out grooves along the edge in the same pattern as the sound waves produced by the music. Most of the time this is through magnetic tape, which is used in the recording studio and on the editing floor.
Next, the needle on your turntable bounces along those grooves and reproduces the sound for your listening pleasure. The thing about analog recordings is that the music is the same as what the artists and engineers heard in the recording studio. The sound waves in the vinyl record are a complete replica of that music. It's called "lossless." And it has both good and bad qualities.
One problem with vinyl is that it is easily scratched, or dust gets trapped in the grooves. Suddenly you're listening to a lot of static. Digital doesn't have that problem (aside from CDs).
Another problem is a relatively new one. That’s because more and more artists are recording in digital, and not on magnetic tape. Now the record will actually sound worse than the digital copy!
Different kinds of record players
Did you know that not all record players do the same thing? Of course, you did. You're smart that way!
But we'll recap just in case.
Automatic vs. manual
To start, you need to choose between an automatic and a manual record player. Often the best record player comes down to what you prefer. And what's the difference between those?
Well, an automatic record player lowers the arm to the start of the record with the push of a button. There's no need to mess around with finding the right groove. Many of them can also skip tracks, although even after five decades it's still hit or miss.
A manual record player requires that you lower the arm yourself. That often leads to a scratched-up vinyl collection.
There are also three sizes of records to choose from, and the best record player will be able to play the most common sizes. These are:
Note that the 10-inch disc is rare. You'll want to make sure that your record player can play both 45 rpm and 33 rpm discs.
What to look for
When you’re shopping for a new turntable, you want to keep an eye on a couple of things.
First, if you don't have an amplifier, equalizer, and speakers, you'll need a turntable that has Bluetooth built in. Thankfully in 2019, most of them do!
Second, you'll probably want a belt-driven turntable over a direct-drive one. That means a belt turns the actual turntable, and that belt absorbs most of the vibrations resulting in better audio.
Finally, cheap isn’t always best. Sure, you can buy a record player for more than $10,000, which is ridiculous and a little narcissistic (and, yes, this is a real thing). On the other end of the scale, you don’t want a $20 piece of plastic. Most decent record players cost between $100 and $500, although every now and again you can snatch one up for between $50 and $100.
How We Reviewed
Then we went looking for the best record player that you could invest in with confidence today. Let's start off by saying that there are A LOT of record players out there! Wow! So to weed out the duds from the stars, we applied what we learned, and read through customer reviews.
Customer reviews are great because they let us know how products perform in the real world. That way, we were able to bring you a list of the best record players available today!
The Best Record Player for You
After we applied some quality criteria to our giant list of record players, we were left with a much smaller list. Then we dumped some turntables after reading through customer reviews.
Which is why we're confident that you'll find the best record player for your needs right here.
But wait a moment. Do you remember when we said that style is as important as function when shopping for a record player?
You want a record player that will match your style, your home, and your tastes. Not only should it sound good and be reliable for many years, but you should love to see it every time you walk into the room. That's why we tried to find a record player for each style. Whether you want a mid-century vintage or modern club-DJ grade, we have the best record player for you.
Let's dive right in.
Timmit Bluetooth Turntable for Vinyl Records
- Vinyl player – This Timmit turntable gives you a warm and natural vinyl sound that is delivered with exceptional...
- Belt-drive – The belt drive turntable allows you to play all of your 7”, 10” & 12” vinyl records with speeds of...
- Connection – Directly connect to stereo receivers and amplifiers which have phono inputs or use the Bluetooth function...
First up in our search for the best record player is a Bluetooth turntable by Timmit. There is a beauty in the minimalist simplicity of this machine. If you like Apple products for their design cues, you'll love this record player. It's an aluminum, steel, and glass square that has simple, unobtrusive controls and simple colors.
But don't let the simplicity of it fool you. The Timmit features Bluetooth connectivity, USB and aux output, and the ability to record vinyl to digital. It's a truly modern record player.
Almost everyone praised the sound quality, thanks to a heavy weighted arm, and the ease of use. The only complaints revolved around the belt, which is located on the bottom of the turntable and requires assembly.
LUKER Portable Suitcase Bluetooth Turntable
- LUKER record player is a perfect combo of trendy elements and retro style with classical color series. Customized metal...
- Combines vintage turntable design and modern technology. Belt-driven system, Unique Anti-Resonance Design, Hand tuned...
- LUKER suitcase bluetooth turntable is portable design. Support BLUETOOTH 4.1. Support charging power supply. Equipped...
Next up is the LUKER portable suitcase turntable. If you want an eye-catching vintage piece of art, this is the turntable for you. We love the colors and the faux-leather grains of the frame. This is a serious head-turner.
Best of all, LUKER is completely modern. A belt-driven turntable can pump out music through Bluetooth or a USB connection. There's an internal battery so you can charge it up and take it on the go. Also, don't worry about record sizes, because it supports all three.
Almost everyone said it was beautiful, and they all enjoyed the sound quality. There were no complaints except the "On/Off" switch reads "NO/OFF."
Fluance RT81 High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable
- PURE ANALOG LISTENING EXPERIENCE - Premium components allow this high fidelity belt driven turntable to recreate the...
- HIGH PERFORMANCE CARTRIDGE - The Audio Technica AT95E featuring a diamond elliptical tipped stylus is designed to track...
- SUPERIOR RECORD TRACKING - Enjoy perfect playback using the balanced aluminum S-Type tonearm ensuring the stylus is...
Third on our list is the Fluance RT81 Hi-Fi Turntable. Fluance is a well-established name in the world of turntables, so you know you're getting a reliable brand. That said, the RT81 is as plain as they come. In fact, this record player harks back to the days of the late 1970s, when everything had wood paneling. Even cars. So if that's your style, this is the record player for you.
What you'll love most about the RT81 is the extremely high quality of the sound. There's a belt-drive, so it plays back analog music in the exact same quality as the day the artist recorded it. It's definitely worth every penny.
Everyone praised the build quality of this machine, from the weight to the rubber matting to the cartridge. All of that resulted in superb sound quality, which many people commented on. One complaint a few people had was the speed for 33 rpm records was a little inconsistent.
Victrola 6-in-1 Wood Bluetooth Mid Century Record Player
- Features 3-speed turntable, Bluetooth connectivity, CD player, cassette player, FM radio, and 3.5mm aux-in
- Classic FM radio with analog tuner and "around the dial" LED lighting
- Built-in stereo speakers
Are you ready to take it back a little? Let's go to the late 1940s with the Victrola record player. We're talking a big cherry-wood box with huge brass dials. It even has a lid which you need to open to access the turntable! And in true 1940s fashion, it comes with a classic FM radio.
But get this. Despite inspiration from the post-war period, the Victrola comes with Bluetooth, a CD player, a cassette player, and even a 3.5-millimeter jack for headphones. You can play anything on it!
Many of them wrote that they love this machine. They also praised how versatile it is. On the other hand, many said the speaker at the front doesn't put out great sound, so you'll want your own speakers.
Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB Direct-Drive Professional Turntable
- High-torque direct-drive motor for quick start-up and USB output that connects directly to your computer
- Selectable internal stereo phono pre-amplifier allows turntable to plug directly to components with no dedicated...
- Includes a USB cable, adapter cables, and Mac- and PC-compatible Audacity software to digitize your LPs
Maybe you don't want a vintage turntable? Perhaps simplicity isn't enough, and you want to DJ parties at your home? In that case, the Audio-Technica AT-LP120 is the best record player for you. It looks just like you would expect a modern DJ turntable to look like. All-metal, with lots of big knobs and sliding volume controls. The arm is robotic and big.
Plus there are all the features it comes packing. A high-torque direct-drive motor starts up instantly. There's USB, Bluetooth, and multiple jacks for connecting headphones and other peripherals.
Almost everyone raved (no pun intended) about the quality of the audio output, provided they had the right speaker system. Also, many said it works and works and never dies. Unfortunately, a few people experienced manufacturing defects early on, but the one-year warranty covered them.
Wrcibo Record Player
- Traditional Style, Solid Wood Appearance & Dust Cover
- Three-speed Turntable, works with 33 1/3, 45, and 78 RPM records
- 3.5mm aux-in and headphone jack for playing music from your smart phones, Tablet, PC, MP3, CD Player
Sometimes nothing seems to be the right fit. That's when you might want to try out the Wrcibo record player. Don't ask us how to pronounce that. This turntable sits atop a wooden base. The base is shaped almost like an old PlayStation 3. Everything gets compactly stuffed onto a small profile kept safe under a plastic cover.
Here's another cool thing about the Wrcibo. You can plug your MP3 player, tablet, PC or whatever into it and play through the built-in speakers. There are the regular RCA outputs and a 3.5-millimeter jack. There is no Bluetooth, unfortunately.
Most people were pleasantly surprised by the sound quality of the speakers. They get loud and clear, no matter which medium you're playing music through. The only complaints revolved around manufacturing defects and damaged deliveries.
Some Things to Remember
There you have it. One of these is undoubtedly the best record player for you. Just try to remember a few things as you set off on your vinyl-record adventures.
First, keep your record player clean. That goes double for your records. Dust is the enemy of all record players and a big reason why digital grew in popularity. Use a scratch-proof cloth to clean your player and your records.
Next, put each record back in its sleeve after each use, and close the lid on the player. That will keep dust and damage away from both.
Finally, get yourself a great pair of headphones. There is no better feeling than laying down with your earphones on and firing up an analog record. Close your eyes, and soak in every pure sound, the way music is meant to be enjoyed.
Do you have a favorite memory of listening to music on vinyl? What's the best record player for you? Let us know in the comments!
Featured Image Source: Pexels.com