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Vinyl may be an old music format, but it’s more popular than it’s been in decades. Record sales are reaching levels not seen since the mid- 1980s, making right now the perfect time to start spinning albums.
Getting into record collecting can seem daunting, but modern turntables are geared toward beginners who may not have much experience or equipment. They’re relatively plug-and-play, so you can unbox them and start spinning in 10 minutes or less.
The biggest challenge is finding a record player that’s worth your time and money, but we can help. We’re recommending four turntables that’re perfect for beginners based on research and hands-on testing. Our selections are designed to last a long time with no maintenance.
If you’re ready to get into records for the first time or re-visit a collection that’s been gathering dust for 20 years, these are the turntables you should get.
What Are the Best Turntables For Beginners?
There are many factors to consider when choosing the best beginner turntable for you; below are the most important ones, which we considered while we were researching this list.
Preamp: All of the turntables we’re recommending have a built-in preamp, which allows you to plug them directly into any pair of powered speakers or A/V receiver.
Digital Features: Vinyl is an analog music format, but some of the record players below have digital features, like USB and Bluetooth. These enable you to digitize your records or listen to your albums on wireless speakers or headphones.
Built-in Speaker: Turntable-based audio systems can take up a lot of room, which is why we’ve also called out some models with a built-in speaker, which is more space-efficient.
Price: We set a price cap of $300 for the record players in this guide.
1. Audio-Technica AT-LP120XBT-USB
Audio-Technica has been a well-known name in the audio world for decades, and its AT-LP120XBT-USB has a powerful mix of analog and digital features.
The turntable has some ease-of-use features that some totally analog decks lack, like a cue lever that makes it easier to raise and lower the needle on a record. If you’ve ever wanted to try DJing (practice on dollar records to get the hang of it), you can use this record player’s pitch control to speed up or slow down your albums.
When you’re listening to vinyl normally, you can switch between 33/3 RPM and 45RPM with the push of a button. Audio-Technica outfitted its record player with a VM95E phono cartridge, which is a solid choice.
This futureproof record player has both a USB port and support for Bluetooth, but neither of these high-tech features are necessary for playing records. You can use Audio-Technica’s record player without ever using them, but they’re nice to have.
If you’d like your first record player to have some of the comforts of digital music equipment, we highly recommend Audio-Technica’s AT-LP120XBT-USB.
2. U-Turn Orbit Basic
Our favorite totally-analog turntable for beginners is U-Turn’s Orbit Basic, a record player specifically designed to help get new people to listen to vinyl.
The beautifully crafted record player can be set up in less than five minutes and has all the features you need. The Orbit Basic is a manual turntable, which means you needto lift and lower the needle with your finger physically, but that’s easy once you get the hang of it.
U-Turn bundles its deck with a pre-fitted Audio-Technica AT91B cartridge, which sounds great but can be upgraded over time. We’ve used this turntable for ourselves, and the results are always impressive. Its level of performance (audio quality) is unexpected for a $250 turntable. The most basic version of this record player costs $179 but doesn’t come with a preamp.
It may not have many bells and whistles, but the U-Turn Orbit Basic was designed for optimal audio performance. If you want to take a big first step into the audiophile world, this is the record player we recommend.
3. Crosley Sterling Portable Turntable
In the 1960s, your Hi-Fi system was the centerpiece of your living room; Crosley’s Sterling Portable Turntable aims to re-capture that aesthetic.
The turntable has an angular shape, evocative of mid-60s furniture, and sits on top of a four-legged stand, which keeps it at the perfect height for flipping records. Its look may be a throwback, but it has modern features like a built-in stereo Bluetooth speaker, an AUX input, and a headphone jack. If you don’t want to use the record player’s integrated speaker, you can plug it into another pair.
Crosley’s Sterling is an automatic turntable, which means you can “program” the tonearm to lift itself and drop the needle at the beginning of a 12-inch or 7-inch album. To activate this feature, you’ll need to flip a switch on the bottom-lefthand corner of the table. If your album sounds a little fast or slow, you can use the Crosley Sterling’s pitch control to dial it in. This turntable comes with an Audio-Technica 3600 cartridge, which is very good for a model under $200.
Every living room needs a statement piece of furniture, and Crosley’s Sterling is an excellent choice for the modern music lover.
4. 1byone High Fidelity Belt Drive Turntable
If your music room is short on space, 1byone’s High Fidelity Turntable is the clear choice.
It’s an all-in-one music system with a built-in Bluetooth speaker but is only 7.5-inches tall and 17.3-inches wide. If you have a side table or media center, it’ll probably fit perfectly into your setup. The Bluetooth speaker can be used to stream music from your phone or tablet, so you can also use 1byone’s turntable when you’re not listening to records. It also has an AUX input for wired music sources like a high-resolution music player.
1byone paired its High Fidelity Turntable with an Audio-Technica cartridge but doesn’t specify which one. This record player has a cue arm and easily accessible switches that let you pitch correct albums and change between 33/3RPM and 45RPM. It doesn’t have an automatic start or additional digital features, but the 1byone High Fidelity Turntable is an excellent turntable for beginners who need a compact audio system.
Note: Amazon is currently offering a $10 off coupon, which brings this turntable’s price down to $179.99.