The Search for the Best Record Player 2017: From Online Reviews to Actual Views

Let me tell you my story of finding the best record player for me, which I would also recommend with my friends and you.

Since the resurgence of the vinyl records and simultaneously the record players, I have been interested in finding, of course, only the best grade albums and the best record player for my collection.

Of course, the first thing I did was to read record player reviews and narrow my list down to what the reviewers recommended. Unsurprisingly, almost each site I visited has its own set of suggestions. Luckily, these sites have at least one turntable in common.

After I finalized my list based on these record player reviews, I went music store hopping to listen to these record players myself. Then I also took note of the factors one has to consider when going in the quest for the best turntable there is.​

**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.

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Best Record Player Brand

The X Factors

sound quality

​1./ Sound Quality

Of course we should never ever compromise the quality of sound because we want to save money.

What you want to get is a record player that doesn’t have unnecessary sounds from unwanted vibrations, unstable tonearm or dirty needle.

You also have to choose a record player that doesn’t sound tinny, muffled, or broken even when the volume is set at maximum.

There are also record players that play vinyls at a higher pitch than usual by default, making men’s voices sound like a woman’s. Check if there’s a changeable setting for that.

In short, the best record player should produce the best sound it can.​

2./ Durability

Although of course our first thought is to save as much money as possible, do not choose budget over durability ever because if that’s the case, you might end up buying record players over and over, creating a bigger hole in your pocket. Instead, choose one that’s built to last a long time.​

3./ Upgradability​

I’ve heard a number of people say they only want to buy a record player just because they want to play their vinyl albums, regardless of upgradability options. Some years later, they ended up buying a whole new turntable because the previous one “won’t be able to accommodate the better cartridge [they] want.”

4./ Ease of Use​

The last thing you want to have is a record player that takes more of your time setting it up than actually using it. This is true for both newbies and experts. Plug and play is what we want, letting us enjoy music more and stress less.

5./ Design​

record player design

Record players, unlike other music players, are meant to be displayed. They are meant to be shown off to friends and visitors. Hence, choosing one that doubles as a décor is just essential.

But aside from its aesthetic quality, a record player should also be designed to give the optimum sound and easy installation.

Its casing should be intended to lessen vibration and unnecessary wobbles. The tonearm should be steady enough to avoid skipping. The overall build must work together to give you the best listening experience.

6./ Affordability​

Spending $200 on a record player that sounds and perform much like a $1000 one is a great steal. So why buy the more expensive one then? If you can find all of the above without a ridiculous price tag, grab it.

​7./ Features

All-in-one may be a hard find among record players but at least find something that has all your basic needs plus a little of your wants. Basic needs include the machine itself compete from the base to the needle, necessary cables for external connection, and cleaning kit.

Wants may be the USB port for digitizing analog songs, software for ripping and editing music, phono preamps, etc.​

But the list doesn’t end with these X factors. Here are some of the features and design you have to check out for the search for that best record player:

  • The Drive. Record players come in two types of drive: belt and direct. The former is known to produce high quality sound because the belt produces less interference between the motor and the platter. The latter produces more consistent speed because of higher torque and has the reverse play options.
  • The Wow. Wow, almost always paired up with flutter, refers to the consistency of the platter when it spins. In other words, it measures the wobbliness of the platter. Obviously, the lower the rate is, the better.
  • The Arm. A record player’s tonearm is either manual or automatic. As the name implies, manual means you have to place the tonearm manually on and off the vinyl to listen to or stop the music; automatic, well, does everything for you.
  • The S/N Ratio. The higher the signal-to-noise ratio is, the better. Why? Because it means that you can hear more music than noise. You wouldn’t want it to be the other way around, do you? More than 65dB is the average although some are fine with 50dB.
  • The Cartridge. A record player cartridge comes in three types: standard ½”, fixed, and P-mount. If you are particular with cartridge upgrades, choose either standard or P-mount because in the fixed cartridge, you may only replace the stylus.
  • The Speed. Vinyl records usually have two speeds: 33 1/3 and 45 RPM. Older ones, however, play at 78 RPM. Although the first two would suffice, having a record player that can play at 78 is a sweet deal. It will make our grandpops happy.

Although there are other more things that you have to consider in terms of features and designs, the ones above are the basic.

After reading tons of record player reviews, store hopping and testing, creating the list of what I am looking for in a record player, I then picked the top five record players where I can select the best record player. Here they are.

Top 5 Best Record Player

**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.

​1./ AT-LP120-USB Direct-Drive Professional Turntable (USB & Analog)

Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB Direct-Drive Professional Turntable in Silver
Quality 95%
Specs 99%
Design 95%
Price 90%
99 /100 Our Rating

Specifications & Quick History

Good

This record player has several features on its plate, especially the built-in preamp, which means that you don’t have to buy an external one. The forward and reverse operation option is very helpful if you are aiming to improve your DJ-ing skills.

The USB connectivity means it is easy to connect to the computers in case you choose to digitize your music. The fast setup time also means that it doesn’t require complicated process.

The replaceable cartridge means that you may replace it with a better performing one, giving you a better listening experience. Its ability to play three speeds means you can enjoy all types of records, be it the modern or the vintage ones.

Another good thing about this record player is its speed indicator on the platter, letting you know if you are playing your vinyl accurately. And for the price, it seems that this record player is a complete steal.​

​Needs Improvement

Record player reviews and my experience tell me that this turntable has to work on the quality of USB-recorded sounds. There seem to be some rumbles at times. It also has to work on its durability because there are some who complained of having to replace parts in less than a year.

But according to most reviews, the most annoying part is the permanently attached RCA cables. It means that replacing them once they are broken is quite a task.

Conclusion

This record player, according to record player reviews, resembles a very popular turntable for DJs back in the 1970s. The resemblance is not only physical but also performance-wise.

It is unquestionable that this record player will perform according to expectations, or even beyond, because its makers have been in the audio equipment manufacturing business for more than five decades.​

To top it off, the company has been a regular supplier of microphone solutions in major events such as Olympic games and the presidential debate.

Although there are complaints about noise and its durability, this record player is a big bang for your buck with all its features abilities. You just have to figure out how to care for your turntable to make it last longer and how to improve sound using some techniques.​

Recommended for: Practicing DJ-ing skills.


2./ AT-LP60-USB Fully Automatic Belt-Drive Stereo Turntable

Audio-Technica AT-LP60-USB
Quality 85%
Specs 90%
Design 80%
Price 95%
88 /100 Our Rating

Specifications & Quick History

Good

This record player stands out among the record players in the same price category because it has all the needed features you might be looking for: USB connection for easy audio copying, built-in phono preamp so you won’t have to buy an external one, and Audacity to help you edit your digitized music.

It is also fully automatic, which is heaven for those who are just starting in the record player world. Plus, with the price, it can be the most affordable record player.

Needs Improvement

With all its features and abilities, I wonder why Audio-technica forgot to include a lock in the tonearm. It could have been a nice addition because it would prevent the stylus from skipping tracks or moving when I have to transfer the turntable location.

Record player reviews also mentioned that the on and off switch is a push button so there are times, especially in the dark, when you won’t know it is turned on. Actually, all its switches are push buttons so you have to find someone with good eyesight to check if you have chosen the correct setting.

And, oh, a replaceable cartridge would have been nice, too, just in case you decide to upgrade your listening experience.

Conclusion

Despite its flaws, this record player is clearly a bang for your buck especially if you are still exploring the vinyl world. Its easy setup and fully automatic operation is helpful, especially for beginners. So if you are looking for a turntable that may be your springboard into the record player galaxy, this is it.

Recommended for: Complete turntable beginners.


3./ Electrohome Signature Vinyl Record Player Classic Turntable Natural Wood Hi-Fi Stereo System (EANOS700)

Electrohome Signature Vinyl Record Player Classic Turntable
Quality 90%
Specs 90%
Design 95%
Price 90%
92 /100 Our Rating

Specifications & Quick History

Good

The first thing that got me is this record player’s design. It’s retro. It’s nostalgic. Brings me back memories of my grandfather’s phonograph where he played songs I didn’t understand but enjoyed nonetheless.

Another good feature this record player has is the other built-in players and radio. This gives you plenty of options. If you’ve listened to all your vinyl records, you may pop in your CD or tune the FM station for some good music.

One more is the built-in speakers. This means no more extra clutter (well, for me). All you have to do is place the vinyl record, press play, and it’s good to go. You can enjoy your favorite music in no time.

But my most favorite feature of this record player is its ability to record music via the USB port. You just have to plug in your flash drive, press record, and voila! Your vinyl in an MP3 format.

Did I also mention it’s very affordable?

Needs Improvement

One thing I noticed about this record player though is that it its built-in needle doesn’t fit the new records well. New types of record tend to have narrower grooves, hence you have to make necessary adjustments for it to play the music properly.

Conclusion

Overall, I still like this piece. It gives the vintage feel, works almost perfectly, and doesn’t cost much. The setup is easy and the options are plenty. You surely won’t run out of choices when it comes to what to listen to next.

The stylus may skip some grooves, but readjustment is enough to keep it back on track. Hence, I can say this may be the best record player with speakers and best vintage record player, well physically that is.

Recommended for: Beginners and vintage lovers.


4./ Teac LP-R550USB CD Recorder with Cassette Turntable

Teac LP-R550USB CD Recorder with Cassette Turntable
Quality 92%
Specs 95%
Design 95%
Price 90%
95 /100 Our Rating

Specifications & Quick History

​Good

If the Electrohome entry allows for easy “digitizing” using the USB port, this record player uses the CD recorder. You may record music from the vinyl or cassette player and radio.

What I especially like about it is its internal speakers that may no longer require you to Google the best speakers for record player. The built-in speakers are loud and clear enough for a small room.

Needs Improvement​

Although this record player boasts of ease when it comes to recording music, there have been some record player reviews that mentioned it needs improvement. There are times when there are unnecessary noises in the recorded audio or there is no sound at all. It hasn’t happened to me, but it could be one thing you should test before buying this product.

Conclusion

The all in one feature of this record player makes it a good choice especially for those who would still love to listen to their cassette tapes. The look may not be as nostalgic as the previous entry, but the fact that you can play tapes from the 1990s should bring back enough memories of the past.

The turntable may not be as good sounding as the others at the same price range, but this record player definitely does the job. No complaints about that.

Recommended for: Vinyl record and cassette tapes enthusiasts.

Read the Full Review


5./ Crosley CR6232A-BR Nomad Portable USB Turntable

Crosley CR6232A-BR Nomad Portable USB Turntable
Quality 80%
Specs 85%
Design 100%
Price 95%
88 /100 Our Rating

Specifications & Quick History

Good

The portability of this record player is what caught my eyes. When closed, it looks like an attaché I can carry almost everywhere with me, and people won’t know it is a turntable. The sleek choice of color and fabric also give it the elegant look.

The headphone jack also allows me to listen to music privately without disturbing those around me. If my colleagues decide to listen with me, the built-in dynamic full range speakers will suffice.

The USB port and built in software are another plus for easier music ripping.

Needs Improvement

One thing I would have loved to see though is the tone control and a quieter sound of the motor inside the turntable. Some record player reviews also mentioned cutting off the music because of the automatic stop.

Conclusion

The looks and the portability of this turntable are what really stand out. The idea of taking it with anywhere, as long as there is power outlet is just exciting. Hence, I personally consider this as the best portable record player.

Not only can you enjoy your vinyl records wherever you are, you can also share the vinyl fever to people you meet. The sound quality may need a little improvement, but this record player already does its job.

Recommended for: vinyl enthusiasts who are always on the go.


The Search is Over

After nights of reading record player reviews visiting music stores and actually listening to the turntables, I made a choice of what works best for me. That is, the best record player for me.

Considering the list I have above and the actual specifications of these tables, I can say that the AT-LP120-USB is the best option. It may not have the other features such as radio and CD, cassette, or MP3 players, but it does what a record player should do: play vinyl records.

It also has the USB function which allows me to rip audio directly to my Mac. Plus, in case I decide to mix and edit music in the future, a.k.a. DJ-ing, I can do so because of the reverse operation functionality.

But as mentioned above, each of the entries are good for different purposes hence I recommended each for different types of people. If you are any of these mentioned types, you know what’s best for you.​

Erin Taylor
 

Chief editor of YouthTune, a music adventurer. I love learning about music and audio devices, which I eventually share with others so that they too can go on exploring the melodious world of music.

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