Audiophiles and vinyl enthusiasts know that the rich, warm sound of a record player simply can’t be replicated by any digital format. Whether you’re a newcomer to the vinyl hobby or an experienced collector looking to upgrade, the turntable you choose can have a significant impact on your listening experience. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the best turntables of 2023, covering a range of options from budget-friendly models to top-tier, audiophile-grade decks.
The Resurgence of Vinyl
In an era dominated by streaming platforms and digital downloads, vinyl records have made a surprising comeback. US vinyl sales have consistently increased for over a decade, with music fans proclaiming that nothing compares to the rich, warm sound of a record player. This renewed interest in the analog audio format has led to a boom in the turntable market, with a wide array of models now available to cater to every budget and preference.
What to Consider When Choosing a Turntable
Before we dive into our top picks, let’s cover some key factors you should consider when choosing a turntable:
- Budget: Like any audio equipment, turntables can range in price from around $100 to several thousand dollars. Determine how much you’re willing to spend before you start shopping.
- Features: Do you want a basic turntable that just plays records, or are you looking for more advanced features like USB connectivity for digitizing your vinyl collection or Bluetooth for wireless listening?
- Phono Preamp: Some turntables come with a built-in phono preamp, which amplifies the signal from the cartridge so it can be played through a standard amplifier or speaker. If the turntable doesn’t have this, you’ll need to purchase a separate phono preamp.
- Manual vs. Automatic: Automatic turntables start playing the record with the push of a button and return the tonearm to its rest when the side is done. Manual turntables require you to physically place the needle on the record and remove it when finished.
- Upgradeability: Some turntables offer the ability to upgrade components like the cartridge or tonearm, which can improve sound quality.
Our Best Turntable Picks
Now, let’s dive into our top picks for the best turntables and best record players of 2023.
Best Overall: Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo
The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo is our top pick for the best overall turntable. Celebrating Pro-Ject’s 30th anniversary, this model offers a phenomenal blend of top-notch build quality, impressive sound clarity, and eye-catching design. Its carbon fiber and aluminum tonearm, along with a dedicated Pick It Pro cartridge, deliver an incredibly detailed and precise sound. The Debut Carbon Evo’s well-thought-out design and high-quality components make it an excellent choice for most vinyl enthusiasts.
Alternatively, you may also want to consider the Audio-Technica AT-LPW50BT.
Best Budget: Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT
For those on a tight budget, the Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT offers excellent value. This entry-level turntable provides a warm, detailed sound and also features Bluetooth connectivity for wireless listening. Its easy setup and fully automatic operation make it an ideal choice for beginners.
Alternatively, you may also want to consider the Angels Horn H019.
Best Mid-Priced: Rega Planar 2
The Rega Planar 2 delivers an impressive, room-filling sound, making it our top pick in the mid-priced range. This turntable offers an exciting and engaging listening experience with a focus on clarity and accuracy. The Planar 2’s simple, understated design and excellent build quality make it a worthy investment for any vinyl enthusiast.
Alternatively, you may also want to consider the Fluance RT81.
Best High-End: Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2
If you’re willing to splurge, the Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2 is the best high-end turntable on our list. This model boasts a host of premium features, including a semi-automatic operation, built-in phono stage, and a solid magnesium tonearm. The Alva TT V2’s sound quality is top-notch, offering an engaging musical experience that will delight any audiophile.
Alternatively, you may also want to consider the Technics SL-100C-K.
Best for Beginners: Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB
For those just starting their vinyl journey, the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB is a fantastic choice. This iconic entry-level turntable combines excellent sound, a durable build, and the potential for future upgrades. Its USB-enabled model lets you connect the device directly to your computer, allowing you to digitize your records and preserve your vinyl finds.
Alternatively, you may also want to consider the Audio-Technica AT-LP5X.
Choosing the right turntable is a subjective process that depends on your budget, technical know-how, and personal preferences. Whether you’re just getting started with vinyl or you’re an experienced collector, we hope this guide helps you navigate the myriad of options available and find the perfect turntable to enhance your listening experience in 2023. So dust off your vinyl collection and get ready to immerse yourself in the rich, warm sound of your favorite records.