Top 10 Best Record Players for 2020 Reviews

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Who would’ve imagined that vinyl records would be the hottest craze in music 2 decades into the 21st Century? They might have lost the battle to CDs and digital media a while ago, but LPs are back in full swing. And they’re here to stay — vinyl record sales have grown by 9 percent annually in the last couple of years.

Of course, it helps that modern record players are nothing like their predecessors. Today’s generation are a lot more sophisticated, user-friendly and reliable. It’s safe to say that there’s never been a better time to grab yourself one. But don’t head out shopping just yet — take time to enlighten yourself by reading through our guide into the top record players available today.

1. Audio Technica AT-LP60BK-BT Bluetooth Wireless Belt-Drive Stereo Turntable

Audio Technica AT-LP60BK-BT Bluetooth Wireless Belt-Drive Stereo Turntable

Don't let the nerdy name dissuade you; the Audio Technica AT-LP60BK-BT is one of the best introductory models for beginner vinyl enthusiasts. It's fully automatic, for starters, so operating it couldn't be easier. You just put your record on the mat and push the start button to begin play -- no need to fumble around with the stylus or anything like that.

The setup process is just as effortless. Bluetooth connectivity allows you to pair the turntable with speakers/headphones, and you can save up to 8 connections in its memory. An RCA-out port at the back offers the option to connect wired speakers if that's your thing. Either way, the
AT-LP60BK-BT ensures you get a crisp sound thanks to its bespoke belt-drive mechanism. It is worth pointing out that while the manufacturer advertises two-speed playback with support for 33 1/3 and 45-RPM records, an adapter is required for the latter. This is however included as part of the accessories.

Pros

-Highly portable, thanks to its tiny footprint and lightweight build.

-Easy setup and operation

-Superb sound quality

Cons

-No support for 78 RPM records: For a $149 price tag, surely?

2. VSC-550BT-TQ Victrola Vintage 3-Speed Bluetooth Suitcase Turntable with Speakers

VSC-550BT-TQ Victrola Vintage 3-Speed Bluetooth Suitcase Turntable with Speakers

Who says you have to fork out an upward of $100 to enjoy the vinyl experience? The Victrola Vintage 3-Speed Suitcase Turntable will get the job done for less than half the amount. Retailing at $39.96, it costs about as much as you'd pay for two vinyl records.

There's no discounting the adage "you get what you pay for", of course -- audiophiles might want to look elsewhere. But then again, the Victrola Vintage VSC-550BT-TQ doesn't make any false promises. It simply aims to let you enjoy your music 'with complete control and satisfaction', utilizing the following key features:

-3-Speed belt-driven turntable with cueing lever

-Built-in speakers

-Bluetooth connectivity

-3.5mm aux-in jack

Pros

-Lots of connectivity options

-Available in a wide range of colors

-Sound quality is OK for the price

Cons

-Limited portability due to the lack of on-board battery

-The in-built needle develops a tendency to skip with time.

3. Audio-Technica ATLP120USB Direct Drive Professional USB Turntable

Audio-Technica ATLP120USB Direct Drive Professional USB Turntable

Now here's a turntable designed specifically for serious vinyl lovers. Not to dismiss the two entrants above -- it's just that you cannot expect a spoon to do a spade's job. The ATLP120USB will not only let you listen to your records, but it also has everything you need to start spinning.

You get an aluminum platter paired with a high-torque direct-drive motor for a speedy startup. There's a slip mat underneath for forward/reverse capability, and a start-stop button as well. An in-built phono preamp allows you to plug directly to a sound bar or speakers, instead of having to connect via a home theater receiver. Other key features include:

-Pitch control with +/-20 percent range

-Speed indicator and pop-up stylus target light for easier queuing.

-Support for 33, 45 and 78 RPM playback speeds

-USB output to let you rip records using your computer

Pros

-Crisp, punchy sound.

-Solid build quality

-Fairly straightforward setup

Cons

-Motor can get loud

You can grab the Audio-Technica ATLP120USB for $229 on Amazon. 

4. Victrola Nostalgic Classic Wood 6-in-1 Bluetooth Turntable

Victrola Nostalgic Classic Wood 6-in-1 Bluetooth Turntable

The Victrola Nostalgic 6-in-1 takes the charm of a record player and cranks it up several notches. It comes with a vintage-styled wooden body, as the name suggests, and the usual three-speed turntable with support for 33, 45 and 78 RPM playback. However, its biggest selling point is the added functionality afforded by the on-board CD and cassette players.

Not to forget the FM radio tuner and Bluetooth connectivity to let you play music from your phone or other enabled devices. This unit will always give you a way out whenever you find yourself trapped in a musical rut.

All these extras come at a hefty price, admittedly. The 6-in-1 retails for $79.99, which is more than twice the price of the other Victrola unit we've covered so far. It's still cheaper than most other all-in-one units, though, so don't be afraid to take a closer look.

Pros

-Magnificent wooden body, with 6 color options available

-Highly versatile

-Excellent sound from the in-built stereo speakers

Cons

-Dismal build quality, going by customer complaints

-Poor customer support from the manufacturer

5. Victrola Navigator 8-in-1 Classic Bluetooth Record Player

Victrola Navigator 8-in-1 Classic Bluetooth Record Player

Victrola clearly believe that you cannot have too much of a good thing as far as their record players are concerned. With the Navigator Classic, you have the ultimate vintage sound system. A unit that will take care of all your musical needs for slightly over $120.

Capable of playing vinyls, CDs and cassettes, this fantastic device will let you relish all the albums you've been collecting over the years. You can also connect digital sources via Bluetooth or 3.5 mm jack. An FM radio tuner is included so you can keep up with the news and your favorite shows.

Features

- 3 speed turntable

-Vinyl to MP3 recording

-Full range stereo speakers

-Remote control

Pros

-Versatile

-All functions work as expected

-Very good-looking, with a wide range of wood finishes available

Cons

-Sound quality from on-board speakers is less than satisfactory

-Very bulky unit, weighing at 16.5 pounds 

6. Record Player Portable Wireless LP Belt-Drive 3-Speed Turntable

Record Player Portable Wireless LP Belt-Drive 3-Speed Turntable

You'd be hard-pressed to guess that Wockoder's Wireless 3-Speed Record Player is a bestseller on Amazon, going by the name. But when you first lay your eyes on it, you start to understand why so many music lovers were smitten. Combining a dark wooden body with a checkered accent on the front face, the turntable has this sleek vintage look that one cannot help but fall for.

The functional side is equally impressive; underneath the case is a belt-driven turntable that will handle everything you could throw at it. Specifically, it will accommodate records of different sizes (7, 10 and 12 inch) across 3 playback speeds. It'll also play music from digital sources as well, with connectivity options including Bluetooth, USB, SD card, plus the good old 3.5 mm jack. To top it all off, Wockoder's Wireless Turntable comes with a 2 built-in speakers and rechargeable battery for convenient listening on the go. All that for just $96.99 on Amazon.

Pros

-Stellar sound quality

-Very user-friendly

-Irresistible retro look

Cons

-No Bluetooth-out support: You can only connect external speakers via RCA.

7. Victrola 50’s Retro 3-Speed Bluetooth Turntable

Victrola 50's Retro 3-Speed Bluetooth Turntable

Yet another retro-styled player that is as gorgeous as it is functional. The Victrola 50's is loaded with a host of music-playing technologies from the past 70 years. Its solid-colored suitcase body is nicely accented by a king-sized dial display in the middle and louvered chrome speaker covers on either side --- a recipe that'll undoubtedly give the Wockoder above a run for its money.

Like most models on the list, the Victrola 50's is equipped to handle all kinds of records, thanks to the 3-speed belt-driven turntable. Serious vinyl collectors will appreciate the ability to digitize tracks (recording and converting to MP3). The unit has a USB port to let you connect your PC and complete the process, but you'll need to install a special program as directed by the manual.

Another notable bonus is the ability to play music from a host of other sources, including CDs and devices connected via Bluetooth or 3.5mm jack. There's even an AM/FM tuner to keep you going when you're out of options. Simply put, the Victrola 50's is designed to be a one-stop shop for all your musical needs.

Pros

-Great value for money: You get loads of functionality for a paltry price of $80.

-Needle has a dust cover

-Stylish retro look

Cons

-Not beginner-friendly: The unit's arm isn't fully automated, so be careful when placing your vinyls.

8. 1byone Wireless Turntable Hi-Fi System with 36 Watt Bookshelf Speakers

1byone Wireless Turntable Hi-Fi System with 36 Watt Bookshelf Speakers

Your musical escapades will never be the same again with the 1byone Wireless Hi-Fi Turntable. It's a neat blend of mid-century charm and modern convenience packed into an eclectic-looking system. And while 1byone aren't as widely-known as other brands, user feedback suggests that this is as good as -- and maybe perhaps better than -- the rest of the pack.

The turntable utilizes a solid iron platter to keep records stable when spinning at 33/45 rotations per minute. A sophisticated anti-skate system ensures the stylus remains within the grooves to avoid scratches. Elsewhere, you will find a phono line and pre-amp to connect the unit to the 36 W speakers (or another set altogether). Other notable capabilities include direct vinyl-to-MP3 recording and Bluetooth connectivity. The entire package, with speakers included, is available for $186.99 online.

Pros

-Splendid sound quality: This results from having two powerful speakers separate from the main unit.

-Good value for money: The price is far from cheap, but the 1byone Hi Fi System makes a pretty good case for itself as a package.

Cons

-Setup is fairly complicated

9. Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB Direct-Drive Turntable

Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB Direct-Drive Turntable

Audio Technica have a knack for updating their product lines on a pretty regular basis, and this happens to be the successor of the ATLP120USB Turntable we saw earlier. Key enhancements include a quieter-running motor, removable pilot light, added RCA jacks, and a better stylus. Everything else stays unchanged -- apart from the price tag, of course. The ATLP120XUSB is available for $249, which is about 20 bucks more than its predecessor.

Pros

-Much better sound quality thanks to the noiseless motor

-Perfectly suited for seasoned listeners.

Cons

-Flimsy needle calls for an aftermarket upgrade

10. Vinyl Record Player, ammoon 3 Speed Turntable Blue Tooth

Vinyl Record Player, ammoon 3 Speed Turntable Blue Tooth

Nothing better captures the essence of time like a dark hardwood body. Surround it with a distressed grey suitcase cover and add a turntable, and you have the perfect record player. All that's left to complete the picture is the right music-playing technologies.

Ammoon's 3-Speed Vinyl Record Player is perfectly suited for those who just want to swing between the past and present in a seamless, straightforward fashion. With a host of connectivity options, you will be able to play tracks from a wide range of sources. The 2 front-facing stereo speakers will delight your ears with a crisp, clear sound in any environment.

Key Features

-3-speed playback with support for 7-inch, 10-inch and 12-inch discs. The plate has a 45 RPM adapter to help you fix larger records.

-Built-in stereo speakers for convenient listening on the go

-USB and SD recording: You can digitize all your records, CDs and cassettes by ripping directly to a flash drive/SD card. No need to connect your PC or install any software!

-Bluetooth connectivity and 3.5mm port to hook up other music sources.

Pros

-Affordably priced: This record player will only cost you $67.73

-Decent sound

-Easy to carry around

-Backed by a 12-month warranty with lifetime technical support and service

Cons

-Setup isn't very straightforward: Users have reported difficulties when trying to connect external speakers via Bluetooth.

Record Player Selection Tips

It might seem as though vinyl records have gone the way of the dinosaur, but nothing could be further from the truth. Music lovers insist that vinyl records sound better than other music delivery systems, and the process of putting on a record adds to the anticipation and enjoyment for many people. The album covers and artwork of vinyl albums also add to the charm. Some of you may wonder why you should buy a record player, but listening to just a few of your favorite albums of a good-quality system will convince you.

Selecting a record player may be a lost art, but this article will hopefully help revive the skill and give you some solid pointers, tips and related information that answer most of your questions.

Which Player Should I Buy?

Choosing a player is a personal decision, and you might want a lovingly kept vintage model that just plays records or a hybrid device that plays records and connects to other music-playing devices. Price is a consideration for most people, but first, it is important to understand how a record player operates so you know what to look for and why when you are shopping for a record player.

Parts of the Turntable

Each record player includes the turntable, stylus, amplifier and speakers, but the quality of the turntable makes a big difference in the reproduction of sound. The parts of the turntable include:

• Platter
This is the part of the assembly where the record goes.

• Plinth
This is the base of the player, which provides stability for the moving parts.

• Motor and Pulley
This is the part that turns the platter in belt-driven players.

• Spindle and Bearing
These parts improve the platter´s rotation and quiet extraneous machine noise.

• Tonearm
This assembly is made of lightweight materials, and it tracks the grooves of a vinyl record.

• Cartridge
The cartridge turns kinetic energy into electrical impulses.

• Feet
The feet absorb ambient vibrations that could be picked up and intrude on the purity of the sound in music.

Cost-value Analysis

Good record players generally cost less than $400, and these models usually feature aluminum tonearms and platters, automatic operation, basic-quality cartridges, built-in pre-amplifiers and a mix of machine parts, many of which are constructed of plastic.

Better quality players cost between $400 and $800, and these often feature medium-quality cartridges, heavier plinth bases, carbon fiber tonearms, and steel or acrylic platters.

The best players cost more than $800, and they’re often constructed of exotic and/or trademarked materials. These usually come with a high-end cartridge, advanced engineering of other parts, proprietary wiring and the heaviest plinth material for added stability.

Things to Look for in a Phonograph

There are any number of features to look for in a record player if youŕe an audiophile, musician or professional DJ. If youŕe just looking for a record player to play vinyl – and many people have thousands of dollars invested in vinyl music – you might choose inexpensive players or more advanced equipment, depending on where you plan to play music, your reputation and other factors.

Higher prices don’t always guarantee better quality. You can look for these details in new and used machines, and you might be able to find a used player that has better tone and sound than modern equipment. The following are things that professionals consider important:

Cartridge Details

The materials and placement of the cartridge can make a big difference in sound quality. Most cartridges come pre-mounted on the player´s tonearm. The cartridge contains the critical stylus or needle, which most music lovers consider of utmost importance. Built-in cartridges are fine for entry-level record player aficionados, but true music lovers usually want to upgrade to a higher quality cartridge and stylus

To Pre-Amplify or not to Pre-Amplify

Pre-amplifiers boost the sound to the main amplifier, but musical purists believe that using a built-in pre-amp can distort the sound. Outboard pre-amplifiers can deliver a purer sound because there is no distortion from the moving parts of the player. The most advanced pre-amplifiers give you a choice of using a moving coil cartridge or a moving magnet.

Whether to Get an Automatic, Semi-automatic or Manual Machine

Automatic machines are simple to operate: You just push a button to start the player. You can even stack albums for continuous playing, but the noise of music lovers turning over in their graves might distort the sound. Stacking classic vinyl albums can damage or destroy them. Semi-automatic players require you to start them and place the stylus on the record, but they automatically shut off when the playback finishes.

Manual operation is the preference of record player fanboys, fangirls and serious musicians. Manual operation gives you total control of the process, and most people who really care about sound quality, their equipment and their vinyl choose manual players or operate semi-automatic and automatic machines manually.

The USB Option

Some people prefer to use only one device for all their listening pleasure, and it’s easy to get attached to your player. Most people buy a player because they prefer analog sound, but that doesn’t preclude making copies of your favorite albums as a backup. You can also route other music to your player speakers, which is useful if you don’t have other quality external speakers.

Playback Speed

Most players give you a choice of turntable speeds to match classic vinyl albums. Usually, 45 rpm and 33 & ⅓ rpm settings are standard choices. Record players that use 78 rpm settings can play plastic records, but they can’t really handle vintage records recorded at 78 rpm speed. You need a special player for 78s.

The Speaker Dilemma

Music lovers might prefer the sound of vinyl, but most of them have modern stereo component systems that play music from multiple sources. These systems often have speakers that are extremely expensive, surround sound and other features. Some people simply don’t like the sound of record player speakers, so they connect their pre-amplifier to external amplifiers and speakers.

Some manufacturers include a phonograph pre-amp connection so that vinyl lovers can connect their players to external speakers. That enables you to listen to your classic vinyl hard rock hits through towering external speakers. You can even listen to your records on simple bookshelf speakers – if your player has low-quality speakers.

Questions and Answers

The following are common questions that prospective record player buyers ask most frequently:

What is the difference between a record player and a turntable?

Record players are actually turntables with a built-in amplifier and speaker. The player is usually highly portable and a complete system. Turntables are the part of component systems where the record spins, but the system must have an amplifier, needle and speakers to generate sound.

How much do record players cost?

The cost depends on the quality of the machine and whether the equipment is new or used. You can buy a standard machine for about $200, and some experts claim that it would be risky to play treasured albums on anything cheaper. If you just listen to current records, a player under $200 might be fine, but in general, the better the quality, the higher the price. Music aficionados generally spend between $200 and $400, and people who love record players might spend more for a top-quality or a vintage machine.

Turntables start at about $40. But turntables under $100 have a reputation for destroying records and should be bought with caution. An entry-level turntable costs from $100 to $300. A good quality turntable that will sound great on most Hi-Fi stereos and last for decades will cost between $400 and $700.

What is the best record player with built-in speakers?

The best all-in-one players with speakers offer easy portability for people who need a player to travel to DJ gigs, parties and events. Suitcase-type players are easy to carry along in your car trunk for providing the superior quality of vinyl anytime and anywhere. Some of the better choices of players with built-in speakers include the Numark PT01, the Wockoder Record Player, the Crosley Nomad, the Victrola Navigator and the Pyle Vintage Vinyl Stereo System. Don´t be confused if some of the models are called turntables; they still function as all-in-ones.

Does playing scratched records damage the needle?

Scratched records – if clean – won’t damage your stylus. However, if the scratches are so extensive that the record won’t track, that’s a different story. Dirt, however, can really damage your record and stylus, so it’s important to get a cleaning system if you play a lot of old albums, music from thrift store finds or treasured albums from your youthful collection of favorites. A cleaning system will protect your records and stylus for years, so it’s a good investment.

Do vinyl records wear out?

Vinyl resists many kinds of wear, but the material does wear out under certain conditions. In general, most vinyl damage comes from using a worn out or damaged stylus because these can damage the groove. You could be gouging a treasured album every time you play it. Quality stylus cartridges will play vinyl without damaging it – unless you set the force settings too high or too low. Vinyl can be damaged by heat and moisture that causes the material to warp.

 

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