We all know that Vinyl has made its return and is hopefully here to stay. As millennials hunt for home decor that fits their “aesthetic,” they are doing the world a favor by bringing back old trends that should have never gone out of style. Now, we see a fantastic comeback in people collecting records again and turntables making their way back to the console table as the centerpiece for all to admire.
As vintage becomes the new black, it’s almost imperative to have a record player at home. Impress your guests by inviting them over for a night of oldies they forgot existed as you all dance to the tunes the way our ancestors did and as it was intended.
Small but important nuances of a record player to consider:
Belt Drive & Direct Drive
Belt drive means that the platter is powered by a rubber belt, whereas direct drive means that the motor is bolted to the platter directly. The former is less expensive and produces better audio quality; however, the latter is primarily used by DJs because it allows the DJ to start and stop a record without having to accelerate back to the right tempo. So if you’re not a DJ, focus on belt-driven turntables.
The platter is the surface of where the record rests. They are typically made out of either aluminum or a form of plastic. This is practically up to personal preference and how you want your turntable to look.
There are now record players that can be directly connected to your speakers by Bluetooth. Unfortunately, this does lose some of the music’s quality to a trained ear. However, as Bluetooth has significantly improved over the years, so does the quality of converting analog to digital. Meaning, this won’t affect you unless you’re a well-versed musician.
RPM stands for rotations per minute. Modern records run at 45 or 33 ⅓ RPM, whereas the older records from the ’40s had an RPM of 78. So unless you’re listening to your great-grandpa’s record collection, you’ll need a modern record RPM playing turntable
The stylus converts data into sound. So yes, it’s arguably the most crucial part of the record player. They are usually made of diamond or sapphire and are either spherical or elliptical. Elliptical offers better sound quality and accuracy but are likely to break sooner.
Manual Versus Automatic
Besides flipping the record, when you use an automatic record player, all of the work is nearly done for you. A manual record player requires that you lower/lift the tonearm, adjust speed, and turn the gain.
The great part of Bluetooth integrated record players can connect your device to a speaker. Otherwise, you’ll have to consider purchasing an amplifier to raise the volume to play loud enough. Word of advice, do not buy record players who have speakers built-in unless you want to destroy all the Vinyl’s sound quality gains.
Ultimately, you want a sturdy turntable with a weighty platter and solid tonearm. Beyond this, the rest is up to you and your preferences and budget. After doing the research keeping all of these factors in mind, here is what we found:
The Top Picks
Why? Its pure analog performance, exceptional accuracy, speed control for precision playback, solid wood plinth with a highly precise metal platter, and spectacular signal clarity.
Why? This a great entry-level record player with a fully automatic belt-drive, aluminum platter, upgraded tone arm + head shell, and an affordable price tag.
Best Bluetooth (& Emma’s favorite)
Why? Its versatility, easy operation, two speeds, high-quality audio, USB ripping, wireless connection, wired connection for speakers, and a stable platter.
Best Mainstream Model
Why? Crosley has a bad rap as the mainstream brand for turntables. However, they still manage to make exceptional high-fi models such as this one. The build quality and design are excellent for the price range and is designed by Pro-Ject (a highly respected audio system brand) for Crosley.