Streaming music is more popular than ever, with Spotify and Apple Music available on almost all devices. However, at the same time vinyl is making a comeback in a big way also termed as the vinyl revival. The rise is happening since 2007 and is still breaking new records such as outselling CDs for the first time.
Of course, it might seem strange to the older generation that an old technology resurfaces. It is not only the nostalgia and memories it brings for the older generations that are driving this rise. It is also young people that are leaning towards the vintage and materialistic products that their parents grew up with. Because while streaming gives you access to almost all the songs in the world it also just makes it less special. Having that one record in your cabinet, being able to take open it and adjusting it on your record player, that gives a sense of uniqueness.
Now for whatever your reason you are looking into the hobby of vinyl, you have made a good choice and we are here to help. In this guide, we have taken a look into our favorite beginner turntables. They are not basic or simple in the sense of quality but they are easy to set up, us and maintain, making them the perfect starting point.
What Makes a Good Turntable?
So if you are looking into turntables the common question is what to look for? Well, what makes a good turntable is based on multiple factors such as materials, design, build quality and ease of use.
First of all, we look at the build quality and used materials. Cheaper turntables often have a lot of components making the design more flimsy. The build quality is also important, for example, if the case is made out of one piece can help for its durability. Quality heavier components also improve the sound to be resonance-free.
The quality of tonearm and stylus will have a great impact on the speed, accuracy, and detail of the sound. In terms of sound quality the needle, cartridge and optional built-in preamp are really important components. A branded cartridge with a good track record can make a lot of difference in sound quality. While a diamond needle will last you much longer than other materials.
Lastly, there are also preferences that can be more personal. Audiophiles often want to have an external preamp while the regular user wants a built-in one. Some users might find the design much more important as they want the device to be a centerpiece within the house, for example, turntables with a vintage wooden design. Some users might prefer a fully automatic turntable vs a manual one in terms of ease of use and some might prefer the device to be direct drive vs belt drive.
So now you know that you all the different factors to look out for it might be a bit overwhelming, possibly also hearing a few terms for the first time. Therefore it might be good to read view reviews to make up your mind where your personal preference lie.
If you are looking for a specific turntable with a certain feature or within a certain budget you can take look at one of guides below.
1. Audio-Technica AT-LP60X
Perfect for beginners with a low budget.
It is a foolproof automatic turntable for beginners who are on a tight budget. It is fully automatic which makes it very easy for beginners to use. It can play 7- and 12-inch records. It has a built-in phono preamp, fixed cartridge, an automatic tonearm, metal platter and replaceable stylus. The built-in phono preamp allows you to hook it up to a stereo amplifier, computer and Bluetooth speaker.
The only downside of this is that it has a fixed cartridge that cannot be upgraded to another brand if you decide to change. However, the stylus can be replaced if it wears down. Fully automatic operation and easy setup are very handy for those folks who are just getting into vinyl. The plastic-built design Audio-Technica LP60 might be a positive or negative thing depending on your choice. But it has a variety of colors to choose from to suit your aesthetics.
Despite its low price, it will give you outstanding sound quality. For beginners on a budget, this is by far the best and ideal turntable you will get at a low price.
» Really low priced.
» Fully automatic meaning it is much easier in use.
» Has all the basic features such as a built-in preamp, heavy platter and dust cover.
» A lot of plastic components.
» Can’t upgrade the cartridge, only replace it.
2. Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB
Reasonable price and high performance.
This is also one of the best budget turntables supporting all the features that you’ll need to be used at home. The design might resemble a DJs deck but a beginner-friendly setup.
It is semi-automatic with a built-in preamp and USB and detachable RCA output cable which means you can connect this turntable directly to your PCs and macs to turn your favorite vinyl into mp3 audio files. The built-in preamp relieves you of the hassle of extra accessories that are needed when you connect a turntable to a stereo or speakers. It has an aluminum platter and s-shaped tonearm and can play with 33/45/78 speeds so you won’t have to go through the trouble of swapping the cartridge for a 78rmps stylus. This means that if you are into jazz then this is your best choice.
There’s also a sliding switch with which you can change the pitch of music by 10-20%. The plastic base of the turntable is designed keeping in mind the budget-friendly requirement of newbies. The four feet that hold the turntable give it a solid platform reducing any external vibrations. The all-plastic design of Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB is prone to scratches but it doesn’t dampen your vinyl experience. All in all, this turntable keeps equilibrium of use for new beginners with some advanced features for more veteran users. It is a perfect blend of simplicity and modernity at a low price.
» Perfect for beginners and for more advanced vinyl lovers.
» Also plays 78 RPM records.
» Has modern features such as pitch control and USB output to digitze your records.
» The plastic casing can be easily scratched.
3. Rega Planar 1
Great design and high-quality components.
It is one of the best entry-level turntables for beginners on a budget. Rega planar competes closely with Pro-Ject Debut Carbon, which is quite expensive, yet it provides excellent sound quality on a budget with its phenolic resin platter. It doesn’t have a built-in phono preamp but it can still be easily set up by folks who are just budding. The design is far more stylish than the original P1 model. Rega Planar 1 is available in black and white colors.
It has a mounted weight tonearm, which makes it easier to set up the correct cartridge downforce. The perfect position for tracking weight is already marked which saves beginners from all the fuss. It has step-by-step instructions on the platter for smooth running. This new arm also does not require anti-skate, instead uses an opposing magnet system. It can play with 33 and 45 rpm speed but you have to change the speed manually. It is belt-driven which means it can disrupt your music.
Rega Planar 1 is manual but this shouldn’t put you off as the setup is very easy, even a child would be able to set it up by reading the directions. By far this offers the best deal for beginners on a budget.
The main advantage of buying Rega Planar 1 is that it falls within the budget limit of beginners and provides more than excellent sound quality. The main disadvantage of this turntable is that it doesn’t have a built-in phono preamp and the color choices are limited to only black and white.
» HiFi sound quality for a decent budget price.
» Stylish minimalistic design.
» Similar features and materials as more expensive turntables.
» Does not have a built-in premap which has to be bought separately.
» Easy to set up but manual in its use.
4. Sony PS-HX500
High-quality turntable that can digitize your records
One of the main features of this turntable is that it can convert your vinyl records to high-resolution digital audio. It has an internal analog-to-digital converter and a USB output that allows you to easily hook it to your computer or mac.
The design of this turntable has been kept very simple with all black in color and straight-lined plinth. The platter is sitting quite close to the plinth which gives this turntable a low-profile look. There’s only a single dial at the bottom of the plinth to switch speed from 33 1/3rmp to 45rmp.
Another good thing about it is that assembling it for use is without any hassle, unlike some of those advanced turntables which give you a headache while setting them up. It has a stylus and moving-magnet cartridge that is already aligned to be used and a built-in phono preamp. It is also a plastic dust cover that can be flipped down to keep the dust away. It’s also equipped with a good quality manual belt-drive.
One minus is that it needs additional software to play recorded files. But it can be a plus or minus for users depending on how you look at it. One thing that might appeal to you is that both digital and analog outputs can be connected to a computer simultaneously, which means you can record your files while at the same time keep listening to them.
It has a four-way switch of standby, on, and 45 positions, meaning you can change the records by just turning the motor off while the electronics will stay powered. Although it is a manual set up, it is designed in a manner so that you don’t have to go too far in the finicky business of reading manual.
» Convert vinyl into Hifi digital audio.
» High-quality materials and premium design.
» Easy to set up.
» Manual setup.
5. Denon DP-300F
Reasonable price and high performance.
It is a beginner-friendly and fully automatic, which is a very rare feature in best budget turntables, with a built-in phono preamp. It features a shiny all-black design that is very modern looking. It is belt-driven which means it’s Aluminum platter is safe from motor vibration; you’ll not catch unwanted resonance while playing your records. It ensures a uniform rotation and avoids extra fluttering.
The plastic tonearm is straightly designed and has a replaceable headshell which makes swapping of the cartridge easier. The manual-lifting mechanism of the needle (stylus) allows you to place it anywhere on the record and skip and jump to any part of the song you want to listen to. It supports 33 1/3 and 45 rpm of rotation speed.
One feature that you’ll definitely love the most about Denon DP-300F is its start-up function. This feature might come as a blessing for those who are nostalgic about the past days’ turntables which were completely operated manually. Although it asks for a sacrifice in sound that can be resolved by using an amplifier. But the brighter side is its aluminum body that prevents unnecessary vibration from the motor. The sheet of this turntable is 5mm which improves the sound quality. If you are just budding into record collection and do not want the hassle of complicated setups of the advanced turntable, then this might be an excellent option which will also fall within your budget.
Although you’ll have to compromise a little on sound quality for other convenient features that might not be a big issue as you have the option to change the cartridge for better sound quality. So, in the end, it’s worth your money.
» Fully automatic but also allows manual movement
» Has all the basic features such as a built-in preamp and different speeds
» Not the greatest sound quality
For beginners there is still the big market of record players to discover. And while you can get lost in all those different terms and features it is important to look at the basic needs first such as good sound quality, ease of use and maybe design. Of course, also learn more about your personal preferences such as would you want a fully automatic or manual turntable. Or maybe one with USB output to digitize record?
Whatever you are looking for this list features some great turntables to start the great hobby that is vinyl. If you are for looking for a decent overall turntable you really can’t go wrong with the Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB because of its features and great track record. If you have a really small budget to start of this new hobby one of the only good options is the Audio-Technica AT-LP60. Or if you want to get into digitizing your records the Sony PS-HX500 will be the right pick for you. Lastly, we think Rega Planar 1 is by far the best looking beginner turntable so if the design is important to you go with that. You really can’t go wrong with any of these models but we hope to have given you some more direction in your search.