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Best record players 2019: best turntables for every budget

Best Record Players Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best turntables you can buy in 2019.

Vinyl is back and it's here to stay. So whether you're buying your first turntable, replacing an old deck or looking to upgrade your existing record player, we can help.

We've rounded-up the best record players around, whatever your budget, including seven decks that have just been handed What Hi-Fi? Awards for 2019.

There are a smattering of selections at the budget end of the market, plus a selection of premium record players if you're looking to spend a little more money. You can even get a wireless Bluetooth turntable should you want to stream your vinyl selections.

Most of the decks here are pretty much plug 'n play and come with the tonearm and cartridge attached. All you might need to do is balance the tonearm and set the tracking weight, but this is pretty simple – just follow the supplied instructions.

Whether you're looking for an entry-level, midrange or premium turntable, this page is our pick of the best-sounding record players around. And with Black Friday deals now very much in full swing, it's a good time to be keeping an eye out for bargains.

Best turntables 2019: Budget, mid-range, high-end

1. Rega Planar 3/Elys 2

Simply the best value turntable on the market.

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: 11.7 x 44.7 x 36cm (HxWxD) | Motor: Belt drive | Cartridge: Elys2 MM | Phono preamp: No | USB: No | Bluetooth: No | Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45 | Tracking force: 2g | Finish: White, black, red

Reasons to Buy

Fun, detailed sound
Well made
Easy to use

Reasons to Avoid

Needs care in positioning

Rega knows how to make turntables and we're only too happy to recommend the Planar 3 if you want a step-up in performance. No turntable has dominated its category like the Planar 3, taking on all-comers since its launch the 1970s.

Thanks to a thorough revision, and some key component upgrades – notably the tonearm and cartridge – this version keeps the legacy in tact. We think this new version is the best RP3 yet – as illustrated by its Product of the Year gong at the 2019 What Hi-Fi? Awards – adding extra servings of clarity, precision and insight to an already musical sound. Want the best value turntable on the market? This is it.

Read the full review: Rega Planar 3/Elys 2

Best turntables 2019: Budget, mid-range, high-end

2. Pro-Ject Primary E

This budget turntable makes a great first record player.

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: 11.2 x 42 x 33cm (HxWxD) | Motor: Belt drive | Platter: 300 mm with felt mat | Tracking force: 1.7kg | Cartridge: Ortofon MM | Phono preamp: No | USB: No | Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45 (manual speed change) | Bluetooth: No | Finish: Red, white, black

Reasons to Buy

Entertaining sound
Easy set-up
Affordable price

Reasons to Avoid

Manual speed change

Prepared to spend a little more for better sound? This multi-Award-winning Primary E is the way to go. There's no USB connection, no built-in phono stage, and changing the speed is a manual job – but if sound is your number one concern, and you don't want to spend more than £200, this is the way to go.

Read the full review: Pro-Ject Primary E

Best turntables 2019: Budget, mid-range, high-end

3. Rega Planar 1

If you want to take a step up from a budget model, invest in the Planar 1.

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: 11.7 x 44.7 x 36cm (HxWxD) | Motor: Belt drive | Cartridge: Rega Carbon MM | Phono preamp: No | USB: No | Bluetooth: No | Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45 | Finish: White, black

Reasons to Buy

Latest version of classic turntable
Excellent sound
Simple set-up

Reasons to Avoid

Manual speed change

In an era of change, not even Rega’s best-selling turntable is immune to the desire for a fresh approach. And with the new Rega Planar 1, change is unquestionably positive.

Pretty much everything you see has undergone some form of modification and the end result is a level of sound quality that is a clear step-up from budget decks. This is low on frills, in line with most hi-fi turntables, but instead you get an accurate performance that delivers detailed, dynamic sound. 

Read the full review: Rega Planar 1

Best turntables 2019: Budget, mid-range, high-end

4. Technics SL-1500C

A great sounding, fuss-free record player for less than a grand.

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: 23 x 16 x 12cm (HxWxD) | Motor: Direct drive | Cartridge: yes | Phono preamp: Yes | USB: No | Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45, 78 (electric speed change) | Finishes: Silver, black

Reasons to Buy

Defined, insightful and musical
Impressive bass
Simple to use

Reasons to Avoid

Nothing at this price

The rebirth of Technics has spawned another fantastic turntable. Compared with the £14,000 SL-1000R found further down this list, the SL-1500C is much more affordable, and it's also one of the best record players we've heard under a grand.

It uses a core-less direct drive motor with clever speed management circuitry and the company's trademark S-shaped arm. The arm is attached to an Ortofon 2M Red and the deck also comes with its own built-in phono stage. And as a package, this turntable sounds superb. It delivers music with a brilliant sense of dynamism and energy. There's also an impressive amount of agile, yet weighty bass on offer. It's a great alternative to the Rega Planar 3 mentioned above.

Read the full review: Technics SL-1500C

Best turntables 2019: Budget, mid-range, high-end

5. Sony PS-HX500

Entertaining sound and hi-res ripping smarts in one fantastic package.

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: 10.4 x 43 x 36.6cm (HxWxD) | Motor: Belt drive | Tracking force: 1.7kg | Cartridge: MM | Phono preamp: Yes | USB: Yes | Bluetooth: No | Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45 (manual speed change) | Finish: Black

Reasons to Buy

Rips vinyl to hi-res WAV or DSD file
Lively and transparent sound
Knockdown price

Reasons to Avoid

Doesn’t look all that special

The headline news with this excellent Sony USB turntable is the drop in price. First launched – and given a five-star review – at £450, it's now widely available for less than £300. Bargain. Need we go on?

OK, well on top of great sound, this Sony allows you to rip your vinyl in high-resolution audio quality. There's a phono amp inside and a USB output. The design and finish is workmanlike but if you want a jack-of-all-trades from a trusted brand such as Sony, look no further.

Read the full review: Sony PS-HX500

Best turntables 2019: Budget, mid-range, high-end

6. Pro-Ject Juke Box E

Pro-Ject forces a little of the 21st century into a turntable.

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: 11.8 x 41.5 x 33.4cm (HxWxD) | Motor: Belt drive | Cartridge: Ortofon OM 5E | Phono preamp: Yes | USB: No | Bluetooth: Yes | Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45 | Finish: Red, white, black

Reasons to Buy

Good range of features
Capable, even-handed sound
Bluetooth

Reasons to Avoid

Some might want more power
Baffling remote

The Pro-Ject Juke Box E is based on Pro-Ject’s well-regarded Primary turntable and is tricked out with an Ortofon OM 5E cartridge, amplification (25W per channel into 8 ohms) and Bluetooth receiver.

It’s an all-in-one system that demands very few compromises, given its price. It’s also an all-in-one system that we can’t easily argue against in favour of separates. The Juke Box E delivers convenience and backs it up with Award-winning sound quality. You can't really ask for more than that.

Read the full review: Pro-Ject Juke Box E

Best turntables 2019: Budget, mid-range, high-end

7. Lenco L-85

A brilliant budget USB turntable.

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: 15 x 42 x 36.2cm (HxWxD) | Motor: Belt drive | Cartridge: MM | Phono preamp: Yes | USB: Yes | Bluetooth: No | Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45 | Finish: Green, red, yellow, black, white, grey

Reasons to Buy

Easy set-up
USB recording
Built-in phono stage

Reasons to Avoid

Sound quality is so-so

The Lenco L-85 is very much a 'My First Turntable' – a great starting point for you or your kids to get into vinyl at a knockdown price. Flashy colours and extra features are a bonus – there's a built-in phono stage so you can connect to any amplifier or powered speakers, while the USB output allows you to rip a digital copy of your records.

Unless you're prepared to spend over £100, we can’t think of another turntable that combines its features and user-friendliness with such a likeable performance. If you’re thinking of getting into vinyl, this is a decent place to start.

Read the full review: Lenco L-85

Best turntables 2019: Budget, mid-range, high-end

8. Sony PS-LX310BT

A simple, yet hugely effective Bluetooth turntable with an entertaining sound.

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: 10.8 x 43 x 36.7cm (HxWxD) | Motor: Direct drive | Cartridge: MM | Phono preamp: Yes | USB: No | Bluetooth: Yes | Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45 (electronic speed change) | Finish: Black

Reasons to Buy

Entertaining sound
Easy to use
Bluetooth

Reasons to Avoid

Sound can be bettered

If you're looking for fuss-free entry into the world of vinyl, this brilliant Sony turntable deserves an audition. Set-up is a piece of cake - there's no need to fit and align a cartridge, set the tracking force or set the anti-skate - once you've put the belt around the motor pulley, you're all set to spin. The presence of a built-in phono stage and Bluetooth connectivity are a welcome bonus too.

There's a healthy dose of drive and attack to music - the Sony unearths a fine level of detail and peels back enough layers of emotion to keep the listener interested. A fully manual deck like the Rega Planar 1 does sound even punchier and clearer, but some will find lure of the Sony's price and feature-set difficult to resist.

Read the full review: Sony PS-LX310BT

Best turntables 2019: Budget, mid-range, high-end

9. Rega Planar 2

A step-up in sonic performance from the Planar 1.

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: 11.7 x 44.7 x 36cm (HxWxD) | Motor: Belt drive | Cartridge: Rega Carbon MM | Phono preamp: No | USB: No | Bluetooth: No | Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45 | Tracking force: 2g | Finish: White, black, red

Reasons to Buy

Detailed sound
Solid and authoritative
Sleek, understated design

Reasons to Avoid

Manual speed change

Don't expect to get more features for your money here, you're simply paying for a few upgraded components to deliver better sound quality. And it works. The no-nonsense set-up requires minimal effort, save for ensuring the speed is set correctly (speed change is manual) and fixing the weight to balance the tonearm.

Once the tonearm is in a floating position, simply set the Carbon MM cartridge’s tracking force to the recommended 2g. Once done, the Planar 2 delivers punchy basslines, room-filling scale, and impressive attention to detail and rhythmic subtlety.

Read the full review: Rega Planar 2

Best turntables 2019: Budget, mid-range, high-end

10. Rega Planar 6/Ania

A wonderfully refined, articulate and precise-sounding turntable.

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: 12 x 44.8 x 36.5cm (HxWxD) | Motor: Belt drive | Cartridge: Ania MC | Phono preamp: No | USB: No | Bluetooth: No | Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45 | Finish: Polaris grey

Reasons to Buy

Superb timing, agility and dynamism
Smart-looking finish
Good build

Reasons to Avoid

Demands careful system-matching

Another Rega, another big step-up in performance. It’s a frankly astonishing refined and mature sound. Some of that is down to the upgraded cartridge and tonearm, and the benefit of the separate power supply, but either way this overall package more than justifies its high price.

One thing to note: there’s little in the way of isolation bar the three aluminium-trimmed rubber feet, so it’s essential the deck is placed on a sturdy, level support and away from any other electronics to minimise any vibrations. 

Read the full review: Rega Planar 6/Ania

Best turntables 2019: Budget, mid-range, high-end

11. Clearaudio Concept

A repeat Award-winner, and for good reason: the sound is awesome.

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: 14 x 42 x 35cm (HxWxD) | Motor: Belt drive | Cartridge: Concept MC/MM | Phono preamp: No | USB: No | Bluetooth: No | Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45, 78 | Tracking force: 2g | Finish: Black/silver, black, wood, dark wood

Reasons to Buy

Easy to set up
Great build
Excellent all-round sonic performance

Reasons to Avoid

Nothing

If you’re not familiar with the Clearaudio Concept turntable by now, the concept is essentially getting the most exceptional sound you can from your records at this price. A trophy cabinet full of What Hi-Fi? Awards is the proof. This deck delivers as clean, rhythmic, detailed and spacious a sound as you’ll find for the money, not to mention engaging and entertaining. Expensive but well worth the money.

Read the full review: Clearaudio Concept

Best turntables 2019: Budget, mid-range, high-end

12. Audio Technica AT-LP5

A plug and play turntable that's an absolute pleasure to listen to...

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: 15.7 x 45 x 35cm (HxWxD) | Motor: DC motor | Cartridge: AT95EX Dual MM | Phono preamp: Yes | USB: Yes | Bluetooth: No | Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45 | Tracking force: 1.6g | Finish: Black

Reasons to Buy

Loads of detail
Great to use
Lots of features

Reasons to Avoid

Some strong rivals

The Audio-Technica AT-LP5 marries great build quality with with a thorough feature set, notably a built-in phono stage and USB output for digitising your record collection. There's also a specially designed cartridge and headshell.

Unlike many record players with a built-in phono stage, using the AT-LP5’s is not compulsory, which hands you the advantage of being able to upgrade your system without having to upgrade your whole deck, too.

As for sound, it is the AT-LP5’s overall character we enjoy so much, something that is unchanging whether using its built-in phono stage or running through a more expensive one. For this money, it's an impressive overall sound.

Read the full review: Audio Technica AT-LP5

Best turntables 2019: Budget, mid-range, high-end

13. Cambridge Audio Alva TT

Not your typical £1500 turntable, but a great effort with plenty going for it.

SPECIFICATIONS

Motor: Direct drive | Cartridge: Yes | Phono preamp: Yes | USB: No | Bluetooth: Yes (aptX HD) | Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45 | Finish: Graphite grey

Reasons to Buy

Impressive build
Transparent, insightful sound
Solid midrange

Reasons to Avoid

Lacks drive and dynamics

This is no ordinary £1500 turntable. Cambridge Audio has added a twist or two of its own by fitting it with a built-in phono stage, direct drive motor and Bluetooth connectivity. The fact it's aptX HD Bluetooth means the Alva TT can stream your vinyl wirelessly to compatible Bluetooth headphones or a wireless speaker in hi-res 24-bit/48kHz.

It's a good-looking turntable with a smooth and attractive graphite grey finish. Sound quality is pleasing too, with vinyl given an open and airy soundstage with vocals a particular highlight. If you want a simple home hi-fi system with a premium turntable as your source, the Alva TT could be just the ticket.

Read the full review: Cambridge Audio Alva TT

Best turntables 2019: Budget, mid-range, high-end

14. Rega Planar 8/Apheta 2

The RP8 is the very definition of a brilliant all-rounder.

SPECIFICATIONS

Motor: Belt drive | Cartridge: Apheta 2 MC | Phono preamp: No | USB: No | Bluetooth: No | Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45 | Finish: Black

Reasons to Buy

Stunning sound
Expressive dynamics
Fine MC cartridge

Reasons to Avoid

Design may not appeal to all

We’ve long felt every step up the Rega turntable ladder brings with it worthwhile sonic gains but they’ve tended to be incremental. But the performance gap between the Award-winning Planar 6 and this new Planar 8 is huge. 

In being so ambitious with this record player’s engineering, Rega has pushed the boundaries of performance at this level and has given premium rivals positioned above it plenty to worry about.

Read the full review: Rega Planar 8/Apheta 2

Best turntables 2019: Budget, mid-range, high-end

15. Technics SL-1000R

This superbly engineered turntable is a formidable performer.

SPECIFICATIONS

Motor: Direct drive | Cartridge: Not included | Phono preamp: No | USB: No | Bluetooth: No | Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45, 78 | Finish: Silver

Reasons to Buy

Tight, composed sound
Detailed bass, immense drive
Quality build and finish

Reasons to Avoid

No headshell in the box

The SL-1000R sits proudly at the top of Technics' turntable range. At £14,000, it's not going to fit everyone's budget and at 40kg you'll probably need another pair of hands to shift it. The Technics is a direct drive design with a magnesium S-shaped arm and external power supply.

You'll need to partner it with your own cartridge, though – products at this level don't come with a freebie thrown in. It delivers a focused, punchy sound, with tight, beautifully-defined bass. The SL-1000R is a seriously tuneful performer and able to give any rival around this price a real run for its money.

Read the full review: Technics SL-1000R

Best turntables 2019: Budget, mid-range, high-end

16. VPI Prime

It's not cheap, but the Prime is getting into serious turntable territory.

SPECIFICATIONS

Tone arm: 3D printed | Speed change: Manual | Cartridge: Moving coil | USB: No | Bluetooth: No | Finish: Black

Reasons to Buy

Excellent resolution of detail
Expressive and rhythmic sound
Excellent build and finish

Reasons to Avoid

Nothing at this level

The Prime turntable and arm combination is one of the most likeable record players we’ve heard in recent years. If you have this sort of money to spend on a turntable, don’t buy anything until you’ve heard this. VPI Industries has a long history of producing great value, high quality turntables.

The New Jersey-based specialist’s products have never been cheap, but even at £3750 the Prime represents something of a bargain as far as high-end record players are concerned. Yes, really. You’d have to look at products that cost close to double that before any notable upgrades are heard over this deck.

Read the full review: VPI Prime

Best turntables 2019: Budget, mid-range, high-end

17. Linn Klimax LP12

If you get a chance to experience this deck, its sound is out of this world.

SPECIFICATIONS

Motor: Belt drive | Cartridge: Kandid MC | Phono preamp: Optional | USB: No | Bluetooth: No | Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45 | Finish: Oak, cherry, black ash, rosenut, walnut

Reasons to Buy

Informative, exciting presentation
Sensational dynamics and timing
Excellent build and finish

Reasons to Avoid

Hefty price

The Linn LP12 was introduced in 1973. This unassuming belt-driven turntable took a while to gain traction, but by the ’80s it had become the dominant premium record player on the market. Even today, it’s held in high esteem and still considered by many as one of the best turntables you can buy.

That’s impressive staying power for a design that outwardly looks little different from the decades-old original. Of course, despite appearances it has changed over that time. Yet, in most respects it’s startlingly better than what has gone before and is still right up there with the very best at this price (£18,670). The Linn LP12 remains one of the best turntables around.

Read the full review: Linn Klimax LP12

(Image credit: SME)

18. SME Synergy

Excellent components combine sweetly in this no-compromise package.

SPECIFICATIONS

Motor: Belt drive | Cartridge: Ortofon MC Windfeld Ti | Phono preamp: Yes | USB: No | Bluetooth: No | Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45, 78 | Finish: Black

Reasons to Buy

Insightful, controlled sound
Class-leading build and finish
Easy to use

Reasons to Avoid

If price isn't an issue, nothing

The Temptation-Award-winning SME Synergy package is made up of the new 12 turntable with a dedicated arm that’s essentially the highly regarded SME IV (but internally rewired with leads from Crystal Cables) and an Ortofon MC Windfeld Ti cartridge. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the inclusion of a built-in phono stage from Swiss high-end hi-fi royalty Nagra. Considering many of Nagra’s products tend to cost way more than the complete Synergy package that’s quite some coup.

Most importantly, though, it's a typical SME turntable in that it excels in detail resolution and control, layering instruments expertly in a large, spacious soundstage. If you’re looking for a fuss-free high-end turntable package where the manufacturer has already done all the legwork in component matching, this is a brilliant place to start.

Read the full review: SME Synergy

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