Best record players 2022: 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 2022.

Whether you're buying your first turntable having just discovered the joys of vinyl or looking to upgrade your existing record player, we can help you make the right choice. We've rounded up the best record players from all our product reviews, whatever your budget, or if you're looking for a good deal this Cyber Monday.

Our selection features budget turntables alongside high-end decks, wireless Bluetooth turntables for streaming vinyl, and a USB turntable to help you digitise your vinyl collection.

Most of the decks here are pretty much plug-and-play, and come with the tonearm and cartridge attached. You might need to balance the tonearm and set the tracking weight, but follow the supplied instructions and you'll be fine. In case there's no cartridge as standard, it could be worth visiting our list of the best cartridges you can buy for some inspiration.

Our experienced review team has comprehensively tested all of these record players in our dedicated test rooms, comparing each record player to its closest rivals in a controlled environment. So you can be sure you're getting a genuine, expert recommendation.

How to choose the best turntable for you

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

The source of your hi-fi system, be it a streamer, CD player or record player is a crucial component; as the saying goes, 'rubbish in, rubbish out'. 

First things first, decide on your budget. It should be no more than around a quarter of your system's cost, otherwise it's unlikely your amplifier and speakers will get the most out of your deck. Similarly, make sure you read up on the sonic characteristics of all your components – even five-star products benefit from the right partnering.

Once you've decided on your budget, decide on the features you require. Belt drive or direct drive? Do you need a phono stage built in? What about the cartridge? Wireless? USB? Make sure you have a checklist based on your needs to help you narrow the search.

Once you have chosen, it's also crucial you set up your turntable correctly. While some record players are relatively "plug and play", many require a little more time and effort to hear at their best. Want to know more? Read our complete guide to choosing the right turntable.

Best record players: Pro-Ject Debut Pro

Pro-Ject's latest Debut turntable is a triumph. (Image credit: Future)
What Hi-Fi? Awards 2022 winner. The new Pro model moves the Debut range upmarket with excellent Award-winning results.

Specifications

Dimensions: 11 x 42 x 32cm (HWD)
Motor: Belt drive
Cartridge: Yes
Phono preamp: Yes
USB: No
Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45, 78 (electronic speed change)
Finishes: 1

Reasons to buy

+
Clarity and sonic precision
+
Taut and controlled bass
+
Impressive finesse
+
Fine build

Reasons to avoid

-
Tough competition

Pro-Ject's latest Debut Pro model celebrates the company's 30th anniversary and is the most ambitious and sophisticated Debut model yet. It's a classy-looking deck and easy to set up. Pro-Ject’s engineers have carefully developed almost every aspect of the design, from the new carbon fibre and aluminium tonearm to the dedicated Pick It Pro cartridge.

This Debut Pro turntable is terrific at digging deep into the production and revealing layers of instrumental textures that most at this level ignore. It sounds incredibly precise, crisp and taut. Its presentation is a little on the lean side, but the upside of such a balance is agility. 

It produces a stable and controlled sound too, one that retains its composure even when the music becomes dense and demanding. Stereo imaging and a spacious soundstage proves admirable and we are impressed with the sonic authority on offer.

Pro-Ject isn't short of rivals at this price, but this is a superb sounding deck that is our new 2022 Award-winner and now the best value option at this price point. 

Read the full Pro-Ject Debut Pro review

Best record players - Rega Planar 3

The Rega Planar 3 has dominated the best value turntable market for over 50 years, and the latest iteration is the best performing yet. (Image credit: Rega)
One of the most enduring record players 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

No turntable has dominated its category like the Planar 3, taking on all-comers since its launch in the 1970s. So if you want a step up in performance, we're only too happy to recommend the Rega Planar 3 with the factory-fitted Elys 2 cartridge you see here (although you can, of course, purchase the Planar 3 sans cartridge).

Thanks to a thorough revision and some key component upgrades – notably the tonearm and cartridge – this version keeps the legacy intact. The Planar 3 remains what it has always been: a simple, beautifully engineered deck that puts performance first. With an engaging sense of scale and good organisational skills, the Planar 3 ensures that every instrument is well-separated and composed, no matter how complex the track. It exhibits a greater level of transparency than its talented predecessor, too.

In short, this latest version is the best RP3 yet, adding extra servings of clarity, precision and insight to an already musical sound. While the price of this turntable/cartridge combo has crept up in 2022, this is still a fantastic, worthy turntable.

Read the full Rega Planar 3/Elys 2 review

Best record players - Pro-Ject Primary E

Easy to use and enjoyable, the Pro-Ject Primary E is ideal for first-time vinyl buyers on a strict budget. (Image credit: Future)
What Hi-Fi? Awards 2022 winner. A multiple Award winner for the cost of just a few records.

Specifications

Dimensions (hwd): 11.2 x 42 x 33cm
Motor: Belt drive
Cartridge: Ortofon MM
Phono preamp: No
USB: No
Speeds: 33 1/3, 45 (manual speed change)
Finishes: Red, white, black

Reasons to buy

+
An enjoyable temperament
+
Nails the sonic basics
+
Easy to set up and use

Reasons to avoid

-
Chassis edges a little sharp

The Primary E confidently nails the basics, from an even tonal balance to a delivery that’s clear and clean and spacious enough to keep things coherent. Decent body and substance cling reliably to every frequency, and that’s made all the more enjoyable by a spirited sense of drive and momentum.

For purists at the head of the beginner’s vinyl revival path who have a small budget and aren’t fussed about features such as record ripping and automatic operation, the Pro-Ject Primary E could be just the ticket.

As a first turntable, it's impossible to beat near this price.

Read the full Pro-Ject Primary E review

Best record players - Rega Planar 1

Expressive and detailed, this refreshed Rega Planar 1 turntable is a natural step up from the very budget option - without breaking the bank. (Image credit: Rega)
What Hi-Fi? Awards 2022 winner. 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 record player is immune to the desire for fresh thinking. And with the new Rega Planar 1, change is unquestionably positive. Pretty much everything you see has undergone some form of modification, with the end result a clear step-up from entry-level decks. 

It may be low on frills but you get an accurate performance that delivers detailed, dynamic sound. The Rega Carbon cartridge is fitted as standard, and this is the first of Rega’s entry-level turntables to house a low noise 24v synchronous AC motor with an aluminium pulley. 

Sound is roomy-sounding, expressive, full-bodied. There are no obvious flaws here but if you do get the urge to upgrade this deck's capability in the future, Rega provide a Performance Pack add-on. It includes Rega’s Bias 2 moving magnet cartridge, upgrade drive belt and 100 per cent natural wool turntable mat. 

Read the full Rega Planar 1 review

Best record players - Technics SL-1500C

For under a grand, you get a Technics SL-1500C record player with a built-in phono stage, electric speed control and crisp, dynamic and energetic performance. (Image credit: Technics)
What Hi-Fi? Awards 2022 winner. 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

-
Rega rival offers more insight

The rebirth of Technics has spawned another fantastic turntable. Compared with the high-end 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. Everything is engineered with a pleasing sense of precision that matches the equally-pleasing sound. Music is delivered with a brilliant sense of dynamism and energy, alongside an impressive amount of agile, yet weighty bass.

While purists may prefer the slightly more insightful Rega Planar 3/Elys 2 (above), the Technics SL-1500C offers crisp presentation, a built-in phono stage and electric speed control, making it a great choice for those not totally engrossed in vinyl.

Read the full Technics SL-1500C review

Best record players - Dual CS 418

Dual's CS 418 record player is well-made, has a built-in phono stage and a balanced, detailed sound that makes it a strong contender against the dominant Rega and Pro-Ject decks. (Image credit: Future)
A strong performer and a proper alternative to the established class leaders.

Specifications

Dimensions: 14.5 x 43.5 x 36.7cm (HWD)
Motor: Belt drive
Cartridge: Ortofon 2M Red
Phono preamp: Yes
USB: No
Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45 and 78 RPM
Finishes: Black

Reasons to buy

+
Clean, precise and detailed presentation
+
Fine dynamics and musical cohesion
+
Electronic speed change

Reasons to avoid

-
Lift/lower arm lever feels imprecise
-
Built-in phono stage is good not great
-
Needs careful placement

Dual dominated the affordable turntable market in the 1980s. Now it's back (after numerous business changes) with a turntable befitting the brand's history. This is Dual's entry-level deck and it's well made (apart from a slightly imprecise tonearm) and looks smart enough for the money. There's electronic speed change and a built-in phono stage.

You need to make sure it's positioned sturdily and away from your speakers but once that's done you will be treated to a clear, balanced and detailed sound that can rival any record player at this price. The supplied Ortofon cartridge is a solid choice and while the phono stage is useful, if you do have a good amplifier with a phono stage built-in, you will likely get a better sound.

This is a great return for the Dual brand and a worthy alternative to the Pro-Ject and Rega turntables that have dominated this end of the market for so long.

Read the full Dual CS 418 review

Best record players - Sony PS-HX500

Hi-res ripping smarts, excellent sound and a huge drop in price - Sony's USB turnable PS-HX500 gives you the best of both worlds for a superb deal.
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. Two-thirds of the price it was when we gave it five stars upon release, it represents a real 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 (note the high-res audio logo displayed proudly on the front edge). The process is simple enough: the PS-HX500 hooks up to your laptop or computer’s USB input and, via Sony’s Mac- and Windows-friendly software, and records the vinyl either as a WAV (up to 24-bit/192kHz) or DSD (5.6MHz) file. Just remember to hit 'stop recording' when the vinyl has finished playing.

Of course, performance is king and in that regard, we're happy to report that the PS-HX500 is far from a compromise. Sound, whether ripping or playing vinyl off the deck, is detailed, articulate and open. The design and finish is workmanlike, but if you want an appealing jack-of-all-trades from a trusted brand, it's a real winner.

Read the full Sony PS-HX500 review

Best record players - Rega Planar 1 Plus

The standard Rega turntable combined with an award-winning built-in phono stage, the Planar 1 Plus marries performance and convenience into a neat package. (Image credit: Rega)
The Planar 1 Plus offers the winning combination of convenience and superb sound.

Specifications

Dimensions: 11.7 x 44.7 x 36cm (HxWxD)
Motor: Belt drive
Cartridge: MM
Phono preamp: Yes
USB: No
Bluetooth: No
Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45

Reasons to buy

+
Hugely enjoyable sound
+
Excellent clarity and subtlety
+
Agile and precise rhythms

Reasons to avoid

-
Don't partner with any bright or lean-sounding kit

The Planar 1 Plus is essentially a Rega Planar 1 turntable (as seen above) with the Rega Fono Mini A2D phono stage built in. Both have won Awards, and Rega thought it only felt natural to combine them together. We absolutely agree.

But Rega hasn’t simply taken the existing Fono Mini A2D as is and bolted it under the deck. It has been tweaked: the USB section has been taken out entirely, and the cost saving has gone into improving the audio quality of the phono stage.

The Planar 1 Plus sounds brilliant. It is rather lean-sounding when played straight out of the box – but the sound comes into its own after a couple of days, becoming more full-bodied and rhythmically exciting the longer you play.

Read the full Rega Planar 1 Plus review

Best record players - Pro-Ject Juke Box E

An all-in-one turntable with speakers and Bluetooth streaming? Pro-Ject gives modern music lovers (and those short on space) a convincing solution with the 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. At the back of the deck, you’ll find stereo RCA outputs at line level and pre-amp/phono level, plus a stereo RCA line-level input. There are also left/right speaker outputs, an aerial socket for the Bluetooth receiver and an IR receiver for the rather basic, but functional, remote control that comes in the box.

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 that's warm and blessed with plenty of mid-range sparkle. The only real shortcoming is the bass, which isn't as solid as we'd like.

Still, if space – not to mention your budget – is tight, we'd recommend seeking out the Juke Box E.  

Read the full Pro-Ject Juke Box E review

Best record players - Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo

A series of updates elevates the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo record player, but it's the full-bodied, insightful sound that really delights. (Image credit: Future)
Pro-Ject’s affordable Debut turntable is a delight to listen to.

Specifications

Dimensions: 11.8 x 41.5 x 32cm (HxWxD)
Motor: Belt drive
Cartridge: Ortofon 2M Red
Phono preamp: No
USB: No
Bluetooth: No
Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45, 78 (optional
Finish: Black, white, red, wood, blue, green, yellow

Reasons to buy

+
Rich, full-bodied presentation
+
Expressive and engaging
+
No more manual speed change

Reasons to avoid

-
Tough competition

Pro-Ject has worked hard at making the Debut Carbon Evo a current class leader, but also one with the potential to morph into a steady mid-range competitor by offering a series of affordable add-ons. However, as you can see from the five stars, the basic deck is impressive enough as it is.

Among the upgrades are improved motor mounting, new height-adjustable damped feet and a heavy steel platter that weighs 1.7kg and features a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) damping ring on the inside for quieter operation.

Perhaps most welcome, though, is the addition of a rocker switch on the bottom of the deck, which allows you to adjust the rotation speed. No more removing the platter and manually readjusting the belt when you want to go from 33.33rpm to 45.

Despite the lack of branding, its identity as part of the Pro-Ject family is revealed immediately as the room is bathed in its rich, full-bodied tone. 

But it is also partnered with a great deal of detail and texture. Where competitors might beef up their sound in an attempt to disguise a lack of real insight, Pro-Ject here welcomes you to explore its vast sonic range, proving its aptitude for making a deck that is both easy to listen to and prepared for deeper, more analytical sessions.

Read the full Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo review

Best record players - Sony PS-LX310BT

Fuss-free set up, Bluetooth streaming for headphones, entertaining sound – Sony hits the jackpot in delivering a feature-packed turntable on a budget with the 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, so 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. You can pair the PS-LX310BT with up to eight Bluetooth devices and, in our tests using headphones, the connection was strong enough to walk into another room.

A fully manual deck like the Rega Planar 1 does sound even punchier and clearer, but what the Sony lacks in top-quality sound, it more than makes up by being fun and feature-packed. 

Read the full Sony PS-LX310BT review

Best record players - Rega Planar 1

As the name suggests, the Rega Planar 2 is a clear step-up in performance from the Planar 1, with better components justifying the additional price jump.
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

You might think paying more for a deck would get you more features, but that's not the case here. What it does buy you is some key component upgrades that deliver even better sound quality – all packaged up in a smartly understated design. 

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. It's not quite 'plug and play', but it's straightforward enough. 

Once primed for action, the Planar 2 delivers punchy basslines, room-filling scale impressive attention to detail and rhythmic subtlety. There's no built-in phono stage, so it needs to hook up to a stereo amplifier that has one, or you can always buy a separate one. If that's within your budget, you'll find that the Planar 2 delivers a clear step-in performance from the Planar 1 – and at a very competitive price.

Read the full Rega Planar 2 review

Best record players - Rega Planar 6/Ania

The Rega Planar 6 turntable with the new, pre-fitted Ania moving-coil cartridge sets itself apart from its budget brethren with a seriously mature and articulate sound.
What Hi-Fi? Awards 2022 winner. 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

The Planar 6/Ania is another feather in Rega's cap, and another big step-up in performance. It’s an astonishingly refined and mature sound that convey plenty of space. 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.

Rega's engineers believe too much mass impacts the sound, hence the minimal design is a delicate balance of lightness and sturdiness. Forget vivid colours, the Planar 6 comes in a single matte grey/glossy black finish – a sign this deck is serious about sound quality.

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 support and away from any other electronics to minimise any vibrations. Once adequately positioned, you'll be treated to truly impressive levels of refinement.  

Read the full Rega Planar 6/Ania review

Vertere Acoustics DG-1 S

We love the distinctive design and Vertere's terrifically dynamic and rhythmic performance blows away the competition at this high-end price. (Image credit: Vertere Acoustics)
What Hi-Fi? Awards 2022 winner. Careful evolution has reinforced the Vertere DG-1 S as a class leader

Specifications

Dimensions (hwd): 13 x 47 x 38cm
Motor: Belt drive
Cartridge: Magneto MM
Phono preamp: No
USB: No
Bluetooth: No
Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45
Finish: Black, White

Reasons to buy

+
Bold, dynamic and exciting presentation
+
Impressive rhythmic drive
+
Class-leading clarity
+
Clever engineering

Reasons to avoid

-
Magneto cartridge can be improved
-
Power button placement could be better

An updated version of the Award-winning DG-1 Dynamic Groove, the new Vertere DG-1 S continues to offer a fair dose of the performance of Vertere's top-end turntables but at a far more approachable outlay. Clever construction and engineering advances further this deck's performance, which is designed to be easy to use. It even has the option of a fitted Magneto cartridge for those who want a complete package.

This new generation Vertere DG-1 S builds on the excellent original to remain at the forefront of turntables at this level. It's a terrific sounding deck that brims with energy and drive. 

We’re impressed with the level of detail too. The DG-1 S is a precise and highly resolving product, one that’s able to dig up plenty of information and organise it into a cohesive and musical whole. It is a hugely entertaining sound, one that’s rhythmically surefooted and has a spring in its step when it comes to rendering dynamic nuances.

There’s no denying the fact that the Vertere DG-1 S is up against some mighty competition, but given what we’ve heard it can go into any such comparisons with confidence. The best just got better.

Read the full Vertere DG-1 S/Magneto review

Best record players - Clearaudio Concept

A repeat award-winner, the Clearaudio Concept turntable continues to impress with its beautiful plug-and-play design and clean, spacious, engaging sound that is worth the asking price.
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

-
Some might want a more energetic performance

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 proof that the approach works. 

Unlike some rivals, which require patience, a steady hand and a calculator to get working, the Concept is a 'plug and play' product. It comes with the company's own moving-magnet Concept cartridge fitted to the Verify Direct Wire Plus tonearm (though there is also a moving-coil alternative available). Clearaudio sets everything, including the cartridge weight and bias, before the turntable leaves the factory so all you need do is supply the vinyl.

Some might prefer the more vigorous performance of the Rega RP6/Exact, but 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 Clearaudio Concept review

Best record players - Audio Technica AT-LP5x

Well-built, flexible features, great sound, affordable – the Audio Technica AT-LP5x ticks all the right boxes for a mid-priced USB record player than will please vinyl fans. (Image credit: Future)
A fine sounding, fuss-free turntable.

Specifications

Dimensions: 15.7 x 45 x 35.2cm (HxWxD)
Motor: DC motor
Cartridge: AT-VM95E
Phono preamp: Yes
USB: Yes
Bluetooth: No
Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45, 78
Tracking force: 2.0g
Finish: Black

Reasons to buy

+
Composed, robust presentation
+
Easy to use and set up
+
Impressive phono stage module

Reasons to avoid

-
Up against mighty rivals

Audio-Technica’s original AT-LP5 turntable was a winner. Launched in 2016, its combination of solid engineering, useful features and fine sound were enough to make it one of our go-to recommendations for anyone wanting a sensibly priced, fuss-free record player with the added bonus of a USB output.

So it’s no surprise to find that Audio-Technica hasn’t changed its winning formula for this new LP5x model. Why would it?

The new cartridge that's easier to fit, the built-in phono stage can now cope with both moving magnet and moving coil cartridges and Audio Technica has added a 78rpm speed option. Those improvements aside, the LP5x's sonics mirror its predecessor closely. It sounds a touch cleaner and clearer before, but without losing any of its composure or dynamically pleasing presentation. 

If you're after a well-executed design that's well built, easy to set up and sounds great for the money, the AT-LP5x is worthy of a spot on your shortlist.

Read the full Audio Technica AT-LP5x review

Best record players - Rega Planar 8/Apheta 2

There are a few Rega turntables on this list, but the Planar 8 sits head and shoulders above the rest – this is a wonderfully talented turntable that offers leaps in performance for the price.
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 contrast to the cheaper models in the range, there isn’t much carry-over of parts. The Planar 8 features a new main bearing assembly, which uses a single-piece aluminium sub-platter and hardened tool steel spindle running inside a custom brass housing. The platter is something of a work of art and made of two different types of laminated glass. 

Set-up is easy thanks in part to the pre-mounted cartridge. All you need do is fit the tracking weight, set bias and you'll be free to gasp at the levels of clarity and insight, which are reminiscent of pricier turntables. 

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 Rega Planar 8/Apheta 2 review

Best record players - Technics SL-1000R

The most expensive turntable in this list, Technics' premium, top-end turntable impresses with its superbly engineered design and fantastic sonic performance.
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. It's not going to fit everyone's budget and at 40kg you'll probably need another pair of hands to shift it. But from the magnesium S-shaped arm to the adjustable feet, build and finish are as precise as a Japanese bullet train.

Unusually for a high-end turntable, Technics has opted for a direct drive motor rather than a belt drive, but great care has been taken to reduce vibration. In conjunction with the external power supply and 7.9kg triple-layered platter, the SL-1000R delivers excellent speed stability at 33.3, 45 and 78rpm. As with most options at this price, you'll need to partner it with your own cartridge. 

Sound is seriously punchy and tuneful, with tight, beautifully-defined bass and deeply impressive levels of scale and authority. It might seem expensive, the SL-1000R will go toe-to-toe with any rival in this price bracket. Truly a fantastic beast.

Read the full Technics SL-1000R review

Best record players - VPI Prime 21+

It's pricey, but VPI's updated turntable delivers a hugely confident, powerful sound that has bags of insight and precision. (Image credit: VPI)
VPI improves upon its already excellent Prime turntable.

Specifications

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

Reasons to buy

+
Bold and controlled presentation
+
Dynamic expression and insight
+
Solid build

Reasons to avoid

-
Tough competition at this level
-
Manual speed change

The new VPI Prime 21+ (the number signifies the model year) builds on one of our favourite ever turntables with a series of well-considered changes aimed at improving performance, ease of use and cosmetics.

There are two versions of this deck. The ‘+’ model we have here includes the brand-new VPI Shyla moving coil cartridge (custom-made by Audio Technica) and the company’s Weisline tonearm cable (manufactured by Nordost). The base version of the 21 comes without these two options and costs £4500 ($4500, around AU$8000) at launch.

Anyone familiar with VPI's Prime turntable will find the 21+’s sound instantly recognisable but with improved clarity and precision. This is an immensely confident record player. While sounding big and bold, its presentation is pleasingly underpinned with heaps of subtlety when the music demands. The VPI Prime+'s amount of punch, sense of power and degree of insight put it thoroughly among the class leaders. 

Read the full VPI Prime 21+ review

Best record players - Linn Klimax LP12

The well-loved Linn Klimax LP12 continues to delight with its combination of charming design, strong heritage and stunningly musical performance.
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 originally introduced in 1973, but this unassuming belt-driven turntables still got it. The LP12  might have taken a while to gain traction, but by the 1980s 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 the years. Every part, from the Ekos SE arm to the Kandid moving-coil cartridge has been honed to perfection and feels beautifully made. Speed change is electronic and set-up is simple.

Once it's had a chance to settle, the LP12 is as musical and fun as ever, delivering real punch and precision while losing nothing in composure. There’s no denying that this range-topper is expensive but in most respects, it’s startlingly better than what has gone before and remains one of the best turntables at this price.

Read the full Linn Klimax LP12 review

How we test record players

Here at What Hi-Fi? we review hundreds of products every year, from TVs to speakers, headphones to hi-fi systems. So how do we come to our review verdicts and why can you trust them? Allow us to explain.

The What Hi-Fi? team has more than 100 years collective experience of reviewing, testing and writing about consumer electronics – and that includes plenty of record players. We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in London, Reading and Bath, where our team of expert reviewers do all our in-house testing. This gives us complete control over the testing process, ensuring consistency across all products. We always ensure we spend plenty of time with each turntable, setting them up correctly, trying them with different electronics, in different positions and with different music. 

All new turntables are tested in comparison with rival turntables at the same price (and often cheaper and more expensive alternatives, too), and all review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than a single reviewer, helping to ensure consistency and avoid individual subjectivity. That's why our reviews are trusted by retailers and manufacturers, as well as consumers, the world over.

From all of our reviews, we choose the top turntables to feature in this Best Buy. That's why if you take the plunge and buy one of the products recommended here, or on any other Best Buy page, you can rest assured you're getting a What Hi-Fi?-approved product.

You can read more about how we test and review products on What Hi-Fi? here.

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Kashfia Kabir
Hi-Fi and Audio Editor

Kashfia is the Hi-Fi and Audio Editor of What Hi-Fi? and first joined the brand over 10 years ago. During her time in the consumer tech industry, she has reviewed hundreds of products, been to countless trade shows across the world and fallen in love with hi-fi kit much bigger than her. In her spare time, Kash can be found catching up with TV shows, tending to an ever-growing houseplant collection and hanging out with her cat Jolene.

  • chichaz
    "The best record players 2022" The best record players 2022 redirects here.
    Anyway, I thought it interesting none of Mobile Fidelity's decks (StudioDeck, StudioDeck+, UltraDeck, PrecisionDeck) made the list.
    Reply
  • hybridauth_facebook_1496658100
    Also came out on spring 2021, the brand new Teac TN5-BB currently Teac’s top model, well built, no plastic (excepted the armrest clip) acryl platter, 3 speed, SAEC arm with Supra wiring and tuning possibilities such as height and removeable headshell (SME standard), auto-stop auto-lift (disengageable) and correct price regarding the build quality. The only minus was the standard pick-up Ortofon Red which is good but one might have hoped for something better. anyway I have mounted the fabulous AT VM740ML on mine and it’s now perfect!
    Reply