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 turntables around, whatever your budget. 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.
The boom in interest in vinyl has seen cheap turntables flood the market, with many all-in-one vinyl systems on the market for less than £100. But you can do better. In fact, some of these decks can even damage your vinyl. As tempting as some of the super-cheap systems may be, it's worth paying a little more for better build quality and superior sound. Partner your new turntable with some good speakers and a talented amp, and a budget vinyl system can be had for the right side of £500.
Whether you're looking for an entry-level, midrange or premium turntable, these are our picks of the best record players around.
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.
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 £249. 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.
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 £200, 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.
Prepared to spend a little more for better sound? This Primary E is the way to go. It eschews the extra features of the Lenco (above) - there's no USB connection, no built-in phono stage, and changing the speed is a manual job - but you do get noticeably better audio performance. If sound is your number one concern, and you don't want to spend more than £200, this is the way to go.
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.
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.
You're probably sensing a theme... 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, adding extra servings of clarity, precision and insight to an already musical sound. Want the best value turntable on the market? This is it.
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.
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.
Sound? Massively detailed. Agility? Class-leading. Dynamics? Strong. Precision? Exceptional. In 2013 the RP8 was voted “one of the best designs of all time” by two of the worlds most respected designers, Apple’s Sir Jony Ive and Marc Newson, and we'd be more than happy to give it our vote when it comes to sound quality.
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.
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. The Linn LP12 remains a deck to be taken very seriously indeed.