New to vinyl? Want a new turntable but not sure what partnering kit you need to go with it?
You’re in luck, as we’ve picked our favourite turntables at three different price ranges – and built a full stereo system around them.
Each turntable is a five-star product in its own right – in fact, all three are What Hi-Fi? Award winners – and so is a good starting point if you’re just in the market for a new record player.
If, however, you’re looking for an entire hi-fi system – be it your very first or a hefty upgrade – this is the right place too.
From budget through midrange to high-end, there’s a vinyl system in here for everyone.
Best budget turntable system
Onkyo A-9010 £200
Q Acoustics 3020 £190
Total = £720
The Audio Technica AT-LP5 is a great entry-level turntable that ticks a number of boxes. It’s easy to use – it's pretty much plug 'n’ play out of the box – and the fact it comes with a built-in phono stage at the price is a real bonus. Add in large-scale sound, rich with detail and punchy rhythm, and you've got a great budget turntable.
Onkyo's A-9010 is a fantastic stereo amplifier for the money and owns a area of the market where there's been a real shortage of talent lately. The design is functional rather than flamboyant, but the captivating, energetic sound is what's crucial here.
What better way to finish off this budget vinyl hi-fi system than with a brilliant pair of budget standmounters from Q Acoustics? The Award-winning 3020 speakers boast terrifically refined and insightful sound for sensible money, and work seamlessly with the Onkyo and Audio Technica kit in this system.
Best midrange turntable system
Rega Planar 3/Elys 2 £625
Rega Brio £600
Dali Zensor 3 £320
Total = £1545
Rega's Planar 3 has dominated its market sector for decades thanks to ongoing adjustments, made year after year, to keep it ahead of the pack. Its latest incarnation is the best yet, with a number of tweaks throughout the deck all adding up to create an even clearer and more insightful-sounding turntable.
While it doesn't always make sense to partner stablemates with each other, Rega’s newly updated Brio stereo amp is the perfect match for the Planar 3. Not only does it sound sensational, it’s also fitted with an excellent moving magnet phono stage that helps bring the best out of that Elys 2 cartridge.
The Dali Zensor 3s are a great, affordable pair of speakers that punch well above their weight – even with partnering kit, as here, at double the price. They're an easy listen but exciting with it, and will keep you entertained for hours.
Best high-end turntable system
Clearaudio Concept £995
Rega Elex-R £900
Neat Iota Alpha £1385
Total = £3280
The Clearaudio Concept has picked up numerous What Hi-Fi? Awards over the past few years, and it's not difficult to see (or hear) why. It's a classy-looking deck and, like the Rega Planar 3 above, is ready to go straight from the box. With stunning all-round sonic performance, it’s a premium turntable that's tough to beat.
We return to Rega for the partnering amplifier, but move up a price bracket to the talented Elex-R. It really is ideal for the job – the internal phono stage works extremely well with the Clearaudio turntable, and the sound they deliver together will have you hooked.
To feed off the Rega's infectious sound, we've opted for a slightly left-field but entirely entertaining choice: the Neat Iota Alphas. They’re a fair bit shorter than your average floorstander, but the sound they produce is surprising: large-scale dynamics, excellent timing and heaps of fun. Sure, there are more transparent speakers, but the way these little Neats tie all musical strands together is hugely enjoyable to listen to.