Vinyl is the music format that refuses to die, and we're so glad about that. Little else in this fast-moving digital world offers such a warm glow of satisfaction as playing a much-loved record on a great turntable.
You're in luck, we've done all the hard work and trawled the market for the best-value turntables available for our annual What Hi-Fi? 2022 Awards. Our list starts with Pro-Ject's excellent Primary E, which is as good as a starter deck as we've found. It is simple, well-made and most importantly sounds great.
Next up is a perennial favourite in the form of Rega's Planar 1. This deck takes a step up in engineering integrity and gains in terms of detail, dynamics and rhythmic drive. The Planar 1 is made with care too and promises years of good service.
We wouldn't blame regular What Hi-Fi? readers to expect the next award winner to be another Rega in the form of the formidable Planar 3. After all, the Planar 3 has dominated the turntable mid-market (and our Awards) for decades. Yet, this year it has been overthrown by Pro-Ject's truly excellent Debut Pro.
Don't let the use of the long-running Debut name fool you. This is no mere tweak of a well-worn formula. The Debut Pro is a determined attempt to set new standards at its price and it succeeds with a level of value, insight and precision that even the mighty Planar 3 couldn't match in the final reckoning. It was a close-run thing, though.
Few brands are as closely connected to record players as Technics. We're pleased to report that the company's SL-1500C remains a terrific proposition, particularly if you value easy cartridge swaps and a surprisingly capable built-in phono stage. The SL-1500C sounds lovely too, with high levels of detail and dynamic expression. Add up the long list of positives and it is enough for this Technics to outpoint all comers at its price.
Our final two winners sit at the premium end of the market. Rega's Planar 6/Ania combination wins yet again, proving that excellent engineering and great design have a timeless appeal, while the newly-upgraded Vertere DG-1 S with Magneto cartridge gets more out of the record groove than any rival we've heard. The Vertere's innovative arm design and clever engineering are a pleasure to behold.
Regardless of whether your budget extends to the Pro-Ject Primary E or all the way to the Vertere, we have no doubt that any one of our award winners will shine in an appropriate system.
See all the What Hi-Fi? Awards 2022 winners
Our pick of the best turntables: budget to premium