Americans are buying more vinyl records than ever. In fact, US vinyl sales have gone up 14 straight years in a row. Ready to get back into the groove? The best record players will help you make the most of your brand-new or long-loved vinyl record collection.
Whether this is your first deck or you're looking to upgrade, you don't even have to spend a fortune – we've come up with top-tier options from $200 to $2000.
So, which record player is best for you? We can help you make the right choice with our round-up of the best record players across all budgets and types. Our selection features budget turntables alongside more premium decks, wireless Bluetooth turntables for streaming vinyl to headphones, turntables with phono stages built in for convenience, and even USB turntables 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 in the box and you'll be fine.
Most turntables will also need a separate phono preamp (or phono stage) to raise your turntable's audio output to make it compatible with line-level modern amplifiers and add standardised equalisation. Plenty of record players now have them built into the deck itself (which makes it easier to plug into any amp or active speakers), but most purist turntables will need to be plugged into an external phono preamp or into a stereo amplifier that has phono stage inputs. The choice is yours.
Every record player in this guide has been comprehensively tested by the experienced What Hi-Fi? review team in our dedicated listening rooms, comparing each turntable to its closest rivals in price and type, so you can be sure you're getting a genuine, expert recommendation.
The quick list
The best record player overall
The Award-winning Pro-Ject Debut Pro is the best-value turntable currently on the market, thanks to a combination of classy build and superb sound quality that majors on clarity and precise timing. And all for a price that isn't too cheap or too premium – it's just right.
The best budget record player
Rega's Planar 1 is an entry-level deck with a purist heart that's better than any other cheap turntable out there. It's a supremely talented player that sounds fantastic for the budget price.
The best Bluetooth record player
It may not look like much, but this Sony is a fully automatic deck that adds stable and versatile Bluetooth streaming to headphones. It's affordable, a breeze to use and is an entertaining listen.
The best USB record player
A brilliant, easy-to-use Audio Technica record player that sounds organised, detailed and fun. It also packs in a built-in phono stage as well as the ability to rip your vinyl to CD-quality files thanks to a USB output. Handy!
The best mid-price record player
Rega's step-up model notches up the performance, delivering a punchy, rhythmically exciting and room-filling sound. There's no phono stage built in here, but it's the best option if you're looking to upgrade your first turntable experience without heading into the premium end.
Best overall record player
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 and crisp. 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 prove admirable and we are impressed with the sonic authority on offer.
Pro-Ject isn't short of rivals at this price, mainly the stellar five-star Rega Planar 3/Elys 2, a legendary model that has long held the top spot in this particular price bracket in its various iterations over the years. It's now pricier than ever before (£100 more than the Pro-Ject) and offers a bit more in terms of dynamic expression and outright attack and excitement. But the Pro-Ject Debut Pro sounds a little cleaner and crisper, delivering low frequencies with an agility and tautness even the Rega struggles to match. It goes to show just how talented this superb-sounding Pro-Ject deck is. Not only a What Hi-Fi? 2022 Award-winner and the Product of the Year in the turntable category, it's also now the best value option at this price point.
Read the full Pro-Ject Debut Pro review
Best budget record player
It’s hard to think of a company that really gets how to make consistently good record players quite like Rega, now celebrating its 50th anniversary. The Rega Planar 1 is the cheapest turntable Rega makes and has been a What Hi-Fi? Award-winner since 2016 and in truth, it’s an accolade it fully deserves. Built superbly to Rega’s typically high standards and featuring a Rega Carbon cartridge attached to a new RB110 tonearm, the belt-drive design is easy to use and simple to set up.
There aren't many other bells and whistles to speak of, although you can upgrade this model with Rega's optional Performance Pack, which includes a moving magnet cartridge and deluxe wool mat.
It's a purist turntable – no phono stage, no Bluetooth or USB – but it's such a significant step-up from most budget decks and delivers excellent value for money, making it an attractive option for those on tighter budgets.
The real attraction here is the dynamic sound. The Planar 1's delivery is spellbinding and well beyond what you might expect from an 'entry-level' turntable, surpassing that of the cheaper Audio Technica and Sony turntables also on this list. Rega’s forensic attention to detail results in a roomy, spacious presentation, while voices sound superb and rich. The Planar 1 delivers a combination of clarity and accuracy that's almost unparalleled at this entry-level price, providing an exciting and engaging experience no matter what you throw at it.
If you're in the market for the best record player for around $500, this is it.
Read the full Rega Planar 1 review
Best Bluetooth record player
If you're looking for a supremely fuss-free entry into the world of vinyl, this brilliant Sony turntable with fully automatic operation 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.
Despite newer record players with integrated Bluetooth streaming entering the market (even hi-res wireless options like the Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2) this Sony continues to deliver the best combination of performance for a Bluetooth model, and for a very affordable price, 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 Pro-Ject Primary E or the step-up Rega Planar 1 (above) 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 USB record player
Audio-Technica’s original AT-LP5 turntable was a winner. Launched in 2016, its combination of solid engineering, useful features and fine sound was 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?
There's a 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 than before, but without losing any of its composure or dynamically pleasing presentation.
The USB ripping feature remains, so you can digitise your vinyl collection is CD quality WAV files up to 16-bit/44.1kHz and 48kHz. 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 mid-price record player
You might think paying more for a deck would get you more features, but that's not the case here. Rega is notorious for keeping its products pure and uncomplicated (the phono-stage-toting Planar 1 Plus a rare exception), but that doesn't mean the Planar 2 is anything but remarkable for its mid-price point. What it does buy you are some key component upgrades over the entry-level Planar 1 that deliver even better sound quality – all packaged up in a smartly understated design.
Rega's 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.
For those wanting electronic speed change, more colourful finishes and a more laid-back sonic balance, the also-five-stars Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo is a solid alternative at this price.
Read the full Rega Planar 2 review
Best premium record player
The rebirth of Technics has spawned another fantastic turntable. While we love the high-end SL-1000R model (so much so that we use it as part of our reference testing system), the SL-1500C is much more affordable, and it's also one of the best record players we've heard at around a grand that includes a built-in phono stage.
It uses a core-less direct drive motor with clever speed management circuitry and the company's trademark S-shaped arm, which is attached to an Ortofon 2M Red cartridge. 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 (which doesn't include an internal phono stage), 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
How to choose the best record player for you
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.
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 of collective experience in 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 partnering electronics, in different positions and playing various records and music genres.
All new turntables are tested in comparison with rival turntables at the same price level (and often cheaper and more expensive alternatives, too, where relevant), 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.
We choose the top turntables to feature in this Best Buy from all our reviews. That's why if you take the plunge and buy one of the products recommended here, 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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