In this post, I share the top three turntables and reveal some tricks and tips on how to choose among them. You’ll need a great record player regardless if you’re a professional DJ or someone who just inherited a collection of vinyl records. Your chosen spinner should work flawlessly, is easy to maintain, and would last a long time. Below are what I’ll add to the best options that I linked to above.
Technics’ SL-1200 (MK2 to MK5) is the gold standard of turntables. Preferred by DJs, radio stations, and music fans for years since 1978, Technics eventually stopped its production in 2010. The SL-1200 is so highly valued that two of it are displayed in the London Science Museum. Also, it’s so highly regarded that people claim that you could toss it in a car trunk, or drop it down a mound, and yet still play just as good as before. And we haven’t even discussed its notable features yet: selectable speed modules (33/45 RPM), pitch control (+-8%), a steel platter, and a magnetic direct drive motor that’s powerful yet has low vibration. But despite the discontinued production of the SL-1200, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re hard to come by. On the contrary, it’s actually circulating widely (either used or new) and can be bought around $600 or lower at eBay and Amazon. You could also check out your local music store (there is a good chance that they still have an SL-1200).
The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon
Pro-ject Audio Systems’ Debut Carbon is a sort of “sequel” to the Debut III, a model that didn’t really impressed that many people. That model is still available, but its production has also been discontinued. Replacing it is the Debut Carbon, which is commonly considered as a more than worthy successor with exactly the same price to boot. It’s basically the same record player, with very similar innards, except for the remarkably enhanced motor and the tonearm made of carbon fiber (hence, the name). For those who only intend to listen to vinyl records (like most of my friends and family), the belt driven Carbon is a wiser, cheaper choice than those that are direct drive (which are aimed at hardcore audiophiles and DJs). Also, it can be had in any of its different colors to match different music tastes and personalities.
Audio-Technica’s AT-LP120 USB
Audio-Technica’s AT-LP120 is like a partial clone of the SL-1200MK2 by Technics. However, it is much more cheaper – it will only make you poorer by around $250 (based on Amazon’s price). The AT-LP120 has selectable speed modes ( 33/45/78 RPM), +/- 10% to 20% pitch control, a platter made of cast aluminum, and a direct drive motor. (The motor directly powers the platter, so there are no moving parts – like belts – that are utilized for the rotation of the vinyl record. This means less vibrations that produce additional noise, so the music you hear has better quality.) The AT-LP120 can toggle easily in reverse or forward, and it can also connect to other devices (e.g. mixers, stereo, computers) via USB or analog. This makes it convenient to digitize your collection so that you’ll have backups or copies for listening on-the-go. Cables and connectors are included with the turntable.
Top Turntables for Vinyl Records
There is no doubt that vinyl records are making a comeback, despite still being a tiny portion of the overall music market. But regardless if you have owned vinyls for decades, or you just got on the bandwagon of collecting such, you will need a great turntable to play records. And with the three record players presented above, you will unlikely go wrong in doing so. Moreover, you’ll have fun while you’re at it.