The best turntables of 2018

Riley Young/Digital Trends

There’s nothing quite like dropping the needle on your favorite records. The physical experience of analog audio is magical, and it’s been made all the better in recent years. Thanks to the recent vinyl revolution, there are now a growing number of pressing plants squeezing our favorite sounds onto disc — heck, there’s even one company trying to create records with a laser.

No matter what you’re listening to, you’re going to want a decent way to play them. The best turntables let you get the most from your collection, pulling the nuanced sounds of your favorite artists from the disc and transferring them to your eardrums. This list of the five best turntables you can buy runs the gamut from simple, entry-level options to the kind of audiophile-grade devices that will last you a lifetime.

Want something a bit more affordable? Be sure to check out our list of the best models under £500. Whether you’re building a collection for the first time or are simply re-establishing your old analog habits, make sure you know how to properly set up a turntable, and be sure you know how to clean your vinyl.

Otherwise, you might not be getting the most out of your investment. If you’re really serious about your tunes, we also suggest you learn a bit about acoustic treatment, too. After all, your speakers and turntable are only as good as the room you put them in.

Note: Some of these turntables include a built-in phono preamp, while others do not. A phono preamp is a device that boosts the signal from the turntable so that modern electronics can play it. While many older receivers have a phono input, some newer devices do not.

Whether or not you need a preamp will depend on your receiver/amplifier and favorite speaker setup.

Best turntables Category
EAT B-Sharp Best turntable overall
Audio Technical AT-LP120 USB Best low-cost option
U-Turn Orbit Plus Best style
Technics 1200 Best for DJs
Sony PS-HX500 Best for ripping vinyl

EAT B-Sharp

The best

The best turntables of 2018Riley Young/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: Audiophile-grade components, gorgeous looks, insane build quality.

European Audio Team’s B-SharpWith gorgeous build quality and amazing components, the EAT B-Sharp will last you a lifetime.

Who it’s for: The serious vinyl collector who is looking to upgrade to a turntable that will last them a lifetime. How much it will cost: £1,100 to £1,600 Why we picked the EAT B-Sharp:

It requires a significant upfront investment, but with it, the European Audio Team (EAT)’s B-Sharp turntable delivers the kind of high-end sound that will last you a lifetime. A beautiful turntable with a custom-designed suspension system and carbon fiber tonearm, the B-Sharp comes equipped with a beautiful Ortofon 2M Blue moving magnet cartridge, which helps it pull out every subtle musical tambor in your vinyl. Special feet help isolate the turntable from its position on your record stand or bookshelf, and keep unwanted rumbles to a minimum.

Another cool thing about the B-Sharp is that it comes with a built-in record weight: A threaded weight screws onto the middle of the deck, allowing you to get gorgeous, punchy low-end from your records. All that, plus an insane overall build quality makes that EAT B-Sharp the model to get if you’re looking to buy a turntable that you’ll be able to pass down for generations. In fact, when you look at the quality of components and top-grade features offered by the B-Sharp, it actually offers one of the best values in the high-end audio universe.

Audio Technica AT-LP120 USB

The best cheap turntable

The best turntables of 2018

Why you should buy this: Simple functionality, classic looks, and USB connectivity.

The best affordable turntableAudio Technica AT-LP120 USB TurntableSimple and classic, the Audio Technica AT-LP120 has long been the best turntable for new vinyl listeners.

Who it’s for: The new vinyl enthusiast who wants an affordable and great-sounding turntable that will last for years.

How much it will cost: £230 to £300. Why we picked the Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB: It’s hard to argue with such a classic entry-level option.

This rectangle of sparkling plastic and chrome might not be as fashionable as the others on our list, but it still looks and sounds good, and at a very enticing price to boot. The Audio Technica AT-LP120 is a go-to starter turntable that’s rugged and reliable, and has been a favorite of analog listeners for decades. For a bit more dough than the cheapest beginner models on the market, it also offers features like a selectable internal preamp so you won’t need a phono input, a USB output to capture your vinyl in digital form, and three speeds to handle virtually anything in your collection.

Whenever people ask us what the best first-purchase turntable is — and they ask us a lot — we always point them to the LP120. It’s the Honda Civic of turntables, and we’re still big fans after all these years.

U-Turn Orbit Plus

The best style

The best turntables of 2018

Why you should buy this: Great sound and gorgeous design in multiple bright color options.

The most stylishU-Turn Orbit PlusA beautiful acrylic platter and eye-catching color options make the U-Turn Orbit Plus the best-looking turntable on our list.

Who it’s for: The style-conscious vinyl enthusiast who wants great looks as well as superb sound. How much it will cost: £290 to £400.

Why we picked the U-Turn Orbit Plus: For a little more money than the Audio Technica LP-120 mentioned above, style-conscious listeners can get an absolutely beautiful piece of analog audio gear. U-Turn’s Orbit Plus is among the best-sounding and most beautiful turntables you can buy at any price, and that’s largely because of its simplicity.

You’ll have to pay extra for a built-in preamp (£70), there’s no USB connection, and there’s no automatic function. Even a cue lever (£40) is optional, so most users will have to manually set the needle, as well as manually adjust the belt to switch between 33 and 45 RPM speed settings. All of this may be daunting for newcomers, but those who can accept that will find a sturdy turntable that runs quietly and sounds great, with elegant design cues like the above-board belt that allows you to watch the motor spin your favorite discs.

Also, the lack of options lets U-Turn focus on quality. The Plus comes with an excellent Ortofon OM5E cartridge, and the high-mass acrylic platter will keep your vinyl spinning smoothly, making for a beautiful long-term investment that will shine for years to come in your listening space.

Technics SL-1200 (any generation)

The best for DJs

The best turntables of 2018Ryan Waniata/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: Insane durability and decades of use by the top DJs on earth make the Technics 1200 the best deck for musicians.

The best for DJsTechnics SL-1200Classic design and bullet-proof components make the Technics 1200 the best turntable for DJs

Who it’s for: The vinyl-loving DJ who wants a turntable that can take a licking and keep on spinning. How much it will cost: £400 to £1,700 (depending on generation)

Why we picked the Technics SL-1200 Since it was first introduced in 1972, the durable Technics SL-1200 turntable has grown to become a legendary piece of audio gear, easily the most common turntable used by professional DJs around the world. Known for its high-torque, direct drive motor, the turntable is robust enough to withstand thousands of hours of scratching and manhandling, offering the kind of consistent performance that DJs need on stage and in the studio.

The original SL-1200 model was discontinued in 2010, but remained so popular that the company began manufacturing newer, higher-end versions in 2016. Whether you spring for the more expensive newer model or a classic from the original production run, we’re sure you’ll be happy with your purchase. This is the kind of tried-and-true model that will be spinning for decades to come.

Sony PS-HX500

The best for ripping vinyl

The best turntables of 2018

Why you should but this: An exceptional onboard digital-to-analog converter and USB connectivity.

The best for ripping vinylSony PS-HX500With an excellent onboard digital-to-analog converter, the Sony PS-HX500 allows you to preserve your vinyl in ultra-high quality digital for…

Who it’s for: The audiophile who wants to preserve rare records at the highest-quality digital resolution.

How much it will cost: £330 to £400. Why we picked the Sony PS-HX500: Those with the rarest collections will love the Sony PS-HX500 for its preservation abilities.

Though it has the chops to play back your favorite records with brilliant clarity and warmth, it’s actually designed for those who want to digitize their favorite analog music in high resolution. Paired with a special high-fidelity recording app, the player utilizes a quality Texas Instruments analog-to-digital converter that transfers at a bare minimum of 16-bit, 44.1kHz CD-quality resolution. From there, the sky is virtually the limit in terms of digital conversion quality: Sony’s deck can transfer files up to 24bit/192khz and even 5.6MHz DSD — the highest quality of any USB turntable of its kind.

The price is on the high side for a device that’s mostly meant to help you archive your music, but if you want to preserve your vinyl for the virtual age without even fancier outboard gear (and even play it back with solid fidelity in between rips), this turntable is the way to go.

How we test

We test turntables both at home and in our A/V testing lab over a period of weeks, using a wide variety of music both new and old.

Typically, each turntable is connected to a wide variety of high-end speakers and our favorite stereo amplifiers, and compared side by side with other options in the price range when possible.

We also test each turntable with both its inboard (where applicable) and outboard phono preamp, allowing us to hear the sound of the turntable via both inboard and outboard gear.

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