With music streaming services like Youtube, Spotify, and Apple Music, it may seem like there are endless options for you to discover new music. The internet makes it easy to find and share music from new artists nowadays, and more and more people have a growing collection of songs and albums in their digital files. But audiophiles will be quick to remind you that even though there is an infinite range of music to listen to online, when it comes down to the quality of what you’re listening to, you still can’t beat vintage vinyls on a turntable. The reason so many people prefer vinyls is because they play back music in an analog, rather than digital, format. The needle of the turntable follows the grooves in the record to play back almost exactly like what you would hear if you were listening to the band live. CDs and digital versions of songs, however, are merely digital reproductions of the analog wave, so you tend to lose a lot of the clarity and accuracy of the original song.
It’s important to make sure that you’re not just getting any old turntable, to really make sure that you’re getting the audio experience that you’re looking for. If you’re an audiophile and looking to invest into a turntable with good value, or maybe a newcomer into the space who would like to identify the best option to purchase, take a look below at our 2020 picks for the best audiophile turntable for your money.
Our Favorite Audiophile Turntables in 2020
- Pro-Ject T1 Phono SB Turntable with Built-in Preamp and Electronic Speed Change (Piano Black) – Read Reviews
If you’re looking for a sleek turntable to match a minimal aesthetic, look no further than the Pro-Ject T1 Phono SB. Although this is affordable, it has a premium look and feel as the deck is solid (8mm thick bead-blasted glass platter) and entirely plastic-free–all you need to do is to place the platter and belt and you’ll be ready to go. There are two playback RPM speeds that you can toggle between–33 and 45 to deliver precise and clear sound quality–and a switchable moving magnet phono stage. The downside of the Phono SB is that it’s very minimal–there’s no bluetooth or USB recording, but these are small features for audiophiles that are just looking to play their favorite vinyls. One reviewer commented that this is “one of the best entry level tables in a long time! For the price, this table is hard to beat.”
- Sony PS-LX310BT Belt Drive Turntable: Fully Automatic Wireless Vinyl Record Player with Bluetooth and USB Output – Read Reviews
Love the sleek design of the Pro-Ject T1 Phono SB but you’re looking for something that has more bells and whistles? The Sony PS-LX310BT may be the one for you. This turntable brings together old-school hi-fi with modern minimalism, while adding bluetooth so that you can send the analog sound that you crave to your headphones or speakers without the hassle of dealing with wires (this does come with RCA cables if you do want to plug it directly into a stereo system though). The tonearm action is automatic, so all you need to do is to press a button and the needle will find your vinyl’s groove without any extra effort on your end. Best of all, this has high quality audio thanks to the built-in switchable phono output so you can hear your music at its best, without any distortion. One reviewer noted that this is “beautifully minimalist in design set, premium in quality and style” and we couldn’t agree more.
- Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-SV Direct-Drive Turntable (Analog & USB), Silver, Fully Manual, Hi-Fi, 3 Speed, Convert Vinyl to Digital, Anti-Skate Control, Variable Pitch Control – Read Reviews
Audio-Technica has a great reputation with audiophiles for their quality headphones, and their turntables are no exception. This is one of the best turntables you can get for your money because of its user-friendly interface. It has a fully manual operation and features adjustable dynamic anti-skate control, a direct-driven DC servo motor with selectable RPM speeds, and a well-balanced tonearm with hydraulically damped lift control and rest that you can lock in. It also minimizes vibration with professional-grade anti-resonance. You can easily convert your vinyls to digital audio files by downloading the free recording software, and an added bonus is that it’s one of the few budget turntables that can play old 78s, which is great for audiophiles who love hunting for old jazz records. One reviewer captures it perfectly in saying that this is “the absolute best turntable on the market under $400! Sound quality is outstanding, setup is a breeze, and it looks great!”
True audiophiles will appreciate the Rega Planar 1, which is simply the best budget turntable out there for those who prioritize sound above all else. The Planar 1 doesn’t come with features such as bluetooth, USB recording, or a built-in phono stage, but it’s because the manufacturers already designed it with audio quality in mind. It’s the best sounding turntable available because of its premium design–every last detail has been accounted for to improve performance and deliver on the sound. The tonearm is Rega designed and has bespoke, zero play bearings with ultra-low friction performance. The brass main bearing has been re-designed so that it removes stress on the bearing itself while minimizing the transfer of potential energy. The cartridge is a Rega Carbon MM, which is supplied and fitted at the factory, while the motor is a 24-volt synchronous model, which is the first ever on an entry-level Rega turntable. The combination of user-friendliness and high performance sound just can’t be beat. One reviewer said that the Planar 1 is “easy to set up” and that the “sound is truly jaw dropping. Best I have ever had without a doubt.”
- The Rega Planar 1 turntable features a brand new RB110 tonearm built with the new Rega designed, bespoke, zero play bearings with ultra-low friction performance (Patent Pending).
- Every single aspect of the Planar 1 has been meticulously designed to improve performance. For the first time the Planar 1 is now running a 24v, low noise, synchronous motor to reduce vibration transfer combined with our brand new RB110 tonearm fitted with Rega's bespoke zero play bearings.
- Re-designed brass main bearing, offering improved fit and removing stress on the bearing itself whilst minimising the transfer of potential energy. (Patent pending)
- Brand new, 23mm, higher mass, phenolic platter with improved flywheel effect for improved speed stability.
- Thermoset, gloss laminated plinth with vastly improved appearance and new ergonomically positioned on/off switch located on the underside. Two stunning plinth finishes available, gloss black and gloss white.