In 2021, believe it or not vinyl records accounted for 38% of physical album sales in the United States. We know turntables and vinyl records are not the first things that come to mind when thinking about smart homes, but they can be a nice addition to your living room and if you scroll down you will see how good they look.
Considering vinyl records have been around for almost 100 years, this is a remarkable comeback for a musical medium many people deemed obsolete in recent decades.
If you want to see what the big fuss over vinyl is about and you are unsure of where to start on your new musical journey, look no further.
To help you find turntables worth your time and hard-earned money, we have put together this list of the best turntables for beginners so you can confidently buy your first set of turntables.
Continue reading to discover:
- What you need to create a perfect vinyl setup
- Our top 5 best turntables for beginners
- A handy turntable buying guide
- A list of frequently asked questions
What You Need to Enjoy Vinyl Records
The best part about getting started with vinyl records is how simple it is to complete your system setup. You can use two different vinyl setups to enjoy a fuller, richer musical experience from the comfort of your home.
You can use a record player with a built-in speaker or a turntable that connects to your stereo system.
Record Players vs. Turntables
Record players that come with built-in speakers are super easy to use. Just plug the record player in, place your vinyl on it, and hit play.
Most all-in-one record players have AUX and RCA cables. These cables allow you to enjoy vinyl-to-MP3 recording over USB. Many modern record players are also Bluetooth capable. Bluetooth capability means you can stream digital music through them too.
Record players with built-in speakers are usually priced for lower budgets and are not as durable as turntables. You also lose some sound quality and risk damage to your beloved records.
Traditional turntables are more expensive than record players. They also last longer, provide better sound quality, and protect your records from damage.
There are downsides to turntables as well. They are much less portable, and some models require you to buy a separate preamp to play them. Turntables are also heavier and need more space for storage in your home.
Now that you know the main differences between record players and turntables, here are the best turntables for beginners that you can check out.
Sony PS-LX310BT Belt Drive Turntable: Best Turntables For Under 500
For anyone who wants to buy a high-quality turntable for a fair price, the Sony PS-LX310BT checks all your boxes.
It has tons of great features for under $500, including separate speed settings, size settings, automatic needle placement, a built-in preamp, and the capability to connect with an external amp.
The preamp volume comes with easy controls that smoothly switch between volume settings so you can make up for an extra sensitive or weak stereo system. It can also connect to your computer via USB so you can convert your records to digital files.
The turntable is also Bluetooth compatible, offering yet another connectivity option for this budget-friendly model. It packs a ton of versatility for a price you cannot beat.
Audio-Technica AT-LP140XP-BK Direct-Drive Professional DJ Turntable: Best Turntables For DJing
If you are starting as a DJ and want to find the best turntables for beginners that fit your unique needs, this offering from Audio-Technica is a dream come true.
The AT-LP140XP is a fully manual professional turntable for DJs. It features a die-cast aluminum platter and a high-torque direct-drive motor for stable record rotation and exquisite sound.
The S-shaped tonearm on this turntable offers adjustable tracking force, easy height adjustment, and dynamic anti-skate control. You can trust 50+ years of expertise from Audio-Technica to provide you with a product you will love for years and years to come.
You can connect turntable components with excellent phono input and detachable dual RCA output cables for unbeatable audio output whenever and wherever you need it.
It also comes with both backward and forward playability, high-accuracy pitch lock and pitch change controls, a stroboscopic platter with a speed indicator, and a removable hinged dust cover.
Rega Planar 1 Turntable: Best Turntables For Audiophiles
The best part of listening to vinyl records is the high sound quality. For audiophiles, it is a dream come true to listen to their favorite records using this tried and true musical medium.
Rega’s Planar 1 is a perfect choice if you want to enjoy the pure, rich sound of vinyl records and the best sound quality. It is one of the best turntables for vinyl because its design centers around improved sound performance.
With a bespoke, synchronous motor, you never have to worry about vibration and excess noise. The Rega Planar 1 has incredible speed stability and an RB110 tonearm custom fitted with low friction bearings and unbeatable performance.
This turntable offers listeners top-of-the-line analog sound, easy plug-and-play capabilities, and a carbon phono cartridge. It has a stiff headshell and a stylish appearance that will beautify any room and impress your loved ones.
Pioneer Pro DJ PLX-1000: Best Turntables For Sampling
It can get a little more complicated when you want to find the best turntables for beginners who yearn to try vinyl sampling.
Pioneer offers 50 years of experience making high-end turntables, and their Pro DJ PLX-1000 model is the perfect fit for samplers who are just starting.
The turntable offers precision engineering with next-generation improvements like multi-pitch control, a club-grade build, a high-torque direct drive system, and detachable power cables.
You get ultra-stable record rotation, pinpointed controls, vibration-damping, and a rubber-insulated tone arm that makes howling effects a thing of the past. You can also use the multi-tempo control to slow down or speed up any track you want in an instant.
Fluance RT81 Vinyl Turntable Record Player: Best Turntables For Sonos
Sonos speakers are some of the most popular audio equipment in the game right now. If you have your own Sonos system, you probably want to know which of the best turntables for beginners works best with Sonos.
The Fluance RT81 turntable is just what you want to buy. It provides a pure analog sound experience with a high fidelity belt and premium features and plays music in the way your favorite artists intended.
It has a diamond-shaped elliptical stylus to track record grooves with enhanced precision and accuracy so you can enjoy high-definition audio every time you throw a record on the turntable.
The RT81 is made of a lovely finished cabinet in piano black and built from solid wood, so it adds an air of class to any room. It also has an aluminum platter and a rubber slip mat, so you never have to deal with unwanted vibrations or skips.
Turntable Buying Guide
When you are just getting into vinyl records, there are a few things you need to keep in mind before spending your hard-earned money on a turntable or a record player.
To help you better understand what makes the best turntables for beginners, feel free to use this turntables buying guide so you can make the right choice for your unique needs.
The Size of Your Space
If you have a smaller space and want to buy a turntable, remember that you will also have to make room for a speaker system and maybe even an amplifier.
Larger spaces can fit all this equipment but before you buy a turntable setup, make sure your space will accommodate everything you need. You will also need a stable flat surface for the turntable so it can play properly.
The space needs to be sturdy, clean, and safe. If you plan on leaving your turntable on the floor or somewhere unstable, you risk ruining your equipment and your records.
Your Turntable Budget
While a turntable can provide lots of enjoyment in your life, which kind of turntable you buy will depend on your budget and how much you can spend.
Some vinyl lovers might have a small budget to work with. This is not a barrier to finding an excellent turntable setup. You can still find high quality for a fair price. Less money does not have to be a limiting factor.
Cheaper record players can prove to be very valuable, though some cheap models might damage your records, break easily, and provide lower quality sound.
Sometimes it is worth saving up a bit more and investing more to ensure you get the best quality possible.
Certain qualities will always mean a higher price point, like brand names, extra features, and the rarity of the turntable model.
Buying Used Turntables
One way to ensure you don’t spend too much on your turntable setup is to buy used equipment. Second-hand record players can provide amazing quality for prices you could never find online or in person.
An expensive record player released decades ago can sell for a couple of hundred dollars today.
Even so, when you buy any audio equipment second hand, you need to be wary of the seller. Here are a few things you should look out for when buying used turntables.
- Do the power controls work?
- Is the platter spinning at a consistent speed?
- If there are multiple speed settings, do they all work consistently?
- Is the needle crooked, broken, or dirty?
- Are all the turntables cables intact?
- Does the seller include any user manuals?
Frequently Asked Questions
As a vinyl beginner, you might still have several questions about turntables and vinyl records you would like to have answered before buying your first record player.
Here are some of the most common questions asked by vinyl beginners just like you to help you decide on your first turntable setup.
How Do Vinyl Records Work?
A turntable is also called a platter, and that is where you place the vinyl record to play it. It is designed to turn your record at a constant rate of speed based on the diameter of the vinyl.
LPs, or long players, have a diameter of 12 inches and have several songs on either side. They spin at a speed of 33 ⅓ revolutions per minute (RPM). Single discs have diameters of 10 inches and spin at 45 RPM.
When the vinyl spins, a tonearm is lowered by a stylus onto the record. Older turntables are manual, while modern turntables are automatic.
The stylus moves along the grooves of the record and bounces up and down, following the vinyl record’s unique fingerprint.
Will I Need An Amplifier For My Turntable?
It depends on what kind of speakers you have. If you have active or powered speakers, they have amps built in that simply need an external power source. If you have passive speakers, then you will need to have separate amps.
There are drawbacks and benefits to both active and passive speakers, depending on the overall quality of the equipment in your setup.
Can I Use Headphones to Listen to Vinyl?
You can use headphones to listen to vinyl records. Even picky audiophiles can enjoy listening to vinyl through headphones instead of speakers.
You can use several different methods to listen to your vinyl with headphones, including
- Turntables with headphones output
- Stereo receiver with headphones output
- Headphone amplifier
- Turntable with Bluetooth capabilities
Any of these options make headphone listening possible. You might even find that you enjoy listening to vinyl through headphones better than through your stereo system.
What Are Bluetooth Turntables?
Bluetooth turntables work just like traditional record players, but they also have the bonus of connecting wirelessly to your Bluetooth stereo, speaker, or headphones.
Many audio equipment companies make their turntables with wireless capabilities at various price points to fit any budget needs. They are simple to use and operate as well, so you can switch between stereo sound and Bluetooth sound with ease.
To use these functions, you will need a Bluetooth-ready speaker, headphones, or a stereo system. Then you can listen to your records wirelessly all over your home.
Where Can I Buy Records?
Records might be making a major comeback, but if you are just starting your journey, you might not know where you can find vinyl to play on your turntables.
The most obvious answer is to find records at your local record stores. These are the best places to look because you can see firsthand what condition the records are in before you buy them.
Local record stores are also a cool place to browse for records, meet other vinyl enthusiasts, and discover rare records you couldn’t find online. While local record stores are a great choice, you can find some incredible records online as well.
Here are some of the best places to find and buy vinyl records online.
Discogs is a vinyl marketplace where you can find hard-to-find records and also acts like a personal catalog of your record collection.
Vinyl prices for rare records can get a little steep, but it is a great place to gauge the market for certain records you want. It is also a great way to find what price points they are selling at.
Discogs has more than 600,000 digital contributors and is one of the most popular places on the web for vinyl collectors to share their record catalogs and sell them to other vinyl enthusiasts. The Discogs database includes over 15 million releases of over 8 million artists and 17 million labels.
You can also find CDs and cassettes if you are interested in other musical media.
We all know that Amazon sells anything and everything you can imagine, and vinyl records are no exception. They have one of the largest selections of records available online, and you can find competitive prices as well.
You can also find used vinyl for an even more affordable price, and if you have Amazon Prime, you will get your records in 48 hours or less.
Finding records on the world’s most popular online auction site is very simple, even rare records you can’t find anywhere else.
You have to be very specific in your search criteria and be sure to check photos of the record’s quality before you make your purchase. Sometimes eBay is the best, cheapest place to find the records you want.
The Experience Vinyl record club gives you access to a treasure trove of vinyl without a pesky monthly membership. They offer lots of rare releases and interesting vinyl every month.
Prices range from $25 to the hundreds depending on what records you want to buy.
Your Big Takeaways-Best Turntables For Beginners
Finding the best turntables for beginners can seem like a hard task at first, but it is one of the most rewarding things you can do if you love the sound of vinyl and want to have a turntable set up of your very own.
With a little research and information, you can find the perfect turntable for your unique needs without spending outside of your budget range. Before you know it, your space will be full of rich, incredible sound that blows other musical media out of the water.
Any of the above turntables are sure to please even the most demanding vinyl lovers, even if you are only a beginner.