Ready to take the plunge and start enjoying the hottest trend in music listening? I’m not talking about Bluetooth or multi-room wireless streaming, I’m talking about vinyl. Old school records, the hottest format in music. For that you need a turntable and if you don’t own one—or yours dates back to vinyl’s original era of popularity and needs some work—I put together a few picks for the best turntables currently on the market.
And here’s a tip for those of you who find coming up with gift ideas difficult. For a music lover, a turntable makes a fantastic gift. Even better, once someone owns a turntable, there is a virtually limitless catalog of vinyl available (did you know Best Buy sells records?), so future gift giving becomes a heck of a lot easier …
Pro-Ject T1-BTXW Belt Drive Turntable with Bluetooth
I recently reviewed this Best Buy-exclusive Pro-Ject turntable and it is a solid choice for anyone who’s serious about their record collection. You get Pro-Ject’s legendary European quality, a factory-installed Ortofon OM 5e cartridge, a switchable pre-amp, Bluetooth capability and even a set of premium shielded RCA cables in the box. All in a minimalist masterpiece that looks as good as it sounds.
Audio Technica AT-LP60XBT-BK Belt Drive Turntable
Audio Technica is another name that’s part of turntable royalty. The company has been making some of the best cartridges in the business since 1962, and naturally it makes some great turntables as well. The Audio Technica AT-LP60XBT-BK turntable is an automatic, two-speed belt-drive with a 12-inch aluminum platter, a switchable pre-amplifier and Bluetooth. Naturally, the integrated moving magnet cartridge is equipped with the company’s popular ATN3600L stylus.
Victrola Nostalgic 7-in-1 Belt Drive Turntable with USB Encoding
Much of the appeal of a turntable is nostalgia, and this Victrola Nostalgic Best Buy exclusive pushes all the buttons with a wooden cabinet, a big radio tuning dial, built-in speakers, and a record player. Along with a CD player, cassette deck, Bluetooth, and USB. An all-in-one like this isn’t for everyone, but people love the Victrola! It has 188 customer reviews with a 4.5-star average.
This AT-LP60X Belt Drive turntable gets you the Audio Technica name at a low price point. It’s a two-speed belt-drive model with a switchable pre-amp, aluminum platter, and a DC-controlled servo motor for less than 0.25% wow and flutter. It’s also equipped with Audio Technica’s ATN3600L diamond stylus. In other words, everything you need to enjoy your records.
Audio Technica AT-LP120XUSB-SV Direct Drive Turntable
Budding dee-jays will love this Audio Technica AT-LP120XUSB-SV direct drive turntable. When you’re spinning vinyl for a crowd, direct drive is the way to go. And this three-speed manual direct drive turntable has all the features needed for playing in a club, including a 12-inch professional-grade aluminum stroboscopic platter with speed indicator, quartz speed lock with variable pitch control, USB output for ripping tracks, and a retractable target light for cueing tracks in low light. For the best sound possible, it’s equipped with Audio Technica’s AT-VM95E Dual Magnet phono cartridge with an elliptical diamond stylus.
Marley Stir It Up Belt Drive USB Turntable
My latest turntable review, the Stir It Up from House of Marley, takes a unique approach. It has the features that vinyl enthusiasts are looking for including a switchable pre-amp, Bluetooth connectivity, USB output, shock-absorbing feet, and an Audio Technica ATN3600L stylus. But the Marley Stir it Up is a green choice with a focus on environmental sustainability through the use of materials like bamboo and recycled Rewind fabric. Besides being environmentally-friendly, the warm glow of that CNC-machined bamboo deck really makes this turntable stand out from the crowd.
Victrola VSS-990BT Premium Suitcase Belt Drive Turntable
Another Best Buy exclusive, the Victrola VSS-990BT Suitcase Belt Drive Turntable combines a vintage look with portability and a nod to modern technology. This unit features a three-speed belt-drive turntable with a moving magnet cartridge. You can even stream Bluetooth audio over its built-in speakers, and if you need a little more “oomph” a 3.5mm AUX jack lets you connect your own powered speakers. When you want to move the listening to another room—or a friend’s house—close the suitcase up and take advantage of the convenient carrying handle.
Denon DP-450USB Belt-Drive Hi-Fi Turntable
This premium Denon DP-450USB Belt-Drive turntable makes an artistic statement, with a glossy plinth and a unique dust cover that does double duty as a record cover display. Expect great performance from the three-speed turntable’s weighted aluminum platter and S-shaped tone arm equipped with Denon’s own DSN-85 MM cartridge. With a switchable phono EQ preamplifier, you can connect to a traditional component stereo system’s PHONO input, or a compact system with an AUX input. This turntable is a great choice if you have a record collection to digitize. When I reviewed it earlier this year, the Denon’s one-touch onboard USB recording to MP3 or WAV was the easiest I’ve ever used. You don’t even need a PC, just a thumb drive …
Don’t forget the rest of the audio system
All-in-one systems like those from Victrola don’t need any extras. But for most turntables, your listening experience will be dependent on the system it connects to. Choose wisely for the best sound.
For the ultimate vinyl listening experience, pair a capable turntable such as the Pro-Ject T1-BTXW with a receiver or amplifier with a PHONO input. Something like the Onkyo TX-NR787. You’ll have a superb home theatre receiver that also brings out the best in your record collection. When space is at a premium, any turntable with a built-in preamplifier can connect to the AUX input on a pair of Thonet & Vander KÜRBIS 340-Watt powered bookshelf speakers. You can also connect a turntable with an integrated pre-amp to a wireless multi-room speaker like the Bose SoundTouch 10 (which is equipped with a 3.5mm AUX input and Bluetooth).