Collecting Tips Featured Articles

VinylMapper’s Turntable Buying Guide


VinylMapper Turntable Buying Guide

How to Choose The Right Turntable for You

Good news. It’s time to buy a new turntable, baby! Your couch doesn’t know what’s about to hit it.

But whew, a buying a new turntable… that’s kind of a big decision to make, and one that only music freaks can understand. After all, the record player is the centerpiece of your setup. The crown jewel of your audio. The apple of your ear. The essence of your auditory experience. The melodic muse of… Ummm, whatever. Point is that buying a turntable is a big deal and one that requires some serious thought.

Plus, with how fast the hi-fi world moves these days, it’s a tough market to follow — even if you’re an experienced listener or buyer. But keeping up with the latest trends is crucial, regardless of your budget. And that’s tough. The audiophile realm is notorious for its dense language, technical intricacies, and jargon upon jargon. Find your way into a stereo shop and you might spend the next hour getting talked to by some guy named Jimmy who can’t stop telling you the difference between two sets of speakers when all you wanted to know about was buying a turntable. (No disrespect to Jimmy, btw. We love guys like Jimmy. In the audio world, it’s just… well, you get what we’re saying.)

And let’s not forget, these decisions come with a price tag. You want your turntable to be a worthy investment, whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned expert in the hi-fi space. We don’t want to be as bold as to say that this is similar to buying a car, but it’s not not similar to buying a car. You want to buy a turntable that is reliable and built to last.

So how do you know what turntable is right for your stereo? Knowing where to start is, no question, a bit tough. But we got you. Here, we’re offering our turntable buying guide to help you pick the best turntable for you — for budgets of all sizes.

Understanding the Basics of Turntables

First, let’s discuss some important turntable fundamentals.

(Experts and experienced audiophiles, don’t waste your time with this section and the next one, as we’re sure you know what you’re doing.)

For all you beginners out there, this basic primer will help you understand different components of a turntable and their significance. This information will help you not only understand the equipment, but why it’s important, its potential, and what it can bring to your system.
Turntable Buying Guide: Understanding Turntable Basics

The Plinth

The plinth is the sturdy base upon which turntable works, similar to the foundation of a house. Look for solid build quality and vibration-dampening materials like wood or composite.

The Platter

A turntable platter is the rotating platform where record is seated on to spin. Heavier platters provide better speed stability and reduce vibrations.

The Tonearm

The tonearm of the record player is the wand guiding the stylus. Look for tonearms with adjustable tracking force and anti-skate control for precise playback.

The Cartridge

The cartridge or needle of the turntable is that tiny magic box that turns grooves into audible delights. Moving magnet (MM) and moving coil (MC) are the two main cartridge types, each with its own sound characteristics.

Top Considerations for Buying a Turntable

There’s no secret formula to selecting the best turntable for your sound system. Like any significant purchase, making the right one for you depends on various factors, such as your budget, your goals, your current setup, and personal preferences.

You can go cheap. You can go expensive. You can do a little of both. Each path has its advantages and disadvantages. You just gotta ask yourself, simply, what works for you?

For instance, maybe you want to go to your local big box electronics store and grab the cheapest thing you can find on the shelf. Now, we wouldn’t recommend doing this because it’ll probably sound like shit, might stop working within a couple of months (or days), and you may get playfully mocked by your record collecting buddies or maybe called out by a VinylJerk or two on Reddit. But if sound quality isn’t a priority and you’re about setting a vibe with certain aesthetics, it could be the right choice for you. (But again, it will sound like a piece of trash on fire.)

That said, there are some better ways to approach finding a record player. But that doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune in order to achieve the right kind of experience. It’s a matter of looking at what works for you.


Determine how much you’re willing to invest. Remember, there are options for every budget, and a higher cost doesn’t necessarily mean higher quality.

Space and Environment

Consider the size and aesthetics of your listening area. Will your turntable reside in a cozy nook or be the center stage of your living room?

Desired Audio Experience

Think about your preferences and listening habits. Are you a casual listener or an obsessive vinyl collector? Are you trying to get the best sound possible?

Your Current Setup

What other audio equipment do you currently have? Do you own an amp? Do you need a preamp? Are you plugging into a receiver? What type of speakers do you have?

Now that you’ve got a sense of what goes into picking the best record player for your situation, here are a range of turntables to choose from, whether you’re looking for something more affordable or want to ball out. Let’s dig in.

The Best Overall Turntable for Performance & Budget

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO Turntable ($599)

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO Turntable Buying Guide

About the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO Turntable

The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO is a top-tier choice for audiophiles seeking an exceptional turntable that sounds great – and doesn’t really break the bank. Pro-Ject is a high-quality brand that follows the guidelines of the hi-fi rule book – and with their affordable prices, they’ve been a go-to for music fans for a long time. If you’re looking for the best all-around record player, this is a strong contender.

Buy the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO Turntable
  • 8.6" one-piece Carbon Fiber tonearm, integrated headshell
  • Electronic Speed Selection for 33&45 RPM (78 capable)
  • Low-friction precision sapphire tonearm bearings
  • Sumiko Rainier phono cartridge, factory mounted and precision aligned
  • Heavy 1.7kg Stamped Steel Platter w TPE Damping

The Runner-Up Best Turntable

Fluance RT85 ($499)

Fluance RT85 Turntable Buying Guide

About the Fluance RT85 Turntable

The Fluance RT85 is another exceptional all-purpose turntable, mainly due to its ease of use and quality of sound. It’s built with top-notch materials – including an acrylic platter and one of the sturdiest plinths among non-DJ turntables. It has a bunch of convenient features, such as a cue lever for easy tonearm control, an easily adjustable counterweight dial, and a handy auto-stop function. It operates as a belt-drive turntable, giving it a classic feel with modern appeal. (And, for what it’s worth, it’s the turntable located at VinylMapper HQ, which we obviously think is a pretty solid endorsement.)

Buy the Fluance RT85 Turntable
  • VOTED BEST TURNTABLE BY NEW YORK TIMES WIRECUTTER - "This turntable delivers an accurate sound that works great for any type of music, and it's exceptionally well built for the price."
  • PURE ANALOG PERFORMANCE - Enjoy beautifully warm and dynamic music with the Nagaoka MP-110 elliptical diamond cartridge, featuring greater balanced tonal accuracy, resolution, and bass extension.
  • HIGH DENSITY ACRYLIC PLATTER - The greater mass of the acrylic platter damps unwanted vibrations resulting in a more 3-dimensional sound with tighter bass, a fuller midrange, and overall improved clarity
  • SPEED CONTROL FOR PRECISION PLAYBACK - The isolated motor prevents unwanted vibrations and noise while the speed control mechanism ensures consistent platter velocity (0.07% Wow/Flutter)
  • High Mass MDF Wood Plinth - Revel in the gorgeously crafted cabinet with real wood finish and a highly precise metal platter with adjustable resonance damping feet, ensuring superior isolation from unwanted micro-vibrations (Note: phono preamp not included)

The Best Mid Range Turntable

Mofi StudioDeck Foundation Turntable ($799 – $1199)

MoFi StudioDeck Turntable Buying Guide

About the Mofi StudioDeck Foundation Turntable

If you’re willing to invest a bit more into your vinyl experience, the Mofi StudioDeck Foundation Turntable is a premium choice that will not disappoint. (It’s worth noting that we don’t recommend this for beginners, btw.) Mofi is an industry-leading audio brand and the foundation turntable is beautifully crafted and meticulously engineered. Yes, it’s a bit on the higher end of the price scale, but it will deliver a sonic experience to match. If you’re serious about your sound and want a great overall turntable, this might be the best choice for your setup.

The Best Budget-Friendly Turntable

U-Turn Orbit Basic Turntable ($249 – $369)

Orbit U-Turn Basic Turntable Buying Guide

About the U-Turn Orbit Basic Turntable

If you’re not looking to spend too much but want to get your feet wet into real audio experience, the U-Turn Orbit Basic is a great place to start. This budget-friendly turntable will only set you back a few hundred bucks and delivers a clear and enjoyable sound due to its minimalist design and precision components. For beginners, ditch the thrift store score and start here.

Buy the U-Turn Orbit Basic Turntable
  • Now with built-in Pluto preamp, connects directly to powered speakers or amplifier
  • High-performance turntable, assembled in the USA by U-Turn Audio
  • Comes with precision tonearm, Ortofon OM5E cartridge, acrylic platter, dust cover, adjustable counterweight
  • Easy to set up and use, 3-year manufacturer warranty
  • Key specs: 12.5 lbs, 5 x 17 x 13", 0.125% wow & flutter, -79dBA S/N ratio, -63dBA rumble

The Best Bluetooth Turntable

Audio-Technica AT-LPW50BT ($499)

Audio Technia AT-LPW50BT Turntable Buyers Guide

About the Audio-Technica AT-LPW50BT Turntable

Audio-Technica is a solid brand with a great reputation producing quality record players. With the Audio-Technica AT-LPW50BT, they’ve created a turntable focused on a quality Bluetooth experience, whether you’re connecting your speakers or headphones. The turntable offers a balanced sound and user-friendly features, making it a great choice for those seeking a wireless vinyl experience. (Although it’s worth remembering that Bluetooth will never offer the same quality of audio as a wired setup.)

Buy the Audio-Technica AT-LPW50BT Turntable
  • Fully manual, belt-drive operation with two speeds: 33-1/3 and 45 RPM
  • High-fidelity audio with Bluetooth wireless technology
  • Motor features a speed-sensor system to maintain accurate platter rotation speed
  • Adjustable dynamic anti-skate control
  • Professional anti-resonance, die-cast aluminum platter with rubber mat

The Best Turntable with a Speaker

Angels Horn H019 ($229)

Angel's Horn H019 Turntable with Bluetooth Speaker

About the Angels Horn H019 Turntable

Turntables with a speaker are generally something you want to avoid, but if you’re not too concerned with sound quality and you’re just going for more of a vibe, they can work great. Here, the Angels Horn H019 offers a nice option for those looking for a turntable with a built-in speaker system. It’s small, but mighty, delivering a surprisingly clean sound all things considered. This is a solid option if you’re short on space, as well.

Buy the Angels Horn H019 Turntable
  • 【Bluetooth Record Player Turntable】 Built-in Bluetooth 5.0, you can enjoy your vinyl collection with all the convenience of wireless technology. You can listen to your favorite music from your Bluetooth compatible device like mobile phones or other audio devices by this vinyl record player with speakers easily.
  • 【All-in-One】 The vinyl record player with 4 built in speakers can make you enjoy high-fidelity sound. It also can play other devices’ music wirelessly by Bluetooth or using the Aux-in port. For better or louder sound, connect external speaker via RCA cable. Our turntable record players for vinyl with speakers includes both Phono and Line outputs that can play with or without a Phono equalizer.
  • 【Two-Speed Turntable】 Belt drive system and DC servo motor can make the die casting aluminum platter turntable rotate at 33 1/3 or 45 RPM. The turntable record player can play all of your 7" 10" 12" vinyl records. The rotation speed can be selected according to the speed of the vinyl record, so that the record player turntable can perfectly interpret the vinyl record.
  • 【Magnetic Cartridge Stylus & Adjustable Counterweight】 The AT-3600L cartridge can track your record’s grooves with precision for high-definition audio. While a universal headshell allows users to change cartridge stylus easily. The adjustable counterweight makes ANGELS HORN turntable record player produce rich and warm audio freedom from noise and distortion.
  • 【Exquisite Appearance】 The turntables for vinyl records are made of wood and metal materials with a unique sense of layering. The removable dust cover keeps your record player clean and new. Great for home decoration & entertainment. The vinyl record player Bluetooth will be a perfect gift for birthday and Christmas, especially for a music lover.

The Best Turntable If You’ve Got FU Money

McIntosh MTI100 ($7,000)

McIntosh MTI 100 Turntable Buying Guide

About the McIntosh MTI100 Turntable

For the total freaks and audiophiles with no budget constraints, let’s get into something tasty. McIntosh is a name that perhaps carries the most respect in the HiFi world, and the MTI100 is the pinnacle of turntable luxury. This all-in-one masterpiece combines a world-class turntable with an integrated amplifier, phono preamp, and headphone amp. Plus, it offers an exquisite design on top of its impeccable sound quality. A total statement piece, no doubt. Think of it like buying yourself a Bentley. Why not?

Remember, the Best Turntable Is Your Turntable

At the end of the day, listening to music is a joyful experience – and turntables are meant to amplify that experience, both literally and figuratively. You don’t need to spend a fortune on a record player to have a great experience. But, you can also spend a fortune on one and have a great experience. The point is that you should find the right turntable for your wants and needs, whether that’s a HiFi setup in your basement that costs as much as a college education – or a simple all-in-one turntable with a speaker for your bedroom. Do you, friend. Do you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *