Turntable vs. record player

Audio & Video Accessories

It’s important to keep your records free of dust and other debris to prevent wearing down the grooves and damaging the record.

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Are turntables or record players best? 

Turntables and record players are often used interchangeably. However, there are differences between the two that are important to note when trying to decide which option is best for you. Oftentimes, people hear the word “turntable” and the image of a DJ comes to mind. On the other hand, people often associate “record player” with old school and authenticity. However, these ideas are not entirely correct.

Both turntables and record players have much to offer to consumers. There are pros and cons to each and both hold an important place in music.

Turntables

Turntables are ideal for audiophiles, record collectors and yes, DJs. Unlike record players, these devices don’t come with additional features like CD and cassette players and the ability to copy vinyls onto disks and mp3 files. Turntables come with a base called a plinth, the actual turntable, tonearm, cartridge and stylus. While some include a built-in preamplifier, turntables need additional equipment, namely speakers and an amplifier, in order for the listener to hear sound. 

Turntable pros

If you want quality sound from your records, a turntable is the best choice. Because turntables require additional equipment to work, consumers have the option to upgrade their set-ups. This flexibility allows users to purchase their own preamplifiers, amplifiers, speakers, cartridges and styluses. Most turntables also allow consumers to adjust certain settings, such as the turntables’ tracking weight—the weight the stylus puts on a record—as well as cartridge alignment and anti-skate. 

Turntable cons

Turntables require some knowledge to get them set up and working properly. Not knowing how to adjust certain features can damage your records. The additional equipment needed to operate a turntable can be costly. Though turntables are not typically heavy, traveling with a turntable can be an inconvenience if also bringing additional equipment. 

Best turntables

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo

This midrange turntable delivers quality sound at an affordable price. Its sleek design will make it stand out in your living room. The turntable plays at speeds of 33 1/3 rpm, 45 rpm and 78 rpm. It includes a metal platter with TPE damping for quieter playback, a phono cable, a lightweight tonearm, the ability to switch speeds with a single button and the option to upgrade components. 

Sold by Amazon

 

Fluance RT81

Fluance RT81

The Fluance RT81 is a beginner-friendly option for those who don’t want to spend a lot of money on their first turntable. Featuring an eye-catching and classic design, it includes a built-in preamp and a dust cover to keep the platter free of debris. There is also an option to stop the platter from spinning when the record ends. 

Sold by Amazon

 

Audio Technica AT-LP120XBT-USB

Audio Technica AT-LP120XBT-USB

Unlike many turntables, this hi-fi turntable features both Bluetooth and USB capabilities. Another entry-level turntable, this model allows users to transfer vinyls directly into their laptop using a USB cable. It’s a great option for aspiring DJs, as users can control the pitch. Additionally, there is a target light for cueing in low-light environments. 

Sold by Amazon

Record players

Record players are much simpler to use than turntables. All that is required for a record player to work is an outlet. Record players often come with a built-in preamp, amplifier, speakers and the turntable. 

Record player pros

Record players are efficient and easy to use. Most come with additional features, like Bluetooth capabilities, radio, CD and cassette players, USB connectivity, and the option to copy your vinyls onto your computer. Though they come with everything you need to start playing music right out the box, some features can be bypassed to better customize your listening experience. Some are also lightweight and portable. 

Record player cons

Record players are not as durable and do not offer the same high-quality sound as turntables. Because record players are fully equipped, the quality of their parts typically are not comparable to the ones found on a turntable. Depending on any additional features, record players can be quite costly. Since many of their components cannot be upgraded or adjusted, consumers run the risk of damaging their records with lower-quality products. For instance, consumers are not able to adjust its tracking weight. 

Best record players

Victrola 3-Speed Record Player

Victrola 3-Speed Record Player 

This three-speed turntable is easily portable. It has Bluetooth capability up to 33 feet and built-in speakers. There’s also a headjack for personal listening and isolating feet to prevent vibration. CD players can also be plugged into the unit using the line input. Notably, this record player comes in a variety of colors to choose from. 

Sold by Amazon

 

Victrola 8-in-1 Record Player

Victrola 8-in-1 Record Player

This vintage record player plays vinyls, FM radio, CDs and cassettes. It also has AUX and headphone inputs, as well as Bluetooth capability. The knobs make it easy to navigate and the push-buttons are simple to read. An amplifier and speakers can be connected using the RCA line outputs. This record player also comes with a remote control. 

Sold by Amazon

 

ION Audio Max LP

ION Audio Max LP

This record player allows you to convert your vinyl to different media formats with ION Audio EZ Converter. The conversion software is included with your purchase. The record player also comes with a dust cover and the ability to play vinyls at three speeds. It’s simple design is complimented with a natural wood finish. The ION comes at an affordable price for those looking to get started with record collecting. 

Sold by Amazon

Should you get a turntable or a record player?

The decision ultimately comes down to whether you’re willing to learn how to properly operate your turntable and purchase the necessary additional equipment. There’s no beating the superior quality sound from a turntable. If you simply want a plug-and-go setup, additional features and are okay with not having the best sound quality, a record player will suit your needs. Those new to vinyl have several beginner-friendly options for whichever path they choose to take.

 

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Ashley Willis writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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