Although left for dead at the end of the last century, the vinyl is returning slowly and steadily in the early times of the 21st century. It is no longer a niche hobby for the affluent or something to show off to your peers, but rather a legit thing that many audiophiles from all backgrounds can enjoy. With vinyl’s return, vintage record players are also making a comeback.
The best vintage turntables will give you great sound quality and a nice physical aura to match, which can not be replicated with digital music. This is their uniqueness and why, despite years of technological development in all fields, including music production and platforms, it’s still around and making a comeback. But it’s not the main reason.
The main reason is that today’s turntables have also evolved to become their modern equivalents, with many features and new designs to accommodate the contemporary person’s taste. All the while, they still retain their own distinct, nostalgic brand of sounds to provide you with a fantastic listening experience.
But it’s not enough that they only thrive on smart adaptations alone. Let’s delve into it further.
Why Are Audiophiles Shopping For Vintage Turntables?
In this digital age, where everything, including every activity and interaction for us, is done via the Internet, everything in turn also becomes a copycat of each other. Rather than talking to each other, friends and families are glued to their smartphones, attracted by things like the latest celebrity tweets or random rants on Facebook.
It’s not the case that nothing can grab your attention for long these days, but rather that our minds are so cluttered with information that we prefer to consume easy, cheap products of entertainment rather than the opposite. For music, sometimes that cheap product can be the newest song that’s having its 15 minutes of fame on the charts.
To combat this trend, you can listen to your favorite album on a vintage record player like a turntable instead. The quality of music is much more authentic and possibly quite a way higher. It’s required that you pay more attention to the playback process to operate or even enjoy what the records offer fully. With a turntable, your record collection will have a new life breathed into it.
Not to mention, a modern, performing turntable will have many capabilities that totally can fulfill your needs for that vintage quality of sound. For example, whether you only have Bluetooth speakers or USB ports to connect the turntables to, there's something for everyone. The price ranges with regards to these vintage record players are also very attractive.
New turntable brands these days are more affordable than in the past, with a lot of them priced below $500. But the lower price tag means more demands and thus more competition for this market. It’s sometimes quite hard to know for sure which turntable is the best for you.
With that in mind, we’ve gathered here five of the best vintage turntables out there, along with their strengths, weaknesses, and some pros and cons. We hope that our detailed reviews can provide you with more contexts and help you reach your purchasing decision.
Reviews Of The 5 Best Vintage Turntables
Best Overall: Teac TN-300
In the market for turntables, it can’t get any better than Teac. Anyone who knows anything about modern turntables will have heard of it. Suffice to say, its products are some of the best out there.
Teac TN-300 turntable from Teac is quite pricey, but it totally can compensate for it in both its superb sound quality and the pleasing appearance. You only need a quick glance at the turntable to discern that it has a very solid build quality, with the construction made of polished wood.
But the nice aesthetics does not mean it sacrifices anything in return. In fact, the wooden materials serve to reduce vibration and add stability to the turntable when it’s in operation. Beautiful and useful, what’s not to like?
It’s also very easy to use the turntable, as the arm is entirely automatic. It has a weakness, however, which is that it doesn’t have Bluetooth capability to connect to Bluetooth speakers but instead an integrated USB port to connect to your computer. Although generally speaking, audiophiles will want the connection to be wired for increased connectivity.
- Great build quality
- Quality vinyl playback
- Fully automatic
- No Bluetooth capability
Best For Beginners: Audio-Technica AT-LP60BK
If you’re on a budget or a beginner but wanting to try out vinyl, then this turntable from the famous Audio-Technica is quite possibly your best choice. It’s considerably cheaper than a lot of its competition while still offering sterling sound quality and build quality.
For beginners, what makes this Audio Technicas vintage record player worthwhile is its automatic system. Once you start a record, the only thing you need to do is sit back and relax, while the player will return the needle arm to its holder on its own when the record is finished. For those who have never gotten their hands on a record player before, this is an extremely useful feature.
There’s also a built-in preamp that allows you to connect the turntable to a speaker smoothly. It's also one of the best Bluetooth turntables, with a Bluetooth connectivity system for a seamless, wireless connection and playback.
- Great for beginners
- Good build quality
- Fully automatic
- Options for both USB and Bluetooth connection
- Irreplaceable cartridge
- Sound quality is limited with the preamp
Best For Precision: Pro-Ject Debut Carbon
The first Debut turntable from Pro-Ject was a revolutionary product in its own right, and this Debut Carbon is an improvement from it. With the demand for turntables growing, Pro-Ject adapted with the times well.
The most obvious improvement in this version is the inclusion of a Carbon tube for the tonearm, which adds stiffness and excludes unwanted resonance. The platter’s size and weight are also increased to provide smoother rotations.
Moreover, this turntable is very precise. It has a low noise AC motor with motor decoupling and ultra-precision frequency to increase speed stability and reduce vibrations. If you want something that excels and much more about its strengths, look no further than this.
- High precision
- Improved tonearm
- Effective motor decoupling and precision frequency
- Low power
- Faulty counterweight
Best Design: Denon DP-300F
Nothing can quite capture the nostalgic feelings of the old days than this DP-300F turntable from Denon. Its design is so that it resembles the classic turntables as best as it can while still equipped with the most serious of this new century’s technological developments.
But it is not just for show. In fact, beneath the neat form, the turntable has a very strong construction, with an aluminum platter and a heavy, durable base to help reduce vibrations. Its outlook complements its build very well.
Asides from the great design, DP-300F is very customer-friendly and can be an excellent entry-level vintage record player if you want both quality and affordable price ranges in one.
- Great design
- Nice vibration reduction
- Built-in preamp
- No Bluetooth or USB capability
Best For Sound Quality: Rega - RP1
If you ask any audiophile, a lot of them will tell you that Rega might be the best bang for your buck option regarding turntable brands. Their vintage and modern stuff have stood the test of time, and no better representation of this timelessness than Rega - RP1.
RP1 is quite a no-nonsense turntable in that it’s useful and can deliver on its promises with no extras. Its design is a testament of modernist perfection: its base is unadorned while the rubber feet do their jobs well in retaining stability without being unnecessarily redundant.
You can manually change the speed with a stepped pulley, reducing wear and tear on the turntables. The low vibration motor also, in addition, increases its durability further since the turntable won’t have a lot of motion while playing.
- Simple retro-style design
- Quiet operation
- Low vibration motor
- Speed can be manually changed
- Can be too simple
Vinyl records are in style again, and so are vinyl record players such as the modern turntable. Demands have grown higher than ever in recent history, and thus it can be a hard task to figure out which turntable is the best for you and your listening experience.
We’ve presented five of the best vintage turntables out there, each with its strengths and weaknesses. We hope that our straightforward reviews have given you more information and things to think about before purchasing.
Ultimately though, there are really no wrong choices, only a matter of personal preferences. For music lovers, this is a big factor, and so in compiling this list, we have carefully chosen five vintage turntables that check both quality and style to make sure that there’s something for everyone.
Get ready to listen to your favorite album and record collection in brand new ways!