First, let’s define what we mean by quality record player.
We’re not talking about the best money can buy. You’ll find those in our post on high-end record players.
We’re also not talking about the most popular and the ones that deliver the best value for your money. Those are in our list of the 10 best record players.
We’re talking about quality products that are still affordable for the average consumer.
If you’re at least semi-serious about vinyl and want to get that warm, nostalgic sound out of your collection, these are the players for you.
They’re still entry-level players, but a step above most of the hugely popular models.
Those are great for someone with a few records who wants to play them occasionally. If that’s you, you’re probably better off saving some money and getting one of those. They’re great for the price, but they just don’t give you the sound quality you get with the ones listed here.
These players on this page are a set above that. They cost more, yes, but they also give you much better sound quality. They are, in essence, the bridge between common record player and high-end model.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of models in this same price range that aren’t in the same quality range. They pretend to be a quality model, but are just an entry level model priced at a higher level.
That’s why we wrote this article. Researching the market to weed out all the overpriced entry-level players can take months. We’ve done that for you and narrowed the choices down to our four favorite.
Quality Turntables: Our Recommendations
These are our favorite quality turntable record players. They each have very different strengths and weaknesses, so there should be one that appeals to everyone. Note that this is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is a great place to begin your research.
Stanton T62 DJ Turntable
The Stanton T62 Straight Arm Direct-Drive DJ Turntable is specifically designed for DJs, although it does an excellent job of playing records, too. That said, non-DJs might not want to pay for some of the features that are only useful to DJs (like a direct drive motor…don’t leave me hate comments).
For DJs, this is the perfect entry-level turntable. It has a straight arm for improved tracking (great for scratching), pitch control and two start/stop switches. It comes equipped with the legendary Stanton 500 v3 cartridge and a high quality slip mat.
Teac LP-R660USB Turntable
The Teac LP-R660USB CD Recorder with Cassette Turntable is a great all-in-one playback and recording unit. It is compact, but includes a turntable for your vinyl records, a CD player, a cassette player and even an AM/FM tuner. It also plays digital music using a USB audio interface.
Its best feature is the ability to record all your old vinyl records, cassettes and even the radio to a digital format. You can burn the files directly to a CD or to a computer or USB drive.
The Teac has built-in bass reflex stereo speakers that produce an incredible sound for the size and RCA jacks so you can hook it up to external speakers for an even better listening experience.
This is a great all-in-one unit, but most serious audiophiles shun these types of players for a reason. When so many components are included, none are exceptional quality.
And in this price range, you’ll probably want to hook your unit up to quality external components anyway. The internal speakers are great, but they can’t touch a pair of quality real speakers.
Pro-Ject Debut Carbon
The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC produces incredibly rich sounds from your vinyl records. It costs more than the other turntables on this list, but no other unit gives you as much for your money.
You get a carbon-fiber tonearm for stiffness, an updated DC power supply for resolute speed stability and the critically acclaimed Ortofon 2M Red moving-magnet cartridge for exceptional detail retrieval.
The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon comes close to high-end players in terms of quality, but at the cost of a mid-range player. This is the unit we recommend above all. Even though it costs more, it is actually one of the best values you will find anywhere. What you get here for your money is pretty incredible.
ION Audio Max LP
The ION Audio Max LP – 3-Speed Belt Drive turntable plays all your favorite vinyl records and includes software that allows you to convert your albums to digital files via USB. Enjoy those vinyl sounds everywhere you go and preserve your record collection forever.
The ION turntable has built-in stereo speakers that are surprisingly powerful for a unit in this price range. Naturally, they can’t match larger speakers, but the RCA jacks allow you to connect much more powerful external speakers using a receiver, or to active speakers with no receiver, to get the absolute best out of your collection.
We included this model, because we wanted to include one lower cost option on this list. For the price, this is a great player, but it does not even come close to the previous model in this list.
There are many more quality record players out there. These four are our favorite, with each offering something slightly different, but we suggest not limiting your search to only these.
Our main recommendation for anyone serious about sound quality is to get a simple unit that plays records and does little else. Simple, but high quality, of course. We have a list of such models in our review of the best affordable turntables.
All the extra bells and whistles only take away from the one real task of a record player. You want one that performs that one task and performs it perfectly. You don’t need it to also boost the signal and output it through speakers. Those tasks are better performed by dedicated external components.
And don’t even get me started on things like playing CDs, cassettes, MP3s, radio and whatever other gimmicky extras are often included. If you want to play CDs, get a CD player.
So definitely check out some of the other options on Amazon or at your local store, keeping in mind to look for simple, but high quality units. Unless, of course, you want those extra features. Then find one that has exactly what you want and nothing more.
Keep searching and eventually, you’ll be sure to find one that has all the features you want at a great price!