Choosing the Best Record Player: A Buying Guide

There are a lot of record players or turntables available on the market. And so, finding and purchasing one could be a daunting activity, to say the least. And just as music is subjective, so is determining which record player is the best (if there is even one). There are different strokes for different folks — a brand and model might be perfect for someone, but not for another.

So how do you choose a record player for yourself, without being overwhelmed by the number of options out there? A good approach is to consider only the best record player reviews and comparisons. Under 100 dollar prices will tempt you to decide hastily, but it’s wiser to first consider reputable critiques. And to further help you choose among the top options, we have also prepared this guide to making your decision.

Kinds of Record Players

Before anything else, it would be helpful to know the different types of record players or turntables. Knowing each kind will assist you in cutting your options down to manageable sub-groups.

From 1877 until now, vinyl spinners have been tweaked many times. Tweaks usually focus on improving how the record player functions and enhancing its playback performance. In the attempt to increase the quality of sound that turntables produce, several kinds of the device were created over the years:

  • Belt Drive — Record players with a belt drive became more popular after the 1980s. The belt is made of an elastomeric material, and it’s what enables the motor to turn the platter. Over time however, the belt looses its elasticity and slip, making the platter speed irregular. Nonetheless, the belt is cheap to make and is thereby easy to replace.
  • Direct DriveDirect drive turntables do not use belts or wheels. For this type, the motor is under the platter. In terms of playing vinyl records, direct drive systems are less complex. The first direct drive record player became available in 1969. Succeeding versions followed suit in 1972 and 1978. Nowadays, direct drives are more typically used by DJs.

record player

How to Shop for a Record Player

As mentioned above, searching for and buying a record player can be a challenging task. This is primarily because there are just too many options to choose from. Furthermore, making the choice is as subjective as the beauty of the music that you’ll play on a turntable. There is just no “ultimate” record player that will satisfy people of all walks of life. That’s not to say though that there aren’t universal tips about selecting a turntable:

  • Google is your friend — The internet has a wealth of information about almost anything, including record players. Google your options, ask friends’ experiences on social media, and then read online reviews (like the one linked to above).
  • Compare, compare, compare — Don’t settle for a single seller. Check as many online retailers as you can. They usually sell the same items anyway, so buy from the one with the best deal or offer.
  • Match needs with features — What record player features do you really need? There isn’t a turntable that is a be all end all. You will be forced to sacrifice some features, so you might as well determine your priorities right from the start.
  • Looks matter — It’s easy to get hooked with all the technical details of record players. But at the end of the day, you’re buying one to listen to art.  And nothing adds to that artsy vibe better than the turntable’s look itself. Record players usually look either vintage or modern. Select the one that matches your taste, vinyl collections or interior design.
  • The best bang for the buck — Getting the best vinyl player doesn’t mean buying the most expensive or the cheapest. It means getting your money’s worth by purchasing what you really need or want.