If you’re new to the world of spinning vinyl audio, you probably want to know which player qualifies as the best beginner turntable. Find out with the help of this expert guide!
What’s The Best Turntable for Beginners?
If you’re expecting the same kind of performance you’d get from a top-end stereo system, it may be a bit unrealistic.
Normally when it comes to turntables for beginners, some sound quality may need to be sacrificed. Built-in speakers are a nice to have, but they do have their limits.
A dedicated beginner turntable without speakers built in is bound to offer far better performance – but it comes at a price!
On the other hand, an all-in-one model with a CD player, cassette player, speakers, etc may be just the ticket to get you started.
Let’s find out where the differences lie in turntables for beginners, weigh what’s most important to you, and make the decision that fits you best!
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Top 5 Beginner Turntables Comparison Chart:
|Product||Feature Image||Rating||Relative Price|
|* Editor’s Pick! *
#1 Best Overall Value
|#2 Best Budget Model||
|#3 Best Budget Standalone Unit||
|#4 Best High-End Unit||
|#5 Best Dedicated Turntable Deal||
The Top Five Best Beginner Turntables In Review
1. Best Overall Turntable for Beginners: Victrola Nostalgic 6-in-1 Entertainment Center
Victrola Nostalgic 6-in-1 Bluetooth Turntable Entertainment Center
If you’re into vintage models, this is going to impress. Unlike other “vintage” players, the front panel and buttons on this player are rather nondescript.
If you look over at it from the opposite side of the room, you could easily imagine yourself being transported back in time to the forties.
The Victrola Nostalgic 6-in-1 Bluetooth Turntable Entertainment Center is simple to use, and you have a choice of what media you would like to play. Still, have some cassettes knocking around from the eighties?
No problem: go and get your Wham on or walk like an Egyptian. Got some records that your dad loved back in the day? This player will manage those as well.
You can even fast-forward back to modern times and play a CD or MP3. The ability to play across many different media is an advantage if you’re not totally committed to vinyl or if you haven’t built up a large collection yet.
All in all, this is a versatile starter audio system from the Victrola company that includes a good turntable for beginners. It’s not going to measure up for the true audiophile, and you’ll probably want to upgrade later, but it isn’t bad to start with.
What We Like
- Comes well packaged
- Outer design is pleasing and attractive
- Sound quality is good, but not excellent
- Will play old records, CDs and cassettes
- Can stream music from your smartphone
- FM player can play your favorite radio stations
- Music player works just as advertised
- Makes a wonderful gift for beginner vinyl lovers
- It comes with a cable to connect with non-Bluetooth devices
What We Don’t Like
- Customer support ca be hard to reach
- Product could be more durable
- Sound may get muffled at times
- Comes with only a 90-day limited warranty
2. Best Budget Turntable: Victrola Vintage Suitcase Turntable
Victrola Vintage Bluetooth Suitcase Turntable with Speakers
The Victrola Vintage Suitcase Turntable easily transports you back to the sixties era. It comes in an enormous range of funky colors and closes up to a nice, compact size no bigger than a briefcase. It can be operated using electricity with the provided adaptor.
If you’re beginning to love vinyl, you’ll appreciate the freedom in portability you get from this model. The sound is not perfect – that’s a tradeoff you considering the price point.
That said, it does reproduce sound well, especially when connected to better speakers. And of course you can always connect it to your headphones for private listening.
The Victrola Vintage Bluetooth Suitcase Turntable is ideal if you want to bust some jams at a party. Additionally, the arm does not have an auto return feature, which makes it ideal for an aspiring DJ to get some practice on.
Overall, the performance is okay. If you’re a serious audiophile with some experience in playing vinyl, this model is not likely to do much for you.
For the beginner looking for a vinyl turntable though, it’s perfect.
It’s simple to set-up and operate, plus you have the versatility to plug in your MP3 player or phone if you don’t have a lot of vinyl yet.
What We Like
- Very reasonably priced
- Three-speed player
- Can run on electricity with the adaptor provided
- Has speakers built in
- Has a jack for your earphones
- RCA jack allows you to plug it into your standard stereo system
- Compact and portable
- Tons of funky colors available
- One-year warranty on manufacturer’s parts
- Very low risk for beginner turntable fans
What We Don’t Like
- Some customers report speaker issues
- More advanced users are unlikely to enjoy this model
- Few customization options available
- Arm has to be operated manually
3. Best Budget Standalone Turntable: Audio-Technica AT-LP60X
Audio-Technica AT-LP60X Fully Automatic Belt-Drive Stereo Turntable
The Audio-Technica AT-LP60X turntable has sleek lines and an uncluttered surface. It’s fairly compact, sporting a sleek modern finish that will allow it to blend in with almost any décor.
Though simple in presentation, it’s a high-performance model that provides new turntable users with a taste of what an amazing player can do.
The Audio-Technica company is known as being one of the top brands in this industry with a range of products for even the most discerning audiophiles.
They also stay very current in design and updating their products as is evident in the redesigned tone arm and head shell which improves tracking.
This player is part of their budget range, so as a no-frills option, is perfectly suited to those looking for a great beginner turntable without complicated or unnecessary extras.
They’ve put their money to where it will do the most good – in the production of sound.
This system is easy to set up and even easier to operate. There is no need to worry about setting the right speed or positioning the needle in exactly the right spot. The machine will take care of all of that for you. If you’re a beginner, this is the perfect model to start with.
The AT-LP60X includes a preamp to allow connections to your existing external power amp or powered speakers.
What really sets this set apart from competitors is it’s extremely reasonable price. Most similarly featured turntables start at around $300, without the speakers. To get a good, brand-name package like this one under that price point is a real steal.
Solidly constructed with no bits that scream, “I’m cheap”, it ‘s a well-finished unit and carefully made.
What We Like
- Brilliant price
- Award-winning speakers included
- Simple to set up
- Easy to operate
- Excellent value for money
- Redesigned tone arm base and head shell
- High-quality, easily replaceable cartridge – at least 400 hours of sound
- Belt-driven for fewer vibrations
- Solid, vibration-dampening platform
What We Don’t Like
- Few opportunities for customization or tweaking because everything is automatic
- Not an ideal set for a DJ
4. Best High-End Starter Turntable: Fluance RT81
There is a lot going for this model aside from the affordable pricing. For starters, the Fluance RT81 has used a high-performance cartridge from Audio Technica.
It is diamond-tipped to ensure that every groove in the record is followed perfectly. There is, therefore, a lot lower chance of skating or skipping.
Another thing that makes this ideal for those just starting out is the preamp built-in to the design. This makes it possible to connect directly to your amp and to still provide the kind of powerful signal that the amp requires.
As you get further along your journey as an audiophile, you’ll probably want to change things up a bit. The preamp can be switched on or bypassed, as you please.
This model from the Fluance company is belt-driven, which automatically makes it more stable. The belt does not have to be adjusted when you change speeds, making it more convenient than your standard belt-driven model.
The base of the Fluance RT81 High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable is completely solid wood to ensure that vibrations are kept to a minimum. In addition, the company has installed isolation feet for the same reason. The heavier aluminum platter takes care of any vibrations that might still be lurking about.
There is one significant negative that might impact your decision about whether or not this is the right choice for you. Several users have complained that it cannot maintain a stable speed over longer periods of play.
If you’re just going to listen to a short album, this won’t be an issue. If you like to sit and listen to your music all evening, however, it could very well be annoying.
What We Like
- Good price
- Sound quality is surprisingly good
- Good build and finished well
- Good at suppressing vibrations
- Runs two speeds
- Good quality cartridge provide
- Can be upgraded easily
- Available in glossy piano black or wood-like finish
What We Don’t Like
- Not always able to maintain a consistent speed during longer sessions
- Audiophiles might want to bypass the built-in preamp
5. Best Dedicated Turntable Deal: Crosley C200A
Crosley C200A-BK Direct Drive Turntable with S-Shaped Tone Arm
This great little machine will allow you to boast to your friends that you have a “warp drive” at home. In this case, that simply means that your records are brought up to the correct speed quickly and easily, but no one needs to let that secret out the bag.
The Audio-Technica cartridge used here ensures that the system is properly balanced. You can easily swap out the cartridges when you want to amp up the performance.
If you do, you can tweak the balance through a truly simple adjustment of the counterweights.
Simple and elegant are good ways to describe the looks of this the Crosley C200A. It’s probably not going to turn heads at an exhibition, since it’s designed to blend it.
It has a glossy finish that will make it an asset to any minimalist design décor but not look out of place in a more relaxed setting either.
Though the Crosley company is more known for inexpensive self-contained record players, this is a highly functional entry-level dedicated turntable model.
If you’re something of a high-end gadget freak, it’s probably not going to seem very impressive as the focus is more on quality rather than quantity. The functions are limited to the most basic, but this results in a clean, uncluttered surface.
It also means that operating it becomes a whole lot simpler. You don’t have to worry about adjusting the base, etc. This is great news for a newbie, but might be less welcome news for the more advanced user.
Still, it’s not strictly a beginner’s only model, because there are upgrades that you can make. For example, you could change out the cartridge in favor of a better one.
What We Like
- Excellent price
- Good performance
- Some customization is possible
- Easy to use
- Focused on producing better sound rather than putting in a bunch of extra features
What We Don’t Like
- No separate speakers
- Unclear instructions make set-up reasonably complicated
You may also be interested in our complete review of the Crosley C200A-BK Direct Drive Turntable found here.
What Makes a Good Turntable for Beginners? Read this first.
Over the last few years, the resurgence of vinyl has continued to gain some serious ground. It’s hardly surprising, since vinyl offers a better listening experience than CDs. It’s all to do with the way the recordings work.
Digital recordings, contrary to popular belief, are not complete. They record in cycles and, as a result, miss some of the sounds. This is not an issue for digital music because the computer can fill in the blanks.
Analog recordings, on the other hand, record everything from start to finish. They are also able to pick up all the nuanced areas of a tune that the digital recorder might miss. You can read more about the process directly at How Stuff Works.
If you love getting the full music experience during a concert, you’ll probably also prefer vinyl to CDs. The question for the new vinyl enthusiast then becomes where to start. Here are some questions that this article addresses.
- What is the best beginner turntable out there?
- Do I have to spend a lot of money, or can I get away with a more inexpensive model?
- Do I get a dedicated record player, or do I get one that has a CD player built-in?
- Should I get a model with built-in speakers or buy speakers separately?
- Which brand offers the best turntables for beginners?
We’re going to answer those questions and a few more besides. We’ll also review a few good starter models to help you in your search for the best beginner record player. First, let’s start with some basics.
How does a turntable work?
Here we’ll cover this very basically, but for a more in-depth explanation, check out our article on how a record player works. Essentially, though, a turntable consists of a base that holds the player’s mechanical parts, a platter to turn the record, and an arm to “read” the grooves of the record, translating them into sound.
To use a turntable, you move the arm out of the way, lower the record onto the platter, and reposition the arm into the groove on the record. Some models automatically place the arm for you when you switch the machine on.
When you hit the play button, the drive in the base will turn the platter and the record along with it. The needle is then dragged across the grooves in the record. If the player maintains the right speed and the base is stable enough to minimize vibration, the sound will be good.
How much maintenance do I need to do?
There is surprisingly little maintenance required, considering that these are pretty complex machines. The main thing you have to worry about is dirt on the records or on the stylus itself. This can cause distortions when the sound is played back.
For best results, dust off any record carefully after three or four uses. Find out what the manufacturer recommends in terms of cleaning the stylus. You will either need to use some form of cleaning medium or a brush designed for the purpose.
How often you clean the stylus will depend on how much music you listen to. For a moderate to heavy user, it is a good idea to clean the needle on a weekly basis.
Finally, the stylus is not going to last forever. There are a lot of factors that impact the longevity of the needle – dirt is one that will reduce it. No matter how carefully you clean it, though, the needle will wear down eventually. You should bank on replacing it after every 500 hours of music played to be on the safe side.
What maintenance accessories do I need?
Anything you put your money into deserves to be taken care of. There are a host of great products on the market, some more useful than others, designed to keep your new turntable working consistently, and to keep your vinyl purchases in good shape.
Here’s a selection of some of the most popular, and practical, maintenance items available:
Do I need a preamp for my turntable?
That depends on whether your turntable has speakers included and also what kind of speakers you will be plugging it into. A preamp helps to boost the signal clearly and cleanly, so it can be useful when the turntable plays more softly.
Some turntables have a built-in preamp to simplify things. Those with speakers built in will not usually also have a preamp.
You won’t usually need a preamp, but expect to sacrifice a little in terms of sound volume. If the speakers that you are going to play the sound through are powered though, you will need to use a preamp as well. The same is true when plugging into an amp.
What preamps and speakers should I look at?
How do I connect my turntable to my receiver?
This depends on the make and model of player that you have. Our best advice is to carefully consult the instruction manual that came with your model to make sure that you get it exactly right.
If the instructions aren’t all that clear, you can often find YouTube videos to help you out. If that fails, call up the manufacturer and ask for their advice.
In Conclusion, What’s the Best Starter Turntable for You?
Which is the best option for you? That will depend on how much vinyl you plan to listen to. If you’re only going to buy a few records, it makes sense to consider a multi-functional machine that will play other media as well.
If, on the other hand, you already have an extensive music collection on vinyl, it makes sense to have a dedicated player.
It pays to remember that, for every feature added, something else has to be sacrificed. If this wasn’t the case, we’d have turntables taking up a lot more space.
Best Turntable for Beginners
Best Budget Turntable
Best Standalone Turntable
- Overall Build Quality
- Overall Sound Quality
- Overall Value Factor