What’s the best turntable for your level?
Best turntable: For many turntables are the way to play back music. You can’t replicate the sound of analogue as well in a digital format.
And then there’s the x-factor of vinyl physical records looking a lot cooler. For those reasons and more, turntables have enjoyed a renaissance, back in the spotlight with the market seeing plenty of growth in the past few years. And you don’t have to be a hi-fi connoisseur to get into vinyl either. Part of the passion is picking it up as you go, getting deeper and deeper into the various options available.
These are the best turntables – from expensive decks to more affordable record players, we’ve got the options to suit your budget and help you get started on amassing that vinyl collection.
- Best turntable: Rega Planar 3
- Best wireless turntable: Cambridge Audio Alva TT
- Best sounding budget turntable: Audio Technica AT-LP5X
- Best budget turntable: Sony PS-LX310BT
- Best turntable for experienced users: Rega Planar 8
- Best integrated turntable: McIntosh MTI100
- Best Technics turntable: Technics SL-1500C
- Best turntable for inexperienced users: Rega Planar 1
- Best turntable for timing: Technics SL-1200GR/SL-1210GR
- Best turntable for beginners: Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT
- Best turntable for attack: Clearaudio Concept MM
- Best affordable turntable with phono stage: Fluance RT80
1. Rega Planar 3
A remarkable turntable
- Sounds incredible for the money
- Dust cover included
- Superb tonearm
- Lovely build quality
- Speed change requires platter removal
For many people, this will be the only turntable they ever need. The legendary Rega Planar 3 name has returned, having gone through a few years as the P3 and then RP3 – and that’s because this is a whole new record player.
The RB330 tonearm is an evolution of the old RB303, with a stiffer bearing housing and new cabling. The plinth has been re-engineered, the main bearing has been made to tighter tolerances and the bracing is stronger.
The result is one of the finest turntables for less than £1,000. Timing and imaging are spot-on, it creates a wonderfully wide soundstage, and bass is bouncy yet controlled.
Even if you end up buying the optional £200 TT-PSU power supply to add button-controllable speed switching, this is a bargain.
- read our Rega Planar 3 review
2. Audio-Technica AT-LP5X
A tweak of an already impressive formula
- Extensive, useful spec
- Smooth build and finish
- Organised, controlled sound
- Not quite as much scale or punch as is ideal
The AT-LP5X adheres to the proverb “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, or more specifically it doesn’t mess around with a winning formula.
The original deck was already an excellent, and the AT-LP5X shores things up with a few useful upgrades. They include a switchable phono stage (moving magnet and moving coil), and a move to the AT-VM95E (which only works with 33.3 and 45rpm records), A different cartridge is needed for 78rpm records.
Thankfully the performance remains as composed, impressive and authoritative as ever, convincing in its organisation and control of records. The AT-LP5X is a great combination of performance, convenience and features.
- read our Audio-Technica AT-LP5X review
3. Cambridge Audio Alva TT
Brilliant hi-res wireless source
- Simple to set up and use
- Bank-vault build quality
- Lovely, fluent sound
- Hi-res streaming
- Lacks ultimate dynamism
- Quite expensive
The Alva TT – named after the father of the phonograph, Thomas Alva Edison – strode onto the stage as the world’s first aptX HD Bluetooth turntable.
It’s ability to stream at 24bit/48kHz make it a great fit for those who want convenience without sacrificing performance. It feels hefty – in a good way – and stylish for the price, and give the impression of reassuring build quality.
Playing records the old way still offers better results than wireless, with its even-handed, faithful and convincing performance. But, wireless opens up placement options and makes joining the vinyl revolution less daunting than it used to be.
- read our Cambridge Alva TT review
4. Sony PS-LX310BT
Convenient and affordable
- Simple to set up and use
- Phono stage and Bluetooth
- Entertaining sound
- Wireless performance suffers just a little compared to the wired alternative
After launching the PS-H500, a player that delivered on affordability and performance, the PS-LX310BT repeats the trick, adding Bluetooth to its feature-set.
It’s not the most attractive of turntables, it excels at convenience with a built-in phono stage and a set-up process that requires you to just add the platter and belt-drive.
And once it’s up and running it’s a solid performer that favours smoothness and extracts enough detail from vinyl tracks. It loses a bit of detail when in Bluetooth mode, but at this price, this is a excellent stab at a wireless and accessible turntable.
- read our Sony PX-LX310BT review
5. Rega Planar 8
A pared-back effort from Rega
- Exquisitely even-handed sound
- Simple to set up
- Impressive in purely engineering terms
- Not especially impressive in purely visual terms
Rega has stripped back this deck for an impressively engineered effort that’s concerned with just delivering on performance.
And in that context, Rega has succeeded wonderfully. The Planar 8 is an expressive deck, exhibiting a fluent, naturalistic and authoritative way with music. If you want the detail of your vinyl collection laid bare, the Planar 8 is the deck that will reveal all.
Add in the splendid Ania cartridge and you have yet another remarkable turntable from Rega.
- read our Rega Planar 8 review
6. McIntosh MTI100
A turntable, amplifier and preamplifier in one
- Controlled, explicit and entertaining sound from any source
- That logo, those valves
- Unblinkingly expensive
- Interfaces could be nicer
At £6995, the MTI100 is no one’s idea of a bargain, but the level of engagement and entertainment it provides is by no means a given, and you get McIntosh’s distinctive approach to design, wireless connectivity and the convenience of a turntable, pre-amp and amplifier all rolled into one body.
For that alone, the McIntosh MTI100 is currently number one in a field of one.
- read our McIntosh MTI100 review
7. Technics SL-1500C
One of Technics’ most affordable turntables
- Robust, full-fat sound
- Bank-vault build quality
- Plug’n’play simplicity
- Capable alternatives available
With the SL-1500C, Technics has delivered the most convincing pound-for-pound product since it rose from the ashes in the 2010s.
£899 isn’t an inconsiderable sum to pay for a direct-drive turntable, although there are plenty of this list that cost a sight more. You do get a built-in phono stage for the money and a listening experience that’s confident and engaging. With its plug ‘n’ play approach and beautifully engineered looks, the quality the SL-1500C offers is inarguable.
- read our Technics SL-1500C review
8. Rega Planar 1
- Dynamic, detailed sound
- Exceptional timing
- Classy look and feel for the money
- Fiddly speed changes
For simplicity of set-up and hi-fi audio quality on a budget, no turntable can touch the Rega Planar 1.
The cartridge is pre-fitted and the tonearm has a guide ring on it so that the counterweight can be set for exactly the correct tracking force without the need for any special tools.
And it sounds great – exciting and detailed with great timing and agility. All you need to add is a decent phono stage.
- read our Rega Planar 1 review
9. Technics SL-1200GR/SL-1210GR
An excellent upgrade
- Unparalleled timing and grip
- Seismic bass
- Fantastic build quality
- Incredibly versatile
- High asking price
- Slight lack of resolution
The 1200 and 1210 are so synonymous with DJing that most people don’t realise they were originally designed as hi-fi turntables. And these new versions have been upgraded to improve sound quality even further, with a dampened platter, improved motor with digital speed control, and a low-noise power supply.
The result is a record player with phenomenal timing and grip, as well as the ability to dig prodigious bass from those vinyl grooves. Throw away your preconceptions and give it a try.
- read our Technics SL-1200GR/SL-1210GR review
10. Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT
A budget performer
- aptX Bluetooth streaming
- Integrated phono stage
- Gets the audio basics right
- Plays it safe in terms of sound
- Feels insubstantial
The LP60XBT picks up where the LP60 left off, mostly improving on its predecessor without smashing the piggy bank to bits.
It isn’t the most substantial of decks in terms of build, and the sound can be on the safe side. Tweaks have been made in tracking and resonance rejection, employing a fairly even-handed approach to the frequency range. It gets the basics right.
It’s aptX Bluetooth streaming at this price that piques the interest. As an investment, it’s affordable and if you want convenience, the LP60XBT makes a convincing argument.
- read our Audio Technica LP60XBT review
11. Clearaudio Concept MM
A classy effort
- Awesome build quality
- Simple speed switching
- Easy setup
- Superb timing and attack
- Plays 78s
- Not the best with vocals
Given the faultless build quality and super-slick styling, you’d be forgiven for thinking this turntable costs as much as an around-the-world cruise. But no. You’d be lucky to get a week self-catering in the worst part of Tenerife for the price of the Concept MM.
As well as looking amazing, there’s some awesome engineering here, too. The tonearm has a magnetic bearing, which means it floats in the bearing housing, making no contact with the rest of the deck at all. Speed changing is easily achieved via a large knob on the plinth, and fans of old-time records will be pleased to know it can even handle 78rpm.
Corners haven’t been cut with sound quality, either. It has superb timing and attack, as well as retrieving far greater detail, and with more subtlety, than you should expect at this price or from a moving-magnet cartridge.
- read our Clearaudio Concept MM review
12. Fluance RT80
Entry-level player with phono stage
- Integrated phono stage
- Audio Technica AT91 cartridge
- Smooth, detailed sound
- Lacks bass reach
- Short of dynamic headroom
The RT80 is Canadian hi-fi brand Fluance’s entry-level turntable and its most affordable with a price of less than £200.
What you get for that outlay is good build quality. The plinth is made out of dependable MDF, which brings with it good resonance rejection and stiffness to ensure vibrations don’t colour the turntable’s sound. There’s an integrated phono stage – useful as it boosts the weak signal from the record player without requiring the need for off-board amplification.
There’s a slight warmth to its presentation and there’s a consistency to its sound that’s laudable. There’s good rhythmic ability, low end control and sufficient midrange detail to make for an enjoyable listening experience. It’s lack of dynamism holds the Fluance back from a higher rating, serving up an enjoyable if polite presentation.
- read our Fluance RT80 review
How we test for the best turntable
Our audio experts use every turntable they test as their primary home music player for weeks while testing. During that time they A-B test against competitors in the same price range, using a variety of partnering hi-fi components and different genres of music, from classical to dance. Where appropriate, turntables are also tested with a variety of different cartridges.
Ratings are based mostly on sonic performance, but also take into consideration build quality, ease of setup, and features.