A good turntable allows you to get the most out of your records, while doing the least amount of damage to their grooves each time you lower the needle. Vinyl sales have skyrocketed over the past few years, due in part to interest in the format by indie artists, the longevity of classic bands, and an official, annual Record Store Day.

Unsurprisingly, the increased interest in vinyl has resulted in a flood of new turntables hitting the market from startups and stalwart companies in the audio world. If you've never owned a turntable before, picking the right one can feel really tricky, but we've done the legwork for you and collected the best turntables into a single guide.

— Best Overall: Marantz TT-15S1
— Best Budget: Fluance RT81
— Best USB: Denon DP-450USB
— Best for DJs: Pioneer DJ PLX-500-K
— Best Bluetooth: Pro-Ject T1 BT

How We Picked the Best Turntables

Our best turntables recommendations are based on our research. Below are the factors we considered most highly when deciding which turntables  to include in this buyer's guide.

Turntable Style: Like cars, turntables can operate in one of two ways: manual and automatic. 

Manual turntables require you to physically lift up its tone arm, and gently place it on the record's groove. Once the album is over, you'll need to lift the tone arm up, and return it to its resting area. Some manual turntables have a cue lever, which allows you to lift the needle by lifting a small switch rather than your finger. Manual turntables with cue levers are easier to use for beginners, because you don't have to worry about accidentally dropping the needle as you're moving it over to your album.

Automatic turntables will handle all the work of cueing, starting, and stopping an album for you. To begin playing a record, you'll typically hit a "start" button on the turntable's desk, and the tone arm will be lifted and dropped onto a record without intervention. At the end of an album, the tone arm will lift up, and return to its resting area.

An automatic turntable may be a better choice if you're completely new to playing vinyl, and don't want to risk damaging your needle by dropping it on an album from too great a distance, or accidentally missing the record altogether. That said, a turntable with additional moving parts is more likely to break down. An automatic turntable will still function as a manual turntable if those parts stop working, which isn't a total loss, but a bummer nonetheless.  

Preamp: Vintage turntables require an AV receiver with a dedicated phono input or an external preamp to amplify their volume before the sounds hit your speakers. Without a preamp, the volume of your music would be low enough to be unlistenable. Many newer turntables have a built-in phono preamp, which allows you to plug them directly into any AV receiver, or even a pair of powered speakers, without any other equipment. 

As with automatic turntables, this convenience does come with a potential cost. If a turntable's built-in preamp conks out — this is highly unlikely — you'll need to get an external one to continue using your record play. Turntables with a built-in preamp typically have a switch that allows you to turn this piece of its hardware on and off. 

Bluetooth: Vinyl is an entirely analog audio format, but new turntables are designed with conveniences designed to appeal to digital music listeners. Turntables with this feature allow you to playback your albums through a set of wireless speakers or headphones. Using a turntable's Bluetooth mode does compress the sound of your records, but this is a convenient feature if you want to listen to vinyl late at night without disturbing everyone you live with. 

USB: A growing number of turntables have a USB port, which allows you to connect them to your computer and digitize your albums. This can be extremely useful if you want a digital copy of an album that isn't available on CD or streaming services. If you have extremely rare records that you don't want to wear out, digital preservation is a way to enjoy them continuously without the risk of damage. 

Upgradable Cartridge: We decided that we would only recommend turntables that allow you to upgrade their cartridge for a couple of reasons. The first is that swapping out your phono cartridge can have a significant impact on the level of detail and clarity of your albums. If you pair an entry-level turntable with a premium cartridge, you may find the jump in audio quality sufficient enough to keep your current deck instead of replacing it. 

The second benefit to having a turntable with an upgradable cartridge is the ability to swap out that single component if you accidentally damage your needle. If a turntable has a non-removable cartridge, it'll only last for the life of your stylus (needle) before it needs to be replaced. Learn more about how we test audio gear.

Best Turntables: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Marantz TT-15S1

Uncompromised Audio. Marantz

Why It Made The Cut: The Marantz TT-15S1 was designed to eliminate distortion from muddying the sound of your albums.


Style: Manual
Preamp: No


— Designed to eliminate vibrations
— Timeless look
— Premium cartridge


—  Price

Marantz's TT-15S1 will be the last turntable you ever need to buy, whether you just started playing records, or have been growing your collection for decades. 

The company spared no expense making the ultimate turntable for fans of analog sound, even at the risk of alienating newcomers to the vinyl format. Every piece of the turntable has been considered in order to optimize performance, especially limiting — if not fully preventing — vibrations from reaching the needle and adding subtle distortion to your record's sound.

All of that starts with the materials Marantz chose to use when designing the TT-15S1. This turntable's chassis (the body of the turntable) and platter (the slab of material your record sits on while it spins) are made from a glass-cast acrylic, which can diffuse vibrations. This adds to the turntable's weight, but the tradeoff is totally worth it. The TT-15S1's tone arm (the piece that connects the needle to the turntable's body is made from "reference-class" aluminum, which means it should be heavy enough to keep the needle in an album's groove without weighing it down too much. 

Marantz considered the placement of this turntable's motor, and designed an enclosure to keep it from vibrating the TT-15S1's chassis. The company even thought of this turntable's three feet, which can be adjusted independently to ensure the TT-15S1 is playing albums on a completely level surface. These choices add up to a turntable that was designed from the ground-up to make your records sound as good as possible. 

Marantz decided to couple the TT-15S1 with a Clearaudio Virtuoso cartridge, which you shouldn't need to upgrade for a long time. This turntable's price may seem high, but consider the fact that its cartridge alone retails for over $1,000 on its own. The pairing of the Virtuoso and this turntable are a relative bargain if you love music. By catering to the audiophile market, Marantz was free to design the ultimate turntable, but only if you're fine with using a turntable that has no digital perks. You won't find a USB port or support for Bluetooth here, and you'll need to provide your own amplification source, too. These were the tradeoffs Marantz had to make to create such an exceptional turntable, and it's the right choice if you want the absolute best.

Best Budget: Fluance RT81

A Cut Above. Fluance

Why It Made The Cut: The RT81 has many of the features we’d expect from a premium turntable in a far more affordable package. 


Style: Manual
Preamp: Yes
USB: No 


—  S-shaped tone arm
—  Built-in Preamp
—  Price


— Manual turntables may be harder to use for new owners

Fluance did an admirable job at creating a turntable with many of the same perks as a high-end unit at a significantly lower price. The RT81’s plinth (another term for chassis) is made out of solid wood, which is dense and can naturally absorb vibrations. Distortion from vibrations is further reduced by this turntable's aluminum platter, and included slip mat, which is made from rubber rather than felt.

The RT81's most impressive technical feature is its tone arm, which is twisted into a serpentine-S shape so that the cartridge’s needle is angled to fall directly into the center of an album's groove. This perfect alignment allows the needle to get deeper in the groove, which translates into better audio quality. Fluance tout's the RT81's gold-placed RCA outputs, but we haven't found this makes much of a difference in the way a turntable makes records sound. 

This turntable may not support Bluetooth or have a USB port, but it does include a built-in phono preamp, which makes it a lot easier to recommend as an introductory turntable. You can connect the RT81 into any basic audio system and it'll work beautifully. We're also pleased by Fluance's decision to pair this turntable with an Audio Technica AT95E cartridge, which offers solid performance. 

Manual turntables will require some effort, but if you're looking for a budget-priced turntable that sounds and looks better than you'd think, Fluance's RT81 is the one to get.

Best USB: Denon DP-450USB

Archive Your Albums. Denon

Why It Made The Cut: The DP-450 allows you to digitize your albums without a computer.


Style: Semi-Automatic
Preamp: Yes
USB: Yes


— Clean look
— Built-in preamp
— Built-in USB port


— Manual turntables may be harder to use for new owners

Many early USB turntables used low-end hardware with a single digital feature haphazardly slapped onto the backside of the plinth. Denon's DP-450USB couldn't be more different. This is a high-end turntable that also happens to have a USB port built into the deck itself. 

On the analog hardware front, the DP-450USB features an S-shaped tonearm, built-in phono preamp, rubber slip mat, and Ortofon 2M Red cartridge. All of these features improve the odds of you hearing great-sounding music every time you drop the needle on the record. Speaking of the DP-450USB's needle, you can set this turntable to automatically return the tone arm back to its resting area when an album's side is over. There is no way to cue the album automatically, though. 

Most USB-enabled turntables require you to plug your record player into a computer and use specialized software to digitize your albums. The DP-450USB is different. This turntable has a USB-A port built right into the front of the deck. If you connect a flash drive or external hard drive to the DP-450USB, it can digitize your albums directly from the turntable itself by hitting one of the two record buttons. One of the buttons will record your album as an MP3, while the other button will record it in the higher quality WAV format. In either case, you'll end up with a digital copy of your album at the press of a button.

Simplifying the vinyl digitization process is the DP-450USB's greatest strength, but its high-end analog hardware is worth mentioning again. This turntable would be a great choice even if you didn't use its recording function.

Best for DJs: Pioneer DJ PLX-500-K

Scratch Away. Pioneer

Why It Made The Cut: Pioneer DJ's PLX-500-K was designed for both music creation and enjoyment.


Style: Manual
Preamp: Yes
USB: Yes


— Pitch control
— Built-in preamp
— USB port


— Manual turntables may be difficult to use for those new to vinyl

DJ turntables are designed a little differently than standard models, but the Pioneer DJ PLX-500-K's array of features make it appealing to anyone. 

From the top, the PLX-500-K looks like a pretty average turntable, except for the tempo control on the right side. Sliding the switch up and down will change the pitch of your music by gently speeding up or slowing down the speed of your record. On the topic of speed, this is the only turntable in our guide that can play 33.3, 45, and 78 rpm (rotations per minute) albums. If you're a DJ incorporating 80-year-old 78s into your set, more power to you. 

The PLX-500-K is a manual turntable, but it has a bunch of modern conveniences, including a built-in preamp and USB port. It doesn't support Bluetooth, but that isn't a big loss considering this turntable's target audience. The PLX-500-K has a DJ-centric feature that anyone can enjoy: You can display the album you're playing by securing it into two ridges built into the turntable's dust cover. 

Pioneer DJ bundles the PLX-500-K with its rekordbox DJ production software. This professional app allows you to create DJ mixes with digital tracks — the app keeps track of the tempo of each track, allows you to hear both at the same time, and easily transition between songs. Your mixes can be synced to all your devices through the cloud. You can digitize your albums using the PLX-500-K's to import them into rekordbox DJ, or use pre-mixed tracks alongside the records you're spinning live. 

The combination of Pioneer DJ's hardware and software make the PLX-500-K the ideal choice for an aspiring artist. 

Best Bluetooth: Pro-Ject T1 BT 

No More Cords. Pro-Ject

Why It Made The Cut: The T1 BT is an audiophile-grade turntable that also happens to have Bluetooth built in.


Style: Manual
Preamp: No
USB: No 


— Precision-made chassis
— Ortofon OM5e cartridge
— Bluetooth


— Manual turntables may be difficult to use for those new to vinyl

The Pro-Ject T1 BT has come to save the reputation of Bluetooth turntables the same way Denon rescued USB turntables with the DP-450USB. This is a premium turntable with a fun digital feature that makes it highly desirable for music lovers who live with other people.

When you're listening to music at a time when other people don't mind or aren't around, you'll benefit from Pro-Ject's attention to detail when designing this turntable. Its glass platter and thick feet will reduce the amount of distortion you'll hear from vibrations, and its sub-platter (a small piece below the regular platter that's partially responsible for regulating speed) was redesigned for this model to improve accuracy. Pro-Ject says the T1 BT's plinth was specifically machined to have no spaces, so parts can't rattle around while you're playing an album.

The company decided to pair the T1 BT with a relatively high-end Ortofon OM5e cartridge, which is a great choice for a turntable in this price range. Pro-Ject's standalone preamps are well regarded, so we're confident that the one built into the T1 BT will deliver excellent performance regardless of the other audio gear in your setup. We've gotten this far into our recommendation without mentioning Bluetooth to underscore the fact that this turntable is a great choice even when this feature isn't turned on.

When you do want to continue listening to music when other people have gone to bed, or through headphones in another room, you can turn on the T1 BT's Bluetooth setting to keep kicking out the jams. Bluetooth is a standardized technology, which means you'll be able to listen through headphones and speakers made by any company. This is a huge feature, but just one of the many reasons you'll enjoy using the T1 BT on a regular basis. 

The final feature that helps set the T1 BT apart is that it's available in three finishes, which is pretty generous in the turntable world. This may seem like a small thing, but a turntable's aesthetics do matter, though far less than how good it makes your records sound. If you love analog music, but have embraced the digital world, Pro-Ject's T1 BT is the turntable to choose. 

Things to Consider Before Buying a Turntable

Your Speakers

Your turntable choice should be determined, in part, by the other equipment in your audio setup, especially its speakers. If you prefer powered speakers over hooking up a passive pair to an AV receiver, you should certainly get a turntable with a built-in phono preamp. If you have an AV receiver and passive speakers, your turntable options open up a bit because your system is more flexible.

Your Space

Turntables don't take up a lot of vertical space, so you can put them onto a shelf in a media center, but you will need a fairly wide, flat surface. In general, you should make sure to have 18 inches of horizontal space in your listening area before getting a turntable.


Q: Should the genre of music I like impact my turntable choice?

No. Any good turntable will be able to reliably play back music from any genre or time period. Your cartridge, AV receiver, and speakers will collectively have a bigger impact on the quality of your audio when listening to music on a turntable.

Q: How do I responsibly dispose of my old turntable?

If you're replacing an old turntable, we recommend reading our guide on how to responsibly dispose of e-waste

Q: How often should I clean my turntable's needle?

It's become common for turntables to come with a brush, so you can regularly clean dirt and dust off its needle. If your records are dirty, you may want to clean your needle after every album’s side. If your albums are in good shape, you should clean your needle after every three or four albums.

Q: How do I make sure my turntable's needle doesn't pick up static?

Static buildup on the surface of your record can attract dust and lead to more prominent clicks and pops when you listen to albums. This is typically caused by your turntable's felt slip mat (the soft surface your album sits on as it spins), which creates static naturally. If you've had problems with static buildup on your vinyl, a cork slip mat is a worthwhile investment.

Final Thoughts on Turntables

Getting your first turntable can feel genuinely nerve-racking because analog audio gear is a lot more temperamental than the digital equipment most of us have used since MP3 players and smartphones replaced turntables and CDs. The good news is that there's never been a better time to get into playing records because turntable manufactures have addressed the most popular concerns people have when getting into this hobby. 

The introduction of the integrated turntable preamp is an excellent example of making turntables more user friendly, but embracing digital technologies like Bluetooth and USB — something unthinkable even a few years ago — demonstrates how far the traditional audiophile world has come. Purists will still advocate for the most pure analog experience, free from frills like powered speakers and a tone arm that automatically returns, but a large, friendlier turntable community is far healthier than a small devoted fan base.

This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.


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