A turntable is a circular rotating device for playing sound recordings. Depending on the quality, turntables play at different speeds like 33 Revolutions per minute (RPM), 45 RPM, or 55 RPM. To produce engaging, melodious, and rumble- free music, you need to scour for the best audiophile turntable.
For every music connoisseur, the sound quality matters the most. Their day starts with listening to music and ends with it. Even, the digitally produced MP3 and iTunes songs may not play optimized and good quality music. But the vinyl records brought a renaissance in the history of music. The old school technology is by far the best one which produces optimized sound compared to digitally produced sounds.
Most people consider the term ‘ turntables’ and ‘ record players’ to be synonymous. There is a difference between these two terminologies. Turntables do not have an inbuilt pre-amplifier. You need to look for an external pre-amplifier or speaker. However, a record player has an overall audio system setup. Depending on the quality, a turntable can play distorted sound to high- fidelity sound.
Best Audiophile Turntable – Buying Guide
There are many factors to be considered if you are planning to buy a top audiophile turntable. Some of these are:
Factors to look for when buying the best audiophile turntable for every music aesthete
- Record Grooves- From the outside, most of the turntables look similar, but the magic starts from recording the grooves. This is what categorizes turntables into entry-level, mid-level, or high range. The first most important factor to be considered is the grooves. Grooves are the sound vibrations that are recorded on the platter with the use of a stylus or needle. In simple language, it is the fingerprint of sound waves which makes the stylus move. Further, these grooves are converted into electrical energy which produces the sound after being amplified. So, better the cartridge and stylus, the grooves will be captured with more precision.
- To listen at home or for DJ controller- Depending on your need, you need to look for a top audiophile turntable. Generally, home turntables which produce low vibration chassis are preferred. DJ turntables are honed for heavy-duty cartridges, durability, and slip resistance. Whereas, home turntables are optimized to produce low melody music and minimal motor noise.
- Speed – Turntables play at different speeds. It is an essential matter to be considered when buying the top turntable for audiophiles. Speed adjustment or flipping speed describes the quality of your turntable. Usually, in audiophile turntables, the belt drive motor is considered to be the best one as it comes within an affordable price range. It might take a longer time to adjust to the correct playing speed. But the wait will be worthwhile. It minimizes the motor noise-producing original and natural sound.
- Flexible Tonearm- A tonearm is the most complicated part. It transmits electrical signals to the pre-amplifier which amplifies weak music signals. For the process to run smoothly, a flexible tonearm is a must. It serves as a crucial link between the record and your speaker. A good turntable demands an adjustable and a heavy mass tonearm. Tonearms are made of aluminum or carbon fiber. But a plastic tonearm should always be avoided.
- Cartridge- A cartridge is a small rectangular transducer that uses electromagnetic induction to convert the mechanical vibrations into electrical signals. There are two types of cartridges- Moving Magnet( MM) and Moving Coil ( MC). A Moving Magnet cartridge has a permanent magnet placed between two coils in the cartridge body. The magnet vibrates in its place which converts it into signals. One advantage of using a MM cartridge is that it produces the sound of higher output.
- External Pre-amplifier or built-in amplifier- Turntables are available with a built-in amplifier or standalone one. Both of these can be used, but turntables available with a built-in amplifier are quite expensive. Within your budget and specifications, you can select a standalone unit or a built-in pre-amplifier. The factor that needs to be kept in mind while buying is that the audio system is capable of playing clear and reverberating free sound.
- Direct Drive or Belt Drive – As discussed earlier, these are the two types of motor technologies. The main difference between them is that in the Direct Drive turntable, the motor is placed directly under the platter, which makes it a spin. However, ‘ Belt Drive’ technology uses a rubber belt for rotating the platter. If you want to buy an entry-level or mid-range turntable, then Belt Drive is the best. Direct drive turntables are comparatively expensive and are used by DJ controllers.
- Heavy Plinth- Among all the factors this is a very simple but essential one. While purchasing a turntable in an affordable price range, the first thing you need to check is how heavy the base or plinth is? One should always choose a heavy plinth. The reason behind it is that recording, reproducing, and working of the motor causes vibrations. If the turntable is heavy it will be more stabilized and will minimize the effect of vibrations produced. The plinth should be made of copper, brass, or aluminum.
- Platter- A platter is a rotating disc-like structure on the plinth. The stylus records the microscopic grooves on the platter. Similar to the plinth, a heavy platter for a turntable to work in the most precise and efficient way. The reason is also the same, as a heavy one will be more stabilized which will reduce the shaking effect caused due to the vibrations from the motor placed under the platter. The motor helps in the rotation of the platter.
Before searching for the top turntables for audiophiles, you should have detailed information about the various components of a turntable. This, in turn, will make it easier for you to select your preferred one.
Some important parts of a turntable are
- Dust cover- It is always included with the turntable, protecting it from dust particles.
- Plinth- This is the base of the turntable which holds all the parts together.
- Platter- This is the part of the turntable which supports the records. It spins as the motor starts.
- Motor- The motor is the driving force. It is connected to the platter and helps in its rotation. There are two types of motor- Direct Drive and Belt Drive. The Direct-Drive motor is placed directly under the platter. Whereas, in the Belt drive technology, the motor is placed at a side using a rubber belt to spin the platter.
- Record Mat- The mat is placed between the record and platter. It prevents the metal platter from getting scratched and reduces vibrations. It also affects sound quality.
- Spindle- It is the center screw-like structure that holds the record.
- Stylus- Stylus or needle is used to track grooves on a record. For an LP player or 7-inch singles, the microgroove stylus is the most common one found.
- Cartridge- Cartridge converts mechanical vibrations into electrical signals. It is a small rectangular structure that holds the stylus.
- Headshell – The headshell is placed at the opposite end of the cartridge. It is connected with the cartridge via top screws and four bottom lead wires. These wires are coded in white, red, blue, and green color.
- Tonearm- This is the most complicated part which holds the stylus, cartridge, and headshell altogether. The main function of the tonearm is to carry electrical signals which are converted by the cartridge.
- Counterweight- Counterweight functions in balancing the tonearm. It controls the tracking force. This is required basically to prevent any scratches on the record. If the stylus is pressed down too low, then it increases the risk of damaging the records. On the other hand, if it is too light then it has the chance of skipping grooves.
- Anti- skate – It prevents the stylus from skating or skipping grooves. Without an anti-skate, there are higher chances of the records to become damaged.
- Height Adjust- Height adjusts controller can be found at the base of the tonearm. As the name implies, it is used to adjust the height of the tonearm. If the height is too low, then the tonearm will not reach the record. So for proper functioning, a tonearm just parallel to the record should be used.
- Speed Selector- It is used to adjust the speed of the platter. In most of the turntables, the platter spins at three different speeds: 33RPM, 45 RPM, and 78 RPM. When both 33 and 45-speed buttons are pressed together, then the platter spins at 78 RPM.
- Cueing Device – This device is located next to the height adjust. It is used to lower or lift the needle from records.
- 7-inch adapter- This adapter is located at the top of the turntable. It helps in playing 45 single records that have larger holes in them.
- Cables – Two different cable system is used to make the turntable function. Analog audio cables have two RCA cables. The turntable consists of two channels- the left channel and the right channel. The white cable is inserted in the left channel and the red cable is inserted in the right channel.
Power cables are Standard AC cables which are connected to an outlet.
Best Audiophile Turntable Reviews
Let us now take a look at some of the best audiophile turntable available in the online store-
Best Turntable for beginner audiophiles
Rega Planner 1 is the best turntable. It is available in glossy black. Planar 1 has an adjustable tonearm and the cartridge is made of pure carbon. It is a user-friendly and fantastic product. All that is needed to do is to connect a phono preamplifier and placing the tonearm on the platter. The easy setup with the best features makes it a popular model among every music connoisseur.
- Every part of Rega Planar 1 is punctiliously designed which produces high-fidelity sound.
- With an RB110 tonearm, it offers low noise with better speed stability.
- The 24 V motor made of aluminum minimizes noise.
- Its stylish and classic vintage look makes it superior compared to other turntables.
- It consists of a phenolic platter with an improved flywheel effect.
Best audiophile turntable under $500
Direct Drive turntables are mostly used by DJ controllers. Many people cannot afford this because of its high price. But Audio Technica is the perfect turntable in the budget. The direct Drive motor works at a speed of 33 RPM, 45 or78 RPM. It is equipped with a built-in phono preamplifier. All that is needed is the home stereo or USB to get started.
- Its S-shaped tonearm features adjustable anti-skate control.
- It is available with a detachable RCA output cable, 45 RPM adapter, and removable hinged dust cover.
- It consists of a built-in preamplifier. To converts, the analog signal to a digital signal, a USB, a computer, or a home stereo is required.
- This model is manufactured using ultra-modern and latest technologies and is the bestseller to date.
Best audiophile turntable under $1000
The vintage look of the ’90s differentiates the Project T1 turntable from others. Within a limited budget, it aims to deliver a clear and most engaging sound. Its stylish plinth is available in gross black, satin white, or satin walnut finish. The CNC machined plinth reduces the effect of vibrations and provides stability.
- Its high-quality Moving Magnet( MM) cartridge with a diamond stylus tip records grooves in the mist precise way.
- The 8.6″ long tonearm is made of stiff aluminum. It offers low friction.
- The 8 mm glass platter provides a base for the recording of the most accurate sound grooves.
- It is available with a dust cover, felt mat, and a cable attached to the record player.
Another Pro-Ject audio system but this time its improvised carbon DC turntable increases its popularity. It is available in a variety of colors like high-gloss, black, shiny red, green blue, yellow, silver, white and purple. Additional new features like an increase in platter size ensure smoother rotation.
- An improved tonearm with the inclusion of a. Carbon tube offers low friction.
- It has a pre-installed 2mm red cartridge for the most accurate conversion process.
- The improved belt drive assures ultimate speed stability without unwanted vibrations.
- It includes accessories like a dust cover, 15 volts DC/ 0.8 A power supply.
- The platter rotates at a speed of 33- 45 RPM with manual speed change
Best audiophile turntable for the money
This is a fully automatic belt-drive turntable. AT- LP60X operates at two different speeds:3 RPM and 45 RPM. The aluminum platter offers anti-resonance properties. Also, the price of this model makes it more an easy choice for many music lovers. The built-in phono preamplifier within an affordable price range brings this product under the top 10 best turntables.
- With the built-in preamplifier, it easily converts analog sound to digital sound with the use of a computer or a home stereo.
- Its improved and redesigned tonearm and headshell improve the tracking of the vinyl recording.
- The cartridge is integrated into the headshell for the efficient working of the system.
This is a fully automatic wireless turntable. Unlike other turntables, it provides a wireless connection with the home stereo or computer via Bluetooth. This distinctive feature makes it a more reliable option.
- Enjoy favorite tracks in a much easier and effortless manner.
- It moves at two different speeds: 33 1/3 RPM and 45 RPM.
- It consists of a phono input, 4 Stereo RCA audio input, and RCA Output.
Best turntable for the audiophile on a budget
This is a fully automatic analog turntable. The heavier base reduces the effect of vibrations and increases overall performance. The redesigned tonearm has a detachable headshell which makes cartridge replacement easy. It also consists of a built-in phono equalizer which connects a receiver that does not have its phono input.
- It uses a DC servo motor with the belt drive technology, rotating at speeds of 33 1/3 RPM or 45 RPM.
- It consists of a MM cartridge.
- The easy and automatic setup plays the song just after pressing the button.
- Also, after the sound has been played, the tonearm will automatically to its original position. This prevents any damage or scratch.
Best audiophile turntable under $2000
This turntable has a classy and elegant hardwood base. The Ortofon 2 M red cartridge creates dynamic and bombastic sound. The cueing device lever is included for the easy functioning of the tonearm. Its flexible tonearm ensures frictionless movement. Also, the thick 5/8” acrylic platter features lathe-turned edges delivering low resonance sound.
- Solid hardwood base in either flat-cut maple or walnut finish.
- Ortofon 2MM Red cartridge produces dynamic and melodious sound.
- Precise and adjustable tonearm included with a cue lever for its easy operation.
- The presence of an external belt drive reduces motor noise.
Pro-Ject Record Master turntable is a brand new product designed with the use of the latest technology. It comes with a carbon tonearm, computer connection, and a DC power supply. It is available in a high- gross black, shiny red, white, and walnut matte finish.
- 6” long carbon tonearm.
- The heavy acrylic platter delivers non- resonant sound.
- A 2M red moving magnetic cartridge is fitted.
Best audiophile turntable under $5000
Music Hall’s unique triple plinth construction and tonearm made of carbon fiber differentiates it from other turntables. It is a two-speed belt driven audiophile turntable.
- Its distinctive design components like the platter, tonearm, and gold ring MC cartridge make it more popular and reliable.
- The isolated DC motor with 33 RPM and 45 RPM cancels vibrations from the motor to the cartridge.
- High-quality RCA connectors made of gold functions excellently.
- It is available in high gloss black lacquer finish.
After having attained information about some of the best turntables for audiophiles, now an important topic to be discussed is how do turntables work?
A turntable is an analog audio system which is still a popular means. The base, platter, tonearm, cartridge, and stylus are the most important parts of a turntable which ensures proper functioning. The base is the most fundamental aspect as it holds the motor which is used to rotate the platter.
The turntable starts working when the sound traveling through air is detected by the stylus. The stylus then starts recording microscopic grooves on the platter. These grooves are the exact image of how sound waves travel. As the grooves are being recorded, vibrations are produced which are in turn converted to electrical signals. The cartridge functions as a transducer converting mechanical energy to electrical signals. It is a small rectangular like structure placed just above the stylus and cantilever. From here, signals travel through the tonearm.
This is the most complicated structure. It is attached on the base, at a distance from the platter. The electrical signals travel through it and reach the preamplifier. It can be a standalone unit or an inbuilt one. For external preamplifier, RCA cables are required to connect with the system. The final step includes connecting an amplifier or a speaker to enjoy your favorite music.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is an audiophile turntable?
An audiophile turntable is a turntable device to hone the sound quality of vinyl records. It may consist of a built-in preamplifier or standalone unit.
Which is the best audiophile automatic turntable?
I would prefer, Sony PS to a fully automatic wireless turntable. With an easy and effortless setup, one can enjoy their favorite track. One of the distinctive features of this model is its wireless Bluetooth connection which makes the connection easier.
Which is the best affordable audiophile turntable?
Audio Technica Audio Systems manufactures the best turntables for audiophiles at an affordable price. Audio Technica AT- LP20USB Direct Drive turntable is designed using the latest technology.
Which is the best entry-level audiophile turntable?
Rega Planar 1 is the best entry-level audiophile turntable. Every part of this model is meticulously designed which produces high–quality sound.
What kind of speaker is required for an audiophile turntable?
For turntables, the choice of the speaker should be passive. Passive speakers do not have an in-built amplifier. It needs to be connected via an external wire.