Posted in audio, gear, tutorial

    TL;DR - If you want the best bang for your buck when buying a new turntable, get the Audio-Technica AT-LP120 for $250. It performs as good or better than more expensive turntables in the same class, according to recent technical tests. It comes with a built in phono pre-amp and allows you to upgrade the cartridge, so you won't need to buy a whole new turntable a few years down the road. It's a good investment.
     

    If you want to know more, keep reading.

    Ever since I wrote my giant turntable guide post a few months back, I thought it would be worthwhile to catalog as many modern turntables as I could, along with basic specs and price. Below you'll find a table comparing about 50 different turntables that I came across, most of which can be purchased on Amazon. I decided to only include turntables that are currently still in production. Older models, even if still relatively new, are not included (SL-1200 MKII for example).

    I decided to include a few technical specifications such as the wow & flutter rating, the signal to noise ratio, and weight. I did this in order to provide a general sense of quality for each turntable, however they should not be taken as the be-all and end-all determination. Often the craftsmanship and materials used in a turntable will matter more in the end. So use your own judgement and be sure to read the reviews.

    Some information is missing, even from the manufacturer's website. So if anyone out there can fill in any of the blanks, I would appreciate it.

    Information and prices were last updated Nov 17 2016. Apologies if this chart looks horrid at lower resolutions or on mobile. I still need to optimize it for smaller screens. 

    Brand Model Price Speeds Drive Auto Wow/Flutter S/N Ratio Cart Phono USB Weight (lbs)
    Audio-Technica AT-LP60 95.50 33/45 Belt Auto 0.25% 50 dB Fixed Y N 6.6
    Audio-Technica AT-LP60-USB 119.00 33/45 Belt Auto 0.25% 50 dB Fixed Y Y 6.6
    Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB 249.00 33/45/78 Direct Manual 0.2% 50 dB Std. ½" Y Y 23.5
    Audio-Technica AT-LP1240-USB 449.00 33/45/78 Direct Manual 0.1% 55 dB Std. ½" Y Y 27.6
    Crosley CR6009A 149.95 33/45/78 Belt Manual Std. ½" Y Y 8
    Denon DP-200USB 227.99 33/45 Belt Auto 0.15% Fixed Y Y 9.6
    Denon DP-300F 279.00 33/45 Belt Auto 0.1% 60 dB Std. ½" Y N 12.1
    Gemini TT-1100USB 122.10 33/45/78 Direct Manual Std. ½" Y Y 10
    Ion Audio Archive 69.99 33/45/78 Belt Auto Fixed Y Y 7.6
    Marantz TT42 329.00 33/45 Belt Auto Std. ½" N N 11.2
    Marantz TT42P 359.00 33/45 Belt Auto Std. ½" Y N 11.2
    Music Hall USB-1 234.95 33/45 Belt Manual 0.25% Std. ½" Y Y 11
    Music Hall MMF 2.2 299.00 33/45 Belt Manual 0.15% 70 dB Std. ½" N N 19
    Music Hall MMF 5.1 875.00 33/45 Belt Manual 0.15% 70 dB Std. ½" N N 24
    Music Hall MMF 9.1 1899.00 33/45 Belt Manual 0.15% 70 dB Std. ½" N N 39.5
    Numark TTUSB 139.00 33/45 Belt Manual Std. ½" Y Y 7.7
    Pioneer PL-990 125.35 33/45 Belt Auto 0.25% 50 dB P-mount Y N 5.9
    Pro-Ject Debut Carbon 399.00 33/45 Belt Manual 0.1% 68 dB Std. ½" N N 12.3
    Pro-Ject RPM 1.3 Genie 399.00 33/45 Belt Manual 0.15% 70 dB Std. ½" N N 7.3
    Pyle-Pro PLTTB1 71.59 33/45 Belt Manual Std. ½" N N 8.4
    Rega RP1 299.00 33/45 Belt Manual Std. ½" N N 9.2
    Rega Planar 2 675.00 Manual Std. ½" N N 12
    Rega Planar 3 799.99 Manual Std. ½" N N 13
    Rega RP8 2995.00 33/45 Belt Manual Std. ½" N N
    Sony PS-LX300USB 128.00 33/45 Belt Auto 0.25% 50 dB Fixed Y Y 7.3
    Stanton T52B 149.00 33/45 Belt Manual 0.2% 65 dB Std. ½" Y N 14.6
    Stanton T55USB 182.10 33/45 Belt Manual 0.2% 65 dB Std. ½" Y Y 15.7
    Stanton T62 199.00 33/45 Direct Manual 0.15% 65 dB Std. ½" N N 16.5
    Stanton T92USB 299.00 33/45/78 Direct Manual 0.15% 65 dB Std. ½" Y Y 22.4
    Stanton ST-150 554.99 33/45/78 Direct Manual 0.1% 60 dB Std. ½" Y N 27
    Stanton STR8150 599.00 33/45/78 Direct Manual 0.1% 60 dB Std. ½" Y N 39.1
    TEAC TN-100 114.99 33/45/78 Belt Auto 0.2% 67 dB Fixed Y Y 10.8
    TEAC TN-200 299.00 33/45 Belt Manual 0.2% 67 dB Std. ½" Y Y 10.8
    TEAC TN-300 289.99 33/45 Belt Manual 0.2% 67 dB Std. ½" Y Y 10.8
    U-Turn Orbit 179.00 33/45 Belt Manual 0.2% 60 dB Std. ½" N N 15
    U-Turn Orbit Plus 309.00 33/45 Belt Manual 0.125% 79 dB Std. ½" N N 15

    Putting it all together

    I should note that you will likely regret buying the cheapest turntable on this list. And if you consider yourself an audio enthusiast, you'll also likely regret buying a turntable with a fixed cartridge. They typically have low quality needles and fixed weight tonearms that can damage your records over time.

    Below are a few points to help you make sense of the above comparison chart. For more detailed explanations, I highly recommend reading my full turntable guide.

    33, 45 and 78 RPM Speeds

    Most records you come across will be either 33 (sometimes labeled 33⅓) or 45 RPM. Don't worry about 78 RPM unless you have a collection of extremely old records (pre 1950).

    Belt Drive vs. Direct Drive

    Not a significant difference from a sound quality perspective. Belt drives are reported to isolate vibrations more effectively, and they happen to be less expensive. Direct drives are preferred by DJs because of the high torque motors.

    Automatic vs. Manual Operation

    An automatic turntable will lift the needle from the rest position and lower it onto the record for you. At the end of a record, the needle will lift and return to the rest position again. Manual turntables do not have this feature, and must be operated by hand.

    Wow & Flutter

    Determines how much the platter's speed will fluctuate as it spins. It is determined by the quality of the motor. A lower percentage is better.

    S/N Ratio

    The signal to noise ratio determines how much noise is introduced into the audio signal through vibrations from the motor and interference from other electrical components. It is measured in negative decibels, so a higher number is better.

    Cartridge Options

    Cartridges come in three types. Fixed, P-mount or Standard ½". Fixed cartridges allow you to replace the needle when it is worn out, but you can't upgrade the cartridge itself. P-mount and Standard ½" options both let you upgrade the cartridge, but there are fewer P-mount options. Standard ½" is the preferred option with the most flexibility in upgrades.

    Phono

    Does the turntable come with a built in phono pre-amp? Phono pre-amps are a required component when using a turntable, but they're sometimes built into the turntable itself or your existing stereo. Check if your stereo has an input labeled "phono" on the back first. You should check this out for a more detailed explanation.

    USB

    Does the turntable come with a built in USB interface? Turntables with a USB interface allow you to connect the turntable directly to a computer so that you can listen through your computer speakers, or record your albums to a digital format. Most USB turntables come with software for recording.

    Weight

    The weight of a turntable can determine how well vibrations are isolated from the needle. A turntable with poor isolation may skip when there are too many interfering vibrations in the room, heavy footsteps for example.

    Photo courtesy Parker Miles Blohm

    44 comments

    ranxerox

    ranxerox

    Pretty good job, It will help many people incl. me decide better when buying a new TT.
    Though I believe someones ears are always the best guide.
    Now I can compare my old C.E.C 4000MKII with all the latest models. According to numbers it seems a good one.

    Jeff

    Jeff

    I think you'll find that by comparing specs on many of these modern turntable vs many entry level vintage ones, it's the vintage ones that come out on top most of the time. And a bonus is that they're often much cheaper.

    ranxerox

    ranxerox

    so a first thought would be "is someone fooling us with extra features and/or shiny colours, catchy design etc" instead of investing their knowlwdge on the real thing, which is acoustic enjoyment in that case? LOL

    Jeff

    Jeff

    Despite the resurgence in vinyl these past few years, I think that it's still very much a niche market. I don't think it's a matter of needing to invest more into R&D for better turntables, but rather that quality parts are much harder to come by due to lack of demand.

    There are only a few companies making high end turntables these days. The demand for high quality components and precision machined parts is likely at an all time low. The companies that *do* source those quality parts end up having turntables necessitating a $1000+ price tag. Whereas 30 years ago, those same quality parts were much more inexpensive.

    robert quinn

    robert quinn

    whyis the superb Michell GYRODEC not on this list?!!!!

    Jeff

    Jeff

    The VPI and higher end Music Hall turntables are already pushing well above the limits of what your average person would be willing to spend. This guide is geared towards somebody who is looking to start out in the entry level market, but I included some of the higher end models in there just for comparison sake.

    The Michell Gyro Dec is extremely nice, but a little out of the scope for this kind of article :)

    Thomas

    Thomas

    Jeff,

    I'm a brand new beginner that inherited by dad's old LPs. I'm dying for a turntable but I'm not dying to drop half a grand on equipment. I'm also looking for something to convert the LPs to discs so that my mom doesn't feel completely screwed over when I take these bad boys home. I'm looking at the ION Archive with built in speakers. Any thoughts on this product?

    Joan Thauvette

    Joan Thauvette

    After spending the last 3 hours at my computer checking out turntables to replace the one on my stereo that bit the dust, and getting more and more confused, I was delighted when I ran across your Turntable comparison chart. I printed it so I could have it by my side when I resume my search tomorrow. I'm too worn out to look any longer now. I'm very disappointed that a lot of the manufacturers do not include the size of the unit, this is important info when choosing a replacement for existing stereo. Thanks for your article.

    Jeff

    Jeff

    Thomas, sorry for the late reply! That turntable will certainly get the job done, but it will likely do a rather lackluster job. If money is tight then I suggest trying to find something vintage instead. I have a turntable buying guide a few posts back if you are interested. And believe it or not, it's not too difficult to hook up any old turntable to a PC and record the audio.

    Joan, I'm glad to be of help!

    Emma

    Emma

    Thank you so much for this chart! I only wish I had seen this weeks ago when I began my search for a turntable. This helps narrow down the search process very quickly. I'm still trying to decide between the AT LP-120-USB and the U-Turn Orbit Plus, but your buying guide was very helpful in comparing the specs. I'd like to have a solid intro table with the ability to upgrade over time.

    Anyway, thanks for compiling all this info and breaking it down for vinyl newbies like myself! Much appreciated!

    Jo Marsh

    Jo Marsh

    Great guide, nicely done!

    I am British, and there is a rising demand for turntables over here. This is generally because compression of sound (starting with mp3) is ruining most recordings. CD is on the way out, along with quality recordings. The only way to hear tracks the way they should sound is via vinyl.

    I have had many turntables over the years, starting with a self built Connoisseur BD1 kit, via several cheap but decent Japanese tts, to the one I use today, the Clearaudio Concept. Perhaps one of the best I ever used was the original Rega Planar 3 with the Rega RB300 arm. They are beautifully made and without exception sound brilliant. They are expensive, though, as are most decent retro turntables. Audiophile tts such as Thorens, Revolver are worth looking for. May I suggest if buying a turntable, ensure it comes with a half decent cartridge, as these are also expensive. Thanks for the excellent guide!

    mawnck

    mawnck

    Not a very helpful list, since the only red flags for lousy build quality are the fixed carts, and the lack of a wow/flutter rating. (I'll plead "no comment" on the fact that the Regas are in that second category.)

    There are other factors to consider as well ... for example the U-Turns lack anti-skate, which many folks (me included) consider a deal killer.

    TL;DR: IF YOU AREN'T GOING TO EDUCATE YOURSELF AND BUY USED (which you really, really should), the AT-120 is indeed the one for maximum buck-bang.

    Joel

    Joel

    Thank you for going to the bother of compiling all this information. Re-check the specs on the Orbit Plus. I saw .125% W&F and -79 SNR.

    Mike

    Mike

    Can you add the Project Elemental to the table? Thanks

    Jeff

    Jeff

    Joel, can you point me to where you saw those specs for the Orbit TT?

    Mike, sure can!

    J. Licon

    J. Licon

    Will you be putting outa more recent. Chart than the one above? Does a hyphen in your chart mean 0? I am specifically interested in your comparisons of current Rega and VPI.

    Rob

    Rob

    Nice list. Have you done one for readily available used turntables?

    Jeff

    Jeff

    J, I updated this chart only a few months ago. If you think I missed out on some important new models, let me know. I will look into the Rega and VPI. A hyphen means there was no information available.

    Rob, No but I do have a vintage turntable buying guide

    Lynn

    Lynn

    Thank you for all your wonderful articles on turntables!

    I can't find your vintage turntable buying guide doing a search. Would love to have a link to that. Thanks!

    kris

    kris

    Please include Teac TN-300

    Luis Felipe Hirose

    Luis Felipe Hirose

    Hello Jeff! My friend bought an Audio-Technica AT-PL300 a few weeks ago and that remided me of my love for vinyl records. I'm starting now and every single day I try to learn more about turntables. I had one 15 years ago so I'm kind of rusty(I was 5). My final choice so far is the DEBUT CARBON DC ESPRIT SB that I found for 499€ but haven't decided yet about the Phono Stage and the amp/pre-amp thing. My question is: for this price, can I get a better turntable? And since we're here: I live in Japan so the speakers vary a lot from US and UK. It's hard to find good reviews. Can you share some good ones?
    Thanks you for the chart, helped a lot.

    Rich

    Rich

    Your specs for the Audio-Technica turntables are completely wrong. Those are the only figures I looked at. Since you got those wrong, you likely got other info wrong.

    Jeff

    Jeff

    Rich, care to tell me where you found your specs? Because I copied mine from the Audio Technica website, and just confirmed them to be correct.

    George

    George

    Just a question does more weight on a TT always equate to better vibration isolation?

    Sophie

    Sophie

    Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for the helpful guide. Referring to a previous comment - for someone who is new to the turntable world, would it be considerably better to spend more time researching & buy used instead of going for something like the AT - 120?

    Gordon Sutton

    Gordon Sutton

    I too appreciate the time aand effort you took to prepare this chart.
    Vinyl has a sound quality lacking in digital - naturalness, after all a record
    duplicates the original sound in analog just like its source.

    ranjit roy

    ranjit roy

    hi jeff

    thanks! great info for someone who's looking for a turntable. this will serve as a companion piece while trawling thru cyberspace for a turntable. have you heard of an indian brand? Suraine (http://www.surainerecords.com/turntable-player.htm). speaking of india, there's loads of dust around so it would be useful to know if the turntable comes with a lid

    Krees

    Krees

    Hi and thx Jeff for compiling all this useful info. Here in Europe (France, namely but not limited to it I feel - Belgium, uk...) there is a rising interest at Teac TN-300 and even TN-350 only seen on their japanese site (solely aimed at their domestic market at least for now). Many people in forums, or sellers in retail audio shops, seem to be impressed at Teac's performance. I still haven't had any chance to hear it or try it out (manipulate) but the fuzz swells so swiftly I believe it'd be good to include them both (i saw sb else ask for the 300 model), if you care to consider this request :-). Cheers, as we say on this side of the Atlantic (records!). Christophe.

    Jeff

    Jeff

    Thanks for the comments everyone. I think I am going to revise all the prices and maybe add some new models in time for the holiday season.

    Dean

    Dean

    Amoeba has the Denon DP-300F down to $249 for Black Friday. Should I get it?

    (I had dreadful pitch problems on my horrid AT-LP60 - you get what you pay for, etc., etc.)

    hjoseph

    hjoseph

    This is a great comparison. I have been out of the loop when it came to turntables since I switched to an all digital system and my old 1980's turntable finally gave out. I recently purchased a Denon 39B mini system while I'm on the road so the Denon fully Automatic might just fit in just fine there. For my more permanent system which is still evolving, a more expensive audiofile turn table might be a better fit but the Denon does have some pretty good specs.

    Jack

    Jack

    Thank You for this information, great job. I think this turntable should be in the chart: Brand : Sherwood ; Model : PM-9805 ; Price 220; Speed : 33/45 ; Drive : Belt ; Auto : Manual ; Wow/Flutter :0.25 ; S/N ratio : 50 dB ; Cart : Standard ½ ,Phono: No, USB :No , Weight : 9,8 lbs.

    Andrew

    Andrew

    Other than the VPI turntables, if those wow & flutter specs are correct that is very sad.
    Most turntables made in the mid to late 1970's were WAY better. Nearly the same goes for the Signal to Noise ratios.

    Craig

    Craig

    Just wanted to thank you for putting this table together and maintaining it. I used the information to help buy a new table in November, and I love it (Denon DP-300F with the Ortofon 2M Red).

    Shawn

    Shawn

    This was exactly what I needed to read as a newbie in my search for a new TT. Very helpful. Concise, simple, clear. The comparison chart is great. Thank you.

    Don

    Don

    Looks like a number of AT tables just went up $50. I was just about to get one. Now I have to re-think.

    jose alcantara

    jose alcantara

    THANK YOU for providing this type of information...I'm shopping for a new system and your diligent work will aid me most definitely!!!

    Stephen Goode

    Stephen Goode

    Thanks to everyone for supporting vinyl, analog, and music the way it was intended. I am 63 and have been at this since my first LP "Hard Days Night" a collection grown now to 3500+. I quit when the record companies did and gave into digital.
    I stored away my records and equipment but resurrected them last year. I had "music advisors" telling me old TT's were inadequate for today's music. They talked me into ordering one with a plastic plinth, cheapo cartridge, USB it was crap. My vintage table was solid wood and steel and had a Shure V-15 II mounted on it. I continued to buy used swap meet tables and a Project that never worked from day one until I had amassed several vintage tables. (Thorens, Luxman, Kenwood, etc.).
    Finally my wife took pity on me and bought me a VPI Scout Jr. (made in USA) with a Grado (USA) reference cartridge for a total of about $2000.00. I guess my point is this guide would have helped and I had enough invested in other tables to pay for the VPI. Do your homework it will be worth the effort. Alot of bad advice out there don't believe everything you read but LISTEN if you can.

    Joel

    Joel

    Stephen, how do you like your VPI Scout, Jr.? Does it compare favorably to your vintage tables? Thank you.

    Jo Marsh

    Jo Marsh

    A lovely story, Stephen, and great that you kept your original collection and tt in cotton wool "just in case" So many people didn't show the same good sense, sadly. Your wife sounds to be a wonderful woman with immense good sense!

    I should be interested to hear about the Scout, as I know nothing about it. I just googled to see whether it was available here in the UK, which it is. Beautiful piece!

    Stephen Goode

    Stephen Goode

    I have never been able to afford a turntable in this price range. Of the older tables I have the Luxman PD264 sounds about the best to me. the VPI has a Grado reference platinum, the Luxman about to get a Shure V15 II I just found oem stylus. I wish VPI had standard mount headshell. I also have thorens 165, yamaha px2, ar xa (2), project debut iii, kenwood, pioneer, philips, etc... lol most in need of work I got back into vinyl after hearing a friends mapleknoll air bearing with dyna vector mc probably a 10,000 dollar setup

    Stephen Goode

    Stephen Goode

    Oh I meant to add the turntables play through Jolida JD302CRC integrated vacuum tube amp, Jolida Glass FX DAC, belari Vac tube phono amp, wharfedale evo140 speakers.

    Miguel

    Miguel

    Folks, the article starts out with the best bang for your buck Audio-Technica AT-LP120 for $250. Hold your horses and have a little patience, but Fry's sends out promos daily and I have at least on a few occasions received a promo for the Audio-Technica AT-LP1240 for right around the same price as the lp120. Get the LP1240 instead, you wont regret it. Sing up at frys for there newsletter for daily promos. Good luck, Ill be getting one very shortly.

    jydvsn

    jydvsn

    Do all record players on the list have diamond needles? I have only purchased used players in the past and I believe they all came with diamond needles but not sure anymore. Also I have always loved Sony for Vintage and I am on the fence between Sony PS-LX300USB and Audio-Technica AT-LP60-USB since I am looking for a low priced option under $125. Is Sony still a high end brand and do you have an opinion between the two or another that I should consider?

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