Best turntables for 2019
Listening to records is a nostalgic pastime for me. I grew up spinning discs on my dad's classic turntable (when I was allowed to touch it), and I've played vintage vinyl on-air as a public radio announcer. Heck, I'm listening to an Art Blakey album while I write this. Vinyl has always been with me.
For some, owning a turntable is a new experience as the analog format enjoys a renaissance in the 21st century. A great first 'table will go a long way toward building a lifetime of warm musical memories for them, too.
No matter where you fall on that spectrum, there's a perfect turntable for you. I've researched the questions turntable customers ask online, and found the best ones we sell here at Crutchfield that meet those needs.
Now, let's find your next turntable!
Our top picks for 2019
Best value: Pro-Ject Debut Carbon
A silver Debut Carbon was one of the first purchases I made after coming to work for Crutchfield, and I know several of my co-workers have chosen this solid, dependable 'table for their own use, too. It sits comfortably at the crossroads of reasonable price, good looks, and high quality.
The Debut Carbon is relatively easy to set up. It's a little old-school, in that it requires manual operation, and must be hooked up to an external phono preamp, but I kind of like that.
Best for Beginners: Audio-Technica AT-LP60-BT
I know a group of siblings who bought this turntable for their tech-averse mother as a Christmas present, and it was a big hit. It's fully automatic, so she doesn't have to hover around waiting to lift the tonearm when a track ends, which frees her up to move around the house while listening.
It also has Bluetooth output, so she can play records wirelessly through portable speakers and headphones. Should she ever decide to hook it up to a conventional stereo system, the built-in preamp will simplify things. And it's at a very reasonable price point.
Best for playing 78s: Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit SB
There are a number of turntables we carry that can play 78s, but the Debut Carbon Esprit SB goes the extra step to make it almost convenient. The belt required to make a platter spin at a higher speed is included with purchase, and Pro-Ject's reliable Speed Box is built-in.
The 'table's heavy 12" precision-machined acrylic platter reduces unwanted resonance and lowers the turntable's noise floor, which is nice when listening to older recordings. As with many higher-end turntables, the DC Esprit SB requires an additional phono preamp, which allows you to choose a high-quality one that matches this excellent player.
Important note about playing 78s
There are two types of 78 rpm records – the original-style (pre-1948) shellac discs with relatively large grooves, and newer vinyl discs with the microgrooves used by 33-1/3 and 45 records. If you want to play new ones, all you have to do is get the speed right. If you want to play vintage records, you also need to change out the cartridge to one with a much larger diameter stylus — like the one in the Audio-Technica VM670SP cartridge — to avoid damaging the stylus and the record.
Read: How to play 78s from the Pro-Ject website
Best for DJs: Audio-Technica LP120-USB
If you spin records professionally — in a club, at weddings, etc. — you need some features a casual listener might not prioritize. The LP120-USB features a fast-starting motor that gets up to speed in a hurry, and a convenient cueing light that helps you find your groove even in the dark.
You also get advanced features like forward and reverse play and variable pitch control that let you get creative and keep everyone dancing. The built-in phono preamp makes it easy to hook up, which is crucial when you carry your own gear from gig to gig.
Best for ripping vinyl: Music Hall USB-1
There are several turntables with USB outputs these days, but I like this one for its value price. Best of all, it has a built-in preamp, and the recording software is included, so you can get started making digital copies of your treasured records quickly and easily.
Best for audiophiles: Mobile Fidelity UltraDeck +M
MoFi makes gorgeous remastered records, and they built this turntable to their exacting high-fidelity standards. A stable platter is important for a high-end turntable, and to that end MoFi uses a dense, noise-reducing polymer called Delrin® on a steel inverted bearing system that provides smooth, quiet rotation.
It also features an excellent factory-installed cartridge with a Micro-Line diamond stylus called the MoFi Master Tracker, so it sounds incredible right out of the box. Cardas Audio wiring maintains pristine signal purity throughout the signal path.
This one requires a phono preamp, and you can't go wrong with the ones Mobile Fidelity makes. The StudioPhono is a nice companion piece, but frequent headphone listeners might prefer the UltraPhono, which includes an excellent headphone amplifier.
The TEAC TN-400S shown in Cherry finish (discontinued)
Best looking: TEAC TN-400S
Everyone has their own idea of what looks best, but I favor the classic elegance of the TEAC TN-400S. The curved tonearm is a nice visual touch, and the manufacturer claims it tracks the grooves more accurately, too. It comes in gorgeous wood finishes like Walnut and Bordeaux, for an added touch of class.
It's not just about the looks, either. The TN-400S features a factory-installed moving-magnet cartridge that performs very well, and convenience features like a built-in phono preamp and USB output.
Most modern: Yamaha TT-N503
Turntables are analog technology — but that doesn't mean they have to be stuck in the last century. The Yamaha TT-N503 is a very modern wonder — it features built-in Wi-Fi®, Bluetooth®, Apple AirPlay®, and Spotify® Connect, so it can double as a streaming music source when you're not listening to records.
It's also equipped with Yamaha's MusicCast technology, which frees you to put the player anywhere you like and build a wireless multi-room system around it. There's also a phono preamp built in, should you choose to hook it up to your existing stereo system or a pair of powered stereo speakers.
How do I make sure I get everything I need?
If you need a recommendation for a phono preamp, powered speakers, or any other accessories, our Advisors can help you put together a system that matches your unique listening requirements, as well as your budget.
And don't worry if you need a little setup help when your turntable arrives. Free lifetime tech support is included with your Crutchfield purchase.