Many of you reading this grew up with records because it was the cool way to listen to music back in the day. Vinyl is back in force, and it shows no signs of going anywhere anytime soon. Subjective elements about the listening experience and perfect systems aside, if you’re going to listen to records, you’re going to need a turntable. Without getting into highly scientific, benchmarked tests that require test equipment more expensive than a German luxury car, here are some of our favorite turntables for every budget.


Audio-Technica AT-LP60

If you’re looking to spend the absolute least amount of money possible, the Audio-Technica AT-LP60 turntable is the only option you should even consider. The fully automatic, belt-drive system comes with a Dual Magnet phono cartridge with replaceable stylus, 33-1/3 and 45 RPM options and an aluminum platter. You won’t get the best clarity, color or sound for less than $100, but it’s a far better option than all those stupid looking plastic turntables with built-in speakers you’ll find in places like Urban Outfitters. Most importantly, this unit will allow you to listen to your records without ruining them.


U-Turn Orbit Basic

Launched on Kickstarter in late 2012, U-Turn Audio’s Orbit turntable raised over $200k on the promise of delivering a high-quality sound experience at a fraction of the cost of similar tables. It worked. The Orbit Basic, with its exposed belt drive, unipivot tonearm and pre-installed Audio-Technica cartridge, is easy to setup, good looking and an absolute steal at $179. If you’re interested in upgrades, Orbit will also allow you to customize color, platter, preamp, cartridge, etc. prior to purchase.


Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB Direct-Drive Turntable

For roughly half the cost of the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon, the Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB delivers comparable performance (it doesn’t sound quite as good). The direct-drive turntable also allows you to quickly switch between speeds and digitize your entire collection thanks to its USB connectivity. You also get pitch-adjustment, a pop-up stylus target light, Audio-Technica AT95E professional cartridge and a built-in phono preamp that doesn’t suck. If you have only have $250 in your budget, this is the turntable you want.


Gramovox Floating Record

We could talk about the built-in, dynamic, full-range stereo speakers, or the AT95E cartridge, or the Hi-Fi Phono Pre-amp, or the vintage style walnut or maple finishes, but the coolest thing about Chicago-based Gramovox’s Floating Record is the most obvious—the fact that it plays records vertically. If you’re in the market for a turntable that works out of the box with no extra wiring, along with your existing setup if you have one, you need to check out this turntable that also turns your records into mesmerizing works of art.


Pro-Ject Debut Carbon

The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon is one of the prettiest turntables on the market, but behind that high gloss finish and minimalist design you’ll also find some of the best component pieces on the market. The carbon fiber tonearm comes pre-fitted with an Ortofon 2M Red Cartridge (which costs $100 by itself) for superior detail and higher fidelity from anything you throw on it. It’s gotten rave reviews ever since it was released, but it’s definitely not the cheapest option on the list. This is definitely one that’s meant to be displayed.


Technics 1200 Turntable

The Technics 1200 Turntable literally defined DJing. The combination of design, performance and durability make this turntable the most sought after, hardest to find, most repaired turntable on the market. Technics is back in the turntable game, but until we see what their newest release is capable of, the Technics 1200 is absolutely the bar that all other turntables are judged against. If you can find one of these for cheap, or if you already have one, it’s absolutely worth investing in for the long haul.

$600+ Used

Michell Engineering Gyro SE Mk 2

Somewhere around the price of your first used car you will find the Gyro SE Mk 2 Turntable from forty-year-old British brand Michell Engineering. What started as a garden shed operation evolved into one of the most respected turntable manufacturers on the planet, which is apparent with the Gyro SE Mk 2. Originally inspired by the space ship Discovery from 2001: A Space Odyssey (which John Michell actually built for Kubrick), the Gyro SE Mk 2 features everything from a suspended stable subchassis, gold-plated brass weights and an inverted oil-pumping bearing. It also happens to be mechanically gorgeous.


AV DesignHaus Dereneville VPM 2010-1

Only the Germans could create something as precise, over-engineered and completely absurd as the AV DesignHaus Dereneville VPM 2010-1. The machine that looks like a luxury version of some sort of high-end manufacturing tool, and costs as much, includes: a camera for precise tracking, solid Corian chassis with air suspension, touch screen remote controls, an electronic microscope and a whole host of other features that don’t translate properly from the native German. We don’t know how many of these things were actually built, but at $650,000 each, the number is probably pretty small.


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