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5 Great Beginner Turntables

What is a good turntable for someone starting out with vinyl records?

That is one of the most common question people ask me.

So, in this article, we’ll look at 5 great beginner turntables.

The first three turntables we’ll look at are in the affordable price category.

While the last two are midrange turntables that are great if you have a bigger budget to start out with.

We’ll also look into what makes a great beginner turntable.

And I will show you the main pitfall to avoid when shopping for a turntable for the first time.

What makes a good beginner turntable?

What should you look for when buying a beginner turntable or record player?

#1 – Don’t destroy records. There are, unfortunately, some very cheap record players that are reported to ruin records. The main reason is that the needle have too high tracking force and dig into the records too much. Records are expensive. And records may have high emotional value to us as well. So we want to be sure that we don’t buy a turntable that ruin records.

#2 – Good build quality. We want to make sure that our new turntable is built to last. For years and decades.

#3 – Good sound quality. Records can sound very good, and is often the preferred music format by audiophiles for that reason. When buying a turntable, we want it to sound as good as possible for the money we put in.

#4 – Nice design. We want a turntable that look good and has a nice design.

What is the main pitfall to avoid when buying a record player or turntable?

The main pitfall to avoid when buying a new turntable is to buy a super cheap all-in-one record player. With all-in-one I mean those that have small speakers built into the chassis.

The problem with these all-in-one record players is that they can potentially harm your records, they aren’t really built to last and will sound quite poor with those small speakers built-in.

We will get a much better record playing experience if we buy the record player and the speakers separately.

I will show you great beginner turntable and powered speakers packages later in this article.

Great affordable turntables for beginners

Let’s look at three great affordable turntables for beginners.

These are best-selling turntables from leading manufacturers.

They come with a preamp built-in and can be connected directly to amplifiers, receivers and powered speakers.

#1 – Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT

Best Budget Beginner Turntable

If you are a beginner on a budget, the Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT is probably the best option for you. It looks great and is one of the most popular turntables on the market today.

I recently bought an AT-LP60XBT myself. As a turntable enthusiast that write a lot about turntables, it is one of those turntables I just had to include in my collection. And it is definitely a bargain.

The AT-LP60XBT comes with Bluetooth built-in and can play music wirelessly to wireless speakers and wireless headphones. But it also comes in a standard version without Bluetooth.

The standard version without Bluetooth is called AT-LP60X.

And the Bluetooth version is called AT-LP60XBT.

The non-Bluetooth version cost less money than the Bluetooth version, so if you don’t see a need for a wireless connection, the standard version will save you a bit of money.

Even though it is an inexpensive turntable, it generally receives good reviews from Hi-Fi critics and it is considered to be one of the best sounding turntable in its price range.

And, as opposed to some of the even cheaper options out there, it is not reported to damage records at all.

FEATURES

  • Bluetooth Wireless
  • Built-in Phono Preamp
  • Belt Drive
  • Fully Automatic
  • 33RPM and 45RPM
  • Integral AT3600L Cartridge
  • Replaceable Diamond Stylus
  • Fixed Tonearm
  • Many Different Colors

PROS

  • Affordable
  • No need for separate preamp
  • Modern design
  • Connects to wireless speakers and wireless headphones

CONS

  • Sound good but not fantastic
  • Cartridge can’t be upgraded

Click here to check price on Amazon.

#2 – Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB

Best DJ-Style Beginner Turntable

The Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB was the first turntable I bought when I got tired of digital music and restarted my vinyl journey.

It is a super popular DJ-style turntable that mimics the legendary Technics 1200 that has been (and still is) the go-to turntable for many of the world-class DJs.

If you want a beginner DJ-style turntable that doesn’t break the bank, the AT-LP120XUSB is probably an obvious choice.

Personally, I quickly realized that this was not the right turntable for me. I am no DJ and use my turntables for music listening only. Not scratching. But if you want a turntable that can scratch, or simply love the looks and features of the AT-LP120XUSB, it might be perfect for you.

When there are kids in the house, they love playing records on the LP-120 and totally ignore my much simpler looking (and much more expensive) Rega Planar 2.

The AT-LP120XUSB comes with a built-in preamp, the option to digitize records via USB, and all the popular DJ features like direct-drive and pitch control.

And it is a great project turntable to upgrade for better sound down the line. You will find lots of tips on AT-LP120 upgrades on this site.

FEATURES

  • Built-in Phono Preamp
  • USB Output
  • Direct Drive
  • Manually Operated
  • 33RPM, 45RPM and 78RPM
  • Pitch control
  • Forward and Reverse Play
  • Replaceable AT95E Cartridge
  • Fully adjustable tonearm

PROS

  • Amazing value for money
  • No need for separate preamp
  • Can be used for DJ and music listening
  • Lots of features

CONS

  • Not the most elegant design
  • Needs optional stylus for scratching and 78RPM

Click here to check price on Amazon

#3 – U-Turn Orbit Plus with Preamp

Best Beginner Turntable for Passionate Music Listening

I can’t think of a better music listening turntable for beginners than the US made U-Turn Orbit Plus with preamp.

It offers the perfect balance between price, performance, and design in my opinion.

Designed and manufactured in Massachusetts, US by real and authentic turntable enthusiasts, the Orbit Plus has become a huge success since it was launched in 2012. And it is well reviewed by Hi-Fi critics and owners.

If you want a very good, but still affordable turntable to start out with, you will not go wrong with the U-Turn Orbit Plus.

FEATURES

  • Built-in Phono Preamp
  • Belt Drive
  • Manually Operated
  • 33RPM and 45RPM
  • Replaceable Cartridge
  • Acrylic platter
  • Many Different Colors

PROS

  • Great Sound
  • Nice Design
  • Many Color Options
  • Cartridge can be upgraded for even better sound

CONS

  • Cue lever costs extra

Click here to check price on Amazon.

Great midrange turntables for beginners

What are great turntables to invest in if you want to up the ante and buy a midrange turntable right away?

Below are two awesome turntables we love to recommend for seasoned vinyl spinners here at Vinyl Restart.

They are both from Rega Research, which is arguably the world’s leading manufacturer of higher-quality turntables.

These will cost more than the three great beginner turntables above. But they will offer a higher quality sound, feel and look.

#4 – Rega Planar 1 Plus

Best Midrange Turntable with Preamp

The Rega Planar 1 Plus combines the award-winning Rega Planar 1 turntable with the award-winning Rega Fono Mini A2D preamp. It might be the turntable with built-in preamp on the market that offers the most value for money.

Design is obviously all about preference, but in my eyes, the Rega Planar 1 Plus is also one of the most elegant looking turntables around. It also feels very expensive and well-built.

If you are really serious about picking a very good turntable with preamp to start out with, the Rega Planar 1 Plus will not disappoint.

NB! The standard Rega Planar 1 doesn’t have a built-in preamp. Only the Plus version comes with a preamp built in.

FEATURES

  • Built-in Phono Preamp
  • Belt Drive
  • Manually Operated
  • 33RPM and 45RPM
  • Replaceable Rega Carbon Cartridge
  • High-quality RB110 tonearm
  • High mass, phenolic platter

PROS

  • Great sound
  • Elegant design
  • Very high-quality preamp
  • Cartridge can be upgraded for even better sound
  • Easy to set up

CONS

  • Might start to get expensive for most beginners

Click here to check price on Amazon.

#5 – Rega Planar 2

Best Midrange Turntable without Preamp

The Rega Planar 2 is probably the best sounding turntable under $1000. And the best looking in my opinion!

But I might be a bit biased as the Rega Planar 2 is the turntable I bought to use for my vinyl spinning, after spending lots of time researching and testing different models.

And I love everything about it.

If you fancy even better sound quality at some point, then the Rega Planar 2 is a great foundation to upgrade with one of the higher-end cartridges from Rega’s own cartridge line or with a cartridge from any of the other major brand.

I have upgraded mine with a Rega Exact cartridge and it now performs at a level where I am 100% satisfied with every aspect of its sonic performance.

The Rega Planar 2 is a traditional purist turntable and does not feature a built-in preamp.

FEATURES

  • External preamp needed (!!!)
  • Belt Drive
  • Manually Operated
  • 33RPM and 45RPM
  • Replaceable Rega Carbon Cartridge
  • High-quality RB220 tonearm
  • Glass platter

PROS

  • Great sound
  • Elegant design
  • Cartridge can be upgraded for even better sound
  • Easy to set up

CONS

  • Might start to get expensive for most beginners

Click here to check price on Amazon.

Great beginner turntable and powered speakers packages

Below are two of my favorite turntable and powered speakers packages ideal for beginners.

With these packages you won’t need an amplifier/receiver as the amplifier is built into the speakers.

Option #1

A great cheap package is the AT-LP60XBK turntable and the Edifier R1280T powered speakers. The links above are to the non-Bluetooth versions of both the turntable and the speakers.

When you open the box and pick up the R1280Ts for the first time, you never believe that you got them so cheap. And the same feeling continues as you put them on sound. You can’t find better powered speakers for this price in my opinion.

Option #2

Another great package that will offer a higher sonic experience, but also require a bigger budget, is to pair the U-Turn Orbit Plus with preamp with the fantastic Audioengine A5 Plus powered speakers.

The Audioengine A5 Plus comes both in a Bluetooth and non-Bluetooth version.

When I was looking for great powered speakers to use with my turntables, I did a lot of research and found the Audioengine A5 Plus to have the X-factor its competitions were missing. I bought them and they are simply amazing for the price.

The Audioengine A5 Plus not only looks great and have received great reviews for their sound and performance, but they also feature a fully analog class A/B amplifier that soften the hearts of many analog loving vinyl spinners.

How to connect a turntable?

If the turntable come with a built-in preamp, like every turntable on the list above except the Rega Planar 2 does, it connects to standard audio inputs on amplifiers, receivers and power speakers by using the included RCA connector.

For turntables without a built-in preamp, you will need to use a separate phono preamp that connects between the turntable and the amplifier, receiver or powered speakers. Or you can use an amplifier, receiver or powered speakers that have the preamp built-in.

For a complete tutorial on how to connect a turntable, please visit my How to Connect a Turntable Guide.

Conclusion

In this article, we have reviewed 5 great turntables for beginners.

The 5 best turntables for beginners are:

  1. Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT
  2. Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB
  3. U-Turn Orbit Plus with Preamp
  4. Rega Planar 1 Plus
  5. Rega Planar 2

Related Questions

What is a preamp for turntables?

The audio signal that is outputted by a turntable cartridge is much smaller than the audio signal that is outputted by other music sources like CD players, DVD players, tuners, digital streamers, mobile phones and computers.

So the audio signal from the turntable cartridge needs an extra stage of amplification to reach a standard audio signal level.

This extra stage of amplification is provided by a phono preamp.

A phono preamp can be built into the turntable, built into the amplifier/receiver and built into powered speakers.

If a phono preamp isn’t built into any of your stereo components, then you will need a separate phono preamp that connects after the turntable.

Do I need an amplifier for my turntable?

Regular turntables don’t come with an amplifier built-in.

So, you will need an amplifier between the turntable and your speakers, if you speakers are traditional passive speakers.

Another option is to use powered/active speakers that have the amplifier built into the speakers cabinet. In this case, you will not need a standalone amplifier.

Can I connect my turntable directly to speakers?

You can connect a turntable directly to speakers if:

  1. The speakers are active (have a built-in amplifier), and
  2. There is a preamp built into the turntable or the powered speakers

What is a turntable with Bluetooth?

A turntable with Bluetooth can play music wirelessly to Bluetooth wireless speakers and Bluetooth wireless headphones at a distance up to 30 feet.

Bluetooth turntables also have the traditional analog outputs, so they can be connected via cable just like other turntables.

How can I listen to vinyl with headphones?

There are many ways to listen to vinyl with headphones.

I recommend that you visit my How to Listen to Vinyl with Headphones article to review the different options.