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9 Best Turntables with Built-In Preamp

In this article, we’ll review 9 great turntables with built-in preamp (phono stage). 

We’ll first look at 4 great budget and affordable options.

Then we’ll review 5 higher quality turntables that are the top-of-the-line turntables with preamp from leading manufacturers.  

The benefit of a turntable with a built-in preamp is that it can connect directly to all stereo receivers, powered speakers and other audio systems without the need of a separate preamp.

It gives fewer boxes to place and fewer cables to hide. Fewer frustrations. And money saved.

My top recommendation for an affordable turntable with preamp is the Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT. It has a preamp, Bluetooth and it is fully automatic. I own one myself and it is a complete bargain.

If you are looking the very best turntable with a built-in preamp my top recommendation is the Rega Planar 1 Plus. It combines the award-winning Rega Planar 1 turntable with the award-winning Rega Fono Mini A2D into a very elegantly designed package that is hard to beat.

But there are other great options as well. Below are 9 great turntables with built-in preamps to consider.

#1 – Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT

CATEGORY: AFFORDABLE

If you are looking for a budget turntable with preamp, then 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.

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

DriveBelt
Speed33 and 45 RPM
Cartridge ATN3600L
PlatterAluminum
PreampYes
USBNo
BluetoothYes

PROS

  • Affordable
  • High-value
  • Fully Automatic
  • Bluetooth

CONS

  • Nothing at this price point

VERDICT

The AT-LP60XBT is arguably the most popular and best value budget turntable on the market today. Highly recommended.

Click here to check price on Amazon.

#2 – Sony PS-LX310BT

CATEGORY: AFFORDABLE

Another great option is the Sony PS-LX310BT. The leading Hi-Fi publication What Hi-Fi labeled this “one of the best sounding fully-automatic turntables we have ever heard” and gave it a score of 14 out of 15.

It might be difficult to choose between this and the AT-LP60XBT above if you are in the market for an affordable turntable with preamp. They have very similar features and specs. Both are great options. It might come down to current pricing and personal preference for design.

DriveBelt
Speed33 and 45 RPM
Cartridge MM
PlatterAluminum
Preamp Yes
USBNo
BluetoothYes

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Fully Automatic
  • Bluetooth
  • Nice clean look

CONS

  • Nothing at this price point

VERDICT

A great affordable turntable with preamp that has received great reviews. A very good option.

Click here to check price on Amazon.

#3 – Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB

CATEGORY: AFFORDABLE

The Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB was the first turntable I bought when I got tired of digital music and restarted my vinyl journey. And it is a very impressive package for the money.

Save for Bluetooth and automatic operation, it probably has every feature you could wish for in a turntable.

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.

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.

It is also 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.

DriveDirect
Speed33, 45 and 78 RPM
Cartridge AT95E
PlatterAluminum
Preamp Yes
USBYes
BluetoothNo

PROS

  • DJ turntable for a low price
  • Lots of features
  • Iconic design
  • Easy to upgrade cartridge

CONS

  • Not the cleanest looking
  • Looks not for everyone

VERDICT

The AT-LP120XUSB is probably the obvious choice if you want an affordable DJ-style turntable with built-in preamp.

Click here to check price on Amazon.

#4 – Audio-Technica AT-LP3BK

CATEGORY: AFFORDABLE

Another great fully automatic turntable from Audio-Technica is the AT-LP3BK. It doesn’t feature Bluetooth wireless, but it comes stock with a 1/2″ mount universal headshell and AT91R Dual Moving Magnet phono cartridge.

The Audio-Technica AT-LP3BK will sound good out of the box, but the option to replace the cartridge gives the opportunity to upgrade to a higher quality cartridge for even better sound down the line.

DriveBelt
Speed33 and 45 RPM
Cartridge AT91R 
PlatterAluminum
Preamp Yes
USBNo
BluetoothNo

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Fully automatic
  • Classic layout

CONS

  • Feels a little plasticky

VERDICT

A great option if you are looking for an affordable turntable with preamp that has a classic layout and the option to upgrade the cartridge.

Click here to check price on Amazon.

#5 – Rega Planar 1 Plus

CATEGORY: HIGH-QUALITY

With the Rega Planar 1 Plus, the well respected engineers at Rega have merged the award-winning Rega Planar 1 turntable with the award-winning Rega Fono Mini A2D phono preamp into an elegantly designed package that gives very high value for money.

The Rega Planar 1 Plus is rewarded with best buys and recommendations from major Hi-Fi publications such as What Hi-Fi and Hi-Fi Choice. It is my top pick for a quality turntable with built-in preamp.

DriveBelt
Speed33 and 45 RPM
Cartridge Rega Carbon
PlatterPhenolic
PreampYes
USBNo
BluetoothNo

PROS

  • Elegant design
  • Look and feel expensive
  • Includes the award-winning Rega Fono Mini A2D preamp (ex. USB)
  • Easy to upgrade cartridge with Rega’s plug-and-play 3-mount system

CONS

  • Nothing at this price point

VERDICT

The Rega Planar 1 Plus is probably the most elegant and best value turntable with preamp on the market today.

Click here to check price on Amazon.

#6 – U-Turn Orbit Plus with Preamp

CATEGORY: HIGH-QUALITY

My runner-up for high-quality turntables with preamp is the U-Turn Orbit Plus with preamp. I place it slightly behind the Rega Planar 1 Plus because it does not include an as highly regarded preamp as the Rega and it doesn’t fully match the Rega’s elegant and expensive look. But that is hugely down to personal taste. And the money you save by buying the U-Turn instead of the Rega might be reason enough to make it the best choice for you.

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. It combines great sound, simple and elegant design with a wide variety of configurable options in a way that no competitors can match.

DriveBelt
Speed33 and 45 RPM
Cartridge Several options
PlatterAcrylic
PreampYes
USBNo
BluetoothNo

PROS

  • Can be configured with a variety of cartridges from the factory
  • Acrylic platter
  • Simple and elegant design

CONS

  • Nothing at this price point

VERDICT

Being nicely designed, well reviewed, and highly configurable, the U-Turn Orbit Plus becomes a very desirable turntable with preamp.

Click here to check price on Amazon.

#7 – Pro-Ject Debut Carbon USB

CATEGORY: HIGH-QUALITY

The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC is one of the most respected entry-level turntable on the market. When it is equipped with a built-in preamp, as in the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon USB, it becomes a package it is impossible to overlook when searching for a great turntable with a built-in preamp.

DriveBelt
Speed33 and 45 RPM
Cartridge Ortofon OM10
PlatterMetal
PreampYes
USBYes
BluetoothNo

PROS

  • Simple design with focus on high value and maximum sonic performance
  • USB output

CONS

  • Doesn’t come as standard with an Ortofon 2M Red cartridge like the non-USB version does.

VERDICT

The fact that Pro-Ject has fitted an older OM10 cartridge on the USB version instead of the Ortofon 2M Red cartridge they fit to the standard version makes this package slightly disappointing in my opinion. The difference might however not be substantial. But still, the Ortofon 2M Red is a big selling point for the regular Pro-Ject Debut Carbon.

Click here to check price on Amazon.

#8 – Audio-Technica AT-LP7

CATEGORY: HIGH-QUALITY

Audio-Technica is the only manufacturer (I’ve found) that includes preamps in all their products. Also in their top of the line Audio-Technica AT-LP7. It is a solid and well-built turntable that features the highest quality cartridge of all the turntables on this list.

DriveBelt
Speed33 and 45 RPM
Cartridge VM520EB
PlatterPolyoxymethylene
PreampYes
USBNo
BluetoothNo

PROS

  • VM520EB cartridge
  • Very solid look and feel

CONS

  • The most expensive turntable on this list
  • The DJ inspired design might not be as elegant as some of the other turntables on this list

VERDICT

The look and feel might inspire to Audio-Technica fans, but might lack the elegance we see in some of the other turntables for non Audio-Technica fans. It features the highest quality cartridge on this list as standard, but it is also the most expensive turntable on this list.

Click here to check price on Amazon.

#9 – Denon DP-400

CATEGORY: HIGH-QUALITY

The Denon DP-400 is a semi-automatic turntable with a built-in preamp. Its bigger brother, the DP-450, is equipped with an USB port that makes it possible to digitize records. But that is not the case for the DP-400.

DriveBelt
Speed33, 45 and 78 RPM
Cartridge CN-6518
PlatterMetal
PreampYes
USBNo
Bluetooth No

PROS

  • Easy to set up
  • Plays 78 RPM records (stylus replacement required)
  • Semi-automatic (tonearm returns automatically after the last song)

CONS

  • The design of the dust cover is not for everyone
  • Might lack x-factor.

VERDICT

The Denon DP-400 seems to me to be the turntable that receives great reviews but struggles to spark real emotions in the vinyl community. It offers more usable functions than the other turntables on this list as it can play 78 RPM records and is semi-automatic. If those features are important to you, the Denon DP-400 might be the best choice for you.

Click here to check price on Amazon.

Conclusion

All the turntables covered in this article are great and highly regarded products that offer great value for money. You will not go wrong by choosing any of them. Your budget and design preferences might be the deciding factors for which one to choose.

If you have narrowed your list down to two or three models, but find it hard to make the final decision, it might be worth visiting your local Hi-Fi dealer to experience the candidates hands on before you make the final call. It will probably make the choice easier if you see and test the final candidates live.

That said, I strongly believe the Rega Planar 1 Plus is the best and safest choice for most people. A fantastic turntable combined with an award-winning preamp in such an elegant and expensive looking package for entry-level amounts of money is just hard to beat.

I have to admit that I am a Rega fanboy myself. I have the Rega Planar 2 turntable and the Rega Fono Mini A2D preamp. Almost the same package as the Rega Planar 1 Plus. And I love that setup. I sound great. It looks great. And it feels super solid and well built.

When Rega put together a package like the Rega Planar 1 Plus, I see no competitors that can match that.

My runner-up is the U-Turn Orbit Plus with preamp. It is not far behind the Rega, but it lacks the X-factor that the Rega Planar 1 Plus has when it comes to quality of the built-in preamp and elegant design. But the money saved when choosing the U-Turn might make it an equally great choice as the Rega overall.

If you are looking for an affordable turntable with preamp, then the Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBK definitely gets my vote. 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 awesome.

What makes a good turntable?

For a turntable to be good, it must be mechanically stable, be able to rotate the record with a very stable and exact speed, have good grounding and good signal-to-noise ratio, and a have stable and correctly adjusted tonearm.

When all the mechanics mentioned above are good and the cartridge is give good working conditions, the dominating factor becomes the quality of the cartridge itself. This is why upgrading the cartridge on a turntable that have the mechanical fundamentals in place can take it to the next level sonically.

What is a preamp?

A preamp (or phono stage) is an electric circuit that converts the PHONO signal from a turntable cartridge to a LINE level signal.

It can be a standalone box or built into turntables, stereo receivers or active speakers.

When a PHONO signal is converted from PHONO to LINE it is boosted from approximately 5mV (for MM cartridges) to 300mV. It is also tone corrected (RIAA equalized) to achieve a flat frequency response.

For a more in-depth explanation, please check out this article:

PHONO and LINE Explained

Do I need a preamp?

For a home stereo to play vinyl records, it is absolutely necessary to include a phono preamp (or phono stage) in one way or another.

For a more in-depth explanation, please check out this article.

Do I need a preamp for my turntable?

Can I connect my turntable directly to speakers?

If you have powered speakers with an amplifier built-in, and there is a phono preamp included in either your turntable or in your powered speakers, it is possible to connect the turntable directly to the speakers.

All the turntables mentioned in this article can be connected directly to powered speakers. But to connect them to passive speakers, you will also need a stereo receiver (amplifier).

Resources

Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT (Audio-Technica)

Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB (Audio-Technica)

Sony PS-LX310BT (Sony)

Audio-Technica AT-LP3BK (Audio-Technica)

Rega Planar 1 Plus (Rega Research)

U-Turn Orbit Plus (U-Turn Audio)

Project Debut Carbon USB (Pro-Ject Audio Systems)

Audio-Technica AT-LP7 (Audio-Technica)

Denon DP-400 (Denon)

RIAA equalization (Wikipedia)

Rega Planar 1 Plus Overview (Youtube)

Rega Planar 1 Plus review – What Hi-Fi

Rega Planar 1 Plus review – Hi-Fi Choice

Rega Planar 1 Plus review – avforums.com

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