Are you tired of your favorite records sitting in a box in the basement? That’s no way to treat the oldies and the goodies. What you need is one of the best vintage turntables to bring that beautiful melody back to life, and keep its original sound.

Instead, you might consider purchasing a new turntable that will give you the same vintage feel without breaking the bank. Still, figuring out how to choose the best vintage turntable to get that authentic sound can be tricky.

There are many turntable options on the market and deciphering all the features might be more than overwhelming. That’s especially true when you want the best vintage turntable — or one as close to vintage as you can get.

And this is even truer if you’re just beginning your vinyl journey.

So, it’s important to start with the basics.

Turntables 101

vintage turntable made of wood

It may seem simple, but to understand the features of a turntable, you need to know about its anatomy. All turntables have the same components, although the quality of each component will differ between price ranges.

And if you’re particularly nitpicky, there’s even a difference between a turntable and a record player. So, let’s start with that first.

Record player or turntable?

Many people use the terms “record player” and “turntable” interchangeably. They both play records, so what’s the difference, right?

Well, a record player is an all-in-one device which includes speakers and a built-in amplifier so you can simply plug it in and start listening to your records.

On the other hand, a turnable is a standalone device that turns the records and needs external components so you can hear what’s playing.

However, unless you’re a hardcore audiophile, the best vintage turntable you seek may often include built-in speakers in its base. Does this mean you’d have a record player and not a turntable?

It depends on how you look at it. Many turntables today also include modern technology like USB ports and Bluetooth connectivity where you still have to purchase external amplification. So, unless you’re nitpicky, you can call the best vintage turntable whatever you want.

And as long as it plays records the way you want to hear them, what you call the device doesn’t matter.

The guts are what matters

needle of a turntable

Every turntable or record player has the same components.

First, we have the cartridge which houses the stylus or needle. The stylus is the part that fits into the grooves of a record and plays it back. The cartridge fits on the end of the tonearm and can be changed when the needle needs replacement.

The tonearm holds the stylus and cartridge, and it can either be straight or curved. In addition, the tonearm includes a counterweight either pre-balanced or with one that requires manual balancing.

A properly balanced counterweight allows the record to play smoothly without any skipping. A tonearm can also include an anti-skate dial which prevents the needle from skimming across the record’s surface.

Next, we have the platter and mat. The platter rotates the records. Heavier platters are better because they can minimize vibrations and variations in record-playing speed.

The mat sits on top of the platter and is usually made of soft rubber. It acts as a cushion between the platter and the record.

Digging deeper

Then, we have the motor, which can either be belt-driven or direct-drive. Belt-driven turntables feature a belt that runs from the motor to spin the platter. In a direct-drive turntable, the motor is part of the platter.

There’s a debate about which one is better. Some turntable aficionados say the separation of the motor from the platter produces better sound. Others say it makes no difference. So, essentially, it boils down to preference.

And the best vintage turntable in today’s world can have either.

Finally, there’s the plinth which is just a fancy term for the cabinet that houses all of the above components. Classic vintage turntables are made of wood, but the best vintage turntable of today can be made from a variety of materials.

Also, some people refer to the plinth as the deck which is much more user-friendly, don’t you think?

Choosing the Best Vintage Turntable

vinyl played on turntable

So, now that you have the basics down, it’s time to consider what features you want when you purchase the best vintage turntable.

Manual or automatic

Turntables are either manual or automatic. Manual means you do the work of lifting the tonearm and placing the needle on the record. It also means you have to remove it once the record is done playing.

On the other hand, an automatic turntable does all the work for you. All you have to do is push a button for the tonearm to lift and drop the needle on the first track of the record. It’ll also return back to its rest position once the record is done playing. Plus, it automatically shuts down the motor.

It doesn’t matter which type you choose. What matters is how involved you want to be in your vinyl listening experience.

How sturdy is your deck?

As we learned, the deck is the cabinet that holds all the components of the turntable. Back in the day, the best vintage turntable was usually made of wood or steel. Sturdier materials meant less chance of vibration, which affects the quality of sound.

However, the best vintage turntable of today can be made of many sturdy materials, including plastic. So, what you choose is entirely up to you. And today’s turntables have some sleek and gorgeous designs.

Phono preamp

vintage turntable playing

Phono preamps are an available output for you to listen to your records on external speakers or headphones. Some turntables have preamps built-in, but others do not.

If they don’t, then you’ll have to purchase a separate amplifier. However, if that’s something you want to do, you still need to make sure the turntable has output connections available.

Plus, not all turntables with built-in phono preamp will let you upgrade or change it out.

Playback speed

All turntables play records at 2 different speeds. 33.5 RPM plays 12-inch records while 45 RPM plays 7-inch records. So, when you see “two-speed” on the specs, that’s what it means.

Some turntables play at 78 RPM, which is what you’d need to play your great-grandparent’s 10-inch record collection. However, you’d probably have to purchase a vintage before vintage record player or at least a different kind of needle to spin those gems.

Modern features

Some turntables — even the best vintage turntable of today — include a USB port so you can make digital copies of your favorite albums. So, if you want to take the music with you, this is an option to consider.

However, remember that if you’re looking for the “vintage experience,” listening to a record on your phone isn’t anywhere near “vintage.”

In addition, other turntables have Bluetooth, which is a convenient option to control your music from anywhere in the house.

RELATED READS: Do You Need a Preamp for Your Turntable?

How We Found the Best

a man setting up the turntable

We conducted extensive research to find recommendations for the best vintage turntable from sources like Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Devoted to Vinyl, Playback.fm, hiconsumption.com, Crutchfield, and Mixmag.

Our research included learning about the various features that make the best vintage turntable the best. We also checked manufacturer websites for product specifications for these recommended turntables.

From that information, we picked a list of turntables as near to vintage as we could get based on the quality of sound, design, and customer reviews.

Once we had a preliminary list, we checked user and professional reviews of each turntable from YouTube, Analog Planet, techradar.com, Forbes, and CNET to choose our final list.

The Best Vintage Turntable: Our Top 6 Picks

Although we’ve numbered our picks, it does not signify a ranking.

1. Audio-Technica AT-LP60X Fully Automatic Belt-Drive Turntable

Audio-Technica AT-LP60X-BK Fully Automatic Belt-Drive Stereo Turntable, Black, Hi-Fi, 2 Speed, Dust Cover, Anti-Resonance, Die-Cast Aluminum Platter
  • Experience the high fidelity audio of vinyl
  • Fully automatic belt drive turntable operation with 2 speeds: 33 1/3, 45 RPM
  • Anti resonance, die cast aluminum platter
  • Redesigned tone arm base and head shell for improved tracking and reduced resonance
  • Ac adapter handles AC/DC conversion outside of the chassis, reducing noise in the signal chain
The Audio Technica AT-LP60X Fully Automatic Belt-Drive Turntable is a belt-driven record player that delivers vintage-quality sound in a sleek design.
The tonearm features an integrated cartridge, so all you have to change is the stylus when needed. Plus, it comes with a built-in phono preamp that is upgradeable. In addition, it’s fully automatic so just press a button, and you can enjoy your favorite album
Product specs
  • Two speed
  • Die-cast aluminum platter
  • Built-in phono preamp
  • Changeable stylus Includes RCA output cable, a 45 adapter, and dust cover

PROS

CONS

  • Fully automatic
  • Vintage-quality sound
  • Sometimes skips
  • Missing parts upon arrival
Watch this review for more:

2. Fluance RT81 High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable

Fluance RT81 Elite High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable Record Player with Audio Technica AT95E Cartridge, Belt Drive, Built-in Preamp, Adjustable Counterweight, Solid Wood Plinth - Walnut
  • PURE ANALOG LISTENING EXPERIENCE - Premium components allow this high fidelity belt driven turntable to recreate the performance the way the artist intended
  • HIGH PERFORMANCE CARTRIDGE - The Audio Technica AT95E featuring a diamond elliptical tipped stylus is designed to track your record grooves with greater precision & accuracy for high definition audio
  • SUPERIOR RECORD TRACKING - Enjoy perfect playback using the balanced aluminum S-Type tonearm ensuring the stylus is rested deep in your record's groove, producing every audio detail indistinguishable from the original recording
  • SOLID WOOD PLINTH - The beautiful walnut finished cabinet is crafted from solid engineered (MDF) wood, incorporates isolation feet, an aluminum platter and a rubber slip mat which results in superior isolation from unwanted vibrations
  • CAPTIVATING SIGNAL CLARITY - Incorporating a high quality built-in Texas Instruments preamp, ground terminal and gold plated RCA line outputs that ensures warm, true sound
The Fluance RT81 High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable is a two-speed belt-driven turntable that offers a rich sound in a solid and attractive-looking cabinet. This turntable features an S-type tonearm with a calibrated counterweight and anti-skate dial which makes it easy to set up and use.
Plus, it has an Audio Technica AT95E cartridge with a diamond-tipped stylus for smooth tracking and sound.
Product specs
  • Aluminum platter
  • Upgradeable phono-preamp and cartridge
  • Includes dust cover, a 45 adapter, and an RCA cable
  • Lifetime customer support

PROS

CONS

  • Reasonably priced
  • Good sound quality
  • Speed is inconsistent with longer playing times
  • Rubber mat may attract static
  • Semi-automatic
The only issue seems to be speed consistency with longer playing times.
Check out this review below:

3. Pioneer PL-30-K Turntable

Pioneer PL-30-K Audiophile Stereo Turntable with Dual-Layered Chassis and Phono EQ
  • ULTIMATE LISTENING. This turntable allows seasoned vinyl lovers to upgrade their existing phono system, while new-generation music listeners can explore the thrill of collecting and engage with music in a way unique to the vinyl experience.
  • PHONO EQ. A built-in Phono Equalizer with On/Through Selector: On for Connecting Amps without Phono Terminal, Through when using external phono equalizer.
  • BELT DRIVE. The high inertia Aluminum die-cast platter is driven by a high torque DC motor for 33-1/3 and 45 rpm. Supports a 5mm-thick rubber mat that suppresses external vibrations while treating your precious vinyl with the greatest of care.
  • STATIC-BALANCED STRAIGHT TONE-ARM. A straight tone-arm is employed for high-tracking accuracy. The anti-skating mechanism also ensures accurate tracking of vinyl records.
  • FEATURES. Packed with Turntable, turntable sheet, dust cover, adapter for EP record, balance weight, head-shell with cartridge, spare lead wires, power cord, assemble instruction with manual
The Pioneer PL-30-K Turntable makes this best vintage turntable list because it’s designed to do one thing: play records. There are no fancy features on this turntable, but what it does have is the ability to play music the way you want to hear it — a rich and clean sound.
This fully automatic turntable has a balanced tonearm complete with an upgradeable cartridge to produce a rock-solid sound. Plus, the die-cast aluminum platter is center-weighted so you can groove to your favorite album without worrying about skipping.
Product specs
  • Belt-driven
  • Built-in preamp
  • Audio-Technica cartridge
  • RCA connectors
  • Dust cover

PROS

CONS

  • Flawless performance
  • Minimalistic design
  • Easy setup
  • No anti-skating dial
  • May have speed issues
  • High-priced for minimum features
Check out the review below:

4. Teac TN-400S

Teac TN-400S Belt-Driven Turntable with S-Shaped Tonearm in Matte Bordeaux
  • High-Quality Analog Playback
  • Built-in USB Digital Output and Analog Phono/Line Output
  • Built-In Phono Preamp
  • A2D Converter
If you’re looking for a fully manual turntable, then the Teac TN-400S might be the one to end your best vintage turntable quest. This turntable is not only gorgeous to look at, but it also sounds great right out of the box.
It features a straight tonearm equipped with an Audio-Technica cartridge for a smooth sound. And the adjustable feet help reduce vibration, which means you can rock out without missing a beat.
Plus, you can transfer your favorite albums to a USB so you can listen to them whenever and wherever you want.
Product specs
  • Belt-driven system
  • Die-cast aluminum platter
  • Built-in phono amp
  • Removable dust cover
  • USB port

PROS

CONS

  • Budget-friendly
  • Solid build
  • May have a slight humming sound on occasion
  • Cartridge not upgradeable
Watch the review below:

5. 1byone Belt Driven Bluetooth Turntable with Built-in Stereo Speaker

1byone Belt Driven Turntable with Built in Stereo Speaker, Wireless Connection Vintage Style Record Player, Vinyl to MP3 Recording, Natural Wood
  • 1byone Belt Driven Turntable with Built in Stereo Speaker, Wireless Connection Vintage Style Record Player, Vinyl to MP3 Recording, Natural Wood
Vinyl snobs might sneer that the 1byone Belt Driven Bluetooth Turntable is on this best vintage turntable list, but it’s a quality turntable that produces quality vintage sound. Plus, you can even play your grandparents’ old 78s on this 3-speed deck.
In addition, it even looks vintage with its wood finish, and it’s built solidly enough to reduce vibrations and skipping. However, features are limited, including the fact it has no built-in preamp.
Product specs
  • Belt-driven
  • Three-speed
  • Vinyl-to-MP3 recording
  • Bluetooth compatible
  • Built-in speakers
  • USB port
  • Dust cover
  • Ceramic needle

PROS

CONS

  • Retro look
  • Three-speed settings
  • No built-in preamp
  • Limited capabilities
Check out the review below:

6. House of Marley Stir It Up Turntable

House of Marley Stir It Up Turntable: Vinyl Record Player with 2 Speed Belt, Built-in Pre-Amp, and Sustainable Materials
  • SUPERIOR SOUND: Our Stir It Up Turntable offers a modular Audio Technica cartridge and built-in pre-amp that delivers premium audio quality and lets you enjoy your every sonic detail of your favorite vinyl records. If you prefer to use your own pre-amp, simply switch the internal amp off to connect one of your choice.
  • PREMIUM FEATURES: Play any 33 or 45 RPM records while the anti-skate control and the auto start/stop help to protect your vinyl from damage. The USB port and included cable allow you to convert your records to a digital format.
  • UNMATCHED DESIGN: The minimalistic, streamlined design of this record player makes for a stunning and functional statement piece. The aluminum platter and metal tonearm provide a subtle contrast against the warm, solid bamboo plinth. You’ll notice our attention to detail through unique touches like the Bob Marley quote engraved on the tonearm.
  • SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS: Embrace your natural style with Marley’s message of craftsmanship and sustainability. Our turntables are designed with natural bamboo, our eco-friendly REWIND fabric and REGRIND silicone, recycled plastic, recyclable aluminum, and delivered in 100% recyclable packaging.
The House of Marley Stir It Up Turntable might be the most eco-friendly turntable on the planet. This two-speed belt-driven turntable features a bamboo plinth which gives it an exotic and unique look. Plus, most of the other parts of this turntable are made from recyclable or upcycled materials.
And if you think this turntable only looks good, you’ll be glad to know it sounds good, too. The metal tonearm features a changeable cartridge as well as an anti-skating dial. And it also has rubber feet on the bottom to reduce vibration.
Product specs
  • Semi-automatic
  • Aluminum alloy platter
  • Built-in phono preamp
  • Replaceable stylus
  • USB port
  • Headphone jack
  • Removable fabric dust cover

PROS

CONS

  • Eco-friendly design
  • Warm, dynamic sound
  • Easy to set up
  • Wobbly platter
  • Sometimes makes “popping” sound while playing
Watch the following review for more details:

Get an Authentic Sound and Feel with the Best Vintage Turntable

The best vintage turntable doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Vintage means different things to different people, and you can get the vintage feel and sound you desire with a modern turntable that is much lighter on the wallet.

Plus, modern-day “vintage” turntables are a lot more stylish and much easier to maintain than the turntables of old. But the most important thing is that you enjoy the look, feel, and sound of your new vintage turntable.

What do you think is the best vintage turntable? Share your thoughts below!

Last update on 2021-04-19 at 13:32 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API