Music Lovers Holiday Gift Guide

Popular Deals: Music Lovers Holiday Gift Guide

If you’re searching for the perfect gift for your music-loving friends and family members, we’ve compiled a quick list of the hottest deals for the holiday season. Scroll through top deals from Amazon, Target, Walmart, and record stores in our Music Lovers Holiday Gift Guide. Sales start now until the end of December, so stay tuned for price updates and new offers.

Music Lovers Holiday Gift Guide

Amazon Deals: Music Lovers Holiday Gift Guides*

Music Lovers Holiday Gift Guide
Music Lovers Holiday Gift

*As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Deals and prices are subject to change daily.

Target Deals: Music Lovers Holiday Gift Guide

Music Lovers Holiday Gift Guide

Decor

Headphones

Speakers & Audio Systems

Vinyl: Buy 2, get 1 free on books, movies, & music

Walmart Deals: Music Lovers Holiday Gift Guide

Music Lovers Holiday Gift Guide

Headphones & Speakers

Record Storage

Vinyl

Vinyl Record Deals: Record Store Day Black Friday (full list here)

Music Lovers Holiday Gift Guide

Comeback Vinyl

Drowned World Records

Hunky Dory: Local Raleigh and Durham, NC

Lunchbox Records: Charlotte, NC

Newbury Comics

The Pour House: Local Raleigh, NC

Rough Trade

Schoolkids Records: Local Raleigh and Chapel Hill, NC

Sorry State Records: Local Raleigh, NC

Urban Outfitters

Soul Step

Now Spinning from Soul Step Records: The Local Honeys & Darity

Soul Step Records

The latest vinyl pressings from Soul Step Records are all about badass women in the independent music scene. The first represses of the month came from fan-favorite The Local Honeys, the Kentucky-based bluegrass duo of Linda Jean Stokley and Montana Hobbs. The 2017 release, Little Girls Actin’ Like Men, often connects with fans of Margo Price, Tyler Childers, and The Highwomen. One of their most popular tracks, “Cigarette Trees,” kicks off the album with a banjo, a fiddle, and some surprising lyrics. “I Love You, Charlene” showcases the epic storytelling ability of this duo.

The Gospel (2019) speaks for itself with titles like “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven,” “First Church of God,” and a brilliant live cover of “Amazing Grace.” Yet, The Gospel is innovative in its own way, blending aspects of rock, gospel, and bluegrass. Picturesque mountains are calling by means of a fiddle, a banjo, and the harmonic voices of these two women.

Soul Step Records
Soul Step

Indie pop artist, Darity, inspired by the suffix in “soli-Darity,” is the multi-genre project of Linsley Hartenstein. Her introspective and melodic music resonates with fans of Phoebe Bridgers, Kate Bush, or The Japanese House. Her most recent EP, You Choose What Remains, is a must-hear record for indie music fans. “Pretending” is a dreamy introductory track to the EP, combining whimsical lyrics and lush guitar arrangements. Get in your feels with “Stay Home,” as Darity’s soft vocals transport you to a place of solace. The B-side of the vinyl contains four bonus tracks, never before featured on vinyl.

Soul Step Records

Visit Soul Step Records to purchase any of these records. Subscribe to have first dibs on all new releases. Darity’s You Choose What Remains releases to subscribers this SATURDAY, July 22nd.

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Marcus Machado Blue Diamonds

Marcus Machado Talks Blue Diamonds, Vinyl, Prince, and More

Talking with NYC guitarist Marcus Machado is like catching up with someone you’ve known for ten years. Marcus Machado partnered with Soul Step Records this May to release his most recent album, Blue Diamonds, on vinyl. He first partnered with Soul Step for his debut album, Aquarius Purple, in 2021. Both albums have been an enormous success for vinyl sales and in the realm of guitar, R&B, funk, hip-hop, and jazz fans. This year, Marcus has played Jazz Fest, featured his music in an E! special, and collaborated with many artists in the industry. We sat down with Marcus Machado to discuss everything from his Prince influence, his vinyl collection, and his new album, Blue Diamonds.

Marcus Machado Blue Diamonds

Interview with Marcus Machado

PDLR: I love your debut Aquarius Purple and your recent release, Blue Diamonds, especially on vinyl. Can you talk about the backstory of those albums?

Marcus Machado: “The story with Aquarius Purple is that the album was eight years in the making because back in 2008-2009, I was living in Amsterdam for a couple of years. I had so many songs recorded for Aquarius Purple. Then around 2017, a friend of mine reached out to me about doing a score for a short film. I never had that opportunity before, so I recorded some songs for the film and had the idea to turn them into a soundtrack album. That’s where the concept of Blue Diamonds originated.

I brought in a lot of different musicians for Blue Diamonds. There’s a strings section, bass players, and drummers, and we recorded it all in one room. Once I recorded those songs, Blue Diamonds was finished in 2017. It was initially going to be my debut album. I hesitated when the pandemic happened because it was linked to the short film and a soundtrack album. Blue Diamonds was produced more, like the Super Fly soundtrack by Curtis Mayfield. It has a real 70s type of vibe. I realized I wanted to finish Aquarius Purple since it was more guitar-driven and felt like a debut album.”

Marcus Machado on Blue Diamonds

PDLR: What inspired the name of the new album, Blue Diamonds?

Marcus Machado: “It was just the name of the short film Blue Diamonds. I wondered if it should be called something else or if I should call it, ‘The Soundtrack to Blue Diamonds,’ but it just fit the whole approach.”

PDLR: You collaborated with many people on Blue Diamonds, like Brian Owens and Jermaine Holmes, and mentioned other instrumentalists and collaborators. Can you talk about that experience?

Marcus Machado:Jermaine Holmes was the background vocalist for D’Angelo and The Vanguard. Sandra St. Victor is like my second mom. She’s the legendary singer from The Family Stand. They had their hit song called “Ghetto Heaven.” She collaborated with Chaka Khan and worked with Prince on the Emancipation album. Sandra is the only person he credited in the album notes, “Beautiful lyric by Sandra. Speaking 2 the heart…reflections live 4ever in mirrors.” I also worked with Miguel Atwood Ferguson, an incredible conductor and orchestra player. He does all the work that you hear from Flying Lotus. There are so many incredible musicians on this album, James Biscuit Rouse (drummer), Lez Lemon (bassist), and songs featuring Brian Owens, Kennedy, Rojo Lavoe, and TFox.”

PDLR: So far, I’ve pulled out “I Can’t Lose” ft. Jermaine Holmes and “Stop” ft. Brian Owens as the songs that caught my ear. Did you have any favorite songs during the writing process?

Marcus Machado: “It’s funny that you mention “I Can’t Lose” because that was the first song I started for this project. The film has a part with a funeral scene, and they wanted something bluesy but soulful. Immediately those chords and that melody started coming to me, and “I Can’t Lose” was written to music. I wrote it in about ten minutes. I sent it to Jermaine, and he came up with its whole concept. He made it like an anthem. Whatever it is that you’re going through, you can’t lose.

One of my favorite songs is “Pass Me By” ft. TFox, which just came out. I love “Thinking” ft. Miguel Atwood Ferguson. “Dig” is another favorite because I was able to be in the studio and experiment with different guitars, which I wasn’t able to do with Aquarius Purple. At the end of “Dig,” the engineer accidentally hit a button on the console, and the track immediately slowed down. I wanted to keep it in because it was interesting at the end, even though it was an accident. This album has a wide range of experimentation I hadn’t done on the previous record.”

Marcus Chats About Vinyl & Soul Step Records

PDLR: Did you collect vinyl when you were younger, and do you have a current collection?

Marcus Machado: “I’ve always been a big vinyl collector, vinyl head, and being young, my mom had a crazy collection. She influenced me in all the different genres. In our house, it was Earth, Wind & Fire, Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, and John Denver. As I got older and into my favorite music, collecting and listening to vinyl was natural. I’m an 80s baby, seeing music evolve from cassette, CD, to digital. I loved going to the store and purchasing music.

A lot of my collection is in Amsterdam. When I was there, I was able to go to London and Germany, and some of the records they have there, we can’t get here. Even my grandmother has a crazy vinyl collection. My collection is spread out, and it’s something that has always been in the family.”

“Sometimes your music can get lost if you don’t have the right people, but it’s a perfect match once you find the right ones.”

PDLR: When and how did you team up with Soul Step for your first release?

Marcus Machado: “Naturally, when it came time to make my records, I knew it would go on vinyl. When I put out new music, I want to be strategic and not have it become old in a week. I want to try to change the narrative and put out good music but put it out on vinyl.

Once I had my music recorded, before partnering with Soul Step, I wanted to find a good company that understands what I do and my overall vision. At Soul Step, with Melvin and everyone involved, it’s a perfect match. They cater to the artist and understand the vision. They know the way to put it out and make it unique. Melvin reached out to me, and I told him I already had two albums, but I wanted to get them on vinyl. We decided on Aquarius Purple, and I felt good about these projects. He introduced me to the whole world of Wax Mage (exclusive vinyl variants) and their psychedelic artwork, which is up my alley. Sometimes your music can get lost if you don’t have the right people, but it’s a perfect match once you find the right ones.

When Aquarius Purple came out, I worried people wouldn’t buy vinyl because of the pandemic. It actually worked as a domino effect because people were taking the time to sit down and listen to records. When we launched the vinyl, the Wax Mage sold out in about 50 seconds, which surprised me because it was my debut album and my first vinyl release.”

PDLR: I like the concept of releasing an album on vinyl first, like you recently did for Blue Diamonds. I think it’s interesting to forego listening to the digital album and instead purchase the record on vinyl like you would when you were younger. You’re going to get a better experience than on Spotify.

Marcus Machado: “If you’re a fan of a certain artist, getting their new record on vinyl is such a surprise. You have to listen to all the songs to find your favorites without skipping through. With streaming, it’s fast consuming and skipping through the songs. If I would release Blue Diamonds on digital tomorrow, I know most people will skip through without listening to it all the way through. I feel it’s better to listen to the whole thing, and then you can start dissecting the details and pick out your favorite songs. So, whenever I put out my music, it will always be the vinyl first. It’s the whole experience, seeing the cover, holding the album, etc. The more music I put out, the more intricate I want to get with the vinyl aspect.”

Marcus Machado Blue Diamonds
Marcus Machado Blue DiamondsBlue Ink Spot Vinyl by Soul Step Records

Marcus Machado on Prince Influence

PDLR: Today is Prince Day, 6/7/2023, so I wanted to ask you if you have a favorite moment, song, or memory of Prince, something that impacted you when you were younger.

Marcus Machado: “Yeah, of course! My major influences are Jimi, and then it’s Prince, then everybody else. Prince is by far a massive influence on everything that I do. I have two standout memories of Prince. As a kid, my mom had Purple Rain, Dirty Mind, and Sign “☮︎” the Times. My favorite Prince eras are Dirty Mind and Sign “☮︎” the Times. My mom would play that record like every day.

When I was younger, around 1992, I was maybe ten years old, and I got asked to play at his club Glam Slam. They wanted me to open up for Alexander O’Neal and said Prince would attend. I don’t know how my mom set this up, but there’s a contract somewhere for Glam Slam that says “Prince” and has me opening for Alexander O’Neal. I couldn’t believe it. It didn’t actually end up happening due to a schedule conflict, but I was so close.

The second memory was in 2014. Rolling Stone named me the next upcoming guitarist, the “Next Young Gun.” So in the interview, they asked me some of my favorite artists, and this was 2014; of course, Prince was #1 on the list. When the article came out, somehow, he got wind of it. One day in 2015, or the beginning of 2016, I got a notification from HIM on Twitter. The tweet said, “Meet Marcus,” and it had the link to my interview. I didn’t believe it then and thought Prince wasn’t on Twitter or social media. So I shrugged it off, thinking it was someone with a fake account. I took a screenshot and saved it.

Then in 2016, I felt like more of his people were coming around, and I thought maybe I’d get to meet him by the end of the year. I wanted to play him the song “Her” from Aquarius Purple because he inspired that song. Then, unfortunately, he passed, so I never had the chance to meet or see him in concert.

About two months after he passed, we got a random call to do a popup show in Minneapolis. It was me and Jamie Lidell, an incredible artist from the UK. During the show, I noticed someone in the audience who looked familiar; she had long hair on one side with it shaved on the other. I met her after and realized it was guitarist Donna Grantis from 3RDEYEGIRL, one of Prince’s last groups he played with. She set it up for me to go to Paisley Park to see what it looked like back then, the way Prince left it.”

Hot Events & News

PDLR: You recently played Jazz Fest in NOLA with Jon Batiste. What was that like?

Marcus Machado: “Jazz Fest was really special this year. It was the first time they had the festival since the pandemic. During the day, I rehearsed with Jon Batiste and then played at least two shows a night that week. It’s always fun being in NOLA and hearing all the great music.”

PDLR: Do you have any upcoming shows or festivals?

Marcus Machado: “Yeah! This summer is going to be busy with shows. I’m going to Europe in July, so I’m looking forward to that.”

PDLR: Anything else you are looking forward to in 2023?

Marcus Machado: “There are a lot of things coming soon that I’m excited about. One is a series called Black Pop. It’s a 4-part series that aired on E! June 19th & 20th. I had the honor of doing the music score for the series. Black Pop is about black culture, where they talk about everything from music, sports, film, and television. It’s executive produced by Stephen Curry.”

“The next album will be something else to contrast the first two. I try not to make the same type of music with each album. Making three different Aquarius Purple albums would be easy, but I want each album to stand for itself and evolve.”

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February Albums

Alluring February Albums You Don’t Want to Miss

February albums bring on the heartbreak, angst, and vulnerability of 2023. SYML and Raye kicked off the month with The Day My Father Died and My 21st Century Blues, respectively. The long-awaited return of Paramore arrives with This Is Why. On-the-rise Dublin band Inhaler drops Cuts & Bruises, and Gorillaz raise the bar with Cracker Island at the end of the month. Listen to these February albums and more on our February Heartbreakers playlist.

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February Albums February Playlist

RayeMy 21st Century Blues // Stream & Shop February Albums

February Albums

Raye’s debut album, My 21st Century Blues, is a fusion of the British singer-songwriter’s work after her departure from Polydor Records. Raye kicked off this album with her first Number 1 single, “Escapism,” with 070 Shake. As an independent artist, Raye tackles her most personal inner struggles. Song titles like “Body Dysmorphia” and “Environmental Anxiety” speak for themselves as the album weaves through a diary-like journey. Raye intertwines genres of pop, R&B, gospel, funk, and soul on this candid composition of 15 tracks. Apart from “Escapism,” our favorites include “Oscar Winning Tears” and “The Thrill Is Gone.”

SYMLThe Day My Father Died // Stream & Shop February Albums

February Albums February Playlist

Singer-songwriter SYML (sim-ul) captivates fans with his sophomore album, The Day My Father Died. The album takes a sensitive topic to the forefront as the solo artist discusses the loss of his father. Several songs, including the title track, are surprisingly upbeat as the songsmith faces grief and pays homage to his father. Songs like “Sweet Home” and “Corduroy” call out feelings of Sufjan Stevens and Bon Iver as they weep across the arrangement.

Highlights of the album include a Fleetwood Mac meets James Bay style track, “Laughing at the Storm,” and heart-pouring “Baby Don’t Lie.” The Day My Father Died is produced by Phil Ek, known for his work with Fleet Foxes, Vance Joy, and Band of Horses. If you are a fan of any artists above, you’ll quickly fall in love with this staggering record.

ParamoreThis Is Why // Stream & Shop February Albums

February Albums February Playlist

Your favorite early 2000s bands are back and delivering albums for fans to relive their black nail polish and Warped Tour days. The glorious concept about Paramore’s timing with This Is Why is that, along with their fanbase, the band has matured and blessed us with emo songs for adults in their twenties and thirties. If you weren’t sold on the sound from “This Is Why,” try “Running Out of Time” or “You First” for a guaranteed serotonin-boosting flashback. This Is Why chews over topics from depression and isolation to anxiety and uncertainty. Paramore combines post-punk, subtleties from Hayley’s solo work, and riveting lyrics at the right level to make the album shine.

InhalerCuts & Bruises // Stream & Shop February Albums

February Albums

Dublin band Inhaler releases their sophomore album, Cuts & Bruises, our favorite album from this list. Leading with three anthemic singles, Cuts & Bruises has countless alternative rock fans joining in on the listening party. The band’s third single, “If You’re Gonna Break My Heart,” is making headway worldwide on emerging artist playlists and top music magazines. Inspired by seeing different bands at festivals and touring America, Inhaler emulates Kings of Leon, Sam Fender, and The Strokes. Cuts & Bruises undoubtedly brings Inhaler to the forefront of the alt-rock scene.

GorillazCracker Island // Stream & Shop February Albums

February Albums

Gorillaz gear up for the festival season with their eighth studio album, Cracker Island. After hearing five released tracks from the star-studded record, fans revel in an innovative genre-shifting album. Noteworthy highs include “Silent Running,” a dreamlike electro-earworm, and “New Gold,” a smooth hip-hop-infused dance bop. Artists featured on Cracker Island include Thundercat, Stevie Nicks, Beck, Tame Impala and Bootie Brown, Adeleye Omotayo, and Bad Bunny.  Cracker Island rounds out a spectacular second month of 2023 new music releases. 


For more alluring February albums, including new releases from Pierce the Veil, Kelela, and Shania Twain, check out our February Heartbreakers playlists.

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Matt Duncan

Now Spinning: Matt Duncan ‘Soft Times’

Soft Times, the 2013 debut soul-pop record from Matt Duncan, gets a third pressing from Soul Step Records this weekend. The ever-popular LP drops in time to make the perfect gift for music and vinyl lovers this holiday season.

Local Lexington, Kentucky singer-songwriter and soul artist Matt Duncan has a long resume of lofty accomplishments in the indie music scene over the past decade. You may recognize his captivating music featured on several hit TV series such as “Private Practice” and “Vampire Diaries.” Soft Times holds a library of eleven timeless tracks eluding to Motown, The Beach Boys, and blue-eyed-soul artists (i.e., Hall & Oates, Van Morrison, Amy Winehouse, etc.). Big horns, transcending vocals, and anecdotal songwriting round out the highs of this alluring record. We are thrilled to be introduced to this hidden gem via Soul Step Records.

Subscribe to Soul Step and get early access to the Soft Times Yellow Sun variant HERE!

Matt Duncan
Album artwork by Robert Beatty

// Favorite Tracks //

“The Keys” is a vacation getaway jam to start your soulful, poetic listening journey of Soft Times. Cure your winter blues and take a mental trip “down to the Keys.”

Soft Times” embraces big band-style brassy arrangements by Ryan Moore and Evan Belt. Smooth vocals and poignant lyrics from Duncan make for an ideal title track.

“The Horn of Plenty” is a stunner track reminiscent of “Under the Boardwalk” by The Drifters with its similar steady bass. A vast blend of piano, bass, horns, and guitar surrounds classic soul and profound vocals.

“Sparkle and Fall” has rock-esque guitars and vocals, leading to a jazzier outro of horns. “Sparkle and Fall” displays Duncan’s range of several genres on Soft Times.

“Summer Song” contains Beach Boys-like lyrics, arrangement, and a signature doo-wop feel. Pair this A-Side closer with “The Keys,” and you’ll have yourself celebrating Christmas in the tropics.

“Lost Boys” is a standout outro to Matt Duncan’s gorgeous collection of songs on Soft Times. The final track combines nostalgic elements of Motown and older pop vocal groups with a modern-day feel similar to MIKA or Allen Stone.  

*Soul Step Records upfronts the cost of vinyl production for new artists. For more information on Soul Step Records and their mission, visit their website or follow them on Instagram below.

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Creative Workspace

Now Spinning: Cara Louise ‘Wholesome Dread’

Check your list for Album of the Year and add Wholesome Dread by Cara Louise to the queue. Soul Step Records drops two exclusive vinyl variants of the folk-inspired indie rock LP this weekend. Subscribe now and don’t miss the chance to check out the Orange Sunburst vinyl, a sweet Wax Mage variant, and a free 45 of “Fragile Heart” by Cara Louise.

St. Louis to Nashville singer-songwriter Cara Louise is the missing piece to your emerging artist vinyl collection. Cara Louise’s vocal style often reminds music fans of Brandi Carlile or Sharon Van Etten. Her indie rock disposition blended with folk roots also draws parallels to folk sisters Joseph and Larkin Poe. Wholesome Dread, released September 30th, pivots on the themes of existential dread and self-discovery. Take a deep dive into the 9-track LP, and you’ll be captivated by Cara’s lyricism and affinity for a genre-bending album.

Subscribe and check out the Wholesome Dread Orange Sunburst variant HERE!

Cara Louise Soul Step Records

// Favorite Tracks //

“Wholesome Dread” encapsulates the ever-present theme of the album with relatable lyrics, “can’t deny we’re all the same, afraid of dying.” This intro track makes you feel like you are experiencing the live version in the same room with Cara Louise.

“Must Be Nice” is a lyrically relatable track for twenty and thirty-somethings trying to navigate adulthood and mental health struggles. Cara’s vocal range on the chorus quickly lands “Must Be Nice” as a standout track on the 9-song LP.

“Empty Me” has an upbeat dance-worthy backtrack yet is starkly contrasted by more profound lyrics of uncertainty. The single has the right amount of push and pull for a well-crafted melancholic hit.

“Julia” has more of a country folk feel with twangy guitars and vivid picturesque lyrics. Cara’s voice remains serene as the instrumentals amplify to a height.

*Soul Step Records upfronts the cost of vinyl production for new artists. For more information on Soul Step Records and their mission, visit their website or follow them on Instagram below.

// FOLLOW SOUL STEP RECORDS // FOLLOW CARA LOUISE //

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Parker Louis

Now Spinning: Parker Louis ‘All Good Things’

Soul Step Records brings the heat for the end of the year with a stunning repress of the 2019 LP All Good Things by Parker Louis. The independent record label in Nashville launches two hypnotizing vinyl variants, Jungle Swirl (pictured below) and a limited edition Wax Mage beauty.

Parker Louis, of Columbus, Ohio, can be compared to soulful songwriters Sam Cooke, Raphael Saadiq, Anderson East, and Allen Stone. Louis’s smooth, bluesy style ranks him high among R&B and neo-soul fans of today.

All Good Things is now restocked and available for excellent audiophile listening on wax. From “No Love, Lately” to “Waiting,” listeners absorb jazzy instrumentals and raspy alluring vocals. Not only does the album sound exquisite on vinyl, but Parker Louis has recently shown off his vocal range on the road, opening most recently for fellow Columbus, Ohio, band Caamp. All Good Things is a timeless R&B gem to add to any collection.

Pick up the Jungle Swirl variant HERE!

Parker Louis Soul Step Records

// Favorite Tracks //

“No Love, Lately” is a first-listen showstopper the minute the needle hits the groove. The overall bones of this track go deep in classic R&B with relaxed instrumentals, choir-like backing vocals, and a sweet-singing guitar.

“Vibe” is a smooth, sultry track to accompany your romantic dinner or evening party. One-thousand percent not lying when we say these songs sound superb on vinyl.

“Gemini” is our favorite of the 8-track LP. Louis’s vocals shine brighter than ever on this slowed-down confession of love. The guitar-driven outro calls for some wine and slow dancing in the dark.

“Lights” has a highly reminiscent vibe of Anderson East, which is a lofty compliment in our book. While listening to this side B opener, fans will quickly realize that Louis’s incredible songwriting talent is not letting up.

*Soul Step Records upfronts the cost of vinyl production for new artists. For more information on Soul Step Records and their mission, visit their website or follow them on Instagram below.

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beginner turntables

Our Simple Guide to Beginner Turntables

Drop the needle in the groove, hear the crackle of some vintage tunes, and join the ever-growing community of vinyl record collectors. Whether you’ve got a stack of vinyl passed on from a relative or splurged on all four copies of Midnights at Target, we’ve created a simple guide to beginner turntables for the holiday season.

guide to beginner turntables

All-in-one Record Players

Crosley, Victrola, or Suitcase Players*-A suitcase player is the cheapest way to start a collection of a few records. It is convenient for size, portability, and price; however, it is simply not the best option for quality, design, and longevity purposes.

Most people start with a small collection of vinyl and a suitcase record player, myself included.  There is a lot of stigma about these record players because of their design and reputation for “ruining records.” In my experience, I didn’t have any issues with damaged records, but I do know many people have discovered their records became scratched or skipped after long-term use.  I enjoy the Crosley suitcase for its portability and often played French records in my classroom.

That being said, my recommendation and other collectors’ recommendations would be to consider a better-designed entry-level turntable and build your setup from there.  You can start with an affordable turntable with a built-in preamp (aka no need for a receiver/amp) and hunt for secondhand powered speakers. Some newer turntables have a Bluetooth feature you can use until you can complete your setup.  *Bluetooth is not the best option for an authentic audio listening experience.

If you want more opinions on all-in-one record player recommendations and entry-level turntables, visit Reddit r/vinyl and r/turntables. I am nowhere near as knowledgeable as this subgroup, so check out some of the posts I have referenced below.

Best New Entry-Level Turntable to Start Out With (Sort by Price and Country): vinyl (reddit.com)

Turntables and Speakers: sharkamino (reddit.com)

I understand that Reddit can be overwhelming, so I’m breaking down some of the best, affordable beginner turntables in 2022. Prices will often fluctuate, so check current prices on each link.

*As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Beginner Turntables and Accessories-$130-$275 (Total Budget)

Insignia turntable-Availabe at Best Buy and has a built-in preamp. Bluetooth capability.

Crosley C6*-This turntable is recommended over the Audio-Technica LP60x because it does not have the same design mechanism as a suitcase-type player. The Crosley C6 also has Bluetooth capability. This particular model comes in multiple colors.

1BYONE High Fidelity Turntable Built-in Speakers*-If you’re looking for an all-in-one space-saver deal and unsure how much you will invest in the hobby, this system might be for you.

If you need to invest in speakers, check out one of the following options for a budget-friendly setup:

PreSonus Eris 3.5 Speakers*

Edifier 1280T*

True and Trusty Turntables-$200-$350

Sony PS-LX310BT*-Fully automatic turntable with Bluetooth and USB output.

Fluance RT80*-Built-in preamp. Comes with an Audio-Technica AT91 cartridge.

U-Turn Orbit Basic-No built-in preamp. Multiple color options (blue, purple, green, red, white, black). You can purchase with preamp for a little more cash.

Crosley C200A*-Built-in preamp. Comes with Audio-Technica-3600 moving-magnet cartridge.

*Denon DP-300F*-This is the turntable that I purchased in 2019. The cartridge that comes with the setup is of decent quality (i.e., you don’t need to change it unless you want to upgrade for better sound). I recently upgraded to an Ortofon 2M Red Moving Magnet Cartridge,* and I highly recommend it for a more dynamic sound. The Denon DP-300F is a fully automatic turntable with a start and stop feature. The automatic feature makes it easy to put on a record, press start, and walk away, as the stylus will always return to the tonearm rest. This turntable will also turn off on its own after a period of not being used.

Audio-Technica LP120X*-Audio-Technica is probably the most common entry-level turntable. This model is recommended for its longevity and ability to upgrade in the future.

Browse Used Turntables on eBay for a sweet retro deal to get your collection going! You can also find speakers, amps, receivers, etc., to build your entire setup from vintage gear.

Upgrade-$300-$599

Pioneer DJ PLX-500*-A few more features for digital recording and DJ-type use.

Fluance RT85-Multiple color options (white, black, bamboo, walnut). It comes with an Ortofon 2M Blue Cartridge, a step above my current Ortofon 2M Red.

Rega Planar 1*-Manual Belt Drive Turntable with Rega Carbon MM Cartridge.

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO-Multiple color options (red, yellow, black, white, walnut). Comes with a Sumiko Rainier cartridge. This turntable would be my choice for an upgrade from the previous selection.

My Complete Setup

Turntable: Denon DP-300F*

Cartridge: Ortofon 2M Red Moving Magnet Cartridge*-I researched Reddit for the best cartridge upgrades for my turntable. The Ortofon 2M Red significantly differs from my original Denon cartridge that came with my turntable. It has a more precise, dynamic sound and is an excellent upgrade for the value.

Speakers: Elac Debut 2.0 B5.2 Bookshelf Speakers*-These speakers require a receiver and speaker wire. I recommend these for the overall clean sound, the convenience of space, the look, and the value of the quality of the speakers.

Receiver: Yamaha R-S202*-I found an Open Box Deal ($60) purchased in 2019. You do not *need* a receiver if your turntable has a built-in preamp.

Main Shelf: Tactile WoodShop Mid-Century Modern Record Player Stand Etsy-Purchased in 2019. Prices have significantly increased; here is the shop if you are interested. The main reason I had my eye on this shelf was because of its unique design and ability to customize. It also matches my modern theme of rectangles and black and white in our music room.

Storage Shelves: Kallax Cubes-IKEA’S most common and cheapest vinyl storage shelves. I have eight cubes, but you can customize how many and the design you would like. You can also check Facebook Marketplace for secondhand Kallax shelves.

Cleaning & Accessories

Outer Sleeves*-100 12″ Record Outer Sleeves

Inner Sleeves*-50 count

Clear Book Ends*-Holds records in place when they don’t fill the shelf

Record Cleaner*-Liquid cleaner for vinyl records

!! Needle Cleaning Hack-Use a plain white Magic Eraser to clean your turntable needle. Video HERE.


If you have any questions on a specific turntable or accessory, I may not have all the answers, but I can point you in the direction of someone who can help.  Please keep in mind that this list is a guide to beginner turntables, not an expert audiophile experience. Happy spinning and happy holiday season!

*As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

#VINYLCOMMUNITY Contributors & Feedback: @danielsonwax2.0, @chrisking_1983, @all.the.records, @themusicwillplay, @what.kate.listens.to

Modern Nomad

Now Spinning: Modern Nomad ‘There It Is, There You Are’

Indie pop record There It Is, There You Are by Modern Nomad sounds flawless on white vinyl from Soul Step Records. Soul Step denotes the 2021 album as “psychedelic indie pop for fans of Tame Impala, Mac Demarco, and Toro Y Moi.” Furthermore, There It Is, There You Are is a surprising nod to The Beach Boys and The Beatles. This week, we chat with Tom McLean, a solo artist under the moniker Modern Nomad, about his most recent album.

Pick up the white vinyl from Soul Step Records HERE!

Modern Nomad Soul Step Records

Q&A with Modern Nomad //

PDLR: Soul Step Records mentions similarities to Tame Impala, Mac Demarco, and Toro Y Moi, as well as influences from The Beatles and The Beach Boys. 

Do you have other influences or anecdotes to share about what inspired There It Is, There You Are?

Modern Nomad: “Harry Nilsson is one of my biggest influences; he is at the top of my list! As for the overall inspiration, I wrote and recorded this record at a time when I entered a long-term relationship. I spent two months with my partner, hanging out and getting to know each other basically every day. It went from that to long distance. Navigating the newness of distance inspired a lot of these songs. Specifically, the song “Feel This Way Forever” has a lot of lyrics about our relationship.”

PDLR: “Baby, I Love You,” “Electrify,” and “I Want You to Stay” have an evident influence from The Beatles and The Beach Boys.

What specific elements in your music draw inspiration from these iconic bands?

Modern Nomad: “I love the harmonies in The Beatles and The Beach Boys’ music. Harmony is something that I spend a lot of time on, so I’ll obsess over stacking vocals. The balance of simplicity and complexity is an element I admire in The Beatles’ music. They’ll have weird chord changes that don’t seem to fit, yet they work out smoothly. I will undeniably be searching for a McCartney-quality melody my entire life.”

PDLR: Can you discuss the songwriting process for There It Is, There You Are?

Modern Nomad: “I write, record, and produce everything myself, so the process changes from song to song. Several songs, like “All in My Dreams,” were recorded and worked on for over a year, whereas I finished “Get a Little Closer” in one night. Usually, I’ll start with an idea for a chord progression and part of a melody; then, I produce a track around it. Once I arrange and map out the idea, then I’ll finish writing the verses, choruses, and bridges. Writing like this also allows me to revisit songs if something else I did in a newer song inspires me. I love having that freedom.”

PDLR: How would you describe the album’s sound to someone who has never heard your music?

Modern Nomad: “Maybe something like if The Beatles in 1967 had access to Ableton, 80’s synths, and were listening to the Spotify playlist ‘Modern Psychedelia’ a lot.”

Our Favorite Tracks //

“Reflection” -A captivating intro track to the 10-song LP. “Reflection” oozes psychedelic indie rock à la Tame Impala.

“Get a Little Closer” -On this second track, Modern Nomad brings a sultry, mellow vibe that sets the tone for the rest of the album. “Get a Little Closer” is our favorite tune, based solely on the smooth instrumentals.

“Baby, I Love You” -This track draws clear inspiration from The Beatles and The Beach Boys. We go back and forth between connections of the two iconic bands in “Baby, I Love You.” Catchy, cute, timeless, and undoubtedly nostalgic.

“Electrify” -Infectious and quite literally electrifying. It’s as if The Beatles and Tame Impala came together right now over this song.

“Feel This Way Forever” -A psychedelic, dreamy track with jazzy undertones. “Feel This Way Forever” has a perfect fade-out on vinyl into the album’s last two tracks.

*Soul Step Records upfronts the cost of vinyl production for new artists. For more information on Soul Step Records and their mission, visit their website or follow them on Instagram below.

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Aquarius Purple

Now Spinning: Marcus Machado Aquarius Purple

We are head over heels for this Purple Ink Spot repress of Marcus Machado’s 2021 debut album, Aquarius Purple, from Soul Step Records. Described as “guitar-driven rhythm and funk for fans of Raphael Saadiq and Jimi Hendrix,” something kept calling me to spin this album.

Aquarius Purple is a Guitar & B type record with funky instrumental tracks such as “Aq Intro” and “Table Dance.” Marcus Machado’s style, rooted in soul, rhythm, and dream-like instrumentals, sends you into a temporary reverie. Throughout the galactic-sounding journey of the album, music fans may also liken Machado to Thundercat or Black Pumas. “Let’s Play” is a soul-heavy instrumental track contrasted by “Her,” a funky dance-beat bop. Collaborative sounds from Jermaine Holmes, Daru Jones, JSWISS, Ahrel Lumzy, and TFOX make Aquarius Purple an eccentric album with striking layers.

Pick up the Purple Ink Spot variant from Soul Step Records HERE!

Aquarius Purple Soul Step Records

// Aquarius Purple: Favorite Tracks //

“Let’s Play”

“Tomorrow Never Knows”

“Her”

“Running”

*Soul Step Records pays the upfront costs of vinyl production for new artists. For more information on Soul Step Records, their mission, store, and contact info, visit their website or follow them on Instagram below.

// FOLLOW SOUL STEP RECORDS // FOLLOW MARCUS MACHADO //

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