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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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