If ever there’s a living example of a Phoenix rising out of the ashes, the record player is it.
Yes, record players are still around.
And no, not just the vintage models from the 80s.
Many modern manufacturers are making modern versions of record players that have the same level of fidelity as the original ones.
But before we go shopping for the best record players of our time, let’s take a musical trip down memory lane and look at the history, journey, and near-death experiences of the record player (also known as a turntable).
The Record Player – One of the Greatest Inventions of the 20th Century
The record player traces its history back to 1877.
That was the year Thomas Alva Edison announced his jaw-dropping invention - a device that could record and replay sound.
He called it the phonograph.
The device worked by inscribing and retrieving audio information on a sheet of heavy tin foil that was wrapped around a cardboard cylinder.
It immediately grabbed the world’s attention, and the race to improve on it was on.
Three years after Edison had announced his invention, Alexander Graham Bell improved on Edison’s phonograph and dubbed his the graphophone.
Bell retained Edison’s cylinder, but instead made use of tin foil use wax as his recording medium. Both Edison and Bell’s devices hit the market in the late 1800s. These devices were mainly used as office dictation machines or as coin-operated record players in public arcades.
The record player was not yet available as a consumer device.
Gramophone - Vinyl Record Player
Enter Emile Berliner, a German-born American immigrant.
Berliner introduced a commercial version of the record player, a development he had been working on for 7 years. Berliner’s invention utilized a flat disc instead of a cylinder, and was made from hard rubber, then evolved to using shellac, and finally, vinyl.
That’s why the gramophone, as it was known, became popularly known as the vinyl record player.
The gramophone took the world by storm and soon, the device was featured in many homes, not just public places like its predecessors.
However, the gramophone’s existence came under attack with the invention of the low-cost radio after World War I. Surprisingly though, radio technology fueled more improvements in record making, mainly through the use of electronically amplified disc cutters. By 1925, all discs were being manufactured using this new technology.
1931 brought another great moment in the journey of the record player when Columbia Studios introduced the first “long playing” record. Resembling the iconic LP, the new 12-inch diameter disc was designed to be played at 33-1/3 rotations per minute.
In 1946, companies started manufacturing an easily replaceable phonograph stylus, making record players more practical for consumers.
The introduction of stereo albums in 1958 boosted the sales of record players, while the introduction of more affordable record players in the 60’s further solidified the place of record players as a centerpiece in many homes.
Cassette Tape and Player
Another threat to the record player came in 1962 when Philips introduced the cassette tape and player. But despite this new novelty, record players continued to be the go-to music device that provided family music entertainment.
Compact Disc Player
Finally, in the 80s, a music device that was powerful enough to dethrone the record player came on the scene – the compact disc player. Despite their popularity, compact discs have not managed to obliterate record players completely, thanks to one not-so-secret weapon the record player has: high fidelity sound.
This is why record players are experiencing a renaissance.
Audiophiles world over are now going back to vinyl record players for their musical needs, and many companies are heading the cry of audiophiles and are making great record players that feature convenient modern technology and the original high fidelity sounds that the early record players were famous for.
The phoenix is rising from the ashes once again.
If the sound of dropping a needle and hearing pure music coming from a record player sounds like a dream to you, then you’ve happened upon the right place.
Today we’ll be taking a look at some of the best record players you can get to revive the sound of great music in your home.
The 5 Best Record Players for 2018
Buying a record player may seem a bit tricky, especially if you never had the opportunity to experience them in their heyday. If you are not sure of which record players are the best in this new vinyl movement, you’re in luck as this list will point you in the right direction.
Let’s get started, shall we?
1. The Audio-Technica AT-LP3
The Audio-Technica AT-LP3 is one of the most popular record players today, and for very good reasons.
For one, it is very user-friendly, especially for beginners, as it is a plug-and-play system.
If you’re a veteran record player purveyor, the Audio-Technica AT-LP3 still has you covered as it offers you advanced options that enable you to dial in the vertical tracking angle, tracking force, and easily replace the headshell.
Price-wise, the Audio-Technica AT-LP3 is also budget-friendly at $, mainly due to the use of a lot of plastic in its construction. At first glance the Audio-Technica AT-LP3 it looks like a Technics SL-1200 clone. But at a fraction of the price, it’s entirely worth it (and the copied design can be overlooked).
One great feature you’ll definitely appreciate from the Audio-Technica is that with its USB function, you can not only play music from your USB drive, but you can also easily record your vinyl onto your USB drive.
As for sound quality, you will definitely get the quality that vinyl record players are known for – crisp, high-quality sound.
2. The Denon DP-300F
- REDISCOVER YOUR PASSION FOR VINYL -Listen to your analog music in a brand new way with this rigid diecast aluminum turntable that comes with standard mount headshell, MM Cartridge, DC servo motor, and has rotation speeds of 33 1/3 or 45 rpm
- LOWER VIBRATIONS DRIVE BETTER PERFORMANCE - This slim and sleek turntable is designed with a heavier base construction that helps decrease vibrations, giving you a noiseless, rich and detailed sound
- SMOOTH & GENTLE AUTOMATIC MOTIONS - The automatic startup feature allows the turntable to begin play. With the touch of a button, the tonearm gets lifted and comes to rest so smoothly ensuring NO SCRATCHES OR DAMAGE TO YOUR RECORDS
For a fully automatic record player, consider the Denon DP-300F.
With great sound and looks to match, it will definitely give you the vinyl experience you crave for.
Perhaps a glance at the spec sheet will help you appreciate what this record player brings to the table.
Although the Denon’s DSN -85 cartridge is not the most accurate on the market, it still manages to give you great sound quality your CD player can’t match.
Coming with a $ price tag, the Denon DP-300F is a great starter turntable. Despite not having a USB output, it still makes for a great addition to your music equipment, especially if you don’t mind manually queuing up your music the old-fashioned way (there’s a novelty to that).
One great feature you’ll find useful on the Denon DP-300F is the automatic start/stop function. This means the needle won’t get worn down at the end of the record as this feature causes the arm to immediately return when the album is over.
Speaking of durability, the Denon’s sturdy build gives it an edge over other record players, making it a worthy investment for you.
3. The Rega Planar 1
- The Rega Planar 1 turntable features a brand new RB110 tonearm built with the new Rega designed, bespoke, zero play bearings with ultra-low friction performance (Patent Pending).
- Every single aspect of the Planar 1 has been meticulously designed to improve performance. For the first time the Planar 1 is now running a 24v, low noise, synchronous motor to reduce vibration transfer combined with our brand new RB110 tonearm fitted with Rega's bespoke zero play bearings.
- Re-designed brass main bearing, offering improved fit and removing stress on the bearing itself whilst minimising the transfer of potential energy. (Patent pending)
If you are looking for a legendary record player, then you have to dig deep into your pockets in order to purchase the iconic Rega Planar 1.
In the days of the Hi-Fi, the Rega Planar was one of the most popular record players of its time due to its superior sound and build quality.
Today, this legend has come back from the grave to seek its throne as one of the best record players ever made.
The Rega Planar 1 is another great entry level record player worth investing in.
Despite not coming with a phono preamp, this is one record player that is easy to set up and use. Having been in the record player game for a long time, you can be certain Rega knows how to make quality record players that give you excellent sound - especially with its phenolic resin platter.
For $$, you can bring the excellent vinyl sounds of the Rega Planar into your home.
If, however, you have a bit more money ($800.00 to be exact) to splurge on a record player, perhaps you can consider the more advanced Rega Planar 3.
4. The Sony PS-HX500
- Enjoy all the smooth and warm sound expressions of your vinyl thanks to high-quality audio technologies that ensure the best possible analog playback.
- The integrated shell improves durability and stabilizes the cartridge for superior focusing and dimensionality of sound, while its lightweight structure improves traceability.
- Supports both phono and line output so you can play through integrated amp or external phono EQ.Turntable Speed - 33 1/3 r/min, 45 r/min
The Sony PS-HX500 is one of those record players that can easily blend in without being too loud – visually. Its minimalistic design is one of the factors that make it appealing to the eye, while its superb sound is something audiophiles crave for.
Apart from its $ price tag, the Sony PS-HX500’s other standout feature is its ability to record Hi-Res audio from its USB output in 96kHz/24bit resolution. For those seeking to preserve their vinyl collection in a digital format, this is an excellent feature.
As for sound quality, the Sony PS-HX500 sounds spacious and certainly provides good detail. The only weak point is the needle, as it sometimes sounds a bit harsh.
But for the price, it definitely offers you more value than many record players at the same price point.
5. The Marantz TT-15S1
- VINYL MAKES A MAGNIFICENT COMEBACK – The warmth and realism of analog music supersedes all digital forms. Marantz brings alive the old school charm with its Reference Series T15S1 Turntable – an absolute stunner for your most treasured artists & albums
- THE ULTIMATE VIBRATION-FREE LISTENING EXPERIENCE – Advanced cutting-edge materials & the uniquely configured design with FLOATING MOTOR MOUNT CONSTRUCTION helps in deadening vibrations & keeps distortions at bay. A pure delight for a music connoisseur!
- IT'S ALL IN THE DETAILS! Better than any turntable on the market, TT15S1 features a solid plinth belt-drive, a precision AC asynchronous motor, a heavy platter, reference class anodized aluminum manual tonearm, & everything you need for its assembly
For those with a bit more experience (and cash), the Marantz TT-15S1 record player is your best bet when it comes to record players.
Built by one of the best record player manufacturing companies, Clearaudio, it definitely is worth its weight in gold (and it does cost a premium).
The Marantz TT-15S1 is not for novices as it is a bit more complicated to set up than other record players on our list. The Marantz is for those who mean serious business when it comes to record players. And the hefty $$$ price tag definitely shows it.
This high-end record player is not just made from high-quality components but is also made with love – every component of this system was meticulously worked on.
This not only gives the Marantz TT-15S1 a visual and auditory appeal but makes it feel good to the touch too.
17.72" (W) x 13.86" (D) x 6.1" (H)
33 ⅓, 45, 78 rpm
17-3/32 x 4-51/64 x 15" (WxHxD)
33 ⅓, 45 rpm
17.5" x 4.5" x 15" (WxHxD)
33 ⅓, 45 rpm
16.54” x 4.92” x 13.78” (WxHxD)
Aluminum Diecast Alloy
Yes 44.1kHz / 48kHz / 96kHz / 192kHz (16bit / 24bit)
33 ⅓, 45 rpm
440mm x 110mm x 350mm (WxHxD)
Yes 44.1kHz / 48kHz / 96kHz / 192kHz (16bit / 24bit)
33 ⅓, 45 rpm
The Best Record Players – Affording You Unmatched Auditory Pleasure
For serious audiophiles, nothing can beat the clarity and purity of sound produced by vinyl record players. With the resurgence of this invention from the past, many brands and models of record players are hitting the streets with their sweet sounds, making it difficult to make a solid choice.
The record players on this list have been tested and proven to give you the vinyl experience you are looking for. So as you take your pick, be rest assured you won’t be disappointed.