The Best Turntables of 2020
Last updated on March 23, 2020
All Hail the Return of the Turntable.
Although some people thought the return of the turntable was no more than a passing fad, we’re proud to present our own carefully vetted list of the best turntables for 2020 – 13 different models in all – culled by price, features and performance.
As a result, premier audio brands all over the world have stepped up, offering turntable product lines for every budget. Our pros reviewed turntables from all of them while weighing in on the features you should focus on at every tier.
The good news for newbies: if you’re not sure you’ll fall in love with playing records, you can opt for a turntable as low as $100. That way, you get the same tactile experience so many others rave about (and surprisingly good sound) without a major $ commitment. Then, if you do fall in love vinyl, you can drop serious bucks on a serious set-up and start enjoying the kind of goosebumps only vinyl can make happen.
However, if you’re a serious music lover who already appreciates the difference quality gear brings to the table, welcome to what many consider the industry’s finest repository of all-things music playing: World Wide Stereo.
Whether you are new to the world of turntables or a lifelong fan, we offer a standing invitation to any of our turntable clinics as well as complimentary time – as little or as much as you want – to consult with any of our World Wide Stereo audio technicians.
Here Are Our Picks for the Best Turntables of 2020: 1. The Best Beginner Turntable: U-Turn Audio Orbit Plus Turntable 2. The Best Automatic Turntable: Denon DP-300F 3. The Best DJ Turntable: Audio-Technica AT-LP1240-USB XP 4. The Best Budget Turntable with a Preamp: U-Turn Audio Orbit Special Turntable with Built-In Preamplifier 5. The Best Wireless Turntable: Yamaha MusicCast Vinyl 500 Wi-Fi Turntable 6. The Best Turntable for the Money: Rega Planar 3 Turntable With the Elys 2 MM Cartridge 7. The Best Hi-Res Wireless Turntable: Cambridge Audio’s ALVA TT Direct Drive Turntable 8. The Best Audiophile Turntable: McIntosh MT5 Turntable 9. The Best Turntable Under $100: Audio-Technica AT-LP60X Turntable 10. The Best Turntable Under $400: Pro-Ject T1 11. The Best Turntable Under $500: Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC Turntable 12. The Best Turntable Under $800: NAD C588 13. The Best Turntable Under $1000: Pro-Ject X1
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$399.00 – $499.00
1. The Best Beginner Turntable: U-Turn Audio Orbit Plus Turntable
Why it won
The U-Turn Orbit Plus was a fan favorite before it even hit the market thanks to a 2014 Kickstarter campaign. The reason: there’s a lot to like, starting with build options that let you pick the base color, platter material (acrylic in the photo), cartridge, and more. U-Turn’s minimal, plug & play design is ideal for beginners and we had ours up and running in less than 5 minutes. There’s no short-cutting when it comes to sound; even our most finicky audio pros give the new Orbit Plus a thumbs up.
U-Turn not only builds every Orbit Plus by hand in their Boston plant but they also assign an audio technician to listen to each before sending it along. (Impressive for this price range.) The only button on the Orbit Plus is for power – there’s no speed switch; you have to manually switch the belt from one groove to another to change RPM speed. If you’re a hands-on type, no biggie… but if you’d prefer a switch that changes speed for you, the Orbit Plus isn’t for you. (Do you really listen to that many 45s?)
A straight, understated tonearm glides on a pivot-style bearing positioned close to the record, which allows for more accurate groove tracking. One detail to note is that this does not come with a cue lever built-in. U-Turn offers a cue lever as an optional attachment which you can find here. Each Orbit does ship with the cartridge already installed and tracking force perfectly calibrated, which is great for beginners.
P.S. U-Turn makes a special version of the Orbit with a pre-amp built-in, called “The Orbit Special.” Check it out.
Drive: Belt Drive | Automatic or Manual: Manual | RPM Speeds: 33 1/3, 45 | Cartridge: Ortofon 2M Red cartridge (with elliptical diamond stylus.) | Phono Pre-amp: Not Built-in / Additional Pluto Phono Preamp Optional ($99) | Output Types: RCA
Reg Price: $309.00
Why it won
Denon’s DP-300F picks up where turntables left off after CDs took over in the 1980s. At the time, most consumer turntables were fully automatic. People listinening to would put a record on the platter, push a button, and they were done. From there, the turntable picks up the tonearm, places it over the beginning of the record, gently puts it down, and voilà, music. At the end of the record, the turntable automatically lifts the tonearm, gently puts it back in its holder, and then turns itself off. Convenient, yes, but fully automatic is more about not accidentally scratching your records.
What’s more, given the DP-300F’s preamp (included) can be turned on or off, you can plug it into almost any integrated amp or receiver – even those without a phono input port. This allows the DP-300F to work with almost every home music system. Switching out the cartridge is easy too, should you ever decide to upgrade for something with a bigger range. Do that, and the Denon DP-300F is easily on par with turntables that cost two or three times as much. As for looks, the DP-300F is attractive yet unassuming, a classic look built on 4mm thick cabinet walls made of die-cast aluminum. (We love the gloss coating.)
So: good-looking, built like a tank, fully automatic, compatible with almost everything, easy to upgrade, made by Denon – an industry legend. What’s not to like?
Drive: Belt Drive | Automatic or Manual: Fully Automatic | RPM Speeds: 33 1/3, 45 | Cartridge: Denon MM cartridge; compatible with a variety of cartridges weighing between 5.0 and 10.0 g | Phono Pre-amp: Built-in preamp | Output Types: RCA
Reg Price: $379.00
Why it won
Now, we’re entering serious / you-must-really-love-your-music / maybe you’re even a professional DJ territory – and Audio-Technica has the goods. The AT-LP1240-USB XP (let’s go with ”XP” for short) was made to do two things very well. 1) It can hit the road as a touring turntable for professional DJs to use in clubs or in mobile DJ applications, and/or B) it can sit on your shelf at home and remind you just how much better and happier life is when beautifully scored with your favorite music. Though you can see the full list of AT-LP1240-USB XP specs right here, some highlights include:
It’s gorgeous, in a matte black and silver Harley Davidson sort of way. With a built-in switchable phono preamp, the XP plays nice with almost any receiver, powered speaker and AV component on the market, and the USB output gives you a direct connection to everything digital. (And makes converting LPs to MP3s a snap.) The direct-drive, high-torque, multipole motor is quiet yet powerful, and professional DJs love that about the XP. Typical reviews by DJs cited, “durable, easy to set up, great sound, simple controls, strong motor, very powerful.”
Audio-Technica’s AT-LP1240-USB XP would be impressive at $999. But, $499? That’s amazing.
Also, check out the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB Direct-Drive 3-Speed Turntable. Worth a look and costs about $200 less.
Drive: Direct Drive (multipole motor) | Automatic or Manual: Fully Manual | RPM Speeds: 33 1/3, 45, 78 | Cartridge: Audio-Technica AT-XP5 DJ cartridge and stylus | Phono Pre-amp: Built-in switchable phono pre-amplifier with detachable | Output Types: USB, RCA
Reg Price: $499.00
# #4. The Best Budget Turntable with a Preamp: U-Turn Audio Orbit Special Turntable with Built-In Preamplifier
Why it won
Somewhere on this page, we gave “Best Beginner’s Turntable” to the Orbit from U-Turn Audio. Now, we’re talking about the Orbit “Special" and what makes it so special – the fact that it comes with a Pluto Phono Preamp already built-in. (Watch our own Adam Domurad take the Orbit Special for a spin in a recent World Wide Stereo video product review here.)
In addition to the Pluto preamp, U-Turn added a cue lever to the Special (thank you) as well as an acrylic platter. The Special also comes in one of two gorgeous, solid hardwood, plinth finishes: flat cut maple and rift walnut.
The advantage to having a preamp already built-in? For starters, since a preamp does what an external amp or receiver does, you have one less piece of equipment to deal with. You can quite literally plug your Orbit Special into any speakers in the house and get up and running in seconds.
For the money, Orbit is hard to beat. And, for an American consumer electronics company, that’s saying something.
Drive: Belt Drive | Automatic or Manual: Manual | RPM Speeds: 33 1/3, 45 | Cartridge: The award-winning Ortofon 2M Red cartridge | Phono Pre-amp: Pluto Phono Preamp | Output Types: RCA
Reg Price: $549.00
Why it won
Yamaha is out to set the gold standard for wireless audio with their own wireless multiroom audio technology, MusicCast, now years in the making. And by gold standard, we’re talking lossless, 24-bit audio streaming throughout the house to up to 10 connected devices. Impressive, to be sure. This year, Yamaha added a turntable to the MusicCast mix – the Yamaha VINYL 500 Wi-Fi turntable – and it’s a beast. (Note: though MusicCast can accept a Bluetooth source, WiFi is far more robust and far better suited to authentic high fidelity.)
The VINYL 500 weighs in at a little over 12 pounds, and heavy is good in turntable land. It comes in Steinway gloss black and sets it up in 10/15 minutes. And with both line and phono outputs (RCA jacks), you can hardwire everything like it’s 1973, or download the MusicCast app and start streaming literally anything from anywhere. (Your favorite Internet radio stations, your digital collection, whatever.) But, the real magic happens when you put an album on the VINYL 500. We did exactly that with a pair of stereo MusicCast speakers hooked up, and the experience was everything one would hope for with a top of the line turntable: incredibly warm with deep, round lows and crisp, clear highs. All in all, very human.
So to the question: is the analog turntable experience – the one everyone is raving about – even possible in a wireless environment? With the right turntable, definitely.
Drive: Belt Drive | Automatic or Manual: Manual | RPM Speeds: 33 1/3, 45 | Cartridge: Pre-mounted moving magnet cartridge | Phono Pre-amp: Built-in phono preamp | Output Types: Bluetooth, Ethernet, WiFi, Airplay, RCA
Reg Price: $699.95
Why it won
The Rega Planar 3 story begins in the UK in the late 70s and continues to this day. It’s about an ever-evolving turntable conceived and built by two devoted lovers of music, Tony Relph and Roy Gandy, and how they keep finding ways to extract every bit of fidelity out of treasured LPs – essentially perfecting a much-beloved product over the course of 40+ years.
Highlights include: a high-gloss acrylic laminate plinth designed for low mass and high stiffness. A “floating-glass” flywheel platter with Optiwhite polished rim, topped with a felt mat, and a low-mass, low-friction tonearm with precision bearings and steel counterweight – the result of 40 years of research and experimentation. Rega’s own Elys 2 moving magnet cartridge will come factory fitted with this version of the Planar 3. The Planar 3 really sings with the Elys 2 MM cartridge onboard.
The Planar 3 is hailed the world over as the highest-value, entry-level, audiophile turntable since its original introduction back in 1977, and it’s as much a conversation piece as it is a true high-fidelity component. Hi-Fi named its predecessor “Product of the Year” three years running. Herb Reichert of Stereophile magazine said, “I love the way it honors musicians.”
All this for less than $1,150. Need we say more?
Drive: Belt Drive | Automatic or Manual: Manual | RPM Speeds: 33 1/3, 45 | Cartridge: Elys2 MM cartridge | Phono Pre-amp: Not built in - you will need a separate phono preamp, such as Rega Fono Moving Coil Phono Stage | Output Types: RCA
Reg Price: $1,145.00
Why it won
Cambridge Audio’s Alva TT turntable isn’t just the world’s best hi-res wireless turntable, it’s the world’s only hi-res wireless turntable, as in the world’s first Bluetooth aptX HD turntable (thanks to Qualcomm® aptX™ HD – a technology that can squeeze HD audio from a Bluetooth connection) with a 24bit/48kHz standard. So to be clear, we’re talking about a high-end analog turntable that preserves all the warmth, niceties, and human soulfulness we want from our turntables but with absolute digital precision and no wires. (Interior designers will love how you can put it anywhere – though there are RCA output jacks on the back for hard-wiring.)
At almost 25 pounds, the ALVA TT is battleship solid. It comes with a single one-piece aluminum tone arm, a direct drive for consistent speed / perfect tracking, it’s easy to setup, it connects to any bluetooth speaker, amplifier, or headphones in seconds, and it sounds spectacular. One song where that really came through for us: Sinatra’s 1966 “Summer Wind” with Nelson Riddle’s backing. What is it like standing next to Sinatra on stage? The ALVA TT will put you there.
This is an audiophile’s turntable to be sure. True to its British roots, the ALVA TT is more unassuming than flashy and absolutely worthy of Cambridge Audio’s 50th anniversary year. This is excellent work.
Watch our own Adam Domurad give his full review the ALVA TT here.
Drive: Direct Drive | Automatic or Manual: Manual | RPM Speeds: 33 1/3, 45 | Cartridge: High-Output Moving Coil (MC) Cartridge pre-installed | Phono Pre-amp: Built-in phono preamp | Output Types: RCA , Bluetooth
Reg Price: $1,699.99
Why it won
If turntables in the $2k price range and up are like high-end sports cars, then maybe turntables in the $5K and up range are like high-end jet aircraft. If that’s the case, then the semi-automatic MT5 from McIntosh – the world’s undisputed amplification champion – is a show-stopping F/A-18 Hornet. (The tonearm is made of Dural-Aluminum, often used in fighter jets, so the analogy fits.)
The MT5 weighs in at 31.5 pounds, making it the heaviest turntable on our list. (Turn it up. It won’t vibrate.) It integrates with ease, especially when mated to a 2-channel McIntosh preamp. It comes with McIntosh’s precision tonearm and the much-loved Sumiko Blue Point No.2 MC cartridge, though some customers swapped-out the Sumiko for something they felt was better suited to the MT5. (Call to discuss.) The sub-platter, made from anodized aluminum, sits beneath the silicone acrylic outer platter. The combination rests on a ceramic bearing using magnetic suspension, so it literally floats on a cushion of air above a lit green platter, which is easily dimmable. There’s so much to talk about here – see our MT5 product page for the full story.
The MT5 is a favorite among Grammy winners, audiophiles, and music lovers the world over, and our ears agree: this is the best turntable humans have ever created thus far. Very expensive, yes, but this is next-level awesome, or as Rolling Stone called it: “The McIntosh MT5 is the turntable of the Gods.”
Drive: Belt Drive | Automatic or Manual: Manual | RPM Speeds: 33 1/3, 45, 78 | Cartridge: Sumiko Blue Point No. 2 MC | Phono Pre-amp: Not built-in | Output Types: RCA
9. The Best Turntable for Under $100: Audio-Technica AT-LP60X Turntable
Why it won
You’re looking at the best “less than $100” turntable on the market – hands down. The AT-LP60X comes by way of Audio-Technica, a top brand that routinely delivers solid quality gear at incredibly reasonable prices. This version of the AT-LP60X comes with improvements on the already best-selling 2018 model – featuring a redesigned tonearm base and headshell to improve tracking and reduce resonance. What’s more, Audio-Technica now includes an AC adapter that moves the AC/DC conversion to the outside of the chassis, so it has less impact on the signal chain, which further reduces noise. (Note: to make sure you’re getting the latest version with the latest improvements, check to see that the model # has an “X” at the end, as in AT-LP60X.) All in all, this is an outstanding, entry-level turntable option.
Drive: Belt Drive | Automatic or Manual: Fully Automatic | RPM Speeds: 33 1/3, 45 | Cartridge: Integral Dual Magnet™ phono cartridge | Phono Pre-amp: Built-in | Output Types: RCA
Reg Price: $99.00
# 10. The Best Turntable Under $400: Pro-Ject T1 Turntable with Speed Change and Pre-Amp
Why it won
Earlier this year, Pro-Ject set out to build a
true audiophile grade turntable at an entry-level price. The result: Pro-Ject’s
new T1 line – affordable / handsome / no-nonsense turntables that are both
extremely affordable and, compared to most audiophile turntables, plug &
play easy. If you’re looking to get into high-quality vinyl music without all
the fussing around with anti-skate and vertical tracking adjustments, etc.,
the T1 is an ideal choice – especially at our price. (The T1 also comes without a pre-amp, or with both pre-amp and Bluetooth built-in.)
The T1 plinth is a thing of beauty, and Pro-Ject was quick to remind us that no plastic parts were used in its design. (Plastic is more likely to vibrate.) The platter is heavy, made of high-density glass designed for zero resonance. Pro-Ject also developed a new, more accurate, 8.6-inch, 1-piece, tonearm for the T1, and the cartridge included is a high-end Ortofon OM 5E Moving Magnet cartridge with an elliptical diamond stylus tip. If the goal was to lessen or remove the high price barrier to audiophile-level vinyl sound, Pro-Ject’s new T1 line gets it done, nicely.
Drive: Belt Drive | Automatic or Manual: Manual | RPM Speeds: 33 1/3, 45 | Cartridge: Ortonfon OM5e Moving Magnet | Phono Pre-amp: Built-in | Output Types: RCA Phono/Line (switchable)
Reg Price: $399.00
Why it won
Welcome to the land of entry-level audiophile gear and the best-selling turntable in the $300 - $500 price range (according to Turntable Lab) – the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC. The“Debut” series has been a favorite among music lovers since the late 90s, and like any good, forward-thinking company, Pro-Ject modifies every model, every year, with the latest and newest materials and upgrades. It's no surprise that the Debut makes our list. (Pro-Ject’s Debut was the first mass-market turntable to dominate in the turntable comeback.)
This version comes with a carbon tube tonearm (typically seen only on higher-end turntables) that increases stiffness while decreasing resonance. And that, along with a bigger, heavier platter affords smoother rotation and much-improved sound. Moreover, Pro-Ject’s new and improved low-noise belt drive system, coupled with a new low-noise DC-driven AC motor, serve to lessen vibration while assuring rotational speed stability.
Bottom line: The Pro-Ject Debut is approaching legendary status in the audio industry – and it sounds great. (We spun a good copy of Steely Dan’s Pretzel Logic, which sounded so much warmer than any later digital version.) Technical specs aside, the Debut would look right at home on a pedestal at the Museum of Modern Art. This is a great looking machine. It comes in 7 high-gloss colors, including black, screaming red, green, blue, yellow, silver, white, or walnut mat.
Drive: Belt Drive Automatic or Manual: Manual | RPM Speeds: 33 1/3, 45 | Cartridge: Ortofon 2M RED moving magnet cartridge with elliptical diamond stylus | Phono Pre-amp: Not built-in - you will need a separate phono preamp, such as the Pro-Ject Phono Box MM Phono Preamp or the Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 Digital Preamplifier | Output Tyes: RCA
Reg Price: $399.00
Why it won
The C-588 is yet another great-looking, stand-out performer from NAD Electronics.
The 9-inch carbon fiber tonearm and fixed headshell come with an
Ortofon 2M Red moving-magnet cartridge already installed. The single, solid MDF
black plinth holds the sub-platter, which holds the glass platter, which is
topped with a high-grade felt. A synchronous clock motor cleans and feeds AC to
DC, and then back again, for precision AC voltage to feed the motor. Also
included: a high-end braided output cable. (See the entire spec
list right here.)
Setting the cartridge VTF and balancing the tonearm is relatively easy – it even comes with its own VTF gauge. Though NAD includes an excellent step-by-step manual, setting it up for the first time can take well over an hour. (If you’re new to vinyl and want to get it “just right” without damaging the cartridge, or anything else, we’re here to help.) Overall, in our opinion, the NAD’s C-588 sound competes with turntables costing 2 and 3 times as much. Though not entry-level, it’s ideal for those who like to fuss, adjust and perfect… as well as those who just want to hear great-sounding music minus all the noodling around.
Drive: Belt Drive | Automatic or Manual: Manual | RPM Speeds: 33 1/3, 45 | Cartridge: Ortofon 2M Red| Phono Pre-amp: Not built-in
Reg Price: $899.00
Why it won
The 2020 version of the Pro-ject X1 pays homage to the very
first X1 built some 29 years ago, and like its grandfather, it’s a fully
manual, hand-assembled thing of beauty. Unlike its grandfather, however, the
new X1 takes advantage of everything Pro-Ject learned in its three decades. To
start, the materials are better. The plinth is made from a denser – and thus
less resonant – MDF material. Under the
plinth’s hand-polished gloss finish, eight layers of paint. The platter is
heavier, too, by a little over 3 pounds. A DC/AC generator now powers the
motor, affording better isolation versus direct power. The one-piece, 8.6-inch
tonearm and its TPE-damped counterweight are easily adjustable from the unit’s
aluminum base. It comes with a Kardan ultra-low friction, four-pin point,
precision bearing – and Sumiko's Rainier cartridge. And on and on…
You can see all the specs on our X1 product page, and yes – there’s a lot to talk about, but the real reason we’re giving Pro-Ject’s X1 our 5-Star rating? It’s sounds incredible – as in spoil-you-for-life incredible. Or now-I-listen-to-music-all-the-time incredible. Or what-it was-like-hearing-both-sides-of-Seargent-Pepper-for-the first-time incredible. We even think the Pro-Ject X1 would sell well at 2 or 3 times the price, but we won’t say anything if you don’t say anything.
Drive: Belt Drive | Automatic or Manual: Manual | RPM Speeds: 33 1/3, 45, 78 | Cartridge: Sumiko Rainier| Phono Pre-amp: Built-in | Output Types: RCA
Reg Price: $899.00
Still not sure? We got this.
If you're still not sure which turntable is the best for you, give us a call or send us an email. Tell us about your system, what kind of music you like, and your budget. We’d be more than happy to help you pick the ideal turntable for you.
One more thing:
Once you pick out your turntable, a last word of advice: buy it from a trusted dealer, and the more experience / the longer the track record, the better. A good dealer will take care of you in the event anything happens. Until then, check out longer-form turntable reviews and videos in our “fun reads” blog, and if you’re ever in the neighborhood, come to one of our turntable clinics. They’re fun (we do a lot of laughing at ourselves), and some of the demonstrations are outrageous. The crowd is typically equal parts audiophiles / newbies.
Speaking of trusted dealers...
World Wide Stereo is home to some 90+ industry-leading audio/video professionals who love what they do, and talking about it, too. We opened our doors in 1979, gained a small yet diehard following, won a slew of national awards for everything from killer car audio installations to customer service, grew the business online… and today we enjoy a faithful following of like-minded TV-watching, music-listening, gear-loving defenders of fun for the whole family. Our only rule: no one leaves unhappy. We’re brutally honest when it comes to this stuff. Want to know if something is as good as advertised? Even if you're shopping somewhere else? Call us or stop by one of our showrooms — we’ll give it to you straight. We love what we do, and we love sharing that love.With us, you get our guarantee, which includes perks like free shipping, 60-day returns, and support even years after the sale — always. Hence our rule: "no one leaves unhappy." Ever.