The Best Beginner Record Players of 2021

The Best Beginner Record Players

Due to the continued growth in vinyl record sales, with vinyl records now outselling CD sales for the first time in 25 years, the demand for entry-level turntables and record players is growing rapidly.

More manufacturers are now offering turntables and record players to appeal to this rapidly growing new market. A wide variety of products are now available and being marketed to cater to a wide variety of tastes, preferences, and budgets.

Whether you are looking to buy your first turntable, having just discovered the great sound and listening pleasure of vinyl, or are replacing that old turntable that has been collecting years of dust or you just want to upgrade your existing turntable, the options, and choices available to you are endless.

The 6 Best Beginner Record Players:

We have decided to compile a list of options below that will cater to all your different kinds of needs. From styles and aesthetics to the budgets and extras, we have you covered.

1. Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO – Our Top Choice

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO
Dimensions12.6 x 16.3 x 4.5 inches
MotorDirect Drive
Item Weight13.2 lbs
Phono Preamp No
USBNo
Rotation Speeds33/45 RPM (78 RPM Capable)
BluetoothNot specified

Pros

  • An engaging, detailed sound that is expansive
  • Specification is impressive
  • Wide range of appealing finishes

Cons

  • Sound could be more vigorous

The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO is a truly magnificent record player with exceptional qualities. It is by far the best product out there for those first-time record buyers and seasoned buyers alike! This record player is widely described as the best record player available for purchase today and there is no question about it! This record player ticks all our boxes and should tick all yours too! 

With its multitude of sleek finishes, there is a style design for just about every preference! From matte finishes to glossy finishes, Pro-Ject Audio Systems even went all out with a jaw-dropping Satin Walnut wood finish! The slim design of this record player is desirable as well as aesthetically pleasing. 

Some features included in this winner of a record player are a heavy, stamped steel platter. Weighing in at a whopping 3.75 pounds, there is no doubt that the sound from this beauty will be elegant and unmatched without a single vibration or sound warbling to be heard. 

The standard phono cartridge that comes with the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO is none other than a Sumiko Rainier. This phono cartridge has been factory mounted and precision aligned for the absolute ultimate reading abilities. Going hand in hand with the phono cartridge, the record player has a Carbon Fiber tonearm. 

The tonearm not only has an integrated headshell, but it also boasts low-friction, precision sapphire tonearm bearings. And if all that still is not enough to quench your thirst, the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO has the option for electric speed selection. The cherry on top would of course be the fact that it is also capable of speeds up to 78 RPM!

2. Audio-Technica AT-LP120XBT-USB – Our Number One Runner Up

Audio-Technica AT-LP120XBT-USB
Dimensions17.8 x 13.86 x 5.57 inches
MotorDirect Drive
Item Weight17.6 lbs
Phono Preamp Yes
USBYes
Rotation Speeds33/45/78 RPM
BluetoothYes

Pros

  • aptX Bluetooth streaming
  • Includes a phono preamp
  • USB output allows digital copies to be made
  • Produces a quality, detailed sound

Cons

  • Some turntables pack more punch but without the extras.

Audio Technica has a great reputation in the turntable industry with the popular and long-running AT-LP120USB now replaced with this LP120X model. The sleek design with a matt black or silver finish and combined with a professional-grade die-cast aluminum platter with stroboscopic speed indicator, felt mat, S-shaped tonearm, and removable hinged dust cover gives the Audio Technica an aesthetically pleasing look.

The Audio Technica has a direct drive turntable that tends to be quicker to start up and more powerful than a belt-driven turntable because the motor is directly beneath the spindle. Belts also tend to stretch and need replacing. The Technica-AT-LP120XBT has a DC servo motor that reduces any potential loss of sound quality caused by vibration to a minimum.

A USB output allows the turntable to be connected to a PC to convert your vinyl records into a digital format via the Audacity Software that is included with the turntable. The turntable comes equipped with a built-in selectable phono preamp that enables you to connect directly to your home stereo or powered speakers via Dual RCA output cables. It also has wireless aptX Bluetooth connectivity enabling it to connect to any Bluetooth speaker.

The turntable has adjustable Dynamic anti-skate control, and the fully manual turntable plays 33, 45, and 78 RPM records and has a 45 RPM adapter. The turntable features an S-shaped tonearm with adjustable tracking force and hydraulically damped lift control and lockable rest. A high-performance AT-VM95E Dual Magnet phono cartridge with a 0.3x 0.7 elliptical stylus fits into the AT-H56 universal half-inch mount headshell.

The Audio Technica AT-LP120XBT-USB is very easy to assemble, has excellent sound quality with additions such as an integrated phono preamp, USB, and Bluetooth streaming, at a competitive price making it an ideal turntable for someone starting out in the new exciting world of vinyl records.

3. Lenco L-85

Lenco L-85
Dimensions16.5 x 14.2 x 5.9 inches
MotorBelt Drive
Item Weight5.5 lbs
Phono Preamp Yes
USBYes, MP3 Files Only
Rotation Speeds33/45 RPM
BluetoothNo

Pros

  • Good value for money
  • Easy to set up
  • Built-in phono stage
  • Has USB

Cons

  • Sound quality acceptable but not comparable to more costly players

If you have never had a turntable before and are looking for a record player that is easy to set up and gives you all the basics to step into vinyl, then the Lenco – 85 at a very competitive low price is a perfect introduction to get into vinyl. The vibrant colors that the turntable is available in will appeal to your kids.

Although it is made of plastic it is well built. The built-in phono preamp plus the RCA cables that are included allow you to plug into a stereo amplifier or separate speakers. Lenco has succeeded in creating a player that can be plugged in and is ready to play. Everything is pre-fitted, and you don’t have to set the counterweight, adjust the bias. The moving-magnet cartridge comes fitted.

Converting your vinyl records into MP3 files is easily achieved by plugging a memory stick into the USB port situated in the front panel of the turntable.

The Lenco – 85 is ideal for anyone who wants a turntable to play their records on that will produce an acceptable sound quality at an affordable price.

4. Fluance RT81

Fluance RT81 High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable Record Player
Dimensions16.5 x 13.75 x 5.5 inches
MotorBelt Drive
Item WeightStat
Phono Preamp Yes
USBNo
Rotation Speeds33/45 RPM
BluetoothNot specified

Pros

  • Great sound quality
  • Built-in phono preamp
  • Easy to set up

Cons

  • No auto returning arm

Fluance is a Canadian company based at Niagra Falls and was established in 1999 to produce audio systems capable of reproducing accurate sound quality. The Fluance RT81 is a turntable that certainly lives up to the quality that Fluance is striving to achieve.

The Fluance RT81 is very easy to set up and use for those who are just starting their journey into what can at times be the complicated world of vinyl records. The built-in Texas Instruments preamp with included RCA cables allows for connection to speakers or amp. If at a later stage, you feel the need to upgrade to a better amp, the built-in amp can be turned off.

The aesthetically pleasing plinth is constructed from audio grade (MDF) wood and has a high gloss walnut finish. It has sound isolation feet and an aluminum platter and a rubber slip mat to isolate unwanted vibrations. The turntable is belt-driven and there is a metal switch that you use to select 33 or 45 RPM.

The Fluance RT81 has an adjustable, balanced aluminum S-Type tonearm and combined with an anti-skating system that prevents scratching, ensures good record tracking. A High-Performance Cartridge AT95E from Audio Technica features a diamond elliptical-tipped stylus that creates a very acceptable sound quality. 

The Fluance RT81 is a great-looking record player that is easy to set up with enough features to make it easy to operate especially if you are purchasing your first vinyl turntable. It has a good sound quality and is set at a very competitive price making it a record player well worth considering as an introduction to vinyl turntables. Future upgrading is possible by replacing the cartridge or preamp.

5. Sony PS-HX500

Sony PS-HX500
Dimensions18.5 x 16.32 x 6.2 inches
MotorBelt Drive
Item Weight8.8 lbs
Phono Preamp Yes
USBYes
Rotation Speeds33/45 RPM
BluetoothNo

Pros

  • Good sound quality
  • Price reduced
  • Can copy to high-resolution WAV OR DSD file

Cons

  • Simplistic aesthetics will not appeal to everyone.

Sony has always been renowned for producing quality audio products. The Sony PSHX500 is a turntable that produces a crisp, detailed sound quality.

The main feature is the internal DSD-native analog to digital converter that enables it to convert records into hi-resolution digital files either as a WAV (up to 24-bit/192kHz) or DSD (5.6 MHz). This is achieved by attaching the PS-HX500 to a PC or MAC via its USB Type-B port and downloading Sony’s Hi-Res Audio Recorder software. Once that’s done you merely play a record and digitally save the music from your vinyl in Hi-Res.

The PS-HX500 has a 30mm acoustic grade MDF cabinet with rubber dampers on the bottom to eliminate vibration. It has a high inertia aluminum die-cast platter that is topped by a 5mm rubber mat. The tonearm has a pre-loaded moving magnet cartridge that is not branded. The slotted headshell will accommodate other cartridges if you want to upgrade. It also comes with a built-in phono preamp.

The Sony PS-HX500 is easy to set up and creates a detailed and appealing sound quality that vinyl record players are associated with. The added benefit of converting your treasured vinyl records to hi-resolution digital files makes this a versatile and recommended product. The price has just been greatly reduced, making this product more affordable too.

6. Denon DP-300F

Denon DP-300F
Dimensions15 x 17.1 x 4.8 inches
MotorBelt Drive
Item Weight12.1 lbs
Phono Preamp Yes
USBNo 
Rotation Speeds33/45 RPM
BluetoothNot Specified

Pros

  • Is fully automatic
  • Built-in phono preamp
  • Impressive sound quality

Cons

  • All plastic build
  • No USB recording

The Denon DP-300F is a fully automatic turntable that is perfect for someone looking to start a vinyl record collection or if you have a collection that has not been listened to for a long time. It is easy to install, and the sound quality is great for what you will pay for this turntable.

This turntable is powered by a DC servo motor and is belt-driven ensuring that vibration from the motor is minimal. The plinth has a heavy base to further reduce vibration. The platter is constructed from die-cast aluminum to ensure uniform rotation for a smooth operation. It plays speeds of 33 and 45 RPM.

The tonearm is a straight design and is plastic. The tonearm has a removable headshell that makes changing cartridges simple. It comes with a DSN-85 cartridge that can be replaced if you want to upgrade the sound quality.

The Automatic Startup feature means that once a record is placed on the platter you just press the Start button and the tonearm will move to the beginning on the record and start playing. It will auto-return when it reaches the end of the record thus eliminating the possibility of damage or scratching of the record or stylus.

The Denon DP- 300F has a built-in phono preamp that allows you to connect the turntable to an integrated amp or receiver that does not have a phono input.

If you are looking for an entry-level turntable that is very easy to operate and install and will still provide you with a very acceptable audio quality, then the Denon DP-300F is worth considering.

Buyer’s Guide

As with the purchase of any product, there are a few important questions to consider when purchasing a record player. Choosing a record player is not about picking the one that is most popular at the moment or that is the most expensive, you need to consider your needs and preferences. 

Record players come in many shapes, styles, and sizes. They also come in varying levels, from entry-level to advanced. Here is what you should look for in an entry-level record player. 

If you want a simple solution, take a look at the Best All In One Stereo Systems With a Turntable.

A solid and heavy platter

The platter is the surface of the record player that spins. It is what the record is placed onto. The platter is an important part of a record player’s design that should be heavy and solid. An important feature of a record player’s platter is that it should spin at a consistent speed. This will result in preventing the occurrence of unwanted vibrations which may lead to warbling playback. Heavier platters are recommended as they offer much greater speed consistency. 

A well-designed tonearm 

The tonearm of a record player should be capable of fully supporting your phono cartridge. This is important as it is what reads the music from the intricately placed record grooves. The bearing on this part of the record player should not rattle. They should instead be friction-free. Ideal tonearms are made from materials that do not resonate with sound. 

A high-quality phono cartridge 

Phono cartridges are the parts of a record player that extracts information from the record grooves. Better quality phono cartridges are known to extract more information than lesser quality ones. If set up correctly, it also reduces the wear on your records. Phono cartridges must match the record player’s tonearm to get the best out of your record player as well as to protect it from any unnecessary wear. 

Appearance

Always consider the appearance of the product you are buying. A record player is something you are going to have out, displayed in your home. Because of this, you do not want something that makes you cringe every time you look at it. 

To choose a record player that best suits your aesthetic needs, consider where you will be putting it and what will surround it. If it is going to be a feature piece in your elegant but homely living room, a bright, luminescent green record player is not quite going to fit the bill. 

To be safe, look for record players that have various color variations to choose from. Or, if they only come in a select few colors, make sure you choose a standard color that will fit into to just about any atmosphere. Colors such as black or wood finished products are generally good choices as they are able to fit into most aesthetic situations. 

And what is your experience with record players?

Considering this entire post is about beginner or entry-level record players, I think it is safe to assume that you have minimal experience with record players. That said, it is nothing to be ashamed of. Instead, it should be embraced. There is nothing worse than getting a new appliance that you have psyched yourself up for and not having any clue on where to even begin to figure out how to use it. 

With record players, even entry-level products can be quite in-depth. It is best that you get a record player that not only suits your needs and requirements but one that suits your skill level too. If you are technologically inclined and do not have a hard time picking up the ins and outs of new appliances, then slightly more complicated products should not be a problem for you. 

If you are a person that is not technologically inclined but is trying nonetheless, you are best off getting a record player with simple features and minimal extras that are easy to use. It is no good buying a fancy record player that will end up sitting and collecting dust because you have no idea how to use it. 

FAQs

Do I need to buy speakers for my record player?

In most cases, having your record player hooked up or wirelessly connected to speakers is recommended. Speakers will be needed to increase the overall sound output of the record player.

In this case, preamplifiers are important as they are needed to connect your record player to your preferred sound output system, such as speakers or even headphones. If you do not have compatible speakers at home, you will need to purchase some. 

Take a look at The Best Tower Speakers.

Should I get a record player with digital features?

Record players that have digital features are beneficial to some people but do not pose much difference to others. The digital features included in some record players include USB and Bluetooth.

For those that are concerned with digitizing records or listening to your music albums on wireless speakers, digital features are important. For users who are just wanting to use a good, old-fashioned record player as it comes, these features will not be of much importance. 

What is a preamp?

The word preamp is short for a preamplifier. A preamp is a built-in feature that allows the user to plug the product into any type of powered speaker or even an A/V receiver. Preamps are used so that the sound level can be increased. 

Conclusion 

Finding the right record player to suit your needs can be tough with so many products on the market. There are many different variables that need to be considered, such as your needs as well as your level of experience. With this guide, we hope that your search has been simplified and that some of your important questions have been answered. 

This article was last updated on November 10, 2021 .

By Charl Jooste

Writing full time from home, Charl enjoys modern technology and advanced gadgets but still has a soft spot for quality reliable appliances. He is passionate about durability and quality going to great lengths to find the very best ideas and leading products to share with readers.