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5 Best Turntables and Record Players for Listening to Your Vinyl

5 Best Turntables and Record Players for Listening to Your Vinyl

Welcome to Retrolife’s 2023 top five picks for the best vinyl record players under $500. Whether you’re looking for an entry-level turntable, a fully manual turntable, or a Bluetooth turntable, we’ve got you covered with these picks.

Turntables are a bit more complicated to set up and maintain than other playback devices, and the physical experience of using them is just as important as the audio output when choosing just how you want to approach the vinyl experience. Once you've decided on your budget, decide on the features you require. Belt drive or direct drive? Do you need a phono stage built in? What about the cartridge? Wireless? USB? Make sure you have a checklist based on your needs to help you narrow the search.

Once you have chosen, it's also crucial you set up your turntable correctly. While some record players are relatively "plug and play", many require a little more time and effort to hear at their best. Want to know more? Read our complete guide to choosing the right turntable.

SY101 Turntable Speakers System, Shop Now>>

A high-performance Bluetooth input record player with external bookshelf speakers that offers plenty of amazing features!

Specification

  • Drive Type: Belt
  • Operation Type: Manual
  • Speakers Power: 36 Watt
  • Speeds: 33 1/3, 45 RPM
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth Input
  • USB Port: Yes
  • RCA Output/AUX In: Yes
  • Tonearm Lifter: Yes
  • Headphone Jack: Yes
  • Auto Stop: Yes

Pros

  • Well-built, wooden record player.
  • Astonishing music quality – feel the bass in the air.
  • User-friendly Bluetooth feature.
  • The USB output for saving analog record collections digitally in CD quality.

Cons

  • May randomly turn off.
  • Takes time to set up.

UD006 Turntable Speakers System, Shop Now>>

A high-quality Bluetooth input record player with external bookshelf speakers that offers plenty of amazing features!

Specification

  • Drive Type: Belt
  • Operation Type: Manual
  • Speakers Power: 40 Watt
  • Speeds: 33 1/3, 45 RPM
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth Input and Output
  • USB Port: Yes
  • RCA Output/AUX In: Yes
  • Tonearm Lifter: Yes
  • Headphone Jack: Yes
  • Auto Stop: Yes

Pros

  • Well-built, wooden record player.
  • Astonishing music quality – feel the bass in the air.
  • User-friendly Bluetooth input and output.
  • The USB output for saving analog record collections digitally in CD quality.

Cons

  • May randomly turn off.
  • Takes time to set up.

R612 Record Player HiFi System, Shop Now>>

A small size and area record player with external bookshelf speakers that can be conveniently used anywhere in the home. The price is around $200.

Specification

  • Drive Type: Belt
  • Operation Type: Manual
  • Speeds: 33 1/3, 45, 78 RPM
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth Input
  • USB Port: Yes
  • RCA Output/AUX In: Yes
  • Tonearm Lifter: Yes
  • Headphone Jack: Yes
  • Auto Stop: Yes

Pros

  • Well-built, wooden record player.
  • Best value for money.
  • User-friendly Bluetooth input.
  • With the characteristics of small size and area.
  • The USB output for saving analog record collections digitally in CD quality.

Cons

  • May randomly turn off.
  • Takes time to set up.

HQKZ-006 Bluetooth Turntable, Shop Now>>

A budget Bluetooth turntable that sounds surprisingly good.

Specification

  • Drive Type: Belt
  • Operation Type: Manual
  • Speeds: 33 1/3, 45 RPM
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth Output
  • USB Port: No
  • RCA Output: Yes
  • Tonearm Lifter: Yes
  • Headphone Jack: No
  • Auto Stop: Yes

Pros

  • Entertaining sound
  • Easy to use
  • Bluetooth

Cons

  • Need to pair this turntable with an external phono preamp or an audio receiver that includes one.

R517 All-in-One Record Player, Shop Now>>

It’s a vinyl record player with built-in speakers and high-quality components that deliver rich, warm audio.

Specification

  • Drive Type: Belt
  • Operation Type: Manual
  • Speeds: 33 1/3, 45 RPM
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth Input
  • USB Port: Yes
  • RCA Output/AUX In: Yes
  • Tonearm Lifter: Yes
  • Headphone Jack: Yes
  • Auto Stop: Yes

Pros

  • Fits into any room.
  • Belt drive with built-in speakers for completely self-contained audio.
  • Excellent sound quality – the speaker does not over-vibrate at max volume.
  • Straightforward setup.

How we test the best record players and turntables

First and foremost, our testing focuses on sound quality; for all a turntable’s little tricks, nothing is more important than making sure your vinyl sounds good on it, so we’ll listen to a variety of music to find out when each record player best handles different instrument types and frequency ranges.

We’ll also take a close look at build quality, as even cheap turntables can cost a healthy three figures and should be appropriately built to last. And, while sound quality remains paramount, we’ll also try out any special features a record player might have, both to ensure they work reliably and that they’re actually useful.

How to choose the best record player for you

First off, be aware the signal from even the best record players is feeble to the point of being non-existent.

 

After that, it’s important to make sure you’re budgeting correctly. There’s no point in spending thousands on a record player if the system it’s joining costs peanuts, just as buying a budget-conscious turntable is a false economy if your set-up cost proper money. In either case, you’re not maximizing performance.

 

Then make sure your turntable has the facilities you need. Do you have some old 78rpm discs? Not every record player can deal with them. Do you want to convert your vinyl into digital files? Make sure your turntable has a USB output. Would you like to stream your vinyl wirelessly? Then a Bluetooth transmitter is a must.

 

Setting up a turntable is therefore more of a complex process than simply turning on your favorite Bluetooth speaker, though as any audiophile will tell you, that extra effort can yield some great-sounding rewards.

 

 

 

 

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