For teenagers raised in the 1950s and onwards, no Saturday was ever complete without going into town to buy a single on vinyl to play on repeat all day long. But in the 1990s, the CD arrived and vinyl began to take a back seat. Digital music was a final nail in its coffin.
For many aficionados, it had never truly gone away—but the rest of us began falling in love with the humble record player again in the last few years. But what do you need to look for when choosing the best record player for your music collection? Here’s what you need to consider.
- Start Small: If you’ve never owned a record player before, it’s best not to start off with an expensive model. Instead, try a basic one to see if you really love the sound and don’t mind the extra work that goes into analogue music (taking records on and off, cleaning the stylus, and more). All-in-one players, which have inbuilt speakers, are the cheapest options. Even better, many come in briefcase-style packaging, so you can carry them from room to room in the house or even to a friend’s place. The top acts as a dust cover when you’re not using the record player, and many now come with some very modern extras. Just don’t expect them to be very loud.
- Turntable versus Record Players: If you want to deafen the neighbors—or, simply enjoy loud music—consider buying a turntable with connecting speakers rather than a record player (which has inbuilt amplifiers). But before making your purchase, be sure it will play all your records, not just some. Before 1960, many records played at 78rpm (revolutions per minute); if you’ve got some ‘50s rock n roll in your collection, you’ll need a model that plays at this speed as well as at 45rpm (singles) and 33rpm (albums). Also, look out for players with ‘auto-operation’—this means the machine itself moves the arm onto the record, taking away the heart-stopping moment when you fear you’ve put it down too hard and damaged the vinyl.
- Vinyl Only? Once you’ve made all the above decisions, it’s time to consider your tech. What do you want to be able to do? Record players come with all manner of extras, including tape decks, CD players, and radios. For more modern tech, look out for machines that come with USB ports and Bluetooth connectivity so you can listen to your entire music collection—whether it’s on vinyl or your smartphone. And also consider those that can convert vinyl to digital, so you can listen to your beloved collection on your laptop or MP3 player when you’re on the go or just not in the right room.
Our Picks for the Best Record Players on Amazon
Top Pick Overall: Udreamer Vinyl Record Player
Works with Your Phone
This charming combination of old and new melds an antique look with modern technology. It will also transfer music to your iOS or Android device as well as play vinyl singles, albums, and 78s.
Runner Up: ION Audio Max LP
Sleek and Modern
In two colors, this lets you play vinyl and also transform it into digital files to listen to on your PC or Mac with the included software. Comes with a protective dust cover and felt slipmat.
Budget Pick: DIGITNOW! Turntable Record Player
Stylish and Portable
Though this model can’t connect to your Bluetooth headphones, you can use a USB cable to attach it to your devices. Plus, its stereo speakers make it useful for gatherings with friends.
Premium Pick: Mersoco Bluetooth Record Player
Adjustable Counterweight for Smooth Movement
This converts vinyl to MP3 via its USB connection either as a backup or for you to listen to on your computer. Comes with attachable amplifiers for a much louder and superior sound.
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