15 Best Portable Record Players and Turntables In 2018

portable-record-players-and-turntables-in-2018

Apparently, some things will never vanish off the market. Contrary to expectations portable record players and turntables have not disappeared despite major developments in technology. Get ready to enjoy more functionality while you use a classic device.

Below we review a few portable models that give you features the modern DJ or music lover requires. Or perhaps you’re looking for something to turn your old records into digital versions? And don’t you think the best turntables with classic looks can add some aesthetic value to your rooms at home?

Which of these do you need?

Top-Rated Record Players and Turntables

Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB Direct-Drive Professional Turntable

Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB Direct-Drive Professional Turntable

The Audio-Technica portable model looks amazing and sounds good too. It’s super functional with features such as USB connection so you can connect it to your Mac or Windows computer. Your mixing benefits from selectable speeds (33 1/3, 45 and 78rpm) and pitch adjust (+/- 10% & +/- 20%). Also, enjoy quality audio thanks to direct drive and a high torque motor

It has an S-shaped tone arm and features to customize your mixing such as height adjustment for this arm. The platter has a speed indicator and the brand provides the USB cable, so it’s a user-friendly package.

Why We Like It

This is an exceptionally good looking turntable. The silver finish adds high rated class to your hobby equipment. Read Full Review

Pros:
  • Easy to change speeds; it only takes a push of a button
  • Long power cord compared to others mentioned in reviews
  • Built-in pre-amp
  • Quick 20-minute assembly
  • Manual provides images, not only text
Cons:
  • It doesn’t automatically lift at the end of a vinyl record
  • Low-quality parts tend to wear out within months
  • Parts burn out and give off burning smell
  • Hardwired audio cable prevents you from using your own
  • Consumer reports mention warped platters
  • The heavy unit, so not very portable

FAQ

Does this compact unit have internal speakers?
No this small player does not have speakers, but this is actually a benefit. Internal speakers tend to be of low quality, so you’ll get better performance by linking it to another set of quality monitors. You’re lucky that this already has a pre-amp built in, so you can use passive speakers too.

Is this an ideal unit for traveling DJs?
No, this isn’t made for DJs that are on the road a lot. Firstly, it’s a heavy unit. Secondly, it’s designed to be installed and stay stationary where it’s used. Lastly, the needle tip is not appropriate for scratching, so it will eventually burn up if used for that.

Music Hall MMF 2.2 Belt Driven Turntable with Cartridge

Music Hall MMF 2-2 Belt Driven Turntable with Cartridge

Here you have a great modern turntable with a one piece alloy tone arm. Your audio and mixing will sound great thanks to the bearing assembly made of stainless steel & bronze. The manual belt drive design also prevents excessive noise. As an added extra the feet have vibration damping qualities.

Why We Like It

This shows how a simple black is still a best-rated option because it looks fantastic. Of course, to get on this list of reviews you can be sure it’s packed with technical features too. Read Full Review

Pros:
  • Doesn’t produce noise or hums
  • Can set up in a few minutes
  • Counterweight is adjustable
Cons:
  • Must remove the plate to change playback speed
  • Short output cable

FAQ

Does it have a preamp?
No it does not have a built-in amp, so you need to connect it to an amp before it will play through your speakers. This usually provides better quality sound anyway.

How do you change the rpms?
Below the good turntable you’ll find the drive motor with a pulley. You must manually change it between the diameters. You can pick between 33rpm or 45rpm.

Pioneer PL-30-K Audiophile Turntable Good for Home Use

Pioneer PL-30-K Audiophile Stereo Turntable

This unit gives you quality rated audio thanks to the dual-layered chassis and the equalizer that’s built in. It works with the belt drive system and says goodbye to vibration interference thanks to a 5mm thick rubber mat. You playback is stable thanks to the 4mm plate with a low center of gravity.

Why We Like It

We love that it has so many features that enable you to customize your sound, such as the highest performance MM cartridge. All of this as an entry level unit gives newbies a great start on getting to know turntables. Read Full Review

Pros:
  • Accessories included such as spare lead wires
  • Can pick between using amps with phono terminal or external phono equalizer
  • Pin plug is gold plated
  • Cord is detachable for customized setup or portability
  • Affordable price range
  • Static balanced
Cons:
  • Short RCA cable
  • Only an entry level product
  • Plastic parts give it a low-quality feel

FAQ

How do you keep a balance between volume and unnecessary noise?
You need to play around with settings to get an exact reproduction of albums’ audio. You may need to lower bass output and minimize vibration. One solution is cushioning your turntable with a thick mat underneath.

Audio Technica AT-LP60 Turntable Stereo System

Audio Technica AT-LP60 Fully Automatic Stereo Turntable System

Here you get high-quality audio thanks to an anti-resonance aluminum platter and integral dual-magnet phono cartridge. The stylus has a diamond and you can pick between two speeds: 33 1/3 & 45 rpm.

This is a fully automatic turntable and you need 120V AC power outlet to power it.

Why We Like It

You can set it up in various ways thanks to many connectivity options. You get a built-in switchable pre amplifier and the RCA output empowers you to either connect to other audio systems or simply your speakers. Read Full Review

Pros:
  • The brand provides accessories such as cables
  • Only weighs 0.75lb
  • Stylus is replaceable
  • Lower the arm instantly with a flick of a button (to compensate for vinyl records other than 12” or 7”)
  • Excellent audio
Cons:
  • Bluetooth function is faulty
  • The lid doesn’t easily stay up

FAQ

Can you use this with bookshelf speakers?
Yes and because this has a built-in amplifier, you can use it with any desktop or passive speakers. You can connect via the headphone jack.

Onkyo CP-1050 Modern Record Player

Onkyo CP-1050 Direct-Drive Turntable

Onkyo gives you this product where engineers attempt to ensure stable, clear audio. You’ll get it thanks to excellent engineering in each part of the unit, from the cabinet’s construction that prevents vibration to the quartz lock control that guarantees stable rotation.

Why We Like It

This is such a suave design and the wood grain finish adds that classic look. Inside you’ll find state of the art technology. So it’s a good mix of old and new. Read Full Review

Pros:
  • The tone arm is a quality aluminum unit
  • The tone arm can support many different cartridges
  • Two RCA outputs
Cons:
  • Platter tends to wobble
  • Difficult to tune

FAQ

Does the manual functionality also apply to when the unit stops?
Yes, both the start and stop features need to be managed manually. This requires that you firstly lift and replace the tone arm & then stop the record from spinning by pushing the Start/Stop button.

Can this VTA be adjusted?
No. Although there is a ring similar to a VTA, it’s actually just for aesthetics.

Pro-Ject – Debut III Turntable

Pro-Ject Debut III Turntable

This is such a basic but beautiful design. It’s unfortunate that there’s no lid, but with the sleek setup, you’ll easily fit this into a cupboard.

This is a belt driven unit with a bearing housing made of brass. The steel platter is covered with felt which minimizes vibration interference. Enjoy high end tracking with the aluminum tone arm that even has hardened stainless steel points.

Thanks to the silicon fitted to the arm, it won’t make a sound when you lift the arm. Dimensions are 12.6” x 16.34” x 4.65”.

Why We Like It

Here’s another exceptional design. It’s basic but striking and with no frills, you can get this at under $300. Read Full Review

Pros:
  • Silent tone arm thanks to silicon
  • Stunning sleek design complements any room or studio
  • Easy to assemble
Cons:
  • No cover
  • Difficult to put the belt back in place after it falls off or requires replacement
  • Mat tends to come off when you change records

FAQ

What types of records will this unit play?
Because it’s a belt driven table that you can simply adjust according to your needs, you can play both 33 1/3rpm and 45rpm.

Will this brand provide automatic stop features in its models?
You won’t easily find automatic features when you’re looking at high-end models. One of the benefits of high-end turntables is that there are very few parts that move. That’s why many functions are left for the user to manage, such as stopping and starting playing of the record.

Rega – RP1 Cool Vinyl Record Player

Rega - RP1 Turntable

Here’s another very simple design but don’t think it’s not sophisticated. Features such as a phenolic resin flywheel and a precision main bearing ensure absolute stability. This is essential to prevent vibrations and unnecessary noise while playing records. Even the motor itself is noted to be low in vibrations.

It’s quite lighter than many other models mentioned in this review. At only 9.2lb and measuring at 15” x 17.5” x 4.5” you can at least move this around easily when necessary.

Why We Like It

The brand really tries to eliminate the sources of vibration or anything that could negatively impact the audio. They go so far as to have the tone arm assembled by hand. Read Full Review

Pros:
  • Light when compared to other models on this list
  • Hand assembled parts means high quality
Cons:
  • Hard wired RCA cable
  • Some noise coming from a plinth
  • Sound quality not the best of all the units on this list of reviews

FAQ

Can you hook your own RCA cables up to this unit?
Note that the RCA cables are hardwired to the arm. Because they’re built in—and you shouldn’t try to remove them, even though it looks easy—you can’t use your own cables. There are hopes that the brand will upgrade this feature in the near future.

What tracking force can you use?
This unit’s default maximum tracking force is 1.75g. However, it’s customizable so you can use 2.0g cartridges too. It simply means you’ll have to adjust the counterweight. Use a stylus force gauge to do this at the back of the unit.

Music Hall usb-1 for Casual Listening

Music Hall usb-1 Record Turntable

A basic design and yes it’s made of plastic. But you enjoy two different playback speeds a balanced tone arm and even pitch control. Note that to make MP3s you can use an iPod and iTunes.

Why We Like It

This is a basic unit that you’ll probably want to upgrade later on, such as the cartridge. And when you need to this, its upgradability will allow you. That’s excellent for a unit costing less than $200. Read Full Review

Pros:
  • Easy to assembly
  • Good value for money
  • Switchable preamp
Cons:
  • Components (such as USB plug in) causes hums
  • Pitch and speed problems due to
  • Plastic components seem and sound cheap

FAQ

Must the stylus be broken in before it will reproduce excellent sound?
No. This stylus is supposed to work correctly from day one. If you find problems with clarity or certain frequencies, you may need to replace that part.

Pro-Ject – Debut Carbon DC

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC

In this reasonably priced product you get an 8.6” tone arm, a 2M Red cartridge and New Sorbothone motor suspension. That’s exceptional technology and you’ll love the sleek black finish too.

Why We Like It

This is a plug and play unit, so any music lover can now enjoy the high-quality audio found with high-quality vinyl record players. Read Full Review

Pros:
  • Motor is separate from the base
  • Quality cartridge and tone arm
  • Simple functioning is ideal for casual listening at home
Cons:
  • No auto return
  • Generates a lot of static because platter is metal
  • Sub-par felt covering

FAQ

Can you play 45 rpm records on this unit?
You need to remove the platter to get to the belt. You adjust this manually, so it’s not difficult, but not the most user-friendly feature.

Stanton T.62 Straight Arm

Stanton Stanton T62 Direct-Drive Straight-Arm Turntable

This Stanton model allows for a lot of customization as it supports two playback speeds and you can play with the 10% manual pitch fader.

This is probably also the best option for DJs as the arm is designed for scratching. You also have two separate RCA outputs.

Why We Like It

Among the many classic units, this is something that suits the modern generation to complement a sound setup visually (and technically of course). Read Full Review

Pros:
  • Striking aesthetics
  • Can be used by DJs
  • Decadence DVS software is included with purchase
Cons:
  • Heavier than other popular models on this list
  • No 78 rpm option

FAQ

What accessories do you get with this purchase?
You get RCA cables, a dust cover and a slip mat. Because they’re high-end components they help create and sustain high-quality audio.

1byone Belt Driven Turntable with Built-in Speaker

1byone Belt Driven Bluetooth Turntable with Built-in Stereo Speaker Vintage Style Record Player

This has so many built-in features which audiophiles and leisurely listeners will love, especially if you want to be a bit nostalgic. The exterior is a classic wood finish while the inside has state of the art technology.

The tech includes vinyl to MP3 recording functionalities. It has Bluetooth connectivity and is a plug and play device, making it easy for beginners.

Why We Like It

Unlike most units on this list, this turntable has its own set of embedded speakers. Thanks to the 2 way crossover the audio played through these will be of a high quality.

Pros:
  • Compatible with most modern mobile devices
  • Built-in speakers
  • Amazing aesthetics
  • Super light at 7.1lb
  • Affordable price matched with tech and looks
Cons:
  • Can only handle USB up to 32GB
  • Starts malfunctioning quite quickly

FAQ

What kind of speakers can this connect to?
You need speakers with RCA plug connections. Note that the Bluetooth only applies to music sources, not speakers or monitors.

Victrola Nostalgic Bluetooth Turntable

Victrola Nostalgic Aviator Wood 8-in-1 Bluetooth Turntable Entertainment Center

This mahogany finished case contains a phonograph that looks old fashioned but you get a CD player, Bluetooth, cassette player, Radio (AM/FM), RCA aux input, headphone jack and more.

What’s quite impressive about this all in one record player system is that you can record your favorite record directly from the vinyl onto a CD without a computer.

Why We Like It

Where else will you get the right mix of classic aesthetics and amazing tech? This brand took it to a whole new level with this combo Bluetooth turntable.

Pros:
  • Looks striking (Antique)
  • Low price for a combo set
  • Exceptionally long cord (60ft)
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Radio installed
Cons:
  • Quite heavy and large
  • Not high quality

FAQ

Can you use Bluetooth speakers?
No. Note that the Bluetooth features apply to audio you send TO the unit, not what you get FROM it.

Are records the only music source for this combo?
No you can use the USB connection.

Sony PSLX300USB Fully Automatic

Sony PSLX300USB USB Stereo Turntable

Here you get the coolest automatic turntable with high-end features in all departments. It has a built-in phone preamp to make sound setups easy and the tone arm is statically balanced. You have both a USB and RCA output jacks. It can also handle 33 1/3 and 45 rpm playing.

Why We Like It

The brand provides Sound Forge Audio Studio LE CD-Rom.

Pros:
  • USB cable included
  • Reasonable weight at 9.15lb for easy transport
  • No amp needed to convert records to MP3
Cons:
  • No pitch control that can help manage noise ratio
  • No headphone out
  • RCA is mounted and short

FAQ

How can you connect this to speakers?
Depending on your speakers you can either use the USB or RCA cables.

Electrohome Wellington All In One Wood Record Player

Electrohome Wellington Record Player Retro Vinyl Turntable Real Wood Stereo System

Here’s another beautifully crafted, fancy stereo record player with speakers that looks antique but provides you with modern audio features. It’s a record player, but can also play CDs and radio, or simply plug in a USB with your tracks. It has built-in speakers and the wooden casing enhances your audio experience.

Why We Like It

You can convert MP3 files from your old records without even connecting to a computer.

Pros:
  • Sapphire and ceramic combined tip won’t damage records
  • Can connect headphone for private listening
  • Stunning design to enhance home decor
  • Affordable price range
  • Radio enabled
Cons:
  • Can’t be used for scratching
  • Platter tends to wobble
  • Not many customization options

FAQ

Can these speakers play to a large audience?
The speakers are designed to fill a room with music and you’ll even hear it a room away. However, it won’t be loud as a high-end stereo system and is not recommended to use in open air areas, rather for home use in close quarters.

JORLAI Rechargeable Suitcase Turntable

JORLAI Turntable

Such a beautifully sleek design, in a cool protective suitcase! The speakers of this high-end suitcase turntable are built in for easy usage and setup. The software to convert records to MP3s is provided. The great aesthetics is paired with handy features such as both RCA and headphone outputs. This and wireless features make a setup that much easier.

Why We Like It

It can handle almost any speed (33rpm, 45rpm and 78rpm) and sizes of records such as 7”, 10”, 12”.

Pros:
  • Cord or battery powered (lasts up to 3 hours)
  • Bluetooth enabled
  • Very light at 6.5lb
Cons:
  • Sub-par quality
  • Long charging time

FAQ

How do you connect additional speakers to this traditional design?
Note that the Aux channel is not an output but a receiver port. Therefore you must use the RCA output for speaker setup.

High-End Record Players and Turntables Buying Guide

Let’s look at a few features that can help you discern which one is best for you.

Features
Find features that align with how you prefer making music. Here are a few recommendations.

Automation
You need to pick between automatic and manual style models. If you like being part of the process, you’ll probably opt for manual features where you need to place the arm in position to cue a track. Alternatively, an automatic system will initiate this motion when you press a button.

One motivation that drives your choice and ratings may be how cautious you are. Some users are afraid they’ll scratch their records and prefer leaving all the functions to the machine.

Upgradability
You may be happy with your turntable today, but you’ll want to upgrade in future. Will the one you pick allow that?

Ideally, you’ll want to upgrade separate parts of your record player. Perhaps you need a more effective stylus, add slip mats or get a better tone arm.

Here’s your warning: some lower end models don’t allow for customization or upgrading. It may be better to invest in a slightly higher-end model so you know you won’t have to purchase an entirely new unit in future.

USB
What is their purpose and why should you perhaps pay a little more to get one of these? Imagine changing all your beloved records into MP3s. For years this has been a very tricky process—when using old turntables—but with a modern device in your studio, it becomes an instant process: Simply connect the record player to your computer so you can then convert it to the type of music file you prefer.

Specs
In addition, think how these specs will affect how much you enjoy and use your turntable:

  • Weight: Must be light if you’re going to use it for DJ work and plan on traveling with it a lot
  • Dimensions: Make sure it fits in where you want to install it
  • Lid: A lid that easily stays up ensures it never bangs down while you’re working
  • Stylus: If you want to DJ, this unit must be appropriate for scratching, otherwise it will quickly wear out

Belt Drive vs Direct Drive

A record player will either be belt driven or direct driven.

In both cases, there is a motor that initiates motion. Of course, you need this to get the record to spin so the stylus can move across grooves, producing audio according to these vibrations. But in these two setups, the positioning of the motor differs.

In a belt-driven turntable, a belt connects the motor to the platter. With the help of bearings quite a stable setup is created. Therefore this type is known for high-quality sound because there’s little vibration. Unfortunately, the belt can eventually wear out. This setup also limits torque and lowers speed accuracy.

Alternatively, opt for a cool direct drive turntable where the platter is connected to the motor directly. Here you may have vibrations that will affect sound quality and can even create noise. However, you’ll enjoy exceptional torque and speed will be consistent.

DJs love direct drive models because they can easily reverse (playback) the records to create exceptional sounding tracks. For your use, borrow friends’ units for sampling or try them out in the store before you buy.

Price Range

So you’ve got a budget to meet? Yes, you can find noteworthy models in your preferred price range, but lower end models will always require you to make compromises in terms of sound quality.

Here you must realize you’re sacrificing a lot in terms of sound quality. But if you’re simply exploring a new hobby—and haven’t fallen in love with it yet—this may be the price range to look at.

Unfortunately, upgrading is usually not possible with units in this range, so make sure you don’t actually want a long-term plan. If that’s the case, move on to one of the next price ranges.

For $200 you may get audio an audiophile will start to like. Explore the hobby with units that have this nice price tag, but don’t judge all turntables by this quality. If you spend a little bit more you’ll see how the audio becomes clearer.

Try the Music Hall usb-1 Record Turntable. You sacrifice some on looks too, because it’s made of plastic, but because certain small parts allow for upgrading, it’s worth the investment.

You can bargain on getting something decent in this price range. Brands cater for people who are still dabbling but who may want to upgrade in future.

We advise you to look at the Pro-ject Debut III. Its simple design prevents you from feeling overwhelmed, while you have some excellent components to deliver quality audio.

In this mid-range, you should consider the future upgradability. You’re already investing something extra in your hobby or career so make sure you can take it all the way. You’ll be happy to know that brands sell upgrade packages.

We advise you to start with one of the best record players – the Onkyo CP-1050 at $399 since its tone arm is already designed to support different cartridges.

In these rankings, you’ll get all you need, hopefully in terms of looks and functionality. However, you’re going to spend a lot of money and there are so many models on the market.

Here is where intensive research of brands is needed before making a purchase. Ensure it’s in line with your needs so you don’t pay for features you don’t want, or realize you want something different after the warranty period lapsed.

Conclusion

It’s awesome that modern brands choose to supply us with something old in a new format. It can add some nostalgia to your day, while it blows your mind in terms of sound quality, because certain music simply sounds better on a turntable.