If you’re just getting into vinyl, it’s understandable to feel overwhelmed by all the options for turntables and vinyl accessories. Lucky for you, we rounded up a solid list of beginner-friendly (and budget-friendly) turntables, and some basic accessories for storing, playing, and cleaning your new vinyl collection.
We know that everyone’s audio tastes differ. Our suggestions won’t create the perfect audiophile setup; rather, this is just a starting point for anyone who’s new to vinyl. All you really need to get started is a turntable, good speakers, and a safe place to store your vinyl. Undoubtedly, expanding and upgrading your turntable setup will naturally progress as time goes on. We listed a few turntable options—all of which are under $500—as well as some vinyl storage solutions and other accessories that’ll start your vinyl-listening experience off on the right note.
The expression “you get what you pay for” is widely applicable but in few places more appropriate than with turntables. If you’re bargain hunting or hoping to snag a used turntable online, you run the risk of ending up with one that’s made of low-quality material, missing important features, or that’ll do a poor and inconsistent job of playing your records—something that could ultimately damage them.
Paying a little more for a new turntable is a good investment. It ensures you’ll end up with the latest technology, higher-quality components (like a built-in preamp and a nice tonearm), which in turn means you’ll get a clean perfect sound. Though the more inexpensive options are a perfect jumping-off point, the most costly devices are worth every penny, and you should be able to hear the difference.
The Audio-Technica LP60X ($99) is your best bet for a quality turntable that won’t bust your budget. Its super-simple design won’t overwhelm beginner users, yet its quality components are good enough to impress serious audiophiles. Its automatic belt-drive operation can run at both 33 and 45 RPM, and it can even convert your vinyl to digital audio if that’s something you’re interested in doing.
The LP60X’s solid platter is designed to minimize vibrations, and its newly redesigned headshell and tonearm base mean better tracking and reduced resonance for crystal clear playback. It also has a built-in preamp for line- or phono-level output, and included in the box is an RCA output cable, a 45 RPM adapter, and a hinged removable cover for keeping dust out whenever you’re not using the turntable. The only notable downside of the LP60X is its fixed cartridge that can’t be upgraded if you don’t happen to like it.
U-Turn Orbit Basic
If you want a turntable with a clean minimalist look, look no further than the U-Turn Orbit Basic Turntable ($179). You have six fun colors to choose from that are, frankly, a welcome and exciting respite from the armies of plain black turntables smothering the market. The Orbit Basic is easy to set up and use, and it ships with an AC adapter, RCA cables, a dust cover, and a felt slipmat. Its external belt-drive motor is designed to run quietly while spinning at a consistent speed for pure-sounding playback. The Orbit Basic even has a precision gimbal tonearm with an adjustable counterweight that ensures accurate tracking with low distortion.
U-Turn also has another fairly inexpensive model, the Orbit Plus ($289), that’s a solid choice for vinyl newbies with an extra hundred bucks to spare. It has slightly better components than the Basic, so your records will sound better, and the turntable itself will last longer. Who wouldn’t want that? Both turntables come with an impressive three-year manufacturer warranty.
The Audio-Technica LP120X is one of the most widely recommended turntables for beginners. After all, it’s the remodel of the well-loved LP120USB that many seasoned vinyl enthusiasts enjoy using. The turntable’s magnet-powered direct-drive motor is a nice treat, as it rarely (if ever) will require servicing and is a feature more commonly found on high-end turntables than on those at this price point. On-system playback controls feature a variable pitch control with quartz speed lock, and the popup stylus has a target light for easy song cueing of your favorite 33, 44, and 78 RPM tracks if you happen to be vibing in dim light. The S-shaped tonearm has hydraulically damped lift control, and you can lock it into a rest position when needed. It also has a built-in preamp that’ll allow you to switch between line- and phono-level output with the flip of a switch.
The fully manual turntable ships with a detachable RCA output cable, USB cable, AC adapter, 45 RPM adapter, felt slipmat, counterweight, and hinged dust cover you can remove during use. It can also convert your analog audio into digital audio via the USB output, which is great to have if you’re streaming or simply want to digitize your vinyl collection.
Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB Direct-Drive Turntable (Analog & USB), Silver, Hi-Fidelity, Plays 33 -1/3, 45, and 78 RPM Records, Convert Vinyl to Digital, Anti-Skate Control, Variable Pitch Control
Best recommendation for beginner-friendly turntable.
If you want a great turntable with a beautiful solid wood plinth, the Fluance RT81 ($249.99) is an incredible choice at this price point. The diamond elliptical tipped stylus tracks with precision and accuracy which, paired with the balanced aluminum S-Type tonearm, gives you stellar-sounding audio. The turntable even has a built-in Texas Instruments preamp, gold-plated RCA line outputs, and a ground terminal.
The RT81’s solid walnut-finished wooden cabinet has an aluminum platter, isolation feet, and an included rubber slipmat so you won’t have to worry about unwanted vibrations interfering with your music session. Plus, it looks stylish and classy. Also included in the box is a dust cover, 45 adapter, RCA cable with ground wire, AC adapter, and a quick-start guide.
Though the Denon DP-300F ($329) costs a bit more than the other turntables we’ve covered so far, it has additional features and functionality that justify the jump in price. Its heavy super-solid base means added stability and reduced vibrational impacts to its performance whether you set it to 33 or 45 RPM. Automatic startup makes the turntable starts playing at the press of a button, and the tonearm will also automatically return to its rest to minimize possible damage and scratches. (Though it also has a manual lifter mechanism, which is nice to have in the event you want to cue up a specific song.)
The DP-300F’s diecast aluminum build is designed for smooth, vibration- and flutter-free performance. It also has a phono equalizer built-in to connect to an external receiver or integrated amp lacking its own phono input.
Rega Planar 1
The Rega Planar 1 has a super-glossy minimalistic design, and is a stellar under-$500 choice for vinyl novices. The turntable is known for its excellent hi-fi sound as much as its modern design, and is probably the closest any beginner will get to a professional-grade set up on this kind of budget. Though the Planar 1 lacks a built-in phono preamp, it is designed to easily connect to an external one. Its other high-quality components—including zero play ultra-low friction bearings and a 24v low-noise synchronous motor—more than make up for this omission.
A weighted tonearm is mounted to the 23mm phenolic resin platter, and ideal tracking weight is marked on the arm as well. The Planar 1 is fully manual but includes directions so there’s no need for beginners to feel put off by this; it also means you’ll have to manually switch between 33 and 45 RPM. The turntable is available in a white or black finish, both glossy.
A solid beginner-friendly turntable with amazing components and features for a low price point.
From slipmats to speakers to storage, having the right accessories for your vinyl setup is a must-have for keeping it clean and organized. Because vinyl is fragile and, in many cases, rare, having the right accessories on hand makes it easy for you to maintain and enjoy using your vinyl collection.
Having good speakers is the other half of the bare essentials vinyl turntable setup! The Edifier R1850DB Active Bookshelf Speakers are terrific speakers that are widely recommended for pairing with modern turntables. The set supports Bluetooth 4.0 and has lossless Optical Input options. You can adjust treble and bass on the rear panel, and even connect a subwoofer via the sub-out jack. The R1850 speakers ship with a wireless remote for quick adjustments when you’re away from them, along with a two-year warranty on parts and labor.
Edifier R1850DB Active Bookshelf Speakers with Bluetooth and Optical Input – 2.0 Studio Monitor Speaker – Built-in Amplifier with Subwoofer Line Out
Get excellent speakers to match your excellent turntable for an impressive music listening session.
Storage for Your Vinyl
Even though having floor-to-ceiling shelving full of the choicest vinyl is the dream of every aspiring vinyl collector, it’s not exactly a realistic starting line. Something a little more humble, like the Ikea Kallax ($70) is where most people start, though you can always choose something a little more stylish and functional, like the Novogratz Concord Stand, which has storage for your vinyl, drawers for accessories, and a flat top for your turntable.
This stylish stand has a place for records, accessories, and your turntable.
Protect Your Vinyl with Sleeves
The best way to become a serious vinyl collector is to care about your vinyl. Newbies and hardcore collectors alike swear by Mobile Fidelity Original Master Inner Sleeves ($19.95 for 50) from Turntable Lab, which keep your records from slipping out and protect them from the bumps and scratches that tend to occur during handling. The clear three-ply sleeves are anti-static and safely hold your vinyl as well as its original sleeve, so you can still see which record you’re looking at. They’re perfect for safely storing new vinyl as well as rare classics.
Keep Control with a Slipmat
A slipmat is an accessory that’s both fun and functional. Above all, a slipmat keeps your vinyl spinning and in position, and prevents it from sticking to the platter beneath it. And if you get one with a cool design, like this SICMATS Pinwheel Slipmat ($20), it looks cool when you’re not using your turntable. They’re commonly sold in sets of two and are an easy way to personalize your setup a bit.
A Turntable Weight for Stable Spins
Turntable weights, also called record weights, perform a number of benefits that help playback sound cleaner and less distorted (especially when playing older, warped records). A weight, like the Hudson Hi-Fi BigBen, keeps records flat when playing, dampens vibrations caused by the stylus as it moves around, and even reduces other problematic distortions, like flutter. It’s not a total essential if your record collection consists solely of brand-new vinyl, but if you’ve got older records, a turntable weight is absolutely worth investing in.
Record Weight Stabilizer with Protective Leather Pad – Vinyl Turntable Weight – Durable & Stylish LP Stabilizer – Fits on Any Turntable (BigBen, Black)
Ensure even spins, especially when playing warped records.
Keep Your Records Clean
Clean vinyl is happy vinyl. Though your personal cleaning process and products might change over the years, the Hudson Hi-Fi Vinyl Record Cleaning Kit is a great place to start. It includes a rubber label protector, a stylus cleaner, a microfiber cloth, cleaning solution with a brush, mitts, and an anti-static carbon fiber cleaning brush, which is enough to keep your records in mint condition and sounding great for years to come.
Hudson Hi-Fi Vinyl Record Cleaning Kit – Complete 9 in 1 Vinyl Record Cleaner Kit – All Essential Vinyl Record Player Accessories for a Record Cleaning System
The kit contains pretty much everything you’ll need to keep your vinyls clean.
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Suzanne Humphries