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The Best All-in-One Turntables that Simplify the Vinyl Experience


February 24, 2019 Buying Guides By Photo by Henry Phillips

The problem with listening to music on vinyl is that it’s not as easy as tapping a few buttons on a smartphone. That’s also part of why there’s such fervor around vinyl right now – we love playing records because it requires us to pay attention to and appreciate the process and, as a result, we’re likely to pay closer attention to the music itself. Still, for those looking to buy a turntable or build out a hi-fi system, getting into vinyl can be intimidating; it’s usually not as straightforward as just plugging a turntable into some speakers.

Most turntables require additional components, including a phono preamp (or phono stage), which amplifies the turntable’s normally weak signal into one that you can actually hear. (According to Audio Advice, a turntable’s signal “is about 1,000x lower than the signal coming from a CD player or a streaming device.”) There are turntables with built-in amplification, of course, and we tend to recommend those to people who want a simple solution.

It should be noted that when we say “all-in-one” turntables, we’re referring to turntables with built-in amplification. They need only to be paired with some speakers and speaker cables in order to listen to music. That said, there are “all-in-one” turntables that are decked out with a record player, preamp and Bluetooth receiver. Some even have speakers built right into them. But there are very few of these, many of which we probably wouldn’t recommend.

If you’re looking for an entry-level turntable that’s simple to use, you really want one with built-in amplification. You’ll be able to easily hook it up to your favorite bookshelf speakers – it’ll just work. You may sacrifice a little bit of audio quality, but most quality turntables sound pretty great out of the box. Plus, they also allow you to add external amplification afterward in case you want to upgrade your system down the road.

Best All-in-One: Pro-Ject Juke Box 3

Pro-Ject’s latest vinyl turntable, the Juke Box E, is really a terrific entry-level hi-fi system; if you’re willing to spend a little more, this is probably the best option for most people. It has power amplifier and phono stage built right into its body, plus a Bluetooth receiver (which is a rarity) so you can stream music without actually playing any records. All you need is some cables and a pair of bookshelf speakers.

Key specs

Turntable: Belt drive with silicone belt
Tonearm: 8.6″ aluminum
Preamp: Yes
Connectivity: Bluetooth

Budget Pick: Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB

First things first: Audio-Technica’s LP120 is a USB turntable, meaning you can play and record records at the same time. This is great way to turn your vinyl into digital music files, so you can listen to them without a turntable or record nearby. More importantly, the LP120 has a built-in preamp, so all you need is some passive or powered bookshelf speakers to hook up to it.

Key specs

Turntable: Direct drive
Tonearm: S-shaped tone arm with hydraulically damped lift control
Preamp: Yes
Connectivity: USB (Mac- and PC-compatible)

Editor’s Pick: Fluance RT81

Fluance has always specialized in home theater systems and hi-fi speakers, but it wasn’t until 2016 that the Canadian-based audio company got into turntables when they introduced the Fluance RT81 and RT80. The RT81 is the higher-end model and features a solid wood body, as opposed to the RT80’s hollow one, and it’s a really beautiful –yet still affordable – turntable. It has a built-in Texas Instruments preamp that you can turn on or off, enabling you to buy upgraded external pre-amp and further customize your setup.

Key specs

Turntable: Belt drive
Speed: 33 1/3 rpm, 45 rpm
Tonearm: S-shaped tonearm with an adjustable counterweight
Preamp: Yes
Connectivity: RCA

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Best USB Turntable: Sony PS-HX500

Like the Audio Technica LP120, this is also a USB turntable capable of playing and digitizing your vinyl records. But Sony’s PS-HX500 is more bespoke and is a direct-drive turntable – probably the better option if you don’t plan on spinning the record like a DJ. And, of course, it has a built-in phono preamp, which you can turn off or on depending on if you want to upgrade to better external preamp.

Key specs

Turntable: Belt drive
Speed: 33 1/3 rpm, 45 rpm
Tonearm: straight tonearm
Preamp: Yes
Connectivity: USB (Mac- and PC-compatible)

The Grail: Symbol Audio Modern Record Player

The Modern Record Player by Symbol Audio is admittedly different from everything else on this list. That’s because it’s not just a turntable. It’s a true all-in-one system with an integrated turntable, a custom class AB amplifier and custom-engineered, built-in speakers. It’s designed with a unique three-phase isolation system to eliminate distortion. The feather in its cap is that by request Symbol Audio can add Bluetooth, Chromecast, Sonos Connect or Airport Express so you can wirelessly stream music the way you want. (It just looks classy as hell, too.)

Key specs

Turntable: Rega Planar 1 Plus (belt drive)
Tonearm: RB110 tonearm
Preamp: Yes
Connectivity: Bluetooth, Chromecast, Sonos Connect, Airport Express (add-ons)

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