With vinyl sales ever increasing, a common question is ‘what turntable to buy?’ There is no easy answer and ultimately it will depend on how hard you want to chase vinyl’s potential for high quality audio. ‘Potential’ is the operative word, as most middle/low budget vinyl systems will not outperform CDs or digital streaming. Vinyl can, however, offer a sublime experience for those willing to invest even a few thousand dollars. If that’s out of your range, there is no shame in enjoying music any way you choose, including on your smartphone.

For DJs, the Technics 1200 series has been an industry standard for decades, but the new 1200s are prohibitively expensive and getting a well-serviced used 1200 will cost at least US$300-500, and that won’t necessarily include the cartridge (with the needle) which can run an extra $100-$200. That may drive some new consumers to budget USB turntables, which are popular but nearly disposable, with price points as low as US$100. These are functional but don’t offer superior sound reproduction. These are ok as points of entry if you like the idea of collecting vinyl records but only want to dip your toe in.

Even Technics 1200s equipped with the top market cartridges will get a ‘side-eye’ from a true audiophile. For most mobile DJ and soundsystem applications, they are the most reliable, practical option.

The 1960s-1970s were a high point in consumer audio production and many turntables made during this era, whether by Pioneer, Panasonic, Sony, Dual, or myriad manufacturers, when properly refurbished, can offer exceptional sound for the money. Venturing into the world of secondhand audio is only for the meticulous consumer.

This article below offers an overview of options for new turntables at different price points. No matter what you decide, always remember, the plural of vinyl is still vinyl, no matter how many vinyl records you’re talking about.


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