Top 10 Turntables

The Top Ten Essential Modern Turntables

What chance do you have of getting a real vibe started at home without an LP player holding pride of place? The waiting's over. The time has come to transform your living room or bedroom into the ultimate rock n roll safehold. After all there's a kind of travesty in playing the explosive licks of Queen, Sabbath, or the flaming melodies of Charlie Parker, Bowie, even your favorite trip hop album on anything less than the finest turntable.

A lot of people swear by Audio-Technica, and there's much merit in that idea. For one thing they're built like a tank. We love them too. But if you think that's the whole picture, it may be time to consider some new directions in terms of your next living room centerpiece. Here's our list of the top 10 turntables. Turn it on, drop the needle, and relax into the groove.

NAD C 556
This one's gotten a lot of attention recently for taking an winning concept from Rega and improving on it with a sense of fun and class. As an entry-level Turntable it's still winning the hearts of vinyl-lovers for its insightful engineering. The well-rounded performance of the deck will keep your attention without leaving a serious dent in your savings. If you're brand new to spinning vinyls, this is a damn fun and engaging way to start.

Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB
For the guys and girls who want to own the most legitimate player in the neighborhood but at a decent this one's  a keeper. There's simply no rival in terms of quality at this price point. For starters, it's speed is 100% accurate, which is a miracle for what you're paying. Normally in "plug-in and play" models of this sort, the specs aren't close to what's advertised. Plus, these models, as previously mentioned, are built like fender Stratocasters. Solid. Truth is, they'll last decades, given you treat them with the respect they deserve..

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon
The rise of art-conscious turntable designs has been made clear in the success of Pro-ject. Inspiring us with simple easy-to-use features,  visual force and technologically sound features,  these beautiful Austrian models embody all the best elements of European quality within a well-established company name. Setup is also simple. Just place the platter on, set your tracking force, and put on the anti-skate weight. Slip on an old Led Zeppelin record. Now you're back in that happy place. Rinse, wash, repeat. Simple.

Edwards Audio TT1
If you're a musician or are just finnicky on getting detailed sound , this one will fare your listening experience well. You'll never miss those obscure licks again. And yes, your vision isn't letting you down. There's no mat! Apparently the engineers at Edwards felt that made for improved, more agile playing. It seems to have worked, because this is a serious contender with the Pro-Ject and Rega Models on our list.

Rega Planar 3

A step up from the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon is this legendary design from a raunchy old titan of the hi-fi world. Like all titan's it takes its appearance a little more seriously than it could, but for those who are more attuned to sound than trend, this is an affordable, quality model that's unlikely to lose it's appeal.
As with the Audio-Technica, be sure to pick up a tracking-force gauge. It truly is a joy to set up. Sound quality is nothing short of amazing. Timing, resolution and overall engagement with the record are astonishing, with little skating involved, and the good part is you won't have to break the bank.

Clearaudio Concept
We're diving into the higher-end selection now, and if you treasure your vinyl stack, this will make every spin like taking mouthfuls of creme caramel, without getting sick. The concept offers a full-bodied, detailed sound and can play at a blistering speed, take on the inner grooves without losing its thread, and pulling off all three record sizes without tricky adjustments. It delivers grungy bass rhythms like those of the melvins and delicate jazz licks by Django Reinhard with expression and crisp precision that'll make a music enthusiast's spine tingle with pure nostalgia.

Rega RP8/Apheta
We've one for the turntable enthusiast and high-end gadgeteer. The finest machinery in the Rega range, this model sets sky-high standards in terms of engineering and sonic capability. If you're adept with the art of turn-table manufacture, like to slip on a bit of Kraftwerk on the weekends and know about the joys of a well-balanced plinth, this one is most definitely going to impress you. It's an LP player for the turntable enthusiast.

VPI Prime
The best high-end bargain as far as many are concerned, it's another turntable for the ardent veterans among us. The finish itself is a blend of master craftsmanship and thoughtful engineering. Sounds you thought were just a jumbled dissolution of noise in classic albums like the Pixies' Surfer Rosa begin to blend previously unheard musical streams, giving one the impression of hearing songs for the first time. Although this is also a model for the seasoned turntable collector, it's easy and instinctive to set up.

Clearaudio Ovation
This is the kind of turntable that Van Halen or Stevie Ray Vaughan, possibly even Hendrix himself would  order in a fixture in their hotel if they were still with us. God bless their souls. It combines all of the best features mentioned up until now as far as engineering goes, without you having to think about them.

McIntosh’s MT5 Precision
Highlighted in luminous green, the McIntosh MT5 Precision certainly had no problem standing out in much-praised high-class Soiree's like a legendary event which recently went down in Electric Ladyland . Just having one occasions the right to invite anyone you want as a kind of event on its own. Noted audiophiles have reported finding new meaning in famous guitar riffs like Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." But that's to be expected from the company that engineered the sound during the original Woodstock festival.

Got Vinyl? Which turntable you should get, and why.  

You've heard it said that happiness can't be bought, but if you're an LP collector you'll know that isn't quite true. Happiness is only far as your turntable, and as soon as you find your favorite stack of records, turn on that deck and drop the needle, the warm mellow fuzz will melt away the concerns of the modern day. And buying records? Pshh that's the direct equivalent of buying happiness.

Okay, so maybe you're not there yet? Maybe you've been tempted by your parents' Beatle's records and teetering on the brink of acquiring your first turntable. Well, this article's for you.

Maybe you're skeptical and think record players are just overblown gizmos that should've stayed in your Aunt Gladys's teenage days. Yeah, we've heard it all before. And that's okay too. But believe it or not, this one's for you also, because the only person who isn't hooked on vinyl yet, hasn't given it a chance.

Maybe you're a passionate music collector, and want to get into vinyl but don't know where to start. In the haze of the 9 to 5 grind, music's essential therapy. Well then, this is most definitely for you. We're here to set your soul ablaze with a new kind of love for music.

Our first reason for getting started in this hobby, is it's so simple.

So where does one start? The question can seem complicated, especially with some of the hype surrounding vinyl's massive comeback over the last few years. But hey, we'll demystify that pretty quickly right now. You know those colorful new deals popping up in outfitters around the country. Don't be the dolt who buys them. Just don't.

Turntables in trendy cases might get you laid on the way home but they won't lead to any long-lasting vinyl satisfaction. There's lots of noise out there, but if you're thinking about getting your first deck setup, the answer is actually pretty simple. We suggest something in the Audio-Technica range. And you're on a tight budget, you say? Look at the bright side, it helps narrow your choice further.

Also, the good news is, the prices of some of these quality tables have been shrunk to about third of what they originally were. For beginners and intermediates alike, a good place to start is the Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB. The great thing about these, is obviously that you can convert your records to digital format as a back-up in case that unthinkable happens and you somehow break the physical record.

"I've seen the needle and the damage done"

Chances are, you know someone, who knows someone with a serious vinyl addiction. They probably only seek one kind of needle, and it's not the type that caused the downfall of the hippies. There are plenty of these people cruising through any city. The vinyl addicts we mean... These individuals may for instance have started off by playing a Tame Impala LP and never looked back; They may have also heard a limited edition David Bowie record at an uncle once, or Kendrick Lamar's "good kid" at a friend's house party, and before they knew it, they were hooked for good. You look at them with amazement.

The truth simple though. If you're exposed long enough to an addictive substance, the result is the same. Anyhow, since we mentioned needles, there's something you need to watch for if you're going to keep a long-standing album selection. Standard needles - the ones that decks come with - aren't always the greatest tools for the job. Take our example above, the Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB for instance.

Great turntable. Needle could be improved though. But with a little easy in-shop modification, you can achieve a truly gorgeous setup. This means your records will last for decades. (So much for the inner cynic who think records, like people, have to be slowly eaten away for the sake of producing beauty.)The second point then: find a cartridge that's right for the job. This needs to be installed properly so that you don't damage your albums before your collection gets started. The good news is, a decent cartridge like the Audio Technica AT95 EBL will only set you back 40 bucks.

So, now you're ready to go. What about speakers though?

Few people realize how simple it is to get a great turntable that's built as solid as a chevvy. Refreshing right? To know that you're investing in something that could last a lifetime. Well now it's time to get your speakers hooked up. The good news is that any decent speaker system will work. There's a school of logic that says if the source is of a good quality, anything further down the line will sound great.

You could, in other words settle for the speakers connected to your old Hi-Fi for the short term. Choose one with it's own power source to minimize confusion. But supposing you want to perfect this setup with a really good speaker complement, (and it's worth the trouble, believe me). Well, the Audioengine range is great place to start as far as a prime set of speakers at a reasonable price.

We hope we've shown you how simple it is to get into vinyl. Time to get involved now. The truth is simple. LP's take us back to to the physical  roots of music (the LP is a live instrument, when you come to think of it) and if your living room needs life during the quiet moments, a vibe when you throw a house party or a get-together with your closest friends for dinner, the record spinning in the corner has a way of doing just that. It's a return to place where you're able to have a live show in your home, playing from a physical, rather than a digital medium. And after all, the only righteous media for playing Queen, Led Zeppelin, Classic hip hop or even Jack White these days, is vinyl. Even your aunt