Although streaming apps like Spotify and Apple Music are typically how people enjoy music these days, record players haven’t gone out of fashion yet. True music lovers know the best listening experience comes from playing records on a record player. There’s a difference in sound quality that music streaming can’t compete with.
There’s nothing quite like picking up one of your favorite vinyl records, pulling it out of its sleeve and placing it on a turntable. As the needle drops on to the shiny vinyl, your ears are filled with the sounds of your favorite album. You get to absorb this music in a way you just don’t get to when listening on your phone. The best record players are capable of giving you a truly beautiful experience.
Music enthusiasts on the lookout for a new system have a lot of options in 2022. Not only can you find affordable speakers, but there are also plenty of high-quality turntables , including models with Bluetooth connectivity. Superior sound often requires spending more money, but it’s not necessary. If you’re a vinyl enthusiast, you could start with something like the $140 Audio-Technica AT-LP60X workhorse or go all-out with the excellent Rega Planar 3.
Any of our best record player picks should provide great sound to have you spinning vinyl for years to come. This guide will walk you through all of the models CNET has tested between $100 and $1,000-plus and the things you should be looking for. If you’re a music lover, then dust off your vinyl collection and keep reading.
Best under $500
The Pro-Ject may be a little over $400, but it shows how spending a little more can reap benefits. In terms of sound quality it really can bring out the best in your records. It offers refined treble, an expansive, detailed midrange and supple bass. It looks lovely too with its glass platter — second only in appearance to the Audio-Technica (but the Pro-Ject sounds better). The T1’s only “problem” is that it’s ergonomically awkward — the switch is deep on the left-hand side instead of on the front, and you need to apply a bit of upward force to remove the tonearm from the rest.