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Which high-end record player IS best?

Record players certainly have a unique charm to them. Whether you want to dust off decades-old vinyl for old time’s sake or listen to modern artists, there are few things more exciting than the creaks and pops from a needle.

Seen as old fashioned until not too long ago, the art of the record player has come back into fashion with a massive resurgence. There are plenty of models and styles to choose from, all with different capabilities. But if you’re looking for one of the best high-end record players, look no further than the Audio-Technica AT-LP7.  

What to know before you buy a high-end record player

Manual vs. automatic record players

Few might realize that record players come in two different styles in terms of their playback. Manual record players are exactly what the name implies. You need to manually set the needle on the track and lift it when the vinyl reaches the end. For automatic record players, you do this through the flip of a switch. At the end of the record, the needle returns to its original position and switches off. To prevent accidental stoppage, it’s always a good idea to have record cleaning supplies on hand.

Vinyl sizes and playback speed

Vinyl for a record player comes in three sizes, which all correspond with the speed at which they need to play. At the smallest, the 7-inch record needs to play at 45 revolutions per minute. The 12-inch record plays at 33 RPM and is the most widely available size. You can also find 10-inch records, but these are increasingly rare. These need to play at 78 RPM. A three-speed record player can play all three sizes.

Belt vs. direct-drive record players

When buying a record player, you must keep in mind what you’ll be using it for. That may seem like an odd consideration, but there’s a reason for it and it relates to different belts in the player. For listening at home or in a social setting, a belt-driven record player is the best option. But if you want to DJ with records, then you’ll need a direct-drive record player. That’s because the platter connects directly to the motor.

What to look for in a quality high-end record player

Upgradable parts

High-end record players aren’t exactly cheap, and there will be times when you want to upgrade or swap out some parts. For whatever reason, consider a record player that allows you to change the needle (also called the stylus), the tonearm or the cartridge that holds the needle. If there is a need, also look to see if your record player requires an adapter to play differently sized records.

Sound quality

Having a record player, you expect a certain quality of sound. There’s still a debate if the vinyl has a superior sound to other mediums, but you’d be disappointed if your record player pops and scratches. Working together with the upgraded parts, swapping out elements can vastly improve the sound quality. Other factors that can influence the sound are the build quality and materials used, the audio components and the kind of platter. 

Audio inputs and outputs

Affordable record players often have built-in speakers or Bluetooth connectivity. While that’s fine for entry-level players, high-end record players have proper preamps and amps. This allows you to connect external speakers to the player. If you want to listen in private, then make sure your chosen model has a headphones jack.

How much you can expect to spend on a high-end record player

The price for a high-end record player can vary wildly, depending on the brand, capabilities and internal components. While phonograms can retail for as much as $5,000 or more, high-end record players retail for $200-$1,000.

High-end record player FAQ

Where is the best place for a record player?

A. To get the best sound from the player, place it on a sturdy surface that doesn’t vibrate. Also, make sure to have it away from any objects that could cause interference due to the player’s own vibrations.

Can you make digital copies of old records?

A. While this is certainly possible, you would need a record player that has the function for it. You’ll find this function on most players that support the MP3 format, and you can often make MP3 recordings of your vinyl.

What ARE the best high-end record playerS to buy?

Top high-end record player

Audio-Technica AT-LP7 Fully Manual Belt Drive Turntable

Audio-Technica AT-LP7 Fully Manual Belt Drive Turntable

What you need to know: This is an excellent record player with great sound and upgradable parts.

What you’ll love: The fully manual, belt-driven record player can operate at two speeds: 33 RPM and 45 RPM. It also features a speed sensor to ensure the rotation is consistent. It has a dual moving magnet cartridge that provides excellent sound quality.

What you should consider: The record player is sold without a platter mat.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top high-end record player for the money

Sony PS-LX310BT Belt Drive Turntable

Sony PS-LX310BT Belt Drive Turntable

What you need to know: It’s an affordable record player that has high-end sound quality.

What you’ll love: This record player is fully automatic with auto stop, start and return. It can play 7-inch and 12-inch records and has the ability to make digital MP3 copies of songs from vinyl. The player also features a built-in switchable output or line-out preamp, as well as three gain settings.

What you should consider: There’s no grounding option for this player, which could cause a buzzing or humming sound.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Yamaha MusicCast Vinyl 500 Wi-Fi Turntable

Yamaha MusicCast Vinyl 500 Wi-Fi Turntable

What you need to know: You can stream your vinyl records to wherever you want with this player.

What you’ll love: This record player from Yamaha features a belt-driven system, a straight tonearm and an MM cartridge for great sound quality. It also makes use of Yamaha’s MusicCast function, which allows you to stream the vinyl sound to any compatible speakers in your home. 

What you should consider: Even though it has Bluetooth, it can’t stream music to those devices. Any wireless speakers need to be compatible with MusicCast. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Charlie Fripp writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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