Record Returns: Best Turntables 2021

Updated: Mar 30

Okay audiophiles, music lovers and record player newbies. I knew this day would come. The day someone would ask me to do a Record Player. Okay, a Turntable review. I am a firm believer that you just can’t beat the sound of a record player. I guess I am just analog. And I know there has been a crazy debate ever since the release of the very first CD Players. Notice no one ever defended the cassette tape? Whatever the case, by now I am sure you know, analog is back and in demand. Get yourself a great turn table, a killer tube preamp and a tube power amp and you will be blowing your doors off in no time. So today I am here to let you in on the best turntables or “record players” you can buy today.

This is not a review of the vintage players out there but the modern devices. They come in a wide range of styles and sizes. Whether you like the classic look or the most modern aesthetic, they have something out there for you. Most of these devices now include modern features, such as Bluetooth and USB ports. Many love the USB output as you can record all of your LPs directly to your computer. Allowing you to listen to your vinyl’s wherever and whenever.


With all of today’s updated features, designs, plus some new additions, the turntables you can purchase today are, without a doubt, truly upgraded modern devices. At least when compared to what you use to have, or your parents did. So if you are a true music lover & just can’t get enough of that warm vinyl sound, perhaps it’s time to snatch up one the turntables from this list. I hope this helps. So, here goes.


#1 Pro-Ject Carbon Debut Evo (https://amzn.to/33pEfkA)

One of the best turntable you can buy today and under $500 bucks. It’s gorgeous, the sound is amazing and many say it sounds like the $1000 plus models. It features direct drive, a steel platter and comes with the Ortofon2M Red Stylus. Plays at all 3 speeds but Just be aware, this one does not have USB. This one is not about that. It’s just about being and awesome turn table.


Dimensions: 415 x 118 x 320 mm | Motor: Belt drive | Platter: Steel | Phono preamp: No | USB: No | Speeds: 33, 45, and 78 rpm | Stylus: Ortofon 2M Red


#2 Audio-Technica AT-LP120XBT-USB (https://amzn.to/3fOTNUa)

This is probably the best starter turntable for the money. It has all the features you may ever need. Direct Drive, Cast Aluminum Platter, Bluetooth, USB for direct to computer recording, has all 3 speeds and includes the AT-VM95E Stylus. Even the DJs like this guy… it has pitch control and the drive is super-responsive.

For under $300, please, what a deal.


Dimensions: 452.0 mm (17.80") W x 352.0 mm (13.86") D x 141.6 mm (5.57") H | Motor: Direct drive | Platter: Die-cast aluminum | Phono preamp: Yes | USB: Yes | Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45, 78 rpm | Stylus: AT-VM95E



#3 Fluance RT81 (https://amzn.to/2JmZ6hH)

One that was new to me was the Fluance RT81. For the money, an excellent starter turntable, that is for sure. It’s simple to set up and can later upgrade the cartridge to upgrade performance later on. You won’t need a phono preamp, as one is built in and it cool that they made it so you can turn it off if you want to use a better external preamp down the road too.


Take note, the “auto-off” feature simply turns off the platter, preventing excessive needle wear but you’ll have to return the arm to its resting place yourself. Also, you have to manually queue records. None of this is a deal breaker but is something to know if you are looking for a fully automatic record player.

This player is a Belt Drive, has an aluminum platter and plays 33 and 45 speeds only. Includes the ATN95E Stylus.


Dimensions: 16.5” x 5.5” x 13.75” | Motor: Belt drive | Platter: Aluminum | Phono preamp: Yes | USB: No | Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45 rpm | Stylus: ATN95E


#4 Denon DP-400 (https://amzn.to/36lpJMW)

This is a beautiful, fully automatic, weighted belt driven turntable that is under $500. It sounds as good as it looks. Modern style, superior audio, plays all 3 speeds, auto start / stop, built in equalizer, and did I mention gorgeous. This is one of the easiest to setup, and enjoy in your system quickly. This turn table also addresses anyone who doesn’t want to manually queue their albums with auto features. There is no USB if you are looking to burn some vinyl to your computer, but it’s about plug and play and enjoying your new toy. This might just be for you.


Dimensions: 17-3/32 x 4-51/64 x 15" (434 x 122 x 381 mm); (WxHxD) | Motor: Belt drive | Platter: Die-cast aluminum | Phono preamp: Yes | USB: No | Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45 rpm | Stylus: DSN-85


#5 Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT (https://amzn.to/37h0H0t)

Here’ the Bluetooth turntable that's perfect for newbies. If you never had a turn table in your life, want to get into it, see if you like it and in the process, burn some vinyl to your computer…this is a quick & inexpensive way to do just that.


Budget-friendly price, easy to assemble, and convenience wireless playback, the AT-LP60XBT can make a fantastic first turntable. Audio-Technica is known for producing high quality cartridges, and the one used on this record player is no exception. The sound for the money is ridiculous.

No USB, but you have Bluetooth and it plays 2 speeds, 33s and 45.


#6 Rega Planar 1 (https://amzn.to/2KGbSIr)

Easily, one of the best entry-level Hi-Fi turntables. I struggled to choose a favorite between the Rega Planar 1 or the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon as my best for the under $500 price point. It was just so close I could not choose. Sorry. You can’t go wrong with either. May be a look for you or you like belt drive over direct, but sound. These too are on the same playing field. I’d love you comments below if you own either one or both, if you are that guy or gal.


This baby plays only 33s and 45s, there’s no preamp built in or USB because this one is more about sound than bells and whistles.


Dimensions: 17.5" (450mm) W by 4.5" (115mm) H by 15" (385mm) D | Motor: Belt drive | Platter: Phenolic resin | Phono preamp: No | USB: No | Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45 rpm | Stylus: Rega Carbon


#7 Marantz TT-15S1 (https://amzn.to/2VcJ2Bw)

This is a professional grade, high end turn table for the true audiophile and probably not the first time turntable buyer. Even I am a little intimidated by this guy. It requires some reading and a little more knowledge to set up properly than the other turntables on this list so far.



Plus, the price might scare you off a bit, but some of my friends say you are actually getting a killer bargain, at just under $1500. And what makes that a bargain? Marantz’s attention to detail. Every part of this player is the best it can be for the money. This is a turntable you’ll find yourself drooling over for both its visual and audible quality. I see this one like when I am guitar shopping. Don’t pickup the $5000 Martin, because when I hear it, it’s going to make me sad I can’t afford it. This is one of the players, everyone can hear the difference.


There is no USB or Bluetooth with this model, but this one is not about that.


#8 Cambridge Audio Alva TT Turntable (https://amzn.to/36hwy1O)


Here’s on that might bridge a lot of you wants and needs. It’s in the higher price bracket, but I did just see them on sale under $1200. And I know, for a record player, that’s expensive no matter the brand, but this one is unique. The Alva TT is able to stream wirelessly in 24 Bit HD. No other record player in this price point can claim that.


It’s a direct drive, plays 33s and 45s and now with the reduced price might be that perfect blend between the high end purist market and the audiophile that wants some of the new bells and whistles.


Dimensions: 16.54” x 13.78” x 4.92”; (W x D x H) | Motor: Belt drive | Platter: Polyoxymethylene | Phono preamp: No | USB: No | Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45, 78 rpm | Stylus: Clearaudio Concept MC


Well alright, I hope that was somewhat helpful…it gives you 8 choices and may narrow down your options for you. If you enjoyed this video please subscribe to my channel and leave me a comment. I am always looking to expand show topics and find out just what it is you like. I will have links down below to all the models I talked about and you can also just head over to my latest blog post which should have a little more info on each. Visit www.joshlevinespeaks.com/blog for more.


Until next time my friends…


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