Record Store Day has rapidly become an institution, propelling the resurgence of vinyl, and helping to keep the dwindling band of shops that sell records and other physical media alive.
If you've been thinking of making the first move into analogue musical appreciation, but are baffled by the choice of turntables available, we have a possible solution: a big list of turntables, arranged in order of price.
All you need to do is work out your budget and pick a player. We have listed our favourites at 10 key price points from £60 to, er, £2,560 (that is a VERY important price point)/ We'll be updating with pricier models as the big day approaches.
Before you know it, you'll be gently brushing the grooves of your precious LPs, using something like the high-tech device pictured above, before putting the needle to the record and sitting back to enjoy the warm, human sound of music cut into the grooves of a living, breathing slab of vinyl. Mmm-mm…
Crossley Executive USB
A USB turntable in a suitcase for about 60 quid, this is our entry-level turntable.
You have a choice of a slightly weedy, built-in speaker, a slightly noisy line out to an amp or external speaker, or USB, to rip your tunes via the bundled app, or any other audio capture software you may favour.
Clearly, you're not going to get audio to make hi-fi buffs stroke their beards with delight but the great thing about cheap turntables is that once cranked up, they do punch way above their price-weight.
DJ turntables used to be a huge market, and there are still brands gamely trying to take on the market-dominating Technics SL-1200 and 1210, despite over 40 years of consistent failure to do so.
Chief amongst these are Stanton and Numark, who serve up this multi-speed, deck for a tonne. It is decidedly plasticky but has a bit of heft to it, and setup is simple, because the output is line level rather than requiring a phono pre-amp.
That said, output is on the quiet side, but feed it through a half decent mixer, into an amp, and you get perfectly acceptable results, for the money.
It's definitely more of a house deck than a hip-hop one – don't even think about scratching with it; you'll ruin your records and the needle.
Not the most attractive turntable ever to roll off a production line, this Marantz is nonetheless a solid bargain.
Again, it has a cartridge included and outputs at line level, so no phono pre-amp is required. Given its small footprint, that helps make setup a doddle.
Audio is a noticeable step up from the first two turntables, although still by no means 'haiigh-faiigh', but what makes it really cherishable is that the the tone-arm moves onto the record on its own, at the press of a button. Then, when it reaches the end of the side, it lifts off and returns to base, rather than sticking in the run-out groove and making a static-y noise indefinitely.
Unfortunately, however, it stubbornly refuses to turn the record over for you.
Audio Technica AT-LP3
I wouldn't say we're quite in the realm of 'proper hi-fi' with this turntable, which retails around the £200 mark. However, we could be said to be at its borders, having our passport eyed suspiciously by a man in a blue uniform.
The die-cast aluminium platter, thick, vibration-quelling rubber mat and damped bass for reducing bass feedback are all hallmarks of a more grown-up record player, and sound quality is again a noticeable step up from the cheaper models.
Setup remains easy, but here you have the switchable option of line level or phono level output.
The cartridge is easily replaceable with a range of others, should you want to tweak its sonic characteristics.
Rega Planar 1
Long-time UK knights of the turntable, Rega continue to turn out excellent entries in the low-to-mid-range area.
The Planar 1 is multi-award-winning, with a very refined sound, yet it remains supremely easy to setup.
However, this is the first model on our list to forego a built-in pre-amp, so you will need to buy a separate one, or possess an amp that includes a phono stage.
The price may be entry level but the sound is most certainly not.
Probably the best of the new wave of USB turntables, this Sony one lets you rip MP3, lossless or hi-res audio, with unusually good, bespoke software.
To be honest, you can rip at high resolution from any turntable with the right app, but this one actually justifies the effort with the quality of its output.
Even if you're just ripping to MP3, or even – bizarre, I know – using it to listen to records on, via the digital or phono-level audio outputs, sonic results are big, detailed and consistently impressive.
A great bit of kit, and unlike many USB decks, it actually looks like a record player.
If the last few entries were sonically impressive but rather minimalistic in appearance, this is where shit starts getting real: this thing is built like a battleship.
This direct-drive turntable comes with the 'exclusive high-performance' AT95EX cartridge fitted to a J-shaped tonearm (this helps minimise tracking errors, allegedly).
As with the other Audio-Technica deck in this list, you have the choice of line or phono level output, but here there's also a USB output for vinyl-ripping japes.
Pouring all this Japanese brand's 60 years of turntable expertise into one mid-price device, the AT-LP5 should give pleasure for decades to come, and could also conceivably survive a nuclear attack.
Project Debut Carbon Esprit SB
Project dominates the UK entry to mid-price turntable market thanks to its tie up with Richer Sounds, and the fact that its products are jolly good.
This slightly offbeat special edition boasts a carbon fibre tonearm of the same type used on certain high-end Linn turntables, and an acrylic platter, sat on a high gloss plinth of purest, er, MDF. Well, all of these materials are deemed highly favourable to the sonic results, you see.
Whatever the science of it, the result is a belt-driven turntable with a superb, focussed sound and a highly attractive look. Both build and audio are like what you'd expect from a much pricier deck.
A cartridge is included, but there's no pre-amping here.
The original range of Technics SL1200 and SL1210 – the only major difference between them was the former was silver and the latter black – rightly became iconic as rock-solid DJ turntables.
That Technics has now reinvented them as high-end, high-price retro-fetish items seems a bit odd, then.
You can still buy old SL1210s online that will probably work fine – those things were built to last – or you could spend a grand more and get this (or 2 grand more and get the even more upmarket SL-1210G).
To be fair, this definitely sounds better than the old version, and comes with a warranty. In terms of build, weight and appearance it's very similar.
VPI Prime Scout
Leaping a couple of grand further up the desirability scale, this is a comparatively affordable audiophile turntable from the US of A.
Sitting a massive, revolving, lump of aluminium on top of a hefty slab of steel-plated MDF, the Prime Scout offers epic stability and acoustic damping, with a 500RPM AC motor and Teflon bearing also keeping the noise right down.
The JMW-9 tonearm, on its low friction bearing, offers 'all the advantages of a unipivot tonearm at an extremely competitive price,' and can be removed and replaced with another in seconds, for 'instant cartridge changes'.
Clearly, this is rather a more serious proposition than the other turntables in the list, and the price reflects that.
- £2,650 | Find a VPI Prime Scout dealer