EQUIPMENT — By Marck C.B. & Digital Trends
Not all vinyl record turntables have to blow your bankbook…
After analyzing several respected review sites for the top turntables that can be had for a reasonable investment – yet still deliver solid sound definition. Below is the list of such turntables and some comments to open minds to their respective values. Let’s get right to it …
Audio Technica AT-LP120 USB Turntable ($299)
It’s hard to argue with a classic. This hunk of sparkling chrome might not be as fashionable as the others on our list, but it still looks and sounds good, and at a very enticing price. Though it sports direct drive as opposed to the audiophile-preferred belt-driven system, this go-to starter turntable is rugged and reliable, and also hosts plenty of features like a selectable internal pre-amp so you won’t necessarily need a phono input, a USB output to capture your vinyl in digital form, and three speeds to handle virtually anything in your collection.
Pro-Ject Debut Carbon ($399)
We can actually feel you picturing this beauty in your listening room, trying to decide if you should go with a flashy color from its seven available choices, or perhaps something more resigned. Luckily, with a table this cool, there’s no wrong answer. Designed to set new standards in the affordable audiophile category, this belt-driven table boasts a carbon tube tonearm to reduce unwanted resonance, a quiet-run DC power supply, and a weightier platter to hold your records more securely and rock out optimal sound. One caveat — there’s no dust cover on board for many of our choices, so you’ll have to clean those records diligently to keep your stylus sterling.
Rega RP1 Turntable ($345)
Sometimes the simplest things really are the most beautiful, and it’s hard to argue against the concise elegance of the RP1. This unit gets high marks for reproducing stellar sound on a budget, and boasts unique features such as a manual speed change system that eliminates wear on the belt drive, a hand assembled tonearm, and a low vibration motor that promises to outperform its price tag.
Pro-ject USB Elemental Phono USB ($229)
Want to know what a belt drive looks like? This piece from Pro-Ject, this minimalist hunk of awesome wears its belt on the outside, so you (and those you’re looking to impress) can watch the action first hand. And if you’re still not convinced, the entry-level Elemental tackles function just as well as form, with sleek features like a DC power supply for ultra-quiet running, gold-plated RCA contacts and cartridge pins, a built-in preamp, and yes, USB output to take your collection digital. Basically, it’s a little slice of hipster heaven.
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