Entry level turntables are a mind field. Almost all options for “new” record players that have arisen in the last decade, have either been aimed at high end buyers or people whose priorities lie in playing records on the beach. The “cheap” options are either plastic, flimsy and frankly dangerous to your records, or simply too indulgent or fancy for beginners.
We are giving you a run down of options purely for the music listener [DJ turntable series coming soon!], in an attempt to provide guidance to people who are looking to get started.
Entry level / Beginner – £60 or less
**Plates Top Pick**- Basic 2nd hand hi fi deck
Thanks to our local supplier Fonocraft – we have a regular influx of solid but affordable classic hi fi turntables from the 1960s onwards. It is good to aim for something with a sturdy looking body and tone arm as well as decent motor. Reliable brands include Technics, Pioneer and Toshiba to the more obscure and rare.
Prices; start at around £40 [+3 month guarantee w/ Plates]
Compared to the Crossley range at around £50/£60 these are an infinitely safer starter option. All of our decks come with a basic new stylus, great for everyday use. Some also come with a DJ style headshell, giving the option of upgrading to a DJ cartridge if preferred. You can often find decks like these on gumtree and ebay but again, it’s best to buy off someone who knows/can service them as some being sold online can be poorly looked after or faulty.
Basic DJ turntable
Easily obtainable on gumtree, ebay and the usual other suspects; any basic DJ turntable will be fine as a first listening deck. The main thing to check is obviously the overall working condition and the stylus. Most times the stylus will need changing. Prepare to spend a minimum of £20 or so upgrading this upon purchase.
Aside from this – anything fully working around the £50 mark should be fine for home use; brands like Gemini, Citronic, Numark etc. have been known to last years.
Mid range [£100-400]
Pro-ject-Essential 2 - £200 // Rega RP1 [£200-£300]
If you’re looking for something that is in the “mid” price range but has a stylish more modern look then the Pro-Ject or Rega brand is a good place to start.
A stripped down but neat aesthetic focuses on the raw basics needed for a quality but cool looking deck. A slightly more sophisticated option to the conventional hi-fi turntable featured in our first category.
Refurbished vintage decks/hi fi systems-£100-£300
Through select refurb specialists, you can find some really nice unique vintage setups that are reliable. Highlights that we’ve had come through the door over recent months include the Sanyo combo music centre [with built in radio and tape deck and recording facilities] [£90] and a rare Elizabethan wood panelled classic at around £70.
For those looking for something quirky and portable there are also some beautiful Dansette classic record players which start at around £60. You can also find them popping up on Ebay and gumtree as well as markets and vintage shops.
The most legendary turntable out there. This still leads the way for the DJ market but is also worth a mention for all users based on its durability and reputation.
The Technics 1210 does everything you need and will outlive most competitors. Whilst arguably only really a necessity for DJs, the 1210 also makes a perfect listening deck with its no nonsense attitude and style.
** Avoid!!! – Crossley Cruiser/Ion USB or anything plastic/foldable/portable- £40-£80**
Unless your aim is just to “get your deck out” in all scenarios – anything made to be portable is not a good idea if you love your records. These often flimsy designs neglect quality in favour of portability, are built like a toy and will not be able to play anything with heavy bass or drums. Despite this, you will find many so-called ‘record shops’ cashing in and flogging these by the bucket load to first time buyers, without care of the repercussions.
Don’t be fooled just because it looks stylish!
When buying 2nd hand turntables- always ask how old the stylus is [when was it changed] as they are rarely new. It is advisable to change your stylus every couple of years and always check for damage to the stylus tip- NEVER use a broken/bent stylus on your records!