Best record players and turntables: play your vinyl collection in style

The best record players and turntables make a great gift for a friend or family member and are the ideal audio treat for yourself

Best record players Record players on a La Boite Concept cabinet
(Image credit: La Boite Concept)

With our pick of best record players and turntables, starting your own vinyl library and choosing the best audio equipment for your living room needn't be a daunting task. Once you've decided on your budget, which brand to choose and what components you need for the ideal record-playing set up everything will start to fall in place. Then all you need to focus on is the fun task of growing your record collection and creating an eclectic playlist to enjoy. An expanding vinyl library is a great talking point and will no doubt keep guests suitably entertained at your next get together.  

Perhaps you're already sold on the joys of vinyl and are just looking to upgrade your existing record player or turntable. Or you've gone for one of the best soundbars and fancy giving this a try, too. Either way, record player design has come a long way since Thomas Edison invented the first phonograph in the 1877. The latest record players and turntables come in designs to suit both classic and contemporary styles and have high-tech features to give you the best sound quality. There are also price points that match a variety of budgets.

Some models also come with Bluetooth-connectivity and USB ports so you can stream music around your home and digitise your vinyl library to save on a computer - there are new tricks when it comes to how to use a record player. Not sure where to start? Take a browse here for the latest turntables and record players and don't forget to check back as we'll be adding to this list with latest models throughout the year. 

What are the best record players to buy in 2021?

We've highlighted our top picks for 2021 to suit a range of budgets and desires. If you're looking for a Bluetooth turntable design we rate Cambridge Audio's Alva TT, featured below. Meanwhile, if you're looking for a great entry-level option, at £129.99 the Lenco LS-55WA turntable is well worth a consideration.   

Rega record player on a sideboard

Rega turntable

(Image credit: Rega)

What’s the difference between a record player and a turntable?

Record players and turntables often get confused and grouped in the same category, but it's important to know the difference when buying the right equipment to play your vinyl. 

'A record player is an all-in-one vinyl player that does not need an external pre-amp stage, amplifier or speakers as these are all built in for convenience,' explains Nick Brown, Engineering Project Manager, Cambridge Audio. 'A turntable needs all of these external devices, but you need to choose the partnering products yourself. This can sometimes mean better quality production as a record player is often focused around internal space-saving solutions.'

Best record players and turntables for 2022 

Cambridge Audio Alva TT

(Image credit: Cambridge Audio )

1. Cambridge Audio Alva TT turntable

Best for wireless Hi-Res streaming

Specifications
Dimensions: W17 x H5.4 x D14in
Bluetooth: Yes
Motor: Direct drive
Reasons to buy
+
Bluetooth technology 
+
Beautifully crafted design 
+
Pre-installed cartridge
Reasons to avoid
-
No USB for digitizing records 
-
Price 

The built-in Bluetooth aptX HD on this expertly crafted turntable gives you wireless Hi-Res streaming. This means you can place the turntable anywhere around the room and stream music to any compatible Bluetooth receiver at up to 24bit/48kHz Hi-Res quality, which is really rather wonderful on the ears.

How it performs 

The direct drive on the Alva TT and the dense and heavy platter ensures a consistent drive speed for great-quality listening. It's also easy on the eye, with a beautifully crafted British-made single tone arm. 

Good to know 

As well as the ability to stream audio wirelessly, the Alva TT has a built-in Phonostage, which cuts down on the extra kit you need. The cartridge on the Alva TT is pre-installed too, which keeps the whole set-up process straightforward.

Livingetc rating out of 5: 4.5 out of 5 

+Audio record player

(Image credit: +Audio)

2. +Audio The+Record Player

Excellent all-in-one record player

Specifications
Dimensions: H8.5 x W17.6 x D13.9in
Bluetooth: Yes
Motor: Belt drive
Reasons to buy
+
Compact solution 
+
USB for digitizing vinyl 
+
Bluetooth streaming features
Reasons to avoid
-
Larger than a turntable 

Designed by Alexander Åhnebrink, the beautifully compact The+Record Player from +Audio comes in a maple or walnut finish with aluminium accents to match your décor.

How it performs

This all-in-one phono system has a built-in stereo speaker system, which packs a punch and provides a great sound when playing your vinyl. As well as the ability to play both 33 and 45 rpm vinyl, this record player includes Bluetooth so you can stream music from other smart devices and play it via the record players speakers.

Using Google Chromecast, you can stream the music from vinyl within your home network and play it on other devices too and this also works with Amazon Echo and AirPlay.

Good to know

What’s particularly great about this record player is its built-in USB input/output that allows you to rip your vinyl and transfer it to your MAC/PC. You can use the same USB connection to play back music - or even a movie - from your computer to the The+Record player too. This means it works similarly to a soundbar.  

Livingetc rating out of 5: 4 out of 5

Lenco record player

(Image credit: Lenco)

3. Lenco LS-55WA turntable

Best for ripping vinyl

Specifications
Dimensions: H5.7 x W17 x D14.5cm
Bluetooth: Yes
Motor: Belt drive
Reasons to buy
+
Built-in speaker 
+
Bluetooth 
+
Digitize vinyl to mp3 on a USB stick
Reasons to avoid
-
Style wise the Lenco logo on main plate is not for everyone 

The Lenco LS-55WA has an attractive wooden finish that makes it look retro in style. It includes the latest tech to give you an impressive listening experience, however.

How it performs 

A great entry-level price, the Lenco LS-55WA allows you to enjoy your vinyl direct on its built-in speaker. We found the sound quality enjoyable on the Lenco LS55 due to its built-in amplifier and wide frequency range.

Good to know 

One of the great things about the Lenco LS-55WA is its ability to digitize your existing vinyl collection to mp3 on a USB stick. This is a particularly nice feature if you’re keen to digitize the classic albums you own and listen to them on the go. Inside the box you'll also find a protective dust cover and a felt slip mat.

Livingetc rating out of 5: 4.5 out of 5

 

La Boite Concept turntable

(Image credit: La Boite Concept)

4. La Boite Concept Square turntable

Best for high-end style

Specifications
Dimensions: H13.8 x W13.8 x D4.7in
Bluetooth: No
Motor: Belt drive
Reasons to buy
+
Eye-catching design 
+
Superb sound 
Reasons to avoid
-
No Bluetooth 
-
No USB to rip vinyl 

A very eye-catching design, the Square turntable by La Boite Concept features a square case with a unique slightly off-centre turntable. The belt-driven design comes in either a walnut or oak finish, with a leather/cork felt on the turntable.  

How it performs

There are two modes on board – pre-amplified and non-pre-amplified modes to match the kit you have to accompany the design. It features a connector at the back of the turntable that allows you to switch between these two outputs. Meanwhile the integrated Phono MM preamplifier amplifies your vinyl to a punchy 34dB while the 'plug and play' feature limits the amount of cables you'll need.

Good to know

This beautiful turntable design includes four custom-made anti-vibration shock absorbers to help deliver the best sound when you’re playing your vinyl. The aluminium arm is also mounted with an Ortofon OM10 elliptical diamond cell to enhance the high-precision playback.

Livingetc rating out of 5: 4 out of 5

From £580 

Rega Planar 6 turntable

(Image credit: Rega Planar 6 )

5. Rega Planar 6

Best for anti-vibration control

Specifications
Dimensions: W17 x H 4.7 x D14in
Motor: EBLT advanced drive belt
Bluetooth: No
Reasons to buy
+
Electronic speed change
+
Anti-vibration control 
+
Stylish Polaris matt grey finish
Reasons to avoid
-
Price
-
No USB for ripping vinyl

The first thing you notice about the Planar 6 turntable is its clean, streamlined design. It is constructed around a unique ultra-light foam core plinth with high pressure laminate. 

How it performs

The RB330 tonearm on the Planar 6 is designed with the latest technology in mind for stability and almost friction-free movement to get the best sound quality from your vinyl.

Good to know

This turntable comes in a matt polaris grey finish, with a dual later smoked/clear glass platter, which looks ultra stylish and provides an exceptional base for your vinyl.

Livingetc rating out of 5: 4.5 out of 5

How do I choose the best record player? 

Cambridge Audio record player

(Image credit: Cambridge Audio )

Consider this when picking which record player or turntable to buy for your home: 

1. Do you want a record player or a turntable?

'A record player is generally regarded as a complete playback system, having an amplifier and speakers integrated into the unit,' says Alex Winter, +AUDIO technical manager. 'It's all you need to play records. By contrast, a turntable requires separate amplification and speakers.' 

2. Direct drive or belt drive motor?

You need to consider how well damped your record player or turntable is, which is a method manufacturers use to reduce internal or external vibrations. They do this through the design with a particular focus on the motor. 

'A belt drive system helps to isolate motor vibration from the actual spinning platter by means of what looks like a big elastic band,' says Alex Winter. 'The motor in direct drive systems is, as its name implies, directly connected to the platter. DJs tend to like direct drive systems as they get up to speed faster.' 

3. What extra kit will you need?

For a record player that has everything housed in the design you'll need a mains power and your vinyl records, of course. ‘By contrast, a turntable needs additional audio equipment,’ says Alex Winter. ‘Some models will have an integrated pre-amplifier, if not then the main hi-fi amplifier you connect the turntable to will need this facility. Many have and it appears as the 'phono' input on the amplifier. The amplifier will need loudspeakers wired up too.’

4. Choose good-quality parts 

'A high-quality tonearm, counterweight and needle are really important to play records fluently, especially if they’re second-hand,' says Nick Brown, Engineering Project Manager, Cambridge Audio. 'Low quality components will likely have your music crackling, popping, and stuttering. I think it really does pay off to have a turntable made using quality components in the key areas.'

5. Where do you want to position your player? 

You might want to think about getting a record player stand. If your record player or turntable has Bluetooth, it will give you more flexibility on where your turntable lives in your house. 'Turntables with Bluetooth capability mean you can wirelessly stream the vinyl you're playing to compatible headphones and wireless speakers,' continues Nick. 'This means your turntable can be placed anywhere, and not necessarily physically tied to speakers.'

One of the UK's most respected tech and smart homes writers, Emily Peck also covers everything from interiors style to decorating trends. She is a contributor to Wired UK, and has also had a column in House Beautiful. She has written for publications such as Grand Designs, Stylist, Shortlist, Woman&Home, BBC, Ideal Home and House & Garden. She was once the Features Editor of Ideal Home.