High fidelity record players aren’t as expensive as you think
I originally had the mistaken assumption that all audiophile quality turntables were so far beyond my price, that I didn’t even attempt to look into it.
You could spend thousands of dollars, I probably would if I could afford it. I am more than happy with the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon I have. The difference between the Pioneer I was using and the Pro-Ject was noticeable, but not as wide as you might think.
The vibrancy of the music, the clarity is what I remember the most looking back at that first few records I played on it.
I have friends who told me that they thought the Debut Carbon was nearly as good as a 1,000 dollar system they had.
You can always upgrade stylus down the road too if you want, the Ortofon that came with mine sounds good to my ears. Sound is purely a personal thing once you get to a certain quality equipment point.
The Sony record player was OK
I thought the Sony I had before the Pioneer was pretty good for the money, but once I stepped into the audiophile realm, I was sold.
If you have spent a lot of money on your vinyl record collection, it’s probably a good idea to have a decent sounding turntable right? The Pro-Ject only cost me $399.00 brand new, the Pioneer was $150.00, so not too expensive.
Also if you’re new to vinyl, you will need a phono preamp of some sort, this will be a separate purchase that you will have to make for these audiophile quality turntables to play through your receivers.
Set up of a Pro-Ject Debut Carbon
Things to consider if you do upgrade to audiophile turntable quality
I finally upgraded to what I call an audiophile quality turntable was less than $400, it really sounds great to me, but a word of warning to you thrift store scroungers:
When you start dealing with the high end tables, they pick up everything! Detail that is noticeable when you listen to mint or near mint vinyl, you will quickly realize what you have missed.
On the other hand, thrift store vinyl, less than VG+, might be more tolerable on a Sony or Pioneer $100 player because of the less sensitive stylus. Those records are noisier on my Pro-Ject, I can’t imagine what an extreme high-end player’s sensitivity would be?
I believe, if you want to enjoy lesser condition vinyl, and you are super sensitive to surface noise, you need to have both an audiophile, and a quality cheap turntable. Probably smart not to wear that good needle out on rougher vinyl too. Of course if you have the funds, you wouldn’t have to lower yourself to less than near Mint records to begin with.
Here is a large list of audiophile turntables you can check out.
Note: I could receive a small percentage commission on any thing you buy after clicking one of the links on this page.
A few things to remember:
- Some of these higher end turntables may not include a needle and cartridge, be sure to check.
- Most likely you will need to buy a separate phono pre-amp.
- Surface noise may be more pronounced on lesser grade used vintage records, pops and clicks may be too much to take.
Is this your first time shopping for an audiophile turntable?
If you’re just now making your first turntable buy, consider what it is you want, you must ask questions:
- Do you really need top dollar audiophile sound quality? well, you will have to pay for that. If you’re some one who can’t really, or never cared to pay that close attention to the detail in sound, but would like a cheap decent sounding player? A Sony or Pioneer might be to your liking, especially price wise.
- If you’re someone who just has a few records left over from yesteryear, and now you want to play them once in a while, a cheaper more convenient option might be best. You will sacrifice sound quality on these all in one, or built-in speaker turntables though.
- If you buy a 50 dollar turntable with speakers built-in, likely the sound could actually be sub-par. Personally I would stick to the plug and play Sony or Pioneer tables as an absolute minimum starter option.
Splitting hairs with sound quality on audiophile record players
I like the nuances of the vintage music I listen to, I don’t mind a bit of static, or some tape hiss. I can live with “some” snap crackle pop during playback of vinyl, there are limits of course, and each person develops their own tastes.
If you’re like me, and just like good bass, and nice clear highs, but don’t fine tune every nuance; I think any Pro-Ject would be perfect for both types of people without going beyond your budget.
If you would rather have something that’s less about sound, and more about the way it looks, perhaps one of these vintage style record players is what you need, they are in many cases a fraction of the cost of an audiophile unit.
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Jason Sositko, a freelance writer and entrepreneur is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. I also use services such as Viglink and Skimlinks to earn income via links placed inside articles.