I've been listening to vinyl and fine-tuning my stereo for years, and although I have a turntable that I consider to be my pride and joy for listening to records on vinyl, the truth is, everybody has different wants and desires for their personal set up. What might be one persons ideal record player set up might be another persons eye sore. For my money, the best turntable for any entry level vinyl collector is, without question, the Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB. They're easy to find because you can get them at any record store that sells stereo equipment (because they all know it's the best) and you can order very easily on Amazon and have it in your house in a couple days.
I sharp eye might notice that the picture on this very page isn't even a picture of the Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB. Good catch, that happens to be a top-down view of my once-favorite turntable, the since-discontinued Technics SL1210MK2. The Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB is essentially a replica of that same original design. I love my Technics, but admittedly, it's way more turntable than I needed when I started collecting records. A simpler, more cost-effective option would have been any of the Audio Technica turntables in their record player lineup.
They sell a super-basic Audio Technica AT-LP60, the AT-LP120-USB which I most strongly recommend, as well as a higher-end (but not necessarily better choice) AT-LP1240. All of their turntables are reliable and will accomplish the main goal of getting your vinyl spinning, but for me, the best choice you could make is far-and-away the AT-LP120-USB.
Specifically, the AT-LP120-USB is great because it plays back records at all the speeds you need it to be able to play (33 1/3 and 45 RPM speeds), but you can also upgrade the individual components like the needle and stylus should you ever want to enhance your listening experience down the road and turn it into a truly the best audiophile turntable--one at literally half of the price of the competition and the best turntable for your money, hands down. As I mentioned previously, if you're looking for where to buy turntables online, there are multiple sites that sell Audio Technica turntables but I most strongly recommend Amazon.com because their return policies are the best if there are any issues and their shipping is the fastest and most convenient, but you should be able to find these at local record stores if you'd rather buy it in person for some reason. Another huge benefit of the Audio Technica turntables is that they come with built-in phono pre-amps so you don't have to buy a separate one--you can just plug active/powered speakers directly into it, or plug it into your existing component stereo system without buying any other equipment to make it work--so convenient!
There are plenty of great alternatives to the AT-LP120-USB, if you're looking for the best vintage turntable or record player, the best all-in-one turntable, or the best turntable with speakers built into the stereo, those are all available. A lot of people specifically like the Electrohome Signature vinyl record player if they are looking for a all-in-one cabinet style record player, and it also resembles a vintage turntable if that's what you're going for. It's really best for casual listening, but it is surprisingly heavy-duty and puts out significant sound.
Simply stated, the Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB is the best and easiest turntable for the average consumer who is looking for a simple and functional turntable for home use. Quality sound with built-in phono pre-amp for complete versatility--it's the best turntable you can buy for your money in 2016. It's easily the best turntable for under $300, so I don't think you can go wrong.
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