Vinyl is back! If you're looking to start your own collection, we've done a round-up of the best value turntables for under £300
It’s official, we just can’t get enough of vinyl. Having been toppled by the likes of cassettes, CDs, MP3s, MiniDiscs and Spotify, vinyl made something of a comeback last year with sales reaching 3 million, a 25-year high.
David Bowie’s ‘Blackstar’ was the best selling album of 2016, with Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ and Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back to Black’ among the other albums to make up the top 10.
The audio, the album cover art and just the general experience of listening to music on vinyl are far superior to anything CDs or streaming services can offer.
If you’re a budding record collector or want to listen to your parents’ old collection, then you’ll need a decent turntable to play them. Although turntables can cost anywhere from £100 to a few thousand pounds, when it comes to buying a record player the expression ‘you get what you pay for’ comes to mind.
With budget turntables, you could get a great looking piece with built-in speakers, but lesser sound quality, and a more fragile lightweight feel. If you spend upwards of £500, you can get turntables that look, feel, and sound fantastic. The danger is that you could end up spending a lot more than you intended to as you’ll need a separate amp and speakers to plug them into. That’s not to mention other components such as platters and tonearms.
We’ve rounded up the best record players for under £300. Most of the models we’ve selected are manual, which means that you will be required to add and remove the needle to the turntable yourself. They’re also ‘belt driven’ which means you may need to change the RPM – generally between 33rpm and 45rpm – manually too.
ION Audio Max LP
While many may baulk at the incredibly low price, the ION Audio Max LP turntable is an excellent all-in-one player.
The ION Audio Max comes with built-in speakers which sound better than expected with no distortion or skipping. It’s also very sturdy and looks great with its beautiful wood-grain finish. You can also use it to convert your vinyl collection to MP3 with a Mac or PC.
For just under £70, this is a pretty good turntable for vinyl casuals.
Audio Technica AT-LP60
Audio-Technica’s AT-LP60 fully automatic belt-drive stereo turntable has everything you need to get listening to your classic vinyl.
It has two speeds, a built-in pre-amp and for an additional £70 comes with a pair of external active speakers.
For those new to the vinyl game, the Lenco L-85 is the perfect entry-level turntable. It’s a semi-automatic, belt-driven turntable with a built-in phono stage. It even supports USB recording and costs just £120.
Coming in a variety of finishes, the Lenco L-85 is a great turntable if you want to get into vinyl but don’t have the budget to spend on an elaborate set-up.
Don’t just take our word for it. In their review of the Lenco L-85, What Hi-Fi? wrote that it was “the best plug-and-play machine we’ve come across at this budget price”.
Rega Planar 1
The Planar 1 is an upgrade to the previous RP1 model, with the only things kept the same being the drive belt, sub platter and dust cover.
It features a brand new RB110 tonearm and comes with a factory fitted, moving magnet Rega Carbon cartridge which is designed to be simple to set up, easy to install and above all accurately reproduce music.
The Rega 1 is a good looking bit of kit which will bring your vinyl records to life and represents excellent value for money.
Sony PS-HX500 USB Turntable
The Sony PS-HX500 allows you to convert your old vinyl into MP3s with high resolution audio, allowing you to enjoy the smooth, natural, warm sound of analogue masterpieces with all the quality they deserve.
The tonearm’s integrated shell design improves durability and stabilises the cartridge to deliver a focused and richer sound.
Great sounding and easy to use, the Sony PS-HX500 is an incredibly well-made turntable.