Though we’ve come quite a long way in technology since vinyl had its major moment, records hold a nostalgic, authentic ability to help us connect to music in a timeless way. Even with the most high-tech options available at our fingertips, we yearn for that ritual of dusting off the best vinyl record, holding it in your hands, and playing it on the machine until you’re fully immersed in the experience. Whether you want to reclaim past memories or are an audiophile of any skill level, buying a record player can be the investment of a lifetime — especially if you treat it well.
With so many options for Bluetooth record players and classic record players out there, it might be hard to distinguish which is the best choice for you. This will come down to a few essential factors that you need to pay attention to in order for lasting satisfaction with your turntable. Budget is the first thing to consider. While everyone has their own parameters to work within, splurging a little means better longevity, improved sound quality, and fewer repairs, but a less high-end model could be ideal for someone trying out their very first record player.
Models range in tonearm (manual or automatic), speed, forms of audio input/output, and the ability to play Bluetooth versus fully manual varieties. Some are even USB connective, meaning you can convert records into digital files. While audio is the most important factor, the design also plays a factor, since it will become a part of your home’s decor. Now that you’re up to date on the nitty-gritty, take a look at the must-have record players of 2021.
1. Fluance RT81 High Fidelity Record Player
For a pure analog listening experience with an emphasis on superior quality, look to Audio Technica’s clean-looking Fluance RT81 Elite High Fidelity record player. It uses its own AT95E cartridge with a diamond elliptical stylus designed to track record grooves more precisely. Unlike cheaper materials used in less expensive alternatives, this base is made from solid engineered walnut-finished wood, featuring a rubber slip mat that offers better isolation from undesired vibrations. A popular favorite amongst serious record collectors and anyone looking for a non-Bluetooth model.
2. House Of Marley Stir It Up Wireless Bluetooth Record Player
For a record player that looks as gorgeous as it sounds, turn to the bamboo House of Marley Bluetooth-enabled record player, with its warm and vibrant sound. Although it has a vintage-inspired air, the look is very much contemporary, and fits in with any decor style. If you want the classic look of an old-school staple in your home without having to learn the ins and outs of a manual turntable, this record player is made for you.
3. Sony PS-LX310BT Belt Drive Turntable
Sony’s Belt Drive turntable is fully automatic, with wireless and USB output to go with its streamlined appearance. It allows you to rip vinyl records to digital MP3 files on your computer, recreating your favorite nostalgic music moments with LPs on the go. It plays two different speeds allowing for greater versatility and features an aluminum plater, which reduces vibration for crystal clear clarity and hi-fi sound. One buyer calls it an “entry-level Bluetooth enabled turntable” for those “looking to get into the vinyl album hobby.”
4. Wockoder Portable Wireless Record Player with Built-in Speakers
If you’re looking to add a sense of vintage home decor without breaking the bank, this $50 portable Bluetooth record player by Wockoder comes in a classic suitcase style. It feels authentic without trying too hard and features a three-speed turntable with its own built-in stereo speaker. A perfect beginner’s record player to test the waters without investing too much initially. An Amazon reviewer comments, “The one thing I have found to like about it most is the fact you can change the bass and the treble seamlessly.”
5. Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK Direct-Drive Turntable (Analog & USB)
Audio Technica is a trustworthy brand that’s been producing turntables for decades, and while this versatile model is a little pricey, the bells and whistles are worth shelling out a few extra bucks. This fully manual version for die-hard audiophiles has both analog and USB capabilities and runs off three speeds. With anti-skate and variable pitch control, the wired player also allows you to convert your vinyl to digital with ease. You also don’t have to worry about lowering the arm too quickly thanks to a hydraulically damped lift control and lockable rest.
6. LP&No.1 Retro Bluetooth Record Player with Stereo External Speakers
This bundle buy is a steal — inspired by mid-century modern style in its classy wood design, it even comes with its own external speakers. The three-speed belt-drive device offers unbeatable sound and volume, using a diamond-tipped stylus. This player offers the most flexible layouts to coordinate with your home, and it also allows for easy Bluetooth pairing. It also comes with a removable hinged dust cover, keeping your records safe from scratches and dust, increasing its overall longevity.
7. Wood Empire Bluetooth Record Player
This six-in-one Victrola record player is also a retro decorative piece for your living room or bedroom. On it, you can use the fully functional three-speed turntable, play CDs, stream music with Bluetooth, or turn on the FM radio. On the front, there’s an analog radio dial with elegant LED lighting surrounding it, along with chic gold accents. You can also plug devices in with your headphone jack, or throw it back to the olden days with the cassette tape player.
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8. Crosley CR6233D-BK Dansette Bermuda Portable Turntable
Available in both a Bluetooth and non-Bluetooth version, this portable Crosley record player will look fantastic in your home. Known as the Dansette Bermuda, it’s a two-speed beauty with a robust sound. It even comes with its own matching stand, so you don’t have to sacrifice any surface space in your home. While the expert might have some qualms to nitpick about, if you’re just looking for a freestanding record player that honors a stylish aesthetic, this record player gets the job done and sounds good while doing it.
9. Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO, Audiophile Turntable
If you’re looking to treat yourself with the finest piece of machinery available or gift an expert audiophile something that will take their breath away, check out the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO. This detail-oriented record player is powered by a manual belt drive and is complete with a pre-mounted Sumiko Rainier cartridge. The sound quality is as expansive and refined as you can get, with upgrades that you don’t usually see on more classic brands.
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