8 Best Audiophile Turntables for 2022

If you consider yourself an audiophile, cheap turntables just won’t cut it. The recent vinyl has resulted in cheap knockoffs and inferior replicas of classics. While they’re fine for a quick listen, you’re going to need something a little better if you want to enjoy the experience.

To truly appreciate every detail that your music collection has to offer, you’re going to need the best audiophile turntable that money can buy. Took me more than four hours of research and comparing, but I am so glad to have found these amazing machines.

Some are more classy, some so sleek that gives you shivers, and with the different price ranges. Enjoy and keep on spinning!

Why Do We Love Turntables?

Audiophiles and record players go hand in hand! But why is that?

Well, by definition, an audiophile is someone who is interested in high-fidelity sound reproduction. “High-fidelity” is a term used to describe audio that’s recreated as authentically as possible. It doesn’t contain any distortion, coloring, or anything else that could alter the sound the original creators were trying to make.

In layman terms, an audiophile is anyone who wants to achieve the best sound possible.

If you’re interested in turntables, you’re already an audiophile! You see, modern methods of listening to music always have some kind of compression. Whether it’s streaming or CD, the original audio files are modified to improve accessibility. Ultimately, the compression process loses some quality.

Listening to vinyl on a turntable is inherently an audiophile act! Vinyl records are the only consumer playback format that’s both analog and lossless.

So, what makes an audiophile turntable different from a cheap record player you can get at the mall?

Generally, audiophile turntables are built to higher standards than mass-produced units. They’re built with high-fidelity audio in mind. Thus, they use better components and are engineered to optimize the music on your vinyl records. Let’s take a look at what makes the best audiophile turntable.

1. Reduced WOW and Flutter

Have you ever listened to a record and heard a wavy sound coming from the low-end or vocals? No, it’s not some fancy new vibrato. It’s likely frequency wobble!

As the turntable is recreating the sound signal, minute irregularities in the platter’s movement can change the frequency of the sound. It’s a subtle change. But, audiophiles will notice the difference immediately.

At the lower end of the sound spectrum, that wobble is a “WOW.” That’s because it usually occurs every single time the record makes a single revolution on the platter.

Meanwhile, the wobble in higher pitches is called a “flutter.” It’s usually faster, resulting in rapid variations of the tone.

With an audiophile turntable, you don’t have to worry about this issue. They’re engineered to spin the platter evenly with no variations in speed.

2. Low-Friction Tonearms

Another big benefit of an audiophile turntable is reduced tonearm friction. In cheaper machines, the tonearm is heavier. This bears more weight done onto the stylus, which transfers over to the vinyl.

Why does this matter? That added friction can create a ton of distortion! Not only that, but it can ruin your record.

Many things affect friction. This includes the weight of the tonearm itself, the shape of the stylus, and the groove radius. High-quality turntables take all of those factors into account to ensure that the stylus glides smoothly over your record grooves.

3. Reduced Vibrations

Vibrations are a bit of a double-edged sword with turntables. On one hand, they rely on vibrations from the stylus and the vinyl grooves to reproduce the sound. On the other hand, extraneous vibrations can also ruin your sound!

Cheaper turntables are notorious for creating additional vibrations. It’s often from the motor and a lack of proper platter isolation. With those extra vibrations, your gear suddenly turns into a resonating body.

Think of a guitar and the effects string vibrations have on the hollow body. The vibrations cause resonance that emanates from the guitar!

The same thing can happen with your turntable, completely ruining your sound. Audiophile turntables are engineered to prevent this as much as possible. Manufacturers will often use advanced motors and clever isolation techniques to get the job done.

Will the Best Audiophile Turntable Really Sound Any Better?

To put it bluntly: yes! The best audiophile turntable is not even comparable to a cheaper model. Manufacturers use much better parts and go to great lengths to perfect a design.

All potential issues are addressed. The various components work collectively to produce a far better sound than you would get with a mass-produced unit.

Ultimately, an audiophile turntable is built to operate as accurately and smoothly as possible. The results are high-fidelity sounds that you can’t get anywhere else.

Does Turntable Affect Sound Quality?

Turntable affect sound quality

At the end of the day, turntables of any cost have one job: spin the record! So, why should you invest in a pricy audiophile record player instead of a cheaper one?

It all comes down to how the respective turntables do their job. Think about it:

Turntables must spin records exactly 33 and a half times per minute on a consistent loop without even the slightest variation. That’s not easy! Not even cruise control systems on luxury cars can be that precise. There are just too many factors that can affect spin.

Not only that, but you have a sensitive stylus to contend with. The stylus is sensitive enough to pick up grooves with a value that’s lower than the wavelength of light. Yet, they don’t know how to distinguish good vibrations from bad ones.

There’s no getting around the fact that mass-produced turntables are poorly made. To keep costs low, manufacturers have to use cheap parts that just aren’t up to audiophile standards.

As a result, you’re going to have to deal with extra vibrations, motor noise, inconsistent spin, and a lot of noticeable distortions.

There’s no such thing as a “perfect turntable.” No matter how much you spend on your gear, you’re going to have some kind of issue to deal with. That said, audiophile-quality record players are the closest you’re going to get to perfect.

The construction quality of these turntables is second to none. This has a ripple effect on the reproduction process. With good parts and construction, you have fewer vibrations and distortion. This causes the platter to spin more consistently. In turn, the stylus can pick up the signal and reproduce sound as it was meant to be heard.

All of those tiny details work in tandem to produce far better sound than you would get on a cheaper record player.

Best Audiophile Turntable: Top Picks

Finding a good audiophile turntable is easier said than done. You can easily spend thousands of dollars trying to get that perfect sound! To help you narrow down your options, here are some of our top picks.

It was a long search but I loved every little moment of it. Welcome to the heaven of the best audiophile turntables.

1. Fluance RT85

  • Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge
  • High-density acrylic platter
  • Belt drive

This turntable from Fluance is an audiophile’s dream. First, it has a respected cartridge. The Ortofon cartridge is a favorite in the audiophile community because of its accuracy. It can replicate fine dynamic details while still remaining neutral in terms of color.

Beyond the cartridge, the turntable has a lot to offer. Fluance went to great lengths to minimize vibrations and distortion as much as possible. The motor is belt-driven. But, it’s servo-controlled. Optical sensors monitor the speed so that the servo can continuously make adjustments. This system only has 0.07 percent wow and flutter.

On top of that, the motor is completely isolated. This prevents any unwanted micro-vibrations from affecting the sound quality. There’s also isolation on the bottom of the record player for good measure.

Pros:

  • Solid wood chassis
  • Good vibration dampening
  • Precise motor
  • Cancels vibration resonance

Cons:

  • No automatic cue lift

2. Audio-Technica AT-LP7

  • Dual-moving magnetic cartridge
  • Anti-resonance platter
  • Belt drive

Audio Technica is a brand that caters to both casual hobbyists and dedicated audiophiles. This turntable is built for the latter!

It’s a relatively simple record player. You’re not going to get a ton of extra features. That said, its simplicity is what makes it so great. The components are all utilized strategically to minimize distortion and improve sound quality.

The cartridge that comes with this turntable is quite unique. It’s a dual-moving cartridge that does a fine job of separating the channels. Pair that with the anti-resonance platter and you can experience superior sound quality no matter what you’re listening to.

Pros:

  • Built-in preamp
  • Speed-sensor on motor
  • Solid base and good vibration dampening
  • Stable spin
  • Quiet operation for minimal distortion

Cons:

  • No automatic cue lift
  • Tonearm may be too loose for some

3. Pro-Ject – Debut Carbon Esprit SB

  • Ortofon 2M Red cartridge
  • Acrylic platter
  • Belt drive

This turntable from Pro-Ject is worth checking out. Not only is it beautifully designed, but it has some hi-fi-ready features. The first is the acrylic platter. It has considerable weight to it, which naturally reduces vibrations. Its thickness also helps to prevent unwanted resonance. You don’t even have to use a felt mat!

Another thing we like about this turntable is the carbon fiber tonearm. Most tonearms are made out of plastic or metal, which is notorious for transferring some vibrations. By using carbon fiber, Pro-Ject was able to create an ultra-stiff arm that’s stable, resistant to vibrations, and anti-resonance.

Pros:

  • Stiff tonearm
  • The motor is decoupled from chassis
  • Consistent speed
  • Large and heavy platter

Cons:

  • Toggle speed switch can be difficult to use for some
  • Tonearm counterweight is awkwardly positioned

4. RegaPlanar 2

  • Carbon MM cartridge
  • Glass platter
  • Belt drive

The Planar 2 from Rega is beautiful and produces excellent sound. What more could you want? Rega is another brand that’s favored by audiophiles. It’s not hard to see why.

The brand includes some unique innovations in this turntable. First, there’s a glass platter. Most record players use aluminum, acrylic, or even cheap rubber.

The glass platter on this unit offers impressive sound isolation and reduced resonance. Not only that, but it has self-securing brass bearings. This makes the movement much smoother.

With the turntable, you’re getting a preinstalled cartridge by Carbon. It’s a self-cooling cartridge that easily picks up finer details to make your music come to life.

Pros:

  • Beautiful design
  • Highly accurate platter
  • Easy to set up
  • Fewer noticeable vibrations

Cons:

  • Motor noise is noticeable when the dust cover is closed

5. Marantz TT-15S1

  • Clearaudio Virtuoso MM cartridge
  • Acrylic composite platter
  • Belt drive

The Marantz TT-15S1 is a solidly built turntable made from some heavy-duty materials. Both the platter and the plinth are made out of acrylic.

The material is dense, which helps to reduce vibrations a bit. To ensure that external vibrations from your speakers don’t affect performance, the plinth is supported by three aluminum feet. They’re adjustable for easy leveling.

The cartridge that comes with the turntable is made by Clearaudio Virtuoso. It’s a magnetic moving cartridge. However, it’s made out of ebony wood to reduce resonance. The cartridge is also sporting a diamond-tip stylus for ultimate durability and accuracy.

Pros:

  • Smooth silicone belt
  • Solid plinth with isolating feet
  • Sleek and modern design
  • Easy to fine-tune tonearm
  • Accurate sound

Cons:

  • Can be difficult to assemble for some

6. Denon DP-400

  • Denon MM cartridge
  • Weighted platter
  • Belt drive

Here’s a solid option that can help you rediscover your old pieces of vinyl! The Denon turntable has a couple of noteworthy features that are fit for audiophiles. The first is the tonearm.

It has a curved design that positions the stylus at a safe angle. Rather than picking up vibrations from an off-kilter angle like some record players, this one tracks horizontally. This can ultimately prevent resonance while avoiding any damage to your records.

Beneath the platter, the turntable has a belt-driven motor with a speed sensor. The sensor plays an important role in reducing wow and flutter. It adjusts the speed to ensure that you’re getting a precise and distortion-free spin.

Pros:

  • Smooth silicone belt
  • Accurate speed-sensing platter
  • Safe curved tonearm
  • Built-in phono EQ
  • Semi-automatic functionality

Cons:

  • Can be difficult to assemble for some

7. Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC

  • Ortofon 2M Red cartridge
  • Metal platter with felt
  • Belt drive

Another great option from Pro-Ject, the Debut Carbon is a sleek turntable that sounds as good as it looks. Like Pro-Ject’s other turntable on this list, this model comes with a carbon-fiber tonearm. The material improves rigidity, reducing the number of vibrations that will affect the sound.

The record player uses a belt drive system with an asynchronous motor. To keep unwanted vibrations at bay, the motor is suspended with Sorbothane.

The unique polymer material is great for shock absorption. Using it to isolate the motor helps to dampen vibrations in all directions. As a result, you can enjoy less distortion and smoother operation.

Pros:

  • Stiff tonearm
  • Excellent shock absorption
  • Precision synchronous motor
  • Contemporary design
  • Heavy platter

Cons:

  • Awkward counterweight position

8. U-Turn Audio

  • Ortofon 2M Red cartridge
  • Acrylic platter
  • Belt drive

The U-Turn Audio turntable is deceptively easy to use. With only a single toggle switch on the front, you can start playing your records in only a few minutes. However, don’t let the simple design fool you!

This is a well-engineered record player. The tonearm, in particular, deserves a special shoutout. It has a gimbal arm with precision bearings.

The component moves noticeably smoother than some other tonearms out there. The design allows the stylus to move more freely on the record. Thus, you have less distortion to deal with.

Spinning your record is a belt drive system. The turntable utilizes a low-noise motor, which helps to reduce vibrations. The motor spins an acrylic platter that delivers consistent speed and less resonance.

Pros:

  • Tonearm moves very smoothly
  • Effective anti-skate technology
  • Punchy bass and lifelike sound
  • Stable plinth

Cons:

  • Belt prone to catching and stretching

What’s the Difference Between the Stylus and the Cartridge?

Both seasoned vinyl junkies and newbies use the terms “stylus” and “cartridge” interchangeably. While the two components work together to produce the sound, their jobs are very different.

Let’s start with the stylus. The stylus is responsible for tracking the groove and sending a signal from the vinyl to the cartridge above. It sits in the grooves and vibrates according to the shape of the groove.

Generally, styli are made out of diamond. You might also see sapphire or some other hard material. Different shapes are available as well. These include spherical, elliptical, hyperelliptic, and micro-ridge styli. The shape can affect the stylus’ accuracy and tracking.

So, what is the cartridge? The cartridge is the brain of the operation. Ultimately, the quality of the cartridge has the biggest impact on sound quality. That’s because the cartridge is what turns the analog signal (the vibrations) into audible sound.

This tiny component is a lot more complicated than people think. Without getting too much into the technical weeds, the cartridge is a transducer. When the stylus slides across the grooves, it vibrates.

Those vibrations are picked up by and converted to an electrical signal thanks to shifting magnetic fields created by coils in the cartridge. The signal then travels through wires out of the cartridge, to a receiver or an amplifier, and to your speakers.

Are These Important?

Both the stylus and cartridge are important. But, the cartridge is one of the most important components of the entire system. In many cases, it’s what makes the best audiophile turntable cost more than others on the market.

You can use a high-quality cartridge on a cheaper turntable and get some impressive results. You’ll still have more issues to deal with due to motor noise and vibrations. However, the cartridge’s ability to accurately pick up and convert those vibrations will make a noticeable difference.

The same can be said for the stylus. A good stylus will press into the grooves more. This ensures that the stylus and cartridge are picking up as much information as possible to recreate the sound.

Eat, Sleep, Audiophile!

There’s no denying the quality that comes with the best audiophile turntable! The raw and realistic sound that you can achieve is second to none. A good turntable will breathe new life into your music collection and help you discover sounds you never knew were there!

The Fluance RT85 turntable has everything you could want out of a high-fidelity record player. Every detail is engineered to provide accurate sound. You’re getting a speed-regulating motor that reduces wow and flutter to only 0.07 percent! The models from Audio Technica and Denon have sensors, too. But, they’re not servo-controlled like the one from Fluance.

On top of that, you’re an Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge. Many of the other models come with an Ortofon Red cartridge. However, the Blue cartridge is considered to be far superior because of the nude diamond tip.

You don’t have to take our word for it. Check it out for yourself! Once you experience that rich sound, you’ll never want to go back to a cheap turntable ever again!