In the last decade, the vinyl revolution has resuscitated record players, forcing companies to adapt today’s technology to the fashionable last century look. The best vintage turntable available today is the result of such effort.
And if you are new to this real and you want to know the basics of this incredible machine, please keep on reading. I really hope that you find the content useful to the purpose of your search.
Keep on spinning!
- Why do Audiophiles Like Vintage Turntables?
- Vintage Turntable Components and Adjustments
- The Best Vintage Turntables Reviewed
- Three Types of Operation: Spin Manually or Automatically?
- Let’s Set up: Just Out of The Box
- Final Tips
Why do Audiophiles Like Vintage Turntables?
It is to say that when we make ourselves this question of why Audiophiles like vintage turntables, it is not the new models of turntables with the “vintage look” included in this article, that we are talking about.
In fact, the latter is a budget product and the result of the modern economy adapting itself to the incredible growth of interest in vinyl that is happening for over a decade.
Although digital music has taken over the market enormously in this new century, there are many people who still decide to enjoy the quality of the warm and deep analog sound.
The digital sound that most of us consume on a daily basis when listening to music on Spotify or streaming it from Pandora is mostly delivered by low-resolution files that an Audiophile trained ear finds hard to digest.
Instead, they rather get their daily doses of analog sound from a quality turntable they cautiously chose together with a good hi-fi system. Possibly built over time and always alert to any possible upgrading.
If some of them have found peace of mind in some new high-end parts and quality modern turntables, some others had to do a longer search to find a second-hand vintage turntable from notorious brands such as Thorens, Garrard, Acoustic Research, or Lenco.
So why do Audiophiles like vintage turntables? It looks like they love every little detail involved in the action and the outcome of listening to a record.
Because they have grown a passion and a sense of profound respect for these incredible machines. And owning one is their way of showing such respect.
Vintage Turntable Components and Adjustments
So where to begin? I cannot think of a better place than calling things by their names.
It is necessary to get to know some of the most relevant components and adjustments on any turntable. It helps to understand how they work and how to translate the pre-setting on the manual.
Turntable Body Parts Explained
Plinth: The body of a Turntable that contains all of the below.
Platter: The round plate that spins with the record on.
Spindle: The little metal spike in the middle of the Platter.
Mat: It’s the mat on top of the platter. Reduce the vibration coming from the turntable motor and improves the quality of sound and host the record.
Tonearm: The thin arm is placed on the right side of the turntable.
Stylus or Needle: Probably the most sensitive part of the entire turntable. Sits on the groove of the Record and deciphers the information/music carved on it.
Speed: Changes the Revolution Per Minute (RPM) on the Turntable. Allows you to play 3 of the different types of Records for 33, 45, or 78 RPM (12″, 7″10″ vinyl records). 78 RPM Records are the oldest ever made and nowadays not so easy to find.
Cartridge: Holds the Stylus steady on the Record’s groove.
Anti-Skate: Easy to set manual adjustment. Regulates the horizontal force of the Stylus on the Record. Without it, the Needle gets attracted by the spinning force of the Vinyl toward its center.
Counterweight: The adjustable weight is attached at the far end of the Tonearm with a dial on. Both weight and dial are manual adjustments. They regulate the pressure of the stylus on the groove of the Record. This is also called the “tracking force of the stylus.
The Best Vintage Turntables Reviewed
Here is a list of our top recommendations, along with a quick review of each vintage turntable so you understand its pros and cons.
Available in 3 different colors (Walnut – Piano Black – White). Particularly recommended for high-quality analog sound experience lovers and minimal-vintage aesthetic seekers. This is a very nice piece of work by Fluance which is in my opinion the best vintage turntable brand
Turntable passionates, claim to be one of the most valuable choices at the moment. At least in terms of design and value for money. The considerable amount of reviews and overall customer satisfaction make me fall into such a statement.
Remember though that IT IS NOT recommended for DJing or scratching. The Audio Technica AT95E Cartridge has an Elliptical Stylus (Needle) that is not recommended for such purposes. The Elliptical Stylus instead improves the quality of the sound.
The manual has clear step-by-step instructions to set it up before using it for the first time. So don’t worry in case you have never set a Turntable before. The pre-setting is mandatory for this one. Check out the video at the end of this page to know how.
It is easy and takes just 5 minutes to do it. Also, consider that Fluance suggests a quite UNUSUAL action as part of this pre-setting. Once you plug it in the very first time, let it spin for 24 hours straights.
Some people reported some speed issues. Most of them seem to have found peace of mind with the 2 years warranty and good customer service.
- Amazing Retro Design
- Three different color choices (Walnut – Piano Black – White)
- Excellent value for money
- Premium Components
- Analog high-resolution sound experience
- Audio Technica AT95E Cartridge for a higher definition of sound
- Built-in Speakers
- External speakers connection option
- Thick rubber slip mat for extra stability
- Easy to set up manual
- High customer satisfaction
- Two years warranty against manufacturing defects
- Great customer service
- Some experience speed issues
The Victrola Navigator has definitely taken a sit in the hearts of many people. A huge amount of reviews and great customer satisfaction for this affordable Vintage Turntable.
It comes in five different colors option (Black – White – Dark, Light, and Espresso Brown – Oak). So take your time to choose which one best fits your style and aesthetic needs.
It has Bluetooth so you can listen through your phone or computer through the built-in speakers. You can also use it as a CD, Cassette or Radio player.
The USB port player, allows you to convert any of the media above into mp3 files. Quite cool if you want to take the music from home to the car or elsewhere.
The built-in speakers are worth the value but not to expect miracles. To improve the quality of sound connect the Turntable to your external speaker. Do that with the RCA cable that comes in the package.
Victrola Navigator is a plug-and-play item and does not require any pre-setting once you receive it.
- Antique look with modern options
- All-in-one Bluetooth connectivity, USB player, CD player,
- cassette player, Radio player
- Good Value for money
- 5 different colors option
- Remote Control
- Easy to convert albums/cassettes/CDs to mp3 files
- Good antenna reception for Radio
- Auxiliary inputs for external speakers
- Bluetooth friendly
- External headphone output
- Comes with 3 more Stylus (Needle) replacement
- Power on/off and tuning on radio options not included through Remote Control
- Everage built-in speakers quality
If you don’t want to spend much and appreciate as I do the simple retro style, this could be a good option for both of us.
The wood finish body and 19th-century look, seem to resonate in the customer reviews. It’s a Turntable as well as a very charming piece of furniture. On top of that, you can play it from any other Bluetooth-friendly device. Listen to it through the built-in speakers or plug it into external ones with a 3.5mm aux-in cable or RCA cable (red/white cable)
The built-in speakers satisfy most of its users with a decent quality of sound. The Record Player Turntable reads 33, 45, and 78 RPM vinyl records.
Once received you do not have to go through any of the pre-setting required. It is simple to use and ideal for beginners.
Keep your expectations low when it comes to the quality of the material. Some customers find annoying the auto-recorded voice that talks when you switch on the machine. The great majority seem to be well satisfied with the value for money.
- Vintage wood finish body
- Plug and play (no adjustment needed)
- Good beginner option
- Auto-stop when the record is over
- Three different speed setting for 33-45-78 RPM vinyl record
- Bluetooth connection
- Built-in speakers
- External speakers connection option
- Excellent customer service
- Plastic plate
- Some customers report that after some use the vinyl starts skipping
1byone Nostalgic Wooden Turntable has taken the Vintage look very seriously. This is all in one item and a nostalgic-retro look. Apart from being a Turntable, it can play old Tapes, CDs or Radio.
The body of this Vintage Turntable is strong and stable and gained some good reviews for value for money. Everybody seems to love the Bluetooth which some suggested to be working up to 30 feet distance.
In some people’s opinion, the little LED blue light in the control panel is “not vintage at all”. Others would have appreciated having the rewind option for the Tape as well as the treble/bass/balance adjustments.
This Vintage Turntable is Semi-automatic. Thus it stops when the Record is over but the Tonearm won’t go back to its resting position. 1byone Nostalgic Wooden Turntable can also be reset. This option has helped a few customers who were experiencing some issues at first.
The resetting consists of unplugging the turntable for a minute, plugging it back, and pressing the power button for 10 seconds.
- Old fashion style
- Steady wooden body
- Pleasurable vintage look furniture for the room
- Loud built-in speakers
- External speakers connection option
- All in one Turntable, Bluetooth, Tapes, USB, CDs, and Radio player
- Automatically stops when LP is over
- Easy to set up
- Play wireless from any compatible device up to 30 feet distance
- AUX line to listen with earbuds/headphones
- Possible to connect to external speakers
- No treble/bass/balance adjustment
- No rewind option for the cassette player
- LED light in control panel not that “retro look”
5. Fluance RT80
Fluance knows what they are doing when it comes to the quality of sound and here is another gem from this company. The company manages to do what seems impossible to achieve when comes to value for money.
The spherical Audio Technica AT91 Stylus (Needle) has a good quality of sound while preserving the Record. It is mandatory to do the pre-setting which consists of balancing the Tonearm. Please check the video at the end of this page to see how.
The manufacturer suggests that the tracking force of the stylus in the groove is around 2 grams. Use a digital scale if you want to be more precise.
The great design has given this item a lot of good reviews. Fluance customer service also gets extra credit for reliability. It has a built-in preamp although most people prefer to bypass that with external speakers.
And if you look for some little extra upgrade, you may replace the originally felt mat with a good quality rubber or cork one.
Overall this is a remarkable product from Fluance. High quality of sound and great look without spending a fortune.
- Classic Black retro look
- Premium components
- Built-in preamp
- Built-in speakers
- Auxiliary inputs for external speakers
- Analog experience with high-resolution sound
- Aluminum plate
- Outstanding value for the price
- Gold plated RCA line outputs
- RCA inputs for external speakers
- Belt, Stylus, and Cartridge replacement available from the seller
- Some experienced broken belts after one year of usage
- (Fluance sent a new one for free after seeing the review)
- Speed issue after pre-setting
- Felt mat platter not really “premium” material
Three Types of Operation: Spin Manually or Automatically?
1. Automatic Turntable
Automatic operation is perfect for beginners. The Tonearm lift on its own, places itself on the grove at the beginning of the Record player. It also returns to the resting position when the Record is over and switches off the machine. Easy peasy.
2. Semi-automatic Turntable
The Record stop spinning and the stylus go back to the resting position when the record is over. This time, you are responsible for placing the Stylus on the groove yourself.
Remember to do that with due care as you could scratch the Record and wear the Stylus.
3. Manual Turntable
You do all the work. From putting the Stylus on the groove and taking it back to the resting position on the Record when the music’s over. Usually the most expensive and professional one.
Suitable for advanced users or extremely cautious people who want to live the real Turntable experience.
Let’s Set up: Just Out of The Box
Now that we know most of the parts, let’s take our new Vintage Turntable out of the box and start some very basic settings.
- Place the Turntable on a sturdy, horizontal, and level surface. It is mandatory for these machines to work properly.
- Level the Turntable. Use a bubble level if you have one at home or download a “bubble level” application on your mobile if you don’t. Some turntables have adjustable feet for you to level the four angles of the Turntable. If that is not an option use fold paper under the feet to get the same results.
Now, for some of you, that is all you have to do! Some of the newest and more simple vintage turntables do not need any further pre-setting. This includes some of the choices of this article.
In fact, they are like this on purpose. Encouraging new users who may struggle with the idea of having to do the manual setting. This setting is often called “Balancing or Resetting the Tonearm”. The truth is that the presetting is actually very easy and takes just 5 minutes to do it.
It is necessary to prevent the wearing of both Stylus and Record. It also gives you the possibility to understand more about how a turntable works.
Remember to keep your records always upright in a vertical position. You can use a bookshelf or a box to do the job. Keeping them on top of each other can warp them up. Clean them before each use.
Dust and micro-particle can otherwise wear the Stylus or scratch the Vinyl. Search for a carbon fiber brush to do so. They are cheap and efficient.
Also, do not touch the Record’s grooves with your fingers. You can place the Record on the Turntable by holding it by the edge with the palm of your hand. Keep the dust cover of the Turntable always closed even when you are playing a Record.
And if you want to bypass the built-in speakers with more powerful external ones, you can learn how to connect your turntable to the speakers. I also recommend you to check our best portable turntable selection as some are both on the same budget and have quite a vintage look too. Enjoy!