If you were feeling some FOMO after we posted our favorite albums that sound better on vinyl, you’re in luck. This is a great time to start a record collection, since we’re all definitely spending more time at home these days. And that means we have more opportunities to sit down and actually listen to records. But if you’re new to vinyl, it can be overwhelming when you think about where to start your collection. Luckily, this year’s version of Record Store Day is right around the corner.
Record Store Day is the world’s largest single-day music event that shines a light on the culture of the indie record store across the globe. This year, the holiday was rebranded as RSD Drops 2020. In an effort to accommodate the current state of the world, it has shifted to a properly distanced celebration spread across three days. On August 29, September 26, and October 24, shops around the world will release a number of exclusive records from some of the biggest names in music history.
However, if you wanted to pick up your first record during RSD Drops 2020, you’ll need a record player. That’s where Abt’s resident vinyl expert and Audio Sales Manager Bill McMartin comes in. In this post, he provides a few suggestions for record players at various price points that are perfect for beginners. All three are very easy to set up and require only a few basic steps before you’re ready to spin.
As you’re choosing your first turntable, there’s one more thing to keep in mind. You should also be sure to pick a solid set of speakers as well. Many people mistakenly believe that turntables function without an amplifier or speakers. While this type of product exists in the market, they typically prioritize price and convenience over fidelity. To find the perfect speakers for the desired sound out of your vinyl records, consult our informative Speaker Buying Guide. Once that’s sorted, you’re ready for the headlining act.
If you want a record player on the less expensive end of the spectrum, the Audio-Technica ATLP3BK is the model for you. This is a fully automatic table, so, as a beginner, you won’t need to worry about dropping the needle in the wrong spot. Simply hit a button to start listening and the player does the work for you. And when the record is done, the tonearm returns to the armrest by itself—all you need to do is flip the record to keep the experience going. The ATLP3BK also has a built-in phono/line pre-amplifier, which comes in handy if your receiver or integrated amp doesn’t include this required component.
For those with a larger budget, the Pro-ject Debut Carbon Esprit is a great choice. This model includes a heavy non-resonant acrylic platter that improves vibration damping, and also features easy speed change controls to switch from 33-⅓ to 45 RPM. While some record players make you move their belt to a larger pulley in order to increase or decrease speed, this one can do it with just the push of a button. Plus, the Debut Carbon Esprit adapts to play 78 rpm records with a few additional accessories.
Finally, if you have an unrestricted budget, go for the Mobile Fidelity StudioDeck. This model from MoFi features a platter made of Delrin, a next-generation polymer that isolates the record and eliminates extraneous vibrations. It has a 10-inch gimbaled bearing tonearm, which improves tracking and reduces distortion, and a steel and teflon inverted bearing. This bearing system is designed for many years of smooth, quiet rotational stability. According to Bill, this is the kind of turntable you could (and should) pass down to your grandchildren because he predicts that vinyl will likely be the only physical music format that lasts long enough to see 2050.
What do you think of our picks for starter record players? Will you be picking up a turntable ahead of RSD Drops 2020? Let us know in the comments below.
Paige AdamsJanuary 19, 2021 at 2:59 pm
Looks like the Pro-ject Debut Carbon Esprit has been discontinued. Do you have an alternative option?
Michelle StephensAugust 17, 2021 at 1:59 pm
We offer several Pro-Ject Carbon EVNO turntables. They can be found here.