The 8 Best Vintage Turntables - Vita Audio

The 8 Best Vintage Turntables

Over the last decade, there has been a mass resurgence in the popularity of listening to music on turntables. Since 2012 sales of turntables and vinyl records have skyrocketed- even though listening to music is more accessible than ever.

Why have consumers felt the need to revert to using turntables?

The 8 Best Vintage Turntables

Well, arguably, nothing is more nostalgic than flipping through rows and rows of vinyl albums, selecting one and sliding the shiny black disc out of its sleeve and carefully placing it onto a turntable. (No fingerprints welcome here!).

Then, as the disc starts to spin and you wait with anticipation to hear the joyous crackling and scratching sound of the needle slowly dropping down onto the vinyl, only to produce the richest sounding music you will ever hear. It just hits different – they offer a unique experience and a sound quality that is unmatched.

Vintage turntables are great because they have a warm and rich aesthetic. Although a modern turntable does the job, a vintage record player or turntable just offers a different level of sound quality.

As a result of this found-again popularity, there are now thousands of turntables on the market and the process of deciding on the best turntable to buy can become confusing and frustrating, especially as a first-timer.

There are plenty of vintage turntables out there, but not all of them are worth investing in. The ones that are truly valuable tend to be rare and collectible and sometimes the word “vintage” is associated with something that is better quality and usually comes with a higher cost.

The list below are some of the best vintage turntables that are on the market.

Linn Sondek LP12

Turntable

Linn has been around for over five decades since the creation of the iconic Sondek LP12 and have been at the forefront of audio technology ever since.

The Sondek is modular which means that either you can create your own, bespoke turntable with unique specifications and audio equipment.

Alternatively, you can choose from one of the three pre-configured versions that Linn has put together for you, and have become quite a classic collection of vinyl players, which range greatly in price.

Of course, if you choose to create your own turntable from scratch, it is important to note that all the extra modifications and parts available to you will add up in cost.

The Linn LP 12 pre-configured models (Klimax, Akurate and Majik) all offer a sleek design and have a wooden exterior which you can color customize and complete with your own monograph for that extra personal touch.

The models vary in price but the Majik is the most affordable and includes the full Sondek LP12 with Carousel bearing, has its own internal power supply, a Krane aluminum and stainless steel tonearm that offers low friction and a balanced mass bearing.

It also comes with a 45 rpm adaptor as it is made for a 33 1/3 rpm single speed motor.

The most expensive version, the Klimax, offers a brushed DC motor, an Ekos SE precision tonearm and is a dual speed vinyl player.

The Linn LP12 is one of the best and most reputable brands amongst the vintage record player community. It is a beautiful piece of audio equipment and your favorite vinyl records will sound exceptional.

The sound quality offered by Linn turntables is characterized by being rhythmical and keeps time exceptionally well.

Pros:

  • Reputable brand
  • Customizable
  • High quality turntable

Cons:

  • Expensive

When testing this product, we loved: the customization of the turntables and the rich and smooth sound.

Thorens TD-125

Turntable

The 1960-1970s models of turntables, like Thorens TD-125, are making a serious comeback 50 years later. It is exceedingly difficult to get your hands on one of these, even though back in the 1970s they were sold a dime a dozen, meaning there are a lot of parts available all over the world for this belt-driven turntable.

It has a unique electronic speed controller-a modern feature for its time-which is why it was so popular at the time of manufacturing. Pitch control of the turntable is extremely important and it allows the turntable to be used with a variety of different tonearms.

Originally, the tonearms were sold with the TD-125 but as new technology came out, these were swapped out for better performing tonearms. Paired with that is a heavy, dense platter on which the vinyl records are placed.

It is designed to be modified, easy to service and maintain and offers three playing speeds and has excellent speed stability along with an even tone that is pleasing to the ear.

Pros:

  • Innovative design- made to be upgraded in lieu of better technology
  • Easily one of the best sounds you will get from a vintage record player

Cons:

  • Needs to be placed on a sturdy surface as it is really heavy

When testing this product, we loved: the inclusion of three different speeds and the sound and quality of tone produced.

Garrard 301/401

7 x 10 METAL SIGN - 1955 Garrard 301 Turntables - Vintage Look

Although mostly available on eBay, the Garrard turntables still today offer some of the best sound quality out there and surpasses that of many modern turntables out there.

They are great rhythmically as long as they have a decent plinth. Overall, they are durable and have a minimalistic look and feel to them.

Pros:

  • Rich sound
  • Beautiful turntable with minimal design

Cons:

  • Difficult to come by and may vary in price

When testing this product, we loved: the look and feel of it.

7 x 10 METAL SIGN - 1955 Garrard 301 Turntables - Vintage Look
  • MADE ENTIRELY IN MINNESOTA by American Workers using American-Made Materials
  • This Metal Sign measures 7 inches x 10 inches
  • Made of outdoor durable aluminum with a beautiful satin, non-glare finish.
  • Simulated "rust" to give the vintage effect of aging (we can make it without the vintage rusty look, just Contact Seller after you order).
  • Smooth rounded corners with mounting holes.

Rega Planar 3

Rega: Planar 3 Turntable w/ Elys 2 - Black

Rega Planar 3 turntables are still being manufactured by them today, but if you can get a hold of an older one, you won’t be disappointed either way.

In terms of value for money, the Planar 3 delivers time and time again. It is a complete redesign of the “Three” model and boasts improved ergonomics and sonic performance.

It offers low noise and vibrations off of its motor, comes with a high-gloss plinth and has an advanced EBLT drive belt. It also comes with a dust cover that helps to protect the plinth and has a precision tonearm to ensure that the sound output is second to none.

Pros:

  • Modernized tonearm that offers high amounts of stability
  • Quiet motor
  • Dust cover included
  • Affordable turntable

Cons:

  • May not be “vintage” enough

When testing this product, we loved: the included standards offered and the price.

VPI HW-19

Turntable

VPI introduced the HW-19 way back in ’80 which came with Jelco Profile or AudioQuest PT5 tonearms. The turntable itself is extremely heavy, and it is extremely well engineered and quickly became an audiophile must-have.

VPI is one of the best turntable manufacturers in America and their products are voted as being some of the best in the world.

Although these older models look nothing like their modern turntable counterparts they still offer what the brand is famed for- reliability, the ability to be upgraded and the highest quality products and customer service.

The HW-19 comes with a dust cover, can easily fit any tonearm and boasts a stainless steel-acrylic sub-chassis which means that the motor is isolated, delivering speed stability and a high level of clarity and resolution. However, this quality comes at a great cost.

Pros:

  • Easily upgradable
  • Excellent turntable in terms of quality and sound

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Expensive

When testing this product, we loved: the fact that it can be easily upgraded and modernized.

Technics SL-1700

Turntable

This semi-automatic, direct drive-belt turntable from the late 70s includes speed adjustments to improve accuracy of the needles during playing. These models are offered with an ‘S’ shaped tonearm and have a removable headshell to change cartridges easily.

It is therefore a very simple and easy turntable to set up and operate. It offers stability and is quite easy to maintain. When it was first launched, it was a popular model and was considered to be a more expensive “entry-level” model at the time, but with its high quality and easy setup, it became a fast favorite.

The look may be a bit too 1970s if that is not the aesthetic you are going for but they are relatively easy to find on the internet as well as their parts.

Pros:

  • Easy to set up and keep up
  • High stability results in high quality sound

Cons:

  • Very 1970s look- may not be to your taste

When testing this product, we loved: how quick and easy it was to set up.

Dual 701

Turntable

From the 1930s, Dual have been producing audio equipment and turntables and in the late ’60s started manufacturing belt and direct-drive turntables to their product offerings.

The 701 is the first direct-drive model they made, and this model soon became known for its strong performance, tonal balance and robust tone and stability.

The innovative low speed motor is quiet and free from resonance which is directly secured to the chassis and was popularized for being the quietest turntable of the time.

The Dual 701 has many features which make it standout, even compared to modern models, including auto-start and return, its dynamic balance, stroboscopic pitch control and shuttle cartridge mounting system, all make it a desirable piece of audio equipment. The only drawback on this model is that it is extremely heavy.

Pros:

  • Superb quality
  • Innovative technology for its time

Cons:

  • Heavy

When testing this product, we loved: the quiet motor and rich sounds coming from the playing of this turntable.

Yamaha YP-701

Turntable

The YP-701 or YP-700 is a belt-driven, auto-return turntable which features an ‘S’ shaped tonearm, a die-cast aluminum platter and a double float suspension, meaning that the turntable and arm are sprung separately from the motor to insulate against vibration noise from the motor. This means that it is a very quiet turntable.

Additionally, there is no thud or signal that comes from the turntable when the needle stylus is placed on the vinyl record. It offers a delicate sound and is suitable for midrange and treble music.

The low end may seem a bit lackluster and setup may prove to be difficult as it requires a lot of careful handy work. It is also one of the heavier models out there.

Pros:

  • Delicate sound produced
  • Extremely quiet

Cons:

  • Heavy and difficult setup

When testing this product, we loved: the quietness of the motor.

Buyer’s Guide

Turntables are one of the most important components of your home audio system. They allow you to listen to music at its best, whether it’s vinyl or digital files. If you want to enjoy high fidelity listening, you need to invest in a decent turntable.

There are many factors to consider when choosing a turntable including price, size, weight, style, and performance. You should also take into account how much space you have available for your new turntable.

Price

Some of these vintage models are variable in price depending on their condition and if they are still being manufactured today. The range of price is quite unbelievable and are quite expensive despite the fact that they may be older.

Weight

If you plan on using your turntable frequently, then you will probably want to choose a lightweight model that won’t weigh too much. This way you can move it easily between rooms without having to struggle to carry it upstairs.
If you intend to use your turntable less often, then you could opt for a heavier model that will last longer.

Speed Modes

A good turntable, like all those mentioned in the above sections, must be able to spin at two speeds:
33/3 and 45 RPM, as a minimum. There are some that are able to accommodate 78 RPM, but the former is what is needed for playing full-sized albums as well as singles.

Renovation And Upgrades

Sometimes items on the turntable need to be replaced, be it the dust cover, the needle, the platter, or the tonearm. A decent turntable should be able to undergo repair and renovation easily, without having to send the whole product in for repairs.

Jacob Stable
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