Package Deal: The 8 Best All-In-One Turntables

Jan 10, 2019

Category: Tech

The resurgence of vinyl over the past decade has done wonders for the world of audiophiles and media junkies alike. Once again, much like the way music was shared decades ago when vinyl was the industry standard, we can curate a physical library of albums from our favorite artists the world over — complete with special edition releases and first-pressings that could be worth a pretty penny one day. Not to mention our newly discovered ability to actively trade and share “hardcover” versions of preferred albums with friends and family — physically gifting the joy of music when the time is right.

There remains, however, a caveat to the whole process. Meaning, this analog-esque way of enjoying all the wonders that vinyl has to offer requires a fair bit of equipment and know-how when installing a top-tier hi-fi system. But for the right audience, this quickly becomes a rabbit hole of vinyl accessory upgrades including, but not limited to, styluses, cartridges, platters, speakers, receivers, and amplifiers. Needless to say, things can get complicated quite fast — presenting a sort of learning curve to the vinyl neophyte that could very well deter them from ever entering the market. The exception lies, thankfully, in the contemporary all-in-one model.

The Basics

All-In-One Turntables Explained

Before diving into which all-in-one turntables suit our needs the best, let’s clarify what they are and what, in fact, makes the “plug and play” model so accessible today. First and foremost, because vinyl isn’t digital (it’s analog) the turntable’s signal — sound data picked up from the stylus within each record groove — is about 1,000 times softer than a similar signal picked up from a streaming device. So, at least back in the day, the order of operation was to connect the turntable to a receiver that would then amplify the signal recording and release the sound data through the attached — and hardwired — speakers.

Now, if you want to up the sound quality even more, you can then purchase what’s called a phono preamp — a necessity with more modern receivers that no longer carry the phono input. The phono preamp then serves as a conduit through which you can enjoy all the warm sounds vinyl has to offer via a modern hi-fi stereo setup.

Sound a bit arduous? Not to worry, for a sizable sample of modern turntables now come available with a built-in preamp and sometimes Bluetooth connectivity to make setup as easy as plugging in a couple RCA cables and hitting play. Would we recommend this setup to an audiophile looking for absolute studio-quality sound? Of course not. This is a shortcut system meant to massage market entry. However, if a little vinyl is what’s needed to help tie the room together, there are some great options out there from which to choose. Just take a quick look at the following eight all-in-one turntables outlined below.

Fluence RT81

On the surface, Fluence’s RT81 resembles a $1,000+ statement piece thanks to the likes of its sleek black components complemented by a walnut-finished cabinet. However, with a price tag under $300, this could very well be one of the best introductory turntables out there for the price. Each belt-driven device comes equipped with an Audio Technica AT95E stylus, adjustable counterweight, 45-speed adapter, a Texas Instruments preamp, and gold-plated RCA line for an added touch of opulence. Surely, a desirable setup for any new apartment or home.

Drive System: Belt
Connectivity: RCA
Platter: Aluminum

Purchase: $250

Audio Technica AT-LP120

At least in the world of professional DJs, you won’t find a setup without a direct-drive system. That’s because done right, they’re durable as hell for years upon years of use. Thankfully, Audio Technica — piggybacking a bit on the classic late-70s & ’80s Technics design — offers up just that with the AT-LP120. It’s a professional turntable quality for the price of an entry-level device. Each piece hosts three speed (33/45/78) capabilities, a pitch-change slider, a selectable internal stereo phono preamp, and the ability to connect to your PC or Mac via USB to finally digitize those records you’ve held onto for so long. And that’s just the beginning.

Drive System: Direct
Connectivity: USB
Platter: Cast Aluminum

Purchase: $300

U-Turn Orbit Plus

Here’s an industry secret: very few turntables are built right here in the USA — especially at this price point. U-Turn Audio is one such exception, offering minimalist and aesthetically-pleasing turntables in a variety of colorways for the contemporary retro-influenced home. They’re also incredibly easy to use as well, thanks in part to a precision tonearm complete with an Ortofon OM 5E cartridge and RCA connector cables. It’s simple, straightforward, free of unnecessary components (meaning it’ll last longer), and it’s hand built in Boston, MA.

Drive System: Belt
Connectivity: RCA
Platter: Acrylic

Purchase: $349

Music Hall MMF 1.5

A cut above the entry-level price range, yet still in the affordable range for newcomers to vinyl, Music Hall knocks it out of the park with the belt-driven MMF 1.5. Each device combines the merits of modernism and classic aesthetic without any flaws — thanks to the red cherry wood veneer finish and overall minimalist appearance. Also, each MMF hosts a three-speed playback, comes housed with a built-in phono preamp, low-noise motor, a Music Hall Melody cartridge, vibration dampening feet, and a heavy aluminum platter to reduce unnecessary vibrations even further.

Drive System: Belt
Connectivity: RCA
Platter: Aluminum

Purchase: $399

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC USB Turntable

For a more modern minimalist look, the Debut Carbon DC USB Turntable from Pro-Ject is an excellent choice. Not only is this a premier and subtle all-in-one device, but it’s one of the best-selling turntables within this price range — which is saying a lot. Here, enjoy the ability to convert analog to digital via the turntable’s USB output, a full and rich sound thanks to the Debut’s carbon fiber tonearm and integrated headshell, and upgradable cartridge and platter to bring things as close as you can to audiophile status without purchasing a whole new setup. You also can’t go wrong with a durable and weighty steel platter either.

Drive System: Belt
Connectivity: RCA
Platter: Steel

Purchase: $490

Pro-Ject Juke Box E

Boasting what might possibly be one of the easiest setups out there, the Juke Box E is a turntable complete with a phono stage, Bluetooth receiver, preamp, and power amplifier all rolled into one. Not only that, but Pro-Ject sells these things already pre-adjusted right from the box so everything is practically cued up and ready to go immediately. That means, there’s no need to adjust the tracking force or anti-skate at all. Literally, a plug and play device that makes things as simplified as can be.

Drive System: Belt
Connectivity: Bluetooth
Platter: 300mm Plywood

Purchase: $499

Gramovox Floating Record Vertical Turntable

Not just an all-in-one turntable but a speaker system as well, Gramovox basically took the old Crosley model and turned it sideways (literally) while upping the value and quality considerably. Here, each Floating Record comes standard with either a walnut or maple veneer wood base, carbon-fiber tonearm, built-in phono stage, vibration dampening feet, an A/C Synchronous motor, 2 Neodymium full range stereo speakers, and an AT95E Audio Technica Dual Magnet Cartridge along with an Elliptical Diamond Stylus. The only downfall being Gramovox is currently sold out of these bad boys as of publishing so we’d suggest signing up to get notified when they’re available once again.

Drive System: Belt
Connectivity: RCA
Platter: Acrylic

Purchase: $550

VPI Player Turntable

If audiophile quality is a must-have no matter what, the VPI Player is what we suggest you get your hands on. What’s not to like, really? It’s a professional turntable with beautiful sound components combined with the convenience and ease with that of a plug-and-play device. Each piece, in turn, hosts a phono preamp and headphone amplifier, a pre-mounted Ortofon 2M Red cartridge, a hefty aluminum platter, and the assurance that every turntable is built right here in the USA.

Drive System: Belt
Connectivity: RCA
Platter: Aluminum

Purchase: $1,500

The 10 Best Vinyl Accessories

Just like owning a car, maintenance and additional accessories can lead to longevity and an overall more pleasant experience. Don’t take our word for it though, just have a look at these 10 best vinyl accessories and witness the magic for yourself.

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