Record player recommendations?
July 3, 2008 2:53 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a good record player. Are the USB ones any good, or should I find something old school?

Any online place to find new artists putting out records would be much appreciated as well
posted by photomusic86 to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The key issue is: do you have a component stereo where the receiver/amplifier has a phono input? Or even any unused inputs of any kind?

USB turntables are for a very specific purpose: sending record audio into a computer. If your goal is to record records on your computer, it might be the simplest solution (though you could also use a real stereo and an $5 cable from Radio Shack). If you want to listen to your records on your stereo, they're probably not the best solution.
posted by YoungAmerican at 3:22 PM on July 3, 2008

There are turntables with built-in phono pre-amps, but the exact model to choose still depends on what you want it do.

As far as new artists putting out records, I am sure that all the top artists in your profile are still putting out new vinyl. Ohio's pretty big, but I'm sure there a place near you that sells new vinyl. (Even some of the chains do)
posted by mkb at 3:35 PM on July 3, 2008

Yeah, seconding making sure you have a phono input. If you don't, but have a spare input on your amp/receiver, you'll need a phono pre-amp.

I dig the Music Hall 2.1 - low cost, simple, comes with a decent cartridge, although I've upgraded mine since. I like Audio Advisor ( for my stereo stuff.
posted by drobot at 3:55 PM on July 3, 2008

Sorry, that's the Music Hall MMF 2.1
posted by drobot at 3:56 PM on July 3, 2008

I have the Numark TTUSB model, but I don't even use the USB cable (I couldn't even get it work); I use the RCA cables and adapters to get the sound into my computer, and it sounds just fine. If I had it to do over again, I would have just bought the best turntable in my price range and forgotten about the USB: that would probably allow for a better device for the money, plus a wider range of options (there are only so many with USB anyway).
posted by bah213 at 3:56 PM on July 3, 2008

How much are you willing to spend and what sort of equipment would you be connecting it to? Turntables get pretty pricey as you get pickier about sound quality and it's easy to end up with something expensive and terrible sounding if you aren't paying attention. USB tables are almost guaranteed to sound awful in comparison to a standalone turntable and phono pre-amp.

Insound is a pretty good place to get newly released vinyl, though it is skewed towards the indie side of the spectrum. They've really been pushing vinyl this summer and have been running a lot of specials on records.
posted by strangecargo at 5:17 PM on July 3, 2008

I asked about record players a few months ago and got excellent input - I ended up buying the Technics SLBD20D per rhizome's recommendation. It does a great job, considering the price!

Quite a few indie labels these days are putting out new vinyl on a regular basis (often with codes to download the record on high-quality DRM-free MP3 included). Merge does this for sure, and I believe Sub Pop and Matador are doing the same.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 5:52 PM on July 3, 2008

Turbtables are a great thing to buy secondhand. The following advice presumes that you don't want to do that.
Are you already into DJing/scratching? 1200, or some variant thereof.
Do you think that you may become into it someday? Get something sturdy and direct-drive--Audio-Technica's PL-120 is readily available, or Numark, Stanton and Vestax all make starter DJ tables.
Do you think that you may someday become an audiophile, but right now you don't want to spend a whole ton of money? Music Hall.
If none of those apply, check out the one that rhizome recommends, or the couple that I mention, in punchdrunkhistory's question.

If you're in or around Cleveland, check out My Mind's Eye, Record Revolution, and the many Record Exchange stores. Online, I like Dusty Groove and Turntable Lab.
posted by box at 8:53 PM on July 3, 2008

Response by poster: I'm really only looking for something to play my records. I don't know much about any of it, having been raised in the CD age...
I want something I can plug some speakers into and play. Nothing fancy, but functional, simple, and well built.
I had no idea about the world of audiophiles, but I already qualify for more than half of what Wikipedia describes. If that helps any.
Thank you for your recommendations already, also.
posted by photomusic86 at 9:38 PM on July 3, 2008

If you're verging on audiophilia, I'd avoid the USB option as there are a lot of sonic compromises involved.

The Music Hall TT mentioned by Drobot is a good choice. You might also look at Rega's inexpensive starter models.

For suggestions about TTs, cartridges and preamplifiers, have a look at Stereophile magazine, which publishes a list of recommended components twice a year.

You might also enjoy the Audio Asylum.

Hope this helps
posted by quidividi at 9:57 PM on July 3, 2008

What Hi-Fi and all the other audio magazines regularly recommend the Project Debut III as a the best entry-level turntable..
posted by Magnakai at 1:19 AM on July 4, 2008

I want something I can plug some speakers into and play.

You need turntable > amplifier (possibly with phono pre-amp) > speakers. The all-in-one turntable and amp jobs are invariably shabby.

Seconding the Project Debut III - it always gets glowing reviews comparing it to much more expensive turntables.

But, really, your best bet is to go to your local hifi shop, tell them your budget and have a listen to a few turntable/amp/speaker combinations.
posted by jack_mo at 11:51 AM on July 4, 2008

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