Best Vintage Record Player
There’s nothing quite like the crackle of an old record player.
Record players can bring out a certain ambiance in albums that modern devices simply don’t have. However, they’re lacking when it comes to versatility, as most of the technology is simply outdated, and fails to compete with modern record players.
If only there were a way to get the best of both worlds, right?
Thankfully, there is.
Today manufacturers are creating record players that are designed to encompass the vintage charm of the past while offering the modern technology of the present - so you get the best of both worlds.
Most of the modern devices also offer extra features such as Bluetooth connectivity and AM/FM radio, which give you a broader range of listening options and greater versatility.
In this article, I’ve compiled a list of the best vintage record players on the market, combined with a Buyer’s Guide, and a Frequently Asked Questions section so that you have all the information you need to make an informed decision.
Let’s get started...
Top 6 Best Vintage Record Players
MY TOP PICK
This is not just a vintage record player, but a full-blown multimedia center. It offers you the ability to not only play your vinyl, but also has a CD and cassette player, FM radio, Bluetooth connectivity, and an aux and headphone jack for audio streaming from your smartphone.
You also can also record music from vinyl records, CDs, and cassettes directly to your computer.
Creating a perfect blend of vintage aesthetic and modern technology, this record player offers a three-speed belt and upgraded premium sound quality to ensure you can hear all your classics in the quality they deserve.
Fashioned in a deep espresso-toned wood, or available in several other shades, this multimedia center is not just functional but has the retro charm to enhance any living room or bedroom environment.
There’s no need for any additional equipment or stereo system, so you can have it up and running in mere minutes. However, if you do wish to extend the sound, there is an RCA line output to connect external speakers or an amplifier.
- Eight ways of listening in one device
- Record from vinyl, CD, or cassette direct to your computer
- Three-speed belt and upgraded sound quality
- Espresso toned wood for a retro finish
- No need for additional equipment
- RCA line outputs to connect external speakers
- The stylus that comes with the product are not very durable, so you may need to replace them
I love the retro charm of this turquoise blue suitcase record player from Wockoder. It also comes in black and wood and offers a range of modern functions such as Bluetooth connectivity, as well as SD and USB inputs.
It also has a headphone jack output for personal listening, as well as a 3.5mm AUX-in and RCA line out for boosting your sound via speakers or amplifiers.
It has LED lights to let you know which mode it’s playing in (LP/Bluetooth/USB) and weighing just 6.03 lbs, it’s easily portable and the suitcase design means you can effortlessly take it anywhere with you.
Many users comment on how they’re pleasantly surprised by the sound quality of this small record player, especially considering the affordable price point.
It’s not only a great way to enjoy your music, but it makes the perfect piece of decor for any vintage lover.
- Suitcase design is easily portable
- Bluetooth connectivity, SD and USB inputs
- Headphone jack and AUX-in/RCA line out options
- Weighs just 6.03lbs so is easily portable
- Great sound quality
- Bold turquoise design for vintage charm
- It can be difficult to find a replacement stylus, as it isn’t the standard size
If the 1950s is your thing, look no further than this charming ‘50s style record player from Victrola. With a red and silver design, it has that perfect vintage diner vibe.
Despite its retro styling, it offers a range of modern features including a CD player, AM/FM radio, Bluetooth connectivity, AUX and headphone jack, and built-in stereo speakers, plus the ability to record your vinyl into MP3 direct to your PC with the included USB cable.
With a volume and FM tuner knob, input select button, and a range of buttons for the CD player, this multimedia system is easy to use, and with no extra equipment required, you can have it up and running in minutes.
Installed with Victrola’s upgraded premium sound quality, the system has been optimized to cause minimum vibrations, so you can enjoy your LPs in high-quality audio.
- Multimedia center offers a range of listening options
- The 1950s-style design adds charm to any environment
- Record your vinyl into MP3 format with the included USB
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Easy to use
- No extra equipment required
- Records seem to play more treble than bass
This Crosley turntable with stand really does look the part thanks to its cream and turquoise coloring that provides a subtle vintage charm.
It’s also equipped with all the mod-cons to provide you with a range of listening options: stream your favorite playlist or podcast directly from your phone or other Bluetooth devices through the turntable’s stereo speakers.
The built-in stereo speakers also mean this turntable is ready to play right out of the box, but you also have the option of connecting it to the “RCA Line-Out” to amplify your sound through any additional stereo system.
With the twist of a knob, you can dial in the perfect speed for your record, increasing or decreasing the pitch up to 10% from 45 or 33 1/3 RPM to perfectly match the original recording.
I also like the fact that the tonearm is pre-mounted at the factory with an AT-3600 moving-magnet cartridge, which provides a warm analog sound to all your records.
Overall, I love the clean, minimalist vintage design of this Crosley and the fact that it combines modern listening with retro aesthetics.
- Cream and turquoise design
- Stand included
- Bluetooth connectivity
- RCA line out for amplifying your sound
- Adjustable pitch via the knob
- AT-3600 moving-magnet cartridge
- Expensive compared to other options
The Victrola suitcase record player comes in a wide range of colors and patterns, so you can choose one that perfectly fits your decor and style.
Suitcase styles offer great versatility, meaning you can pack up your turntable after using or fold it up and take it anywhere with you.
This model requires no additional stereo system or extra equipment, so you can conveniently get it up and running in minutes.
If you do want to expand your sound, you have an RCA output or a line output for connecting to CD players or other devices.
You can also plug your headphones in for those moments when you need to be alone with your music.
This record player has a range of controls, including an input select knob, power/volume knob, and an auto-stop function that stops records spinning once they’ve finished playing.
You also have the option of connecting a Bluetooth device to stream your music wirelessly up to 33 feet away.
- Extensive range of colors and styles to choose from
- RCA output and line output/headphone jack
- Can be set up in minutes, no extra equipment needed
- Bluetooth connectivity for wireless listening
- Affordable price point
- Suitcase design is space-saving and portable
- You may want to add additional speakers to boost the sound
This SeeYing record player has a simple vintage wood-style design and can play FM stereo radio as well as vinyl records.
It supports the sensitive reception of radio channels with clear and smooth sound coming out of the built-in speaker, and it also offers Bluetooth connectivity so you can play your favorite songs directly from your wireless devices.
Set-up is straightforward and easy for beginners, while you can also amplify your sound by connecting external powered speakers via the RCA output.
The turntable base has been equipped with a spring and belt-driven system to reduce vibration and a balanced tonearm with soft damping control provides better sound quality.
It weighs just 4.92 lbs, so this is a great choice if you’re looking for a minimalist vintage record player that doesn’t have a bulky design that takes up a lot of room.
The clear dust cover lid is also pretty durable and keeps your record player clean and protected.
The simplicity of this player makes it ideal for beginners, and the affordable price point and mid-range sound quality are great for anyone looking to maximize value for money.
- Lightweight design that’s ideal for small spaces
- FM radio is smooth and receptive
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Durable clear dust cover lid
- RCA output to maximize sound
- Affordable price point
- Some people complained of ‘tinny’ sound quality when playing vinyl
History of Vinyl
The LP - ‘long playing’ or ‘long play’ - has made a strong comeback and has seen a revival in popularity since the mid-2000s.
Vinyl records were first introduced by Columbia in 1948, with the important introduction of stereophonic sound later on.
LPs were huge during what became known as the ‘album era’, and soon became the new standard for the record industry, until their gradual replacement with cassettes from the 1980s, and CDs in the early 2000s.
Today most of us listen to our music through downloads and streaming platforms such as Spotify, though there has been a revival in vinyl since about 2007, with more people digging out old LPs, or buying new ones.
Is vinyl for me?
You might be wondering whether or not vinyl is for you, especially if you’re new to it, or you haven’t used a record player in many years.
The truth is, it largely depends on when and how you like to listen to your music.
If you’re somebody who listens to music mainly while you work out or commute, then vinyl probably isn’t for you.
If you’re somebody who likes to sit down and appreciate a track, its instruments, lyrics, and production, then vinyl could absolutely be for you.
Vinyl also offers a warmer sound that is hard to replicate on digital recordings. If you love listening to artists and albums from the ‘album era’ then it’s likely you’ll get great use from a record player. After all, these albums were produced to be listened to on vinyl!
Best Vintage Record Players Buying Guide
So, what should you look for in a vintage record player?
It’s all about the retro aesthetic, combined with modern technology.
First up though, let’s recap some essential terminology that will crop up in your search for the ideal vintage record player:
Stylus: the stylus is the needle that acts as the physical link to the grooves of the record, generating vibrations that are fed to the cartridge and turned into sound.
Turntable: the circular platform that holds and spins the record.
Tonearm: this is the long, thin arm that stems from the pivot counterweight mechanism and terminates at the cartridge. The tonearm guides the needle and also houses the cables which carry the sound signals from the stylus all the way to the outputs or amp.
Automatic tonearm: tonearms can be automatic or manual. Automatic tonearms are able to pick up and place the needle on the record by itself, while models with a manual pickup require the user to pick up the tonearm and place it on the turntable themselves.
Counterweight: this balances the tonearm and controls how much pressure the stylus applies to the grooves in the record. If the stylus applies too much weight to the record it can damage it, so the counterweight aims to balance out this weight and reduce the strain on the vinyl.
Adapter: an adapter is a plastic insert that’s used to play records with different RPMs to what your turntable supports.
Head Shell: The head shell connects the tonearm to the cartridge and keeps the cartridge in place securely.
If you’re somebody who listens to music continually, it’s a good idea to look for a vintage record player that also offers a full multimedia center.
Bluetooth connectivity is great for listening to your favorite playlists via your phone or tablet, while a built-in AM/FM radio can also provide added versatility.
The most sophisticated modern record players will also offer other ways of listening to your favorite albums, such as via CD or cassette player, too.
Having a vinyl player that offers a myriad of listening options is handy if it’s being shared by several people in the household.
Input and output options
Most record players will have plugs for RCA cables, which are cables that are white, red, and yellow (or sometimes blue). These can be used to connect additional audio equipment to amplify your sound.
A USB port is also handy to have as this increases versatility. A USB can be used to connect your record player to your PC or smartphone, which can be ideal if your record player offers the ability to record your vinyl into MP3 format. USB cables can also sometimes be used to connect portable speakers.
Having the option to plug in your headphones via a jack can be great if you listen to your music late at night or early in the morning, and want to avoid waking others in your household.
It’s also worth checking how the vintage record player is powered: ie. does it need to be plugged into an outlet, or is it battery-powered?
An electric turntable will have greater durability and you won’t need to worry about it running out of battery mid-album, whereas a battery-powered record player is great if you want something portable.
Some models will come with both options, which gives you the luxury of choice.
Record player cartridges are usually either magnetic or ceramic.
The cartridge is a central mechanism to the record player as it is responsible for translating the vibrations it picks up from the needle into electronic signals. These signals travel through the wires to the output where they are admitted as sound, or more specifically, music.
Therefore, those who are serious about their music will pay a lot of attention to the quality of the cartridge on a record player.
The ceramic types offer natural amplification and are pretty durable, but magnetic types are a more popular option today since they provide a better quality of sound.
Direct Or Belt Driven
Belt-driven record players use elastic belts and several sets of bearings as well as an offset motor to drive the turntable’s rotation.
This belt drive minimizes interference and provides better sound, though belt-driven record players are also known for offering less torque, and usually have less accurate speed control. They’re also less durable and need to be replaced more frequently.
A direct-drive record player is directly powered by a motor which is located under the middle of the turntable platter.
Direct drives generally offer more accurate playback speed and increased torque, though typically the motors are more prone to interfering with the sound, depending on its placement.
The preamp is a small internal amplifier that increases the audio signal from the record to line level so that it’s stronger and clearer.
The input received by the pre-amp is normalized at the same level as other audio signals, allowing them to be processed together with them.
A lot of modern vintage record players will have a built-in preamp, but if a model doesn’t have one, it means you’ll have to buy one separately.
The amp works in a similar way to the preamp, boosting the weak audio line-level signal to a higher volume for output through the speakers.
The quality of the amp you need will rely on the type of speakers you have, though typically, the higher the wattage, the more powerful the amp.
Record players come in a variety of sizes and styles, from head-turning 1950s style turntables to dinky suitcase ones that are lightweight and take up minimal space. It’s important to consider where you’ll place your record player before you purchase one.
Do you have a dedicated space where you can keep your record player safe and out of harm’s way of pets and children? If so, size won’t be too much of an issue for you.
If however you have a small living space and need something that won’t take up a lot of room, go for something lightweight and minimalistic.
A suitcase turntable is a great option if space is scarce, as it means you can close it up and put it elsewhere when you’re not using it. It’s also ideal if you want something portable.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best vintage record player?
The best vintage record player for you largely depends on how much space you have, your budget, and your listening needs.
However, Victrola is a great brand to buy from, and, in our opinion, their ‘Nostalgic Navigator’ is the perfect marriage of old and new; offering an extensive multimedia experience wrapped up in a nostalgic, vintage-style record player.
What is a good vintage record player to buy?
If you’re looking for something lightweight and portable, the Wockoder suitcase record player is ideal, whereas if you want a full multimedia center, the Victrola Nostalgic Navigator won’t disappoint.
How much is a vintage record player worth?
The vintage record players mentioned in our list are reproductions and are not actually vintage. If you’re wondering how much a vintage record player is worth, the answer depends on several factors, not only the brand or model, but the condition it’s in.
A vintage record player that looks great but doesn’t play won’t be as valuable as one that’s in great condition, even though some people are buying for aesthetics alone.
The best vintage record players will have a flat base, a turntable that turns freely, and an arm that moves without providing any friction.
The stylus and cartridge should also be in good condition so that records are not damaged when the needle comes into contact with them.
Thorens Linn, Micro Seiki, Denon, Garrard, Technics, Rega, and Bang & Olufsen are known for producing some of the best record players over the years.
Some popular vintage record players, such as the Garrard 301/401, are still extremely popular today and can sell for thousands of dollars. The less valued models can still sell for hundreds of dollars, depending on the condition and other factors.
What is a vintage record player called?
If you’re talking about the earliest record players, you’re probably thinking of a phonograph.
Later forms were also known as a gramophone (as a trademark since 1887, as a generic name in the UK since 1910) which eventually evolved into a ‘record player’ in the 1940s - a device for the mechanical recording and reproduction of sound.
These are sometimes also referred to as turntables - which is also the name of the device responsible for the spinning of the vinyl.
Are vintage record players good?
Most audiophiles will agree that when it comes to record players, vintage is king.
Vintage record players were made at a time when vintage ruled - before the introduction of cassettes and CDs - and long before streaming services and downloads.
Vintage record players were also crafted with a durability and attention to detail that some people will say modern record players simply don’t possess. That said, there are definite pros to modern turntables too.
For example, modern record players can be more versatile and offer a range of ways to listen to your music, which is why if you can find a record player that offers the best of both worlds, you’re winning.
What is the name of an old record player?
In 1877, Thomas Edison invented the phonograph - the earliest record player.
Later in the 1880s, the phonograph was tweaked by Alexander Graham Bell's Volta Laboratory who introduced the graphophone.
What should I look for in a vintage record player?
Whether you’re looking for a true vintage record player or a vintage-style player, you’re going to want to prioritize construction.
A record player with a quality build, that is sturdy and reliable, is far more likely to sound better - as well as last longer.
You’ll want to pay attention to the cartridge type and the type of drive, too.
Of course, sound quality is important, so look at the pre-amp and amp and consider whether or not you’ll expand your sound with an additional speaker - and whether or not the record player has a built-in preamp (if not, you’ll have to buy one).
If you’re buying a modern vintage-style record player, it’s also worth considering whether it offers additional ways to listen to your music, such as a built-in AM/FM radio, CD/cassette player and Bluetooth connectivity.
It’s great to have a choice of mediums to listen through, and other household members will thank you for this versatility, too.
Do vintage turntables sound better?
Sound is a very subjective thing, so while some people will always champion the sound of vintage turntables, others will turn to modern record players for a clearer and higher quality sound.
Vintage turntables usually have a better sound quality than the cheap, plastic models of today, and this is because they have a better build.
When vinyl was the primary form of music sold, manufacturers competed with one another by designing the best-sounding turntable, just like today companies compete to offer the best Bluetooth speaker, wireless IR headphones, and Bluetooth headphones.
Modern turntables can also offer great sound quality, and to be honest, it depends what you’re looking for. Some people prefer the soft crackle of an old record player, while others prefer a clearer, brighter sound.
Modern designs can do a great job of isolating vibration and producing crystal-clear sound. These are often described as offering a “clear” sound, whereas old turntables are often described as having a “warm” sound which is what many audiophiles find so nostalgic.
Everyone is different though, and it really does come down to the type of music you listen to, and your sound preferences.
What is the best turntable for the money?
You’ll get the most bang for your buck around the middle price range.
The Victrola 8-in-1 Bluetooth Record Player is one of the more expensive options on our list of vintage record players, however, it’s not just a turntable but a full multimedia center offering 8 ways to enjoy your music.
Therefore, if you don’t have the money to invest in a top-end vintage record player, but you want something that will provide that retro aesthetic, this is the perfect option, as it provides vintage charm and modern technology in one affordable record player.