The quality of sound that comes from a vintage record player is soothing and luxurious. They may lack the massive playlists that come with Spotify or Apple Music, but using a vinyl record player will bring all music lovers back to a stat of calm and happy appreciation.
The sound of listening to your favourite songs on a a vinyl record is evocative and brings out a timeless quality in the music which is not always apparent in the much more modern devices, good though they are.
This guide will tell you about the different types of vintage record players available and help you choose which one is most appropriate for you.
Firstly, I should address what is meant by the term vintage record player. This does not mean that you are buying a used record player, although that is certainly an option for some people. It simply covers any retro record player style, although the product that you are buying in brand new. I call them vintage record players, because they give a vintage, retro style feel, not because they are actually old record players.
Direct Drive Record Players
The platter on a direct drive record player is connected to the motor directly. It will start faster than other types and there is an increased level of accuracy, because of the direct connection.
It is possible to play records backwards on a direct drive record player, but the quality of sound is lost pretty quickly.
Belt Drive Record Players
The motor is housed separately. The belt envelopes the motor and the platter giving the great advantage of ensuring that the vibrations from the motor are greatly reduced, so reducing the chance of the record jumping or skipping.
Idle Drive Record Player
These turntables use a friction wheel which, in combination withe.a rubber wheel, performs a pushing motion agains the motor’s shaft. As with the other belt driven players, the chances of scratching are reduced markedly.
Analogue Vintage Record Player
These rely on physical parts, like gears, inputs and cables, to pick up the sound from the needle. These are often described as “wired” turntables rather than “wireless” players.
Generally speaking, the look of an analogue record player is more attractive than the electronic ones. They have more of a style and a presence about them. I suppose that some (younger?) people may disagree and prefer the more modern electronic look. Let me know what you think.
Analogue record players are also likely to be cheaper and they are easy to set up and use.
Wireless Record Players
These are the other option. They are called wireless, because they feature a bluetooth connection instead of a wired connection. Some wireless record players don’t even have a turntable, so for an authentic vintage record player feel, these are not right. However, they do provide great quality sounds and are almost 100% accurate, because the risk of scratching is removed. They are usually a compact design and look more modern and urban.
The wireless record players are more expensive, but still don’t produce the old-school style sound than many vintage record players are looking for.
Vintage Record Player Cost
With everything in life, good quality vintage record players will come at a cost. A general rule of thumb is that the more you spend, the better you will get. When buying a record player, you should expect to pay about £40 as a minimum. You can spend much more going into the hundreds quite easily. As you will see from the selection of my favourite vintage record player as below, there is no need to break the bank to get the great vinyl sand that you are looking for.
Lenco L-3808 Black – Direct Drive USB Turntable with integrated stereo pre amplifier and premium audio technical cartridge
This record player comes in black, but is also available in white silver and grey. It produces great quality sound and the turntable is easy to use. It has a mechanical tone arm lifter and a moving magnet cartridge, together with a built in preamp. All of this means that the Lenco L-3808 is a very simple turntable to use. It comes with a removable plastic cover to protect it from dust.
Another great benefit is that to prevent your music being lost, you can actually digitise your final collection using the link 0L – 3808. All you have to do is connect the turntable to your computer through a USB port and you didn’t transfer the music to your computer. The advantage of this is that you can then play your vinyl records on your favourite MP3 player.
Like nearly all vintage record players, this will play your records at 33 speed and 45 speed.
It is an excellent vintage record player with very high ratings and comes highly recommended.
Fluance High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable Record Payer with Dual Magnet Cartridge, Elliptical Diamond Stylus and Belt Drive
This is one of the best starter turntables that anyone can buy. It is also very popular among audiophiles who have been using vintage record players for a long time.
The design is classic and understated. The use of walnut gives it a retro look and feel, but the quality of the product is modern and up-to-date. The turntable is belt driven but speeds can be changed from 33 to 45 by simply pressing the metal switch. This makes playing your records simpler.
There is also a start and stop feature. When the turntable is on, simply moving the tonearm from its resting position will start the platter turning and taking it off will do the opposite. The benefit of this is that you can change records without having to keep turning the turntable on and off.
The tone arm is made of plastic but it is strong and robust enough to pick up the sounds that you need from the record. The sound produced is of good detail and has a dynamic feel to it. It is isolated well from footfall or vibration and this helps to protect your records from being scratched.
The vast majority of users will find that the Fluance is of great value and sounds great, looks good and is easy to use. This is certainly a record player which we would recommend investigating further.
Viflykoo Bluetooth Portable Vinyl Turntable
This Viflykoo record player has a very attractive retro minimalist design. It combines the classic beauty of the 1950s with the modern reliability of a new vinyl record player.
There are two built in full range stereo speakers. They produce a full tone and a deep sound which is very good quality for the price.
There is also a Bluetooth turntable which actually allows you to enjoy wireless playback from your iPhone or android device. This gives a new flexibility which is not always available with other vintage record players.
There is a solid construction and a stereo RCA connector which allows you to connect to amplifiers or other stereos if you choose to boost your audio performance. All of this adds to the ease of use of the Viflykoo Bluetooth turntable.
There is a dust cover to protect your records and you can play the vinyl with the lid down. This does not seem to make a great difference to the quality of the sound but obviously will have the benefit of protecting your vinyl records in the longer term.
This is a much cheaper vintage record player but that should not lead you to think that it is of lower quality than some of the others. In fact, this is a great value record player which should be considered by anybody looking to get into turntables
Soundmaster PL186H Retro FM Radio Record Player Turntable with built in speakers
The Soundmaster PL686H is a fantastic looking retro record player turntable. It looks like it came straight from the 70s, but this is not a vintage record player. It is brand knew.
As well as a decent quality turntable which allows you to play your records, it also has an FM radio tuner built in, allowing you to listen to your favourite radio stations to.
The built-in stereo speakers are of decent quality, but are not as good as plugging it into a separate speaker. However, don’t let this put you off, for a vinyl record player in the region of £50 it will be very difficult to do any better than the sound master PL186H.
There is a headphone jack which can also be used to listen to your music more quietly. That is, should you ever want to listen to your music quietly!
Among all of the vinyl record players recommended here, the Soundmaster is one of my favourite choices and I would recommend that you give it careful consideration if you are looking to get a new record player.
1 BYONE Turntable Hi-Fi System with 36 Watt Bookshelf Speakers and magnetic cartridge
This is slightly different from the other vintage record player as described in my post. The 1 BYONE is actually a hi-fi system and comes with 236 W bookshelf speakers which produce fantastic quality sound.
It has a solid iron platter which means that the weight of the iron gives great stability while playing your vinyl record and this insures consistent rotation. The playback is of very high fidelity.
There is also an adjustable counterweight with an anti-skating force. This produces a smooth stylus movement and avoids skipping or distortion.
Among many of the things that I really like about the 1BYONE hi-fi system is it’s great connectivity. There is a built in switchable phono line and a pre-amplifier, so this allows you to connect to the included speakers or, if you have alternative speakers, you can connect direct to your external power speakers using the RCA output cables. This gives you great flexibility when using the turntable.
The 1BYONE also brings some modern options. Connect the turntable to your computer with a USB cable and you can immediately include the vinyl audio onto an MP3 file so that you can store digitally and playback using your computer or smart phone. This is a great option for 21st century users and although you will lose the romantic sound of your vintage record player, you gain greatly in enhanced use and flexibility.
It is also possible to wirelessly stream music from your smart phone through the speakers because there is a wireless Bluetooth connection. Again, this means that you are getting a full hi-fi system rather than simply a vintage record player and that will attract a lot of users.
At 12.7 kg, there is a solid feel to this hi-fi and that all enhances the impression that you are getting a great piece of kit.
Record Player Stand
After looking at all the brilliant record players listed above, you have one more thing to think about. It is really important that you buy a good record player stand. This is needed to ensure that the turntable is kept secure, straight and solid. If you put it on something too wobbly, you risk scratching after looking at all the brilliant record players listed above, you have one more thing to think about. It is really important that you buy a good record player stand. This is needed to ensure that the turntable is kept secure, straight and solid. If you put it on something too wobbly, you risk scratching your vinyl records.
Have a look here for some examples of great value record player stands.
Conclusion on buying a vintage record player
A vintage record player is something that I would strongly recommend for anybody who loves listening to music. The tone and sound that you get from vinyl is quite different from the electronic sounds that you get from your phone or computer. There is certainly a place for listening to music through the internet and I do this regularly myself. However, for the true, classic, retro feel, a vintage record player is impossible to beat.
The websites below give some more ideas when buying a vintage record player:
Vinyl Record Memories – detailed and helpful resource page
How to estimate the value of a record collection – interesting article from Discogs about the value of your vinyl records
Rockabilly Hall – showcasing some great music on vinyl