The Best Record Players & Turntables of 2021
Vinyl made a huge comeback during the 2010s. To some, the warm crackle of a spinning record is the best way to enjoy music. Whether you have never experienced vinyl before, or you have a crate hidden away somewhere that you need to blow the dust off, getting a record player or turntable is an excellent way to enjoy analog music.
However, the world of audio is daunting – looking through pages of specs to find the right record player or turntable for you can be a real turnoff. Luckily, your friends at Rank-it.ca have decided we will help you in your search for the top-rated record players. We incorporated several record players and turntables across the spectrum of prices and models in this buying guide, so we feel whether you are a veteran cratedigger or new to spinning records, we most likely have a record player or turntable that is suited for you.
Below, you will the best record players and turntables available in Canada.
Our top picks
How to choose a record player
With so many record players on the market, trying to figure out what you need and what you can do without in a record player is important. Here are a few things you should consider before buying a record player or turntable, as the sound and utility each provide vary greatly.
- Price Range – Price is easily one of the most important factors to think about when looking for a record player or turntable. You can find cheap record players for bargain bin prices, or advanced HiFi setups for a near-fortune, and get what you pay for with each. There is nothing wrong with buying a cheap record player, as long as you know that you need to pay more to get the sound vinyl aficionados to salivate over.
- Functionality – There are several aspects of record players or turntables that can really be overlooked but provide the functionality you need. For example, think about how you like listening to music: do you want a powerful sound that can resonate throughout your house, or Bluetooth integration so the music can come with you from room to room through your headphones. Do you want a device that can play records, but also CDs, radio or even tapes? Or are you after pure HiFi vinyl sound?
- Sound – While this ties into functionality, the sound is one of the key factors for many when looking for a turntable. Cheap record players are going to sound cheap, any way you cut it. The rule of thumb is record players are more budget options that come with cheaper assemblies and cheaper speakers, so they should be avoided by audiophiles.
- Upgradability – Do you want a record player set up for you? Or do you like to get optimal results from your records, even if it means continuously looking for components to upgrade? There are many people that enjoy the endless customization some turntables provide, and some could not be bothered, and each kind of person is looking for a different record player.
Why trust us
With so many record players and turntables available on the market, taking the time to find the right one can be daunting. Even with years of music experience, scrolling through pages of similar record players to find the right one can be time-consuming.
We put 20 hours of research into compiling our list of the best record players and turntables in Canada, prioritizing verified online reviews and trusted audio reviews from sites including Wired.com and Crutchfield.ca.
Best high-end turntable
Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Espirit SB
The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Espirit SB is also the best turntable under $1000.
Pro-Ject has made the top of line turntables for audiophiles since vinyl supposedly died in the nineties. Now that vinyl is enjoying its second wind, Pro-Ject remains atop many audiophiles lists for record players of choice, and the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Espirit SB is an excellent choice for top-of-the-line audio.
Pro-Ject’s Debut Carbon line consistently sees upgrades and changes that keep it above most of its competition. This version adds electronic speed change (supporting all 3 major speeds record players need) and a heavy, non-resonant acrylic platter. The result is a staggering look and sound quality. With 33, 45 and 78 rpm speeds, this turntable can breathe new life into any record. With a high-end Ortofon 2M Red Phono Cartridge and carbon tube tonearm commonly found in much more expensive record players, this turntable means serious business.
Users are ecstatic with the sound quality the Debut Carbon Espirit SB provides. Users found set up was somewhat time-consuming and required expertise, so this is not a good choice for your first record player. While this is another record player that sacrifices details and features for sound quality, it is an incredible option for the higher end of available record players.
- Excellent attention to detail.
- Impressive platter, tonearm and stock cartridge.
- Three record speeds.
Best audiophile turntable
Fluance RT82 High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable
Modern Hifi turntables account for vibrations and other interference that can impact sound quality. If the most important thing in a turntable to you is smooth HiFi sound, and you can do without other features, you should consider a Fluance RT82 as your next Turntable.
Fluance has put spectacular attention to detail in the RT82, so you can enjoy your vinyl the way the artist intended. From the elliptical diamond stylus of Ortofon OM-10 cartridge to the S-shaped balanced tonearm, the Fluance RT82 tracks the grooves of the records cleanly for precise playback with a flat frequency response that mirrors what the artists heard from the monitors in the studio. There are no electronics along the signal path, and the plinth is solid wood, reducing any interference from electricity or vibrations while spinning. The result is perfectly clear, Hifi audio.
Fluance has put incredible detail into this turntable, but they have little in terms of other features. There is no Bluetooth compatibility, no USB, no built-in pre-amp. There is an auto-off feature to prevent you from wearing down the needle, but that’s where this turntables’ automatic functionality ends. But for the attention of detail and audiophile-tier sound quality you get with the RT82 at a sub-500 CAD price, you cannot expect to get everything.
Users marvelled at the sound quality and easiness of the set-up of the RT82. Users also liked that they could later upgrade the components, typically considering upgrading the cartridge and platter to that of the slightly more expensive RT85 by Fluance. Overall, the RT82 provides audiophile sound quality for a reasonable price.
- Staggering attention to detail for optimal sound.
- Reasonable price.
- Easily upgradable.
- Very minimal features.
Best turntable under $500
Audio-Technica ATLP120X USB Direct Drive Professional USB Turntable
If you are looking for an entry-level or inexpensive midrange record player, Audio Technica’s ATLP120X USB Direct-Drive Professional USB Turntable provides the affordable yet solid sound of the LP60X with more features to boot.
The ATLP120X provides specs designed for an improved listening experience than other Audio Technica turntables offered. With an AT-VM95E Dual Magnet phono cartridge, an S-shaped arm with damped lift control and a target light for cueing in the dark, the Audio-Technica ATLP120X provides better sound quality and listening experience.
The difference that the Audio-Technica ATLP120X USB over other record players of its price range is its tools for music creators, as well as music listeners. DJs will love features like pitch control, a super responsive drive motor and USB compatibility. This turntable also boasts Bluetooth compatibility.
Users were generally very happy with the features and sound quality that the ATLP120X provides in its price range. Some users found the build on the cheaper side, as the build is mostly plastic. Users also felt that the lack of height adjustment for the arm was a detractor as well. But overall, users find this a suitable turntable for beginners and more experienced music enthusiasts alike.
- Multiple features.
- Affordable price.
- Bluetooth and USB compatible.
- Plastic construction.
- Unable to adjust the height in the tonearm.
The best Bluetooth turntable
A good turntable combines classic analog sound quality with modern features to get the most out of your vinyl. In terms of a starter turntable with solid sound and top of the line features, we recommend the Sony PS-LX310BT.
This mid-range turntable provides a slew of features so you can enjoy your vinyl how you want. Firstly, this Sony turntable is automatic, allowing for easy stopping and starting where you left off mid-spin or taking the needle off the record once finished. We like these features with the Bluetooth capability, so you can enjoy your vinyl in any room in your house with either Bluetooth speakers or headphones, and do not need to rush back to the turntable when the album is done to prevent needle wear. The USB compatibility is handy for those who want to digitize their vinyl collection.
The Sony turntable boasts a range of features that ensure quality sound: the tonearm is sturdily designed for stable playback, the aluminum platter improves stability, and the dust cover helps maintain your records and turntable longer. Different settings for 7 inch/12 inch and 33 rpm/45 rpm mean this turntable is compatible with most records. Probably the most important aspect that defines this Sony turntable as a mid-range one is little room for customization or adjustment, and with no counterweight or anti-skating forces on the tonearm, you are limited to Sony’s specifications. From user experience, this turntable provides good sound quality, so upgrading is not needed, but this is not a turntable for tinkering audiophiles.
Users liked this record player’s automatic functionality, reserved style and sound quality, and overall did not have any issues with this model.
- Solid sound quality.
- Automatic functionality.
- Limited upgradability or adjustability.
Best budget turntable
Audio-Technica AT-LP60X-BK Fully Automatic Belt-Drive Stereo Turntable
The Audio-Technica AT-LP60X-BK Fully Automatic Belt-Drive Stereo Turntable is also our choice for the best beginner turntable.
If you are a fledgling record enthusiast, you do not need to settle on a lower-quality record player or turntable when the Audio-Technica AT LP60X is available. People tend to agree – this Audio-Technica turntable provides the best sound for its price range.
Audio-Technica delivers everything a turntable needs to deliver clear Hifi sound. A high-quality cartridge with a replaceable diamond stylus, counterweighted tonearm, and anti-resonance die-cast platter reduce and eliminate any unpleasant sounds cheaper record players make.
Users were generally ecstatic with the sound and build quality at this price point. While the base version does not have Bluetooth compatibility, Audio Technica also offers the AT-LP60XBT, which adds Bluetooth capability at a higher price. Whether or not you need the Bluetooth capability depends on your intended use, as connecting a pair of Bluetooth speakers or headphones will increase the utility greatly.
- Excellent starter HiFi turntable.
- Very affordable.
- The included RCA could be longer.
Best record player overall
Electrohome Kingston 7-in-1 Vintage Vinyl Record Player Stereo System
The Electrohome Kingston 7-in-1 Record Player is also our choice for the best multi-function record player.
If you are not just looking for a record player, but a stereo system that can play music well in any format, the Electrohome Kingston 7-in-1 has all the features you could want with the build quality that puts it above other multifunction setups.
With a 3-speed turntable, CD Player, AM/FM Radio, Bluetooth, Aux-in and USB, the Electrohome does a lot. With so many cheap all-in-one record players on the market, it is not enough to do a lot of things – the difference is to do a lot of things well.
While the turntable assembly is comparable to many of the cheaper record players – with a lightweight plastic platter, basic tonearm, and no real tracking weight adjustments – where this record player stands above the others is the speakers. With 4 quality front-facing speakers enclosed with an acoustically tuned cabinet, the Electrohome provides adequate volume with bass that other record players cannot replicate.
The Electrohome provides USB compatibility for playback and recording capabilities to digitize your music. Bluetooth capability allows you to enjoy the room-filling sound from any type of format.
Users were generally happy with the sound quality and price of this machine. Users found that the machine is adequate at playing vinyl, but some wish it was better in this regard specifically. However, for an all-in-one device, the Electrohome provides built quality and sound that we find puts it above the others.
- Better than most all-in-one devices.
- Gorgeous designs.
- On the larger side.
Best small record player
VInYL MUSIC ON Turntable Record Player with Horn Speaker
Some people want a record player and vinyl collection because they are cool – and I agree, they are. If you want a conversation piece and a record player that is vintage-inspired and visually striking, we recommend the VInYL MUSIC ON Turntable Record Player with Horn Speaker for its unique design.
Recalling the gramophones of the past, the VInYL MUSIC ON player is unique with a decent sized horn speaker that takes up a minimal footprint. This time, with a modern twist – Bluetooth receiver functionality lets you play more than just records. If the speaker is not enough, you can connect speakers through the 3.5mm output. The record player can either be powered by a USB adaptor or AA batteries, perfect for enjoying your vinyl outside or on your patio.
Users were mixed on the sound quality: some users loved the vintage, tinny sound the speaker horn provides, but ultimately, the sound quality is quieter and has minimal bass. Users had some success with hooking the device through speakers but recommended turning the horn down to the minimal setting, as having both on will produce conflicting sounds.
Users found that they were dusting this record player more frequently than other record players as there is no dust protection. However, users seemed generally happy with this record player for its design and affordable price. Like other affordable record players, users found the needle poor quality and recommended upgrading this component as the stock needle wore quickly which could lead to damaged records.
- Super affordable.
- USB or battery powered for versatility.
- Small footprint.
- The sound quality is tinny and quiet.
- Poor quality needle wears quickly.
Best record player under $100
1 BY ONE Belt-Drive 3-Speed Stereo Record Player
Many inexpensive record players sacrifice sound to ensure the record player is affordable. This might turn new users off of the format, but not all entry-level record players struggle. For example, the 1 BY ONE Belt-Drive 3-Speed Stereo Record Player is an affordable option that users found sounded better than record players in its price range.
The 1 BY ONE has some standard features that every beginner record player should have. Some of the more notable features include 3 speeds so you to play any format of records without breaking the bank, USB compatibility allows you to use the 1 BY ONE Record player as a speaker or to transfer your vinyl audio into MP3 formats, and RCA outputs allow you to hook up better speakers if you desire.
Users like the wooden appearance of this record player and were generally happy with the sound quality of this machine, but noticed some buzzing at higher volumes. While the record player can plug into better speakers, users noticed that even at its’ lowest setting, the built-in speakers will still play. Users who went from other affordable record players like Crosley to this model noted the improvement of sound.
The tracking force of this record player is on the heavy side, so it can wear down records faster. However, as a beginner record player, the 1 BY ONE overall delivers in settings, sound quality and price.
- Decent sound quality.
- Super affordable.
- Heavy tracking force (it can wear down records quickly.)
- No Bluetooth.
- No aux for quieter setups.
Best portable record player
Victrola Vintage 3-Speed Bluetooth Suitcase Record Player
Suitcase style record players have become quite popular (again) over the past 10 years or so, for the fact that they are small, portable and cheap. If you are looking for a budget suitcase-style record player, we recommend the Victrola Vintage 3-Speed Bluetooth Suitcase Record Player for the machine’s affordability and easiness to use.
The Victrola has many built-in features that make it a great all-in-one first record player. With three speeds (33 1/3, 45 and 78 RPM), the Victrola is compatible with all the major vinyl formats. This Victrola record player is also compatible with modern music technologies, with Bluetooth and RCA auxiliary jack, but users reported that the Bluetooth in this system is limited to receiving audio, and cannot play records through Bluetooth speakers.
The Victrola also has 20 distinct styles, so you can personalize your record player. Design-wise, the Victrola is aesthetically pleasing and can fold up when not in use to save space or so you can bring it along with you and enjoy records with your friends.
The Victrola is certainly one of the least expensive options on this list which alone makes it perfect for many. Many users are happy to find a budget record player that looks great in their home. However, corners have been cut and the stock speakers are of poor quality. Users found the sound flat and the stock parts, like the needle and cartridge, underperforming and recommended changing these parts. Users particularly had issues with the stock needle, which is very thin and prone to skipping and can potentially damage records.
- Super affordable.
- Chic aesthetic.
- 20 different styles.
- Lower end sound quality.
- Poor quality needle.
How we picked the best record players and turntables
For this buying guide, we researched record players and turntables that only had a 4-star rating or higher online. We focused on record players and turntables over a variety of price ranges, with different specs and listening experiences, so everyone in Canada can find a record player that is up to their alley and within their price range. We found that more casual music listeners who want to dip their toes into analog music would be happier with a record player, while more enthused music listeners would like a quality turntable that they can pair with their own speaker. Overall, record players provided more price and utility while turntables produced better sounding results.
Frequent record player questions
What is a record player?
A record player is an all-in-one device that allows you to listen to vinyl records as its main utility. A record player includes a turntable and built-in speakers.
What is a turntable used for?
A turntable is used to read the sonic information that is kept in a record’s grooves and turn it into music. Turntables can be found in record players or be stand-alone units that can then be paired with amps and speakers.
How to use a record player?
It is important to note all record players are not the same, so it is recommended you read and understand your record player’s instructions before playing music. When you go to use a record player, you may need to lift or remove any dust covers that you have for your record player. Place the record onto the platter of the record so the spindle in the centre of the record player goes through the hole in the middle of the record. You may need to then engage the motor that spins the platter, either through a switch located on the record player or on automatic models, the motor will engage as the needle is moved towards the record. Lift the needle arm of the record player up and move it towards the edge of the spinning record. Then, as your record spins, lower the needle onto the outer grooves of the record. You should be met with music after a moment.
Is a record player worth it?
This depends on how you like to consume music. Streaming services reign supreme in the music listening world today due to their convenience and their cheapness. However, if you love listening to music at home, enjoy collecting music or have access to a collection of vinyl records, a record player would probably be something you enjoy. The main detractors from records today are their size, which takes up lots of space in the home and cannot be enjoyed on the go, and the price of record players and vinyl records.
Turntable vs record player: What’s the difference?
A turntable is a component in a record player but can also be a stand-alone unit as well. A turntable holds records on them and spins them. A record player is a turntable with built-in speakers and an amplifier.
What is considered the best turntable of all time?
There are a few retro turntables that have left a long-lasting legacy, including the Linn LP 12 and Technics SP -1200, however, this is due to these turntables being influential, and record players only get better with the technology.
When was the record player invented?
While the technology has evolved drastically with the times, Thomas Edison’s phonograph invented in 1877 was the first technology that produced sound from the movement of a stylus through a grooved surface.
How much should I spend on a record player?
It depends on what kind of experience you are looking for. Record players can be had for cheap, but there are often corners cut in the sound quality and record tracking, leading to less-than-optimal experiences. If you are looking to spin records casually and are not worried about sound quality or wear on your vintage records, these record players suffice. If you are looking to get the most out of your records, however, you can expect to spend up to $500 for a quality, HiFi turntable and more for the speakers and additional add-ons, if you so wish.
What’s the point of a Bluetooth record player?
Bluetooth record players can hook up to Bluetooth speakers or headphones wirelessly, helping you reduce tangled cables or enjoying your records to yourself without annoying your roommates. Whereas Bluetooth turntables can transmit Bluetooth signal to Bluetooth speakers, soundbars or headphones so you can enjoy vinyl audio wherever in your house.
What are the dos and don’ts of record players?
Record players ensure careful use and protection to ensure longevity and quality. There are many things to keep in mind with records and record players, including:
Do: Keep the dust cover down when not in use. Dust regularly as dust can cause hissing and crackles in your music playing experience. Keep your record player on a sturdy surface away from vibrations. Treat your records carefully and only touch them by their sides. Store your records sideways. Always place your records back into their sleeves when done.
Don’t: Keep your record player spinning (unless you have a record player with auto-stop). Stack your records. Leave your records lying around.
Where to buy a record player in Canada?
I would recommend you look to buy your record player from a local audio store, or a trusted retailer online from Amazon or other sites. The problem with buying record players from stores like Sunrise Records and Urban Outfitters is that these stores have a minimal selection of mostly carry cheaply made record player brands like Victrola and Crosley, which provide substandard sound and can wear your records down much quicker than premium records players.
Which albums are ideal for vinyl?
Audiophiles and vinyl aficionados find that older records produced with analog equipment translate wonderfully to vinyl, however, the technology that converts digital media to vinyl is getting better and you can enjoy any record on vinyl. Jazz, classical and older music seem to work best with most vinyl systems, where bass-heavy music like hip hop can lose some of its’ audio character on cheaper systems.
Do record players sound better? Do vinyl records sound better than CDs?
The question of which format sounds better is subjective and down to personal preference. However, you probably have heard the sentiment “vinyl sounds better” before. To a non-audiophile, the difference between the formats can be summed up as vinyl are analog and CD’s are digital. Records typically have a warmer sound as a result of analog recording technology used in older recordings and the structure of the record itself. CD’s are an entirely digital format are typically cleaner with none of the record hiss and pops but loses some of the warmth analog equipment provides.
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