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12 high-end turntables tested: which ones are Best Buys?

We’ve expanded our testing to premium turntables costing £300-650 for the first time, including the famous Rega Planar 3 and Pro-Ject models

High-end turntables are for those who aren’t just satisfied with excellent sound quality, but want a superior build that will last for years, too. We’ve tested models from all the leading manufacturers in this area, including Elipson, NAD, Pro-Ject, Rega, Teac, and Thorens, to find the very best premium models on the market.

This is the biggest month at our turntables lab since we re-launched our testing following the vinyl revival, as we’ve reviewed the most expensive models we’ve tested in years.

Not only are there impressive new premium Best Buys, but there are surprises in store as well, with some of the most popular turntables failing to earn top marks from our expert listening panel of music industry professionals. With decades of experience between them, gold connections, carbon fibre tonearms and brand power won’t sway them: all they care about is sound quality.

So which premium turntables have outperformed the rest? We reveal all through the links below.

Best Buy record players and turntables – head straight to our recommendations at a range of price points.

Spending more doesn’t guarantee better sound quality

Our premium turntable tests clearly expose that paying more money for your turntable doesn’t guarantee better sound quality – and we’ve found it doesn’t even always promise superior build quality either.

Of the 12 models we tested this month, some of the most expensive got the lowest scores and some of the cheapest performed as well as models twice their price. So you can’t guarantee that just because you’re spending more you’re getting a better deal – our reviews will help you avoid an expensive mistake.

The graph below shows the spread of scores from the 12 premium turntables we’ve tested, with prices rounded to the nearest £100 – there are some shocks with expensive models getting low scores.

Premium turntables tested

Whether you’re looking for a traditional record player, a modern manual-operation deck, one with automatic operation or a feature-packed one you can pair with your wireless speakers or use to digitise your vinyl to your computer, we’ve tested record players and turntables of all shapes and sizes to find the ideal model for you. We’ve selected seven below, and there are links to even more at the bottom of the page.

Looking for all the premium turntables costing more than £300 we’ve tested? See our superior build quality high-end turntable reviews.

Rega Planar 3 with Elys 2, £649

One of the most high-profile turntables on the market, the Rega Planar 3 is the flagship model of British turntable specialist Rega, based in Southend-on-Sea. A fully manual-operation turntable, Rega’s philosophy is to strip everything back for a laser-like focus on sound quality. Most of its competitors use respected Danish Ortofon cartridges (which touch the record), but Rega manufactures its own for perfect compatibility, with the Rega Planar 3 being paired with its Rega Elys 2 cartridge.

But does the hype meet the reality? Our music industry professionals put it to the test in our Rega Planar 3 with Elys 2 review.

Pro-Ject RPM3 Carbon, £599

It’s no surprise that Pro-Ject is the most popular turntable manufacturer when it makes innovative, fun designs such as this, while maintaining focus on sound quality. This fully manual turntable with a compact design would make a stylish addition to your home, and is also packed with the latest technologies, including a carbon fibre tonearm.

Can Pro-Ject match the very best with this unique design? We put it through its paces in our comprehensive Pro-Ject RPM3 Carbon review.

Teac TN-420 (Tie Dye), £300

There can often be a sharp divide between built-in speaker turntables with distinctive retro designs from manufacturers like GPO and Crosley, and the more subdued looks of higher-end separate speaker turntables. Not anymore. If you’re looking for a turntable with a distinct sense of style, the Teac Tie Dye delivers, and it isn’t short of features either, with USB support allowing you to digitise your vinyl collection to your computer, and it differs from most on this list by using a respected Audio-Technica cartridge (that touches the record).

See whether it matches the style in our extensive Teac TN-420 (Tie Dye) review.

Thorens TD 190-2, £439

People buy premium turntables not just for excellent sound, but for superior build quality that will last for years, and the Swiss-made Thorens TD 190-2 looks like it will deliver on that grandly. It’s rare to see fully automatic turntables in this price range as well, so if you want to simply focus on your music and let your turntable play, this seems the perfect model for you. It’s also unique on this list in being able to play the rarer 78rpm speed records.

See whether this turntable impressed us in our Thorens TD 190-2 review.

Elipson Omega 100 RIAA BT, £499

The French hi-fi specialist began making turntables for consumers in 2014 and could now be considered the Rega of France. The Elipson Omega 100 RIAA BT takes a different approach to Rega however. It’s not short on features, and it’s rare in its price range for supporting USB to digitise your vinyl to your computer. Plus, with the convenience of Bluetooth, you can easily connect the turntable to Bluetooth wireless speakers as well as traditional hi-fi ones.

But can Elipson match Rega on sound? Find out in our Elipson Omega 100 RIAA BT review.

Pro-Ject Juke Box E, £369

Are you looking for an all-in-one turntable that just requires plugging speakers in, without having to worry about amplifiers or other things you might need? Pro-Ject’s wide range of turntables has you covered with the Pro-Ject Juke Box E. Not only does it have a preamp built in to directly power your speakers, and Bluetooth so you can easily connect to modern Bluetooth wireless speakers, it can also act as the central hub for your music, with a screen to guide you through its various modes and volume controls as well.

Like the idea of having everything in one place, with a great-looking turntable as well? See how it performs in our Pro-Ject Juke Box E review.

NAD C 558, £449

Highly stylish and sophisticated, the NAD C 558 from Canadian firm NAD, which has British origins, is a fully manual turntable designed for experts, with a fully glass platter. Those familiar to operating Rega and Pro-Ject turntables will feel right at home.

Find out whether this is the ideal turntable upgrade for you in our definitive NAD C 558 review.

Even more premium turntables tested

We’ve reviewed so many premium turntables we don’t have space to cover all of them in detail here.

The Rega Planar 1 Plus aims to give beginner and mainstream audiences a first step into the respected Rega range of turntables with a built-in preamp so you can connect the turntable directly to your speakers. The Pro-Ject 1 Xpression Carbon UKX aims to rival the Rega Planar 3 with the addition of a carbon fibre tonearm. The Pro-Ject RPM1 Carbon sports the same iconic design as the RPM1, but at a much lower entry-level cost. And the Pro-Ject Debut III S Audiophile aims to bring high-quality sound to mainstream audiophile audiences.

Finally, we’ve also reviewed the Teac TN-200, which is a great money-saving choice if you already have a high-quality cartridge at home – creating a premium-quality turntable at a fraction of the cost.

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