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15 April 2021

Audio-Technica vs ProJect record players: which are the best?

We set two of the most popular names in turntables against each other with our expert lab testing to reveal who really comes out on top
Oliver Trebilcock

Audio-Technica is a well-established name in turntables, and even supplies cartridges that house the needle for many rival brands. So are its record players clear winners or is ProJect, the newer kid in town, giving it a run for its money with its throwback approaches and innovative designs?

Our expert lab tests and professional listening panel reveal which of these popular brands has the winning formula, to help you decide where to invest your money.

Our reviews of the best record players and turntables reveal the best on test from all the top brands.

Audio-Technica vs ProJect turntables: which are the best?

Audio-Technica and ProJect turntables have quite different audiences, so your choice will be partly down to the turntable experience you’re after. 

Audio-Technica models tend to have a more automated, hands-off approach (at least by turntable standards), while ProJect models usually have back-to-basics appeal for those who revel in doing it all by hand.

You will find models from both brands that diverge from these norms. For example, both have a number of manual-operation models in their ranges, but both also have automatic models for those who don’t want to move the tonearm themselves all the time and just want to focus on the music. 

Audio-Technica turntables

Audio-Technica turntables are often known for:

  • Being beginner-friendly and easy to use, usually with a knob to change the record speed
  • A wider variety of features and options available
  • Easier setup, with preamps included (so you can connect directly to an amp and speakers)
  • Cheaper entry prices
  • Cartridges (which contains the needle) are made in-house; many rivals, including ProJect, use respected Danish brand Ortofon’s cartridges. 

ProJect turntables

Meanwhile ProJect turntables typically feature:

  • More manual, old-school designs – usually you have to lift the platter to move the belt to change record speeds (similar to rival specialist brand Rega)
  • High build quality
  • A more challenging set-up for beginners, with a steeper learning curve
  • More reliance on your dealer for maintenance.

Which brand scores better in our tests?

Both ProJect and Audio-Technica have exceptional turntables in their ranges, but not all their models are equally good. We've analysed the scores of all the ProJect and Audio-Technica models we've tested to date, to highlight the best, worst and average scores for each brand.

On average, as our chart shows, the two brands are pretty evenly matched, with an average test score of 64% apiece. However, one brand is more dependable and performs more consistently in our tests without ever truly dazzling, while the other is a bit more hit and miss – it has some of the best-scoring, but also some of the worst-scoring, turntables.

Below the chart, we've picked out the best turntables from each brand, whether you’re looking for a bargain buy or something more high-end.

Which? members can log in to see which brand has the best and worst-scoring turntables. If you’re not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access.

Audio-Technica vs ProJect test scores

Scores correct as of April 2021.

Best cheap Audio-Technica and ProJect turntables

If anyone says you need to spend many hundreds of pounds to get a decent turntable, don’t believe them. Even the exacting experts on our listening panel, who could spot a slight defect in their sleep, have been exceptionally impressed with some models costing £200 or less.

Manufacturers often put a great deal of effort into their high-selling entry-level models: you’ll be surprised at how well a small number perform in our lab – although you certainly need to choose with great care. 

We’ve found cheap turntables from some other brands that are so awful your records will sound warped even when they’re pristine. And our experts found even some Audio-Technica and ProJect models are such a pain to use that they take all the joy out of the vinyl experience, even for more experienced record-player owners.

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72%
Best Buy
£179.00
Reviewed

Despite its attractively low price, the manufacturer boldly claims this is an ‘audiophile’ turntable. In recent years, it’s had the odd pop at manufacturers offering 'plastic' players with 'low quality and cheap prices'. It claims the turntable’s streamlined design allows it to maintain high quality and give customers the very best quality sound. And it certainly has delivered – it may be no-frills, but its sound quality is up there with the very best around, and the build quality’s exceptional too.

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62%
Great value
£119.00
Reviewed

It can be surprising how many features you can get at an affordable price. This fully automatic player has a built-in preamp so you can connect it straight to an amplifier, as well as a USB socket you can plug into your computer to convert your vinyl collection into digital music files. Build quality isn’t up there with premium players and advanced users might expect even more, but it’s a great-sounding player and one of the most impressive packages for the price.

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62%
Great value
£169.99
Reviewed

If you’re new to turntables, cost does not need to be a barrier to entry. There aren’t many decent players around the £150 mark, but this is one of them. It’s a fully automatic player aimed at modern buyers who don’t have a hi-fi setup at home and would like the convenience of Bluetooth to connect their turntable directly to Bluetooth speakers. It’s not quite up there with our Best Buy models, but sound is clear, bright and entertaining, with a nice degree of energy and depth.

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Pricing and recommendations correct as of April 2021.

Best higher-end Audio-Technica and ProJect turntables

It’s possible to spend many hundreds (if not thousands) of pounds on a top-of-the-line record player, but our tests show that you don't need to up your budget too much to improve your chances of getting an excellent turntable. In fact, our expert listeners have been disappointed by many costlier models not living up to the sound quality their specifications promise.

More important than spending more is spending well. We test models costing up to around £650, but we’ve found a handful of rare gems that offer exceptional sound for only a little more than £200. Pay a bit more and you’ll get extra features and adjustment options, plus better build quality.

Below we’ve selected models costing £200 plus that impressed us with their range of features or razor-sharp sound quality.

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70%
Best Buy
£240.00
Reviewed

This manual turntable is claimed to be easy to use. It comes pre-adjusted, with the aim of easy setup and great sound right out of the box. And it certainly delivers: there's a nice balance between treble and bass, it’s easy to use and can digitise your records to save on your computer. Plus it has a built-in preamp and is easy to clean. For the price it’s well worth the money.

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68%
£349.00
Reviewed

This model comes from one of the brand’s long-running lines of turntable, and its simple and elegant design has continued the winning formula well received by vinyl fans. It’s a no-frills model that aims to maximise sound quality. It’s designed to minimise unwanted vibrations as much as possible, using rigid MDF for the base with anti-vibration feet underneath. Our expert listening panel give it the thumbs up – fans get the pure sound they’re after.

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67%
£219.00
Reviewed

This model proves stylish looks and good sound quality don’t have to cost the earth. It’s a fully manual player with a particularly easy-to-use design. It has a beautiful, sturdy MDF plinth with teak-effect veneer finish and aluminium tonearm, built-in preamp and sound has nice clarity and detail. It’s suitable for advanced users too, with plenty of tinkering options and you can even change the cartridge (which houses the needle) yourself.

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66%
£245.00
Reviewed

This turntable means business, with direct-drive operation allowing you to stop and start your records instantly, DJ-style. Plus, rare for higher-end turntables (those with moving-magnet cartridges) it supports all three record speeds including the rarer 78rpm records (78rpm stylus sold separately). Sound quality is very good, with a nice level of detail to the sound and strong stereo effect, although as is common with USB turntables, digital recordings to your computer don’t sound quite as good. It’s easy to use, with lots of advanced features, too.

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64%
£449.00
Reviewed

This player is packed with features, including a built-in preamp and Bluetooth, so you can connect it directly to Bluetooth speakers. The 'old but new' design gives it wide appeal and it’s suitable for beginners and long-time listeners alike. Sound quality is top-notch, it looks great, and can be purchased with speakers as well – in which case you simply plug them into the back of the turntable.

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Overpriced Audio-Technica and ProJect turntables

Whatever the price range you’re considering, you should check our full reviews to make sure you spend your money wisely – but this is even more the case if you're thinking of shelling out more than £500.

Not all features will reap equal rewards, and some can be very costly for very slight gain. Alongside general build quality, it’s often claimed improvements to sound quality (rather than extra functionality such as USB support) where the big cost increases lie.

Whether it’s direct-drive operation without a belt, carbon fibre tonearms or a solid wood plinth, manufacturers will state they’ve used all sorts of methods to make their turntable sound as perfect as possible.

However, while build quality certainly tends to improve substantially as you spend more, our lab professionals find time and again that supposedly higher-end turntables often offer little gain over their cheaper counterparts in terms of sound quality.

Alongside this, we’ve also found Audio-Technica and ProJect turntables that are very difficult to set up and others with substantial technical issues that mean your records don’t sound how they should.

We've pulled out one example of a disappointing model that we don't think is worth the high price, below; in our tests, its sound quality was outclassed by standout models a fraction of its price.

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59%
£699.00
Reviewed

It may look like an obvious style-over-substance option at first look, but the near-£600 price point certainly points to more than mere retro turntable appeal. This turntable aims to break the mould with innovative design, but it’s unfortunately too much of a compromise for high-end buyers. It’s difficult to set tracking weight on the tonearm accurately, the sound isn’t outstanding and it’s surprisingly light on features. Plus its design makes for time-consuming cleaning to protect those prized records.

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Are other record player brands worth considering?

ProJect and Audio-Technica record players aren’t the only turntable brands worth considering. Rival brands include Sony, Rega, Teac, GPO, Ion, Crosley, Bush, Denon, Lenco, Yamaha, Pioneer and Roberts, and our top Best Buy turntables come from a wide range of record player brands.

Make sure you don’t miss out on an excellent player by consulting our very best recommendations in our expert top USB turntables and best cheap turntables guides.


View all Record players and turntables