Audio-Technica vs ProJect record players: which are the best?
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.
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 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.
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 )
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 come from a wide range of record player brands.