Best cheap record players and turntables for 2021
Cheap doesn’t necessarily mean you have to compromise on quality. We’ve discovered that won't cost thousands, or even hundreds, of pounds. In fact, the test results below show you great record players for around £200 and even less.
Although the price may be small, they’re all easy to use and produce good sound quality, so listening to your records will be a delight rather than disappointing.
But, beware, we've tested plenty of cheap that don't live up to these bargain models. Pick the wrong one and you'll be fumbling around to start your records, before being subjected to horrible sound. We've rounded up the and turntables we've tested too.
Pricing and recommendations correct as of January 2021.
And here are the record players and turntables to avoid
Some of the record players and turntables that pass through our test lab are nothing short of dreadful. We've seen models with sound quality so bad your records will sound like they're being played down a dodgy telephone line.
While price is of course no guarantee of quality, with record players and turntables it's unfortunately often the cheapest models that are the worst made.
To avoid making a real error with your next purchase, make sure you steer clear of the models below.
Are record players with built-in speakers any good?
Many of the cheapest record players you can buy come with built-in speakers. In theory this sounds great - you don't even need to plug them into a hi-fi to start enjoying your records. However, having speakers built in to a portable record player is actually a pretty bad idea for sound quality.
Record players work by dragging a stylus (commonly called a needle) through a groove in the record. Tiny vibrations in the groove are turned into an electrical signal by the stylus. This powers the music you hear through the speakers. The stylus has to be very sensitive to pick up these tiny vibrations - the best turntables are very good at stopping external vibrations from reaching the stylus or they'll ruin the signal. By putting built-in speakers in record players, manufacturers are introducing lots of unwanted vibrations.
This also means that built-in speakers can never be very loud. If they vibrated too much, they'd run the risk of causing the stylus to jump right out of the groove. Not only are built-in speakers generally bad for sound quality, you generally can't even turn them up to a volume you'd want to listen at anyway.
How does Which? test record players and turntables?
Our go further than those carried out by other organisations and, because Which? is independent and doesn't accept advertising or freebies, you can trust our reviews to give you the full, honest and impartial truth about a product.
We use an expert listening panel to review the big brand record players and because we’re independent we only work for you, the customer, so you know our recommendations are only influenced by our test results.