Planar 2 (2016)
We test hundreds of audio products every year to make sure you know what’s worth buying and what’s not. Our record player tests consider everything from sound quality to how easy a model is to set up and use, so you know what to expect.
In this guide we compare the most popular record player brands, such as Crosley, GPO and ION, and reveal if they're worth buying based on our exhaustive tests.
In the tables below, we reveal the average test scores for the best and worst record player brands. You'll be able to see at a glance if they're worth buying and how they scored in comparison to other brands we tested. Scroll further for more information on individual brands.
Average test score
This brand is a real hi-fi purist and prides itself on manufacturing its turntables to exacting standards. We've found that its products match up to the hype when we've tested them in our lab. This brand has achieved the two best scores we've seen.
This electronics brand has made turntables for decades, but has given new focus to them since the vinyl revival. It makes a range of models, from relatively cheap entry-level players to expensive ones that can convert your vinyl into high-quality digital files. Whichever you choose, a player from this brand is likely to serve you well.
This is another specialist audio brand that's been around for a long time. It makes stylish turntables to suit a range of needs, including one model that even has a Bluetooth connection for streaming your vinyl to a wireless speaker. With one Best Buy and two other good scores, this brand is a good bet.
Average test score
All but one of the models we've tested from this brand are Don't Buys and that's why the average test score is a seriously underwhelming 33%. The models we tested gave a lacklustre performance and had an accompanying background hiss that was off-putting. In fact, it's two of this brand's models that prop up our all-time results table, both scoring a dismal 24%.
The top-scoring record players from this brand only just avoided being Don't Buys, both scoring 41%. We were disappointed with this brand's performance, finding that the sound was not up to scratch and far worse than our Best Buys, which will all extract far more from your records.
Choosing a record player from this brand means you're very likely to be choosing a Don't Buy. Available at knock-down prices on the high street, it might look like you're getting a bargain but our expert listeners would have to disagree. Even the best-looking retro-styled models won't give you the sound your favourite albums deserve.
Nearly half the models we tested from this brand fell into our Don't Buy range, which is a disappointing result. Again, for such a popular brand the sound quality was poor, and we felt you could get more for your money by looking elsewhere. Other brands are a little more expensive but score much better in our tests.
Know which record player brand you want? Use the links to go straight to our reviews and find your ideal model.
For a more detailed description of popular record players, see the brand descriptions below.
Thanks to their popularity, Crosley record players are being sold by a growing number of retailers, from Currys to Urban Outfitters. It clearly has a passion for all things retro - Crosley provides many affordable replicas of classic players of yesteryear (think Technics, Dansette and more). Aiming to appeal to a range of budgets, tastes and ages, the latest Crosley turntables incorporate technology such as iPod docks, MP3 capabilities and even Bluetooth.
UK brand Rega has been manufacturing turntables in Essex since 1973. Its products are usually sold in specialist hi-fi stores such as Richer Sounds. Rega doesn't spend any money on advertising, claiming that it spends the money on research and development instead. As such, Rega fans praise its turntables for their high-precision manufacturing and build quality. Rega players tend not to include any extra features, such as automatic start/stop or USB outputs for making digital copies of your records.
GPO record players may have caught your eye if you’re looking to have fun with your old vinyls, transfer your record collection to a USB stick, or just want to see whether the modern vinyl scene is for you. Like Crosley, GPO has tapped into the trend for record player nostalgia, and its record players are a mix of retro designs and modern detail that appeal to both young and old.
TEAC is a Japanese audio brand that has been in business since the 1950s. Famous for its tape machines, it also has considerable experience in making turntables. Its products are aimed at a slightly more serious hi-fi market than the budget brands. However, unlike other hi-fi brands it's not afraid to embrace the latest technology either. TEAC makes a few turntables that include digital USB outputs for transferring your vinyl onto a computer.
Ion is a comparatively new brand, having only been created in 2003. Its vision is to bring the classic and the cutting edge together, and to this end it has launched a series of USB turntables, helping vinyl enthusiasts convert their records into digital formats. Along with the reasonable prices, this has made Ion a popular choice among those looking for a new record player.
Bush is a classic name in British audio, but these days it focuses exclusively on the budget end of the market. Bush has capitalised on the recent surge in interest in vinyl by selling record players very cheaply. Retro-styled models are particularly popular on the high street, appealing to the fashion-conscious vinyl fans who are keen to bring back the aesthetics of yesteryear.
This Japanese electronics giant is a true household name. Of course, turntables represent only a small share of the products Sony produces, but it does produce some models aimed at budget and high-end buyers. Its budget offering gives you automatic start/stop and a USB output for a reasonable price. For those who want to spend a little more, you can buy a turntable with a high-resolution digital output that Sony claims can transfer your vinyl into digital music files in higher-than-CD quality.