Trying to find some of the best automatic turntables in the market today? Sick and tired of the inconvenience of your manual turntable?
Then you are in the right place, for this is precisely what we will be exploring for you in this here article!
What You Need to Know
In terms of automation, there are three main types of turntables that most may encounter and that are likely to fall under.
There is the manual turntable which boasts no automation whatsoever. Many believe that a manual turntable can boast improved sound quality for your vinyl records. There is no extra sound of inner machinery getting in the way of playback.
Then, there is the semi-automatic turntable. Semi-automatic turntables attempt to strike a healthy middle ground between the manual and the automatic by automating only one of the two parts of the turntable: either the placing of the needle onto the record or the taking off of it once the record is over.
Finally, there is the automatic turntable. A fully automatic turntable is one that seeks to automate both the placing of the needle onto the record and its removal once the record is done. Constructed for convenience, automatic turntables are often equipped with a built-in phono preamp.
Your choice of the turntable will be based on your own experience and your willingness to try something new. Once you have mastered the manual, many purport that there is no going back. But the sheer convenience offered by the automatic is hard to ignore.
1. Audio-Technica AT-LP3BK (Best Beginner)
Audio-Technica has never let its customers down. Since the very inception of the brand, the aim has been to provide its customer base with an exemplary performance that is affordable and ready to go.
This turntable is no exception, offering convenience, though never at the cost of high-fidelity audio playback. The built-in preamp is, therefore, more than equipped to cope with whatever you throw at it. Feeding it all through that nostalgic lens and warm sound that your vinyl collection needs.
The AT-LP3BK is versatile but also is not afraid to pick sides on, say, the debate between the moving coil and the moving magnet cartridge. Placing its allegiance firmly in the latter category, it takes no shame in doing so. In fact, Audio-Technica initially made its name as a cartridge manufacturer. Today it is still renowned for the pristine quality of its cartridges. Some even fetch unholy sums of money like the AT-ART 1000!
As with many more of its products, Audio-Technica is proud to let the user do the choosing too. Thus, if the cartridge that comes built-in is not to your liking, then you can easily replace it with something that is. As aforementioned, Audio-Technica really is a leader in the field of cartridges. So you will not be at a loss for choice for world-class turntable cartridges.
As is more often the norm, this model offers only two speeds of playback. The more popular 33 1/3 rpm and 45 rpm vinyl record types. Though this is countered by the addition of the anti-skate control. This is something not altogether present on many automatic turntables in this price range and could save you a bunch of money in the long run by not ruining your records.
- Ready to play out of the box. A quick and easy setup means that even the most inexperienced will be able to listen to their favorite records straight away.
- The tonearm is well-balanced and features an anti-skate control that is not to be taken for granted in this price range.
- Though perfectly capable on its own, the cartridge can also be replaced with either a moving magnet cartridge or a moving coil cartridge. Both of which Audio-Technica offers in many versions at varying prices.
- The construction is clearly high-quality, showing that they spared no length in bringing a quality product to the affordable turntable market.
- Other than perhaps the build quality of the buttons, there is little to complain about here.
2. Denon DP-300F (Best Classic)
With over a hundred years of history under its belt, Denon is a business with a solid reputation. It began producing its own turntables and tonearms as early as the 1930s! This turntable right here just happens to be one of their most popular products. It strikes a perfect blend between price and quality with a side of fully automatic operation.
As fully automatic turntables, the Denon DP-300F really is one to write home about. This is a record player that is belt-driven and fully automated by a reliable DC servo motor that can rotate at 33 1/3 and 45 rpm.
The pre-installed tonearm and moving magnet cartridge, alongside the upgradable headshell, seal the deal. They elevate this turntable to a plinth to which everyone ought to pay attention.
There is an integrated equalizer that can be edited. Though, in my experience, the sound is more than big enough straight out of the box.
- There is a perfect merging of price and quality, of value and performance.
- Using this turntable is about as easy as plugging and pressing play straight out of the box.
- Playback supports just about any genre and style of music you can think of. The preamp and cartridge are well-equipped.
- The design and craftsmanship are something to admire, too, with clear attention to detail having been invested in it.
- The phono stage is exemplary. But there is no option to use an external preamp if that is more your thing.
- For all the robustness of the craftsmanship, it is inherently made from plastic and so can feel quite flimsy.
- The tonearm can sometimes get stuck at the end, confused and unaware that the record has ended.
3. Dual CS 429 (Best Deluxe)
Dual also has quite a history of audiophilia, having been around since the year 1900. Those who grew up collecting records in the 70s harbor a fond nostalgia for the brand. Though this would be to neglect the fact that it continues to excel in the 21st century. By designing, manufacturing, and selling some of the most unique and well-equipped turntables of our times, they have stayed buoyant.
This turntable, in particular, seeks to strike a balance between those working on a budget and the more discerning listeners. Despite being a plug-and-play kind of model, there is plenty of room for adjustment and customization.
The tonearm, for example, is adjustable with a replaceable headshell that encourages users to upgrade the cartridge based on their own preferences. This is unlikely to be a possibility, though, as the Ortofon 2M Red cartridge that comes attached is highly capable. Delivering the kind of things that cheaper cartridges are likely to miss – smoothness, warmth, dynamics, and above all, transparency – these cartridges are not to be missed.
This is certainly the most expensive turntable listed here. Though it is an expense that you can really feel in the build quality and attention to detail that has gone into each facet.
- The sound response and playback are pretty exemplary for an automatic turntable. You are scarcely going to find a better-equipped automatic turntable anywhere else without forking out a serious amount more cash.
- Comes equipped with a high-end cartridge. One that is going to be able to deliver just about every facet of the music that you greet it with.
- The construction and build quality make the expense of this turntable feel more than understandable.
- This is a rather expensive model, especially for those looking for something that is a little more friendly to beginners. But you are paying for the best.
4. Audio-Technica AT-LP60X (Best Budget)
Another offering from Audio-Technica. Though there should be no surprises there, for they as a company simply excel above many of their competitors and have been doing so for some time.
The Audio-Technica AT-LP60X is one of the best for a record collector looking for a more affordable entry point into the world of audiophilia. Even today, plenty of my friends use this very turntable and have done so for a number of years. It can quite simply get the job done, and there is plenty of bang for your buck in the performance of such an affordable turntable.
Indeed, you can afford to really crank up the volume with this turntable without fear of distorting the signal too much. There are not too many features for customizing the listening or the user experience. But the baseline capabilities of this turntable are enough to get the job done without very much fiddling.
For all this power, though, there is the option at least to change the cartridge to one that is perhaps better suited to your tastes. Thankfully, Audio-Technica has got you covered. As aforementioned, this is what they do best. And they have been in the cartridge game for decades and decades now, world-renowned for their contributions.
- This turntable is ready to get going once it has been plugged in. It has great performance straight out of the box.
- It can stand toe to toe with models at least 2 or 3 times the price in terms of its sound response and playback capabilities.
- The mechanisms inside are of considerably high quality and are dependable in the long term.
- Audio-Technica is a well-trusted brand that has been known to deliver goods for decades upon decades now.
- Certain parts of this turntable are sadly not as interchangeable or customizable as some other, more expensive models.
- The buttons are flimsy, and the build quality overall leaves a lot to be desired. Though this ought to be expected for such a low price.
5. Pro-Ject Automat A1 (Best)
Yes, indeed, the same folks who brought you the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon also top this list with one of the best automatic turntables around. Established in 1991, Pro-Ject Audio has slowly been working its way up the ranks as one of the most renowned audiophile brands in the business and is now receiving all the praise it deserves.
And this is in part because they still make all of their products by hand in Europe. Something that some feel is important to note is often not the case in the age of globalization in which we reside.
The A1 is a perfectly capable turntable that can easily match many other more expensive models. Though only just shy of half a thousand dollars, this is easily the most well-equipped entry-level turntable out there. At least as far as automatic turntables go.
Constructed from a wood housing with no hollow spaces seeks to reduce resonance and thus improves the overall sound quality. This, alongside the aluminum tonearm and Ortofon OM10 cartridge, foster an environment of precise tracking and accurate playback rarely seen in this price range.
- For all the amazing features and design quirks, this turntable is remarkably easy to operate. This is an amazing entry point for anyone with a bit more of a budget to begin investing in audiophilia.
- The sound itself is also worthy of note. This turntable is able to bring each and every style and sound that it meets to life.
- The build quality is exceptional, constructed in such a way and from such reliable materials that it will no doubt last a lifetime if taken care of properly.
- The brand itself is one that has been operating in this field successfully for years and years and, thus, one that can be trusted.
- None of note, though everyone’s personal tastes will be different.
So, there you have it! Hopefully, you are feeling better able to navigate the often overwhelming world of automatic turntables. And you can now find the best automatic turntable for you and your own specific uses and circumstances.
FAQs Best Automatic Turntable
Indeed there are. Some of the best automatic turntables include the Audio-Technica AT-LP3BK, the Dual CS 429, and the Pro-Ject Automat A1.
Not inherently, no. Some might, but then Crosleys and Victrolas are, for the most part, entirely manual, and just look what they do to records! There will be good and bad examples of most things, and it is our job to do proper research and see which is which.
This remains to be seen by each individual person. Indeed, an audiophile with the money to spend on such frivolities would answer affirmatively, that it is worth it to buy and upkeep a high-end turntable. However, a record collector working on more of a budget would be far less likely to say that owning a high-end turntable is worth it.
Neither is inherently better, rather, each is better at different things. For the sake of convenience and a more easy user experience, then an automatic turntable is the way to go. For a more involved user experience that alleges to also provide a better sound quality, then the manual turntable is the way to go.