10 Best Turntables with Preamp for Optimal Sound Quality

Published Categorized as Turntable Reviews

Want your turntable to sound good without doing too much research into the confusing world of external preamps? What are the best turntables with preamps built in?

Let’s find out and investigate the ten best turntables with a built-in preamp!

Table of Contents

10 Best Turntables with Built-in Preamp

1. Audio-Technica AT-LP60X

As far as the best turntables with preamp built-in go, the Audio-Technica AT-LP60X is easily one of the all-time greats, especially for offering so much at such an affordable price.

This turntable has it all in a neat package that will not leave anyone scratching their head or confused about what to do. Not only that, but it comes with that trademark Audio-Technica seal of quality, where sound quality is prized and offered to the masses at affordable prices.

This is a workhorse of a turntable with a phono preamp in a phono stage that is purpose-built to do the nasty work of spinning vinyl records with rich sound to boot. While this record player might not boast excellent sound quality, the price point speaks for itself.

Audio-Technica AT-LP60X-BK Fully Automatic Belt-Drive Stereo Turntable, Black, Hi-Fi, 2 Speed, Dust Cover, Anti-Resonance, Die-Cast Aluminum Platter


  • An incredible price point which, while not the cheapest on the market, more than makes up for it by being one of the staple workhorses in audiophilia today.
  • Simple and welcoming design means that just about anyone looking to start out record collecting can do so without sacrificing sound quality.


  • The seasoned audiophile might suggest that the design and features are a little basic in comparison with some other more expensive and advanced models.
  • There are few options for customization, and you have to open up the whole turntable to turn off the built-in phono preamp for turntable should you grow out of it for whatever reason.

2. Sony PS-LX310BT

This high-quality turntable from Sony is purported to be one of the best automatic turntables within this price range. The sleek design is coupled with an actual plug-and-play experience specially catered to those who have little to no experience with turntables already but still want one that will offer a considerable quality of experience.

In many senses, this is a modern turntable, one that offers a surplus of features akin to those offered by digital means. This includes Bluetooth and the ability to connect to powered speakers for a more intense listening experience.

The built-in preamp is especially worthy of note, for it features adjustable gain settings unseen by many competitors. This means you can very easily couple this turntable with your pre-existing audio setup, dialing in low, mid, and high gain frequencies to compensate when needed.

Sony PS-LX310BT Belt Drive Turntable: Fully Automatic Wireless Vinyl Record Player with Bluetooth and USB Output Black


  • The sleek design means this will fit into just about any modern home environment.
  • A true plug-and-play experience means newcomers will feel welcome at the vinyl record party.
  • This includes modern connectivity that even Steve Jobs would be proud of.
  • A notably customizable preamp with adjustable gain settings.


  • The features are a little basic besides the adjustable gain settings and likely will not please the resident audiophile among us.
  • The sound quality leaves a little to be desired, hence why audiophiles tend to veer more towards manual turntables in a similar price range.

3. Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB

In contrast to its more affordable brethren, the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB is a fully decked-out version of the classic Audio-Technica approach closely modeled after the world-renowned DJ decks manufactured by competitors Technics.

Made from high-quality materials, this turntable does not mess about and also comes packed with more modern features that are otherwise lacking on the Audio-Technica AT-LP60. This includes the much-lauded USB connectivity that so many modern turntables are obliged to include within their bosom of features.

Such USB connectivity is incredibly useful for those looking to archive their rare records into digital files without losing them to the sands of time. Such conversion of vinyls to CD has become all the rage, and now you can partake too.

Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK Direct-Drive Turntable (Analog & USB), Fully Manual, Hi-Fi, 3 Speed, Convert Vinyl to Digital, Anti-Skate and Variable Pitch Control Black


  • This turntable boasts a sleek design and an extensive set of features modeled closely after the world-famous Technics DJ decks, making this one of the best affordable turntables for DJs out there today.
  • As ever with Audio-Technica, the built-in phono stage is reliable and robust.
  • Three speeds of playback.


  • The preamp does not offer as many options for customization as some of the other turntables listed above.
  • This is a great offering for DJs looking for a budget turntable that can still do the job, though there are others here listed with superior sound quality.

4. U-Turn Audio Orbit Plus

For those looking for something with a bit more of an American touch for playing music, then look no further than the U-Turn Audio Orbit Plus, a turntable much-lauded in recent years by audiophiles the world over.

Being an audiophile pick, this is a little more on the expensive side than some of the other offerings here arrayed, though thankfully, there is no need for an external preamp as the one onboard is more than capable. In fact, it is so good you are unlikely ever to want another.

Indeed, that vinyl sound you are pining after so much is captured well by U-Turn and delivered in spades with this particular model, all in a sleek and minimalist package guaranteed to get your resident interior decorator weak at the knees. Fade to black.

U-Turn Audio - Orbit Plus Turntable with Built-in Preamp (Black)


  • High quality at a more expensive but still more or less affordable price.
  • The sleek and minimal design delivers the goods without all the bells and whistles.
  • The acrylic platter offers greater speed consistency and resonance control compared with cheaper MDF or metal platters by some other competitors.
  • The external motor means there is even less noise interference.


  • The design might be a little too minimal for some – the bells and whistles might actually be the desired object for some record collectors, so tread with caution if ever you end up in U-Turn territory.
  • The external belt-driven motor means that to change speeds; the belt will have to be literally lifted.

5. Pro-Ject T1 Phono SB

At this point, Pro-Ject should need no introduction. In the past few years, they have accrued quite a reputation for design decks that operate well above their price tag.

This relatively recent model has a glass platter and a CNC-machined plinth with no hollow spaces for superior audio quality. Such a combination is perfect for dialing out unwanted resonances that might otherwise hinder the playback performance of a turntable overall.

Where other Pro-Ject models have been more concerned with offering a distinctly stripped-back experience, the T1 Phono SB has a convenient speed switch. This is, at least for some, a much-preferred option to having to manually move the belt in order to change the speed at which the platter spins.

Pro-Ject T1 Phono SB Turntable with Built-in Preamp and Electronic Speed Change (Piano Black)


  • The combination of a glass platter and a CNC-machined plinth with no hollow spaces means that almost all unwanted resonances are dialed out, meaning your vinyl collection will sound as it should.
  • Swapping out minimalism for at least a little bit of functionality, this Pro-Ject model has inserted a convenient and necessary speed switch.


  • The minimal design, again, might be a gripe to some more disillusioned and unconvinced audiophiles.
  • The price tag might also be a little too steep for some, though Pro-Ject turntables famously perform well above their price point.

6. Audio-Technica AT-LP5X

Aligning itself with many more recent trends in audiophilia that have veered towards hyper-minimalism, Audio-Technica saw fit to release its own take on it into the world. Though it is hard not to consider it a little bit of a cash grab, the turntable received much acclaim upon release precisely for its fuss-free design.

One of the things that really sets it apart from some of the other models by Audio-Technica is the fact that it can cater to both moving magnet and moving coil cartridges. This, coupled with the ability to play records at 78 rpm alongside the usual 33 1/3 and 45 rpm, makes this a turntable to at least consider while scratching your chin in thought.

The built-in phono preamp has been said to hold up well against external phono preamps that go for a much higher price, though the J-shaped tonearm is a real throwback to early models from the 60s and 70s, engendered to minimize tracking error.

Audio-Technica AT-LP5X Fully Manual Direct-Drive Turntable


  • The minimal design is on par with many other zeitgeist turntables.
  • Supports both moving magnet and moving coil cartridges.
  • Offers playback at all three main speeds.
  • The built-in phono preamp is said to hold up against far more expensive external preamps.
  • Vintage J-shaped tonearm for minimizing tracking error.


  • You would be forgiven for rolling your eyes at the thought of such a trusted and reliable brand pandering to the recent trend toward minimalism in audiophilia.

7. Denon DP-450USB

Much like its brethren, the Denon DP-300F, there is a heck of a lot to love about this offering from those geniuses over at Denon. The built-in phono stage is robust and easily comparable to other more adept external preamps and also excels at digitizing records to a USB drive via the USB output, allowing direct conversation between the turntable and USB drive with no computer required.

The speed selector accommodates even 78 rpm records, a universality that is mirrored in the universal headshell that enables quick and easy cartridge swaps on the fly. This also means that you can use both moving magnet and moving coil cartridges in tandem.

Denon DP-450USB Semi-Automatic Analog Turntable | USB Output for Recording | Speed Auto Sensor | Specially Designed Curved Tonearm | 33 1/3, 45, 78 Rpm (Vintage) Speeds | Superior Audio, Black


  • It boasts a strong built-in phono stage that could easily compete with more expensive and more adept external preamps.
  • The digitization process is perhaps the most direct of any turntable with a USB output that allows direct conversation between the turntable and USB drive without any computational intermediary.
  • There is a distinct attempt at universality, as evinced by the three-speed capabilities and the universal headshell for quick cartridge swaps, as well as the ability to use both moving coil and moving magnet cartridges.
  • The removable dust cover also acts as a handy record stand. Neat!


  • The price point might have some of your stomachs turning.
  • Again, the minimal design might cause many of your eyes to roll.

8. Rega Planar 1 PLUS

For anyone already familiar with Rega and its extremely popular and critically-acclaimed Planar 1, you will understand what this turntable is about without a problem. In fact, this is essentially just a Planar 1 with the added benefit of featuring Rega’s equally-acclaimed phono stage, the Rega Fono Mini A2D. Since both products have accrued a number of awards in recent times, it seems a no-brainer to combine them into one neat package.

The Planar 1 and the Fono Mini A2D are regularly listed in separate lists of the best affordable turntables and the best affordable preamps, respectively, so it has been a long time coming to see these two finally paired together where they belong.

Rega Planar 1 Plus Turntable with Premounted Carbon MM Cartridge (Matte Black)


  • This is a stellar and altogether sensical combination of a critically-acclaimed turntable and preamp by a manufacturer that has been known as an incredibly accomplished manufacturer of both these things.
  • Combining these two acclaimed parts of the turntable means that you save plenty of space without sacrificing tone.


  • This is another of those relatively minimal turntables that, though sleek and aesthetically pleasing, distinctly lack extra features.
  • It’s limited to only two-speed functionality.
  • No Bluetooth functionality.
  • No USB output functionality.
  • Limited to moving magnet cartridge usage.
  • A little on the expensive side, too.

9. Technics SL1500C

For those who have read all of the information thus far, you will already be familiar with Technics‘ reputation as a proponent and manufacturer of some of the best DJ decks in the world. The much-lauded SL1200 is an icon of the electronic music scene, and this SL-1500C is an audiophile rendering of this turntable, with a built-in phono stage that could easily compete with more expensive rivals.

If you are an audiophile that is simultaneously seeking a direct drive turntable deck that, though missing all of the relative extras that come with DJ decks, can still do the job without any questions asked, then this is definitely worth a shot.

This is a turntable heralded for its sonic performance. The price point is certainly one of the highest on this list, but special details like the S-shaped tonearm and the swappable headshell setup allowing you to easily and swiftly change cartridges arguably make the extra expense worth it.

Technics SL-1500C - Direct Drive Turntable


  • It performs well above its price tag with a built-in phono stage that sounds incredibly good when paired with the motion of the turntable and a great record.
  • The direct drive motor makes this an excellent choice for amateur DJs looking for an affordable turntable to add to a set of decks that will likewise not come up short in tone.
  • The S-shaped tonearm and the swappable headshell setup are nice touches that make the life of a DJ just that much easier.


  • This is a rather expensive piece of kit – it is, after all, the audiophile version of an already-established and well-equipped piece of equipment – so while this is a turntable for amateur DJs looking for affordable decks, it is still going to cost a considerable amount of money, especially if you are looking to use two of them.

10. Clearaudio Concept MM

Clearaudio has really made a name for itself in the past few years as a manufacturer of some of the cleanest and illest turntables on the market today. Turntables like this are reversing time-worn idioms and notions that turntables are the domain of more affordable equipment. This, by contrast, is a high-end turntable that offers simple plug-and-play functionality.

Audiophile purists will likely continue using separate equipment for each function, purporting that it gives the best sound and the most control over the overall tone. This, though, will undoubtedly be the mode of transport for those seeking ease of use and looking to save space in their home while never letting go of the aim to deliver the highest quality of sound.

Clearaudio Concept MM Moving Magnet Phono Cartridge


  • This is a fully capable all-in-one combination of turntable and preamp that is able to offer an incredibly high quality of playback.
  • The user experience is simple and inviting, proving that both expense and ease are not mutually exclusive.
  • Great for those looking for ease of use and space-saving in one neat package.


  • The price tag is pretty huge, but some would say you get what you pay for.
  • Considering the price tag, the number of options and features is minimal, but this is the selling point of these minimalist aesthetic choices.

Final Tones

So, there you have it! Hopefully, you are now feeling ready and able to invest in a turntable with a built-in preamp worthy of your time and due attention.

FAQs Best Turntables with Preamp

Do you need a preamp with a turntable?

Technically, yes you do. The raw phono signal that is emitted through the turntable’s stylus is incredibly quiet. If this signal were sent straight through to the amplifier and then out of the speakers, the result would be pretty distorted and crunchy. The preamp, then, is tasked with taking this raw signal and amplifying it to the extent that the actual amplifier can then affect the sound and send it forth through the speakers as cleanly as possible.

Will a preamp make my turntable sound better?

Technically, a turntable needs a preamp in order for the raw phono signal – extremely quiet when unaffected – to be heard in a clean way. Thus, you would do your best to get a preamp that is amply equipped to convert this raw signal into an audible enough signal that the amplifier can do its job. Thankfully, many modern turntables actually come with a preamp built into their machinations, though some of these are really not up to the task of making records sound good.

Which Pro-Ject turntables have a built-in preamp?

Pro-Ject is a renowned modern manufacturer of turntables that has acquired a reputation in recent years as one of the best to do it. What follows is a list of the turntables that they manufacture which come with a preamp built into their machinations: Pro-Ject A1, Pro-Ject E1 Phono, Pro-Ject E1 BT, Pro-Ject VT-E BT, Pro-Ject Primary E Phono, Pro-Ject Juke Box E1, Pro-Ject Juke Box, Pro-Ject S2, Pro-Ject T1 BT, Pro-Ject T1 Phono SB, Pro-Ject Debut RecordMaster II, and the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon RecordMaster HiRes

Do all turntables have a built-in preamp?

No, they do not, though there is an ever-increasing trend in modern turntable manufacture for this to be the case. This likely has at least something to do with the way that a lot of newer record collectors will not have many ideas about all of the different minutiae relating to the accruing of a stereo setup. Many will prefer a setup that will simply enable them to plug in and listen to records. For aesthetics, many youths today simply choose to use an all-in-one record player and have that be that, comfortable with the sound of glass against glass that the resulting sound offers forth.

By Robert Halvari

My name is Robert Halvari - audio engineer and a total audiophile. I love vinyl because it has that natural character which brings music to life. I've been using and testing vinyl record players for around 15 years and I'm sharing my love and knowledge of vinyl by publishing all I know at Notes On Vinyl

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