How Much is a Record Player? 101 to Record Player Cost

Published Categorized as Vinyl Buyer Guides

What with the veritable boom in enthusiasm for the vinyl record format seeing new peak after new peak, you would be forgiven for asking yourself personally, just how much is a record player? As with anything, you will have to take into account plenty of personal factors, for each and every vinyl record collector will be different and each and every vinyl collector’s personal circumstances will vary, sometimes wildly.

It should be remembered and held dear that this type of long term investment isn’t for everyone. This is inherently antiquated technology and in this way owning a record player doesn’t really suit some people, perhaps being at odds with their socio political circumstances and / or their pace of life, their contempt for personal belongings or simply their financial means.

What’s doubtless is that vinyl record collecting is back in a very, very big way. The last few years have seen vinyl record sales soar, with higher sales statistics than there have been for several decades, since the original decline in their sales with the advent of more digital oriented recorded and release technologies.

This soar in sales has been so drastic that the very factories that print the records have, of late and plenty of times in the past decade, been over encumbered with new releases, meaning vinyl enthusiasts are left waiting months for said factories to work through a huge backlog of releases.

What’s the Difference between a Record Player and a Turntable?

To some this might seem fairly obvious and self explanatory, though this of course will not be the same for everyone, so before we proceed to deduce how much the record player cost it is certainly worth elucidating just what we mean when we use these terms. They are often used interchangeably in vinyl record collecting circles, though at root they do pertain to two different things.

Many record enthusiasts are inclined to use the term ‘record player’ when discussing matters of this variety, even if they are referring to the turntable instead. A turntable is the mechanism on which the record disc is placed, spinning as it does and propelling the needle along the grooves where the sound is stored. The disc will be placed on top of the turntable platter and, when coming into contact with the needle, will produce sound through the stereo system.

The record player, by contrast, is technically the whole set up, the speakers, the amplifier (if indeed there is one), the stereo, the turntable, and any other additional goodies attached to the entire thing. In this way, the term record player has come to describe those units that contain all of these separate in one package (see Crosley).

It is easy to see how this swapping of terminologies came to be. At root this is simply how language works, certain turns of phrase smoothed over in favour of others which more readily provide economy of expression. So, now that these expressions have been elucidated somewhat, we can get busy on deducing our main query, just how much exactly does a record player cost?

What Makes a Good Record Player?

As ever, this will be highly subjective, so proceed with caution and always bearing your own personal needs and wants in mind. There are, however, a few things that every prospective record collector ought to look forward to in their own record player, factors that ought to bridge all subjective needs and wants for the vinyl record consumer.

Wilco playing in my hotel.

A Record Player Should Treat Records With Respect

This might seem obvious, but you would be surprised at how many prospective collectors rush into the new world of this hobby without carefully considering this and a whole host of other factors. Many, in fact, rush in and buy the first record player they see, usually a Crosley, without checking whether it is right for them or their new collection (that might not even exist yet).

Cheap record players, such as the infamous Crosley, are known in record collecting circles to destroy records. You can even hear it in the result, the scratchy, imbalanced tones emanating from the poorly built attached speakers being all the evidence you need. Very often, the needle itself is just no good to begin with, made of cheaper materials and with little to no care put into its manufacture.

Similarly, the tracking force of these record players is scarcely considered, often leaning far too heavily and wearing out the grooves of any record that you choose to spin. It might seem all too obvious, like something that you should expect from a record player, but it is important to remember that it is not always the case.

Any good record player worth its salt will play your records without destroying them, and will in fact preserve them to the best of their ability. These record players might be more expensive in the short term, but will save you wasting your money replacing records that a cheaper record player will just destroy to the core.

Sturdy Build and Quality Workmanship

A good record player should feel like a good record player. Each of the components should feel like they were meant to be together, specifically built for each other with the express purpose of doing their job to the best of their ability. It feels as though there was a time when people did not put up with poor design and bad workmanship.

There are some vinyl collectors, in fact, that still use record players and turntables from bygone times, such as those from the 70s, arguably the original peak of vinyl record collecting. These record players are still able to hold themselves together after so long, they must be made of gun metal! Or, perhaps, the people who put them together actually cared about the end result and took pride in delivering it to the consuming public?

How much should such a record player cost? Are there any other things to be looking for? Well, a well built record player or turntable won’t just feel like quality, it will also offer design features that exhibit the care attention to detail that went into them. One of the more obvious features of a quality record player is inbuilt support against extraneous vibrations.

It is all too easy for a turntable needle and / or stylus to be jogged and interrupted in their plastic peregrinations by external vibrations. Since these can come from a variety of different places and sources, it seems that the most logical thing to do would be to work out their source.

Are there vibrations coming from within the very room that the turntable is playing in? I can’t count the amount of times someone in the same room as the record player in my house has moved too drastically or jumped and knocked the needle / stylus off kilter. These vibrations are drastic, but the skipping can be caused by much more subtle vibrations too. A good record player will protect against more of these vibrations than a poorly built record player.

The Sound Itself

Of course, the most important factor with regards to any aspect of turntablism and record players should be the sound! This is quite difficult to tell, and the more expensive a record player cost, the more negligible these differences can be to the untrained ear. It is not simply enough for a record player to spin and for sound to come out, we must learn, if our means allow it, to be particular and to know what we are seeking from our record player.

So much of the sound of a record player is in the speakers, so if you are actually buying a record player – i.e. an all in one unit that contains all of the individual components needed to play records – then it ought to have at least decent inbuilt speakers, or you should have a decent set of speakers that you can plug the turntable mechanism into externally.

If you are intending to use the turntable or record player with sub par speakers, then the quality of the stylus’s sound is not going to make as much of a difference. However, the weaknesses of a poorly constructed and manufactured turntable will be ever evident on a set of well made speakers, so if you are intending to use such a set up, you will most certainly want to invest in a turntable or record players whose manufacturer actually cares about the end result.

Moreover, it seems like an incredible waste to use such potent and powerful speakers with a record player or turntable that is more or less going to underperform them in a considerable way, so considerable in fact that just about any music fan would be able to tell.

How Much Does a Record Player Cost?

This certainly is not a hobby to be accruing if you are low on cash. It’s a luxury, seeing as we are so far into the future from the time when this was a wholly relevant piece of technology, but it is worth enough for people to still want to invest so much money into it.

Records are typically around $20 these days when they’re released brand new. Now, when compared to how much we might be spending on music streaming platforms or even CD copies this seems utterly ridiculous, though I might suggest it is a necessary evil. Music streaming is all well and good, but if you are only using this service and not putting very much back into the music industry, you are effectively cucking the free expression of a whole host of your favorite artists.

Streaming only favors large artists, for whom these platforms were set up in the first place, and it’s through actual merchandise like physical format music and t-shirts etc that any real artists actually make a living doing what they love.

This is also to completely neglect the fact that so many records can be bought for very reasonable prices second hand, through dozens of outlets and, what with the ever presence of the internet, it has never been easier to source a specific record for a reasonable price, nor has it ever been cheaper to buy a decent quality turntable and stereo system.

Starter Record Players

For those not willing to part with a larger amount of cash in procuring a record player or turntable will probably want to be spending around $100, no matter how much should a record player cost. This will get the purchaser a record player or turntable that plays records and more or less treats these vinyl discs with a reasonable amount of respect.

There are plenty of options for those wanting to purchase an older model of record player or turntable. It should be easy to find a model on eBay or any other such website, that has been looked after in its time and is simply looking for a new home. I might even suggest that any that are more than $100 are not worth investing in. There is much room for losses in the game of purchasing such pieces of equipment second hand, though thankfully eBay and Reverb, for example, are good at chasing up these sorts of things these days.

If you are intending to purchase a record player brand new in this price range, then I can’t stress enough that you probably ought to rethink purchasing a Crosley, if indeed it is your intention to do so.

‘The tips are not carefully manufactured and have rougher edges, which wear down your records at a much faster pace than well-made, high-end styli.

In other words, the Crosley turntable itself is not doing any damage. It is the cheap needles they use for their low-priced products.

That means you can simply replace the needle with a higher-quality one and you’ll no loner have to worry about this issue. This is something we always recommend when buying a cheap turntable.

And replacing the needle on a cheap player is much better and easier than going even cheaper and making your own record player. The other option is to just avoid the lowest cost Crosleys and go for something like the Crosley Rochester instead, which comes with a diamond-tipped stylus.’

The Mid Range Sweet Spot

It is within this sweet spot that some of the best and most reliable turntables and record players are found, those that can be relied upon without tearing a whole in your wallet and sucking out every last drop. Record players and turntables within this $400 to $700 range tend to tick all of the boxes that any record collector will want to be seeking in their own set up (as elucidated above), and most importantly offer great sound and build quality.

It makes sense for some to the look at this record player cost and think it is too high, but this is more than anything an investment, both in one’s own audiophilic journey and in the music industry at large. Record players and turntables sold at this price, whether old or new, tend to be a lifelong investment in fact, staying with their owner well into old age, or whenever they should choose to keep it til.

Even if they need repairs, you can guarantee that a collector is going to be more likely to try to get something with so much sentimental and financial value repaired, more so than a cheap and more disposable record player or turntable, be that a Crosley or any other imitator for that matter. This extra record player cost, then, is paying not only for materials, good sound and durability, it also paying for the manufacturer to ensure that this particular record player is going to last as long as you need it to.

Final Tones

If we compared the present price of records to how much we might be spending on music streaming platforms or even CD copies the former seems utterly ridiculous.

Music streaming is all well and good, but if you are only using this service and not putting very much back into the music industry, you are effectively cucking the free expression of a whole host of your favorite artists. Streaming only favors large artists, for whom these platforms were set up in the first place, and it’s through actual merchandise like physical format music and t shirts etc that any real artists actually make a living doing what they love.

Thus, we must listen responsibly, and, if we can afford it, support our favorite artists, both local and international, through merchandise like vinyl records and garments, or through other means like donations.

How much does record player cost?

This will largely depend on your own personal and social circumstances, how much you are willing at base to put into this luxurious hobby. For it is a luxury, seeing as we are so far into the future from the time when this was a wholly relevant piece of technology, but it is worth enough for people to still want to invest so much money into it. You must be the decider of this with regard to your own circumstances. I don’t imagine you will want to be starting such a financially draining hobby if you are already struggling wityh your finances, for example.

Are record players Expensive?

This will largely depend on your own personal and social circumstances, how much you are willing at base to put into this luxurious hobby. For it is a luxury, seeing as we are so far into the future from the time when this was a wholly relevant piece of technology, but it is worth enough for people to still want to invest so much money into it. There are some reasonably affordable record players, though they tend to chew up your records, to the point where it is often more financially viable to spend a little more on a record player that is at least going to mean you don’t have to keep buying the same record over and over again.

What is a good first record player?

This will largely depend on your own personal and social circumstances, how much you are willing at base to put into this luxurious hobby. For it is a luxury, seeing as we are so far into the future from the time when this was a wholly relevant piece of technology, but it is worth enough for people to still want to invest so much money into it. There are some reasonably affordable record players, though they tend to chew up your records, to the point where it is often more financially viable to spend a little more on a record player that is at least going to mean you don’t have to keep buying the same record over and over again.

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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