It’s the time of year for saving money!
This is a true story which I witnessed and participated in the other day. I was checking out at small record store down along the Central Coast of California when a fellow stopped in asking the clerk if they sold turntables. They do sell used gear periodically as the person behind the counter explained and a discussion ensued narrowing down the customer’s needs and budget. This was all fine and good and the store has to be commended for offering to check their sources for available models from a local refurbisher. All cool there.
But then the customer went off on a micro-rant about how in his perspective there seemed to only be two extremes offered in the world of turntables today: the inexpensive plastic USB type models sold in big box retailers and hipster clothing outlets and the multi-thousand dollar uber-audiophile turntables many of us dream of one day owning when we win the lottery. It was there that I jumped it to counter the customer’s perception, explaining that there are indeed plenty of good quality, reasonably priced turntables in the $200-400 range including models by Pro-ject, Music Hall and others.
I explained to the customer that if he looked around a little bit (off the top of my head I told him to check MusicDirect.com) he could find a high quality, respectable turntable very reasonably priced. He appreciated my input and enthusiasm.
And thus I had the idea for this article which is less for you established audiophiles and more for your friends and family who you’d like to enjoy your hobby with the same gusto. This is for you readers who are new to the hobby or for the folks who want to move up from their entry level players without breaking the bank.
I assembled this quick list just doing searches on Amazon. I asked noted turntable expert and journalist friend Michael Trei if I missed any key brands. He hepped me to a Crosley model that is being now made by Pro-ject and a new brand called Fluance that is getting great reviews for its price and performance. So I included them on the list. Which reminds me that I need to remind you that this is not a “review” as I have not personally listened to most of these players (I’ve only heard the Pro-ject and Music Halls in person). No, this is more like a preliminary shopping list and you should do your own research in making your decision.
So here is the list of some turntables (all available on Amazon) that won’t destroy your budget yet probably will treat your treasured vinyl more lovingly than some of the entry level options out there. Hopefully this list will help some of you out there in audiophile land:
Crosely C10A-MA (made by Pro-ject)
So…you see, there are a lot of decent affordably priced turntable options out there even just poking around on uber-convenient Amazon.
Wrapping up, I have to add that this exercise was a bit alarming to me as a marketing professional who has served the consumer electronics industry for decades. It is discouraging to come face to face with this sort of misinformation out in the field in this day and age. There are more ways to reach consumers now than ever before so manufacturers really have no excuse. The audio industry should be stepping up its promotional and PR game, not cutting back.
Historically, I have not written about this sort of thing as it had the potential to become a conflict of interest with clients I represented over the years. But no matter who you use or how you get the word out, the point is that as an industry the audio business needs to do better job at reaching their audiences in order to keep the market alive, nurturing a new generation of audiophiles who are getting ready to step up their game or returning enthusiasts wanting to get back into the hobby.
All of these turntables look good, and i would take Mike Trei’s word on the Crossley. I recently purchased
a TEAC TN 400S to replace an old Music Hall USB in my son’s system. Have’t heard it yet but it certainly seems well
made, probably better than the Dual 1009’s we all had back in the day
As a record store owner, Mojo Vinyl Records Roswell Georgia, I sell turntables. Four new models and many used models depending upon available stock. The internet (Amazon) beats up record store owners selling new TTs everyday. Can’t compete with Amazon’s razor thin margins. A record store is basically an Amazon showroom. I have this problem as well, but a few brands offer reasonable price protection. So I stock the Audio Technica LP60 (entry level table – $99 loss leader) Audio Technica LP3 (nice fully automatic table, decent arm and cart $250), Pioneer PL30 (nice fully automatic table $350 – can’t win against Amazon on this one) and Music Hall mmf 1.5 (as noted, a nice manual table with Audio Technica LP120 arm – $400, thanks to Roy Hall keeping the price firm). So Grim Surfer its tough for a store to keep an expensive inventory of new turntables with razor thin margins to sell every once and a while. I believe in the “one to show, and one to go” retail strategy. And dream of the old audio retail days…