Gemini TT-1100 USB
We’ll start with the cheapest player on the list but one that definitely represents value for coin, can be picked up for around $150 from online outlets.
Fully manual belt driven ‘DJ’ style with a solid aluminium platter and plastic chrome look design meaning it may not fit aesthetically into most homes, unless you live in a battle rap arena but don’t let that put you off.
Relatively easy to set up and certainly easy to use with well placed buttons around the edge of the turn table and comes complete with an easily adjustable counter weight as well as a plastic protective cover for the needle for when not in use but please promise not to lose it like i did.
The player has adjustable rubber feet which practically eliminates external vibration feedback, anti skate controls, 33/45/78 rpm, reverse play back capability and importantly a 45 adaptor included.
The Gemini TT-1100 USB is a popular choice for those looking to convert their records to mp3, the product comes with Audacity recording software in the form of a disk to aid this, obviously if you own a MacBook or laptop with no disk drive then at least you can use the disk as a coaster.
Remember, you get what you pay for and by no means is the Gemini TT-1100 USB the best record player out there but i’d definitely go on record saying it’s the best record player out there for $150.
Audio Technica LP- 60 USB
Next on the list and available for a poxy $200, widely regarded as one of the best value budget turn tables on the market.
Built-in switchable stereo phono pre-amplifier allows use of turntable with stereo systems having either magnetic-phono inputs or AUX inputs. The only downside of this is that the phono cartridge can’t be replaced.
It does however come with a user replaceable stylus and a clear plastic dust case, something which i generally prefer on my players.
Operation of the player is fully automatic at either 33 or 45 rpm, pushing the start button positions and lowers the arm into place making usage as easy as possible and reduces the risk of accidental scratches from unsteady hands.
Again, like the Gemini the Audio Technica LP- 60 has USB output as well as offering Mac/ PC compatible Audacity software for ripping records to digital, if that’s what you’re into. Easy as pie to set up too and would look a bit more at home perched on top of the side board.
As compact as players come (36cm square), this unit is portable, practical and certainly worthy of a place in our top 3.
Pro- Ject Essential II
Finally the most expensive of the 3 but without a doubt the highest quality build and sleekest design, can be yours for $399.
Pro- Ject are on of the main reasons behind the vinyl revival in the 90’s, producing high quality units at affordable prices and this model is no different.
I’ll get the only downside out of the way early, if you want to play singles you’ll have to manually shift the drive belt to the larger step on the motor pulley which seems like an extremely basic feature but when you consider the value you’re getting out of the quality engineering that has gone into the production of this turntable i’m sure you won’t mind a slight compromise.
Cool, slick and stripped back design with a fitted Ortofon OM 5E cartridge and aluminium tone arm with sapphire bearings that track the record grooves accurately the Essential II turntable utilises a quiet-running synchronous motor with a silicone belt to drive its low-resonance MDF platter. Plays at a nominal speed of either 33 or 45 rpm and it is available with a built in phono pre-amp and USB connection should you wish.
You don’t always need the frills. You don’t always need bells and whistles and flashy designs, sometimes it needs to be stripped back and all you need are the essentials.