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What to look for in your first turntable in 2024

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Celebrate Record Store Day with a shiny new turntable. Here’s how to pick one
Vinyl records are doing incredible numbers. Sales of LPs are at their highest level since the 1990s after 16 consecutive years of climbing sales, and it’s no wonder why – vinyl records don’t just sound good, they’re wonderfully visual and tactile things too. 
As much as we love the best music streaming services, there’s something about selecting a record, putting it on one of the best turntables and putting the needle on the record that’s much more satisfying than clicking an icon on your phone. And you can’t show off a Spotify subscription by placing it prominently on a shelf.
If you’ve been thinking about joining the fun but don’t have a turntable, we’re here to help. Whether you’re a budget buyer or want to spend big bucks, here’s how to find the perfect turntable for you this Record Store Day.1. What do you want to spend?
You can spend a lot of money on a turntable. Think of a really big number and it’s likely that there are turntables that cost even more than that: some high-end turntables will set you back five figures. But there are lots of very affordable options too, and our current budget pick – the Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT – is less than $200 / £200 AU$300. 
So before you set out to read up on spec sheets, features, drive types and more, it’s important to decide how much you’re willing to spend. Don’t forget that the records you’ll be playing can be expensive too. There’s no point having a brilliant turntable if you can’t afford any records to play on it. As a rule of thumb, under $100 / £100 / AU$200 is where you’ll find the most basic turntables; they’re fine, but you may well outgrow them relatively quickly.
Moving up a bracket, turntables in the $100 / £100 / AU$200 to $400 / £400 / AU$500 range are where you’ll find the best entry-level models and mid-range ones too. There’s lots of choice here, and lots of well-loved brands as well as interesting new manufacturers. And most importantly, the sound quality here will usually be way beyond what the sub-$100 / £100 / AU$200 models can deliver.
By all means go beyond $400 / £400 / AU$500 if you can and want to, but you’re in premium territory now. The turntables in this price bracket are wonderful, but they can also be a lot more complex and you don’t need to spend quite so much for your first spins.2. What do you already have?
Do you already have an amplifier and the best wireless speakers, or are you starting from scratch? If it’s the latter then you’ll need to also get an amp and speakers, or consider going down the Bluetooth route instead. 
Some turntables now come with Bluetooth, which enables you to stream wirelessly to hardware such as smart speakers and the best Bluetooth speakers. The sound quality isn’t as good as you’ll get from a decent hi-fi (although the most recent, more premium turntable models with aptX HD sound pretty fantastic) but if you’re short of space, cash or both and already have good quality Bluetooth speakers it’s a very convenient option. 
It’s also less stuff to move if you’re in accommodation such as student or shared apartments from which you’re likely to relocate in the near future.

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