Turntables range from the basic to the exotic, and usually the more complicated the design, the more expensive the table. Here are a handful of models that strike a good balance between affordability, ease of setup, and performance.
Clearaudio Concept The Concept is German manufacturer Clearaudio’s lowest-priced model, but you wouldn’t guess that given its slick look and sturdy design. $1,500 (w/MM cartridge)
VPI Traveller Another entry-level model from a high-end maker, the Traveller has an aluminum platter and comes in a variety of colors. It’s also made here in the US of A. $1,300
Rega RP1 We don’t expect anything less than great sound/good value from the RP1, an entry-level model that comes packaged with an Ortofon OM5e MM cartridge. $449
Music Hall USB-1 A great option for those looking to get into vinyl on the cheap, the USB-1 has a USB output and comes with an Audio Technica AT3600L MM cartridge. $249
ACROSS THE CONTINENT, thousands are taking part in an almost-forgotten rite. It melds advanced technology, knowledge handed down through the decades, and a little dose of black magic. As most rituals do, it appalls many nonbelievers, but that fact only makes its practitioners relish it more.
Many rituals fit this description: home blacksmithing, heirloom chicken breeding, even Wiccan spell casting. But since this is Sound+Vision, we’ll focus on an even more arcane and puzzling rite: turntable setup.
Decades ago, the average American bon vivant may have known what all those adjustments on his record player did, but this knowledge now resides mainly in the heads of serious audiophiles. Fortunately, turntable setup requires nothing more than manual dexterity, patience, and a few basic tools. And it can pay off in a much-improved vinyl experience (not to mention a sense of personal satisfaction, the envy of your friends, and — of course — a useful skill you'll have forever).
One thing to keep in mind: even some pretty expensive turntables, such as the Rega RP6, lack some basic adjustments. So if your turntable doesn’t offer every adjustment we discuss, don’t sweat it — just skip to the next step.
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