If you already enjoy a HiFi, audiophile listening experience, you know how much of a difference a great turntable can make. If you are someone looking to get into record collecting, or maybe have been listening on a lower price point table for some time, tax season is a great time to look at turntables you could spring for to improve your listening experience.
We’ll take a look at 7 audiophile turntables in this article, all of which display the best of the best in terms of hifi turntables under $5,000. And to better help you determine the top audiophile turntables on the market, please take a moment to check out the interactive table below, where you can compare and contrast some of the best high end record players available.
|Rega Planar 1||$$||★★★★||RB110 tonearm|
|ProJect Classic||$$$||★★★★★||Metal/MDF Chassis|
|Rega Planar 2||$$$||★★★★||10mm Float-Glass Platter|
|Audio Technica AT-LP1240-USB||$$||★★★★||USB Direct Drive/DJ Table|
|Rega RP3||$$$||★★★★||RB303 tone arm|
|Pro-Ject Essential III||$$||★★★||Ortofon OM10 cartridge|
|Music Hall MMF 5.1SE||$$$||★★★★||Dynamically Balanced Alloy Platter|
|Pro-Ject RPM5||$$$||NA||Acoustical Inert Acrylic Platter|
|Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit SB||$$$||★★★★||Pro-Ject Speed Box Built-in|
|Pro-Ject RPM 1||$$||★★★★||8.6” S-shaped Tonearm|
|Music Hall MMF 2.3||$$||★★★★★||8.6" Carbon Fiber Tonearm|
|Pro-Ject 2Xperience SB||$$$||NA||Grade 9" EVO Carbon Tonearm|
|ProJect 6Perspex DC||$$$||★★★★★||Transparent Acrylic Plinth|
Thorens TD 203
The Thorens TD 203 turntable is very much an introduction to the hifi quality audiophiles love. That makes it a great place to start this list. If you have some serious cash ($1000ish) but can’t push that $5000 mark, the TD 203 is your first stop. This table from the famous, beloved Thorens brand is a high quality out of the box solution for audiophile beginners.
The turntable comes fully assembled and is factory-set. It takes no more than five minutes from opening the box to playing music from a vinyl record. The TD 203 leaves aficionados room to fine-tune and adjust the performance to their personal preferences. The tonearm, for example, offers facilities to adjust azimuth and overhang.
The included fully adjustable UniPivot tonearm is smooth to use, and it’s easy to upgrade the cartridge with even azimuth adjustments. That means when more money comes your way, you can throw it on this table with no struggle. The TD 203 also features a heavy anti resonant platter and a precise motor speed control make this a great value. For the price, an audiophile in training couldn’t start with a better table.
Rega Planar 8
Every aspect of the Planar 8 is engineered to extract as much detail from the vinyl surface as possible. Rega used the most advanced materials and engineering solutions built around a supremely lightweight plinth to ensure the greatest level of performance.
The Planar 8 is supplied with the new RB880 tonearm and Neo PSU as standard which offers electronic speed change, advanced anti-vibration control and user adjustable electronic fine speed adjustment to ensure total accuracy and control over the motor. Rega’s aim was to deliver a level of performance far beyond what has been achieved at this price point before.
The Planar 8 is the second Rega turntable constructed using the latest ultra lightweight Tancast 8 polyurethane foam core (a material developed for the aerospace industry). This material is sandwiched between two layers of HPL (high-pressure laminate).
HPL is exceptionally thin and extremely rigid. This new construction makes the new Planar 8 skeletal plinth 30% lighter than the original RP8 while offering increased rigidity over the previous model. It also uses a three-piece laminated glass platter which is the result of collaboration with a British glass engineering company.
Using a specialized curing system, the new drive belt offers superior consistency of modulus, a constant representing the degree to which a substance has a particular property, especially elasticity. A single piece machined aluminum sub-platter and hardened tool steel spindle run inside a custom brass housing which is cleverly mounted within the chassis in the table’s new low mass central bearing assembly.
If you are serious about vinyl, you know the name Rega, and the Planar 8 is a great opportunity to get in on all the great things the brand is doing.
The C-Sharp packs one heck of a lot of technology into its price tag. Various cartridge options, a heavy platter with a ceramic bearing, 10″ carbon tonearm, and external speed control unit give you an amazing combination. EAT’s special damping technology will keep both external noise and motor noise away from your records.
Plus it will look like a true work of art sitting on your audio rack with its striking European styling. Just do some stretching before you set it up because this jewel weighs in at 30 pounds!
The European engineers at EAT designed a base made of dense MDF coupled with 10 thermoplastic elastomer dampers for the motor virtually eliminates and motor noise transfer and external vibrations. EAT’s carbon fiber arm uses a very unique combination of both uni-pivot and conventional bearings for great tracking.
It matches perfectly with the $1,000 Ortofon Quintet Black that is included with the table. That alone is a great reason to consider this table for your setup.
The outboard speed control unit provides super clean power for the motor while also making switching between 33 and 45 just the push of a button. Other than being a state of the art table, that’s part of the C-Sharp’s strong points: ease of use. Despite having every feature you could want from an audiophile table, you do not have to struggle to use it. That makes the EAT C-Sharp a great option if you’re looking for a high class turntable.
The Prime is designed to offer hi-end sound while taking advantage in improvements in Turntable technology. The shape is designed to have a more aesthetic look, while having the footprint to accommodate the space needed for a 10 inch 3D arm.
This unique one-piece design finally solves the dilemma of creating a tonearm using the same material throughout. The material used in the 3D printing process is super anti-resonant, with the 3D printing solving the one piece headshell with no joint issue that plagues other arm designs.
A 20 pound machined platter also makes this table look and sound like no other. At 20 pounds, this well-damped aluminum platter is the ultimate option for consistent speed. Made to a tolerance of .001″ over its 39″ circumference, once it gets started moving, it will not waver at all in its speed.
The AC motor is heavy as well. At five pounds with a pulley machined to 10,000 of an inch tolerances, this heavy duty AC motor couples perfectly to the heavy platter for unsurpassed pitch.
With a unipivot tonearm, and a stable platter and AC motor, the VPI Prime Turntable spins at 33 and 45 RPM, allowing you the freedom to play your records the way they were meant to be heard. It looks remarkable, and that’s because it is remarkable, unlike any turntable on this list.
Michell Gyro SE
The Michell Engineering Gyro SE Is a Synthesis of Audiophile Performance, Engineering, and Finish. A three-point spring-suspended design compatible with nearly every tonearm around, this isn’t your ordinary ‘table. Neither is the included Rega RB303 tonearm or the insightful sound.
Featuring a spider chassis, aluminum suspended sub-chassis with internally isolated suspension turrets, impedance-matched platter, oil-pumping inverted bearing, and standalone DC motor, this iconic instrument – in production and revised across three-plus decades – constitutes a visionary synthesis of audiophile performance, engineering, finish, and upgradeability.
The fact it comes with a Rega RB303 tonearm further ups the ante, with the combination eminently capable of delivering extremely dynamic, open, accurate, and impactful sonics from your vinyl LPs.
The Gyro SE boasts a new tube with increased rigidity to the bearing housing, arm carrier, and headshell. Paired with the arm’s savvy redistribution of mass, these characteristics allow RB303 to have very few points of possible resonance and retrieve more detail, texture, and information from your LPs.
You’ll also experience exceptional clarity, deeper and blacker backgrounds, and thrilling dynamics for which analog is renowned. While you may not be familiar with Michell like you are Rega, or the soon-to-be-mentioned Pro-Ject brands, do not look this option over as you shop for an audiophile table.
Pro-Ject Xtension 10
The Xtension 10 shares much with its larger brother the Xtension 12. Designed to be smaller and with a 10″ tonearm, the Xtension 10 delivers nearly all of the 12’s performance in a more compact and less expensive package. Pro-Ject’s Xtension 10 incorporates over 20 years of experience in turntable design and manufacture.
The Xtension 10 represents their latest technological efforts to address mass-decoupling and resonance reduction. Beginning with the mass-loaded magnetically floated sub-chassis and the precision balanced sandwich alloy platter (recycled vinyl/alloy), the foundation of this system weighs in at a super-heavy 48lbs.
Additionally, Pro-Ject employs magnetic decoupling feet to thwart airborne or mechanical vibration from disturbing playback. This mass and isolation creates an environment of extremely low resonance allowing music to emerge from an ultra-silent black background.
An AC motor with a two-step pulley drive with Electronic Speed Control maintains perfect pitch and rhythm resulting in inaudible wow, flutter and noise. Further reducing noise and vibration is the isolated Sorbothane mounting board for the 10″ carbon-fiber tonearm.
The conical arm and unified headshell are fabricated from a single piece of carbon fiber to avoid problems associated with standing wave reflections. Single screw fixing of the armtube allows for easy rotation for adjustment of needle azimuth. Additionally the arm is fully adjustable for VTA. A high-performance 123cm phono interconnect cable is included, and above all, everything you need for a HiFi listening experience is here with the Pro-Ject Xtension 10.
Music Hall MMF-11.1
This 2 speed, belt driven turntable from Music Hall is one you will see everywhere on the internet. It catches eyes and ears thanks to its quadruple plinth design, signature to the brand. The distinctive design isolates the critical sound reproducing components, each on their own plinth. The tonearm is mounted to the upper plinth and the inverted ceramic main bearing is mounted to the second plinth allowing the partially sunken 1 1/2″ acrylic platter to spin freely.
Moving the main bearing to the second plinth improved cartridge tracking and significantly lowered background noise. The adjustable magnetic-levitation isolation feet, microprocessor speed control, motors, flywheel, and wiring are all mounted to the bottom plinth. The motors, flywheel, and speed control are further isolated on their own vibration damped dual-plinth platform, which is separately isolated from the upper three main plinths.
Sorbothane hemispheres separate each of the three main plinths and provide additional vibration damping. The bottom plinth functions as a mass-loaded resonant sink for the entire turntable. Two motors and a flywheel are used to increase torque and speed stability.
The mmf-11.1 comes in a high-gloss piano black lacquer finish and ships without cartridge. A large encapsulating acrylic dust cover is included. If you are considering a jump into audiophile record listening, Music Hall needs to at least be considered, and the MMF-11.1 is an option many love.
Finding an audiophile turntable can be overwhelming, but also a lot of fun. Use this breakdown as a jumping off point for finding the best audiophile turntable under $5,000.
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