Vintage vs New Turntables – Which is Better?

The biggest question for vinyl fans: are vintage vs new turntables better?

With the resurgence of vinyl, a pivotal question confronts music enthusiasts: should you buy a vintage or new turntable? As analog sound gains momentum, the choice between the classic allure of vintage models and the convenience of modern turntables becomes paramount. 

Let’s cut through the debate and guide you in deciding whether to embrace the nostalgia of a vintage turntable or opt for the new features of a modern record player.

Considerations Before Purchasing

When delving into vinyl, budget often becomes a primary concern. While a seemingly great deal on a retro turntable may catch your eye, potential repairs could turn that steal into a costly venture. 

On the flip side, modern turntables, although attractive, may lack the robust build quality of their vintage counterparts.

Vintage vs New Turntables – Deciding Factors

The major deciding factors between vintage and modern record players

Cost: Vintage turntables often win in the affordability department, but hidden repair costs can emerge. In fact, when a part on a vintage turntable fails, it can sometimes be economically unfeasible to replace it.  This can make buying a used turntable a risky proposition.

Modern turntables, especially entry-level audiophile options, may demand a higher upfront investment but often come with warranties and less long-term maintenance.

Sound: Vintage record players boast superior construction, but the poor condition of a used vinyl player can hurt its sound quality. If a vintage player is in good condition, however, its sound can rival a new turntable.

New record players have pristine turntable parts, enhancing the sound quality coming out of your speakers.

The Victrola Re-Spin is a modern record player
The Victrola Re-Spin is a modern record player

Function and Ease of Use: Vintage turntables are praised by experts for their quality parts, like S-shaped tonearms or linear tracking tonearms.  But they can be challenge to use.

You won’t be able to use an old record player with bluetooth technology, for example.  It might also be difficult to make turntable upgrades, or find replacement parts, should anything break on the record player itself.  

The House of Marley Stir It Up Turntable
The House of Marley Stir It Up Turntable is a new turntable with a vintage look

On the other hand, modern turntables (especially entry-level turntables) sacrifice quality for convenience.  They may be made with inferior materials, like plastic, but these turntables often have built in speakers (like the Victrola Re-Spin), possess rechargeable batteries (like the Victrola Revolution GO), or offer wireless streaming (like the House of Marley Stir It Up Turntable).

Repairs: Vintage turntables are built like tanks, but can be problematic if a breakdown occurs.  Unless you buy an inspected record player (from an expert like Dave at Vinyl Nirvana), you might be disappointed to discover your turntable one day requires lengthy repairs.

By contrast, new turntables often come with warranties and easy to find replacement parts.  In the event your turntable breaks down, it should be very easy to fix or replace its faulty part.

Style: Old record players, especially vintage 70s brands, tend to have a similar style.  These turntables often have a lot of silver tones to them, with plinths made out of either metal of wood. 

The Victrola Revolution GO is a retro style suitcase record player.
The Victrola Revolution GO is a new suitcase style record player

Modern turntables are often much more stylish and vibrant.  Cheaper record players, like the Victrola Revolution GO or Audio-Technica AT-LP60X, come in bold colors like yellow or red.  Mid-tier turntables, like the Pro-Ject T1 or Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO, are very minimalist in their design.  

Finally, suitcase record players are popular choices for those seeking a new turntable with a retro aesthetic.  Popular suitcase style record players are the Victrola Re-Spin and Crosley Cruiser.

Factors Influencing the Decision

The choice between a vintage or new turntable ultimately hinges on personal preferences. It’s a delicate balance between cherishing the reliability and charm of the past or embracing the audio technology of the present.

So…Are Vintage Turntables Better?

Go with a brand new turntable over a vintage turntable.

Drumroll, please.  Considering factors like cost, sound quality, ease of use, repairs, and style, buying a new turntable emerges as the best choice over getting a vintage record player. 

With that said, this decision is subjective, but prioritizing functionality, sound clarity, and ease of maintenance often tips the scales in the favor of modern record players.

Explore the Best of Both Worlds

For those looking to dive into the charm of vintage turntables, models like the Technics SL-1200 or Thorens TD-160 on platforms like eBay offer a taste of the past. 

If you’re eyeing modern vinyl players instead, I recommend the Audio-Technica AT-LP60X or Victrola Revolution GO for entry-level turntable options.

For those desiring mid-range turntables, you can’t go wrong with the Project Debut Carbon EVO, Rega Planar 1 Plus, or Technics SL-1200 MK7.

Enjoy my Audio-Technica AT-LP60X review
Enjoy my House of Marley Stir It Up Turntable review
Enjoy my Marantz TT-15S1 review
Enjoy my Victrola Re-Spin review
Enjoy my Victrola Revolution GO review

FAQ

Can you play old vinyl records on new turntables?

Yes, you can play old vinyl records on new turntables. Modern turntables are designed to be compatible with both vintage and contemporary vinyl records, offering a versatile platform for enjoying your entire vinyl collection.

Are new turntables better than old turntables?

New turntables often offer advanced features, improved sound quality, and easier maintenance. Yet, the preference between new and old turntables depends on personal taste and desired characteristics.

Where can I find vintage turntables for cheap?

Explore affordable vintage turntables on platforms like eBay, thrift stores, Goodwill stores, and local classifieds. Seek reputable sellers to ensure quality, and enjoy the charm of vintage audio at a budget-friendly price.

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