There is no shortage of ways to listen to music these days. Whether its Spotify, Soundcloud, Beats, or Tidal (just kidding, nobody uses Tidal), the amount of music available at the tap of a phone screen is almost infinite. But as any music nerd will tell you (often condescendingly), there is still nothing that compares with vinyl. The cassette tape and compact disc have become ancient artifacts, but vinyl records endure.
Part of that is the process. The very act of unsheathing a record from its sleeve, placing it onto the platter and lowering the tonearm creates a sense of anticipation. In a world of ADD music consumption, you are forced to slow down and truly listen to, not just hear, the music.
Once you do so, you are rewarded with a sonic cornucopia (which could also double as an awesomely awful prog-rock band name). You don’t have to be Jack Black’s character in High Fidelity to hear the tiny musical details that get lost in digital files. If you really want to hear music the way the artist intended, vinyl remains the best way.
Then there is the hunt. Finding obscure records is half the fun of listening to vinyl. The cherry on top is that turntables look cool. There is something refreshing in their analog design and the aesthetic pleasure that record players provide absolutely compliments the sonic one.
Whether you’re just starting your vinyl collection or are a veteran audiophile with storage units filled with records, here are five turntables that look as good as they sound.
GRAMOVOX FLOATING RECORD
Who says records have to play horizontally? Gramovox’s Floating Record plays vinyl while the disc stands on end. That way you can really show off the designs on your record collection. The Floating Record has an Audio-Technica cartridge and built-in speakers so you can simply open the box and start playing tunes. The sturdy base of the turntable comes in either maple or walnut so you can find the one that best compliments your style.
FERN & ROBY TURNTABLE
You might want to stretch before bringing this puppy home. It tips the scales at more than 100 pounds, owing to a 70-pound cast iron base and a 35-pound bronze platter. The materials create a visually stunning work of art. But they also serve a function, helping dampen vibrations which are the mortal enemy of a vinyl listening experience.
PRO-JECT DEBUT CARBON ESPRIT SB
The Debut Carbon hits all the right design notes. Carbon fiber tonearm? Check. Minimalist styling? Check. A palette of different color options? Check. It also produces a sound quality that stands up against turntables that cost 10 times as much, thanks to an upgraded Ortofon 2M Red cartridge and that carbon tonearm, which is incredibly stiff and decreases resonance.
Just looking at this thing makes you want to air scratch and make “wicky-wicky-wack” sounds. The style is reminiscent of the beloved but discontinued Technics SL-1200 and recalls an era in hip-hop when it was all about two turntables and a microphone. But the nostalgic (and battle-tested) design has modern updates like a USB output so you can connect the turntable to your computer.
MUSIC HALL MMF-5.1
The sleek piano black finish on this turntable grabs your attention immediately. Then when you listen to it and hear all the musical detail that gets lost in digital files you will have a tough time listening to music any other way. It has a plug-and-play set up and the screw-down clamp means that even warped records will play smoothly.