The 7 Best Turntables of 2021: Buying, Setting Up, and More

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Buying a turntable can be a difficult task with all the alternatives that exist in the market. In this guide I am going to present you the 7 best turntables for this 2021 taking into account the budget you have.

In addition, if you are a newbie, this guide will help you learn all the essential concepts of turntables (parts, terminology, configuration and set-up …) and the world of vinyl in general, in a short time you will become an expert.

In general, if you are just starting out or just want to spend as little as possible, but buy something that is good and sounds good, there is a clear winner: the Lenco L-3808. Well built, with a good capsule and above all cheap.

I also warn you that if you expect to find the typical turntables with old aesthetics that are so fashionable here, you are not going to do it. I suggest that before you read my article on retro turntables to see the scam that is in the sector.

To be honest, I was not expecting anything from this Lenco L-3808. It had all the ballots to be an ordinary turntable, the heap of bad guys: cheap and direct drive, a brand that does not go through its best moment, Chinese manufacture, a very typical design …

Well, the reality is that I could not be more wrong, because, for the price it has, it is a gem. Even made of plastic, this is quality and does not feel like a Chinese trinket. It is very stable and has a motor that rivals much more expensive turntables: high torque and low vibrations. Incredible in this price range! As a bonus, bring a dust cap, something that is always appreciated.

Plus, it includes a pretty decent capsule: an AT-3600 with a tapered needle.

Surprisingly, Lenco tells us to set the tracking force to a slight 2g. To give you an idea, Dual uses this same capsule on some of its turntables, such as the MTR-75, and indicates a setting of about 3.25g. This gives us a hint: the arm of the Lenco L-3808 is very good.

Even so, I think it is a turntable from which you can get a little more “chicha” and change the capsule for a better one, for example an Ortofon 2m Red would improve the sound a lot.

I understand that changing the capsule is a big outlay. Don’t worry because the stock turntable sounds like vice for the price. It offers a full and quite detailed sound, very enjoyable. Although you already know that your speakers, amplifier and the rest of the equipment will play a fundamental role in the final result.

Finally, I want to indicate that it has a normal phono preamp (only for MM capsules), enough for most people I would say. And a USB port so you can digitize your old vinyl. Although, if you are serious about digitization, better save for a Sony PS-HX500, which we will see a little later now.

Bottom line: Do you want the best turntable possible while spending as little money as possible? No discussion, buy yourself the Lenco L-3808.

The Audio-Technica LP120 has always been the turntable I have recommended the most for beginners and DJs on a budget. It had it all: a good motor with great torque, special DJ functions, it was well built, a good arm, a pretty good capsule. All at a low price.

Not long ago Audio Technica decided to retire the AT-LP120 and replace it with the AT-LP120XUSB. As we will see now in general, it is an improvement, so I continue to recommend it to everyone. But, yes, there is always a “but” … they have abandoned the things that made it especially good for DJing, so I recommend it now, but only for listening to music in the domestic market.

The Audio Technica AT-LP3 is another cheap alternative to the previous two, in this case with belt drive and not direct drive.

The design and structure are the same as the Dual MTR-75 and many other cheap turntables that are made in China. Of course, Audio Technica has done a good job in the damping and stability of the structure, much better than other manufacturers. In addition, it works fully automatically, which is a convenience.

Audio Technica’s AT91R capsule is included, which adjusts to 2g, which is pretty little, good for not damaging your records. It is true that it is not the best capsule of the brand and it has a conical tip that is usually worse than ellipticals, but it is passable and you can always change it.

The turntable sounds good, it is not the most detailed sound I have heard, but it has “life” and body. If you buy a better quality capsule it will improve things a lot.

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