Introduction to Turntable Reviews

Ahhh, does anything say audiophile more than a turntable? What was once the only way to play music at home is now considered a luxury? What some would argue is the “warmest” sound, vinyl has made a strong comeback and as of this writing is a hot commodity. Turntables come in basically two formats, direct-drive from the motor to the platter, or with a separated motor and belt system. The modern turntable plays both 33 1/3 and 45 rpms. The components of a turntable; the motor, platter, arm and cartridge can be exchanged on most turntables. This allows upgrading and replacement of worn parts like cartridge needles. A turntable’s voltage output is very low and needs to be boosted using a phono stage. Not all integrated amplifiers or receivers have phono stages built-in so an external phono stage can be integrated.

Turntables can run complete with a tone arm and cartridge from a few hundred dollars to five and even six figures without either. Some of the best cartridges for example may run in the thousands alone. Speaking of cartridges, they come in two formats, MC or Magnetic Coil and MM or Moving Magnet. The MC format is a bit more advanced in that it offers both high and low outputs. The MM is generally more affordable and is considered mellow sounding. Those wanting more definition and transparency may opt for the more expensive MC cartridge setup. Keep in mind your phono stage has to be compatible with either or both.

Turntables

Fluance RT85 Reference High Fidelity Turntable Review

Today, I’ll be checking out the RT85 turntable from Canadian upstart Fluance. They have released a barrage of new products over the last few years. Entire ranges of speakers and music systems are now joined by turntables. I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing a few pieces and have been thoroughly impressed by the sound and build quality of their product, especially for the reasonable prices. How will the new Reference Turntable fare?

Mark Levinson No515 Turntable Review

I just had the good fortune to review a system comprising two cutting-edge Mark Levinson products – the No515 turntable and the No585.5 integrated amp. The No515 was fitted with an Ortofon Cadenza Bronze MC cartridge on its 3D-printed, Gimbaled tonearm. The high torque AC motor drives three belts that provide precise speed control. The deck also has excellent isolation properties and a full set of calibration controls.

VPI Prime Turntable

VPI Prime Signature Turntable Review

The VPI Prime Signature turntable sits atop of their Production Line, and is priced at $6,000 without cartridge ($6,800 in Rosewood). Packing many of the features found in their Reference lineup of turntables, the VPI Prime Signature is a stunning piece of audio equipment both in sonics and aesthetics.

Shinola Runwell Turntable Review

The Shinola Runwell Turntable is the inaugural audio component from the Detroit, Michigan-based manufacturer, and with the help of turntable-legends VPI Industries, they have produced a very high quality turntable that will appeal to those just entering the world of vinyl playback, and vinyl veterans alike. With incredibly good looks, a built-in phono pre-amplifier, and stellar build quality, the Shinola Runwell Turntable provides a complete analog solution.

Pro-Ject Xtension 10 Superpack Turntable System

This beautiful turntable from Pro-Ject Audio Systems is dubbed the Xtension 10. This new model is a smaller version of the highly acclaimed Xtension 12. Pro-Ject retained most of the design features of the Xtension 12 to include a built-in precision speed control, a balanced sandwich platter, adjustable magnetic feet and a precision inverted ceramic main bearing. The over-designed Xtension 10 weighs in at a healthy 48-1/2 lbs net! It comes with a heavy record clamp and acrylic dust cover included.

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Turntable

Each year the RIAA releases sales figures to try to show that their industry is dying and then points to a wide variety of causes. Dig into the numbers and you will find one bright spot for the music sales: vinyl. Not only are turntables back in a big way, you can get them in designer colors, like the red Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Turntable reviewed here.

Rega RP3 Turntable

The 3 series of Rega turntables is probably one of the best-selling turntable lines in the history of the world. Will this new model be able to sustain the momentum Rega has going for them?

SOTA Nova Turntable

SOTA is a turntable manufacturer headquartered in the Chicago area. They have been around for more than 30 years. SOTA's current management team of Kirk and Donna Bodinet took over the manufacturing and servicing operation in 1997. They manufacture a total of nine turntable models as well as a very popular LP Cleaning Machine. The model under review here is the Nova.