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

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.

GEM Dandy PolyTable Turntable

GEM Dandy PolyTable Turntable Review

While turntables have become so ubiquitous that the news of any new model is pretty much white noise, it’s time to pay attention. Starting with a price around $1600, the GEM Dandy PolyTable is George Merrill’s gauntlet and it’s nothing short of superb.

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?

SME 309 Tonearm

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.

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.

Clearaudio Concept Turntable

Recently in reviews, I've talked about the Loudness Wars that have infected many modern recordings and how music that I enjoy is rendered almost unlistenable by a bad recording. I imagine it might surprise many people to learn that most releases on vinyl require a different mastering technique than the digital release of the same album, and so many of the flaws of the digital master won't be present on the vinyl release. I tested the Clearaudio Concept Turntable with some modern albums recorded digitally and released on CD as well as Vinyl to prove my point.

Marantz TT-15S1 Turntable

The Marantz TT-15S1 has me so excited about vinyl again that it has me scrambling to find old LPs. A friend recommended that I check out a used CD store, and, "Oh yeah," he says, "they sell vinyl too!" Tunes in Hoboken, New Jersey has become a favorite destination when I can find parking and have a bit of time to kill searching through their ever growing collection. I never stop to look at the CDs by the way, but go straight to the 12" x 12" disc-size.