There was a cartoon in The New Yorker that recently made me chuckle: two guys are staring at a vinyl system with dumbfounded looks on their faces. One guy says to the other: “The two things that really drew me to vinyl were the expense and the inconvenience.”
The New Yorker were spot on. Vinyl isn’t easy, nor does it necessarily sound better than high-res streaming. But vinyl lovers love the process. They love the warm sound, having to flip the record and place the needle, and even the fuzziness caused by the needle scratching audio off the record. It’s a beautiful addiction, and however impractical it may seem, we can’t help but support it.
In the $300-ish price range, there are quite a few entry-level turntables from which you can choose. I like the Audio-Technica LP120. It sounds great, runs quiet and looks cool. Plus it has a USB output so you can connect it to your computer and digitize your records, which is great for those who have a large collection.
If you turn the passive bookshelf speakers that you already own into wireless speakers that you can stream to, or you want to integrate them with your Sonos speakers, you want to get the Sonos Connect:Amp. You just wire your passive speakers into it and it acts as a receiver. It can also power a subwoofer, which the Sonos Connect cannot. (Note: the Sonos Connect works similarly to the Connect:Amp but it needs to use your existing receiver.)
Rega Fono Mini A2D
It’s not uncommon for some older or entry-level turntables to not come with built-in phono stage, which is a problem because you really need one to amplify the signal from your turntable so that it sounds good on your sound system. And this is one of the best phono stages you can get, on a budget or otherwise. It also comes with a USB output so you can digitize your records.
Winchester Craft Floating Record Shelf
Winchester Craft makes all kinds of neat shelving options to records and hold record sleeves. They’re elegent yet simple, built with real oak and handmade in Oregon.
Onzow Zerodust Stylus Cleaner
You want to periodically clean your turntable’s stylus needle so that your system sounds best. This small plastic box does just that. It has a gelatinous plastic inside that, when pressed against the needle, it removes build-up and other contaminants.
Isoacoustics Iso-Puck Isolation Pucks
Place these isolation pucks underneath your bookshelf speakers turntables and amps, and they eliminate unwanted vibrations. Basically they’re an effective way to ensure that the placement of your set-up isn’t adding any unwanted distortion to the audio.
Symbol Audio Modern Record Player
For anybody who wants an all-in-one solution to play their records, this is one of our favorites. The Modern Record Player has an integrated turntable, amplifier and speaker, plus you can stream music to it via Bluetooth, Airplay, Chromecast. Heck, you can even have it outfitted with a Sonos Connect so it can be integrated into your exisiting Sonos set-up.
Record Props V2
This is another neat way to show off the records that you love. It’s a mount that hangs both the record and its sleeve on the wall. The record isn’t bound by a frame or glass display, allowing you to take it off the wall and play on your turntable whenever you want.
Q Acoustics Concept 20
Even though they’ve been around for few years, the Concept 20 passive bookshelf speakers are still considered some of the best bookshelf speakers you can buy. They have a special cabinet design that almost completely eliminates distortion, meaning the only sound you are getting is from the drivers themselves.
Corner Store Vinyl Storage Rack
This three-tiered metal storage rack is a great way to house a bunch of records without taking up a lot of space. Plus, it’s inexpensive and matches the “vintage vibe” that a lot of collectors like.
Definitive Technology BP9080x
For those looking for bigger and more dynamic speakers, and that are willing to spend a little more for them, Definitive Technology’s BP9080x are some of the best floor-standing speakers you can buy (that aren’t ludicrously expensive). Not only do they look stunning, but nearly every hi-fi publication has given them near perfect marks.
Way Basics Vinyl Record Storage Cube
Symbol Audio makes some of the nicest record crates — here — I’ve seen, but they’re also $225 each. If you want something similar at a fraction of the price, go with these.
Grado SR60e Headphones
For anybody looking for affordable, audiophile-grade headphones, these are among our favorites. The SR60e headphones are comfortable, sound great, and they have Grado’s famed look and open-back design. And since they’re wired, you can easily plug them into any turntable with a headphone jack.