6 Mid-Priced Turntables That Satisfy an Analog Appetite
A new era of turntables from Clearaudio, Music Hall, Pro-Ject, Rega, SOTA and VPI offer music lovers a choice of product solutions that fill today's sound quality and aesthetic requirements without breaking their budgets.
Robert Archer · November 1, 2012
It wasn’t that long ago that analog audio and vinyl recordings were given last rites. But toward the end of the last decade, just as digital downloads were becoming the norm, a funny thing happened: vinyl sales inexplicably began to surge. Now several years later, the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) reports that vinyl shipments increased by about 34 percent during 2011 to account for $119 million in sales and more than over 5 million units shipped.
Supporting the RIAA’s numbers, Nielsen SoundScan says that 2011 vinyl sales were up more than 36 percent over 2010 figures. Interestingly, Nielsen also points out that three quarters of the albums sold are classified as rock music and the top selling acts are a mix of classic and new artists (The Beatles, Radiohead, Adele and The Black Keys).
Reading into these figures a case could be made that a new age of younger audio enthusiasts are discovering vinyl after realizing the limitations of low-resolution digital audio file and driving the format’s revival. It’s also worth noting that the used vinyl market is thriving because of organizations such as the Boston area-based New England Record Collector’s Club holding regular sales events. These used sales don’t factor into the figures tallied by trade groups like the RIAA or Nielsen, but they fuel interest in affordable LPs with groups like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Rolling Stones and Black Sabbath commanding the attention of many flea-market shoppers.
Stepping up to fill the need for new, modernized turntables, the electronics industry reacted through through notable manufacturers such as Clearaudio, Pro-Ject, Rega and VPI offering consumers a broad choice of solutions. These industry stalwarts have been joined by relatively newer companies like Music Hall and SOTA to provide consumers with a choice of products that deliver a discernible step up in performance and industrial design.
Taking a closer look at these companies’ product lines, each one of them offers everything from entry level to top-of-the-line flagship products. Focusing on their mid-level offerings, these manufacturers have a number of products in the attractive $900 to $2,000 range, and many of these products also allow users or audio dealers to choose their favorite moving magnet (MM) or moving coil (MC) phono cartridges to form a complete and customizable analog solution.
Here are six mid-level turntables with high-performance pedigrees:
Bob is an audio enthusiast who has written about consumer electronics for various publications within Massachusetts before joining the staff of CE Pro in 2000. Bob is THX Level I certified, and he's also taken classes from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). In addition, he's studied guitar and music theory at Sarrin Music Studios in Wakefield, Mass., and he also studies Kyokushin karate at 5 Dragons in Haverhill, Mass. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Robert at [email protected]
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