Your expert guide to turntables that combine analogue and digital.
In the ever-evolving world of audio technology, the marriage of digital precision and analogue warmth has given rise to a fascinating innovation: hybrid turntables. Seamlessly blending the nostalgic charm of vinyl records with the convenience and versatility of modern digital interfaces, these devices offer a unique listening experience that appeals to beginners and enthusiasts alike.
Read more: A guide to the best vinyl accessories
The resurgence of vinyl records in recent years has significantly influenced the development of hybrid turntables. As the demand for vinyl experiences a renaissance, turntable manufacturers have responded by incorporating modern features that align with contemporary lifestyles. This combination of classic and cutting-edge elements results in an audio device that bridges generational gaps, satisfying both the nostalgic and tech-savvy inclinations of today’s consumers.
A hybrid turntable, at its core, is a high-tech combination of conventional analogue parts with cutting-edge digital ones. Digital features such as built-in preamps, USB connectivity, and Bluetooth compatibility have been included with turntables without sacrificing the classic spinning platter and needle-on-groove action beloved by vinyl fans. From those who want a simple plug-and-play configuration to others who want more intricate control over their sound, this combination of technologies may accommodate them all.
The flexibility of hybrid turntables is a major selling point for these devices. The easy-to-use functionality necessitates little configuration or technical know-how, making it ideal for newcomers. On the other hand, vinyl fans value the option to digitize their records so that they can listen to their old favourites on modern devices while still keeping the quality of the original recordings.
Hybrid turntables can be found in a wide price range, from relatively inexpensive to rather pricey. Budget alternatives often contain minimal functionality, making them suitable for occasional listeners or those new to vinyl. Mid-range turntables offer a happy medium between high-end models’ price tags and those of more casual buyers, making them a popular choice among audiophiles. Designed for audiophiles with exacting standards, high-end hybrids typically feature cutting-edge digital conversion technology, premium materials, and painstaking craftsmanship.
When considering a hybrid turntable purchase, potential buyers should pay attention to several factors. These include the quality of the analogue components, the versatility and reliability of the digital features, the level of customization and control offered, and the overall build and design. A well-chosen hybrid turntable has the potential to elevate one’s music enjoyment, satisfying both the desire for vintage authenticity and the demands of the digital age.
Price: £200Pros: Affordable, variable gain selection, user-friendly, BluetoothCons: Bluetooth audio quality is okay, ability to upgrade
Verdict: When creating entry-level turntables, manufacturers often make compromises to cut costs, sacrificing functionality and build quality. Sony’s PS-LX310BT disrupts this pattern.
Sony’s PS-LX310BT presents a sleek, fully automatic turntable, perfect for pairing with your Bluetooth speakers or headphones. Different to many turntables is the PS-LX310BT’s audio gain switch which enables precise level adjustments. It’s an elegant choice featuring a built-in phono amp and USB output for vinyl-to-digital recording enthusiasts.
Price: £279.99Pros: Fully automatic, built-in preamp, BluetoothCons: Does not play 78 speed records
Verdict: With its upgraded Bluetooth wireless technology and high-quality analogue sound, the AT-LP3XBT is a completely automatic turntable that is user-friendly, even for novices.
The Audio Technica LP3XBT is a Bluetooth-friendly improvement to the company’s budget-friendly, entry-level LP3. If you want to get into record playing, this turntable has everything you need. It’s belt-driven, totally automatic, can play both 12″ and 7″ records at different speeds, features Bluetooth connectivity for use with external speakers, and even has a built-in phono preamplifier. It’s also really simple to employ. The AT-VM95C flexible cartridge from Audio Technica is also included and the turntable can use any stylus from the VM95 series without needing to be replaced entirely.
Price: £350Pros: Built-in preamp, USB port for recording records, removable headshell, plays 33 1/3, 45 and 78 RPMCons: Unique dust cover has to be completely removed during each use, poor cartridge
Verdict: If you’re in search of a hassle-free, plug-and-play turntable that offers the convenience of playing ’78s and the ability to directly record records to a USB, then this turntable is the ideal choice for you.
Denon’s DP-450 USB is a belt-driven turntable that boasts a three-speed motor, an s-shaped tonearm and USB connectivity. The automatic shutoff function is really useful and the addition of a front-facing USB port allowing you to easily record your favourite vinyl recordings as high-quality MP3 and WAV files on a flash drive. The turntable’s removable headshell also makes it easy to switch to a different half-inch mount cartridge.
Price: £400Pros: Stylish, easy to use, BluetoothCons: No auto stop
Verdict: The Pro-Ject T1 BT turntable boasts style and finesse with its Bluetooth capabilities and a design that stands out.
The T1 stands out with its elegant CNC-machined plinth devoid of any plastic components, ensuring a resonance-free build. This design philosophy extends to the glass platter, engineered for zero vibrations. Thoughtfully selected turntable feet isolate the T1 from external vibrations and high-quality Bluetooth capability ensures you’re getting the best sound–whether digital or analogue.
Price: £500Pros: Bluetooth, wireless streaming, Alexa and Google voice control integrationCons: Streaming services controlled through Yamaha’s MusicCast app
Verdict: Ideal for those who desire the capability to both play their vinyl records and stream music from their favorite artists seamlessly.
The Yamaha MusicCast Vinyl 500 serves as a bridge between the analog and digital realms, making it a perfect transitional device. It enables wireless streaming of vinyl records to Bluetooth or Wi-Fi-enabled speakers throughout your home. Through Wi-Fi transmission, the turntable maintains superior sound quality by delivering enhanced signals to your speakers. Additionally, it integrates with voice assistants such as Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant, enabling effortless control from a distance through voice commands. Despite the influence of its digital functionalities on its cost, the turntable continues to deliver exceptional analog sound performance during record playback.
Price: £750Pros: Built in phono pre amp, BluetoothCons: Good, but not great, sound
Verdict: Elipson’s turntable venture blends style and convenience with the Omega 400 RIAA. Onboard phono stage, pleasing sound, and all-in-one appeal.
The Chroma 400 RIAA BT Turntable from Elipson’s contemporary range boasts Bluetooth connectivity and a built-in pre-amp. Enhanced with a new tonearm, engine, and suspension system, this turntable is meticulously crafted for top-tier vinyl playback. Noteworthy additions include altered tray material, counterweight graduation, and a free mechanical scale, all accompanied by an improved engine and modified suspension for heightened performance. This all comes together to give you a sound profile that is unbeatable.
Price: £1699Pros: High-output cartridge, solid build, toggleable featuresCons: Compatibility issues, lacks intensity
Verdict: Cambridge Audio’s Alva TT V2 turntable merges performance and flexibility, featuring a detachable tonearm, toggleable phono stage and Bluetooth
Cambridge Audio, renowned for its award-winning electronics, has expanded into the turntable realm, with the Alva TT V2 as its flagship model. Evolving from its predecessor, the V2 boasts a detachable headshell tonearm and the flexibility to toggle the integrated phono stage and Bluetooth module with ease. Despite unchanged core features, the Alva TT V2 seamlessly blends high-performance akin to other purist turntable models. Notably, the built-in phono stage adds versatility, while aptX HD Bluetooth widens usage possibilities.
Price: £1740Pros: Streaming connectivity, Bluetooth, easy to use, great soundCons: N/A
Verdict: THE+RECORD PLAYER offers a high fidelity turntable system with built-in stereo, quality materials, and modern versatile features for discerning audiophiles and vinyl lovers.
While we often recommend running far far away from all-in-one turntable systems, Plus Audio’s “The + Record Player” is an exception. This deck revolutionizes vinyl playback with its high-fidelity turntable housing, an integrated, top-notch stereo music system, and advanced features, such as Bluetooth, streaming capabilities, a unique four-speaker array, and various other “smart” functionalities. Designed for the modern-day vinyl enthusiast, its innovative all-in-one design includes a built-in high-performance speaker system, catering to audiophiles seeking both elegance and premium sound quality without compromising on sound or modern features.
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