The best record player under £200, according to a hi-fi expert

Steve May
·4-min read
Searching for a new record player?  Here's a very worthy option.
Searching for a new record player? Here's a very worthy option. (Sony)

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Even though I can stream decades of music at the drop of a hat, thanks to my monthly music subscription service, I’ve increasingly found myself longing for the tangible thrill of a needle drop on vinyl. And it seems I’m not alone.

Amazingly, vinyl LPs accounted for nearly 1 in 5 of all albums purchased during 2020. That’s 4.8 million records, remarkable for a format destined for the car boot of history more than two decades ago.

2020’s vinyl best sellers included Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black and Nirvana’s Nevermind. Want to buy something more contemporary? New albums nearly always launch in some form of limited edition colour vinyl. Buying can be habit forming.

There’s also something comforting about the ritual of playing a record. If you’re using a quality player, they sound rather wonderful too.

Turntables range from low-cost all-in-one transportables, to high-end models costing many thousands.

Far better to invest in a traditional deck. Credible Hi-Fi brands like Audio Technica, Rega, and Pro-Ject offer some lovely models, typically priced upwards of £250.

My best buy though has to be the Sony PS-LX310BT. This Bluetooth equipped disc spinner sells for less than £200, yet is a brilliant marriage of old and new.

Buy it: Sony PS-LX310BT Bluetooth Turntable | £194.95 from John Lewis

Also available from Amazon

Record players have a reputation of being high maintenance – old timers will recall the need for tedious setup and much faffing around with cartridges – but not these days. Auto playback even means you don’t even have to manually lower the tone arm.

This Sony deck looks slim and classy too, with an aluminium die-cast platter, it appears more expensive than it is.

The PS-LX310BT can be used either with a separate stereo amplifier and speakers, should you have them lying around, or partnered directly with Bluetooth speakers or soundbar or Bluetooth headphones. Wired or wireless? The choice is yours.

If you have a vinyl collection that’s been collecting dust over the years, and want to take them for a spin, or are returning to the (gate)fold, it's a great upgrade.

What the reviews say

The Sony record player currently has over 120 five-star reviews on John Lewis.

  • "Bought this record player and a portable Sony blue tooth speaker for a Christmas present for my husband. He loves it and I chose it based on reviews I had read which it has lived up to."

  • "It's a great turntable with a retractable arm and blue tooth capability. Just what I wanted. I have it blue toothed to a Bose speaker. I have a lot of vinyls that are 30+ years old and they sound awesome! Highly recommend."

  • "This is my first vinyl player and I have not been let down at all. It's a fantastic piece of kit! The sound is fantastic (I only use via Bluetooth to a soundbar) and it looks great in the room as well. Would recommend to anyone currently looking for a semi low budget vinyl player."

  • "Bought this for my boyfriend at Christmas he's got a huge record collection and this turntable is amazing! Lets you play 12" and 7" records, has a pre-amp so you can adjust the gain from the device. Has an automatic arm but you can manually put it on as well. The lid is a great addition as it lets you play the records with the lid closed keeping them clean and dust free. A very sleek and quality piece of kit. The bluetooth feature is a winner as you dont need a separate amp to play your tracks, very easy to connect to a bluetooth speaker or headphones and listen to it. 10/10 love it!!"

For buyers on a tighter budget, Crosley is often the first port of call. The Crosley Cruiser briefcase system, usually priced around £80, remains perennially popular, not least because its retro design includes built-in stereo speakers, headphone jack and Bluetooth support.

Buy it: Crosley Cruiser Deluxe Vintage 3-Speed Bluetooth Suitcase Turntable | £79.99 from Amazon

Crosley Cruiser Deluxe Vintage 3-Speed Bluetooth Suitcase Turntable
Crosley Cruiser Deluxe Vintage 3-Speed Bluetooth Suitcase Turntable

It's fun certainly, but be wary, Crosley’s heavy tracking needle won’t handle your beloved record collection as carefully as you do.

Watch: Paul McCartney inspires vinyl boom