Best retro-style turntables to play vinyl records in 2024

Reject modernity; embrace tradition

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James Grimshaw2 minutes ago
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Retro is in. Really, though, it always has been.

Ever since the golden days became the golden days, we’ve had a love affair with nostalgia – even for times which we didn’t personally experience.

From fashion styles to eras of cinema, we’re eternally referencing the old in the creation of something new. The joy of incorporating the classic, chic, ‘vintage’ and ‘retro’ is near-universal, but so too is the impotent horror of looking on as your own recent history becomes ‘retro’ (the Nintendo Gamecube is a not a retro gaming console, and this author will die on that hill).  

Vinyl vindication

Nothing is immune from the passage of time, nor from the eventual onset of retro status. Nothing has weathered the journey better, either, than the humble vinyl record. Immediately and unceremoniously outmoded by the cassette tape, and again by the CD, vinyl as a format has made a long, slow and above all cool comeback in the streaming age. 

There are benefits to vinyl beyond its history as a medium. There are perceived fidelity and timbre benefits afforded by the analogue reproduction of sound, while each sale of a new record also represents more money making its way back to the artist.

It is impossible to avoid acknowledging the role of style in all this, though. A combination of thrilling cover art and the nostalgic form of the record itself has played heavily into the re-adoption of the record globally. It’s only natural, then, that there’s also a market for retro-style turntables.

Going retro

For some, finding a retro record player to suit the ‘vibe’ is as simple as hitting eBay for the cheapest listing with ‘vintage’ in the title. Doing this can result in some cool finds, but also invites the mercurial nature of old-school turntable technology.

Old turntables will not reliably work the first time, and could sprout any number of issues after purchase (potentially even damaging your vinyl in the process).

Best retro-style turntables to buy at a glance

For newer vinyl adherents or retro-glam aficionados, a much safer bet – for the quality of sound, the condition of your records and the preservation of your sanity – is often to buy something new, which hides modern turntable tech under a glam, glitzy, camp or kitsch retro style.

The market is awash with contemporary turntable models in fantastic vintage skins, from all-in-one media centres to sleek, chic turntables. What follows are some of the best, from the entry-level to blow-the-budget machines. Shop now

Victrola Re-Spin Sustainable Bluetooth Suitcase Record Player, Gray


Best: overall

The form and style of older cultural artefacts, be they telephones, turntables or televisions, is defined by key names and brands. Just as it is near-impossible to talk telephones without talking GPO, or talk early hi-fi without talking RCA, it is near-impossible to acknowledge the early days of vinyl records without mention of the Victor Talking Machine Company. This was an American phonograph company and early record label, which led the charge in proliferating records at the turn of the 20th century. It also shared a logo and trademark with similarly iconic British outlet HMV – ‘His Master’s Voice’, the famed 19th Century painting of a dog and his gramophone.

The Victor Talking Machine Company produced records and phonographs for generations, first independently then as a merged entity with music industry behemoth RCA. Today, an ancestor lives on in the form of Victrola; a much newer enterprise, but one that stays true to the form and style of its forefather. 

Most suitcase record players take their cues from the early 20th Century, but this Victrola design echoes the austere plasticity of the 1970s. The Re-Spin is a suitcase retro-style turntable, but with a moulded plastic form that utilises recycled materials - 25 per cent, to be exact. The plastic is lighter than the MDF construction of most suitcase players, making this one of the few truly portable models on the market. 

The moulded lid of the Re-Spin has internal grooves for storing records, a clever and unique gimmick that makes sharing records a little more fun. There’s a nifty little bass port design built into the base of the Re-Spin which purports to deliver four times the bass of the average portable record player. We can’t verify the claim quantitatively, but can report that – while still a little tinny – the Re-Spin performs admirably as a low-cost portable player. Two-way Bluetooth connectivity makes this pre-eminently useful as an audio device, beyond its standard features and functions.

The Victrola won’t break any records for audio reproduction or build quality, but easily wins out over many others at its price point. The recycled aspect is a very welcome bonus.

Buy now£99.99, Argos

Lenco LS-440BUBG Blue/Grey Turntable


Best for: two-tone quality

Lenco is a highly capable audio and hi-fi brand which has previously won our heart via its winning budget party speaker. It also produces record players in various shapes and sizes – including this all-in-one unit, the LS-440 BUBG.

The LS-440 cuts a relatively slim form compared to the majority of all-in-one turntable solutions on the market. This slim form is clad in a rough hessian-esque fabric, giving the record player a textile edge over the plasticky or pleather finishes other designs prefer; the fabric bears a pleasing blue-beige two-tone colour scheme too, visually separating the platter from the body of the unit.

The top of the unit sports a fetching aluminium platter, which adds weight and stability to the mechanism as well as to the mid-century design. There’s a well-formatted surface-mounted panel which enables tactile control of the LS-440’s features – themselves, incidentally, impressive. As well as 33/45 switch-ability, the LS-440 has a separate ‘pitch control’ knob which subtly speeds and slows the motor, enabling you to fine-tune the speed, hence pitch, of your records. This is something that casual listeners may find useful, but which vinyl fans will be ecstatic to see.

Another win for the discerning ear is the presence of an Audio-Technica cartridge, mounted to a tonearm with an adjustable counterweight at the rear. Audio-Technica quality is the best quality you could hope for in a cheaper record player, and a good sign that you’ll get some great play out of this charming unit. This is one of the better all-rounders of the bunch.

Buy now£259.99, HMV

Steepletone Discgo Bluetooth Record Player


Best for: budget boogie-vibes

With the Steepletone Discgo, we are again leaving the first half of the 20th century behind in favour of a different generation – one of leg-warmers, lava-lamps and other 70s-ish things beginning with ‘L’.

Steepletone is an electronics brand that’s spent 50 years in the game, quietly building a reputation for affordable sound systems and bedroom accoutrements – amongst which the Discgo stands out thoroughly.

This is a retro-style turntable which, in form, reflects the form of the vinyl medium itself. The round base and off-centre platter are fun and chic in one, with a black wood-effect finish that will be familiar to the many hi-fi-owning Gen-X parents among us. The controls are simple enough, with a three-way switch for speed selection and a switch for a record auto-stop function. Bluetooth connectivity makes playing your records through Bluetooth speakers an absolute cinch.

Honestly, there is little more to say about this little unit. It does what it purports to do, and does it well enough for its sub-£100 price point. More discerning record collectors might think twice before playing their priced vinyls, but it is a pitch-perfect player for your well-worn copies of Top Of The Pops.

Buy now£89.50, Not On The High Street

Bush Classic Retro Portable Case Record Player – Black


Best for: your child’s first retro turntable

Bush is the in-house electronics brand for Argos, and an imprint which typically pitches its products towards the entry level. This much, at least, is true for the Bush Classic – a retro-style turntable in the now-familiar ‘suitcase turntable’ tradition, but at a monocle-dropping-ly low price point against its contemporaries and competitors.

The Bush Classic is somewhat austerely-featured. While it does possess a built-in pre-amp and speakers, and it does play all speeds of record (which is more than can be said for some costlier retro-style turntables on the market), it does not have by-now-standard Bluetooth connectivity – nor does it offer much in the way of control beyond volume. Still, there’s aux in, RCA outs and a pleasingly sharp-looking closed-up form to enjoy!

At just a shade over £30, the Classic is one of the cheapest retro-style turntables you will find outside of a car boot sale. Naturally, at prices this low, you can expect to meet some serious trade-offs; still, whether these matter to you could well be moot, particularly if you’re just after a good-looking record-playing addition to a space. For instance, this might be an exemplary ‘first turntable’ for the young music-lover in your family.

Buy now£32.99, Argos

Victrola Empire 6-in-1 Bluetooth Turntable Music Centre


Best for: art-deco lovers

Here, another entrant from the good name Victrola, and much more in keeping with its pedigree as a pre-war audio brand. The Empire 6-in-1 turntable is exactly as it sounds: a highly versatile music station and an art-deco monument in one. 

On the features front, the Empire does practically everything. It is at once a record player, radio, CD player, speaker system, Bluetooth speaker, and even a cassette player. There’s practically no modern device or medium which can flummox this thing, making it the ideal in-one solution. All of this is packed into a wood-veneer box with an authentic art-deco style, fulfilling the retro remit with aplomb. 

It might not have the most stable platter for records, nor the most well-balanced tonearm, but it nonetheless packs the most punch in terms of raw useability. This is a statement piece that would class up any bedroom, while its functionality could see it serving the whole house, Gatsby-style.

Buy now£139.99, Argos

Bush Wooden Turntable with Legs – Black


Best for: stand-alone style

Another from Argos’ Bush brand but with a twist in the tale, this turntable is a standout product amongst a sea of familiar forms –  being a boxy suitcase-style turntable that literally stands on its own four feet.

The suitcase style here borrows as much from the early-20th century tradition of suitcase radios as it does from the modern retro suitcase record player revival. The front grille which hides the in-built speaker is a patterned, textured throwback to mid-century portable players, and fun visually too. Besides this textile-featured front, this turntable is as unassuming as its Classic suitcase counterpart. 

However, the addition of a tone control alongside volume makes this a much more adaptable unit. The power of the built-in amp is a tad on the wimpy side, but this is no big deal for something acting as much as furniture as it does audio devices. Besides, there are outputs for playing through bigger and better things – as well as welcome Bluetooth functionality.

Buy now£89.99, Argos

Crosley Mercury Turntable - Cream Crocodile


Best for: luxury vintage stylings

Crosley is practically the contemporary standard for retro-style turntables, having arguably been the catalysts for today’s flooded market of old-school hi-fi designs. Crosley set the mould, with its pre-eminently affordable range of chic suitcase record players that re-kickstarted a love-affair with vintage-look hi-fi.

The Crosley Mercury is one of many dependable entries into this wide-ranging series, and a particularly smart-looking one at that. The Mercury comes in a number of colours and finishes, but the one reviewed here is ‘cream crocodile’, a design purportedly inspired by Old Hollywood and a pre-war cigar humidor, but which takes the form of a kitschy and eminently 80s throwback item. The crocodile-pleather cladding instinctively conjures vivid images of both Jack T. Colton and Patrick Bateman. The sleek visual of the cream-crocodile Mercury is at once post-war and yuppie glam, and its features straddle the ages too.

The Mercury supports playback of 33, 45 and 78 rpm records, with variable pitch control to enable that fine control of the platter. It has an on-board phono preamp and speakers, with an RCA out at the back for your own speakers to use. The USP for the Mercury is that it is capable of both sending and receiving Bluetooth, allowing you to either play your records via an external Bluetooth speaker or play through your Mercury from a Bluetooth-enabled device.

This is an undeniably fetching thing, and a fun gimmick owing to its portability too. However, it is let down a tad by its stylus and tonearm, which can be heavy-handed with your records and a little tinny nonetheless.

Still, at this price it’s hard to argue with a bit of chic, cheesy fun.

Buy now£135.99, HMV

Pro-Ject T1 Turntable, Walnut


Best for: quality audio

Pro-Ject stands apart from many of the brands present in this round-up, and not only for the fact that it isn’t known for throwback retro-style turntables. Pro-Ject is a well-regarded premium brand for record players, with high-quality products that combine effortless design with undeniable performance. 

Its entry-level units are phenomenal gateways into the world of quality hi-fi, and the T1 is no different. The T1’s idiosyncratic Pro-Ject aesthetic is a different kind of retro, reflecting the optimistic minimalism of the millennium over the tactility of mid-century vintage. The walnut finish of the T1 is particularly retro, hearkening as it does to the glory days of the mid-90s executive saloon.

The base model T1 is far less ‘feature-rich’ than other turntables featured here. There is no internal amplifier or Bluetooth connectivity, and there isn’t even a button to switch record speeds – which is instead done by removing the translucent glass platter and manually shifting the belt to a different ‘gear’. There are upgraded T1s that address these, but nothing that the T1 lacks is truly to its detriment. This turntable is designed to do one thing, and do it extremely well: play records. 

The glass platter is designed to maximise record stability and minimise material resonance. The tonearm is well-machined, bearing-coupled and balanced by an adjustable counterweight – to say nothing of the high-quality Ortofon cartridge supplied at the business end. Though you’ll need to invest further in a quality amp and speakers, the T1 is a great investment for affordable high-quality audio, with a newly-retro style advantage to boot.

Buy now£279.99, AV

Crosley Switch II Belt Drive Bluetooth Turntable – Natural


Best for: fans of rolled-up blazers

Crosley’s record-player range is near-absurdly broad, which is a good thing for the indecisive retro-style turntable buyer – of which there are, no doubt, dozens of us. This writer referred to the unignorable 80s-ness of the 20s-inspired cream-crocodile Mercury, and feels vindicated by the overt Miami Vice-ness of this: the Crosley Switch II.

The Switch II eschews vintage suitcase designs for a fully-fledged hi-fi unit and matching bookshelf speakers. The unit features an AM/FM radio, as well as aux in functionality and the same two-way Bluetooth interface as the Mercury. These different audio sources are accessed by an extremely satisfying rotary knob on the front of the unit, below three smaller knobs for power/volume, record speed and radio tuning. A separate pitch control knob is situated by the platter, atop.

As for the record-playing bit of this record player, the same three-speed functionality is on offer here – this time with a much better tonearm to transmit the sound of such records. The speakers are serviceable for their size, but a little better on the eyes than the ears. Ultimately, though, this is a chic unit with effortless style, and a lot of useful functionality beyond its looks.

Buy now£189.99, Currys

Pro-Ject Dark Side Of The Moon Turntable


Best for: Pink Floyd audiophiles

A break-the-bank retro-style turntable that treads an uneasy line between timelessness and wince-worthy datedness. Say hello to the Pro-Ject Dark Side Of The Moon Turntable, an audiophile-quality record player fashioned after the iconic cover of Pink Floyd’s seminal psych-rock opus. 

Regardless of one's opinion on the album, its iconography, or its reputation amongst Generation Z (or Generation Z’s grandparents), it cannot be refuted that this unit’s design is striking. A triangular MDF base supports a hefty and stable platter; the rainbow emanating from its right side supports a unique aluminium-and-acrylic tonearm, which is well-balanced and hosts a special-edition cartridge for extreme fidelity. The rainbow base also hides a fun little secret: a dimmable backlight allows the rainbow to continue beyond its physical end. A striking glass record weight is available separately for £49.99.

This turntable is the record player of nearly every 1970s teenager’s dreams – with specs designed to excite the middle-aged audio enthusiasts they’ve become.

At £1600, it breaks most budgets, but gives back every penny in incredible sound reproduction.

Buy now£1599, Audio Affair


Competition is tough at the budget end of the turntable spectrum, particularly when it comes to retro-style turntables. Well-intentioned low-budget makers are capitalising on a theme, while serious audiophile hi-fi brands are more concerned with fidelity than style.

It’s tough but two rise from the rest. The Lenco LS-440 BUBG is the closest you’ll get to quality sound reproduction and true 70s vintage style without buying second-hand.

However, the Victrola Re-Spin wins for its infectious useability, ingenious portable design and forward-thinking green credentials.