What to Look for When Buying a Record Player, According to Locals Who Know

We've got you covered when it comes to where to get your tables turned.EXPAND
We've got you covered when it comes to where to get your tables turned.
Photo by Ian Witlen/thecameraclicks.com

Mr. Entertainment is a South Florida musician and herald of the local scene since the 19-somethings and serves as the unofficial Musical Mayor of Hollywood.

In the ever-revolving world of how we listen to music, it seems we've come full rotation back to the record player. Our return to the turntable calls to mind the line from a '50s Stax single "Goofin’ Off" by Macy Skipper: "Grandma has been a total stranger since she got her nose caught in the record changer."

If you've just purchased a record from a band, a friend gifted you an LP recently, or you still have your old records but just haven’t gotten around to ponying up for that new turntable, we're here to help guide you in the right direction. While rebooting your record collection has become a pretty straight-forward endeavor, there are many options when it comes to which turntable you should buy, varying widely on your intended usage and budget.

The Numark PT-01 Touring is a cheaper unit that calls to mind the Close-N-Plays of yesteryear.
The Numark PT-01 Touring is a cheaper unit that calls to mind the Close-N-Plays of yesteryear.

Casual Listening
If you are looking to listen to and enjoy records with yourself or some company, there are plenty of cost-effective options out there. A turntable that connects to your computer and/or sound system starts as low as $80, like the Numark PT-01 Touring. These budget-friendly turntables come with speakers built into the unit, though they do sacrifice some sound quality for convenience. 

Radio-Active's current best-seller is the sleek, midrange Music Hall USB-1
Radio-Active's current best-seller is the sleek, midrange Music Hall USB-1

Fledgling Connoisseur
If you have a proper sound system, a sizable record collection, and are willing to spend a little more money, most electronics and department stores have respectable offerings, though they may not have the time or expertise to help you find your exact fit. We say, follow the records. Most local vinyl purveyors also sell turntables, and the folks who work there have the experience, knowledge, and incentive to help cater to your needs.

Fort Lauderdale's vinyl bastion, Radio-Active Records, carries a few different models of Numark, Audio-Technica, Music Hall, and Pro-Ject turntables. According to Mikey Ramirez, who works at the helm of the store, Radio-Active's current best-seller is the sleek and midrange-priced Music Hall USB-1. They're all good units, offering a quality of sound and versatility of use that's on point for the price range.

Down south in Miami, Sweat Records carries Audio-Technica, Gemini, and Jensen, in addition to vintage turntables from Spin Alley. The vintage units are often all-in-one and look super badass. Sweat's Emile filled us in that their units tend to range around $300 and under for new units, since more expensive models tend to just sit there. Sweat's most popular model is the Audio-Technica ATLP60, a great entry-level turntable. If you want to indulge the audiophile in you a bit more, Sweat suggests the ATLP120, more comparable to the old Technics 1200.

Technics SL-1200, the standard.
Technics SL-1200, the standard.

DJ and Scratch Turntables
If you're into DJing, scratching records, and putting that spin on your vinyl, professional sound equipment stores will be your best bet. Numark's TTX-USBStanton's STR8150, and the industry standard-setting Technics SL-1200 might set you back a bit, but if you're looking to spin with the pros, there are few better options.

If you're in the market for something more next-level and have the money to spend, Hollywood Sound in Hollywood is a step back in time. Ring the door buzzer and Larry Weinstein may let you in. Once you enter, you'll notice a few small rooms filled with all types of sound equipment from yesteryear. It's like a museum inside.

Weinstein has new and used equipment ranging in price from a few hundred dollars to thousands. This place is geared more for the aficionado. Our current ride from Weinstein's impressive store is a basic Rega P1 with a glass platter. It set us back around $400 around 10 years ago. Weinstein can help you out with all kinds of repairs, too. He's been holding it down at the same spot since 1982.

So take some time to consider your needs and budget before making your purchase, do some research, and when in doubt, check with your local record stores and purveyors of fine electronics. They will steer you in the right direction.

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