How Do I Choose the Best Stereo with Turntable?

Marty Paule

Finding a stereo with turntable built into it was a simple matter from the 1960s until the early 1980s when cassettes and CDs replaced vinyl records as the preferred media for recorded music. The home entertainment centers that were popular in the early stereo-record era began falling out favor in the 1970s and can only be found in the used market today. Before buying one of these large pieces of furniture, or the used component stereo gear that followed them, it's wise to confirm that it still functions. When shopping for new or used component audio gear with which to assemble a stereo with turntable, you can read archived reviews online that may help you identify the models and brands worth seeking.

Cassettes and CDs replaced vinyl records in the 1980s.
Cassettes and CDs replaced vinyl records in the 1980s.

Early in the stereo vinyl-record era, the typical home stereo system was housed in a large piece of furniture referred to as an entertainment center. You can sometimes find them being sold cheaply in thrift shops, flea markets, used furniture stores, and classified advertising. Before you bring the used stereo with turntable home, confirm that its various functions, or at least those that matter to you, work. When shopping, bring along a few test vinyl records, plus a cassette or 8-track tape if you plan to listen to those formats.

Classified ads in a newspaper may be used to list a stereo with turntable for sale.
Classified ads in a newspaper may be used to list a stereo with turntable for sale.

Most entertainment centers contain automatic turntables that allow stacking records for playback one after the other, but can be rough in how they handle the records. If you value your collection, consider a component stereo with turntable. New and used stereo receivers, amplifiers, preamplifiers, AM/FM tuners, and turntables can all be found in component form. Look for receivers or stereo amplifiers with low audio distortion and turntables with low wow and flutter specifications. Also be sure the turntable includes those speeds needed to play your record collection.

In response to a small, yet significant return to the vinyl-record format in the 1990s, a few specialty manufacturers have begun producing small stereo systems with built-in turntables and speakers. A number of consumer electronic brands also sell standalone turntables that can be connected to other component stereo gear. Some of these newer turntables include a Universal Serial Bus (USB) connection and analog-digital converter with which you can convert your music on vinyl to digital formats. Reading online reviews by experts and fellow consumers of all of these components, as well as stereo speakers, can help you to put together a stereo with turntable capable of high-quality music reproduction.

Vinyl-record era home stereos with turntables may be sold cheaply at flea markets.
Vinyl-record era home stereos with turntables may be sold cheaply at flea markets.

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Discussion Comments


@NathanG - Well, there is a middle ground that bridges both the old and the new worlds. Some manufacturers offer CD players that are housed in LP style turntable casings. They’re not antiques. They're just like them, and of course they’re a lot less expensive too.


@hamje32 - I’m not interested in the LP records honestly. But I do love the CD changer in my home stereo system. It allows me to be a DJ, as it were, choosing which songs I want played and when.

It gives me a level of convenience that is greater than anything I could get with an LP turntable, and I think it’s less susceptible to damage. With LPs there was always the possibility that you could easily damage them; this is not so with CD players.


@MrMoody - If you’re an antique collector I suppose you can find home stereo systems with turntable capabilities online. The only problem is that if you buy it online, you can’t test it to see that it works. So you take a risk.

It might be best to limit yourself to antique shops then, like the article points out. What I’d love to get my hands on is one of the very first turntables that played the first phonograph. Do you remember that? I think it played, “Mary had a little lamb” in a crackly voice. Of course that thing – and units like it from that era – is probably worth millions now.


We still have an old vinyl turntable from way back when, and believe it or not, it works. We keep it as a collector’s item and still have a large collection of LP records. I’m not that nostalgic but I don’t think we’ll ever part with it.

I do like the idea, however, of a system that will automatically convert your records to digital. Perhaps I should look into this. I’ve wanted to convert the music on the old LPs to digital files for playback on my mp3 player, but haven’t had the time to look into how to do the conversion. An analog to digital conversion might be just the ticket.

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