Four of the Best

Hi-Tech Turntables (With Lo-Tech Looks)

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Vinyl is enjoying something of a renaissance - in fact, sales are at their highest since 2005. Esquire has picked four of the best record players on the market for you to look at.

VPI Classic 1 (above)
Weighing in at 55 pounds this beast comes with a black oak or walnut veneer finish, a cast aluminium platter and a one-piece fibreboard chassis. The VPI Classic 1 might be built like a tank, but that build quality is extraordinary: the precision-weighted tonearm alone is better than many on units twice the price. The winner of a brace of audiophile awards, this made-in-the-USA heavyweight spins in silence yet offers concert hall-sized sound. Set aside a weekend to get to grips with the set-up instructions, mind: they’re hefty enough on their own.

Rega RP1
With its minimalist design Rega have produced about as basic a turntable as it’s possible to imagine. Don’t be fooled, though: omitting the whistles and bells has allowed this British company to hone their manufacturing costs on the high-end parts that make all the difference – vibration-absorbing wood, low-shudder motor and top-notch ball bearings. The platter is moulded phenolic resin, aka Bakelite – the stuff they made 1940s radios out of – and they really were built to last.

Origin Live Calypso
Origin Live, of Southampton, started out manufacturing hi-fi cable and worked their way up to speaker stands, then turntables. That apprenticeship tells you all you need to know about the seriousness of their audio-geekery; something they’ve applied in earnest to their compact line-up of seven turntables. Our pick is The Calypso, which houses its motor in a separate unit from the plinth, making it super-stable. There’s a handy electronic speed change, a beautifully made Onyx arm and a sound that’s warm and full. But the Calypso really wins on looks: distinctive without being daft.
Roksan Radius 5.2
Billed as a ‘mid-market’ model, this acrylic, stainless steel and aluminium semi-suspended turntable is meticulously crafted: it’s simple, solid and sounds great. Small and narrow enough to stack onto shallow shelving if desired, it delivers some seriously punchy bottom end. A showpiece unit that sounds as good as it looks.
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