What factors do I need to think about when choosing a turntable for my music production setup?

I’m in the process of setting up a home studio and I’m interested in buying a turntable. What should I look for in a turntable? I want to use it to casually listen to music, rip samples off records, and eventually record myself scratching.

Most importantly, you’ll want to think about the type of drive in the turntable. Direct-drive turntables, where the motor is directly beneath the platter, offer great speed accuracy and are commonly used for DJing. On the other hand, belt-drive turntables use a belt to spin the platter, providing better vibration isolation and, arguably, superior sound quality.

The cartridge type, either moving magnet (MM) or moving coil (MC), is another consideration. MM cartridges are more common and affordable, with replaceable styli, while MC cartridges, though more expensive, tend to provide a more detailed sound.

Many turntables now provide USB connectivity, allowing you to connect the turntable directly to your computer. A USB turntable could be convenient if you plan to digitize vinyl records or use digital software for DJing or sampling. If you own an audio interface with stereo line inputs, you can record turntables without USB connectivity, so there are multiple ways to route your record player into your computer.

Many DJs opt for a pair of Technics-1200s and I used to own a pair myself. They’re great turntables that are built like tanks. However, they’re dreadfully expensive and finding replacement parts can be a real challenge.

Based on what you’ve mentioned, I’d highly recommend a direct-drive turntable like the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK. It’s about 1/3 the price of a Technics-1200, looks very similar, and is a perfect choice for DJs at a moderate price point.