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Editors’ Choice 2022: My Favorite Turntables

My Editors’ Choice selection for best turntables of 2022 priced from $599 to $1,799.

Andover Audio SpinDeck MAX Turntable Lifestyle White

2022 was a great year for turntables with some excellent new affordable options from Pro-Ject, U-Turn Audio, Audio-Technica, Roksan, Fluance, NAD, and Technics. Having owned some very expensive decks in the past from Michell, Audiomeca, and Wilson-Benesch, I’m fully aware of the playback differences between $1,000 and almost $7,000 with a rather expensive Benz Micro MC at one point on the Michell Orbe SE.

A Michell Gyro SE is an aspirational product for me at this point; I am rather content with my restored Thorens TD-160 Super and TD-145 MKII from Vinyl Nirvana in New Hampshire.

Much to my wife’s dismay, I also own 3 other turntables that get a fair amount of listening time; an NAD C 588, Yamaha YP-701, and the Andover Audio SpinDeck Max.

Audiophile Entry-Level (Below $600)

Andover Audio SpinDeck Max Turntable White

Andover Audio SpinDeck Max Automatic Turntable ($599)

There is a lot of competition below $600 and I was fortunate this year to try many of them from Rega, Pro-Ject, Fluance, and Andover Audio. The level of performance that can be squeezed out of an entry-level deck is surprising, but for most people — they just want to set it up and listen.

I wasn’t really blown away by the SpinDeck but the SpinDeck Max is a completely different table that is manufactured in Germany for Andover. The automatic design just feels more substantial and it’s built to a much higher standard; which includes the tonearm and rather beefy platter.

The supplied Ortofon OM10 is fine but I swapped it out for a Grado Prestige Red3 which just sounds fuller and less bright in my office system. The SpinDeck Max is not a fancy deck but it comes across as slightly more authoritative sounding with excellent pace in most systems. It can also be tweaked with a cork platter from Analog Restorations and certainly benefits from some isolation. You might be surprised at what this deck can do with a better cartridge and phono preamplifier.

Learn more here.

Where to buy: $599 at andoveraudio.com | Amazon

Audiophile Mid-Tier

Pro-ject Debut Pro Turntable Front Lid Open

Pro-Ject Debut PRO ($1,000)

Having spent two months with the Debut Pro which proved to be one of my favorite products of 2022, I’m more than confident to recommend it to anyone in the $1,000 range. Inflation has pushed everything higher but I’d still spend the extra money on this one.

I compared the Debut Pro to all 5 tables that I have at home and while I’m not in any hurry to swap it out for my Thorens TD-160 Super/Rega RB-303/Ortofon 2M Black setup, it certainly kept my attention for almost 60 days.

Pro-Ject has the ability to manufacture almost anything and the new tonearm and very inert platter elevate this table in a very substantial way; it sounds far more forceful and dynamic compared to the Debut EVO tables that lack some bottom end weight and presence in comparison.

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The supplied Sumiko cartridge works well but swapping that out for the Sumiko Wellfleet or Blue Point No. 3 is a very worthwhile upgrade.

Read my review here or watch our video review here.

Where to buy$999 at Amazon | Crutchfield | Turntable Lab

Audiophile High-End ($2,500+)

Pro-Ject X2 B Turntable Walnut

Pro-Ject X2 B ($1,799)

Does balanced really make a difference? 

My experience suggests that it does if you have to contend with certain noise issues. 

Almost 22 years ago, I invested in a very expensive turntable and felt that I had reached vinyl nirvana. I paid a professional $200 to properly install the cartridge, setup the table which had a finicky suspension system, and help me mount the turntable shelf to the wall.

My building at the time was a pre-war in downtown Toronto that needed an upgrade on the electrical front. Noisy to say the least. 

No matter what I tried, my turntable setup always sounded noisy; ground loop issues, constant hiss, and it became a a source of depression (first world problems). Why bother spending almost $8,000 on such a system if it sounded terrible. 

A local dealer suggested that I have my arm and table modified so that I could run a fully balanced rig; which also included upgrading to a balanced phono stage. I sold a few other items to facilitate the changes. 

Extreme? Perhaps. 

But when I listened to the same records that mattered to me — I was stunned by the differences in clarity, noise floor, and overall dynamics of the sound. 

Does a balanced setup always sound better? Not necessarily and I’m not convinced that every manufacturer who markets “balanced” is really offering that.

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The Pro-Ject X2 B offers both single-ended and balanced connection options, but you do need to use an MC cartridge for a balanced setup.

Is there a huge gap between the Debut PRO and the X2 B? Fair question.

If running the same MM cartridge like a Sumiko Wellfleet, I would still give the edge to the X2 B when it comes to impact and overall resolution, but the gap isn’t enormous.

However, when running a MC cartridge into one of the Pro-Ject balanced phono pre-amplifiers or something like the Moon by Simaudio 610LP — the gap between the two tables is rather enormous.

The clarity, bass impact, soundstage depth and width, and overall dynamics of the system totally changes.

The Pro-Ject X2 B goes from being a very good $1,799 turntable to a rather exceptional table that can compete with with some tables in the $2,500 to $3,000 range and I’ve heard enough $3,000 tables to know.

My rather long and in-depth review after Thanksgiving. Learn more here.

Related Reading

Editors’ Choice 2022: Wireless Speakers

Editors’ Choice 2022: CD Players & DAC

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. ORT

    December 1, 2022 at 2:22 pm

    Down to either the Fluance R85 in Bamboo or, oddly enough, the fully automatic Audio Technica AT-LP3XBT-WH and an pair of headphones for a family member.

    Where did the Audio-Technica come from? Out of the Blueish.

    It will allow me to give the ‘phones as a present by virtue of costing less than the RT85 but it is nowhere as loverly as the Fluance. Any thoughts appreciated.

    ORT

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