Turntable vs Record Player – What’s The Difference?

james williamson author James Williamson
  April 5th, 2024

A lot of people are confused between the terms “record player” and “turntable”.

Well, in the vinyl world, the turntable vs record player is one of the most talked about topics and even after being discussed on multiple platforms online, this topic is still unclear to a lot of people.

I have seen some people describing a complete turntable setup as a vinyl player which is completely fine because a turntable setup is playing the vinyl records but if you are describing a turntable setup as a record player then you need to understand the difference between them.

And, with this beginner-friendly article, you can understand the difference between these two very easily, and after reading the article, you will also be able to understand why you should always go for a turntable and not for a record player.

Firstly, we are going to talk about the brief difference and after that, we are going to talk about the difference in detail.

To help you understand better, In this comparison, I have used Crosley CR8005F-HA cruiser plus as a “record player” and Audio-Technica AT-LP60X as a “turntable”.

Turntable vs Record Player:

Record Player Turntable
Description A record player is an all-in-one device or a stand-alone unit that can be plugged in and played directly without the need for any external device. A turntable is a component of a record player.
In-built Preamp Yes Some turntables have an in-built phono preamp and some don’t
In-built Receiver or Powered Amplifier Yes No
In-built Speakers Yes No
Sound Quality Inferior Superior
Setup Effortless setup A little complex setup
Beginner Friendly Yes Yes but with guidance
Need of additional equipment No Yes
Customizable or Upgradeable No Depends on turntable model
Counterweight Dialer No Yes except for some entry-level turntables (In entry-level turntables, the perfect adjustments are made during the manufacturing process so you don’t need to worry a bit.)
Tracking Force Adjustment No Yes except for some entry-level turntables.
Cartridges Bad Quality Good Quality
Cartridge Calibration Already calibrated (Sometimes badly) Except for some entry-level turntables, you can calibrate the cartridge at any time using protractors. The entry-level turntables already have their cartridges perfectly calibrated.
Stylus Bad quality stylus (Mostly sapphire) Good quality stylus
Vibration Isolation Poor Totally in our hands
Setup Price Cheaper than a turntable setup Expensive

In this table above, you will find a lot of points that can trigger a why? in your mind.


Don’t hurry as we are going to talk about everything in detail.

But, before proceeding further with in-depth differences, let’s talk about these units separately.

What is a Record Player?

Crosley CR8005F-TN Cruiser Plus

A record player is a stand-alone unit or you can say an all-in-one device that can be plugged in and played directly without the need for any external device. The record players have 4 components: turntable, phono preamp, stereo receiver or powered amp, and speakers.

Example: Crosley CR8005F-HA cruiser plus is a record player.

What is a Turntable?

The turntable is a round platter or circular rotating platform on which your vinyl record rests and starts spinning. It can be a component or a standalone unit.

Turntable as a Component:

Crosley CR8005F-TN Cruiser Plus

In record players, the turntable is a component i.e. a round platter or circular rotating platform.

Turntable as a standalone unit:

Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT

The device shown in the image above is also called a turntable which includes a motor, platter, tonearm, turn on/off button, speed customization button, phono cartridges, stylus, and much more.

Example: Audio-Technica AT-LP60X is a turntable

So, we are now going to explain the points mentioned in the comparison table above so that you can make a better choice while purchasing your first record player or turntable.

Difference Between Turntable and Record Player (In-depth Explanation):

We have listed the major differences and explained them so I suggest you move all your focus to this article now.

Sound Quality:

Talking about sound quality, a good turntable setup will always beat a record player like Crosley or Victrola. A record player is an all-in-one device that is available in the market at an amazingly low price as compared to a turntable.

Here lies the most popular quote – “You get what you pay for”.

Well, at the price of a standalone turntable unit, you will get a turntable, phono preamp, powered amplifier, and speakers in a record player. If you are smart, you must have understood my point.

Yes, you guessed it right. The material or components used in record players are of cheap quality which directly affects the sound.

On the other hand, the standalone turntable is built with good-quality metal and plastic. You will also get additional important features like a counterweight dialor, anti-skating, height adjustment, and much more which help in the reproduction of the original sound better.

Build Quality:

Here, I will use the same quote again – “You get what you pay for”. A standalone turntable has a lot better build quality than a record player.


The record players are cheaper than good quality turntables.


New-generation record players are manufactured in a suitcase-type design which is portable while turntables are not.


Record players are convenient for beginners because all you need to do is plug the record player into the power socket, place the record on a platter, and put the tonearm over the platter and the record will start playing.

On the other hand, in a turntable setup, you need to attach the turntable to the phono preamp, powered amplifier, and speakers to play the vinyl records.

Except for this setup, you also need to balance the tonearm, adjust tracking force and anti-skating, align your cartridge, ground turntable, and much more.

Damages Vinyl Records:

This is the major concern of almost all the people online. I have read multiple threads in forums, had conversations with my friends and some vinyl lovers, and also read multiple articles online, and guess what? Nobody likes their records to be played on one of these all-in-one or suitcase record players.

Well, the reason behind this is simple i.e. the quality of the record players is not up to the mark i.e. the platter is small, the stylus and cartridge are of bad quality, shorter tonearm, no anti-skating feature, and much more.

All these components can warp your records, cause record skip problems and sound distortion, and cause a lot more damage to record grooves.

Which One You Should Go For a Turntable or a Record Player?

According to me, buying a record player is a big no, no matter, if you are a beginner or you want to gift it to someone other.

I always suggest you invest a little more in the setup and go for Audio Technica AT-LP60 with an inbuilt phono preamp and a pair of active speakers.

It will cost some more bucks but in the long run, it is a better investment.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q1- Are turntables better?

Yes, turntables are better than record players. A complete turntable setup can output a perfect sound quality that a record player can never output.

Q2- Can you play records on turntables?

Yes, turntables are meant for playing vinyl records and you can spin your favorite records.

Q3- Is a record player called a turntable?

No, both are different. People usually describe a complete turntable setup as a record player which is fine but describing a record player as a turntable is completely wrong.

As we have explained in the article, a turntable can be a component of a record player or can be a whole separate unit.

Q4- Are turntables worth buying?

Yes, definitely. Turntables are worth buying. We have talked about the vinyl records and turntables in a separate article in which we have shared every aspect that you need to know before entering vinyl records and we have also talked about whether investing in vinyl records and turntable is worth it.


Well, we have mentioned everything that is going to end the turntable vs record player debate once and for all. If you still have any questions then you can comment below. We will get back to you as soon as possible.

james williamson
About Author: James Williamson

I have been a music enthusiast since childhood and I love talking about music bands, artists, vinyl, and music equipments. I have launched TurntableWave to help people avoid the mistakes that I had made while entering the vinyl world. In my free time, you will find me fishing or playing basketball.

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