Best Turntables With a Built-in Preamp

There are many different aspects of a turntable that play a part in its sound quality, and there’s a wide spectrum of built-in preamps. You can easily customize a turntable to have the specific parts you’re looking for, but built-in preamps offer an efficient approach that takes the work and additional cost off the listener.

If you’re looking for the best turntable with a built-in preamp, this article has our top options on the market along with all the specifications you need to know about.

Best Turntable With Built-in Preamp

Our top pick: Audio-Technica AT-LPW40WN

Audio-Technica AT-LPW40WN Fully Manual Belt-Drive Turntable, 2 Speeds, Dynamic Anti-Skate Control,...
676 Reviews

Key features:

  • Tonearm: Carbon fiber
  • RPM: 45
  • Material: Engineered wood
  • Cartridge: Dual moving magnet phono cartridge

Reasons to buy

The Audio-Technica AT-LPW40WN is an all-around great turntable option at a decent price point. It’s fully manual with two speeds for its belt-driven operation and a ½” mount headshell with a moving magnet phono cartridge.

Many people appreciate the included dust cover, along with a built-in phono preamp that offers a decent amount of quality. The carbon fiber tonearm should give you years of use, and it even boasts adjustable feet, which helps reduce unwanted vibrations and resonance.

The overall build quality of this turntable is sturdy and reliable, and it comes with a motor and speed sensor that couldn’t be any more smooth. During playback, the turntable is surprisingly silent, allowing you to hear nothing but what the music has to offer.

Considering all of the quality features many people enjoy about this turntable, most feel the price point is pretty understandable.

Cons to consider

The Audio-Technica AT-LPW40WN may provide plenty of great features, but some buyers sit on the other side of the fence with plenty of complaints. Some have encountered mechanical issues within a week of their first use, and others feel the turntable makes too much noise.

Others have encountered audio issues, whether it’s muffled playback or inconsistencies in its frequency range. There are many reviews that mention an unsavory hum from the turntable, but you can mitigate some of this depending on where you set it and the objects around it. 

This may not be related to the product itself, but many buyers also mention that customer service isn’t much help if you run into any issues.

Overview

Turntables can be quite expensive, and the Audio-Technica AT-LPW40WN Fully Manual Belt-Drive Turntable is definitely one of the more affordable options, among others. It’s a decent choice for those who lean toward casual use, but those who pay close attention to the individual parts are bound to find something they don’t like. You may want to be wary about the customer service, but if you’re able to look past its faults, you’re still getting a solid turntable with a built-in preamp for the price.

Runner up: Music Hall MMF-1.3 Turntable

Key features:

  • Tonearm: Aluminum
  • RPM: 78
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Cartridge: Audio-Technica AT3600L

Reasons to buy

If you like efficiency with minimal hassle, the Music Hall MMF-1.3 turntable comes with a 3-speed feature, and although it comes with an aluminum tonearm, it still delivers an excellent read. It also includes a rubber mat to dampen vibrations, a dust cover, removable RCA cables, and of course – a built-in preamp.

You can also pair the turntable with external powered speakers to get more power out of the audio, and the tonearm is a breeze to calibrate. The turntable has a tracking force of 3 grams which is considered to be on the high-end. Still, it helps to offer a consistent read and won’t succumb to minor damage on a vinyl record.

It’s easy to set up as well, so it’s perfect for beginners, and its neutral look will blend in anywhere in your home.

Cons to consider

Some buyers have reported that the speakers don’t hold up after a few months of consistent use, and it doesn’t always provide clear playback when connected to external speakers. Others prefer a tracking force under three grams, but it isn’t a deal-breaker by any means.

It may be a rare occurrence, but some people have received an entirely defective turntable. The turntable comes with a great price and many hassle-free features, but I wouldn’t say it’s going to uphold its quality for years upon years.

It’s considered to be lightweight when compared to many other turntables, and its build material isn’t the best as it’s predominantly aluminum.

Most people who have had time to test the turntable seem to be entirely happy with it, but it isn’t a turntable that’ll hold up for the rest of your life. You can expect some aspects of its build to dwindle over time, but it should give you quite a few years of crisp playback. 

Overview

The asking price, material quality, and overall design are a big selling point for the Music Hall MMF-1.3 Turntable. It looks fairly neutral and should hold up long enough to make the cost worth it.

The vibration dampening mat and feet definitely help with unwanted noise, and the multiple speed settings offer enough customization to make minor adjustments depending on what you’re listening to. The built-in phono preamp is also satisfactory, and there isn’t much talk about needing to switch out to an external preamp due to lackluster performance.

​​Best budget: 1 BY ONE Belt Drive Turntable

Sale
1 BY ONE Belt Drive Turntable with Bluetooth Connectivity, Built-in Phono Pre-amp, USB Digital...
2,014 Reviews
1 BY ONE Belt Drive Turntable with Bluetooth Connectivity, Built-in Phono Pre-amp, USB Digital...
  • Bluetooth Connectivity: Pair with Bluetooth speakers or...
  • Magnetic Cartridge Stylus: The diamond-tipped stylus cartridge is...
  • Adjustable Counterweight Force: Get perfect playback every time...

Key features:

  • Tonearm: Metal/Plastic
  • RPM: 33/45
  • Material: Wood/Metal/Plastic
  • Cartridge: Magnetic

Reasons to buy

Aside from a beautiful design and wood finish, you can pair the 1 BY ONE turntable with wireless speakers or plug in your favorite headphones for a more enveloping experience. The wire-free design is loved by many, and the counterweight tonearm ensures you get consistent playback with every song. The stylus follows each groove with precision, and it applies the perfect amount of pressure so your records don’t get damaged.

You can pair the turntable with any amplifier of your choice with the magnetic type built-in preamp, and it’s also easy to connect it to your own external phono preamps if you have one instead.

The turntable is quite easy to set up, and many buyers appreciate the detailed instructions. It’s definitely not the most expensive on the market, but plenty of reviews mention the notable quality of the built-in phono stage. It comes with many great features for a very reasonable price, and it continues to catch the eye of novice and expert vinyl lovers.

Cons to consider

Everything looks good on the surface, yet it still has a decent list of varying cons. Some think that the range of the tonearm could be a little better, and the anti-skate isn’t easy to adjust, which can lead to inconsistencies in the playback. The motor doesn’t seem to hold up to the company’s claims as it runs a bit slower than the advertised 33.3 RPM, and there’s no semi-auto stop at the end of the record. 

Although it can connect to external speakers, some people have mentioned that there’s a significant drop in sound quality. It brings some cool features for the price, but there are a handful of challenges that come with the turntable.

Overview

The 1 BY ONE Belt Drive Turntable is a pretty good choice if you’re looking for your first turntable, but it wouldn’t be ideal for anyone who considers themselves to be an audiophile. Enthusiasts tend to be more critical of the turntable, but it’s suitable for those looking for a solid starter option.

You’ll want to be wary of the cons, as these issues seem to arise pretty quickly after minimal use. Regardless of the outcome, you won’t be at too much of a loss considering the affordable nature of the turntable. Because of its affordable price, built-in preamp, and vast feature set, we consider it the best budget turntable with a built-in phono preamp.

Best audiophile: Music Hall Classic Turntable

Music Hall Classic Two Speed Belt Driven Audiophile Turntable with a Built-in Phono PreAmp and...
24 Reviews
Music Hall Classic Two Speed Belt Driven Audiophile Turntable with a Built-in Phono PreAmp and...
  • INSPIRED BY TURNTABLES OF THE PAST, BUILT WITH THE BEST OF...
  • A 2-speed belt driven turntable that comes complete with a...
  • A quality music hall spirit cartridge is pre-mounted and...

Key features:

  • Tonearm: Uni-pivot
  • RPM: 33/45
  • Material: Wood
  • Cartridge: Music Hall Spirit phono cartridge

Reasons to buy

For those who prefer high-quality sound or have spent years around turntables, the Music Hall Classic might have the perfect fit for you. Providing great automatic operation features such as auto-lift, auto power-off as well as a built-in phono preamp, and a phono cartridge, it’s a durable unit that doesn’t look or feel cheap in any regard. It’s belt driven and comes with two speed settings, and the cartridge is pre-mounted and aligned for utmost precision.

You won’t hear any unwanted vibrations or resonances as it’s built with vibration-dampening feet, and its quality construction ensures every part operates smoothly and seamlessly. You’ll notice an aluminum platter that also includes a felt mat and boasts a perfect counterweight position. The turntable offers plenty of compatibility with a bypassable phono preamp, and its stylish design will add a nice flair to any room.

Cons to consider

Most people seem to be relatively satisfied with the turntable, which is a good sign considering it isn’t all that cheap. Nevertheless, it has its quirks like any other product. Although it offers a few automatic operation features, some have mentioned that it seems to be sensitive to any external vibrations. 

Moreover, the stylus doesn’t seem as smooth as it should be, especially when it comes to the drop mechanism. It’s understandable that this could be a little frustrating as it’s a simple feature that can significantly affect the audio quality. Some customers feel these minor issues shouldn’t exist with how the turntable is marketed as a premium design.

Overview

The minor cons should always be considered, but I’d say the Music Hall Classic Turntable is a great buy for anyone who enjoys what vinyl records have to offer. Even if a few buyers have some complaints about minor cons here or there, I wouldn’t say any of it is enough to be a deal-breaker.

Between the automatic features, stylish design, and undeniably good sound quality, this is a quality turntable that should last for many years to come.

Best direct drive: Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK

Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK Direct-Drive Turntable (Analog & USB), Fully Manual, Hi-Fi, 3 Speed,...
  • Experience the high-fidelity audio of vinyl
  • Direct-drive, DC servo motor with selectable 33/45/78 RPM speeds....
  • Fully manual operation featuring adjustable dynamic anti-skate...

Key features: 

  • Tonearm: S-shaped
  • RPM: 33 ⅓, 45, 78
  • Material: Plastic
  • Cartridge: Dual magnet phono cartridge

Reasons to buy

With a direct-drive motor turntable, the platter is directly attached to the motor, and they’re a primary choice for DJs due to less resistance. The Audio-Technica AT-LP120 offers selectable RPM speeds of 33, 45, and 78, and it’s built with a damped base construction that helps control low-frequency feedback. It has a fully manual operation, offering dynamic anti-skate control, variable pitch control, and even a quartz speed lock.

One feature many people appreciate is the ability to turn vinyl records into digital files via USB output. It also includes an RCA output cable that’s detachable, an AC adapter, and a dust cover to keep it looking brand new. Most buyers find it easy to set up, and although the turntable isn’t perfect, its build quality surpasses many other designs in a similar price range.

Cons to consider

Some feel the setup is relatively easy, while others are pretty frustrated at how the instructions are documented. Others have mentioned that the USB connection wouldn’t work at all, and some people aren’t a fan of the fully manual design, considering the price. 

There are some reviews that seem to feel that the frequency range is somewhat lackluster, and there’s a chance that some records may sound more shrill than others. The fidelity and depth in the audio also doesn’t cut it for many seasoned listeners, and the included cartridge seems to be the least favorite component of this particular turntable.

Overview

If you’re searching for a good direct-drive turntable with a built-in preamp, the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK is a decent choice, even with its fully manual design. Based on personal experience and numerous reviews, I feel it’s apparent that the included cartridge may need to be replaced with an upgrade as there are many complaints about its quality. 

The setup instructions are hit or miss for some individuals, but overall, once everything is adjusted and running, most people seem to love the quality it provides. You’ll find a handful of audiophiles who have some critical comments about the turntable, but it’s far from low quality. What reels many vinyl enthusiasts in is the ability to create digital files of your record collection, along with a neutral design that looks sleek from every angle, and of course, the built-in phono preamp!

What to consider when buying a turntable with a built-in preamp?

If you’re considering buying a turntable with an integrated preamp, there are a few things you should consider before pulling the trigger.

1: Sound quality

Without a doubt, a built-in phono stage will have inferior sound quality compared to most external preamps. This is partly because turntable manufacturers only have a small amount of space to fit this electrical system.

A good preamp uses complex electrical systems and tubes to amplify the line level signal. These systems simply can’t fit within most turntables, so there’s some sacrifice in quality.

Additionally, a turntable with a built-in phono preamp is targeted at entry-level to mid-level vinyl enthusiasts who aren’t ready to invest a lot of money into the hobby yet.

Ultimately, buying a turntable-phono preamp combo isn’t a bad decision, especially if you’re new to the vinyl world. You’ll likely still be impressed with the sound quality of your turntable. If you’re interested in getting the full picture, check out our guide on built-in vs external phono preamps.

2: Cartridge choices

Oftentimes, turntables with built-in preamps will only be able to support moving magnet cartridges and not moving coil cartridges. Most of the time, this is completely fine as moving coil cartridges are typically taught after by audiophiles with high-end turntables.

Regardless, just know that turntables with a built-in phono preamp will likely not be able to work with low-output MC cartridges. Instead, a separate preamp that supports both moving magnet and moving coil phono cartridges will be needed.

3: Adaptability

Turntables are a longer-term purchase. Just because you’re getting a turntable with an internal preamp doesn’t make the choice any less significant. As people grow in the vinyl hobby, they tend to make upgrades like purchasing powered speakers, cartridges, amplifiers, or even external phono preamps.

You can’t use your internal preamp and an external phono stage at the same time, so you want to be sure you can switch the turntable between phono and line level signal to compensate for this.

Does a record player have a built-in phono preamp?

Yes, a record player has a built-in preamp. Unlike some turntables, record players are an all-in-one system with a turntable, phono preamp, and powered speakers.

Of course, a record player won’t give you the best sound quality possible, but it can be a good entry point for people looking to dip their toes into vinyl records.

Is it better to have a built-in preamp?

If sound quality is not so much a concern for you, then yes, having a turntable with a built-in phono preamp greatly cuts down on the complicity and cost associated with listening to vinyl records.

However, as we’ve mentioned, if you want to have the best possible sound quality, an external phono preamp will be necessary to take your vinyl to that level.

Final thoughts: The best turntables with a built-in phono stage

I hope you enjoyed this list of some of our favorite turntables with preamp-combos. These turntables are perfect for someone starting out or someone who just wants less hassle when playing records.

Regardless of your turntable, there are always options for improving your sound later down the road.

We hope you found this guide helpful. Thanks for reading!