Oliver said: With a mildly retro sound to partner its totally retro looks, the VPI Classic 2 proved to be a high-performing, no-nonsense, musically capable turntable: Its warm, fulsome sound should be an outstanding match for those listeners wanting a relaxed, easygoing turntable they can comfortably sink their ears into. Its simple setup, versatile configuration and playback options, and imperviousness to noise make the Classic 2 a no-brainer recommendation for experienced and beginner vinyl spinners alike.
The gist: Classic in every sense of the word.
Garrett said: I believe that a convenient way for correcting equalization and phase is a must-have tool for any serious vinyl lover who haunts thrift stores, estate sales, and used-record shops, looking for treasures from the past. The Zanden 120 is that tool, and is my new reference. I heartily recommend that you audition it before considering any other phono stage in its price range.
The gist: This level of equalization flexibility is unique in the world of vinyl.
Thom said: U-Turn Audio’s Orbit Plus is a fabulous effort for a new startup, and worthy of consideration by anyone who wants a good, very basic, but very capable turntable for getting back into vinyl or for trying it for the first time. And the Orbit Plus and Grado Prestige Black1 go together like coffee with cream. I recommend the Orbit Plus.
The gist: All-around solid turntable value.
Garrett said: If you’re ready for a new cartridge, I highly recommend that you consider the Transfiguration Phoenix S. Not only does it deliver the goods; at $4250, it’s a relative bargain, a real contender at its price point, and a successful redesign of an established product from a well-known company and a respected designer. Yoshioka-san has a real winner on his hands.
The gist: To take your vinyl rig to the next level.
Oliver said: Although I was already familiar with several Rega turntables, none could have prepared me for how good the RP8 was. This outstanding record player delivers musical and sonic goodness in spades. Its blend of class-leading detail, exciting yet natural tonal balance, and exemplary dynamics will have you spinning your favorite LPs for one marathon listening session after another.
The gist: Topflight turntable for a very reasonable price.
Oliver said: I’ve been living with the Revelation M for well over a year now and can’t come up with a single caveat -- and I’ve tried my damnedest. Yes, you can undoubtedly do better if you spend more. But regardless of what cartridge, turntable, and/or amplification I partnered the Revelation M with, the little wonder was always up to the challenge, consistently delivering a complete and eminently enjoyable music experience from any record in my collection.
The gist: UK-made mini phono stage that floated Oliver’s boat.