Finding the best linear tracking turntable is like a hustle. You don’t know what to look for. You don’t have the time either. And the wide range of turntables on the market is confusing you.
I felt that confusion too! That’s why I created a list of the top 5 linear tracking turntables by going feature by feature. I analyzed every detail and ranked them unbiasedly.
So, stay tuned till the end to find your favorite linear tracking turntable.
Our Top Picks:
- Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK- Overall Best Linear Tracking Turntable
- Crosley C6B-WA Belt-Drive Bluetooth Turntable – Best Budget Linear Tracking Turntable
- Fluance RT85 Reference High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable – Best High-End Linear Tracking Turntable
Top 5 Linear Tracking Turntables
Direct drive system
Crosley C6B-WA Belt-Drive Bluetooth Turntable
Fluance RT85 Reference High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable
3-dimensional sound improvement
Pioneer DJ PLX-1000 Professional Turntable
No extra noise
The table has my top choices for linear tracking turntables. These five will deliver your turntable needs and more. Here’s a comparison graph of the top 3 based on how I would rate them out of 5-
Now, let’s have a deeper look into why I recommend these.
01. Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK
Experience Sound with Utmost Clarity
- Drive Type: Direct drive
- Speed: 33-1/3 RPM, 45 RPM, 78 RPM
- System Type: Fully Manual Operation
- Turntable Platter: Die-cast aluminum
- Motor: DC Servo Motor
- Wow and Flutter: <0.2% (WTD) @ 3 kHz (JIS)
- Tonearm type: Balanced S-shaped tonearm with detachable headshell
- Signal-to-Noise Ratio: >50 dB
- Cartridge Type: Dual Magnet Phono cartridge
For the first turntable, I’ll be reviewing the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK. It’s the perfect combination of quality and budget that will win your heart.
The best aspect of the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK turntable is its drive. Because of having a direct drive, the sound has more clarity. Belt drive turntables like the Crosley C6B-WA don’t have such sound quality.
It’s completely manually operated. If you’re a beginner, this might not be the right turntable for you. But as a skilled turntable user, you can enjoy every bit of this turntable. Thanks to the balanced S-shaped tonearm that lets you enjoy the pace.
The turntable can play 33, 45, and 78 RPM records. You don’t have to worry about changing the drive belt locations for changing speeds.
However, if you consider a comparison between the Audio Technica AT-LP120 and LP1240, you’ll see they have different signal-to-noise (SNL) ratios. If you want a better SNL, you should choose the LP1240 instead of the LP120.
But the LP120 is also a durable turntable as well using a dual magnet phono cartridge. I know an audiophile who used this exact Audio Technica model for 75 hours a month. And according to him, it’s the best investment he has ever made.
So, if you want a good deal under $400, the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK linear tracking turntable will be a great option for you.
- Has clearer sound quality than the traditional belt drive turntables.
- Balances the tonearm, anti-skating, and needles correctly.
- You don’t need to change the drive belt locations to change speeds.
- It has a good amount of low bass that helps in picking up even the lowest sound.
- You can remove the head and upgrade it to a high-end turntable.
- The platter spins when the recording is made.
02. Crosley C6B-WA Belt-Drive Bluetooth Turntable
Experience High-End Music in a Budget
The second best linear tracking turntable is the Crosley C6B-WA Belt-Drive Bluetooth Turntable. It’s more stable and quiet than most other turntables.
What’s best about this Crosley turntable is that it uses a low-vibration motor. As a result, the motor is quieter than any other turntable. So, it gives the guarantee of producing the lowest noise in the background.
You can also upgrade this turntable. The Corsley C6B-WA turntable comes with an alignment tool and a protractor. So, you can customize the turntable for your ease.
Another great aspect is that it comes with a built-in preamp. Usually, you won’t find any pre-installed pre-amp in this budget. So, this means it’s giving you more value on a low budget!
Well, the reason I kept it second is the drive system. Unlike the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK, the Crosley C6B-WA has a belt-drive drive system.
It also has a built-in Bluetooth feature which helps to connect any speaker at any time. Having an AT cartridge also ensures producing a solid tone.
- It has the quietest motor ever.
- The tonearm has a versatile tracking ability.
- Comes with a protractor and alignment tool for upgradation flexibility.
- Contains a built-in preamp which you can’t find in this budget.
- You can easily adjust the counterweight on the tonearm.
- You have to set the tonearm manually.
03. Fluance RT85 Reference High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable
Perfect Speed at Minimal Distortion
- Drive Type: Belt drive
- Speed: 33-1/3 RPM, 45 RPM, 78 RPM
- System: Fully manual operation
- Turntable Platter: Die-Cast Aluminum
- Motor: DC motor with Servo controller
- Wow and Flutter: 0.07% (WTD) @ 3 kHz (JIS)
- Tonearm type: Gimbal
- Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 76 dB
- Cartridge Type: Moving Magnet
Next, you’ll get to know about another belt-drive linear tracking turntable. It’s the Fluance RT85 Reference High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable which produces warm and natural music.
The reason I kept it on this list is for the improved sound quality. The bass is tighter in this turntable than in other linear tracking turntables. You’ll get to experience a fuller midrange and clearer sound.
This turntable also uses the Ortofon 2M blue elliptical cartridge. As a result, it can create higher channel separator noise with minimum distortion. Again, the turntable has an isolated DC motor with a servo controller. So, you can easily avoid unwanted vibrations and noise.
Not to mention the exclusive high mass MDF wood plinth. The metal platter confirms excluding the micro-vibrations which improves the tonality to a greater extent.
The only flip side of this turntable is that it doesn’t come with a phono preamp. You have to install it manually. You can find many receivers and amplifiers in the marketplaces for turntables. By doing this, the turntable will cost you more than the original price of the turntable.
- You’ll experience a higher channel separation with reduced noise distortion.
- Gives you a 3-dimensional sound quality with improved sound clarity.
- Comes with the perfect speed control mechanism that ensures steady platter velocity.
- The adjustable resonance damping feet suppress unwanted micro-vibrations.
- Does not come with a phono preamp.
04. Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT-RD
Minimal Resonance, Maximum Clarity
- Drive Type: Belt drive
- Speed: 33-1/3 RPM, 45 RPM, 78 RPM
- System Type: Fully Automatic
- Turntable Platter: Die-Casting Aluminum
- Motor: DC motor with Servo controller
- Wow and Flutter: <0.01% (WTD) @ 3 kHz (JIS)
- Tonearm type: Redesigned tonearm base
- Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 70 dB
- Cartridge Type: Dual Moving Magnet phono cartridge
Here’s another charm from Audio Technica – the Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT-RD. It has brought the noise and vibration level to such a minimal phase that it deserves to be on the best turntable list.
Unlike the linear tracking turntables reviewed above, this turntable is fully automatic. So, you don’t have to take the hassle of manually tuning it.
What’s best about this turntable is that it comes with a redesigned tonearm base with a headshell. The four push buttons help in raising and lowering the tonearm. It’s helpful especially if you have shaky hands.
Not to mention the clarity of sound this turntable can produce. The tonearm design reduces vibration to the lowest level. Similarly, the die-cast aluminum platter also helps in reducing the noise level.
It supports record speeds at 33-1/3 RPM, 45 RPM, and 78 RPM. With a DC servo-controlled motor, the turntable makes the whole experience quite smooth for you.
The turntable also has an AC adaptor that handles all the AC/DC conversion in the exterior part of the chassis. So, the noise level becomes minimal and the sound becomes more clear.
However, there are a few drawbacks to this linear tracking turntable. You can’t record with this turntable without pairing any device. It doesn’t work even just pairing a plug-in headphone.
You’ll also have to reset the Bluetooth connection every time you pair with other devices. This is pretty annoying when you don’t have much time in hand.
Now, speaking of budget, it’s close to the Corseley turntable I reviewed above. You can say it’s one of the least expensive linear tracking turntables. So, I’ll say this turntable isn’t really that bad if you consider both price and quality.
- Consists a redesigned tonearm base that minimizes resonance and improves tracking.
- Comes with a Bluetooth connection which helps in connecting with the surround sound system.
- The platter is made from die-cast aluminum that reduces vibration to a greater extent.
- Has an AC adaptor that minimizes unwanted noise signals.
- It can’t record with just a plug-in headphone.
- Not a high-end turntable.
05. Pioneer DJ PLX-1000 Professional Turntable
The quietest turntable
Finally, I’ll be reviewing one more turntable because it is worth keeping on your priority list. The final product I have is the Pioneer DJ PLX-1000 Professional Turntable.
This turntable is outstanding in performance. The base and tonearm create an improved sound deadening that any audiophile would appreciate. It also comes with a headshell on an S-shaped tonearm. You can easily change it as you like.
Not to mention the sturdy body it comes with. The deck is extremely stable in speed and you won’t hear any noise while using the turntable. So, you can call it the quietest turntable too!
It uses only 33-1/3 RPM, and 45 RPM unlike the Audio Technica turntables described above. But the speed is accurate with great tracking ability. The ergonomics are excellent and it also comes with very good cable connections.
But there is a flip side to this turntable. In some Pioneer DJ PLX-1000, the tonearms appear to be loose. So, you have to keep screwing the tonearm bearing every time before playing the turntable.
Personally, I would also appreciate it if Pioneer would put some thought into attaching a hinged dust cover with the turntable. However, it’s not exactly much of a big deal.
Under $700, this turntable is truly a great investment if you’re an audio enthusiast.
- Has an easily replaceable headshell on an “S” shaped tonearm.
- Direct drive turntable that has high torque and creates low noise.
- Comes with 3 tempo ranges.
- Super quiet in use.
- You might need to tweak the tonearm bearings at times.
- Doesn’t come with a hinged dust cover.
Buying Guide: What to Look for While Buying Linear Tracking Turntables
When you’re looking for the best linear tracking turntable, you must scrutinize its features deeply. Now, I’ve talked about a lot of aspects while reviewing the turntables above.
But if you’re unclear about any specifications, you can go through the points below. Here’s what you should look for buying a linear tracking turntable:
There are two types of drive systems in linear tracking turntables – direct drive and belt drive. Usually, belt drives are more common in marketplaces. They help in producing low vibration and quieter music.
On the other hand, direct drives give you a more ‘high-end’ feel. This drive system gives you a more accurate and reliable sound system.
Next, you have to check the type of system of the turntable. There are three types of systems – manually operated, fully automatic, and semi-automatic.
So, for manually operated turntables, you have to do all the work manually. From adjusting the tone arm to stopping the rotation of the platter, you have to do everything with your own hands.
But the fully automatic turntables are easier to handle in this case. These turntables come with a special technology that allows the record to play on its own.
And finally, semi-automatic turntables are a combination of both. They can operate on their own but you have to do the tonearm adjustments manually.
So, if you’re a complete beginner, you must look for a fully automatic or semi-automatic turntable.
Each turntable is capable of recording at different record speeds. Usually, there are three record speeds. The most popular format is the 33.5 RPM that’s called Long Playing.
Smaller than the 33.5 RPM, the 45 RPM is capable of reproducing two records at a time. And if you see 78 RPM on any turntable, this means it’s capable of playing original versions of music.
Now here’s another important aspect that impacts the performance of a turntable. It’s the cartridge we’re talking about.
There are two types of turntable cartridges – Moving Magnet and Moving Coil. Moving magnet cartridges are usually less expensive and they operate at a voltage range of 2.5 to 7.5 mV. On the other hand, moving coil cartridges make the turntable more expensive and corporate in 0.1 to 2 mV.
Bluetooth and USB Output:
Some turntables come with Bluetooth and USB features which is a big plus point. If you are a fan of wireless devices, these turntables will be great for you.
So, considering all the aspects, you should first identify what you prefer. Then, go feature by feature and select the best linear tracking turntable.
Which is the Best Linear Tracking Turntable?
With so many good qualities, it’s hard to pick one from the list you saw here. But considering all aspects, the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK steals the crown.
First of all, it has a direct drive system which most linear tracking turntables don’t. Because of having a direct system, the turntable is able to produce more reliable and accurate sound.
Speaking of the exterior, it’s made with high-quality materials. The platter is made from die-cast Aluminum. It also has less than a 50 dB signal-to-noise ratio which is pretty low than other turntables. So, you’ll receive less noise and vibration from this turntable.
This Audio Technica model has a balanced S-shaped tonearm with a detachable headshell. So, you can change the headshell whenever you want. There’s plenty of room for customization!
Now that you have your tracking tables set, you might want to look into the best cartridges for your turntables.
Is a linear tracking turntable better?
Yes, a linear tracking turntable is better than conventional turntables. The tone arms of the linear tracking turntable move in a straight radial line. So, it can maintain the angle consistently and eliminates the need for side thrust. Unlike conventional turntables, linear arms don’t have offset angles that will conflict with each other.
How do I know my tracking force is too high?
When you hear too much distortion, you’ll know the tracking force is too high. This usually happens when the stylus pushes down on the record too hard. If you don’t take immediate actions to fix this, it can damage the record.
When did linear tracking turntables come out?
The linear tracking turntables came out at the end of 1979. It started when the Japanese Hi-Fi industry’s power rose to its peak. The first linear tracking turntable is the SL-10 from Technics.
Hopefully, you understood which are the best linear tracking turntables in the market right now. If you follow this review, chances are you won’t regret your buying decision. As an audiophile myself, I don’t want to ruin your mood by playing an awful turntable. So, try to go spec by spec and make an informed decision. I’m sure you’ll find the right one.
Best of Luck!