If you’re new to vinyl, you’re on a tight budget, or you have limited space available, opting for a turntable that has the preamp built right into it is the logical choice.
But, with so many choices out there, the chances of picking a turntable with an awful preamp are highly probable. And what’s the point of a turntable if the preamp is subpar and does nothing to offer you the warm, mahogany sounds of your favorite records?
So save yourself the headache of making a crappy choice and check out these reviews of the best turntables with preamp built in.
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Best turntables with Preamps Built In – Comparison
|Product (click to see at Amazon)||Price Range||My Rating (out of 6)||My Full Review|
|Denon DP-300F||$$||?????||Denon DP-300F Review|
|Fluance RT81 Belt Drive||$$||????||Fluance RT81 Review|
|Crosley C200 Direct Drive||$||????||Crosley C200 Review|
|Crosley C100 Belt Drive||$||???||Crosley C100 Review|
Denon DP-300F Fully Automatic Turntable
The Denon DP-300 F is an entry-level, fully automatic analog turntable. And excellent in its price range.
Of course, the Denon DP300-F has a preamp built right into it. So you can plug and play this baby as soon as it’s unboxed.
And to make things even better, Denon gives you the option to switch off the built-in preamp and opt for an outboard one. So later, you can upgrade to something better in the preamp department. The switch is underneath the platter.
It’s intentionally constructed with a more substantial base which reduces vibration and offers superior performance. The turntable, which is sturdy die-cast aluminum, yields even rotation for and flutter-free performance.
The 55-millimeter thick turntable sheet has a hologram vibration analysis system to ensure stable hold.
But that’s not all…
It also has an integrated manual, lifter mechanism that you can use any time to cue any track you want to listen to allowing you to skip the other songs with just a touch of the start up button.
Also, once the record stops playing, its redesigned tonearm returns to the resting position. This fully automatic function has two significant benefits…
Because the turntable does everything for you, there’s less chance of accidental scratches to your records. Also, if you like to catch 40-winks while listening to music, you can do so resting assured that your stylus won’t get damaged by endlessly looping in the dead wax.
Furthermore, the tonearm features a standard mount removable headshell. This is another impressive feature because trying to replace a cartridge on a fixed headshell is palm-sweating-business. So a removable headshell makes the cartridge replacement hassle-free.
It’s worth noting that the standard moving magnet (MM) cartridge and stylus that comes with the Denon is not the best. However, since the standard mount headshell can take any standard MM cartridge, you should look to upgrade it at some point. I’ve seen feedback from folks that the Ortofon M2 Red works a treat.
This analog turntable has a DC servo motor and a belt drive system that runs at 45 rpm 33.3 rpm speeds. These speeds give you scope to enjoy listening to just about everything out there, except 78’s.
The DP300-F features a fitted dust cover that lifts up and down on the neck. And it features soldered non-removable power and RCA gloves.
Is the Denon DP300-F Worth it?
As I mentioned at the start of this review, the DP300-F is an entry level deck. And although it offers great design at its price point, you won’t get the high-fidelity sound like you would from a top end turntable. And it’s made from plastic which might be off-putting for some folks.
But if you’re looking for a turntable with the preamp built in already, with the option to switch to an outboard preamp if you desire. And you want to have the option to upgrade to a better cartridge. But you don’t want to hurt your wallet; the Denon DP300-F should be on your list of considerations.
Crosley C200 Direct Drive Turntable
The C200 is Crosley’s first direct drive turntable. And takes its inspiration from the DJ turntables of the 70s and 80s. So looks and build-wise it fits the bill. Some say it’s the spitting image of the Audio Technica AT LP120.
Since you’re here looking for a turntable with the preamp built in, here’s my take…
For a built-in preamp, it’s pretty decent at the price point. Of course, everyone would like more power in their preamp. And Crosley knows this.
So they’ve given you the option to switch to an external preamp. You can do this by turning off the internal preamp with a handy switch at the back of the deck.
The C200 is a direct drive turntable, which means more accurate speed over time. Also, a direct drive turntable offers more power.
But deciding between a direct or belt drive TT is a matter of personal preference.
A belt drive does mean there’s less vibration that might affect the sound quality. But to be fair, that’s more of an issue with lower quality machines. And keep in mind that a belt will need replacing at some point.
I’ve used both belt and direct drive turntables, and although some audiophiles will argue to the death for belt drives, I’m loving my vintage direct drive Pioneer PL720 and have done so for several years.
Since this TT is DJ inspired, it is not fully automatic. No DJ alive (or dead) needs automatic cueing. So if you’re after something with automatic features, this turntable is not for you.
However, keeping with the DJ inspired features…
You can take total control of your vinyl listening experience with the adjustable counterweight and anti-skate settings. Pitch control that can be dialed-in with the help of the built-in strobe.
Crosley’s C200 does come with the moving magnetic cartridge installed and aligned at the factory. It’s most likely an Audio Technica AT 91, which isn’t the worst cartridge out there.
Although you might want to consider customizing your listening experience with a higher quality cartridge and stylus.
So when you do upgrade to something better, you’ll be happy to know that the headshell is removable. This might seem like a small feature, but it’s not…
Trying to replace a cartridge on a fixed headshell is a pain in the behind. So a removable headshell is something you definitely want.
The Crosley C200 plays back at 33 and 45 speeds with the push of a button. These speeds are all you’ll need to build and enjoy an extensive vinyl collection. It also comes with a dust cover attached which can close while your vinyl is spinning, making sure your wax remains as dust-free as possible.
Is the Crosley C200 Worth It?
Considering the C200 looks and functions like an AT LP120 with all the bells and whistles at a fraction of the price, the short answer is yes!
The respectable preamp built in so you can blast your vinyl right out of the box. Not to mention that you have the option to use an outboard preamp with the flick of a switch.
Also, you have the option to upgrade to a better cartridge which will take your deck into another class when you’re ready.
The C200 is not one of Crosley’s many turntable toys! It’s a bonafide turntable for someone looking for quality at a fraction of the price.
Crosley C100 Belt Drive Turntable
Over the last couple of years, Crosley has upped their game by releasing higher-end turntables. The C100 is the entry level of their high-end range.
First off, the C100 is loaded with a built-in preamp, so it’s ready to rock with powered speakers. The preamp could do with a little more “punch,” but considering this is an entry-level turntable, the preamp is thoroughly acceptable.
However, you can hook up your own preamp and flip a switch to have music on your terms.
The C100 step up from their “novel” range to the next stage of vinyl experience. And with its sleek metallic body, it certainly looks the part.
Also, it’s got high-tech features that bring this analog player into a higher class altogether.
The curvy S-shaped tonearm means less of those annoying skating troubles. And you’ll be sure the deck preserves your sound and precious records.
The C100 also takes its inspiration from DJ-like turntables, so it’s a manual TT with no automatic functions. But don’t let that put you off, it’s got all the settings you need to tweak the sound just the way you like it.
Adjust the pitch with the help of the strobe light. While the anti-skate and counterweight give you the control you need for even more fine-tuning. Especially when it comes to upgrades to your cartridge and stylus.
Yes, even although this is an entry-level deck, you have the option to upgrade the stylus. It comes factory fitted with an audio Technica AT3600L, which I recommend upgrading.
The build of the C100 is big and heavy. This might seem unimportant, but it’s not…
A deck engineered to be stable is what you want because it means fewer vibrations and overall excellent build quality.
Unlike the C200, the C100 has a belt drive motor. And as I mentioned before, deciding between belt or direct drive is a matter of preference.
A belt driven machine will require a belt replacement at some point. And the speed is not as accurate as that of a direct drive. But the benefit is there are fewer vibrations since the belt acts as a shock absorber of sorts.
Is the Crosley C100 Worth It?
If you’re looking for an entry-level turntable that won’t cost you a chunk of your savings, you should consider the C100.
It has a removable headshell which is convenient for switching out a cartridge. But, keep in mind that the C100 is plastic, although it is high-grade, sturdy plastic.
Fluance RT81 Belt Drive Turntable
Our last look is at the Fluance RT 81. If you’ve never heard of Fluance, you’re missing out.
The Canadian company has been around since 1999 and started manufacturing speakers. Over time, their passion grew into the wider arena of sound to include turntables.
And the RT81 model is their offering positioned at the upper end of the entry-level. And this turntable has a ton of offer for a more than reasonable price.
First things first, the RT81 is loaded with a built-in preamp ready to go. So you don’t need the hassle and expense of a preamp if you want to connect to a stereo that lacks a phono input.
However, they also give you a choice to amplify your sound with an outboard preamp by merely flipping a switch.
Fluance’s RT81 is factory fitted with an ATN95E cartridge from Audio Technica. It’s a diamond, elliptical stylus and well-regarded.
Although, I’d consider upgrading the cartridge to something better after about 500 hours of play. Something like the Ortofon 2M Blue or even Red should do the trick.
Fluance did an outstanding job of engineering a sturdy turntable in the RT81. And the Audio grade MDF is covered with a very high gloss, walnut finish. When you see this deck in real life, this is a very striking piece of equipment.
Aluminum platter and the plinth of this turntable is solid. The MDF plinth, the aluminum platter, the isolation feet, and the rubber mat work beautifully to isolate the cartridge from vibrations.
This gives you better audio playback and helps to prevent the cartridge from skipping.
The RT 81 is a two-speed turntable, and you can easily switch between 45 or 33 r.m.p depending on what speed your record has been cut at.
It’s also a belt drive model. The debate between belt or direct drive will continue for eternity. And boils down to preference.
A belt drive makes for fewer vibrations. But, at some point in the future, you’ll need to replace the belt.
If you’re looking for fully automatic functions (like auto return), this turntable is not for you. However, moving the tonearm to the start of the record will get the motor spinning.
And it doesn’t offer fine tuning with anti-skate or pitch controls. However, you do have counterweight options, which is essential if you’re going to upgrade the cartridge.
Is the Fluance RT81 Worth It?
The Fluence RT 81 is an attractive looking turntable and an affordably priced option if you’ve outgrown a starter record player.
Also, it offers exceptional sound for its price range. Also, upgrading the cartridge will have your Fluance RT81 punching in a different weight-class!
It’s aimed at budding vinyl collectors and makes it an especially great choice if you want to listen to vinyl over wireless, portable or mini sound systems that lack a phono input.
Bottom Line on the Best Turntable with Built-in Preamp
Each of the four turntables reviewed here is loaded with preamps. And quality-wise they are similar too. So which one is the best or the rest?
Personally, I’d go with the Crosley C200 from Amazon as my first choice. the main reason is the direct drive motor. Over time I’ve grown very fond of a direct drive TT. I find it’s on target with speed, even for my 40-year-old Pioneer. And you don’t have the headache of replacing belts.
The preamp built into the C200 is more than enough to get you started. And you have the option to flip a switch and use an outboard preamp in the future.
My second choice is the Fluance RT81 from Amazon. And if you prefer a belt drive deck this is the perfect pick.
It’s got a powerful preamp and like the C200, you can choose to use an external preamp at any time by flicking the switch at the back of your turntable.
Whichever one you pick, now you have the information you need to make the best choice for your needs and your pocket.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Are turntables with built-in preamps good?
A. Yes. They have some benefits that lead to less frustration in your setup. It can connect directly to all stereo receivers, powered speakers, and other audio equipment. Having a built-in preamp means you don’t have to have a separate preamp which also means fewer cables.
Q. What is a built-in preamp on a turntable?
A. A preamp is an audio component that amplifies the signal from the turntable. It takes the signal from the phono cartridge and converts it to line level. Line level is the standard signal level for output.