By Garland Pollard
In the heyday of the turntable, there were many great brand names. The turntable was the next step from the Hi-Fi (made by folks like Zenith and Philco Ford), and a turntable and receiver perfectly matched the era of the LP, when audio quality began to be an issue when you listened to music on a “stereo.”
- In the 1960s, Garrard was the legacy brand. I had one in the 1970s, but it was, by then, the cheap end, and was lots of plastic.
- By the 1970s, Technics by Panasonic had the quality cheap end. Technics was upscale from Panasonic (which made transistor radios and cassette players), but it was still among the cheaper ones at places like Circuit City. Still, they were good quality and design for their price.
- Pioneer had the middle. Other brands in the middle were JVC, BSR, ADC and Marantz.
- Yamaha was a bit better than Pioneer, and it had the advantage of being quite stylish. Plus, Yamaha also made tuning forks and pianos so that made them “high cred” with snobby audiophiles.
- Kenwood had many followers; can’t recall why though.
- Fisher was well regarded, as was Sansui.
- The top was defined by the likes of Denon.
- Dual tables had a mystique.
- Fancy but a bit prissy and aesthete were pricey brands like Bang & Olufsen.
Today, there are only a few surviving turntable brands; on Amazon I could only see brands like Technics, Crosley (really a nostalgia play) and Sony. Surprised to see a Sony brand, actually.
But the top seller was and is the Audio Technica AT-PL60. It’s automatic, and has a belt drive. Somewhere in the audiophile argument drawer is the old belt driven/direct drive issue. But today, you just can’t be picky. The Audio-Technica name (it’s a Japanese company) was all about cartridges and headphones, and was not known until recently for its turntables.
Love to get some reader perspective on turntable brands, and which were the best and what the brands symbolized.