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On Test: Turntables

Lenco L-85

Don’t be deceived: the Lenco L-85’s lightweight plastic body might not inspire much confidence at first but this nimble, well-built turntable punches above its weight to deliver knockout performance for a surprising price. The bright and colourful sonics are a match for its glossy body — finishes include green, yellow and red — and while playback can muddy in busy passages, the little Lenco fights back with punchy renditions of vocals and acoustic tracks. There’s a built-in phono preamp and it can digitise discs directly to MP3 files on a USB drive — there’s even a marker function to split tracks. Hard to fault at twice the price. £109.99,

Audio-Technica AT-LP5

The Audio-Technica AT-LP5 is a mid-range triumph, with materials and maturity belying its price tag. While not quite plug-and-play, the simple one-time set-up is reassuringly in keeping with vinyl’s tactile philosophy, hinting at the potential for growth this player affords. The aesthetic is confident understatement, save for the bold feet and retro-inspired J-shaped anti-skate tonearm. Rendition is superbly balanced, rewarding energetic tracks with rhythm and drive, although less forgiving with poor-quality vinyl. The built-in phono preamp can be bypassed and there’s a USB-out option here too. A commendable purchase in its own right, the AT-LP5 has the versatility to grow right alongside your vinyl ambitions. £329,

Clearaudio Concept MM

Form and function unite to sublime effect with the Clearaudio Concept MM. The elegant German design is dominated by a vibration-stifling 30mm platter and a hovering magnetic-bearing tonearm. These, alongside the composite chassis and isolated DC motor, ensure pure reproduction that is rich, accurate and detailed in all the right places. The Concept comes pre-calibrated by Clearaudio engineers but, unlike other models, here there is no integrated phono preamp — not unusual for a well-heeled turntable. But be sure to budget for a separate phono stage or check your stereo amplifier has a phono input. The Concept is a credible, affordable entry to high-end vinyl appreciation. £995,