Are Turntables Becoming Popular Again?

Sales of Vinyl Albums and Turntables

Vinyl album sales have climbed every year since 2006, jumping from less than 1 million annual sales up to nearly 4 million sales in 2011 [source: DigitalMusicNews]. Those figures only account for new vinyl sales, too — record stores around the world still sell old and used albums that aren't tracked in sales statistics. That's huge growth for the vinyl market, but still only represents a small portion of the overall music market. Physical album sales continued to shrink in 2011, but they still crossed the 228 million mark. Four million vinyl records are still a drop in the bucket. Digital sales, meanwhile, passed 50 percent market share for the first time in 2011 [source: Time].

In the 2000s, some turntable manufacturers started designing record players that capitalized on the old school appeal of vinyl. Many retro or nostalgia turntables look like players or radios from the 1930s, '40s and '50s. Those record players represent a small section of the market and include other features like CD players. Of course, audiophiles prefer dedicated record players with features like direct drive turntables and calibrated tonearms.

As of 2012, turntables are readily available — at price points from $150 to $1000. There are affordable players out there for vinyl newcomers, and expensive tables out there for DJs and audiophiles. USB turntables offer an appealing entry point for modern vinyl purchasers: They can be used to convert albums to digital and are often affordable, making them useful for vinyl lovers with big music collections and newcomers looking for a cheap record player.