Ok, music is important to me, but earbuds and mp3s don't really cut it when I'm at listening at home on a modest home audio setup. CDs are fine, no muss, no fuss. But there's all that vinyl sitting on my shelves and I still look for more in used LP shops not to mention the ever-increasing new album releases and classic re-releases. My old 'table was shot and needed a replacement. Enter the Rega P1, a bare-bones turntable designed and built in England (www.rega.co.uk). Long known for high end audio equipment, the P1 is relatively inexpensive ($400 including an installed and aligned Ortofon cartridge and clear dust cover). The sole switch is a on/off rocker that powers the unit. The tonearm is moved manually to the record and manually lifted off at record's end; a built-in cueing lever can be used if you don't trust shaky fingers. Arriving in a well-packed shipping box, it took only 15 minutes to set up and start spinning wax.
The design is a great example of functional simplicity. Done in matte grey with a black platter mat, its understated looks reflect the designers' goal of a making a great sounding affordable turntable with unnecessary bells and whistles. For me, it represents the perfect intersection of function, looks, and price. It will look right at home in most home audio systems, from minimalist to high tech. If vinyl is important to you (it should be), the Rega P1 may be for you too.