TONEARM MADNESS: Today’s Top Tonearms Can Cost as Much as a Car

But the level of musical nuance they deliver is well worth the investment…


With the advent of cassette tapes and then CDs, the popularity of records slowed down, but despite the increased use of digital music files in recent years, the last decade or two of retro revival has helped vinyl come back back in a big way. And while most consumers think a turntable is all you need to play records, the audiophile wormhole goes much, much deeper. The tonearm is the critical component connecting the phono cartridge—which houses the needle that extracts the analog audio signal from the grooves in the record—to the turntable and transferring the delicate analog signal to the phonostage (or preamplifier). Today’s top tonearms, for the true audiophile, cost more than most turntables (and even more than many cars), but with that cost comes an unrivaled ability to extract musical nuances hidden deep within the record grooves. Here are some of the best options for high-fidelity tonearms for the analog enthusiast.