So how do you know how good a turntable really is regardless of cost?
First, heavy is good! Next, turn the turntable on and have the platter spin. Then lift the stylus up from the record surface using the lifter and then slowly turn your amplifier up. The better the turntable the less noise you will hear.
Any noise that you do hear is coming from the turntable or possibly the preamp or amplifier.
To eliminate the amplifier and preamp, disconnect the turntable from the rest of the system, slowly turn up the amplifier and see what noise is left. Any noise that disappeared is due to the turntable. Of course nothing is quite that simple but it is a reasonable test.
Many amplifiers and receivers (a receiver is an AM/FM tuner and amplifier built in the same piece of equipment) have phono preamps built into them.
Like all components of a stereo system there are significant variations in quality in the preamps, which has significant effects on the quality of the playback of your records.
Preamps can be purchased as a separate stand-alone component for as little as $20 or you can spend $3000 or more! It should be obvious by now that aphono preampis really, really important for proper playback of vinyl records. So let’s discuss preamps for a while.