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Buyers Guide & Information

Best Turntables For Every Budget

Whether you’ve got old records collecting dust at home, or you’re a keen audiophile, we have reviewed the best quality turntables on the market today!

by

Buyers Guide & Information

Best Turntables For Every Budget

Whether you’ve got old records collecting dust at home, or you’re a keen audiophile, we have reviewed the best quality turntables on the market today!

by PITeam

by PITeam

No matter how many pieces of technology come about, nothing can quite replace the turntable. A turntable is an assembly featuring a platter that is used for playing sound recordings on a vinyl record. A needle moves along the record's grooves, transmitting the sounds through speakers, which may be built-in or separate. However, it's important to note that the quality of turntables varies an incredible amount. If you're looking for the highest-quality models, this is the place for you. No matter if you're using them to DJ or just relax and listen to records at home, we have the best turntables for your requirements. 

Turntable Drive Systems

Turntables are separated into two different categories: direct drive and belt drive. Let’s take a look at each so you can determine which is best for you.

  • Belt Drive
    Belt drive turntables are what all the "original" models featured. This drive type consists of an elastic belt attached to the motor, which provides relatively fast and exact motions. The platter of these models sits on top of a bearing, separated from the turntable’s motor.

    There are both positives and negatives here. One of the main “pros” is that the elastic belt is immune to vibrations, which can help keep the record playing consistently while producing better sound quality. This is particularly important if you’re playing in loud environments where the low end may be vibrating or shaking the surface it’s playing upon.


    The downside? Their torque is significantly lower than direct drives, which is vital in certain DJ settings like scratching. However, if you’re not going to be scratching or aren’t using your turntable to DJ at all, this may not be that crucial.   
  • Direct Drive
    Exactly the opposite of the belt drive models, direct drives feature a platter that is directly attached to the turntable’s motor. This offers a much faster start-up time, more consistent speed, and significantly tougher torque.

    If you’re going for reliability, this is it. You’ll not have to deal with belts degrading, either. These are often (though, not a rule) more expensive than belt drives, though they are an excellent investment due to their consistency and durability.

    The only “con” here is that they sometimes produce lower playback quality, depending on the environment and model. They’re also not impervious to vibrations or other outside forces.

Why Own a Turntable?

There are countless reasons why turntables are still in use today, even when we live in an age of being able to stream any song we want to hear at the press of a button.

First off, being able to have the tactile feedback placing a needle on a record gives you is incomparable to anything else. It's also difficult, if not impossible, to get the aural warmth vinyl offers from digital streams and files. They're relatively easy to hook up and use and are usually very reliable, as well.


What Makes A Good Turntable - Buyer's Guide

Usage

If you're going to be regularly using your turntables (which you're definitely going to be), then you'll require a durable one that can take some abuse. It's best to opt for one with a solid build from the plinth to the tonearm to the stylus. With turntables, know that every component has a kind of domino effect. If just one piece is fragile or working improperly, it will affect everything.

Turntable Type

Aside from belt drives and direct drives, there are also automatic and manual turntable variations. These have to do with the tonearms with manual ones, whereas automatic models will move the tonearm “automatically” to where it was last placed. As you can probably imagine, the latter is quicker and simpler to operate, though some purists may still criticize autos for not doing it the “traditional” way.

Cartridge Type

You’ll find either a moving coil shape or a moving magnet cartridge. Moving coil cartridges are notably more expensive, but well worth it due to the better sound quality it provides. They use two little coils that are both smaller and lighter than magnets, which offers more agility through record grooves. However, they generate less voltage, so they often require a secondary preamplifier or a head amp.

Moving magnet cartridges are the most common, featuring two magnets on each end – one for each channel. As the stylus moves, the magnets also move in relation to the coils, generating some voltage. Thanks to their high-output delivery, they’re usually compatible with any phono input.

Tone Arm

This is likely to be the most complex and essential part of the turntable. It begins at the base with some space between it and the platter to control vibrations. At the tip, you'll find the cartridge, which actually makes contact with the platter. 

Phono Preamp

I recommend choosing a turntable that comes with a phono preamp built-in if you’re planning on using yours to DJ. These amplify the sound signal generated by the needle, making sure the music is loud enough. However, if you’re just using yours for leisure, it’s not quite as necessary.

Sound Quality

Literally every component of a turntable can and will affect the sound quality. This is why it’s crucial to get a high-quality table. You do not want to skimp on this, as listening to pleasant sound is the entire point of turntables, in the end. Poor sound quality can immediately ruin the experience for you and your listeners.

Storage & Portability

Really think about where and how you're going to use your turntables. Are you going to use it for specific occasions and stow it away when you're done? Will you use them all year-round? When we think of turntables, "portability" isn't really the word that comes to mind.

However, some are more convenient to store and transport than others. If you are storing yours for a good portion of the time, then I recommend opting for a model with a small footprint and one that's lightweight enough to carry comfortably.  

Build Quality, Design & Style

No matter where or how often you’ll be using your turntables, build quality, design, and style all have a significant influence on your user/listener experience. You want the build to be solid, so it lasts a long time. Some are made of plastic, while others are made of woods and metals.

Plastic doesn't inherently have to be inadequate in terms of turntable designs, but it's generally not going to last as long as wood or metal. You also don’t want cheap-feeling buttons, as you’re going to be using these repeatedly, even if you’re only playing at home. Cheap buttons are those that will stick or break quickly, too.

The design should be intuitive and user-friendly, so the learning curve is as smooth as possible for you. The visual appearance should also reflect your style both in a genre and how you play.

Extra Features

These extra features may push you to choose one turntable over another. Look for digital outputs like a USB port to connect to your PC if you plan on DJing with digital vinyl. See if yours comes with built-in speakers or if you’re going to have to hook up a separate set. You should also take a look at those with the option to play in reverse, how fine you can adjust the pitch/speed, and more.

Price & Warranty

How much are you looking to spend on your new turntable? It’s a wise idea to figure this out before you start window shopping, to ensure there’s no chance of having buyer’s remorse by spending more than you’d wanted. No matter your budget, we’re sure we have an excellent option for you on our guide.

Warranties will vary quite a bit, so aside from giving you extra peace of mind, also see this as a testament to how long the manufacturer believes their product will realistically work without any issues.


10 Best Turntables Reviewed

1. Pro-Ject Debut Carbon

Our Top Pick

Turntable Type

Belt Drive, Manual

Built-In Phono Preamp

No

Playback Speeds

33, 45

Weight

18.35 pounds

Dimensions

20 x 16.2 x 10.5 inches

Warranty

Yes, 2 years

Widely considered to be the best turntable, the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon is an excellent value if you're looking for some audiophile gear that looks just as incredible as it sounds. Given its high performance and durability, it's surprising it's this affordable, especially when compared to most entry-level turntable prices.

At first glance, you can tell this turntable is made to turn heads, coming in standout colors like Walnut, Yellow, Red, Gloss White, Silver, Purple, Piano Black, Blue, and Green. The platter not only serves to improve the sound quality, but also visual aesthetics. You can choose the default black steel platter or upgrade to a clear acrylic platter, with the clear being the crowd favorite.

The Debut Carbon comes with a belt drive, along with a low-noise AC motor, motor decoupling with TPE-damping, and precision frequency DC-driven AC generator for excellent speed stability while eliminating vibration. The stable isolation feet only aid in protection against outside forces.

The straight tonearm is really the star of the show. Made of carbon fiber, these are typically found in higher-end models, though the manufacturer has managed to incorporate it here while keeping costs low. The one-piece design integrates the headshell right into the tonearm tube, which is impossible to find anywhere else at this price point. This makes for an incredibly rigid, durable, and lightweight design. No matter how many times you use it, you'll love the way it seems almost to defy gravity when you lift it up. The tracking this audiophile turntable offers along with recovery of nuances vinyl grooves cause is also quite impressive.

This model comes with removable RCA cables, a power cord, and Pro-Ject Connect It E Interconnect Cables, which are also very high-quality. While at first it may seem like not having a phono preamp built-in may be a downside, you'll soon realize it's actually a plus. The fact that it doesn't come with one allows you the freedom any audiophile needs with the chance to customize and upgrade with ease.

Switching between 33 and 45 RPM is easy to do, requiring you to simply lift the platter and manually shift the turntable belt on the motor pulley. However, if you’re use to DJ turntables or digital devices, you may find the manual operation to be a bit of an annoyance – especially if you listen to a solid mix of the two types.

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • Carbon fiber tonearm
  • No phono preamp allows you to customize your own
  • Comes in a wide array of unique colors

Cons

  • Not ideal for DJing
  • Can’t play 78 RPM records

2. U-Turn Audio

Best Rated Turntable

Turntable Type

Belt Drive, Manual

Built-In Phono Preamp

Yes

Playback Speeds

33, 45

Weight

17 pounds

Dimensions

20 x 16.2 x 10.5 inches

Warranty

Yes, 2 years

Embracing simplicity, excellent sound quality, and beautiful design, it's no wonder why U-Turn Audio is always among the best rated turntables. Easily one of the most gorgeous turntables I've seen, this turntable features a solid hardwood plinth made of real wood, coming in either Walnut or Maple.

The manual, belt-drive turntable isn't anything elaborate. It gets the job done, but it does it well. The motor is entirely separate from the platter through the belt, which dramatically reduces extra noise. Speed stability measured up to the Debut Carbon, coming with the ability to change from a 33 to 45 with the simple movement of the belt.

As it is manual, you know you have to pick up the tonearm and place it where you want it on the record yourself. However, the included cue lever does make this notably easier, reducing the risk of hurting your records and stylus!

Where the brand really starts setting itself apart is with its inverted bearing design. On most turntables, you'll find a bearing well and inner platter with a long shaft that goes deep into the well. U-Turn actually does the opposite. On their design, the inner platter has a well, and the shaft points upward!

Using a unique glass-filled nylon injection-molded material, they've used it to create the inner platter, making it incredibly durable in every way. Spin it, and you can see it's completely smooth with no wobble at all! The acrylic platter comes with the Orbit Special, which is just one sheet. Going back once again to the glass-filled nylon material, the headshell, tonearm support, and bearing housing are all made from it, too.

Not only does it make practically zero noise when you move it around, but it also features internal anti-skate, so you get excellent, reliable tracking. It isn't height-adjustable, but it's made to automatically match the Ortofon Red moving magnet cartridge, which comes included. However, if you want to upgrade in the future, it also works with many other brands' turntable needles, such as Grado and Audio-Technica.

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • Internal anti-skate and consistent speed control
  • Glass-filled nylon material used
  • Clear highs, mids, and lows

Cons

  • Not ideal for DJing
  • Can’t play 78s

3. Audio-Technica ATLP120USB

Best DJ Turntable

Turntable Type

Direct Drive, Manual

Built-In Phono Preamp

Yes

Playback Speeds

33, 45, 78

Weight

23.5 pounds

Dimensions

21.8 x 16.3 x 8 inches

Warranty

Yes, 1 year

Audio-Technica is one of the most well-reputed brands in the DJing world, with their headphones used for decades by innumerable professional producers and DJs around the globe. Their m50x models are known as the standard in studio headphones. With that being said, it's no surprise that their ATLP120USB is ranked as "Amazon's Choice," as well as the best DJ turntable available today for its price.  

Playing 33, 45, and 78 RPM records, you aren't limited at all in what you can play. It even has a reverse playback feature and pitch adjustment, with the latter being required if you’re using it to DJ. Thanks to the USB output, you can easily plug-and-play with your laptop. This will allow you to play DVS, which is ideal for hip-hop DJs and those just starting out with vinyl DJing.

Fully manual operation allows for quick start-ups while the balanced S-shaped tonearm is quick to manage due to the hydraulically dampened lift control and lockable rest. To have confidence in your accuracy, no matter the lighting, the popup stylus target light is there to give you a clear view of where and what you’re cueing.

If you're looking to save some space in your home, want to play your tunes on CDJs, or just want a backup, it's known to create some of the most precise LP to digital conversions. The turntable does come with the audio editing software, Audacity, but the software can already be downloaded for free for anyone who wants it. While it’s not as user-friendly as other software out there, there are quite a few tutorials out there about pretty much anything you could ever want to learn, from recording vinyl for conversion to cleaning up audio.

Whether you’re playing in a huge club or just at home in your bedroom, playback quality matters. You want your music to be clear so you can hear the hi-hats, kick drums, melodies, etc. to properly beat-match and transition. To help ensure you have the best playback possible, the ATLP120USB features a tonearm with a counterweight to keep the pressure perfect. The anti-skating feature keeps the needle from skipping and a pitch adjustment/lock to change the pitch and disable it.

The anti-resonance, die-cast aluminum platter helps keep audio sounding good while keeping consistent and reliable speed. Overall, it’s a solid, long-lasting model that’s great for regular DJ use. While it offers solid audio quality, I’ll be honest when I say it’s not the best of the best in that regard, but it is high up there. 

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • Separate motor and stabilizing feet help reduce vibration
  • Can be hooked up to a laptop with USB port
  • Clear highs, mids, and lows
  • Can play any type of records/use with DVS

Cons

  • Not ideal for audiophiles/casual at-home listening

4. Marantz TT-15S1

Best Vintage Turntable

Turntable Type

Belt Drive, Manual

Built-In Phono Preamp

No

Playback Speeds

33, 45

Weight

19.6 pounds

Dimensions

13.7 x 17.3 x 5.4 inches

Warranty

Yes, 3 years

Even considering the significant hike in price in comparison to others on our guide, the Marantz TT-15S1 is still quite a deal, all things considered.

It’s impossible to not at first notice the visual aspect of this incredible design. With a plinth made out of a solid piece of frosted acrylic, it's sure to stand out among the rest. Three sturdy aluminum feet work to dampen and nearly eliminate vibration from outside influences, like speakers, footprints, and so on. They're also adjustable, so you can make sure it suits your height perfectly or remains stable on uneven surfaces.

The plinth features two cutouts for the tonearm and motor. The straight, anodized aluminum tonearm is just as impressive, coming ready for use right when you get it. Simply drop it into the corresponding cutout, line it up, and tighten the screw. Just keep in mind that if you are using a mat, use the included felt spacer to make the tonearm a bit taller to account for accurate vertical tracking.

As far as the motor of this turntable setup goes, it's completely detached from the plinth. This is to eliminate any vibration further. You can choose to play either 33 or 45s by manually moving the belt on the pulleys. While it takes a few seconds, it's by no means excessive or annoying. Just remember there's no way to play 78 RPM records, which is a bit of a downer.

You'll find the thick, solid platter sits smoothly on a suspended spindle, which also lends to the incredibly high-quality playback with no hum or audible vibration. A thoughtfully included Souther Clever Clamp will also help stabilize records.

So, what kind of sound can you expect from the Marantz?

Expect pristine, clear mids with excellent texture and timbre on vocals, in particular. The highs are also clear and bright without being too tinny. Depending on the track and how it was mastered, the hi-hats sit out quite nicely. Bass is also quite deep, though it’s not going to give you the “thump” that DJ turntables typically do. Just remember that if your record is poorly mastered, you’re going to hear that, too!

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • Separate motor and stabilizing feet help reduce vibration
  • Easy-to-use tonearm
  • Clear highs, mids, and lows

Cons

  • Bass doesn’t deliver quite the impact DJ turntables would
  • Quite expensive

5. Fluance Elite RT81

Best Portable Turntable

Turntable Type

Belt Drive, Manual

Built-In Phono Preamp

Yes

Playback Speeds

33, 45

Weight

14.1 pounds

Dimensions

16.5 x 5.5 x 13.75 inches

Warranty

Yes, 1 year

If you're just getting into turntables, audiophilia, and so on, the Fluance Elite RT81 is one of the most coveted portable options. It's one of the "best bang for your buck" models, offering a surprising amount of quality at a meager price.

Coming in either Black, which looks sleek and modern, or Walnut, which has a classic and rich look, the RT81 is one of the best-looking portable turntables out there. Made with premium components, the hi-fi, belt-driven turntable provides an excellent analog listening experience. The cabinet is made from solid engineered (MDF) wood, which is sure to last for quite a while. Despite how durable it is, it's incredibly lightweight and features a compact footprint, making it one of the most portable turntables available today. If you’re looking to take it with you to an event or a friend’s house, this would be the perfect option!

The wood sits on four isolation feet that work to minimize vibrations, crowned with an aluminum platter and rubber slip mat, which I prefer much more over felt mats.

One of the most significant selling points for any audiophile is the impressive signal clarity thanks to the high-quality Texas Instruments preamp, ground terminal, and gold-plated RCA line. This provides a crystal-clear sound, so make sure you're using well-mastered records. On the back of the plinth, you'll find two analog terminals with grounding posts; one switch which lets you flip between a phono or line output. The other turns the auto-stop function on and off.

Coming with a lightweight yet sturdy S-shaped tonearm, the stylus stays in the grooves very well, offering a considerable amount of precision and accuracy. The included AT95E Audio Technica cartridge only aids in this clarity, with the diamond elliptical tipped stylus sure to last quite a while.

Due to all of the care taken with each component, the weight of the sound will knock you off your feet. In fact, with the inclusion of a built-in phono turntable preamp, it produces some of the most impressive low-ends I’ve ever experienced. Despite being so heavy in bass, it never melds together or clogs. Both the texture and dynamics are wonderful, offering a completely expressive experience each time.

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • Solid feet and rubber slip mat help reduce vibration
  • Gold-plated RCA line and diamond elliptical tipped stylus provide excellent sound quality
  • Very portable and compact

Cons

  • Can’t play 78s
  • Not ideal for DJing

6. HYM Seed

Best Bluetooth Turntable

Turntable Type

Belt Drive, Manual

Built-In Phono Preamp

Yes

Playback Speeds

33, 45

Weight

26.46 pounds

Dimensions

9.84 x 14.96 x 13.78 inches

Warranty

Yes, Lifetime

As you can see right away, the Seed is quite a bit different from the models above, in more ways than one. Let's take a look.

The all-in-one, multifunctional turntable comes with everything you need to take your home from zero to having an incredible audio setup. Seamlessly melding tradition with modern technology, the Bluetooth turntable comes packaged in a sophisticated, stylish box. You get to select from either White Oak or Walnut Wood – both drawing aspects from the '60s but fitting in (or rather, standing out) perfectly amongst any décor.

Contrary to the previous product, don't expect this best turntable with speakers to be very portable. Weighing in at around 30 pounds, it comes with a built-in amplifier, two 1" tweeters, and two 4" woofer drivers. It's no wonder it's so much heavier, with the ability to put out 70 watts!

Choose to play either 33 or 45 RPM records – whichever you choose. Their unique suspension system works to absorb vibrations from high-powered speakers and keep the platter/tonearm steady so you can rest assured knowing it will sound just right. The Audio Technica AT3600 Hi-Fi MM phono cartridge stays perfectly in the grooves, rarely ever slipping. However, if you’re not feeling like vinyl, go ahead and connect to a Bluetooth-enabled device or opt to connect with the RCA line-out and AUX 3.5 audio input.

If for some reason, you're still on-the-fence about getting the Seed, the manufacturer generously includes a lifetime warranty on everything, so you have nothing to worry about! Is there any wonder why this is considered the best all in one Bluetooth stereo system with turntable out there?

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • Suspension system reduces vibration
  • Can connect to devices through Bluetooth, WiFi, RCA, AUX
  • Beautiful and well-engineered design

Cons

  • Can’t play 78s
  • Not ideal for DJing
  • Rather heavy

7. Audio-Technica AT-LP7

Best Turntable Under $1000

Turntable Type

Belt Drive, Manual

Built-In Phono Preamp

Yes

Playback Speeds

33, 45

Weight

18.3 pounds

Dimensions

22 x 11 x 19 inches

Warranty

Yes, 1 year

We're back again with yet another Audio-Technica product, this time with their AT-LP7. As the best turntable under $1,000, you'll find some of the highest-quality components out there to give you a user-friendly, immersive audio experience.

As far as visuals go, this one is one of the sleekest, most modern out there. The all-black design really makes a point. The platter, feet, J-shaped tonearm and even the dustcover are black. The lift-off dustcover fits perfectly while remaining lightweight. The feet are just a bit springy, adjusting to make sure you have meticulous playback, even on uneven surfaces. The chassis itself is made of a 40mm-thick MDF that also works to eliminate vibrations, limiting low-frequency acoustical feedback and holding up to regular use.

A pre-mounted AT VM520ED moving magnetic cartridge provides top-notch performance, while the thermoplastic platter dramatically reduces any vibration/resonant frequencies. The tonearm comes with a standard headshell mount for easy cartridge swapping, along with an adjustable tracking-force knob, anti-skate control, and the ability to change the arm height so you can use it with any mat and angle without the risk of damaging your records.

The belt-driven table doesn't have auto-lift nor shutoff or fine-tuning of speed. However, there's a super handy switch to go between a 33 or 45 record.

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • J-shaped tonearm for accurate tracking
  • Switchable pho preamp, compatible with both moving magnet and moving coil cartridges
  • Very portable and compact

Cons

  • Can’t play 78s
  • Not ideal for DJing

8. Audio-Technica AT-LP5

Best Turntable Under $500

Turntable Type

Direct Drive, Manual

Built-In Phono Preamp

Yes

Playback Speeds

33, 45

Weight

22.9 pounds

Dimensions

21 x 9 x 16 inches

Warranty

Yes, 1 year

If you love the Audio-Technica At-LP7 but want to keep things a bit more budget-friendly, then check out the AT-LP5. Despite being so affordable, it’s tough and made to last you for many years.

Expanding on the build quality subject, it’s not too heavy, though it is heftier than most on this guide. The premium look and feel it possesses makes it fun to use and look at! To set it up, simply plug it into the amp and play. You don’t need much experience to get it up and running in a few minutes.

For being the best turntable under $500, I was genuinely impressed with how consistent the rotational speed was, along with the ability to achieve full speed almost immediately after it started up. The J-shaped tonearm is reminiscent of the brand's classic models from the 60s and 70s, offering precision and minimizing tracking errors with hydraulic lift, anti-skate control, and adjustable counterweight. The anti-resonance, die-cast aluminum platter, along with the heavy rubber damping mat will ensure low-frequency sound reproduction, as well.

The direct-drive, high-torque model allows you to play at two speeds: 33 or 45 RPM with a 1.7-second start-up and ergonomic selector switch that makes it easy to switch between the two immediately. This is ideal if you're playing a good mix between the two record speeds.

With a convenient USB output (cable included), you can hook it directly to your laptop. This means you can use it to control timecode vinyl, or you can choose to use the included Audacity software to digitize your records so you'll always have a backup file.

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • Anti-skate, adjustable counterweight, hydraulic lift tonearm
  • USB output lets you use DVS or digitize your records
  • Long-lasting design

Cons

  • Can’t play 78s
  • Not ideal for DJing

9. Audio-Technica AT-LP3BK

Best Value Turntable

Turntable Type

Belt Drive, Automatic

Built-In Phono Preamp

Yes

Playback Speeds

33, 45

Weight

15.7 pounds

Dimensions

21 x 9 x 19 inches

Warranty

Yes, 1 year

Easily one of the best value turntables on the market today, the Audio-Technica AT-LP3BK is perfect for beginners and those on a budget. I know I’ve been throwing a lot of AT models at you, but that’s only because they make so many great turntables!

I'll be straightforward and say this isn't the most durable Audio Technica turntable out there. But it will still last you at least a couple of years of solid use. It also comes with a 1-year warranty to give you extra peace of mind. Made of anti-vibration damping materials, it works to reduce low-frequency feedback from speakers and is aided by the die-cast aluminum platter and 4mm rubber damping mat.

No matter if you're a beginner or just like saving a bit of time, the fully automatic operation lets you simply press "Start" and "Stop" to lift and return the tonearm to its starting position while shutting the table off.

A balanced, straight tonearm features a ½” mount universal headshell and AT91R Dual Moving Magnet Phono Cartridge to provide true hi-fi quality. Hydraulic lift lets the stylus precisely and safely be lowered and raised from the record’s grooves to reduce the risk of damaging your records and overall make it easier to use.

While you can't play 78s, you can play 33 and 45 RPM records. Also, you'll love the convenience of the built-in switchable phono preamp with dual RCA outputs to easily hook it up to a home stereo system, powered speakers, and other devices/components.

Pros

  • Very budget-friendly
  • Rubber mat and die-cast aluminum platter reduce resonance
  • Switchable phono preamp and dual RCA outputs allow easy connections
  • Automatic operation and hydraulically damped lift control

Cons

  • Can’t play 78s
  • Not the longest-lasting build quality

10. Sony PSLX300USB

Best Turntable Under $200

Turntable Type

Belt Drive, Automatic

Built-In Phono Preamp

Yes

Playback Speeds

33, 45

Weight

7.27 pounds

Dimensions

14.17 x 3.74 x 16.53 inches

Warranty

Yes, 1 year

Last but certainly not least, we have the best turntable under $200: the Sony PSLX300USB. If your main priority is saving cash, then this model can't be beaten.

Fully automatic cueing is helpful if you're just getting into playing records, but it's just down to pure convenience, as well. Press a single button to start it up and play it, and another to stop it, returning the tonearm back to its resting position and turning the table off.

Regarding construction, this turntable is pretty average, made of a relatively thin plastic throughout the majority of the design. However, the platter is pretty solid, and the rubber mat works together with it to effectively reduce vibration from the belt-driven motor. The metal tonearm is quite durable yet lightweight, but still a bit flimsy when you compare it to every other model on this guide. However, the included Sony cartridge produces a good signal.

Where the Sony turntable really excels is through user-friendliness, allowing you to digitize records. The entire process is pretty simple and invaluable, as you can forever keep your records as MP3 files on your computer or external hard drive for safekeeping.

Pros

  • Very budget-friendly
  • Fully automatic cueing
  • Can easily digitize records
  • Good sound quality for the price

Cons

  • Not ideal for DJing
  • No tracking force adjustment

What Are the Best Turntable Brands?

As you can see, Audio-Technica is one of the biggest names in the turntable world, and for a good reason. The Tokyo-based giant works to produce rugged yet unique models that offer something for everyone. With everything they do, they focus on precision and a high level of quality in each component. They are some of the most durable and reliable tables that get the job done without flashiness, coming in a wide array of pricing options. Expect the highest level of sound quality possible, and a table that's going to last you for many years in the future.

Technics is another brand that’s known as the industry standard for DJs who play on vinyl, though not so much for the audiophile who wants to lounge at home and enjoy the warmth of a stunning turntable.

Finally, the Czech-based Pro-Ject creates head-turning models, offering colorful, unique designs without sacrificing physical and aural quality. They have a huge selection to choose from, though their Debut Carbon is really something to behold, no matter who you are.


How to Set Up & Operate a Turntable

Let’s examine how to set up a turntable first:

  1. 1
    Make sure everything is unplugged
  2. 2
    Attach the cartridge to the headshell, then to the tonearm, and screw it in. 
  3. 3
    Balance the tonearm by turning the adjustment clockwise until the stylus is even and leveled with the platter. 
  4. 4
    Once it's balanced, make sure to clamp the tonearm and turn the adjustment that has numbers, calibrating to zero without turning the rear weight. 
  5. 5
    Now that it's at zero, look up how much tracking force is ideal for your cartridge. You'll turn the rear weight, which then turns the calibration adjustment until adjusted to the recommended weight.
  6. 6
    Once this is done, connect your power source into your speaker, then an outlet. 
  7. 7
    Connect ¼" jack into the mixer where it says "BOOTH," then the other side into the speaker.
  8. 8
    Connect RCA cables from the turntable to the mixer input that says “CH1 PHONO”.
  9. 9
    Connect the ground wire from the turntable to the mixer.
  10. 10
    Connect the USB to the mixer, then the power source for your mixer.
  11. 11
    Connect the power source from the turntable and mixer to an outlet.
  12. 12
    Turn on the turntable, mixer, speaker, and laptop (if using one) and connect USB to a laptop (if using one).

Now that you have that process down let's take a look at how to properly operate your new turntable!

  1. 1
    Make sure the dust cover is off the turntable, and the platter.
  2. 2
    Make sure the turntable is not spinning, and the needle is up. You can easily scratch your record if it's spinning while you place it onto the platter.
  3. 3
    Hold the record by the edge, and slowly lower it onto the platter, ensuring the spindle in the center goes through the middle of the record. When it is sitting flush on the platter, you may let it go.
  4. 4
    To remove the record, grab it by the edges that don’t have grooves.
  5. 5
    To operate the turntable, switch on the motor, which will put the platter in motion.
  6. 6
    Lift or cue the tonearm. This will vary depending on the model you have. Some will let you hit a switch that lifts the tonearm from resting. If you don’t have one, place your finger under the little handle on the shell head, lifting it gently.
  7. 7
    Position it over the beginning of the track you want to play. In most cases, this will be right above the outermost grooves of the record. There are usually be some bigger grooves around the outside perimeter, which is the part before the actual track begins.
  8. 8
    Once you’ve found the right place, lower the stylus onto the record. During this process, there should be no or very little popping or clicking sounds.
  9. 9
    Once it’s done, or you’re ready to play the next record, lift the tonearm from the record and gently place it back into the resting position.

Turntable Maintenance Tips

There's no point in shelling out cash for one of the best turntables in the world if it's not going to operate correctly after a while. Maintenance is absolutely necessary if you want to keep yours around as long as possible, while also protecting your records.

  1. 1
    Use a carbon fiber brush to clean the stylus of any dust and griminess. Even if you have a pristine home, this is inevitable, and you must do it often. 
  2. 2
    Take the time to calibrate the tracking force properly, anti-skip, and height settings to avoid more rapid record wear and skipping needles. Keep in mind that there are some models on this guide that don't allow you to adjust one or more of these.
  3. 3
    Replace the belt at least once every 2-3 years, or if you see that it starts to slip lower than usual on the pulley.

In addition to these tips, this video is extremely helpful:


Turntable Accessories

  • Turntable Receivers
    If your particular turntable doesn't come with a receiver built-in, you'll need to hook it up to an external one. A receiver works to convert audio from electromagnetic waves to high-quality sound that we can listen to with pleasure. It features a tuner that works to boost audio signals and an amp, which amplifies these signals, feeding them to the speakers. My personal favorite is the Yamaha RX-V383BL.
  • Turntable Speakers
    Even if you have a turntable that produces the best audio quality in the world if you have a sub-par pair of speakers, it's not going to sound great. Some tables have a built-in preamp, but if yours doesn't, you'll require a set of cables (typically RCAs) to connect to your speakers. While there are plenty of excellent options available, if you want the best of the best, check out the Edifier S2000 Pro Powered Bluetooth Bookshelf Speakers.
  • Turntable Mats
    These are in the shape of a record, typically coming in felt but often found made of rubber as well. They help to isolate your record to minimize the effects of any vibration, offering better sound reproduction. My personal favorite is the Electrohome Turntable Platter Mat made of rubber.
  • Turntable Stands
    Do you know where you’re going to place your new turntable? You ideally want it to be somewhere free of obstructions or risk of damaging the table. If you are serious about keeping yours in pristine condition (and you should), you should opt for a record player stand. There are plenty of great ones out there, but the Winsome Wood 92314 is a crowd favorite.
  • Turntable Amps
    Again, some models will have a preamp built-in, in which case you'd need a power amplifier. If not, then a main amplifier would be perfect. The Onkyo A-9050 Integrated Stereo Amp is an excellent option, offering reliability, power, and clarity. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a DJ turntable cost?

It varies, depending on the model you’re looking at. You can easily find one for under $300 and over $1000.

How do you digitize a vinyl record?
  1. 1
    First, clean your vinyl. If you have any imperfection, it’s going to be recorded during the digitization process.
  2. 2
    Plug your turntable into your laptop through the USB cable. If yours doesn’t come with a USB port, connect the table to a standalone preamp or A/V receiver before going through the RCA connection to the “line in” port on your computer.
  3. 3
    Launch Audacity (comes included with select aforementioned products or free online). You can also opt for different audio-recording software if you'd like. Select the corresponding input source, then Edit and select System Preferences, then “Line In” on the drop-down menu from the Recording section on the Devices pane.
  4. 4
    Hit the Record button, adjusting input levels to ensure it’s not clipping or distorting.
  5. 5
    Wait for your desired section or side of the record to play through, then hit Stop.
  6. 6
    Split up your tracks. This can be done by simply clicking and dragging your cursor through the desired part of a track. Click Tracks, Add Label At Selection, and name the track correctly.
  7. 7
    After you’ve split and named them appropriately, click File and Export Multiple. Select the desired file format, save location, and add in any metadata you'd like. 
How long does a turntable stylus last?

Most are made to be replaced after around 1,000 hours of use.

Can I connect external speakers to a turntable?

If your turntable has a built-in preamp, you can connect it directly to external speakers. If it has a phono output only, you’ll have to connect it to an external preamp.

Do I need a preamp with my turntable?

If you don’t have one built-in, then yes! It works to boost the signal loud enough so you can hear it.


Conclusion

Now that you've learned just about everything you could ever want to know about the best turntables, which one will you be integrating to your home? While each one on this guide is one of the best in the world, what's most important is that you select the perfect product for your experience, preferences, and needs. I can't recommend the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon enough.

The visual aesthetics are unique and appealing, and the sound quality is incredible. The plug-and-play design is perfect for amateurs and veterans alike, delivering exceptional tracking and achieving a wonderful warmth. I hope that this guide has helped you select the best turntable for you. Thanks for tuning in, and happy listening!

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