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Buyers Guide & Information

9 Best Turntables Under $200

Enjoy your vinyl records without breaking the budget with these top-rated brands.

by PITeam

Buyers Guide & Information

9 Best Turntables Under $200

Enjoy your vinyl records without breaking the budget with these top-rated brands.

by PITeam

by PITeam

Listening to music on vinyl went out of style for a few decades, but vinyl records are making a major comeback. This is because nothing quite compares to listening to a classic or new-age tune on vinyl. Music just seems to sound better when played through a record player or turntable vs. an MP3 device or Bluetooth speaker. If only the task of choosing a high-quality, low-budget turntable was as easy as making your next vinyl record purchase.

A turntable is a music-playing device that resembles a record player, but there are a few minor differences. Turntables are easier to use than the traditional record players due to their simple design features, plus they are highly portable. Turntables are lightweight, and they often come with a carrying case for on-the-go listening.

The main perk of opting for a turntable for listening to vinyl records is the fact that some of the best turntables can be purchased for less than $200. If you’re looking for high-quality turntables under $200, use this detailed comparison guide to find the perfect budget turntable for you. 

How Turntables Work

Many music lovers describe the functioning of a turntable as musical magic, but it’s actually much simpler than that. This type of music player is made up of four major components: base, platter, arm, and cartridge. The base is what holds the motor that allows the turntable to function in the first place. Turntable motors operate by using either a direct drive system or a belt/wheel system.

The motor is responsible for moving the platter, which sits on top. The platter holds a vinyl record in place. Not only does the platter hold the album, but it is also responsible for spinning the record. The arm is attached to the turntable base, and it stretches across the device to rest on the vinyl record as it turns. The arm is the most delicate aspect of a turntable. 

At the end of the arm, there is something called a cartridge. The cartridge is an integral aspect of a turntable, and it’s what allows all the musical magic to happen.

Mashable says that a turntable cartridge “utilizes electromagnetic induction to transmit the grooves of a vinyl record into sound waves. The cartridge… physically touches the grooves of the record."

The music happens as the record spins, and the cartridge comes in contact with the grooves.


Types of Turntables

There are two types of turntables based on the motor system of the music-playing device. These two types are belt drive (also referred to as wheel drive) and direct drive. It’s difficult to say whether one is better than the other since they each have their own pros and cons.

  • Belt Drive
    A belt-driven turntable contains an elastic belt within the base. This belt is directly attached to the motor; as the motor moves, so does the belt. Belt drive systems are incredibly precise and perfect for low-effort maintenance. Some people even feel that belt-driven turntables produce higher-quality sounds. The only disadvantage is that the belt’s elastic is susceptible to wear and tear over time.
  • Direct Drive
    In a belt-driven system, the elastic belt is responsible for turning the turntable platter. In a direct drive system, there is no belt. Instead, the platter is directly attached to the motor. These systems are highly durable, typically lasting longer than a belt-driven turntable. There is no chance of the belt degrading over time because there is no belt in the first place.The main disadvantage of a direct drive turntable is that it is not susceptible to vibrations. With a belt drive system, the belt can absorb shock and vibrations, which results in high-quality music playback. But a direct drive turntable does not have this ability. Some direct-drive turntable users purchase a separate shock absorber to prevent vibrations from affecting the sound quality.

Benefits of Turntables

The main advantage of listening to music with a turntable is the high quality of sound. Nowadays, you have tons of options for jamming out to your music selection. MP3s, CDs, smartphones - they're all options for listening to music, but they don't compare to listening via vinyl records. There is no doubt about the fact that vinyl sounds better than CD, mainly because it produces a richer audio experience.

Other than the improved quality of sound, here are a few more benefits to using a turntable over any other listening device:

  • It brings back the rituals that come along with listening to music
  • It’s the only way to hear certain vintage tracks
  • It’s easy to find low-priced vinyl records for playing on a turntable
  • Turntables are more compact and durable than record players of the past

Choosing High-Quality Turntables on A Budget

Usage

The very first consideration when selecting a high-quality turntable on a budget is how often you intend to use it. Not only how often, but also how you intend to use it in general. Will this turntable be used for DJ'ing while on the road, or merely for listening to music at home? Durability and ease of use are always important, but these factors are even more essential if the turntable is required for professional use.

Turntable Type

There are pros and cons to both the belt drive and direct drive systems. Belt drive systems often offer better sound quality because they are better able to absorb vibration. However, they typically require more maintenance than direct drive turntables.

The other consideration on turntable type is manual vs. automatic. This refers to the method in which the needle is placed on the record. With a manual system, you'll have to move the arm to start and stop the music manually. An automatic turntable allows you to push a button, and the arm will automatically move into the proper place. There is also the option for semi-automatic turntables, which offer a combination of both.

Cartridge Type

The cartridge of a turntable is a small plastic piece found at the end of the turntable arm. The cartridge connects with the grooves found on a record; it is primarily responsible for making music possible. There are two types of turntable cartridges, moving magnet, and moving coil.  Both cartridge types act as tiny electromagnetic generators that work to convert sound vibrations into audible noise.

The moving magnet (MM) cartridge accomplishes the conversion of vibrations to sound through the use of magnets. A moving coil (MC) cartridge, on the other hand, makes this happen through the use of coiled wire. There are pros and cons to each cartridge type, but the general consensus is that the MC cartridge is the way to go. MC cartridge type is faster and more detailed than the MM alternative.

Tone Arm

The primary function of a turntable tonearm is to extend over the platter, giving the cartridge needle easy access to the vinyl record. There is a lot of debate over whether or not the tonearm shape makes a difference. Some tonearms feature an S-shape, while others extend straight over the turntable platter. Here's what HowStuffWorks has to say about S-shaped vs. straight tonearms:

“Much like with direct drive and belt drive systems, neither tonearm is the outright winner in all use cases… The straight arm wears out records more quickly, but is better for DJ scratching, as it holds a groove better. By contrast, some claim S-shaped arms are more prone to skipping but don't wear as hard on the vinyl and produce a cleaner sound."

Neither is technically better than the other; it all depends on your specific turntable needs.

Phono Preamp

A phono preamplifier is a piece of audio equipment that amplifies a turntable signal. This allows someone to connect the turntable to a sound system, like subwoofer systems or audio speakers, to amplify the sound. Some turntables have a preamp built-in to the system, while others require the separate purchase of an external phono preamp. 

Sound Quality, Playback Speed

Many factors of turntable construction affect how the audio device functions in terms of sound quality and playback speed. It is commonly thought that the ultimate turntable sound quality happens with belt drive systems, and the fastest playback speed happens with the MC cartridge type. The only way to know for sure, though, is to read the top turntable under $200 reviews below.

Size & Weight

It's no surprise that a turntable needs to be large enough to accommodate a full-sized vinyl record. But you'd be surprised by just how many shapes and sizes modern-day turntables come in. Not only do they vary in dimension, but also weight. If you plan on traveling with your turntable or taking it out of the house, look for a model that is lightweight with the smallest possible dimensions.

Storage & Portability

Depending on the size of the turntable, it might come with storage capabilities within the base of the audio device. This is perfect for storing vinyl records or DJ-related accessories. Many modern-day models are perfect for an on-the-go lifestyle with a portable design. Look for a turntable that comes with a protective carrying case equipped with a handle.

Quality, Design & Style

Nowadays, it’s more than possible to find a high-quality, durable turntable for $200 or less. Not only can you find a quality product, but you can also find a stylish one for 200 dollars or less. Turntable manufacturers are releasing new models featuring a variety of design styles each year.

Extra Features

Many modern-day turntables come with tons of additional features to enhance the listening experience. Look for a turntable with a headphone socket for private listening. The more input/output ports, the better. The most common ports include USB and RCA, which are often included in recently-manufactured turntables. Bluetooth capabilities are another cool feature, and some turntables even come with a built-in light.

Price & Warranty

It's easier than ever to find a turntable that offers excellent value for money. Finding the best turntable under 200 bucks is easy - especially with the help of this guide. Just try not to let the price be the determining factor, though. There might be a big difference between a $150 turntable and one that costs a bit more at $200.

Turntables from reputable manufacturers almost always come with some sort of warranty coverage. It's typical for certain parts of an audio device to be covered for a longer period than others. For example, the base of a turntable might be covered with a 1-year warranty, while the other parts and pieces (arm, cartridge, etc.) might only be covered for 90 days.


9 Best Turntables Under $200 Reviewed

1. Audio-Technica AT-LP3BK

Best Turntable Under $200

Turntable Type

Belt Drive

Tone Arm Type

Straight

Playback Speeds

33-⅓, 45 RPM

Cartridge/Phono

Yes, Yes

Key Feature

Fully Automatic

Warranty

1 Year

The Audio-Technica AT-LP3BK model is the best turntable under $200 for too many reasons to count. This fully-automatic belt drive system allows you to take your analog listening experience to the next level. This device has advanced features that aren’t often found on automatic turntables, like the anti-vibration damping materials and built-in preamp system.

The history of Audio-Technica started way back in 1962, and since that time, the company has been devoted to creating high-fidelity sound machines. The straight tonearm features a moving magnet cartridge, which creates an excellent high-fidelity sound no matter what you're listening to. The RCA output located at the back of the device connects to a variety of home stereo systems.

Just because this turntable costs less than you would expect does not mean it lacks in durability or performance. The die-cast aluminum platter comes equipped with damping materials, which means you never have to worry about your records becoming dull or scratched. The design is simple yet sleek, and it even includes a hinged dust cover for added protection.

The Audio-Technica is compatible with both 33-⅓ and 45 RPM records. The most-loved feature of this turntable is that it’s easy to use. To start listening, just set the record in place and hit the “Start” button. The tonearm will automatically move into position. When you're finished listening, simply hit the "Stop" button; the tonearm will return to its place setting, and the platter will discontinue spinning. It's as simple as the push of a button.

Pros

  • Hydraulically-damped lift control
  • Easy automatic operation
  • Switchable preamp modes
  • Amazing value for money
  • RCA output for home stereo system

Cons

  • None

2. Fluance RT80

Best Rated Turntable Under $200

Turntable Type

Belt Drive

Tone Arm Type

S-Shaped

Playback Speeds

33-⅓, 45 RPM

Cartridge/Phono

Yes, Yes

Key Feature

Diamond-Tipped Stylus

Warranty

2 Years

The best-rated turntable under $200 is the Fluance RT80. This model receives high marks for everything, from aesthetics to performance. Each Fluance turntable is beautifully crafted with engineered wood. This model features a balanced S-type tonearm, diamond-tipped cartridge stylus, and vibration-resistant aluminum platter.

This budget-friendly turntable comes with RCA outputs, a ground terminal, and a built-in preamp. All of these features and more result in captivating signal clarity and warm, pure sound. It is the perfect audio tool for recreating the sound that the artist originally intended. The Audio-Technica company manufactured the high-quality cartridge. This cartridge was built for precision, accuracy, and high-def audio.

Fluance is a reputable audio source that has been in business for two decades. The Fluance Blog is an amazing source if you’re searching for answers to your anything audio-related. According to the company, Fluance has revolutionized the audio industry by focusing on five key aspects: Sound Quality, Performance, Solid Construction, Style, and Value. The RT80 turntable meets high standards regarding each of these things.

The company has so much faith in its products that they offer a 30-day risk-free home trial period. If you’re not satisfied with your turntable within the first 30 days of use, you can send it back for a full refund. On top of that, each turntable comes with a 2-year warranty that covers the entire device.

Pros

  • Built-in preamp
  • High-fidelity sound
  • Advanced S-type tonearm
  • Beautifully-crafted wood
  • Amazing Fluance customer service

Cons

  • Uneven RPM at times

3. Crosley C200

Best Direct Drive Turntable Under $200

Turntable Type

Direct Drive

Tone Arm Type

S-Shaped

Playback Speeds

33-⅓, 45 RPM

Cartridge/Phono

Yes, Yes

Key Feature

Adjustable Pitch Control

Warranty

1 Year

So far we've only covered belt-driven turntables, but these aren't for everyone since belt drive turntables require more maintenance over time. The best direct-drive turntable under $200 is the Crosley C200. The direct-driven high-torque motor offers two playback speeds, 33-⅓ and 45 revolutions per minute. It features manual operation, which means you'll have to physically place the tonearm onto the record as it spins. The platter will begin to spin by pushing the Start/Stop control button.

The balanced S-shaped tonearm uses hydraulic lift control, anti-skate features, height adjustment, and lockable rest. This turntable is equipped with a built-in switchable phono preamp and detachable RCA output cables. The die-cast aluminum platter comes with a felt slipmat, which ultimately keeps your records from slipping while in place.

Just like the Fluance RT80 mentioned above, the Crosley C200 uses the Audio-Technica magnetic cartridge. You can rock out to music using the built-in preamp, or connect the RCA output cables to your home audio system. The entire audio device is resistant to vibrations, everything from the vibration-control feet to the anti-vibration platter.

Crosley customer support is a fantastic resource if you have any trouble with your turntable. However, this is unlikely since the music-playing machine is easy to use. You even have the option to adjust pitch using the pitch control lever. All in all, the Crosley C200 is the optimal choice if an easy-to-use direct drive turntable is what you’re after.

Pros

  • Clear dust cover
  • Vibration control feet
  • Adjustable anti-skate
  • Durable aluminum construction

Cons

  • Platter mat could be improved

4. WOCKODER

Best Turntable with Speakers Under $200

Turntable Type

Belt Drive

Tone Arm Type

Straight

Playback Speeds

33-⅓, 45, 78 RPM

Cartridge/Phono

Yes, Yes

Key Feature

Vinyl-to-MP3 recording

Warranty

No

Not only is the Wockoder model one of the most stylish turntables on the market, but it's also the best turntable with speakers under $200. The base of this turntable is a bit larger than average, but that is because of the built-in stereo speakers located within the base. These Bluetooth-capable speakers allow users to enjoy their favorite music via phone or tablet without the need for annoying cords and wires.

Located on the backside of the turntable’s base is an AUX-in jack as well as an RCA output jack. So if you don’t wish to use the built-in turntable speaker system, you have other options. No matter the amplifying system you use, this turntable creates a high-quality sound for the most enjoyable listening experience possible.

The Wockoder features a retro design, natural wood construction, and a protective dust cover. The control panel is a bit more in-depth than other turntables, but it’s easy enough to understand. The entire machine - everything from the aluminum platter to the tonearm - is made for resisting vibrations.

Unlike most other modern-day turntables, this one comes with 3 playback speeds, including 33-⅓, 45, and 78 RPM. It even allows you to convert your vinyl records to digital audio files. You can transform LP music to MP3 files and save it on the MP3-playing device of your choice. There's no doubt about the fact that this is the best turntable with speakers under 200 dollars.

Pros

  • Stylish turntable design
  • 3 turntable speeds
  • Built-in Bluetooth speakers
  • Wireless in and out function

Cons

  • Large turntable base
  • Retro design not for everyone

5. D&L

Best Vintage Turntable Under $200

Turntable Type

Belt Drive

Tone Arm Type

Straight

Playback Speeds

33-⅓, 45, 78 RPM

Cartridge/Phono

Yes, Yes

Key Feature

All-in-One Audio Player

Warranty

1 Year

If you're all about vintage, consider the D&L turntable. This is the best vintage turntable under $200, but try not to let the vintage style fool you. The functionality and performance are as modern as it gets with the D&L turntable. This wooden audio device is a 7-in-1 Bluetooth phonograph that comes with built-in audio speakers. Not only does it serve as a turntable, but it also functions as a CD/cassette player and an FM radio.

Although the design is as vintage as it gets, this turntable comes with too many high-tech features to count. This includes a USB port, an SD slot, AM/FM radio, and of course, Bluetooth speakers. If you’re not into Bluetooth, you can connect your smartphone or other audio device using the Auxiliary jack located on the front side of the base. On the backside, you’ll have access to an RCA to attach to your in-home audio shelf systems.

Here’s what the D&L company has to say about its products: “DL is a company specialized in the gramophone. Since its inception, we have regards quality as life all the way and has kept handing everything up to the international standard covering purchase, design, R&D, product, inspection, and packing process."

In addition to everything mentioned so far, the D&L comes with a replacement stylus needle, 1 year of warranty coverage, and access to 24/7 customer service. The bulky vintage design isn’t for everyone, but the all-in-one audio capabilities make up for the device’s bulkiness. Although this turntable is far from portable, it is an amazing solution for all of your in-home audio needs.

Pros

  • Features 3 playback speeds
  • 7-in-1 audio machine
  • Bluetooth enabled speakers
  • Retro vintage look

Cons

  • Bulky design

6. Teac TN-300SE-WA

Best Belt Drive Turntable Under $200

Turntable Type

Belt Drive

Tone Arm Type

Straight

Playback Speeds

33-⅓, 45 RPM

Cartridge/Phono

Yes, Yes

Key Feature

High-Torque Belt-Driven Motor

Warranty

1 Year

Many music lovers prefer belt-driven turntables; they often claim that the belt drive system creates a better sound quality. Whether you believe that or not, the best belt-drive turntable under $200 is the Teac TN-300SE-WA. This belt-driven turntable features not only a reliable belt-driven motor but also a static-balanced straight tonearm and a built-in equalizing amplifier. 

Although there are a few belt drive turntables on this list, the Teac TN stands out from the rest, mainly thanks to the high-torque motor. The belt itself is made from durable Neoprene rubber, which means it is highly resistant to wear and tear. More importantly, the belt achieves stable rotation, which creates only the highest quality sound.

The design of this turntable is simple, but the rich sound output is far from simple. The USB digital output allows users to transfer audio from vinyl to a Mac or PC. It utilizes the moving magnet cartridge created by Audio-Technica, which has a reputation for highly accurate audio readings. It features 2 playback speeds, and all sounds are produced with incredible detail and clarity.

On the backside of the turntable base, you’ll see that there are several output and input options. The built-in USB digital output makes it possible to listen to your vinyl collection through a variety of devices. This specific model is quite modern, but the company has recently come out with a new vintage line of audio products.

Pros

  • Authentic belt-drive
  • Audio transfer to Mac/PC
  • Modern black matte finish
  • Corrosion-resistant terminals

Cons

  • No automatic features

7. Victrola Navigator

Best Bluetooth Turntable Under $200

Turntable Type

Belt Drive

Tone Arm Type

Straight

Playback Speeds

33-⅓, 45, 78 RPM

Cartridge/Phono

Yes, Yes

Key Feature

Remote Control Bluetooth

Warranty

1 Year

The Victrola Navigator is very similar in style to D&L Vintage Turntable, but with a few notable differences. The main difference is that this one ranks as the best Bluetooth turntable under $200. Although many modern turntables come with Bluetooth capabilities, this one takes the cake. A huge reason for this is that the Victrola comes with an easy-to-use remote control.

The remote control feature makes this 8-in-1 turntable highly functional. You can go from jamming out to a CD to vinyl-listening at the drop of a hat. In addition to vinyl audio, this turntable is compatible with cassettes, AM/FM radio, USB player, and aux-in listening. It even can record audio from vinyl to MP3 with the Mac/PC software and includes a USB cable.

The built-in stereo speakers look cool, but more importantly, they put off a high-quality sound. If you choose to listen to audio through another set of speakers, you can easily do so with the RCA jack output option. If you have any questions for the manufacturer, just visit the Victrola FAQs page or contact the company directly.

This Bluetooth record player is an exciting mix of vintage and modern - vintage style paired with innovative advanced technology. The only downside of this turntable is its size; it's not the ideal choice if you're looking for a portable vinyl-listening solution. But for an in-home Bluetooth turntable, you can’t go wrong with the Victrola Navigator.

Pros

  • Remote control included
  • 8-in-1 audio machine
  • Cool vintage design features
  • Comes in 6 color options

Cons

  • Lacks portability

8. Sony PS-LX310BT

Best Automatic Turntable Under $200

Turntable Type

Belt Drive

Tone Arm Type

Straight

Playback Speeds

33-⅓, 45 RPM

Cartridge/Phono

Yes, Yes

Key Feature

Simple Automatic Operation

Warranty

1 Year

Sony always has and always will be a well-respected name in the audio industry. This is just one reason to go with the Sony PS-LX310BT if you're looking for the best automatic turntable under $200. The design of the PS-LX310BT is far from vintage - in fact, some reviewers refer to the device's aesthetics as "futuristic." So if you're looking for an old-timey turntable, move on to another option. 

The best feature of this turntable is the fact that it is 100% automatic. Most other models included on this list feature manual or semi-automatic operation. Not this one. Every function of this turntable can be controlled by pushing a button. You'll never have to fiddle with placing the tonearm on your vinyl record ever again. Plus, it’s possible to connect to almost any Bluetooth-enabled wireless device.

Another cool feature of the PS-LX310BT is its ability to rip vinyl records to digital MP3 files. If you have a stack of records gathering dust on your bookshelf, this device allows you to convert those records to more useable MP3s. Reviewers love the fact that they can take their favorite LPs on the go. All of the controls are simple and easy to understand, so even converting vinyl to MP3 is easy with this Sony.

The raving Sony reviews speak volumes in regards to the PS-LX310BT’s performance. You won’t find a better automatic turntable when it comes to sound quality, features, design, and ease of use. And the best part of all is that it's possible to have all this for less than $200. Finding an utterly automatic turntable for such a low cost - and at such high quality - is rare.

Pros

  • One-step auto playback
  • Easy Bluetooth connectivity
  • Supports a variety of outputs
  • Superior sound with aluminum tonearm
  • Reputable Sony manufacturer

Cons

  • Lacking in special features

9. Stanton DJ Turntable

Best DJ Turntable Setup Under $200

Turntable Type

Belt Drive

Tone Arm Type

Straight

Playback Speeds

33-⅓, 45 RPM

Cartridge/Phono

Yes, Yes

Key Feature

Perfect for DJs

Warranty

1 Year

Whether you consider you're a professional disk jockey or you DJ as a hobby, the Stanton DJ Turntable is a fantastic choice. This is the best DJ turntable setup under $200 for a few reasons. The first is that the straight tonearm offers superior tracking for scratch DJs. The second is that this turntable is loaded with professional features, such as the pitch control slider and start/stop switches.

The Stanton company specializes in professional-grade turntables, but the T.62 MKII is the most budget-friendly model for pro DJs. Even though the price falls just under $200, this turntable is not lacking in advanced features. In addition to the 2 playback speeds, the T.62 MKII comes with RCA cables, a protective dust cover, a slipmat, and the signature Stanton 300 pre-mounted cartridge.

All Stanton turntables come with USB and RCA outputs. DJs love the fact that transferring vinyl music to MP3 format is simple. Even better, though, is the fact that Stanton includes the software needed to transfer and edit music files. This gives every DJ the power to edit and remove audible clicks and pops that are common on vinyl records.

Although this is the ideal turntable setup for DJs, it's an excellent choice for anyone looking to enhance their music-listening experience. It's easy to operate, beautiful to look at, and it stays within the $200 budget. The only critique regarding this turntable is that you might be required to buy an additional preamp if you’re currently using a receiver that does not have a phono preamp input.

Pros

  • Loaded with professional features
  • Equipped with a pitch-control slider
  • Deckadance DVS software included
  • Improved tracking for DJ scratching

Cons

  • May need an additional preamp

Essential Turntable Accessories

  • Phono Preamp - A phono preamp is responsible for amplifying the signal from a turntable to an external sound system. Almost all modern turntables now come with a built-in phono preamp, so there is no need to purchase one separately.
  • Stylus Cleaner - Build up of dust and debris on the stylus can lower the sound quality, and it can even cause harm to the record. The stylus needs to be cleaned often, which can be done using a small piece of equipment called a stylus cleaner (sometimes referred to as a stylus brush).
  • Turntable Weight - This accessory is similar in shape and size to a hockey puck, and it is meant to add weight to the center of a record during playback. The point of this is to reduce any vibrations that might affect the sound quality.
  • Record Cleaner - Keeping vinyl records clean will keep them in tip-top shape for listening. When dust accumulates on an album, it can affect the sound quality, and even ruin the record altogether. Use a highly-rated record cleaner to keep this from happening.
  • Isolation Pucks - Isolation pucks look very similar to a turntable weight. But instead of placing isolation pucks on the topside of a record, they go beneath the turntable, raising it off of the tabletop surface. This helps to "isolate" the sound, improving it by making it more crisp and detailed.
  • Turntable Station - This is exactly as it sounds; it is a station that is fully dedicated to a turntable and all related accessories. The best turntable stations come with plenty of space to store a vinyl record collection.
  • RCA Cables - Some turntables come with RCA cables for listening to turntable music from another audio source. If your turntable does not come with RCA cables included, you can find them on Amazon.
  • Master Sleeves - These are similar in consistency to rice paper, and they are responsible for protecting vinyl records while being stored.
  • Slipmat - A slipmat is a piece of cloth that is placed on the turntable platter that is used in place of the traditional rubber mat. These are typically used by DJs to manipulate a record on a turntable.

How to Set Up a Turntable

Setting up a turntable is simple, just be sure to follow the specific manufacturer’s instructions. The manual will explain everything from optimal positioning to avoid vibrations and the best location for enhanced sound quality. Here are the necessary steps on how to set up a turntable:

  1. 1
    Attach the Belt
    If you are using a belt-driven turntable, you’ll need to attach the belt to the motor pulley and the platter. This is what allows your records to spin.
  2. 2
    Balance the Tone Arm
    Make sure that the record player is unplugged when you balance the tonearm. To balance this piece, be sure that the height of the arm is parallel to the platter.
  3. 3
    Set the Tracking Weight
    Once the first two steps are completed, adjust the turntable's tracking weight to the manufacturer's recommendation.

Operating a Turntable

The methods for operating a turntable depends on your specific model. For example, an automatic turntable operates differently from a manual one. These are the general steps for turntable operation:

  • Lift the turntable dust cover and ensure that the turntable is not spinning
  • Gently place the record on the platter
  • Press the “Start” button, which will put the platter into motion
  • Lift the tonearm (if manual) and gently place the stylus onto the spinning record

Turntable Maintenance & Care Tips

The main thing to remember when caring for your turntable is that dust buildup can cause a lot of damage. Always keep the dust cover in place when the turntable is not in use. Clean the stylus often using a stylus brush. Over time, you may need to replace the belt if you have a belt-driven turntable. Check the anti-skate counterweight often to ensure that it is appropriately aligned.


Hooking Up the Turntable to Your Speakers

Now that most turntables come with a built-in phono preamp connecting a turntable to your home audio system or headphones is easy. Crutchfield says that with a built-in phono preamp, “simply plug the turntable's audio signal cable into one of the receiver's analog audio inputs. These inputs are oftentimes labeled Aux (auxiliary), Line In, Analog In, etc. You can even use your receiver's ‘CD’ or ‘Tape’ input if needed. No other connections are required.”


Record Player: Common Issues & Fixes

Because a turntable is an intricate audio machine, issues can arise. Luckily, the majority of common turntable issues are easy fixes. Most of the common problems have to do with the stylus and needle. These issues can often be fixed by simply cleaning the turntable parts and pieces. You may need to replace the needle or motor belt if the problem is more serious.


Frequently Asked Questions

What can I expect from a turntable that is under $200?

As long as you choose a turntable from a respected manufacturer and positive reviews, a turntable under $200 won’t disappoint. Even for just $200, these audio machines are high-tech and produce high-quality sound.

How can I connect my turntable to my computer?

Many turntables come with a USB port for connecting to a Mac or PC. Some turntables come with the required cables included, but you may have to purchase cables separately.

What causes static noise in turntables?

Techwalla says that “as a record builds a static charge, it attracts dust, which in turn captures its own charge and creates a physical impediment for the stylus.” This is why cleaning the stylus and turntable needle is essential.

What is anti-skating, and how should it be set?

Anti-skating is a turntable feature that keeps the tonearm from skating across the record. Setting it up is easy; all you have to do is set the anti-skate dial located on the turntable to 0.

How exactly do I set the tracking weight adjustment?

This turntable setup guide by Ortofon says to “turn the counterweight on the back of the arm so the arm balances without falling either up or down. While holding the weight stationary, rotate the adjustment dial on the counterweight until it reads zero at the top.”

Does vinyl sound better?

This is debatable, but many music fans agree that vinyl does, in fact, sound better. The main reason for this is that vinyl is the closest reproduction to what the musical artist originally intended.

Where is the best place to buy replacement accessories for turntables?

Just as you can purchase turntables on Amazon.com, the same goes for buying replacement accessories for your turntable.

What are the most popular brand of turntables on the market for this price range?

Sony is a reputable name in the audio industry, but there are a few popular brands to choose from. Audio-Technica is widely respected, as are Crosley and Fluance.


Conclusion

If you’re still unsure about the best turntables under $200, the Audio-Technica is a fantastic choice. Many of the turntables on this list utilize the cartridge created by Audio-Technica. The company manufactures high-quality audio products that don’t disappoint when it comes to sound quality, ease of use, and design.

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