Vinyl Record Turntables – Best Values

Old School Stereo

It is somewhat surprising the comeback vinyl is making, but it is undeniable that this old-school format is on the rebound. Why this is happening is up for debate and maybe I will go into this on some other article. There are many places to join that conversation, some of which I have listed in the “Resources” section. What isn’t debatable is how important the record player quality is to hearing the records as they were meant to sound. Here are some of the best value vinyl record players available at different price points and features.

For whatever reason – sound quality, nostalgia, or musical snobbery – I love vinyl. To me, this was how great music was meant to be played, you made an effort to listen to actual “albums” song by song. The analog experience is more…. “real”? Technical details aside, the music just seems more vibrant and authentic. Which in these days of digital recording may not be really true at all, but, whatever – let the true audiophiles argue that in circles. Maybe it’s the fact it’s a more manual medium that you can experience and touch physically – plus the sleeves have the cool artwork and song lyrics. Maybe in a digital world we need to balance that with a certain amount of analog in our lives.

First Steps

Bottom line, if you are looking for a first turntable on the cheap or an upgrade, there are a lot of great options out there – maybe too many, it can be confusing. In this post I have attempted to put together a simple list of basic turntables for under $1000, listed at different price points. Personally I don’t believe throwing $3000 at a brick of a turntable really pays for itself in terms of improved sonic quality. All the top vinyl record players we have listed can you give you great sound quality when set up properly and used with quality amplifiers and speakers.

How can one turntable sound better than another?
VC - Turntable Buying Guide

A stable plinth, a steady speed motor, stable turn table, light tone arm and good cartridge and needle will accurately reproduce the original sound to the limits of human hearing. For some more detail on the factors that define how a vinyl record ultimately sounds, here you go.

Jumping In?

So, if you want to go straight to what we summarize as the “best” turntables for the money, please see the table below, in ascending order of price-point. Of course there are many other options, but we based our recommendations on the following:

  • Less than $1000 (see above discussion)
  • Sound quality for the price
  • Features included
  • Credibility of the brand (build quality)
  • Popularity of the model

You probably can’t go wrong with any of these choices, it is primarily dependent on your budget and what you want in a system setup and sound quality. For example, you may want only automatic turntables so as not to have to manually place the stylus when starting a record.

But the important issue overall is to be comfortable that the model you buy is well-rated and the brand has a good track record. All of these options below fit those criteria, I think these are the best value vinyl record players out there right now. Of course, “value” is a relative term, you may want to look at the more extreme ends of the price spectrum to meet your criteria. However, for mid-priced models, these should fit the bill.

Note that I have mostly stayed away from “DJ” models, focusing mostly on everyday record spinners. These are typically direct drive units, although the Audio-Technica LP120 could be considered “professional”.

PictureBrand / ModelPricePlatter DriveCartridge IncludedUSB / BluetoothSpeedsPre-Amp
Audio-Technica AT-LP60X-BK$110-$150 (multiple colors)Belt-drive
ATN3600LBluetooth optional on AT-LP60XBT-BK33 1/3, 45
Sony PS-LX310BT$250Belt-drive
AT3600Both33 1/3, 45Yes (switchable)
Teac TN-180BT-B$220 Belt-drive
MM Cartridge includedBluetooth33 1/3, 45Yes (switchable)
Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK$350-400 (multiple colors), wired, wirelessDirect-drive
AT-VM95EUSB33 1/3, 45, 78
U-Turn Audio Orbit Special$570 (multiple colors)
External belt-drive
Ortofon 2M RedNone33 1/3, 45Yes
Music Hall MMF-1.5$399Belt-drive
Music Hall MelodyNone33 1/3, 45, 78Yes
Denon DP-300F$400Belt-drive
DSN-85No33 1/3, 45Yes (switchable)
Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO$599 (multiple colors)Belt-drive
Sumiko RainierNone33 1/3, 45, 78No
Rega Planar 1$595Belt-drive
Rega CarbonNone33 1/3, 45
Rega Planar 2$775Belt-drive
Carbon MMNone33 1/3, 45No

In the end, whether you are just starting in vinyl, or want to upgrade, there are many great options. For a beginner, the Audio-Technica units are a good choice. Please comment if you have better options or think I am incorrect in listing any of these units.

Also note that I have updated the original post from a couple years ago, there are a few model changes. Prices have steadily increased, so you might want to get in soon!

For guidance in setting up your new turntable, please see our guide on how to set up a new record player. For the best listening experience from your new investment, you need to make sure all the details (where the devil resides) are in order.

Good listening!

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