Best Record Players Under $500 In 2018

For all of you music aficionados we’re going to take a look at some of the hottest turntables under $500 that are under $500. Now, before we get started, let’s be clear that, although these turntables are of fairly good quality, they are not entire vinyl setups so if that is what you are looking for, you can probably expect to come out of your pocket more in the $1000 range, if not more. Depending on how you use your turntable - whether you’re a DJ or simply a vinyl lover (beginner or veteran)- this will, in part, dictate which exact turntable components will be more important to you than others. For example, if you plan to spin and scratch like Grand Mixer D.ST on Herbie Hancock’s seminal 1983 single “Rockit,” a direct drive and an upgraded cartridge would definitely be in order; the thing must be robust.

No matter your vinyl tastes, you’re convinced that the records in your growing collection can sound even better (or maybe you’re looking to start your own collection), and now it’s time to do something about it. That’s why, in this article, we’re going to help you find the perfect turntable for you that’s priced at $500 and under. In fact, we’re going to not only show you what you should most consider when buying a new table, but we’ll also provide you with five turntables that we think are great (and under $500), and explain why each one is worthy of your consideration and money.

So with that being said, let’s begin to check out some of the best turntables under $500 and hopefully assist you in selecting a turntable that fits your taste and your needs. Happy reading!

Audio-Technica AT-LP120USB

The Audio-Technica AT comes equipped with a selectable internal stereo phono preamplifier and USB connection to either your Mac or Windows computer. The selectable preamplifier has 33-1/3, 45, and 78 rpm speeds; +/-10 percent or +/-20 percent pitch adjusts, and high-accuracy quartz-controlled pitch lock. The S-shaped tone arm assembles with an adjustable counterweight, anti-skate adjustment, tone-arm height adjustment and lock. This turntable also includes a USB cable, is Mac and PC-compatible with audacity software. There is also a switchable built-in pre-amplifier (as noted above) with line-level RCA output cables. Additional features include a direct-drive, high-torque motor, includes professional cartridge and head-shell, and lastly a stroboscopic platter with speed indicator (tons of fancy additions with this one)!

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Pros

  • The price of the Audio-Technica is very reasonable, only $275.00 on Amazon; no matter the kind of music that you decide to listen to on the Technica, you can definitely expect clarity and a distinct sound!

Cons

  • Oddly, there is a weird, burning kind of smell that comes from the turntable sometimes when you’re using it, not to mention there has been a couple of times where the turntable has completely stopped working only after a year or so.

U-Turn Audio Orbit Plus

The U-Turn Orbit Plus comes in several vibrant colors and will only cost you about $300 on Amazon; the U-Turn is a high-performance turntable, made in the USA by U-Turn Audio Precision (a highly valued manufacturer) that comes with a tonearm Ortofon OM 5E cartridge, machined acrylic platter, and manual belt drive (33/45 RPM). More specifically, the specs of the U-Turn are: 12.5 LBS 5 x 17 x 13", 0.125% wow & flutter, -79dBA S/N ratio, -63dBA rumble, with additional accessories that include a dust cover, RCA cables, felt mat, 2 year warranty, and an adjustable counterweight.

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Pros

  • The U-Turn is incredibly easy to setup and the manufacturer offers lifetime technical support, so that is definitely a bonus.
  • The sound that the U-Turn offers is also amazing and it is a perfect fit for those who are new to the world of vinyl and for those who are veterans.

Cons

  • If you are switching speeds on your turntable, unfortunately the belt may come off (or if you happen to leave the table on all night).
  • Even so, for the price, it’s a pretty good buy.

Music Hall MMF 2.2

The Music Hall MMF 2.2 is $299.00 on Amazon and has special, vibration damping feet, with a one-piece alloy tonearm that offers superb tracking ability, in addition to a low noise fully manual belt drive design. The MMF is comprised of a high-precision stainless steel, bronze bearing assembly with two, moving-magnet phono cartridges.

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Pros

  • The sound that comes from the Music Hall MMF is absolutely amazing, not to mention the cartridge that comes with it and the look overall.
  • The assembly of the Music Hall can be done within minutes, even if you are new the world of turntables.

Cons

  • There is an overly excessive amount of motor noise that comes along with the Music Hall, which can be incredibly annoying.
  • There have also been some issues with the tonearm not balancing at the right tracking weight (which typically means that the lateral bearings are bad).

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC

The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC will cost you roughly $400 or so on Amazon (although there are other manufacturers out there who offer the same turntable) and comes equipped with an 8.6” carbon tonearm and is comprised of a durable steel design for minimum feedback (huge bonus). It also comes with a precision belt drive with a synchronous motor and an increased platter size with more weight.

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Pros

  • This is definitely a solidly made turntable and the sound is awesome! You are definitely guaranteed to get professional quality with this one.
  • Also beware that this particular turntable will bring out EVERYTHING in your records so if you have the slightest dust or scratch on them you will undoubtedly hear it!

Cons

  • The felt mat that comes with the Pro-Ject Carbon is pretty cheaply made unfortunately, not to mention that cartridge that comes with it does not really pair well with the table itself so it results in a bit of distortion, but overall, for the price, it’s a pretty solid turntable.

Pioneer PL-30

The Pioneer PL-30 is a full-automatic operation and is equipped with a dual-layered chassis with 4 mm-thick metal plate and a low center of gravity, which provides stable playback. There is also a built-in phono equalizer with an on/through selector (“on” for connecting amps without the phono terminal and “through” for when you are using an external phono equalizer). Additional features include a high performance MM cartridge, efficient belt drive system and a thick rubber mat that effectively suppresses external vibrations while being able to firmly grip the record. Those who purchase this turntable can also expect a turntable sheet, dust cover, adapter for EP records, spare lead wires, power cord (of course) and an easy to read instruction manual.

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Pros

  • The price of the Pioneer is definitely a bonus, costing less than $200 on Amazon; the sound that comes from the Pioneer is concise and amazing, with clarity coming in spades.

Cons

  • There have been some incidences of the turntable slowing down only after a couple of uses, at least by 10% which is annoying.

What additional equipment will I need?

The answer to this primarily depends on how active you plan to be with the turntable; if you just want something to enjoy those records on, and then a simple table will probably be enough for you. However, if you are heavily into DJing, you will want to invest in other equipment, which naturally will cost you more.

Are there any turntables that are Bluetooth compatible and not just compatible with computers?

Actually, there are some turntables out there that can be paired with a separate speaker system (for example the U-Turn Orbit). Keep in mind that these will probably be more expensive than the traditional turntables.

I am getting a rumbling sound when I turn up the volume on my turntable, what does that mean?

It doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is wrong, if you are getting that rumbling sound, try placing a thick mat under the table to give it an extra bit of cushion so the vibrations from the bass won’t be as strong.

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Conclusion

Overall, the Pioneer would be my choice; it’s an amazing price and the quality of this turntable is certainly worth it.

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