You’ve probably heard many times about vinyl and how better it sounds than the other means of listening to music. There’s something truly mesmerizing about vinyl records; the warmth, the texture, and the quality of the sound are things you can’t find anywhere else.
Now, if you’re a music enthusiast or you’re a dedicated vinyl collector, you probably need a decent turntable so that you can listen to your vinyl records in their full glory. At first glance, you might be discouraged when you see that a lot of turntables that are quite expensive. Knowing how expensive vinyl records can be, this can quickly turn into a huge investment. Fortunately, you can find great turntables for less than $500.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the five best turntables under $500 that you can find on the market. We will also include a buying guide so you can find the best turntable under 500 bucks that suits your preferences.
Top Turntable Under 500 Dollars – Our Picks
This is easily one of the best turntables under 500 dollars out there. It is made with professional DJs in mind which is why it is on the higher end of the price spectrum. However, the price boost is well worth it as this beauty is capable of playing records at 33, 45, and 78 rpm thanks to its electronic speed switch. It also features a direct-drive design which makes it easier to use than the belt-driven models.
Additionally, the AT-LP1240 is also a high-quality digital conversion amp that allows for high-quality and seamless transfers. With that said, the quality of the sound will eventually depend on the vinyl you’re using so don’t expect a worn vinyl to sound like a pristine one when you use this turntable.
When we’re talking about the AT-LP1240, we should also compare it to its less expensive brother, the LP120. The reason we went with the LP1240 over the LP120 as the best turntable under $500 is because this one has many more features and is overall better and more durable. The increase in price is completely justified as you’ll be getting a turntable that is jam-packed with features and is surprisingly durable.
As for ease of use, the LP1240 has clear and simple controls. This is mainly thanks to the lighting that helps you quickly figure out what’s going on.
When it comes to the main issues people have with this turntable, they are minor as there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the design of this turntable. With that said, some people prefer to use this turntable for DJing rather than listening to music.
There’s also the fact that the counterweight on the tone-arm is a little too light for the cartridge weight. However, this is a minor issue as you can easily replace it with heavier counterweights from other Audio-Technica turntables. One last thing that’s worth noting is that this turntable does not include a stylus so you’ll have to buy one separately.
All in all, this is one of the best turntables under $500. It has a lot of great features, is easy to use, and has excellent value. This is definitely a worthwhile investment for anyone looking for the best turntable under 500 bucks.
This is yet another direct drive turntable. It also a price that is comparable to the AT-LP1240, but how does it compare to it in terms of quality and features? Which one is the best turntable under $500? Well, in terms of features, the AT LP1240 seems to have more features. However, the build quality of the RP-7000 MK2 cannot be overlooked. This turntable also seems to be used in DJ sets and has adequate features that make it one of the best turntables under $500.
Another thing worth mentioning is that you have to the cartridge separately. However, this turntable can work with several different cartridges which allows for excellent rhythmic timing, deep bass as well as exquisite detail retrieval. The RP-7000 MK2 also features great sound mixing features that help capture the original sound of any record, so you can either use this for DJing or just listening to music.
The only problem we have with the RP-7000 MK2 is the lack of a dust cover and needles. You’ll have to get them by yourself. There’s also a minor issue in the fact that the isolation feet are not adjustable.
We already spoke about the LP120 in our LP1240 review, and while the latter has more features, the LP120’s price makes it an appealing choice. It definitely deserves a spot on this list as one of the best turntables under $500. In fact, this is among the most affordable turntables on this list.
The LP120 comes with USB and analog outputs which allow you to plug it with a set of speakers for your computer or mac. With that said, there is no headphone jack which means that you have to connect it to an external device.
As for the conversion process, it is quite simple. You can play and covert 33, 45, and 75 pm records. With that said the quality of the sound will eventually depend on the condition of the vinyl so make sure you use something that’s in good condition. Another thing worth mentioning is the fact that the LP120 comes with Audacity, which is well-known, beginner-friendly audio editing software.
You’ll be able to immediately notice the improvement in sound quality in comparison to cheaper belt-driven models. What’s even better is that you don’t even have to worry about changing worn belts. Furthermore, the LP120 has anti-skating, pitch adjustment, and lock, as well as a good counterweight that makes playbacks sound great. It’s also quite customizable, allowing you to fiddle around with the sound until you get something you like.
All in all, considering its price, the LP120 can definitely be the best turntable under 500 dollars for the right buyer.
#4 – Denon DP-300F
The DP-300F is an elegantly designed turntable with sound quality that matches its beauty. While the DSN-85 that comes with it is not the most accurate cartridge, it still does what it’s supposed to do well enough to provide a pleasant listening experience.
With that said it is worth mentioning that the DP-300F does not have USB outputs. However, this doesn’t disqualify it from being considered one of the best turntables under $500 which says a lot about its features. It’s especially great for those who don’t want to manually queue their albums. The DP-300F also features an automatic start/stop feature which means that the needle will automatically return once the album is done to preserve the needle and increase its lifespan.
Our main caveat with the Denon DP-300F is its buttons. Even though it has good build quality for an all-plastic turntable, they feel a bit cheap but this is a relatively minor issue. This is still one of the best turntables under $500.
The LP60 is a great starter turntable that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. As a matter of fact, it is the most inexpensive on this list. Another great thing about it is that it’s portable. Furthermore, it can play most vinyl and is fully automatic.
With that said you might find yourself switching this turntable with something better as time goes on. However, it is still a great starting point for users who are looking to dip their toes to test the waters.
All in all, if you’ve never bought a turntable before and are looking for something inexpensive to see if this whole thing is for you, then this might be the best turntable under 500 dollars for you.
Choosing the Best Turntable Under 500 Dollars – Buying Guide
This guide is meant to help you choose the best turntable under $500. We’ll be going over everything that you need to know about turntables so you’re able to make the best decision for your case.
Key parts of a turntable
- Platter – On top ofthis is where the record sits
- Spindle and bearing – This part ensures that the platter rotates smoothly and quietly
- Motor and pulley – Only found in belt-driven turntables. Provides the needed torque to turn the platter
- Tonearm – Tracks record grooves. Usually made from lightweight materials
- Cartridge– This is what turns the kinetic energy from the record groove into electrical signals
- Plinth – Serves as a stable base for the moving parts
- Feet – Suppresses vibrations
Important features in the Best Turntable Under 500 Dollars
At first glance, you can’t really tell the difference between some turntables and others. This is why you need to always take a closer look at any turntable that you might be interested in buying. This is especially important if you’re looking for the best turntable under 500 bucks. Let us take a look at some of the most important features that you need to look for in the best turntable under $500.
Belt drive vs. direct drive
This describes how the motor is connected to the platter.
Direct-drive turntables are what professional DJs opt for. This is mainly because they can get up to speed almost instantly as soon as the motor starts. Furthermore, the platter spins free of resistance when you turn off the motor.
For the rest of users, you’ll probably want to opt for a belt-driven turntable. In these turntables, the motor turns the platter via an elastic band that’s connected to it. This removes motor noise and tends to result in clearer and more nuanced sounds.
The majority of turntables you’ll come across will come with a pre-mounted cartridge on the tonearm. Inside the cartridge, you’ll find the needle, which is also called a stylus. This is what reads the record’s grooves and turns them into sound. While the pre-mounted cartridge usually does the job, music enthusiasts will eventually upgrade to a better cartridge for better sound quality and detail.
The phono preamp amplifies the signal sent by the cartridge since the initial signal is always weak. Now, the phono preamp can be built into the table, built into a speaker, built into a receiver, or built into its own separate compartment.
While getting an outboard phono preamp is not a must, it does allow you to get a lot more detail and overall better quality from your cartridge. It will also allow you to customize the setting and sound to your heart’s content.
Manual vs. automated
This is feature indicates how much interaction is needed with the turntable.
Manual turntables require you to physically lift the tonearm and place the needle in the record’s lead groove to start playing and lift it off at the end of a side to stop. This is usually done via a manual lever. As for automated mechanisms, they automatically do those things for you. With that said it usually comes at the price of a bit of noise. If you don’t mind manually operating your turntable, then you might want to opt for a manual one.
There are also semi-automatic turntables. These turntables combine the best of both worlds. Requiring you to manually place the needle in the record’s lead groove, and then automatically lifting it off when the record is done.
Fully automated turntables only need one button press and then they start working without the need for user intervention. It takes care of everything for you so you can just put it on and walk away from it.
Some turntables feature a USB output that allows you to digitally save your albums and records. This is especially useful for those who want to take their music with them wherever they go.
Important specs in the Best Turntable Under 500 Bucks
When you’re looking for the best turntable under $500, you’ll probably want to do more research than just looking at pictures. There are some important specs that you need to check to know whether or not what you’re looking at is the best turntable under 500 dollars. Here’s what you need to look for:
- Signal-to-noise ratio: This is a measure of how much background noise you can hear. A higher number is better. We recommend going for something above 65 dB
- Playback speeds: Most turntables you’ll find will give you 33-1/3 and 45 rpm capability. There are tables give you 78 rpm. These turntables are capable of handling modern microgroove pressings but they can’t handle older vintage recordings. Just make sure you get a specialized cartridge that can handle the wider grooves that some of these rare vintage records have.
- Wow and flutter: This indicates the accuracy of the latter rotation. You want to avoid too much deviation as it can cause a wavering effect. We recommend anything below 0.25%
Picking the Best Turntable Under 500 Dollars – FAQ
SHOULD I PAIR MY TURNTABLE WITH SPEAKERS?
If you can’t get your hands on a preamp output that’s connected to a receiver with a phono input or a power/preprocessor amp combination, then you can still use speakers and not have any issues. However, the results of the former are much better and provide more detail than using speakers.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A TURNTABLE AND A RECORD PLAYER?
This is a very common question and it’s clear why. Even though both devices seem to serve a similar purpose, they are not the same thing.
To put it simply, a turntable is an assembly that includes the platter, the tonearm, and the cartridge. It needs to be hooked to a phono preamp, amplifier/receiver, and speaker to play records.
On the other hand, a record player can be seen as an all-inclusive package that does not require any extra components to play records. In a record player, you basically have a turntable, phono preamp, amplifier, and speakers all in one package.
If you’ve come this far into the article, then you should be able to confidently choose the best turntable under 500 bucks according to your preferences and taste. We hope this article provided you with all the knowledge you need in order to make the best choice you can. Our top picks should help you narrow down your search considerably.
If you haven’t tried listening to vinyl before, we highly recommend you try it out as it will open up a whole new way to enjoy your favorite music on a more personal and closer level.
What are you waiting for? The best turntable under 500 dollars is just a few clicks away!