- 1. Audio Technica AT-LP60WH-BT Fully Automatic Bluetooth Stereo Turntable
- 2. Audio-Technica ATLP120USB Direct Drive Professional USB Turntable
- 3. Victrola Navigator 8-in-1 Classic Bluetooth Record Player
- 4. Fluance Elite High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable Record Player
- 5. Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC Turntable with Ortofon 2M Red Cartridge
- 6. Audio-Technica AT-LP60-BT Fully Automatic Bluetooth Stereo Turntable System
- 7. 1byone Wireless Turntable Hi-Fi System
- 8. Crosley C200 Direct-Drive Turntable with S-Shaped Tone Arm
- 9. Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB Direct-Drive Turntable
- 10. Marantz TT42P Fully Automatic Belt Drive Turntable
With so many ways to listen to music, why bother with a turntable at all? Vinyl, after all, get scratched or become warped. You can’t listen to the whole record continuously without flipping the record, plus vinyl is just so… analog. They also tend to be more expensive than their digital counterparts. But then again, purists will tell you that vinyl records produce some of the best, clearest sound of music ever recorded. Or maybe you just like the romance of old records spinning under a tiny needle. Or maybe you have a stash of old vinyl you just rediscovered and can’t wait to play. Regardless of the reasons, you do need a good turntable to play music for you. If you’re in the market for one, here are the top turntables under $500 that you might want to consider.
1. Audio Technica AT-LP60WH-BT Fully Automatic Bluetooth Stereo Turntable
The AT-LP60WH-BT is a compact and lightweight turntable that offers easy operation with its fully automatic turntable. The stylus is set in a way that ensures it lands gently on the vinyl to prevent surface damage. Once the record is completely played, the stylus automatically returns to its stand, so you can basically leave it to work on its own.
The AT-LP60 features a belt-drive design that protects the platter from the effects of the motor's vibration. As a result, the music produced is the clear and crisp hifi sound that audiophiles love. It is fully-featured and comes with a pre-mounted phono cartridge and a phono pre-amplifier already built into the unit. The platter is metal and the turntable has a transparent plastic cover to protect it from dust.
-Fully automatic play
-Stylus is replaceable
-Has a built-in phono pre-amplifier
-Can be connected wirelessly to a Bluetooth-enabled audio device or any analog audio input device
-can switch between the pre-amplifier and an external pre-amp if desired
-Can play 45s and 33 1/3 records
-Fixed phono cartridge; can't be replaced or upgraded
-Best for beginners or those who want the most basic features; not recommended for more advanced audiophiles
-Has two speeds
2. Audio-Technica ATLP120USB Direct Drive Professional USB Turntable
Here's one of the top turntables under $500 that can play all sizes of vinyl records. It offers some impressive features that guarantee good playback. If you need a turntable that can perform an accurate conversion of LP records (including old ones), the AT-LP120 proves to be a reliable choice. It will work its magic even with old, scratched, or warped vinyls. Since it comes with Audacity, an audio editing software, you can clean up any noise or issues quite well post-conversion.
The AT-LP120 is capable of quick start-ups via its high-torque direct-drive motor. If you want to connect the turntable directly to a computer, there is a built-in USB output for that. It is also capable of forward and reverse play. It features a cast aluminum platter and a clear plastic protective cover.
-High-quality, accurate playback and conversions
-Plays 45, 78, and 33 rpm records
-Includes pitch adjust and lock, anti-skating, and a counterweight that will prevent premature wear on the needle
-Comes with RCA outputs for connecting external speakers
-Excellent for use in digital conversions of vinyl records
-Does not have built-in speakers; requires external ones
-Does not include a jack for headphones or speakers
-Has volume issues with conversions
-Audacity has a slight learning curve for the non-techie types
If you threw classic record- and cassette-playing capabilities and FM radio with more modern music-playing features such as a CD player, USB, and Bluetooth connectivity, you get the Victrola Navigator 8-in-1. The classic looks are an homage to the chunky record-players of the past but beyond the vintage design, the Navigator 8-in-1 offers several functionalities that allow you to play, enjoy, and even record music. The built-in speakers are actually better than expected but they still do not compare with a great set of external speakers.
-Vintage style available in five finishes
-3-speed turntable, CD player, USB player, Bluetooth connectivity, and cassette player; FM radio has an analog tuner
-Allows recording of vinyl music to MP3; comes with a USB cable and Mac/PC software
-Built-in stereo speakers
-Has an RCA output, RCA cable, and headphone jack
-Has an 8GB USB thumb drive and three replacement needles
-The body is made of real wood
-Bluetooth connectivity is limited; can't connect to external/auxiliary speakers
-The record player has to be switched off manually because the remote control does not come with a power button
-Comes with a warning that the product may expose users to certain chemicals, including lead - which is, to say the least, unsettling
4. Fluance Elite High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable Record Player
If you want an affordable starter turntable, the Fluance Elite turntable combines a range of features with great design. While the tonearm is plastic, it does a pretty good job of playing vinyl. The needle is replaceable and quite affordable, and you can replace cartridges on a whim. If you are unsatisfied with the built-in phone pre-amp, you can connect to a better quality set of speakers for a more enjoyable experience.
-Affordable entry-level turntable
-Easy to set up; changing speeds merely requires a flick of a knob
-Automatically stops at the end of the record
-Good audio quality
-Great at canceling external vibrations
-Decent classic design
-Only plays 45s and 33s
-Tonearm will not automatically return to the rest at the end of the record
-Speed is sometimes inconsistent
-Tonearm is made of plastic material
5. Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC Turntable with Ortofon 2M Red Cartridge
Here's another starter turntable that offers easy setup and good features at an affordable price. Granted that this may not be the cheapest entry-level turntable but when the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon features an Ortofon 2M Red phono cartridge, you get a great-sounding turntable for the price range.
-Precision belt drive and carbon tonearm
-Easy to set up and operate
-Audio has a dynamic range
-Has good damping capability thanks to its MDF build
-Upgradeable and lightweight
-Comes in 8 different finishes
-Does not automatically start or stop
-Manual speed change
-No anti-skate dial
6. Audio-Technica AT-LP60-BT Fully Automatic Bluetooth Stereo Turntable System
This is the sexy variant of the fully automatic AT-LP60 series from Audio-Technica. This turntable can be connected wireless to any audio device via Bluetooth or to any wired speaker or audio system using the RCA output cable. In terms of audio quality, the AT-LP60 is pretty decent, capable of producing a clean and well-balanced sound. It's also fully automatic, so you can play and forget about it since it can essentially take care of itself. A great choice for ripping vinyl music and converting it to a digital file.
-Fully automatic belt-drive stereo
-Stores as many as 8 different Bluetooth device profiles for easy connection
-Phono cartridge is the Integral Dual Magnet from Audio-Technica; has a replaceable diamond stylus
-Fixed phono cartridge
-Entry-level turntable with basic features
-Plays only two speeds (33 and 45 rpm)
7. 1byone Wireless Turntable Hi-Fi System
The 1byone Wireless Turntable can handle three speeds, so any vinyl record you have lying around or kept in storage for many years can relive its glory days once again. The stylus is a basic unit but it does produce a decent sound. Do not expect a sophisticated instrument, though. If you have a scratched record, the needle on this turntable will skip. Allows for conversion of vinyl records to MP3 files.
-Built-in pre-amplifier and switchable phono line for connecting to speakers (included in the package)
-Allows recording to a personal computer via USB; can also record to tablet or smartphone
-Wireless streaming using smartphones, MP3 and USB players, tablets, and computers.
-Anti-skating with adjustable tonearm counterweight
-Solid iron platter
-No built-in speakers, which makes this turntable a bit bulky with the included speakers
-The stylus will likely skip on scratched records
-Audio could use a little more refinement
8. Crosley C200 Direct-Drive Turntable with S-Shaped Tone Arm
Crosley has been manufacturing vintage-style turntables for years but they are not as popular as other brands. They do, however, have a few goodies to offer, such as the C200. This direct-drive unit has unassuming features that, while basic, work very well in tandem. The C200 is not showy but it does the job. The stylus is upgradeable, so if you want a more refined tracking quality, you can swap it with a compatible piece. Audio is quite good, since the C200 can produce crisp and tight tones from low to high.
-Affordable entry-level but good quality turntable
-Easy to set up; includes an instruction manual
-Features a built-in phono pre-amp that can easily be integrated with stereo
-The aluminum platter is damped die-cast which helps combat the effects of vibration
-Excellent build and simple design
-At high volumes, the phono pre-amp can exhibit a little distortion; this can be fixed by plugging the C200 to an external speaker set
-Fully manual operation
-Short RCA cables
-Has two speeds, 33 and 45 rpm
9. Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB Direct-Drive Turntable
The AT-LP120X is easily a redesign of the trusty standard, AT-LP120. However, all the added benefits come at a decent price tag. Like its predecessor, the AT-LP120X is easy to set up and has a robust direct-drive motor which means higher torque and lower maintenance requirements. The motor on the LP120X is also more efficient at just 2.75W (compared to the LP120's 11 W) and has an enhanced starting torque.
-Hifi audio via direct drive DC servo motor that can play three speeds
-S-shaped balanced tonearm with a lockable rest to keep it secure when not in use
-Adjustable dynamic anti-skating control
-Allows for conversion of vinyl records to digital files
-Heavy-cast aluminum platter for stability
-Fully manual which requires your intervention once the record is completely played
-Requires powered external speakers
-Plastic build and slightly generic design deducts points from its aesthetic value; it doesn't help that the LP120X is on the lighter side
-Does not have a reverse play
-Lower motor torque which might have a slight effect on its performance
10. Marantz TT42P Fully Automatic Belt Drive Turntable
If you have been waiting for years to resurrect your collection of vinyl records, give the honors of playing them to the TT42P. Fully automated, the TT42P produces high-quality sound with nearly zero distortions and vibrations, courtesy of its DC servo belt drive and sturdy tonearm. It has a built-in phono preamp that connects easily to any audio input. The playback is hifi, thanks to the low-coloration tonearm that produces a crisp and clear sound with a good balance in the high, mid-, and low tones.
-Fully automatic - just push play, leave it to do its job and the tonearm will simply return to its tonerest without your intervention
-Good tracking; the DC servo belt drive ensures constant motor speed
-Assembly is required but the product is easy to set up
-Factory set weighting on the magnetic cartridge to avoid confusion
-Very good signal to noise ratio
-Plays distortion-free sound
-Floating chassis protects against skipping due to vibration
-Very basic features, although decent; if you are looking for more functionalities, this is not the turntable for you
-Does not come with USB ports
-A bit on the pricier side for its features
-Factory setting on the cartridge does not give room for adjustment
George A. Smith received a Masters Degree in Music Education from the University of Berkeley. George has been teaching music professionally for the past 8 years. George regularly contributes content to several music websites including LoadRecords.com.