If you’re a fan of the analog warmth and richness, the best turntable under $1000 is the great option to get what you need without breaking the bank. While the recent “vinyl return” boom brought back the demand for turntables, the high level of competition makes the manufacturers keep the prices moderate.
The modern turntables don’t require much tweaking and thorough preparation and are quite versatile. Many have digital outputs to connect to a PC or digital audio gear. Turntables are often used by DJs for specific sounds of scratching and playing with different playback speeds.
The first thing to determine is the purpose of buying a turntable (e.g. listening to the vinyl collection, transmitting the latter into the digital file, enhancing the DJ deck). Specific features like number and type of connections, platter material, adjustable speed and so on will arise. Besides, you’ll have to deal with the general parameters as well:
- Preamp. It can be built-in or a turntable might require an external preamp.
- Setup. The options range from fully automatic mode to the manual-only operation.
- Size and weight. Consider the space you have and the need for portability.
- Dust cover. A plus for any setup.
We have compiled a list of the best turntables under $1000 based on such parameters as sound quality, easiness of use, and solidity of the build. Check it now to spot your vinyl setup!
Turntable under $1000 Reviews
Precision-made with built-in preamp and external belt system, this turntable is easy to set up and operate while the sound features high clarity and authenticity. Considering the middle-range price, this model could easily be marked as the best turntable under $1000. Still, this turntable is minimalistic in functions and fully manual, which could be a con for the progress lovers.
The plinth is made of solid hardwood with a smooth finish. The platter is acrylic and features high stability. It damps next to all the vibration enabling crystal clear sound and distortion-free performance throughout the volume and frequency range.
The tonearm has a straight shape and is enhanced with the additional bearings to ensure stable tracking and easy positioning within seconds. It features the Ortofon 2M cartridge that brings the expansive soundstage with a ton of detail. The audio is highly dynamic, with rich ample mids and lows and open transparent highs. The frequency response is even throughout the whole playback and on extreme frequencies (super-highs and bottom lows). The sound is rich and natural, detailed and almost colorless. The audio has a good balance while each instrument and voice line is distinct and individual.
The U-Turn Audio features the powerful motor providing two rotation speeds (33-1/3 RPM and 45 RPM) and emitting very little noise. Great sound and simple design make the U-Turn Audio a great option among the best turntables under $1000.
- External belt positioning lets change playback speed within seconds.
- The tonearm is equipped with the internal anti-skating mechanism.
- Cue lever lets position the arm on a disc quickly and easily.
- The three-feet base isn’t too steady — the ‘“table” can be tipped over if moved.
- Dust cover is unstable in the open position.
Video U-Turn Audio
If you’re looking for a solid middle-class turntable with premium sound and little to do in terms of setup and operation, the Pro-Ject SB might be your best turntable under $1000. It maintains different playback speeds managed through the built-in speed box, and the tonearm has an anti-skating mechanism to minimize the skipping during the playback. However, this turntable doesn’t have a preamp and requires a dedicated phono input on speakers / amp or a separate preamp section to hook up to speakers.
The turntable is well made while being one of the most lightweight in its class (the weight is below 13 lbs). It features a heavy acrylic platter not letting through any vibration from the motor even at the highest rotating speed. The base is solid enough and covered with the expensive-looking varnish bringing a touch of a retro style into its design. The tonearm is made of carbon and is equipped with the Ortofon 2M Red cartridge, which is appreciated for its precision in picking and transmitting the sound data from the disc.
The sound is powerful and enveloping, with particular warm tonality. The details are presented fully, while the accent is made on the overall presentation and balance of frequencies. Highs are expansive, without shrieking tones, and the mids and lows are confident and well-shaped. The soundstage is wide and deep, with high precision of instruments and voices “mapping”. The high fluency and depth of the sound put this model into a row of the best turntables under 1000 dollars.
- Three speeds (33-1/3, 45, and 78 RPM) supported.
- Natural sound without coloration.
- Tonearm cord is detachable and can be upgraded.
- Dynamics is a bit less impressive than in the premium competitors.
- For the 78 RPM speed, manual adjustment is required.
Video Pro-Ject SB
Rega Planar 2 RB220
This turntable makes a great example of the time-proven technology enhanced by the most modern developments. It features the same typical for Rega high quality of material and assembly, together with the characteristic energetic sound, while being simple in operation and setup. There is definitely more than one reason to call it the best turntable under $1000. Still, the manual switching of the speed requires some time and effort, while some of the competition models feature the in-house switching mechanism.
The construction is made to ensure high stability of tonearm and therefore, the fluent distortion-free sound. It features all of the recent developments including the automatic anti-skating mechanism, aluminum arm with built-in shell, regulated counterweight. Additionally, the vertical bearings made of lightweight but stiff plastic ensure the rigidity of tonearm position and prevent any skips or pops during playback.
The motor is a synchronous type that emits next to no noise. It works confidently on both 33-1/3 RPM and 45 RPM speeds and has a passive cooling system. The plinth is solid and reduces motor vibration efficiently. It’s covered with gloss acrylic finish, which, together with Optiwhite platter creates a stylish and expensive look.
Still, what makes this model hit the spot among the best turntables under $1000 is its rhythmic and accurate sound with typical for Rega Planar impressive bass. The soundstage is open and dense, with highly precise imaging and rich detail. The sound has rich tonality and is very melodic, with particularly detailed voice representation.
- Deep lows with rich texture and high dynamics.
- ⅓-inch platter bearing ensures steady rotation without vibration.
- Highly stable rubber feet.
- No marks on the counterweight make it a bit tricky to adjust the force.
- No preamp.
The high price of this turntable and its manual operation doesn’t prevent it from being ranged as the best turntable under $1000 in the dedicated charts. Its most highlighted advantages are compatibility with both moving magnet and moving coil cartridges, and sensor-equipped motor providing steady rotation speed in various conditions.
The turntable looks stylish, with its all-black matte components and the exquisite J-shaped tonearm. The connections are grouped on a bottom panel and are easy to access. The preamp is built-in enabling quick connection to the speakers, AV receivers and amplifiers without phono inputs. There’s also a separate switch for the preamp-activated or deactivated operation letting bypass the preamp if needed.
The tonearm features a rigid construction with the removable headshell and easy cartridge swapping mechanism. It has a gimbal suspension resulting in the fluent and precise tracking, with no external pops. The Audio-Technica dual magnet cartridge enables high precision of the sound and even frequency response.
The sound of the AT-LP7 is detailed and rich, immediately picturing all the instruments and voices and imaging them with accuracy and confidence. The mids are filled with nuance and fluent, the high is airy and feature if a touch of brightness. The low end is solid, with sharply drawn yet powerful beats and deep growling lows. Overall dense backstage and sharp detailing, together with the punchy attack let rate this model as potentially the best audiophile turntable under $1000.
- Very accurate and at the same time powerful rhythmic and dynamics.
- ⅘-inch polymer platter dampens the vibration while keeping the constant rotation speed.
- Regulated feet let set the height to the user’s preference.
- With preamp activated, the highs become a bit muffled and cut off.
- Non-hinged dust cover.
Denon DJ VL12
The professional turntable with direct drive and enhanced tonearm stability and overall noise isolation, this model fits any DJ activities. Still, its premium distortion-free sound also catches the audiophile’s attention letting it claim the title of the best turntable under 1000 dollars. Meanwhile, this is quite large (17.8 x 14.0 x 5.9 inches) and heavy (27 lbs) turntable, requiring sufficient room on your audio deck.
The turntable base is metal supported by four isolated feet that can be adjusted by height. The plinth is thicker than able models hiding the powerful motor fitted with the direct drive mechanism. The motor provides rock steady rotation in adjustable high- and low-torque modes that can be additionally secured by the quartz lock mechanism. It switches quickly between 33-⅓ and 45 RPM modes and has the 45-adapter fitted right on the deck.
The platter is aluminum and chamfered in order to ensure a good grip for scratching and other DJ tricks. The controls include the pitch range and pitch fader letting adjust the speed for individual beatmatching ideas. The platter is lighted with the RGB light with the possibility to change color and brightness to the user’s preference.
The sound of the Denon DJ VL12 is ample and engaging. It features pinpoint accuracy combined with the strong punchy dynamics. The room is filled immediately, and the soundstage has good width and depth, with high sharpness of details. Beats are strong and exact while the overall tonality is deep and warm.
- High-quality voice- and instrument representation, rich with variations.
- The tonearm is firmly fixed in a tracking or resting position due to the developed support mechanism.
- Single strobe markers set around the platter lets control the speed alteration.
- RGB light makes noise in certain positions.
- No dust cover supplied.
Video Denon DJ VL12
The solid design of this direct-drive turntable stands behind its high-quality noise isolation and pure precise sound. It’s definitely a great option among turntables under $1000 while the price is quite high considering that the cartridge and stylus aren’t supplied. However, the overall dynamics and distortionless audio stay there even with the basic cartridge.
The plinth is heavy die-cast, with the addition of resin and other dampening materials. The platter has good weight and stability and feels textured, which is great for DJ scratching and speeding up / braking. The platter rotation is rock steady and doesn’t feature any wobbling or uneven issues during the speed selection. The motor has high torque and works noise-free while the pitch range allows boosting the speed up to 50%.
The Pioneer PLX1000 features the standard DJ table design with a bit of a stylish touch. The controls feel solid and shaped differently (represented by buttons, knobs, dials), which helps not mix anything up. LED lighting for controls and platter is bright enough yet unobtrusive, letting keep an eye on the important controls and not be distracted by other ones.
The sound of this turntable impresses with high clarity and sensitivity throughout the frequency range. It emits well-balanced rhythmic audio with good detailing and highly accurate mids and lows. Though treble can reach extreme limits, it might feature occasional cut-offs while the middle line and lows are solid and punchy.
- Sensitive power switch requires very little effort to turn on/off.
- The tonearm has rubber insulation for dampening the external impact.
- Detachable RCA cords with gold-plated connection ports.
- Interference might appear near powered monitors.
- Arm lift drops heavily.
Video Pioneer PLX1000
This is not just a good turntable under $1000 but a fully functional hybrid of the turntable with the MIDI controller. Such combination is handy for DJ tasks; yet, the vibration caused by the additional elements and fast hitting on buttons requires the enhanced isolation of both plinth and tonearm and completely flat and sturdy surface.
The MIDI controller provides eight buttons that can be grouped to the user’s liking into 2×4 pads. It can be used for sampling, mixing, looping, etc. and allows for individual control mapping. The USB port lets store or derive the samples into / from the flash drive / PC and create the full functionality of the MIDI controller.
The base is sturdy while being made of plastic with metallic coverage on top and damps the noise and vibration efficiently. The platter rotates steadily and doesn’t flutter with the change of speed, which is performed via the rubber buttons for 33-⅓ and 45 RPM speed (pressed together, these buttons allow reaching 78 RPM).
The motor is fast and low-noise bringing the versatility of low- and high torque operation. The pitch can range from 8% to 50%, and the fader is very sensitive and intuitive, with LED lighting around the active zone.
The sound of the Reloop AMS-RP-8000 features a lot of dynamics and energy, deep well-drawn bass and wide mids and highs. Detailing is particularly good at mids and lows while the high-pitched voices and instruments might miss a fraction of depth.
- Trax encoder lets browse the playlist and enables easy loading of tracks.
- Digital display lets control the torque and pitch range.
- Connection ports are recessed providing good support even for heavy cables.
- Mixer pads are lined in one row and aren’t lighted.
- Power and encoder knobs are too close to the platter.
What technical functions you need to consider choosing a turntable?
When shopping for a turntable, you might notice the specifications of vinyl players differ from those outlined for digital devices. The turntable ‘reads’ the sound wave from the grooves on the vinyl disc rotating on a platter. To “pick” the sound, the stylus should be very thin to enter the groove. It transmits the analog data to the cartridge that transforms it into the electric impulse and sends to the preamp for further amplification by speakers. Particulars of this process make the features that should be considered when buying a turntable.
In order to get a quality sound, a single turntable isn’t enough. The minimal audiophile setup consists of:
- powered speakers.
It can be further developed by introducing an amplifier between the preamp and speakers. The more components the system feature, the more there is room for an upgrade. Yet, there’s also mode fiddling with connections and possible quality losses / added interference in the complicated setups.
Before purchasing a turntable, think of the audio gear you already have. For example, if you already have a quality preamp or an AV receiver with the phono input, your range of choice gets wider including both tables with preamp and without it. The technical specifications matter as well. The equipment should be compatible according to voltage, impedance, and other parameters. The premium turntable might sound weak with the mediocre speakers while the basic vinyl player can be impressive with a quality preamp / amp.
Belt drive or direct drive
The type of motor connection with the platter sets out the range of turntable functions and determines some of its specifications. Turntables can be:
- Belt-driven. The motor is separated from the platter and sends the rotation power via the belt. In this construction, the signal-to-noise ratio is quite high. However, these turntables cannot be used for scratching or other DJ techniques.
- Direct-drive. The motor is beneath the platter and lets spin it at a high speed, as well as apply scratching. Still, this construction requires high-quality isolation and presumes considerable weight of a deck.
Manual or automatic
This parameter concerns the tonearm operation. In the manual mode, the user should direct the tonearm onto the disc and set it on the groove. When the record is over, the user should return the tonearm back to its idle position.
In the automatic mode, the tonearm movement (and in some cases, setup as well) is performed automatically, without user’s intrusion. It’s quite convenient, especially for the beginners in the vinyl listening. The turntable is generally a “plug-n-play” type. No precise calculation of the weight, downforce, etc. is needed.
However, such technology requires additional cables and electric schemes, which can affect the clarity of the signal. As vinyl discs are appreciated first of all due to the depth of the audio and rich detail, this parameter can become a deal-breaker for the audiophile. The majority of the modern high-end turntables are of a manual type.
The pitch control panel lets change the speed of the disc rotation. It can be slower or faster than the initial set speed. Usually, the speed can be varied in the range of 8% – 16% of the basic parameter. Meanwhile, some DJ turntables reach 50% pitch.
Vinyl discs differ by size and spinning speed. The latter is measured in revolutions per minute (RPM) and stands for the number of full spins the disc makes within 60 seconds.
Vinyl discs can be of following types:
- 33-⅓ RPM — also called LPs (“long play”). The largest (10, 12, or even 16 inches in diameter) vinyl discs that contain about 22 minutes of sound on each side.
- 45 RPM — only 7 inches in diameter, these discs can record only about 5 minutes per each side. Due to the smaller size, they need an adaptor to be played on the 33-11/3-bound turntable.
- 78 RPM — different in diameter, they can house 4 minutes max on each side.
Many of modern turntables can play both 33-⅓ and 45 RPM records, while some allow 78 RPM as well. The switching between speeds can be performed via the button or through belt adjustment.
Hi everyone! I’m Thomas Moody, also known as Guitarzan.