However, why does an analog sound still remains popular among both audiophiles and usual music lovers? Analog sound is distinguished from digital sound by its warmth, delicacy, and authenticity, which creates a sound that closely resembles the original recording. Buying a turntable under $500, you will get a good-sounding piece of equipment that will give you not only basic features but also some advanced ones like wireless connectivity, onboard controls, etc. In some cases, you can even get an audiophile sound quality.
Turntables are intricate devices that are constructed using components of varying qualities, tailored to suit different preferences and requirements. That is why it can be hard to choose the best turntable under 500 dollars. We have reviewed 10 turntables in our article so anyone could find a suitable model from this price range. Read about features they can offer, compare their pros and cons, and make your choice. Additionally, our buyer’s guide will inform what you should look for when choosing a turntable.
Turntable under $500 Reviews
The Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT-BK Belt-Drive Turntable is a remarkable choice for vinyl enthusiasts looking for a high-fidelity, easy-to-use turntable at a reasonable price. This turntable is undoubtedly one of the best turntables under 500 dollars available in the market.
This turntable boasts a belt-driven design and two speeds, allowing you to enjoy both 33-1/3 and 45 RPM records. The record player also features Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to stream music wirelessly from your phone or tablet.
The platter and tonearm are carefully engineered to minimize vibration, ensuring you get a clean and precise sound every time. The Dual Moving Magnet phono cartridge is another excellent feature that enhances sound quality.
The design of this turntable is sleek and modern, with a matte black finish that looks fantastic in any setting. The cartridge is replaceable, and the turntable comes with all the accessories you need, including a removable dust cover, RCA output cables, and a power adapter.
The Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT-BK is incredibly easy to set up, making it an excellent option for beginners. The included instructions are easy to follow, and you can have your turntable up and running in no time.
Sound quality is the standout feature of this turntable. The turntable delivers a rich, warm sound that brings out the best in your vinyl records. The sound quality is so good that it will make you want to listen to your entire record collection all over again.
In summary, the Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT-BK Belt-Drive Turntable is an excellent choice for anyone looking for the best automatic turntable under $500. With its sleek design, dual speeds, Bluetooth connectivity, and impressive sound quality, this turntable is sure to please even the most discerning music lover. The AT-LP60XBT-BK is an excellent investment that will provide you with years of enjoyment.
- Setting up is easy, just unbox, plug in, and connect via Bluetooth or cables to enjoy your music.
- The needle is of high quality and can be replaced as needed.
- The turntable has an automated start and stop feature that prevents records from getting scratched.
- The turntable is not capable of playing 78s.
- It is not possible to upgrade the turntable’s cartridge to a higher quality product.
The Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK is a slightly upgraded version of Audio-Technica AT-LP120 and may be considred the best direct drive turntable under 500 dollars. The AT-LP120XUSB-BK is designed only for home use and can be bought in black/silver color. The turntable is quite light (17.6 pounds) and compact (17.80 × 13.86 × 5.57 inches). It stands on four vibration-absorbing feet.
Except for start/stop button, you will also find a lot of customizable options on turntable’s body: platter speed buttons (33/45/78 RPM), quartz button to turn the pitch function on/off, pitch adjust slide control along with pitch selection indicator (glows red for standard or locked RPM setting), and tempo range button which allows selecting 8 or 16% tempo range.
In addition, the AT-LP120XUSB-BK comes equipped with a removable stylus target light that assists in locating the starting groove. It also can be plugged into a jack on top of turntable’s deck.
The turntable is equipped with a professional-grade anti-resonance cast-aluminum platter and felt mat. It works with the help of direct-drive, DC-servo motor, and provides fully manual operation. Featuring an S-shaped tonearm, the turntable is equipped with adjustable anti-skate control and comes with hydraulically-damped lift control and a lockable rest. The turntable uses a universal 0.5-inch-mount headshell and dual-magnet AT-VM95E phono cartridge with an elliptical stylus.
In terms of connectivity, the turntable is equipped with a switchable phono pre-amp and USB port. The provided Audacity software allows you to convert your LPs into digital format (you can also use any other software for this).
Included in the package are a USB cable, detachable RCA output cables, AC and 45 RPM adapters, counterweight, and a removable transparent dust cover.
- With its improved stylus, the turntable produces clear and bright highs.
- Both the platter and the motor work silent.
- The AT-LP120XUSB-BK features damped base construction which reduces sound coloration.
- The digital LP copies are of average quality.
- The cartridge makes the sound a bit tough on the high end.
This model from 1 By One can be one of the best turntables under 500 dollars for those searching for a unit that will provide as much as possible for the money as it goes with its own pair of speakers and vinyl-to-MP3 recording feature. Additionally, there is also Bluetooth support which allows wirelessly playing music from smartphones, tablets, PCs, and MP3-players through the turntable’s speakers.
Those looking for the best vintage turntable under 500 dollars, should take a closer look at this model. Both the turntable and the speakers provide a retro vibe, having a light-toned wood color design. The included 36W Hi-Fi speakers have solid MDF enclosure, paper cones, and alnico magnets which ensure a stable magnetic field.
On the turntable’s housing, you will find a small control panel with volume knob, 33/45 RPM selector, play/stop button, and function switch button (turntable/Bluetooth). On the rear side of the unit, there is a phono line to connect the turntable to any active/powered speakers via an RCA cable. There are also a phono-line out switch, USB port, and dedicated speaker jacks to connect the turntable to the included speakers.
This belt-driven turntable features solid iron platter (with slip mat) which provides good stability. The tonearm has an adjustable counterweight and anti-skating force which prevents scratches on the record’s surface. The MM-type Audio-Technica AT3600L cartridge and stylus work great in producing rich, clear, and warm sound.
The turntable size is 16.34 x 14.17 x 5.51 inches and weighs 20.9 pounds, being quite heavy.
The turntable goes with transparent dust cover, speaker grills, USB cable, and audio cables for speakers.
- You can save your LPs on your PC in CD-quality.
- The universal headshell makes it easy to change cartridges.
- The included speakers have an impressively clear and crisp sound quality.
- The auto-stop feature is too sensitive and may be triggered for no reason.
- The provided dust cover is very fragile.
This turntable from Fluance has a minimalist vintage design and is available in two color options: piano black and walnut. The cabinet is made of solid MDF. The turntable stands on four isolation feet which prevent unwanted vibrations. Its size is 16.5 x 5.5 x 13.75 inches and weighs 14.1 pounds.
Aside from the speed selection knob for 33/45 RPM, there are no additional controls located on the top panel. The power LED light is located near this knob. On the rear side of the unit, you will find gold-plated RCA audio outputs, ground terminal, preamp switch, auto-stop switch, and power input.
The RT81 can potentially be the best turntable under $500 for you if you are searching for the purest analog sound: despite being a budget model, this belt-driven record player uses premium components to reproduce the sound as close to the originally recorded as possible. Employing a high-performance Audio Technica AT95E cartridge with a diamond elliptical stylus, the turntable accurately tracks record grooves, resulting in high-definition audio. To ensure that the stylus makes tight contact with the record’s grooves, the turntable is equipped with solid aluminum S-shaped tonearm with an anti-skating system and has an aluminum platter that is covered with rubber slip mat. The RT81 also has built-in Texas Instruments preamp.
The RT81 kit includes a tinted dust cover, 45 RPM adapter, RCA cable with ground wire, and AC power adapter.
- The tonearm is impressively stable and the anti-skating system works great.
- This best belt drive turntable under 500 dollars has an accurate and gentle cueing lever.
- The RT81 is suitable for both professional use and amateur music mixing.
- Novices may find it challenging to properly balance the tonearm on this turntable.
- It doesn’t keep consistent speed after long hours of work.
Video Fluance RT81
The Sony PS-LX310BT Belt Drive Turntable is a top-of-the-line product that is sure to please audiophiles and casual listeners alike. With its price point, it is the best audiophile turntable under $500 on the market and provides excellent value for the price.
The turntable’s fully automatic design and two speeds make it easy to use and versatile, allowing you to enjoy your vinyl collection with ease. The built-in switchable phono output/line out phono preamp also adds to the versatility, allowing you to connect the turntable to a wide range of audio systems.
The turntable’s controls and knobs are well-placed, making it easy to use and adjust as needed. Additionally, the turntable’s Bluetooth capability allows you to stream music wirelessly from your devices, making it a convenient addition to any home audio setup.
The RCA cables that come with the turntable provide high-quality sound transmission, and the aluminum die-cast platter ensures that vibrations are minimized, providing a clean and accurate sound. The turntable’s sleek and modern design looks great in any setting, making it a fantastic addition to any home audio system.
Setting up the turntable is straightforward and intuitive, and the instructions are easy to follow, making it an excellent option for beginners. The sound quality is exceptional, with a warm and rich sound that brings out the best in your vinyl records. The turntable is also relatively quiet, providing a smooth and seamless listening experience.
In conclusion, the Sony PS-LX310BT Belt Drive Turntable is an excellent investment that provides an impressive listening experience for vinyl enthusiasts. The turntable’s features, including Bluetooth connectivity, switchable phono output/line out phono preamp, sleek design, and ease of use, make it the best automatic turntable under 500 dollars. Overall, this turntable is a fantastic choice for anyone looking for an automatic turntable that offers both convenience and quality.
- The operating mechanism is extremely smooth, and it incorporates damping to ensure that the stylus is lowered gently onto the record.
- The turntable’s automatic start feature is impressive, gently lowering the stylus onto the record without any noticeable thud.
- The turntable only supports cartridge and stylus replacements from Sony and not from other brands.
- While the turntable’s lid does help to reduce dust, it’s still recommended to use a dusting kit to keep the turntable and records as clean as possible.
The 1byone wireless turntable is a top contender for the best turntables under $500 on the market. The sleek and minimalist design of the turntable fits well in any home or office setting. The turntable features Bluetooth connectivity, allowing users to connect their smartphones, tablets or computers and stream music wirelessly. Additionally, the USB digital output is an added advantage, allowing users to record their vinyl collection to a computer.
The unit features a magnetic cartridge, adjustable counterweight force and a preamp to ensure high-quality audio. The preamp is switchable between phono and line output, allowing users to connect to any speaker system with ease. The turntable supports 33 or 45 RPM speeds, ensuring compatibility with a wide variety of records.
The controls and knobs are well placed and easy to use. The auto-stop feature is a great addition, ensuring that the turntable will stop spinning once the record has finished playing. The turntable also includes a dust cover, which helps keep the turntable and records clean.
One downside of the turntable is that it doesn’t have a pitch control feature. Additionally, some users have reported issues with Bluetooth connectivity dropping out intermittently. However, overall, the sound quality of the 1byone wireless turntable is excellent, making it a great choice for any audiophile or casual music lover looking for the best turntable system under 500 dollars.
- The rubber isolation feet were highly effective at preventing bass tones from causing the tonearm to skip while playing, even at loud volumes.
- A technical support chat card is included with the turntable, allowing for easy access to assistance. Simply scan the QR code and connect with the support team for help.
- The turntable’s platter initiates quickly and the cueing arm operates smoothly.
- It does not come with an automatic stop/start/return feature.
- When the tonearm is close to the center of the record and the lift arm is lowered, it may tend to slip outward as it lowers.
The Fluance RT85 Reference Turntable is a top contender among turntables under 500 dollars. It boasts a number of features that set it apart from other models in its price range.
One of the standout features of the RT85 is the Ortofon 2M Blue Cartridge. This cartridge is highly regarded for its accurate sound reproduction and is usually found in higher-end turntables. This addition helps to ensure excellent sound quality for a wide range of music genres.
Another notable feature is the acrylic platter. The material is known for its excellent vibration-dampening properties and it contributes to the turntable’s excellent sound quality. The platter also has a felt mat to protect your records and to provide a smooth surface for the record to spin on.
The turntable’s speed control is also noteworthy. It has a precision speed motor that ensures accurate playback at 33 and 45 RPM. This feature makes the turntable versatile for playing a variety of records and ensures that the sound quality is consistent regardless of the speed.
The RT85 also has an MDF wood plinth that provides excellent stability and reduces the effects of vibration. This reduces the likelihood of skips and improves the overall sound quality.
Another feature that contributes to the RT85’s excellent sound quality is motor isolation. The turntable’s motor is mounted on a separate platform from the plinth to reduce vibration and noise.
Overall, the Fluance RT85 Reference Turntable is an excellent option for those looking for a turntable under 500 dollars. Its high-quality components and attention to detail in design result in excellent sound quality and a versatile playback experience.
- Ample detail and subtle nuances are captured by the 2M blue cartridge.
- Automatic wow and flutter adjustment is available.
- The turntable features an auto-stop function that can be disengaged.
- Height adjustment is not available for the tonearm.
- Cleaning the record while it’s spinning on the platter is not recommended, as it may slip and cause damage to the record.
The Crosley K100 goes with a pair of 2-way powered 30W Bluetooth speakers. The turntable is silver with black bottom. The speakers are black and have rounded edges. They are supplied with silver 4-inch woofers, 1-inch tweeters, and a class-D amplifier.
On top of the turntable, you will find a start/stop button, speed control buttons, and pitch adjustment. Furthermore, the turntable boasts an adjustable strobe pitch with a strobe light, and offers a switchable phono pre-amp and AUX input.
The K100 is a belt-driven two-speed (33/45 RPM) turntable with fully manual operation. The S-Shaped tonearm has hydraulic lift control, anti-skate, height adjustment, and lockable rest features. The die-cast aluminum platter is also equipped with a felt slip mat. In addition, the unit utilizes the Audio Technica MM-type cartridge.
The item size is 17.75 x 13.7 x 5.75 inches and weighs 12 pounds. It comes with a 45 RPM adapter and two RCA cables.
- This turntable is suitable for scratching purposes.
- The K100 spins steadily and constantly.
- It comes with solid protective dust cover.
- The sound may be too harsh at some pitch levels.
- The built-in preamp is not of high quality.
The reviewed turntable features all-black design and included 2-way 30W powered Bluetooth speakers which use class-D amplifier rated at 15W per channel.
The turntable’s direct-drive, high-torque motor playbacks records at two speeds: 33 and 45 RPM. The balanced S-shaped tonearm comes equipped with features such as an adjustable counterweight and anti-skate, as well as a lockable rest. The cast-aluminum platter is covered with an included felt slip mat which reduces vibrations and jolting. The Audio-Technica MM-type cartridge performs great, but you can easily change it.
The K200 has a fully manual operation, featuring start/stop button, adjustable pitch control, as well as speed control buttons. In terms of connectivity, this best record player under 500 dollars offers switchable phono pre-amp (you can use this one or connect your own) and AUX input to connect the turntable to other devices.
Measuring 7.75 x 5.75 x 13.75 inches, the turntable is compact enough to be placed on a bookshelf, and weighs 10 pounds. It also comes with a pair of RCA output cables.
- The turntable’s motor works great, moving the records quickly and smoothly.
- This particular model is highly convenient for mixing and creating mashups.
- The included speakers provide true stereo sound.
- The cartridge requires frequent adjustment.
- The sound skips at times.
The Orbit Plus is a hand-crafted turntable. It’s available in one of five colors: green, black, blue, white, or red. If you appreciate turntables with acrylic platters but have never thought that you can afford one, this model from U-Turn Audio can be the best turntables under 500 dollars for you. It does feature a low-resonance dense acrylic platter which is mostly used in very expensive models, providing better speed consistency and detailed sound with increased clarity.
The Orbit Plus is a belt-drive turntable equipped with a low-noise motor that also works great in providing speed consistency (33/45 RPM). The turntable utilizes the Ortofon OM5E cartridge, which features an elliptical diamond stylus. The precision OA2 gimbal tonearm is enabled with anti-skate and adjustable counterweight features for more accurate tracking and low distortion level.
Located on the back of the this potentially the best belt drive turntable under 500 dollars, you will find two RCA jacks and a preamp bypass switch.
There are an AC adapter, two RCA cables, transparent dust cover, and felt mat in the package. Its dimensions are 6.75 x 12.5 x 4.25 inches and weighs 12.5 pounds.
- The acrylic platter provides a lifelike tonality and mighty bass.
- The Ortofon OM5E cartridge works great with a wide variety of music genres.
- Thanks to the external belt, changing the speed on the turntable is a simple task.
- The stylus can be replaced only with the one from Ortofon’s Super OM Series.
- There is some static distortion at high volume levels.
The Most Important Basic Parts of Turntables
Turntables differ greatly when it comes to features that they are able to offer. Some of them are minimalist and give you only basic features. The others offer built-in speakers, USB port, Bluetooth connectivity, etc. They also feature different design ideas: from classic and vintage to modern, fashionable ones. However, all turntables come equipped with the same parts: the platter, the tonearm, the cartridge, and the stylus.
The platter is the base of the vinyl player. It’s a disc-shaped part that holds the record. Since the records are very sensitive to vibrations because of their nature, the main task of the platter is to uniformly rotate the record at an equal speed and protect it from vibrations. Typically, most record players also feature rubber, cloth, or felt slip mat which is placed on top of the platter.
The platter usually has a large mass which allows stabilizing the rotational speed, gives firm support to the record, and prevents feedback, giving you a more pronounced low end. A thin platter is bad in avoiding vibrations, causing feedback and skipping.
There are two types of platters: belt-driven and direct-driven. The belt-drive is based on the transmission of rotation from an electric motor to the platter with the help of a belt which connects spindle and platter. In the direct-drive, the platter is mounted on the rotor of the motor, so the motor moves the platter itself. It accelerates the plate to working revolutions almost instantly. While it has become the most common type of drive, audiophiles continue to prefer belt-driven turntables due to their motor producing less noise.
The cartridge of the turntable is attached to the tonearm. The primary function of the tonearm is to ensure precise and smooth movement of the cartridge. The overall sound quality provided by the turntable depends on the tonearm it uses.
Cheap turntables usually have plastic tonearms which provide a low-quality sound. Metal tonearms give out the much better sound quality.
The tonearms also have different shapes: straight and S-shaped. However, it’s mostly an aesthetic issue as it’s hard to say which one is better in terms of sound quality: for a usual listener, it won’t make a difference. However, some listeners consider that the records wear out less when the turntable uses the S-shaped tonearm.
It is highly recommended to invest in a turntable that features an adjustable counterweight on its tonearm. If the counterweight is too light, the tonearm will be skipping; if it is too heavy, you may damage the stylus or the record.
Cartridge and Stylus
The cartridge has a big influence on sound quality. It works by converting modulations of the record grooves into an electrical signal. That is, the task of this part is to turn mechanical energy into electrical and transfer it to speakers.
While there are various types of cartridges available, the most popular among them are the MM (moving magnet) and MC (moving coil) cartridges. The MM-type cartridges are more affordable for most users and are equipped with the removable stylus so you can change it when it wears out. However, it’s generally accepted that the MC-type cartridges sound better: they are more vibrant, natural and detailed. Although the MC-type cartridge doesn’t feature a removable stylus so you will have to change the whole cartridge when the stylus wears out.
The stylus tip is the only part of the cartridge that comes in direct contact with the record. The shape of the stylus is important as it directly affects its contact with the groove. The better is the contact between the stylus tip and the record grooves, the better and more accurate the sound is.
There are two types of stylus shapes: conical and elliptical. Conical styluses are the most affordable option and are known for their durability and ease of use. However, they don’t demonstrate the same level of performance as their elliptical analogs.
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