You don’t have to break the bank to listen to your favorite vinyl records.
There are plenty of good quality turntables under $500.
But you should expect to spend at least 150 dollars for a decent turntable. Anything less, you run the risk of damaging your precious records.
Quick Pick: My recommendation is the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB Direct-Drive Turntable because of its PC-compatible software that lets you save recordings!
With vinyl records going for $30+, it would be in your best interest to buy an excellent turntable to enjoy your records for many years.
So today, we’re going to review some of the best audiophile turntables under $500.
Let’s get started.
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Few turntables are great all-rounders. The majority tend to be great at one or two specific things.
While that can be great, it might not be something that you’re looking for if you want to play a broad range of music.
You can throw just about anything in the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO and it shines. With its precision engineering and a phono cartridge, it produces a quality sound.
You shouldn’t have any issues playing whatever music tickles your fancy at a given moment. Alongside this is that it has electronic speed detection that should automatically switch between 33 1/3rpm and 45rpm. That’s something that many of us would forget to do manually, and is a nice feature to have.
The last notable benefit is that it’s quite a stylish choice, which should make it a good option for almost any room.
However, you will have to put this together yourself. While that isn’t exactly a bad thing, you will have to follow the instructions strictly. That leaves open a decent margin for error, and mistakes can happen. You can avoid this if you are careful.
- Electronic speed detection switches between rpm automatically.
- It looks much more stylish than many of its counterparts.
- It has a phono cartridge, which should help improve sound quality.
- It is precision engineered for as much high-quality sound as possible.
- You have to put it together yourself.
Few turntables allow owners to convert their vinyl to digital recordings, and even fewer can do a high-quality job.
But the Audio-Technica does precisely just that. It includes PC-compatible software that lets you save any recordings to your computer.
If you’re planning on remixing any of your favorite songs, then this could be quite a beneficial feature. Outside of this, there’s a switchable phono pre-amplifier built into the turntable. That should mean that there’s a certain amount of customizability with the signal output.
Lastly are the accessories that are included in the box. These include all the cables and adapters you’ll need, alongside a felt mat and a dust cover.
While these might not be the most high-quality accessories, they could help you save money in the short term.
- Designed to make the vinyl produce high-quality sound.
- It has a variety of accessories included in the box.
- Built-in switchable phono pre-amplifier.
- Has PC-compatible recording software if you want to convert records.
- It can be difficult to set up.
You might be looking for a good-looking turntable that fits in well in almost any room.
The Fluance RT80 Classic is very flexible when it comes to decorating your room. It’s one of the more visually appealing options you should consider.
Its looks aren’t the only area where it shines. Instead, it offers quite a clear sound that anybody should like.
The sound is produced by the cartridge, which has been specifically designed to offer as much clarity as possible.
That’s predominantly because of a high-quality stylus. The audio detail from this is almost indistinguishable from the original recording. You should be able to enjoy every note in a record.
The arm on this option isn’t too easy to balance. There’s a particular knack to it that can be difficult to figure out. While this becomes easier with time, it can be pretty irritating at the beginning.
- The cartridge is designed for high performance and offers a clear sound.
- Audio detail is almost indistinguishable from the original recording.
- It is one of the more stylish options on the market.
- The arm can be challenging to balance.
Price will be quite an essential factor for many of us. But the cheapest options are often the worst, though that doesn’t mean that an affordable turntable can’t be high-quality.
Instead, you have to look for the right ones.
This Audio-Technica stands out, as it’s one of the more low-cost options on the market, despite having plenty of benefits.
For example, it’s an automatic turntable and will quickly and easily switch between RPMs. It’s also one of the more durable options out there, despite its low cost. Thankfully, it’s also one of the more stylish turntables that you can choose from, and it’ll look great in almost any room.
The last notable benefit is its dual-magnet cartridge, which makes songs appear pretty high-quality. This also seems to harm certain albums.
While the effect seemingly comes and goes, the turntable could cause certain songs or albums to appear warped.
- Automatic turntable switches between different RPMs.
- A Dual-magnet cartridge makes the sound appear high-quality.
- They are designed to have a sleek and stylish look.
- It should be more long-lasting than its competitors.
- It is one of the more affordable options.
- Albums of certain genres can appear warped.
If you’re looking for a wireless turntable that offers a few notable features, then this might be the most recommended one.
The high-fidelity Bluetooth connection is of a higher quality than you might be expecting. It’s designed to remove any resonance when playing.
Your record will be steady and won’t move up and down when playing. As a result, you get better sound quality.
Lastly, the turntable’s design is compatible with a broad range of devices. You can set it up, connect it, and start using it with ease.
Although this turntable is okay for the money, it has one very noticeable flaw.
If the record is too heavy, it may start skipping. This seems to affect almost all units, which means that it could be a design flaw.
It mightn’t be a recommended option if your vinyl is heavy.
- The wireless Bluetooth is more high-quality than expected.
- Compatible with a broad range of devices.
- They are designed to remove any resonance when playing.
- It is known to start skipping on albums of a certain weight.
What To Consider When Buying An Audiophile Turntable
If you’re new to buying turntables, then you might not know how to choose a decent turntable.
While this might seem complicated, it doesn’t have to be.
Instead, there are a few notable factors that should play a role in your choice of turntable.
While some will be obvious, others might be a little surprising.
Price will inevitably play a large role in your decision. If you’ve got a small budget, then you’ll be limiting your options. You’ll be restricting yourself to some lower-quality options. By saving a little extra here and there, it’ll be worth buying a higher quality option.
Price isn’t everything, and you’ll still be able to find affordable turntables that have quite a few features. By stretching to $500, you can choose between quite a few turntables that you should find appealing.
You might need to pick up a few accessories. That’s especially true if you’re starting from scratch. Some of the more notable additions are cables, interconnects, and amplifiers. While you can build up your collection of accessories over time, you might want to pick some of them up as soon as possible.
You’ll need to work that into your overall budget. You’ll also need to worry about cables and other miscellaneous features.
Not all turntables are made equal, even if they’re the same price. Once you’ve got your budget in place, you can start comparing options that you can afford. That leads to how you should compare them. The most obvious way of doing so is through the features that each option has.
One notable feature you should look for is how many rpm options a turntable has. Essentially, these are the different speeds that it can go at. The majority of options will offer 33⅓rpm and 45pm. Although these are exceedingly rare and quite expensive, some options go up to 78rpm.
You should also check to see whether it’s an automatic turntable. This term can mean a few things, although it’s typically referring to whether it changes speed automatically or not.
This can save you a bit of hassle in the long run, although it might have an impact on price.
Phono amplification and wireless capabilities are essential features you should want. While wireless is becoming increasingly common, the former isn’t. Phono amplification can make music sound somewhat better, which makes it a sought-after feature.
There may be several other minor features that you may be interested in. That being said, the more features that a turntable has, the more it should cost. As such, you might need to debate which features are more important and which ones you can live without.
This isn’t the first thing you’ll need to think of when buying a turntable, especially if you’re buying your first one. But it is something that you might need to think about long-term. The cartridge’s job is to track a record’s grooves. The tip of the cartridge is known as a stylus, which does most of the work.
The stylus’ movement is what’s translated into the volume and frequencies you hear from turntable speakers. Naturally, that makes it one of the more essential aspects of the turntable. These are controlled by the cartridge itself, which can affect the quality of the sound being released.
There are two basic types of cartridges called moving magnet and moving coil. While they both work on the same principle, they do so in different ways, as their names suggest. They also have pros and cons, with moving-magnet cartridges being consistent in their electrical needs.
Moving-coil cartridges are a lot more complicated. That’s because a variety of factors can determine their electrical needs. That could make it much more of an annoyance than anything else.
If you’re working on a budget, moving-magnet cartridges are much more affordable. They also provide a decent sound, which is why they tend to be much more common than their counterparts. That’s especially true given their affordability. While you might get a better sound with the moving-coil cartridges, you’ll have to pay more to get it.
There’s a decent chance that you’ll want to pair your turntable with a few other devices. These will typically be subwoofers and other audio electronics.
A lot more thought will need to go into this than you might think. While many have wireless capabilities, some audiophiles will want analog connections.
That’s because analog can typically offer much more warmth in a record. Though many options will offer one type of pairing, some will offer both. These may be a little bit more expensive. You’ll also need to consider how many devices you can connect your turntable with.
Some options will be much more limited in this than others, while some will offer more pairing options than you’ll ever need. That means you’ll need to know precisely how many pairings you’ll need before you buy your turntable. As a rule of thumb, it’s worth getting a turntable with more pairings than you think you’ll need.
By doing so, you’ll be able to add more devices to your turntable in the future.
Setting up your turntable is going to be vital. But that doesn’t mean that it’s always going to be easy. Instead, some turntables can be much more challenging to set up than others. While most options will come with instructions on setting up, some can still be quite tricky.
You’ll need to pay attention to this before you buy, especially if you plan on DJing with it. The last thing you’ll want is a complicated set-up and taking down anytime you plan on playing. The majority of this will focus on support and positioning.
For example, your turntable needs to be level and low resonance set aside from any vibration sources. That includes setting them away from speakers. If you’re only going to be using your turntable at home, then you can prepare an area in advance.
You can place the turntable on a dedicated wall shelf or something similar. You should make sure that it’s as safely secured as possible. The last thing you want is for it to drop, especially when a record’s playing.
If you plan on DJing and using the turntable at events, then you should get one that’s quick and easy to set up. While they’ll all take a certain amount of time, some will be much faster than others. This should be easy to figure out with a little bit of research on a specific product.
Sound quality will be one of the most significant factors to consider for any turntable. Arguably, it’s the most important factor for anybody looking for the best audiophile turntable under $500. It’s probably the first thing you should check out when considering a turntable.
It’s worth noting that what may be considered the best sound quality may differ from person to person. As a result, the sound that you might prefer might be different than somebody else’s. It’s entirely subjective.
It’s also worth noting that many factors can affect sound quality. The most notable of these are the woofers and speakers that you’ll be using the turntable with.
Try to use the turntable with the same speakers before buying it. If you can’t, then it’s worth trying something similar. Once you know how it sounds, you’ll be in a better position to make a decision.
If you’re going to be setting up the turntable in your home, then you’ll want it to look good in the room. How the turntable looks can mean all the difference whether you buy it or not.
Alongside this are the size and shape, as you’ll need to make sure that it fits where you want it to do. However, the majority of this will be focused on its style.
Turntables come in quite a wide range of designs. So you should be able to find one that fits your style. If you are looking for a modern look, it’ll be easy to find a turntable to blend in with your modern setup.
But if you want a classic, vintage model, you have to roll up your sleeves and do some digging. Not only can these be rare but also expensive once you do find them.
Your best bet is to hit up the thrift stores and garage sales and do some American picking. If you got the time and expenses, go for it. It can be a great way to explore and bond with those you care about.
While it might take you a little while to find a suitable turntable, it shouldn’t be too difficult. It could also be worth spending a little bit of extra money on it if you find one that fits your personality.
Besides, if you can’t find a suitable turntable for decoration, you can always store it in your closet or cabinet when you’re not using it.
Wrapping Up: The Best Audiophile Turntable For Your Money
Each of the above factors will help you choose the best audiophile turntable under $500.
Perhaps the best out of the above is the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO, Audiophile Turntable. While it’s on the slightly more expensive side, it’s worth every cent that you’ll pay for it.
The sound quality on offer here is much better than expected. With the right set-up, it can sound better than some more expensive turntables.
Combined with the overall ease of use and quality, you should have no problem with this turntable. It will make for a good investment that will produce excellent sound for years to come.
Keep in mind: The budget doesn’t always necessarily mean cheap and flimsy. While buying a $50 turntable might be appealing, lower-priced models are often less effective and more prone to breaking.
Instead, the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB Direct-Drive Turntable might be more suitable. Despite being on the lower end of the $500 spectrum, it offers a suite of benefits not seen on comparably priced products.
You can rest assured that you are getting a good bang for the buck. Think of it as making yourself free to experiment with the turntable without having to invest too much money. That way, you can get a feel for it before going all out on an expensive turntable.