6 Best Turntables Under $1,000
This year, vinyl and CD purchases have surpassed digital downloads for the first time since the dawn of the MP3 and the rise of the iPod. Maybe it’s about a longing for being able to hold the media in your hand and look at the cover art. Maybe it’s about the quality and the experience. Whatever the reason, there’s no denying that the Vinyl Revival shows no signs of slowing down.
At Audio Advice, we were around in the heyday of vinyl. Our first store opened in 1978. It’s been a long time since we’ve sold as many turntables as we do today, but we couldn’t be happier. We have the same fondness for listening to records that a new generation is discovering.
Some in this younger generation are deciding to buy all-in-one turntables. Honestly, these are more of a novelty than a piece of audio equipment. These tables simply don’t produce that sound vinyl is known for and can even damage your records.
Stepping up from there, you’ll find a lot of pretty nice tables in the $300-$500 range. This is where many of the budding audio enthusiasts are starting out. You can get a good quality table in this range.
The next level up, however, is where things start to get really interesting. As you move from a solid entry-level turntable to better and more expensive turntables, it’s really all about minimizing noise and resonance while extracting as much information from the record grooves as possible.
In the $500-$1,000 range, you will find a number of fantastic turntables. Even in modest systems, you should be able to hear some clear differences between a basic turntable and the turntables we’re discussing here. While we sell turntables as expensive as $5,000 and even higher, for the average listener, a sub-$1,000 table will last a lifetime.
With decades of experience, our team has curated a list of the best turntables under $1,000. If you’re looking to step into your first serious turntable or simply want to buy a turntable that will last forever, you’ll find it on this list.
Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC Esprit SB Turntable - $599
The Esprit is a fully-loaded version of the best-selling Pro-Ject Debut Carbon (DC). It has all of the bells and whistles added to an already solid turntable. It’s available in 7 high-gloss colors, so you are bound to be able to find something that works in your room.
The tonearm is made from carbon fiber (hence the name), which makes it lightweight, yet stiff and able to reject any resonance. It also includes an Ortofon 2M Red moving magnet cartridge, a $100 cartridge on its own.
The platter is made out of acrylic -- larger and heavier than what comes on the Debut Carbon. It’s got a nice weight to it that provides a good flywheel effect, helping with speed stability. Speaking of speed stability, the Esprit also includes a DC-driven AC generator and built-in speed box.
Rega Planar 2 Turntable - $675
We just love Rega turntables, and the Planar line is truly a feat of engineering. We have their entry-level Planar 1 listed as one of our favorite turntables under $500 and the Planar 2 and Planar 3 both made this Under $1,000 list.
The Planar 2 was developed and released alongside the Planar 3 and benefits from much of the research and development that went into that table. It features Rega’s one-piece RB220 tonearm which includes their Rega Carbon cartridge ($65 value) pre-mounted.
You’ll also get an acrylic laminated plinth (available in gloss black, white, or red), a 24-volt low-noise motor, and a beautiful float glass platter.
If you want to step up from the Planar 1 but aren’t quite ready for the benefits (and cost) of the Planar 3, the Planar 2 is a good compromise.
VPI Cliffwood Turntable - $900
For 30 of the 40 years that VPI has been in business, they built their turntables in Cliffwood, New Jersey. While VPI Industries is known for their higher end turntables like the VPI Prime, the Cliffwood is an attempt to attract a younger audience of budding audio enthusiasts.
The plinth is a 1.25” thick vinyl-covered non-resonant MDF, but has the appearance of a dark wood. The aluminum platter uses an oil bath bearing to reduce friction and provide a smoother rotation.
The Cliffwood comes with a 9” machined aluminum gimbal tonearm. They paired it with a unique cartridge, built through a partnership with another American audio company -- Grado. The VPI/Grado Green cartridge provides a signature VPI sound and comes mounted on all Cliffwood tables.
If you love the idea of having an All-American turntable, the Cliffwood is just what you’re looking for.
Rega Planar 3 Turntable - $945
The Planar 3 has been one of the best-selling turntables on AudioAdvice.com since the debut of the 2016 Planar lineup. It’s an incredible turntable, available in gloss red, gloss black, and gloss white. It’s $945 without a cartridge, but you can get the Rega Elys pre-mounted for $1,145. We also sell a ton of these with the Rega Exact 2 cartridge as well, if you want to step things up.
The Planar 3 comes with a float glass platter and a one-piece RB330 Tonearm. It’s also the first in the Planar lineup to include double-bracing, which makes the table more rigid and further reduces resonance. It even comes with the same motor as Rega’s $2,995 RP-8 turntable!
Another thing we really love about the Planar 3 is its upgrade path. Accessories like a reference belt, a tungsten counterweight, and an external TTPSU power supply are all great upgrade options if you want to further improve the sound down the road. This is the perfect turntable to provide incredible sound while also providing a runway to grow with it over time.
As we mentioned when discussing the Planar 2, we just love the Rega Planar turntables. If you’re interested in digging in more on these, we recommend that you read our full Rega Planar 3 review as well as our Rega Planar Comparison, where we compare and contrast the Planar 1, Planar 2, and Planar 3.
Music Hall MMF-5.3 Turntable - $995
This turntable features a really unique design. It actually has two plinths stacked on top of one another. The concept is that it isolates the critical sound-producing components -- the platter, main bearing, tonearm, and cartridge from the rest of the table. These are all attached to the top platform while the bottom platter includes the motor, switch, wiring, and feet. They’re separated by viso-elastic cones which help to dampen the vibrations.
The Music Hall MMF-5.3 is available in a high-gloss piano black finish can comes with a 9” carbon fiber tonearm and an Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge with a replaceable nude elliptical diamond stylus.
As you can tell, a lot of thought was put into the design of this table in order to make it sound as good as possible.
Pro-Ject RPM 3 Carbon Turntable - $999
If you’re looking for the perfect combination of style and substance, the Pro-Ject RPM 3 Carbon might be the winner in this price category. Just look at this table! The design is minimal. The circumference of the round plinth is essentially just large enough to fit the record.
This slick looking table is available in black, white, and red.
The chassis is specifically designed for low resonance, with an inverted platter bearing and ceramic ball. It features an ultra-precision outboard DC-driven AC generator motor, meaning minimal motor noise will be able to make its way to the stylus.
The RPM 3 Carbon also comes with a heat-treated tonearm, made from a combination of carbon fiber, aluminum, and resin. It comes with the Sumiko Bluepoint 2 moving coil cartridge.
Selecting Your Dream Turntable
All of the turntables we’ve discussed are manual, belt-drive turntables. They’re all built with the goal of minimizing noise and resonance to give you the best possible listening experience for the price.
Choosing the best turntable for your system really comes down to personal preference. If you need help making a decision, we can help! Chat or contact us and one of our turntable experts will help you figure out which turntable is the right one for you!