2020 10 Best Turntables Under $500

2020 10 Best Turntables Under $500 List:

If you are looking for a good quality turntable to listen to your vinyl records, we recommend a minimum budget of $300-$500.

While you may have seen record players for as little as $50, these turntables are often more for novelty purposes. They’re more like a toy or an item that looks cool on a shelf than a piece of actual audio equipment. Due to their low build-quality and cheap parts, they won’t provide the signature sound you’re looking for and may even damage your precious vinyl records. With new records going for $30+, we think it's worth investing a few hundred dollars in a great turntable to assure your vinyl collection will last for years.

Starting around $300, you can get a nice quality turntable. While the sky's the limit (we sell turntables that cost well into the thousands of dollars), $300-$500 is an excellent budget for a turntable that will produce a great sound, won’t damage your records and will last for decades. To help with your decision, we've put together this 2020 10 Best Turntables Under $500. If you have any questions on which table is the best for your situation, please do not hesitate to chat with us online or call us.

Our blog is full of turntable product reviews, a turntable buyers guide, and table comparisons should you want to take a deeper dive into researching your next turntable purchase.

Audio-Technica LPXUSB - $249

Most of the turntables we’re reviewing today are more for music listening than DJing, but the Audio-Technica LP120XUSB is good for both! It’s has a high-torque direct-drive motor and even comes with a slip mat and adjustable pitch.

A built-in preamp means you don’t need a separate preamplifier. The USB output connects directly to your Mac or PC which makes it great for DJing as well as digitizing your record collection.

LEARN MORE about the Audio Technica LP120XUSB turntable.

Audio-Technica LP120 turntable, silver

Pro-Ject Essential III - $349-$399

The Essential III comes in three versions, one basic ($349), one with a built-in phono preamp ($389) and one with Bluetooth ($399).  They all look similar in appearance to the best selling Debut Carbon, but Pro-Ject used some great engineering to have the starting price at $349. 

The Pro-Ject Essential III is a belt-drive table and comes with an Ortofon OM10 cartridge. It has a high density MDF platter and a very impressive fully adjustable tonearm. The platter bearing is made of a combination of stainless steel, bronze, and Teflon to minimize friction.

They even include high-quality semi-balanced interconnect cables with gold-plated connectors. The overall value of this table is tough to beat at its price range.

LEARN MORE about the Pro-Ject Essential III Turntable

Pro-Ject Essential III turntable, black

Music Hall MMF 1.3 - $299

The MMF 1.3 is a belt-drive table in a sleek piano black finish. It comes paired with a pre-mounted Audio Technica AT3600L cartridge and even has a built-in phono preamp.

It’s a 3-speed table and has built-in speed control and a knob on the top of the plinth, allowing you to quickly and accurately switch between 78, 45, and 38. The platter is made of aircraft-grade aluminum and an included rubber mat minimizes vibration.

This is our least expensive belt drive turntable with a built-in phono preamp, which makes it a great option to pair with a powered set of speakers

LEARN MORE about the Music Hall MMF Turntable.

Music Hall MMF 1.3 turntable, black

U-Turn Orbit Plus - $309 - $379

U-Turn offers a variety of options on the Orbit, but the version of the Plus that we stock at Audio Advice offers some of the best value options with no frills. The table is proudly assembled at U-Turns Woburn, MA factory, right here in the US.

The U-Turn Orbit Plus comes with an acrylic platter for great speed stability. It comes with an Ortofon OM5E pre-mounted and the gimbal tonearm features an internal anti-skate and adjustable counterweight. You have the option of purchasing this table without a built-in preamp, but adding it still keeps the table under $400 and eliminates the need for an external phono stage.

LEARN MORE about the U-Turn Orbit Plus Turntable.

U-turn Orbit Plus turntable, black

Denon DP 300F - $379

Audio Advice was one of the first Denon dealers in the US back in 1979 when their first product was a turntable. The Denon DP 300F is right in the mix with the others, offering a heavy construction and a built-in phono preamp. It comes with a pre-mounted moving magnet (MM) cartridge, so you can enjoy your favorite albums minutes after you get your DP 300F out of the box.

The DP300F is a fully automatic turntable which makes it a good choice for the person who would rather have the turntable do all of the critical work. You just press a button and it will start itself, lower on to the record, then pick up and return at the end of the record. Weighing in at 12 pounds, this is a solid table that also has the ability to upgrade the phono cartridge down the road.

LEARN MORE about the Denon DP 300F turntable.

Denon DP 300F turntable, black

Pro-Ject T1 - $329

The T1 is a brand new table from Pro-Ject Audio that is the result of their decades of experience in turntable design. The T1 comes two ways now (a Bluetooth version is also coming soon), the basic version for $329 or with a built-in phono preamp for $399. The SB version with the built-in preamp also has electronic speed control to switch between 33 and 45.  

The T1 benefits from a newly designed isolation foot, a plinth, and sub platter, plus a glass main platter for a good flywheel effect. You’ll get an Ortofon OM5E moving magnet cartridge and the built-in phono stage was designed to perfectly match this cartridge.  The new tonearm designed for the T1 is also made to go with the Ortofon OM5E. This arm has some of the best bearings we have seen in this price range.  

For $329, the T1 is a great table, although we have to say if you can afford the extra $70, the next step up for the Debut Carbon gets you a better arm and phono cartridge. The best value here is probably the SB version with the build in phono preamp.  

LEARN MORE about the Pro-ject T1 turntable.

Pro-Ject VTE turntable, red

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon (DC) - $399

While all of the other turntables are great in their own ways, sometimes you may just want to follow the crowd. The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon (DC) is the best-selling turntable under $500, and for good reason.

The value is simply incredible. Before the release of the Debut Carbon, it would have seemed impossible to build a turntable that included a carbon tube tonearm and a $100 Ortofon Red phono cartridge for under $400. Carbon tube tonearms were always reserved for more high-end tables.

The new DC power supply has ultra-precision frequency like the Pro-Ject external power supply, the Speed Box. It’s built right in, for the vastly improved speed stability. USB version is also available for an additional $100.

If you’re looking for the sure thing, you can’t go wrong with a Debut Carbon (DC). Plus it comes in a variety of awesome colors! (Some colors have a $61 up-charge.)

LEARN MORE about the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon (DC) turntable.

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon, yellow

U-Turn Orbit Special - $479

The Orbit Special is the step up from the U-Turn Orbit Plus. You’ll get a much better cartridge in the Ortofon Red and an absolutely beautiful wooden plinth in maple or walnut. Everything else about the table is the same as the Orbit Plus, but your $170 does buy you a big cartridge improvement, the $40 cue lever, and a gorgeous solid wood plinth sourced from sustainable forests in Indiana and Pennsylvania.

If you are interested in a table that not only performs well, but is beautiful to look at, and as a bonus is made in the USA, the Orbit Special is a wonderful choice.

LEARN MORE about the U-Turn Orbit Special turntable.

Pro-Ject Recordmaster turntable, black

Rega Planar 1 - $475

At Audio Advice, we absolutely love Rega turntables. In fact, the Rega Planar 3 is our best-selling table as of this write-up. The Rega Planar 1 (or P1) is the first in their Planar lineup and it’s truly an incredible value.

First, it’s one of the simplest and easiest turntables to set up. We even have a setup video if you need help. Just balance the weight onto the tonearm, remove the stylus guard and you’re good to go!

The P1 comes with the Rega Carbon MM cartridge pre-mounted on Rega’s RB110 tonearm. Rega typically makes higher-end tables -- the P1 is the first model in its range to feature a 24 volt synchronous AC motor with a low-noise aluminum pulley.

If you’re ready for an upgrade down the road but don’t want a whole new table, a performance pack is available that includes a reference drive belt, a 100% wool mat, and the Rega Bias 2 moving magnet cartridge. This is a great upgrade path for a starter turntable.

LEARN MORE about the Rega Planar 1 turntable.

Rega Planar 1 turntable, black

Pro-Ject RPM1 Carbon - $499

The Pro-Ject RPM1 Carbon was specifically designed to be a high-quality table that doesn’t compromise sound quality, at an entry-level price. Before we even get into the features, it’s worth mentioning that this is a very cool-looking table. It only has as much plinth as is necessary, extending just barely beyond the size of the record itself.

A combination of a low resonance chassis with an inverted MDF platter bearing and a ceramic ball minimizes noise and reduces rumble. An outboard 15 Volt AC motor is driven using an ultra-precision AC generator with DC power supply for enhanced speed stability.

The RPM1 comes with an S-shaped tonearm constructed from a combination of carbon, aluminum, and resin and comes with a Sumiko Pearl cartridge pre-mounted. It’s right at the top of the price range we’re discussing today, but if it’s in your budget and you like space-age high tech looks, the RPM1 Carbon is an incredible table.

LEARN MORE about the Pro-Ject RPM1 Carbon turntable.

Pro-Ject RPM1 turntable, red

Choosing Your Table

At Audio Advice, we love vinyl. There’s just something special about thumbing through the bins, taking a brand new record out of the sleeve, looking at the cover art, dropping the needle, and losing yourself in the warm, rich sound.

Vinyl listening is an experience and our four decades of experience tells us that you can get that experience these days for as little as $300-$500. All of these turntables are a good value, it’s just a matter of finding the one that’s right for you.

Are you interested in a simple setup? How about advanced features? Maybe you’re more about the design of the table? If you’ve read through this entire article and still have questions, please feel free to chat with us -- not only are we happy to help you decide, but we love doing it!

You Might Also Like: