2021 Best Turntables Under $1,000

2021 Best Turntables under $1,000:

In 2019, consumers purchased almost 20 million vinyl records. A new record was set in the first half of 2020 when vinyl album revenues totaled over $200 million. It’s been a long time coming, but this marks the first time in the U.S. that vinyl surpassed CD sales since the 1980s! This does not even account for the far larger number of used records sold every day.

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 that have everything including the speakers built into one box. 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 and we've covered the top 10 tables under $500 here.

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 $10,000 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 EVO Turntable - $599.00

The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO is an evolution on the best selling Debut Carbon DC and serves up a host of improvements over the DC version.

With a choice of 9 beautiful finishes and tech that filtered down from the X1 turntables, the EVO is probably the best value table out there around $500. 

You’ll get Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE) damped feet, a new motor using the same damping, and an upgraded platter that also uses TPE.

The EVO comes with the classic Pro-Ject carbon fiber arm and includes the great performing Sumiko Rainier cartridge.

The internal crystal generator for the motor to ensure great speed is something normally seen on far more expensive turntables.

We have to say, the EVO is one heck of a great table for the money! 

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE DEBUT CARBON EVO ▸

Rega Planar 2 Turntable - $695.00

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.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PLANAR 2 ▸

  1. Rega Planar 2 Turntable Rega Planar 2 Turntable
    $695.00

Rega Planar 3 Turntable - $995.00 - $1,940.00

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 higher-end turntables!

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.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PLANAR 3 ▸

  1. Rega Planar 3 Turntable Rega Planar 3 Turntable
    $995.00 - $1,940.00

MoFi StudioDeck - $1,099.00

Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs or MoFi has been around since the 70’s when they invented the concept of procuring master tapes of classic records, cleaning them up, and pressing them on the best vinyl. They introduced a turntable line a few years ago with the help of two great designers, Alan Perkins and Mike Latvis.

The technology and craftsmanship you will find in the MoFi StudioDeck are just simply incredible for its price point.

The platter, plinth, tonearm, and cartridge were designed by Alan Perkins of SOTA and more recently Spiral Groove fame.  The bearing is top-notch with an inverted bearing like you see on much more expensive tables, which supports an almost 4 pound Delrin platter. 

Most tonearms in the price range are 9”, but the StudioDeck gets a 10” fully adjustable arm, which improves tracking. The StudioTracker moving magnet cartridge comes pre-mounted and to our ears sounds fantastic for the money.

All the MoFi turntables are made in small batches right here in the USA by skilled and meticulous craftsman. We also love the fact this table has an upgrade path that will allow you to give it the performance level of the more expensive models by adding the Mike Latvis designed feet and/or damping weight.  

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE MOFI STUDIODECK TURNTABLE ▸

Pro-Ject X1 Turntable - $1,099.00

This turntable from our friends at Pro-Ject Audio is their first new model in this range in quite a few years so it packs in a lot of new technology. It is similar in appearance to the Esprit model, but the acrylic platter is about all that is the same! Pro-Ject has included a brand new tonearm that is fully adjustable for a wide range of cartridges, that even uses some damping technology from their most expensive tables. This tonearm has some amazing bearings to reduce friction for better tracking.

A Sumiko Rainier cartridge is included which even has an upgrade path by upgrading the stylus. This means when your stylus wears out, you could purchase one for the highly-rated Moonstone and have a big improvement. The feet use TPE (thermoplastic elastomers) for better isolation and are adjustable to get it perfectly level. Pro-Ject also improved bearing and motor isolation.  

The built-in, precision electronic speed control assures you of more consistent speed and gives you the convenience of switching between 33 and 45 with the push of a button. We also like the fact, Pro-Ject includes a great pair of interconnect cables with the cable that cost $69 if purchased separately.  

This beautiful and great sounding table gets 8 finish coats with a final hand polish and comes in black, white, or a walnut veneer.  For under $900 it is one heck of a great turntable.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PRO-JECT XI TURNTABLE ▸

  1. Pro-Ject X1 Turntable Pro-Ject X1 Turntable
    $1,099.00

Pro-Ject RPM 3 Carbon Turntable - $1,099.00

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.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE RPM 3 CARBON ▸

  1. Pro-Ject RPM 3 Carbon Turntable Pro-Ject RPM 3 Carbon Turntable
    $1,099.00

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!

  1. Rega Planar 3 Turntable Rega Planar 3 Turntable
    $995.00 - $1,940.00

  1. Music Hall MMF-2.3 Turntable Music Hall MMF-2.3 Turntable
    $499.00

  1. Pro-Ject RPM 3 Carbon Turntable Pro-Ject RPM 3 Carbon Turntable
    $1,099.00

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