Best Vinyl Record Players

Under $500

Welcome to Audio Advice’s 2023 top five picks for the best vinyl record players under $500. Whether you’re looking for an entry-level turntable, a fully automatic turntable, a Bluetooth turntable, or even a turntable for Sonos, we’ve got you covered with these picks. If you’re looking to step up to above the $500, we have you covered with our top picks under $1,000 and top picks under $2,000

If you’re still deciding if jumping into the world of vinyl is for you, we can tell you that it’s an incredibly fun and addicting hobby shared by millions. In 2021, new vinyl sales set new records climbing over one billion, and used vinyl sold even more than that! In fact, the first half of 2022 was over 20% ahead of the record 2021 year. Joining the turntable and vinyl world may be one of the best decisions you make in 2023!

What features should you look for in a turntable under $500?

Manual vs. Automatic Turntables

We feel manual record players offer the most value for the money, but manual does mean you need to push a button to start it up, move the tonearm over the lead in the groove, use a cueing lever or your hand to lower the tonearm onto the record just to get it started. 

When the record ends, you’ll use your hand or the cue lever to lift up the tonearm and place it back on the side. While this may sound intimidating at first, it’s actually quite simple, and most people prefer this type of turntable as it sounds better, and there are no mechanical parts that could fail.

But if that scares you, there are some decent, fully automatic turntables where all you do is lay the record on the platter, push a button, and it’ll do all the work for you, and start playing your record automatically.

Do I need a Phono Preamp Built-In?

If your amplifier or receiver has a phono preamp, it may not be necessary, and you can save a few dollars by opting for the version without a phono preamp. If you do not have an amp with one, we suggest you choose one from this list with the phono preamp built in

We get asked all the time about how to pair a turntable with a Sonos system. It’ll be easiest if you pick one with a built-in phono preamp. Then you simply connect it to the analog audio input on either the new Sonos Port, Sonos Amp, or Sonos 5

There are also older Sonos units with analog inputs like the Connect series, any of the ZP series, and the Play 3 and 5 models. It will then appear as a source in your Sonos app, and away you go!

Why Choose One from this List?

Every one of these turntables will take great care of your vinyl collection. You won’t need to worry about some close-and-play type turntable ruining your records.

Finally, when you purchase your turntable from Audio Advice, we will send you a setup video going over all the steps on how to get up and running quickly. Along with some tips & tricks to care for and get the most out of your purchase.

If you want to take a deep dive into turntable technology, check out our Turntable Buyers Guide, where you can learn more than enough to impress any of your “expert” vinyl friends.

U-Turn Audio Orbit Plus

U-Turn Audio is one of Audio Advice’s favorite brands out there. Their turntables are made at their factory in Woburn, Massachusetts, with their parts sourced from local vendors. The U-Turn Audio Orbit Plus version comes with an acrylic platter, a very nice mat, and a great turntable bearing for really good speed stability. 

The gimbal tonearm is built well and has an adjustable counterweight. It comes with a pre-mounted Ortofon OM 5E phono cartridge which is a great value, but the arm will allow you to move up to a better cartridge down the road. You can even buy the Orbit Plus with a built-in U-Turn Pluto 2 phono preamp to eliminate the need for an external one.

  1. U-Turn Audio Orbit Plus Turntable U-Turn Audio Orbit Plus Turntable
    Rating:
    100% of 100
    $329.00 - $399.00

Finally, the Orbit Plus is a beauty to look at, with several color options to choose from to match it to your environment. We should point out that the Plus does not come with a cue lever, but you can purchase it as an optional accessory. This is one heck of a great performer for the money, especially if you are looking for something made in the USA.

Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB Manual Direct Drive Turntable

If you see yourself playing DJ at your house or if you are considering digitizing your collection, take a close look at the Audio-Technica AT-LP120USB from Audio-Technica. It has a high-torque direct drive motor for instant start-up and comes with a slip mat and adjustable speed control, all favorites of professional DJs. 

The S-shaped tonearm is really good and has a removable headshell which makes it really easy to change cartridges. It comes with the highly regarded Audio Technica AT-VM95E cartridge and what is cool about this model is you can upgrade to a better cartridge simply by purchasing a new stylus body. An anti-resonance plinth, built-in phono preamp, and USB outs complete this great deal of a turntable.

  1. Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB Direct-Drive Turntable Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB Direct-Drive Turntable
    Rating:
    100% of 100
    $349.00

Pro-Ject T1 Manual Belt Drive Turntable

Pro-Ject helped launch the turntable revival with their Debut line of turntables and has several factories all over Europe where everything but the cartridges they source from Ortofon is made in-house. The Pro-Ject T1 comes from their decades of turntable experience. There are options for getting it with or without a built-in phono preamp, electronic speed control to switch from 33 to 45 with the push of a button, or even a model with Bluetooth. But all of them have the same great platform. 

The T1 benefits from a newly designed isolation foot, a plinth, a sub-platter, and the main glass platter for a good flywheel effect. You’ll get an Ortofon OM5E moving magnet cartridge, and the built-in phono stage was designed to match this cartridge perfectly. 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.

  1. Pro-Ject T1 Turntable Pro-Ject T1 Turntable
    Rating:
    100% of 100
    Regular Price $449.00 - $499.00 $399.00 - $449.00

Denon DP300F Fully Automatic Turntable

Denon used to make some of the best-looking and highest-end turntables you could find but got out of the turntable business when CDs were taking over. We are happy to see them getting back into it, and one great choice for those of you who want an automatic turntable is the Denon DP300F. This nice little belt drive turntable just needs the push of one button, and you’ll soon have a sweet vinyl sound.

We like the fact the plinth is heavy-duty with anti-resonant properties. The tonearm is very well put together for this price category and allows you to change cartridges should you wish. There is a built-in phono preamp, making the DP300F plug-and-play ready.

We do have to say we think the models before this one sound better, but they are fully manual, making the DP300F the perfect record player for someone worried about damaging their stylus on a manual table.

U-Turn Orbit Special Manual Belt Drive Turntable

Our final model is another table from our friends at U-Turn, the U-Turn Orbit Special. Whenever anyone sees one of these for the first time, they usually comment: “wow, what a beautiful turntable.” And the Orbit Special certainly is, with its plinth being made from sustainably sourced US flat-cut maple and rift walnut. The Special version of the Orbit gets you the better plinth, the cue mechanism is included, but best yet is you get the classic Ortofon 2M Red phono cartridge included. 

The Red has to be the most popular cartridge of all time, and for good reason. It tracks great and has a very neutral sound. Another cool part about the Red is that you can make it sound even better by buying a stylus for the next model up, the Ortofon 2M Blue. The Blue tracks even better and will extract even more details from your records.

The U-Turn Orbit Special, paired with the beautiful base and Ortofon Red, is just a great table for the money and will provide you with a warm sound for decades to come.

  1. U-Turn Audio Orbit Special Turntable U-Turn Audio Orbit Special Turntable
    Rating:
    99% of 100
    $499.00 - $569.00

We’re here to help!

That concludes our list of the top 5 best record players under $500. If you want something even better and more high quality, check out our video on the Best Turntables for 2023 or take a look at our Top Turntables Under $1000 and Top Turntables Under $2000.

We would also like to remind you to keep your records clean. When you get into this level of turntables, they will extract even more information from the grooves of your records if you take good care of them.

 If you have questions, you will be happy to know the team at Audio Advice is really into vinyl. Not only can we help you pick the best one, but you get our lifetime tech support, free shipping, and price guarantee. We would love to help you take the next step into the fun world of vinyl so you can imagine yourself browsing those record bins and knowing it will sound much better when you take home that next record.

  1. U-Turn Audio Orbit Plus Turntable U-Turn Audio Orbit Plus Turntable
    Rating:
    100% of 100
    $329.00 - $399.00

  1. Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB Direct-Drive Turntable Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB Direct-Drive Turntable
    Rating:
    100% of 100
    $349.00

  1. Pro-Ject T1 Turntable Pro-Ject T1 Turntable
    Rating:
    100% of 100
    Regular Price $449.00 - $499.00 $399.00 - $449.00

  1. U-Turn Audio Orbit Special Turntable U-Turn Audio Orbit Special Turntable
    Rating:
    99% of 100
    $499.00 - $569.00

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