One question that is often times asked when discussing turntables is whether or not it is necessary to go with an expensive one? Necessary? Probably not, but there’s a whole bunch of reasons why you should consider it, especially if you think of yourself as a vinyl enthusiast. Today we are going to discuss some awesome $500 turntables and talk about what they have to offer. By the time we are done, you should know exactly what the difference is between these and cheaper turntables in the $200 range or similar. With that said, let’s get started with our rundown.
Top 9 Turntables Under $500
Rega's RP1 is one of the best performing and most attractive turntables you can get in this price range. It is your ticket into genuine audiophile level of tone quality. Rega has kept things very simple, which has only added to the already tangible appeal of the RP1. Overall, one of the best models out there at the moment.
Pioneer’s PLX-500-K is a compact, strong and very impressive performance turntable that means business. Where others focus on gimmicky features or overwhelming looks and design, Pioneer has kept things simple and focused on what they do best: performance. The perfect creative tool for any budding musician or DJ.
Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC is one of the best looking and best performing turntables in its price range. They have gone and removed all of the unnecessary features, leaving only the core hardware in all of its glory. Even though it is minimalist in nature, Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC packs a whole lot of heat for the money.
The BT500 from Akai is a beautifully-crafted record player with fantastic features that all scream high quality. This simple turntable would make any casual listener happy – especially the wireless Bluetooth streaming – and could be the focal point in any entertainment set-up. However, looks aren’t everything and the BT500 is not the best performing turntable in its price bracket.
Vestax Handy Trax is one of the few truly portable turntables on the market. It comes with all the features you'd expect, and then some. For a compact unit, it packs a decent amount of heat that you can access anywhere at any time. With a built-in battery, it's a perfect tool for diggers and those who travel frequently.
Onkyo has combined the right features and design choices with their CP1050. This direct drive turntable offers solid build quality and audiophile level performance. On top of that, Onkyo CP1050 is extremely easy to use and requires little to no maintenance. This makes it perfect for both casual users as well as those who just want some hassle free performance.
Music Hall MMF 2.2 is one of those solid turntables that you simply can't go wrong with. It packs a great design as well as proven performance. Music Hall might have dropped the ball a little in terms of controls, but everything is compensated and forgiven the moment you hit that ON switch.
The RP-7000 from Reloop is a rugged, performance-focused powerhouse which is great for on-the-road and gigging. It’s the ideal starting point for a DJ to build a rig from – adding and upgrading along the way, and eventually becoming the centerpiece to your shows, or just a great turntable for enthusiasts to mess around with.
Denon DP200USB is one of the more popular fully automatic turntables in its price range. They have kept the features to the very minimum, however, the performance has ended up at a very acceptable level. DP200USB features a great digital suite for your analog to digital conversions, as well as a switchable phono amp.
What To Expect From A $500 Record Player
Turntables come in all kinds of flavors. From super cheap ones, to $1000 models. Smack dead in the middle is where you probably get the best of both worlds – reasonable price and great performance. It is fair to say that some of the record players in the $500 segment are among the best models you can get at the moment. The question is, what makes them so good? This is a legitimate question, especially seeing how you can find cheaper turntables with similar or same features.
However, there is a difference and it is significant. Features and specs in general, are not the only metrics that define the quality of a record player. We have to count in the quality of components and how they perform on their own. For example, with $500 turntables, you will see much higher level of machining and tighter tolerances in the drive system. On top of that, some brands even go as far as to hand build tone arms and invest large amounts of time into reducing vibrations in the motor.
In other words, it is not always about what you can see on the surface, but rather what you don’t see. All of these subtle upgrades add up to a much finer and smoother performance. In all honesty, an inexperienced user probably won’t even notice anything different. However, someone who has been working with turntables for a long time will absolutely appreciate these upgrades.
Another thing you can expect with more expensive record players are better and more attractive designs. When you are paying this kind of money for a turntable, most brands will do their best to give you something that is every bit as aesthetically pleasing as it is a joy to listen to. Something worth noting is that a good number of $500 turntables come without a built in phono amplifier. In other words, you will have to factor in a standalone amp in your budget if you want start using the record player right away. This is actually a good thing as you can choose the amp yourself, instead of being limited to whatever the manufacturer has installed as stock. Since we’re already talking about customization, most record players in this price range will offer numerous upgrade paths for you to play with.
A $500 turntable may not be for everyone. However, those who do decide to invest in one will find themselves enjoying a much more refined audio. Models we’ve listed above are some of the best in this class and have been proven many times so far. If you’re trying to find a reliable record player, anyone of these models will do the job just fine. While our choices may not align with everyone’s taste, we went with most neutral turntables that just work. With that said, we hope that you’ve found this guide helpful in your search for the right turntable.