In this article, we are discussing some awesome $500 turntables and talking 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 how to find the best turntable for you.
How to Find The Best Turntable
There are many considerations to make to find the best turntable, but we’ve got you covered with this easy-to-follow guide.
New or Used?
There are many benefits to buying a new or used turntable, but choosing which one is right for you depends on your budget, skill set and how often you’ll use it. If you’re not entirely sure on how often you’ll use one, perhaps you should reduce your budget and purchase a used turntable for a reasonable price. High-end turntables can cost you thousands of dollars, but if you only plan to use it once every two weeks, this isn’t necessarily money well spent.
Instead, you can look for useable designs from the likes of Amazon and eBay to grab yourself a bargain while making someone’s day. Make sure you know what you’re looking for before handing over your cash. Unsure buyers might be better off purchasing a new turntable from a reputable supplier that will likely come with a warranty to protect your unit.
A Fan of Technology
Although you turntables aren’t designed for technology and still have a retro feel, many designs have been modernized to offer additional features. For example, some are equipped with a phono amp, headphone socket and even USB port to stream your music to updated Bluetooth speakers. Some people might feel that adding essences of modern technology to a turntable takes away their value and persona, but it’s definitely worthwhile to have this option.
Where You’ll Store the Turntable
This is an important factor to consider because if you don’t have anywhere appropriate to store the turntable, you can’t purchase one. Not all are designed the same, so some are bigger and heavier than others. As a result, these different sizes and weights affect where you’ll keep the turntable.
Once you’ve found the best turntable under $500, the search doesn’t stop there. To play your favorite vintage songs, you’ll need an amp and speaker to enhance your listening experience. Check the manufacturer’s guide to ensure that all equipment will work with one another to avoid any disappointment when you get home.
Find The Best Turntable Under $500
Rega’s RP1 is one of the best performing and most attractive turntables you can get in this price bracket. It is your ticket into a genuine audiophile level of tone quality. Rega has kept things very simple, which has only added to the already tangible appeal of the RP1. It has just the right balance of audio performance and features to tick just about every box you could possibly want to have ticked. It’s certainly one of the best choices you could make.
Contrary to many other turntables on the market, Rega RP1 features a lightweight resin platter. This feature helps to distribute the weight right to the edge of the platter so you can obtain a perfect spin and speed every time. Also, this helps to reduce any vibrations that can affect the sound, so you’re left with an overall brighter sound. Another useful touch is the elliptical diamond stylus that offers an accurate playback and prevents any external forces affecting the audio quality.
There is really nothing negative that we have to say about the RP1. It is the rare combination of fantastic visual design, a robust build. If you’re looking for the best turntable under $500 that combines design with usability, you won’t be disappointed by this product. Going beyond the basic platter, this turntable is equipped with an on and off switch, minimum MDF base and minimalistic aesthetics to keep all the attention on the music. You don’t even need to spend any time setting it up. Just take it out of the box, plug it in and you’re ready to start spinning.
This is the perfect creative tool for any budding musician or DJ. Perhaps one of the main reasons this is one of the best turntables is because of its sound quality. The pitch is stable, absolute and strong. This goes for any music genre you listen to. The bass performance is equally impressive, producing a deep and fresh sound and hitting all the low notes. There’s also a substantial amount of texture to the bass and the midrange frequencies are certainly not left out either. As the Pioneer heads towards the high notes, the overall audio doesn’t get thinner and the sound remains rich.
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. Although aimed at the DJ—a job which typically requires traveling around a fair bit unless you have a long term residency—, Pioneer has not tried very hard to keep the weight of this turntable down to aid traveling and portability. Coming in at almost 30 pounds, it’s robust (which is great) but will be difficult to move around with (which might not be so good). That said, it’s still a good choice.
The best turntable under $500 should be solid and made from high-quality materials. Thankfully, the pioneer pLX-500-K has an impressively robust attitude that doesn’t get phased by high volumes. All of the buttons are well thought-out and the lid is hinged to provide you with the option of displaying your record should you want to.
We are big fans of what Pro-Ject has done with the Debut Carbon DC, but being reviewers, we still feel obliged to point out one (admittedly minor) gripe. The included user manual is really quite dreadful and does a bad job of walking you through any of the kinds of things which a novice turntable user might wish to find out about. Minor, as we said, but we thought we’d let you know!
This turntable is exceptional at eliminating any background noise such as footsteps, but you must ensure that you store it on a solid worktop to maximize its potential. Some budget turntables produce a humming sound as the record spins around, but this particular device is subtle and quiet, which allows you to focus on the audio.
Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC is one of the best looking and best-performing turntables in its price region. 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. It’s great to have a variety of colors other than the typical black or silver.
Designed out of MDF, this turntable not only looks like it’s worth more, but this feature dampens any background noise. By resting on rubber feet, this helps to limit any unnecessary vibrations as well as keep the device stable on the surface. Also, the rubber suspension system helps to minimize any vibrations from the motor to the platter. One of our favorite features of this turntable is the carbon fiber tonearm. Not only does this look strikingly pleasing, but maintains a lightweight design and ensures that all records play smoothly.
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. When you’re on the road, we suggest taking a pair of headphones with you to enhance the quality. However, this turntable lacks the ability to hear the vinyl’s detailing, which some individuals like the sound of. It’s evident that this turntable has a bigger emphasis on portability than audio quality. But, you can purchase accessories to improve the sound, such as a slipmat to prevent the platter from moving around.
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. We are also big fans of the design choices which Vestax have made with the Handy Trax USB: it’s a great looking turntable that eschews many of the conventions of record player design in favor of a very 1980s, retro feel that we really like. As with all bold aesthetic choices, it won’t be for everyone, but if you like it, you’ll definitely like it a lot.
Designed with a USB output, this is the best turntable under $500 that has a portable design. Its emphasis is on ease and creating a user-friendly experience. You can easily sync this device to your computer and the built-in speaker along with headphone jack provides you with multiple options on how you listen to your favorite audio.
Our main criticism is that Reloop has not necessarily provided enough features to compete with other models in this price range. This turntable reduces any low-frequency and high-frequency noises that turntables can sometimes produce from fast spins. The Onkyo CP1050 enables you to play 7-inch records as it comes with an additional adapter. Generally speaking, it’s ideal for playing 33s and 45s, making it a popular choice for most music-lovers.
Onkyo has combined the right features and design choices with their CP1050. This direct drive turntable offers solid build and audiophile-level performance. On top of that, Onkyo CP1050 is extremely easy to use and requires little to no maintenance. This turntable is designed with an aluminum platter to dampen any external noise and help to easily rotate the vinyl. Also, the precision casting helps to keep the turntable still while it’s in action. We also appreciate that this device utilizes MDF in its casing to eliminate any vibrations. This material also allows you to adjust its height.
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. This turntable easily customizes to suit you, such as the adjustable feet that you can make lower or higher to level-out your audio. If you’re looking for the best turntable under $500 that is like the originals and has no automatic features, the Music Hall is everything you’re looking for. You can’t connect it to your laptop and it doesn’t come with a preamp. But, aren’t these the features of what a true turntable should encompass?
We are big fans of the sheer visual simplicity which Music Hall has produced in this aesthetic design. It’s striking and really allows you to revel in the audio experience rather than be distracted by unnecessarily detailed or garish externals. While some may be disappointed by a lack of controls, this is not a big deal at this price point and will not deter people who are looking for the standard turntable experience. It’s designed with specialized feet that dampen any noise so you only hear the best out of our audio as possible. Despite its budget price, this turntable is built from high-quality materials that stand to last. But let’s not dismiss its elegant exterior as it boasts a luxurious black, red or white gloss finish.
The RP-7000 from Reloop is a rugged, performance-focused powerhouse that 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. This turntable is fun to use. The pitch fader allows you to alter the pitch range and showcase your creativity. You can also activate the quartz lock which then reduces the platter’s speed to spin at zero pitch. The motor is powerful to offer a smooth-running device with minimal vibrations as possible.
We are a little disappointed by the lack of some fairly basic elements that many competing products provide as a given at this price point. Chief amongst these is a dust cover which is totally lacking and has a real effect on the durability and the endurance of the device, but the fact that no cartridge or needle is included is also an odd choice which we don’t love.
This turntable’s design goes beyond appearance and focuses on how it can improve the listening experience for the user. For example, the tone arm features a hydraulic lift mechanism to offer as much stability as possible. Reloop also makes a DJ’s life easier by limiting the number of functions. Also, the LED light makes it easy to move around when you or listeners are in a dark environment. However, you can remove this light setting should you prefer.
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. Just at the touch of a button, you can listen to your favorite tracks and escape your stresses.
Bear in mind this is also a turntable, so it isn’t designed just to convert vinyl to digital copies. Plug it into your home audio system or use your preamp’s phono input to listen to your original tracks. This unit produces sweet and rich tones so you can hear all the details in the song.
There is a lot to like about the simplicity of Denon’s design choices with the DP200USB model; the unit and its attached dust cover are very much a no-frills, take what you get approach which is often lacking at this price point of the turntable market which is saturated with flashy, garish designs. Overall, This is a very strong choice that makes up for its lack of versatility with solid performance across the board.
Featuring a USB port on the front of the turntable means you can create digital recordings of songs quickly. In less than 15 seconds, the built-in software scans your song to retrieve information about the song, album, and artist’s name. After it’s finished obtaining this, the turntable will then take a short break to produce the track. You also have the option to do this manually if you’d prefer.
What To Expect From A $500 Turntable
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.
The Best Turntable Under $500
A $500 turntable may not be for everyone. However, those who do decide to invest in one will find themselves enjoying 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, any one of these models will do the job just fine. While our choices may not align with everyone’s taste, we went with the 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.
What are your thoughts on the products we’ve shared? Have you found the best turntable under $500 from our list? Share your thoughts and feedback in the comments.