DJ controllers may be more affordable and accessible for beginner DJs, but nothing beats vinyl.
Even though digital formats have been taking over the stage in recent years, many people are beginning to turn back to using vinyl.
It is probably because of the nostalgia factor, and the fact that vinyl makes for an excellent collection.
Because vinyl is back, more companies are starting to manufacture modern record players and turntables.
In fact, vinyl sales are beginning to rise even though most people opt to buy their music digitally through Apple Music (formerly known as iTunes).
For most pro DJs, vinyl never really died.
Even with the creation of DJ controllers and software, most pro DJs use vinyl turntables.
They feel authentic, and with vinyl, you are manipulating analog sound, rather than a digital signal.
There is nothing wrong with using DJ controllers, and it is wrong to look down on DJs who use them.
There are many advantages to using DJ controllers while using the best DJ turntables to have their fair share of pros.
DJ turntables are the purest form of mixing music, and more modern DJs want to switch to the original.
It may have looked like it died, but something like vinyl cannot really be deleted or canceled, even if we are living in a “cancel cultured” society.
All right, let's get to the article now!
Turntables VS DJ Controllers
In the world of DJs, there is an ongoing debate on DJ controllers VS turntables.
Each of these choices works, but some DJs prefer only using turntables rather than the more convenient DJ controller.
A DJ's job is to mix music and create non-stop music with unique transitions to keep the dancefloor rolling.
Either way, they choose to do this job is entirely up to them, which is why there is not really a definite answer on which is the best.
A DJ controller is an all-in-one package that DJs can use right out the box.
It has two built-in jog wheels, a mixer, EQ, effects, and more.
When using a DJ controller, all you need is a laptop, and you're good to go.
You don't need to buy tons of records or vinyl and manually switch them as you would on a record player.
Essentially, using a DJ controller for DJing is more comfortable in terms of convenience.
Some DJ controllers even have beat-sync technology that automatically syncs the BPM of the two songs you want to switch.
- Comes with everything you need
- Don't need to buy records.
- Looked down on by most DJs
On the contrary, DJ turntables look a lot like your grandparent's old record player.
DJ turntables are considered to be “old school.”
However, many DJs still stand with turntables against the modern CDJs or DJ controllers.
Using turntables is a more complicated process of DJing.
You need to manually mix tracks, manually mark your cues, and buy the necessary equipment and records to start mixing.
- Pure manual mixing
- Looked up in the DJ world
- Requires a lot of talent and technical skills
- Need to purchase vinyl records
- Need to purchase a DJ mixer and effects
Although there are many disadvantages in using DJ turntables, many DJs still consider it the purest form of DJing.
However, it does not exactly mean it is the best.
It is just a never-ending debate in the DJ community that every DJ should just agree to disagree on.
What are CDJs?
CDJs are a type of DJ hardware that does not need a laptop or vinyl.
Compact Disc Jockeys (CDJs) only require CDs instead of vinyl, and you can control the CDs with the built-in jog-wheels.
They pretty much work the same as DJ turntables but in a somewhat digital fashion.
The Best DJ Turntables of 2021
All right, let's see what we got on the list!
#1 Pioneer PLX-1000
Pioneer is well-known for making the best DJ turntables and DJ controllers, and the PLX-1000 is no exception.
It is one of their first modern DJ turntables, and it is an absolute beast.
It shares many similarities to old school record players with the addition of a few modern elements.
The bushed black design looks sleek, and it is equipped with durable components.
It is equipped with a high-torque brushless motor that is built to withstand long-term use.
It does not have a lot of options in terms of connectivity.
You can connect it to your speakers, DVS, or mixers via RCA cables only.
It comes with tempo control that allows you to adjust pitch variation to the extremes.
- Sleek design
- Wide range pitch
- Intuitive design
- Durable motor and components
- No USB connectivity
Overall, the Pioneer PLX-1000 looks and feels good.
The design is top-notch, and it is professionally designed to accommodate Pro DJs and their needs.
#2 Panasonic Technics 1200 Series
Technics is the turntable that started it all.
Most DJs stand by their old school Technics DJ turntable because it is proven to be the best for many years before and is still one of the best in the present day.
There is nothing more iconic than the Technics 1200 turntable.
However, you cannot buy these turntables at stores anymore, and you can only find these on the secondhand market.
- Iconic model
- Familiar controls
- Rare and hard to find
Having a set of these iconic turntables is a dream for most DJs.
If you ever come across one of these, make sure you check if it is fully functional since you can’t find any brand-new models.
#3 Panasonic Technics SL-1210GR
The SL-1210GR is the updated version of the Panasonic Technics 1200.
This turntable caught the eyes of long-time Technics users.
It is built with controls familiar to its predecessor and fresh new updates.
It is equipped with a modern brushless motor for precise timing.
It is exceptionally durable and equipped with an accurate start/ stop feature.
This turntable is made for professional use, and it is built to last for a long time.
You can tell that the manufacturers paid attention to detail.
Everything from the arm, buttons, and platter is designed with precision.
- Durable build
- Smooth faders
- Extreme pitch range
- Shares the design of the 1200 with modern updates and components
Overall, the SL-1210GR is the perfect heir to the Technics 1200.
It is made with extremely high-quality, and it is nothing short of incredible.
The only downside is the price.
#4 Reloop RP-8000
Reloop is a relatively new brand that quickly climbed up the ranks because of their innovative high-end products.
The Reloop RP-8000 is an excellent product with multiple functions.
You can use it with DVS, and it also has a built-in CDJ.
It features a straight arm that is optimized for scratching.
Aside from the main components of a turntable, the RP8000S is integrated with digital technology such as cues, samples, loops, and slice controls that you can use with software such as Serrato DJ.
It also comes with a rotary encoder for choosing music, and a digital display for information about your tracks.
With the use of its USB connectivity, you can connect up to 4 decks.
- Combination of digital and analog functions
- Digital tempo display
- USB tethering
- Works with Serrato DVS
If you are looking for one of the best digital turntables, the Reloop RP8000S is, without a doubt, the best choice.
There are not a lot of bad things you can say about this fantastic DJ turntable.
#5 Pioneer PLX-500
The Pioneer PLX-500 includes a USB connection that allows you to play digital recordings on this turntable.
You can connect it with RekordBox software or DVS, great for modern DJs who want to combine vinyl with digital tracks.
It is more affordable than the PLX-1000, but the motor is downgraded to maintain a competitive price.
If you are a little meticulous about the details, you will notice a slight downgrade from a pro-level quality, which can be a big deal for pro DJs.
However, I do recommend this turntable for beginners who want to experience vinyl DJing while still being able to play with digital files.
- USB connection
- DVS connection
- Downgraded motor
The addition of digital functions may seem like an upgrade, but the motor is downgraded.
However, it is still a decent choice for its price.
#6 Audio-Technica LP120 USB C
This option is designed for listening to records at home, but with its classic features, you can also use this model for DJing.
It comes with a USB port for playing digital files and converting vinyl records into digital tracks.
The USB port can also be used for recording with the use of Audacity.
It comes with a preamp for better audio quality.
It is equipped with everything you need for modern vinyl listening and DJ use.
- USB recording enabled
- Classic design
- Wide range pitch
- Old school 78 RPM
- Not suitable for DJ battling
If you want modern features with a classic look, the Audio-Technica LP120 USB C is an excellent choice.
However, do not expect it to perform like the turntables made explicitly for club and battle DJs.
#7 Numark TT250 USB
The Numark TT250 USB is an affordable mid-range turntable for DJs.
I recommend this product for entry-level DJs who want a chance to experience vinyl.
It is a basic deck with a durable motor that provides the user with long-term power.
It is an excellent choice for scratching, thanks to the high-quality needles that come with it.
It has a USB connection that allows you to convert vinyl records into digital files.
- Great value
- Classic design
- USB connectivity
- Limited innovative features
This DJ turntable is an excellent choice for beginners.
It is well built and durable.
Buying this turntable is a good deal because of its value.
#8 Stanton ST150 Digital
The Stanton is another pro-level DJ turntable, which is the direct competitor to the Technics 1200.
It is another iconic DJ turntable that most DJs prefer up to this day.
Everything about its design deviated from the classic 1200 to make them more distinctive.
One of its additions is the reverse switch and broader pitch range and shifts.
It is equipped with high-powered motors that can last for a long time.
The arms, platter, and feet are incredibly durable.
Because it weighs a little over 40 lbs, you know it is built for heavy-duty use.
- Iconic deck
- It will last for a lifetime.
- Extremely heavy
If you are looking for the most durable turntable, don’t look any further.
The Stanton ST150 is a real workhorse, and it is intended to last for a lifetime.
The only drawback is its weight.
It might be difficult to carry this around without a tour case.
How to Choose the Best DJ Turntable for You
Before choosing the best DJ turntable for you, let's look at what features you need to consider.
Although most vinyl decks have the same functions, they vary in features, build quality, and more.
Factors to Consider
Below are the factors one should think of before the purchase:
The platter is one of the essential features of a turntable.
It carries the vinyl, so it’s supposed to be straight and balanced.
It requires absolute precision to play the records with accuracy.
When buying a turntable, make sure you check if the platters are straight and without any damage.
The motor is kind of like the CPU of your turntable.
Buying cheap turntables might not have a motor durable enough to spin records throughout your DJ career.
It is crucial to choose a reputable brand.
The motor needs to be durable, precise, and resistant to wear.
Some of the modern DJ turntables are more resistant to wear, thanks to their brushless motors.
The arm of a turntable is often straight, while some are bent into an “S” shape.
There is not much of a difference, but some DJs prefer straight arms, which they claim is better for scratching.
In my opinion, there is no difference between the arm curve.
As long as they are functioning, you should be good.
The mechanical components of a turntable should be present in all turntables for it to function.
Here are some of the controls that a turntable should have if you want to use it for DJing.
The pitch and tempo are essential for the beat and key matching.
Without this control feature, it would be difficult to make coherent mixes.
A fully functional DJ turntable should have the right RPM.
The standard RPM should be around 33 to 45.
It should have a button to start and stop the track.
Other turntables might not have this feature, so make sure you choose one with a designated button for this function.
The price of the turntables may affect your buying decision.
Affordable turntables are not always a bad choice, but make sure they are durable enough to handle intense DJing situations.
Some record players are not intended for scratching and other techniques, so make sure you choose a turntable that can handle the purpose.
Make sure you choose one of the items on the list.
All of my suggestions above are made for DJing, so you can’t go wrong.
What Else Do You Need?
When DJing with turntables, you might not need a laptop, but you will need more components to start.
Here are some of the extra hardware you are going to need to start DJing with turntables.
Unless you just want to play one record at a time, you will need another turntable so you can switch and transition to a different song without changing your records on the first deck.
I suggest buying two of the same type of turntable, so there is no confusion.
However, it is completely up to you if you want two different decks.
The DJ mixer is your primary console.
It is where you are going to connect the two decks, and it will control the levels of your mix.
It should have volume faders, EQ, and a crossfader for scratching and smooth transitioning.
To play music, you are going to need music.
Make sure you get a collection of records that would last the whole set.
Maximizing the use of your records relies on your creativity.
Entry-level turntables will cost around $100 to $400.
The cheaper turntables might not be suitable for DJing, so make sure you check the factors to consider before buying one for DJing.
High-end turntables, made explicitly for DJing, will cost anywhere between $400 to $1000.
There is some type of software that you can use with DJ turntables such as Serrato DVS.
If you have a digital vinyl set, you may also use it with DJ software.
Digital DJ turntables spin like vinyl and feel like vinyl.
However, they are not real vinyl and need a laptop and software to use.
They are excellent choices for people who want the same feel as DJing with vinyl records, without buying a lot of records.
With so many options to choose from, maybe it's time for you to experience DJing with vinyl.
If you are a beginner and are willing to spend money on a DJ set, you can start with vinyl.
There is no rule that beginners should only begin using only DJ controllers.
It may be expensive, but the choice is up to you.
I hope this article will help you find the best DJ turntable for you.
Last update on 2021-01-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API