Finding the highest quality record player is crucial, regardless of what you’ll be using it for. When investing up to $500 into a turntable, you sure want to see the difference between a CD and vinyl recordings.
There are many record players out there in every price range imaginable – some cost under $100, while others can be up to $1000!
Whether you’ve seen a beautiful turntable in-store or wanted to spoil your ears with the delightful sounds of vinyl, there are many options for you to pick from.
These days, you don’t have to spend $1000s on a turntable, as you can find fantastic build and sound quality record players in the $350 – $500 quite easily.
You’ll be impressed by the quality you are getting for the price!
So I picked the 10 champs that will give you their best while staying within your budget for every vinyl need out there!
Here are my top 5 picks. These bad boys can do wonders and will satisfy any audiophile lover and enthusiast out there.
Alright, let’s get to the top 10 best turntables under $500 list already!
1) Sony PS-HX500
You can’t go wrong with Sony when it comes to musical products, can you? The company takes everything related to music to the next level in terms of quality, let it be their headphones, digital pianos, or any other tech gadgets.
You can say the same thing about this particular turntable as well. The device seems basic at first glance, but then you start loving how minimalistic it is. Once you take a closer look, you’ll quickly realize that PS-HX500 is indeed a high-quality piece of gear.
The turntable is incredibly flexible and works well with various rigs, cartridges, and speakers. It comes with a ready-to-go pre-loaded cartridge that delivers authentic analogue sound.
If you have a decent amount of records, you may also love the function to convert your vinyl into digital formats. The very last thing you want is to have no backups in an unfortunate case when one of your favourite records breaks.
2) Pioneer PLX-500
If you’ve ever been into DJing, you’ve heard of Pioneer. They make headphones, mixers, studio monitors, and, of course, turntables. While the price point is sometimes higher than less-known brands, it’s definitely worth the premium you’ll pay.
PLX-500 is a fascinating device. By the looks of it, you can already tell it’s not your average audiophile turntable under $500.
While it still delivers the warm analogue sound that will make you fall in love with the device, the Pioneer turntable is also a valuable add-on to your home DJ setup. You can easily connect it to your mixer and go play your first gig!
If you’d like to get into DJing while still being able to listen to vinyl, this turntable is your best bet.
3) Teac TN-400s
Teac isn’t nearly as well-known as the previous two, but as you get more comfortable with vinyl and turntables, you’ll start noticing the brand more and more. They mostly specialize in turntables and are able to cut the production costs while saving quality due to large volume orders. To sum up, you can trust them.
When it comes to TN-400s, the first thing most will notice is the wooden finish. It comes in various colors, but the polished wood is my personal pick. First of all, you can’t really see the dust on the turntable, so I can be a little lazy and only clean it once in a blue moon. Also, you can barely see any scratches, so it will look new for longer. Also, just imagine this bad boy on your record bookshelf – it will fit in seamlessly!
Alright, let’s talk about the sound and build quality now. The sound is warm and crystal clear, once you position the needle properly. This can be a little intimidating if you are just getting into the art of vinyl records, but you’ll love the classic old-school feel once you get a little more comfortable.
I loved the ability to EQ the tracks and adjust everything up to your liking. Once again, a gem for those who know how they want their record to sound. If you are new to EQ, I suggest reading on it a little bit before tweaking the knobs, but that’s just my 2 cents.
Overall, fantastic value for the money and a no-regret guarantee.
4) Audio Technica ATH-LP5
AT is a classic brand loved by music producers for their headphones, microphones, and pretty much any other musical instrument out there. When it comes to turntables, you notice AT products cover a huge range of prices – from cheap record players under $100 to just under $1000. Pretty cool that they not only focus on the expensive products that yield the highest profit margin but also make more budget devices.
ATH-LP5 is one of the more expensive products on the list, but the price is more than justified. The look of it is fresh and slick, with mostly polished and matte black surfaces all over the record player. This definitely gives the item an authentic and vintage yet professional look.
I wouldn’t suggest this AT turntable if you plan on using it for DJing (and you can tell it wasn’t made for scratching by the looks of it). If you simply want to sit back, relax, and listen to your favorite vinyl records – you’ll be pleased with this bad boy.
5) Onkyo CP-1050
Onkyo is a reliable brand with good credibility in the world of professional record players. On top of that, they offer the best warranty options out there. I guess they are really confident in their products. CP-1050 is one of the best turntables under $500 you can find on the market. Alright, let’s look at it now.
First of all, let’s note the beautiful design of the product. The wooden finish and dark aesthetics turn the record player into a bold statement. Put it on your record stand and all of a sudden you are an audiophile snob! This bad boy is perfect for listening to your records, and you can also use it as your DJ turntable.
I also like the fact that CP-1050 comes with a dust cover, unlike most other turntables on the list. While this is not essential by any means, it’s easier to keep the sensitive materials and elements under the cover to extend their lifespan.
The turntable’s most unique feature is the consistent and reliable ease-of-use and speed. You can drop the needle anywhere on the record and get the full sound of the vinyl right away without any necessary adjustments that take up your time.
6) Rega RP1
Rega is one of the most popular high-end turntables in the vinyl industry right now. It’s known for its quality and reliability, and RP1 is a perfect example here.
Besides looking like a million dollars, the build of the record player is also very sturdy. I still don’t suggest dropping it or letting your cat scratch the device, but it can handle a lot more stress than you think.
The sound quality is, as expected, one of the best on the list. Depending on your setup, you’ll still likely need a preamp, but there is nothing to worry about if you are just starting. The speed is consistent (phenolic flywheel takes care of that), and there is almost no noise when the motor is running (it’s very smooth).
Overall, it’s one of my personal favourites and one of the best turntables under $500 on the market.
7) Denon DP-300F
Getting closer to the end of the list, it’s time to bring out our champions. Of course, Denon DP-300F is one of them. Being one of the most prominent brands in the world of vinyl, you should never worry about the quality of its products.
The turntable comes with a heavy solid metal base that tunes down the extra noise and vibrations coming from the motor and records. I loved the fact that pretty much all the elements of the turntable are replaceable, so you can upgrade at any time.
The only thing you may want to replace is the preamp that’s not as good as a stand-alone unit. Do that, and you’ll end up building a powerhouse of a record player. Tweak the build of the turntable and make it sound the way you want it to.
For the price, DP-300F is one of the best turntables under $500 out there!
8) Rega Planar 1
Well, that’s another Rega turntable on out list. Luckily, it’s not just brand recognition. Similar to RP1, the quality of build and sound you are getting is superb.
I love the modern look of the turntable, that somehow combines both retro and futuristic looks. It’s so minimalistic yet detailed. The only design flaw is how fragile the turntable is. Clearly, it wasn’t built for DJing. If you are a seasoned audiophile who just loved good music, then you’ve found the one.
The device does require a simple setup, but that’s something a child can do, as Planar 1 is incredibly user-friendly. It would’ve been nice if the record player was automatic, but it’s not. Instead, the tonearm is made incredibly easy to adjust to set down, so you are not missing out on much here.
To sum up, one of the best bangs for the buck among higher-end turntables.
9) U-Turn Audio – Orbit Plus
Orbit Plus record player here may not look too intimidating, but it’s carrying the best value for money on the list. Did you know that it’s one of the cheapest turntables on the list? Not as cheap as a $200 record player, but still pretty good!
The design is simple but sleek and stylish. Coming in many colors, you can choose not only from black and white, but also green, red, and blue. I personally like the color options of the player a lot more – they hide the scratches and dust so much better.
The platter is made of acrylic and helps the device keep consistent and reliable speed. The tonearm delivers accurate tracking, and the weight is easily adjustable. All the major elements – belt, motor, and cartridge – are designed to provide the smoothest performance and remove all the noise from the setup.
Overall, you can’t help but love this stylish bad boy!
10) Pro-Ject Debut Carbon
I can’t believe we are finally at our last candidate for champions – Pro-Ject Debut Carbon, arguably the best bang for the buck turntable under $500. Surprisingly, it’s not the most expensive one on the list either, just the best for the price.
The design may look underwhelming to some, but I love it. The glossy black finish makes the turntable look very classy. The tonearm is made of a rather unique material, carbon fiber, which is both light and sturdy.
The frequency response is amazing. In fact, the turntable is known for bringing every little sound out of every record you play, with the sound staying crystal clear. The quality of music extracted from LPs is better than any other turntable under $1000.
Overall, it’s one of the best turntables in the world, which happened to fall within our budget. What a lovely coincidence!
Buyer’s Guide For Turntables
Let’s see what specs you should consider when getting your next record player.
Hold on. Should you care about the specs of your turntable, to begin with? The answer is no.
They may help you get a reference point, but there is no way to tell how the device will sound prior to actually listening to it. However, it’s still a good idea to compare the basic ones just to get a general idea of what product you are getting.
1) Signal-To-Noise Ratio (S/N Ratio)
The ratio should help you get a better idea about how much background noise is expected from the device for any music signal level. The higher the number, the better.
You want as much music signal and as little noise as possible. 65db is a good starting point here, the more, the better.
2) Speed Variation (Wow and Flutter)
This spec should help you determine how accurately the platter is spun. Any deviation can affect sound quality. Pitch of the song, for example, can be affected.
Or you can get the audible wavering effect that will shift your attention from listening. To sum up, a lower number is better. Aim for speed variation under 0.25%.
3) Playback Speeds
Look for a turntable that can provide rotation speed you need to play your records. While 33 and 45 RPM record players are quite common, make sure you don’t need 78 RPM. A lot of older records, in fact, need the 78 RPM rotation speed. Most older records need this particular speed, so always pay attention to numbers.
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Last update on 2019-12-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API