Updated on March 30th, 2021
Even though this is the digital era, vinyl is still a popular option among many audiophiles for its unique sound quality. Some music artists still deliver their albums in vinyl format for all the vinyl lovers of the modern world.
Several of the current pop artists have released vinyl versions of their latest records. Pink Floyd’s – ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, Bob Dylan’s -‘Blonde on Blonde’, Marvin Gaye’s-‘What’s Going On’, and Thelonious Monk’s -‘Brilliant Corners’, have been reissued in vinyl. From Harry Styles to Billie Eilish, artists are producing their albums in vinyl as well to cater to vinyl listeners.
Large artwork, easy-to-read liner notes, and analog sound are some of the advantages vinyl records have over digital files. The albums are susceptible to wear, warp, and scratch, but they will last a lifetime if you store them with proper care.
Here are some of the best turntables under $500 that will help you listen to your records with high fidelity.
Best Turntables Under $500 – Our Reviews and Comparisons:
Overview of Features
Adorned with a glossy walnut finish, the Fluance High Fidelity RT81 is a classy machine. Featuring a retro look, the plinth of the device is made of MDF and comes with a dust cover. The plinth significantly contributes to the weight of this 6.4 kg turntable and it houses the power switch and speed selector on the left and the platter at the center. Besides, the platter is crafted in aluminum and has a rubber mat for damping.
The tonearm located on the right of the plinth features a detachable headshell. At the end of the tonearm rests an Audio-Technica AT-95E cartridge. Also, the Audio-Technica AT-95E is an excellent beginner’s cartridge that has a reasonably priced replaceable needle.
Moreover, the Fluance High Fidelity RT81 also features a built-in phono amplifier eliminating the need of purchasing an external phono amplifier. The built-in preamp can be activated with the help of a switch located on the back of the deck.
What We Like About Fluance High Fidelity RT81
Fluance RT81 features good isolation from external vibrations, even though the turntable platter is comparatively light. Since it is an expert at canceling out external vibrations from speakers, the latter can be placed on the same platform as the turntable.
What We Don’t Like About Fluance High Fidelity RT81
The machine lacks a retractable tonearm and an auto-off feature. Therefore, if you forget to turn off the deck, it will keep spinning relentlessly, wearing down the needle and your record.
Inbuilt pre amp
| Lacks auto-off feature
Lacks a retractable tonearm
Overview of Features
Crosley is known for producing turntables with more customizable features and the C100 is a great example of it. This device hands the complete control of your vinyl to you along with its manual stop/start controls and adjustable strobe pitch. This device will allow you to change pitch settings while you play a record to get the best possible sound.
The C100’s platter is made of damped die-cast aluminum, which can improve speed consistency. Besides, the machine has an S-shape tonearm to allow the needle to move easily by reducing skipping and distortion. Moreover, the C100 is also fitted with adjustable counterweight control for easy tracking of the record.
What We Like About Crosley C100 Belt-Drive Turntable
The Crosley C100 is equipped with adjustable counterweight and anti-skate adjustment on the S-shaped tonearm to reduce distortion while the record is being played.
What We Don’t Like About Crosley C100 Belt-Drive Turntable
The tonearm is overly sensitive.
Adjustable strobe pitch
Overview of Features
Featuring a high gloss finish, a matte acrylic platter, and a carbon fiber tonearm, the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Espirit SB looks like an expensive machine for the price quoted. Sporting a semi-transparent acrylic body, this audiophile machine is a great choice if you want to upgrade your entry-level turntable.
Besides, the most laudable improvement from its predecessors for the Espirit SB is the carbon fiber tonearm. Carbon fiber contributes to added stiffness, decreasing unwanted resonance and reducing colorations. Apart from this tonearm, the turntable has the presence of the Ortofon 2M Red moving magnet phono cartridge installed in the headshell of the tonearm.
The machine houses a decoupled motor with motor dampening material that utilizes Sorbothane for better audio isolation. Also, the belt drive design contributes to low noise from the machine. Besides, the abbreviation SB in the turntable’s name is for the speed box. This means that the device is equipped with an electronic speed switch which helps you to switch speeds without having to deal with belts and pulleys. The switch gives you a speed of 33.3 and 45rpm.
Additionally, the Speed Box employs quartz regulation and filter circuit for speed stability contributing to smooth and uninterrupted motor operation.
What We Like About Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Espirit SB
The device is affordable and high quality at the same time. Moreover, the machine emits a deep and saturated analog sound with no audio impurity.
What We Don’t Like About Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Espirit SB
The setup can be quite tough especially for a beginner. Since the cartridge is already installed in the tonearm you will have to balance the arm before you begin to set the required tracking force. Hooking up the anti-skate weight is also a tough task.
| Carbon fiber tonearm
Belt drive design
Deep analog sound
|Difficult to setup|
Overview of Features
The Sony PS-LX310BT is a well-designed entry-level turntable with Bluetooth connectivity. The Sony PS-LX310BT’s tonearm comes fully balanced with an already installed stylus and is ready out of the box to play your vinyl records. It is equipped with an aluminum platter that is operated by a belt-driven motor. The platter is stable, reducing vibration, hum, and static.
The record player’s speed settings (labeled 33 and 45) can be changed with the help of a switch located on the top of the turntable. Another switch located above the speed switch lets you change between 12 inch and 7-inch size settings. So, the record player knows where to drop the needle when you press the start button. There are also buttons to stop playback or lift and lower the needle, so you don’t accidentally drop it on the wrong spot.
Sony’s turntable has a preamp built into it however, you can turn it off and opt to use an external amp. This flexibility allows you to build your system up over time. You can also control the gain of the built-in preamp by shifting between low, medium, and high settings to compensate for a weak or extra sensitive stereo receiver.
What We Like About Sony PS-LX310BT Belt Drive Turntable
The tonearm and stylus work together to produce crisp tones and accurate low frequencies.
What We Don’t Like About Sony PS-LX310BT Belt Drive Turntable
The cartridge feels fragile.
| Bluetooth connectivity
| Fragile cartridge
Stylus options are limited
Overview of Features
The Audio-Technica AT-LP120X is a great beginner’s turntable. It is a lightweight turntable sporting a modern design. It accompanies great customization options and also has the ability to convert vinyl records into a digital audio format. This turntable can function as a manual record player, a direct drive turntable, and it also possesses USB functionality.
Besides, this direct-drive system is powered by a DC servo motor which allows the turntable to spin freely without resistance. This lets you make immediate pitch adjustments while your record is playing. The turntable houses quick start and quick brake functionalities. The quick-start button lifts up the tonearm and positions itself right above the first groove of the record. Then it lowers the cartridge and places the stylus down inside the groove. Once the stylus is in place the device begins to play the record.
Further, the LP120X accompanies the Audio-Technica AT-VM95E dual-magnet cartridge pre-installed to its headshell. The cartridge features a replaceable stylus which helps in case your stylus wears down or breaks. The turntable is equipped with a switchable pre-amplifier. This means that it can be plugged into any old amplifier, even if it doesn’t have a phono stage of its own.
What We Like About Audio-Technica AT-LP120X
The Audio-Technica AT-LP120X is a great turntable for home listening. It features high-quality sound and is easy to operate.
What We Don’t Like About Audio-Technica AT-LP120X
This is not meant for professional DJs looking to play their vinyl records for parties. This is mainly due to its low torque motor. Moreover, its backward playability function is removed.
| Enhanced tonearm and headshell design
Great vinyl record player for home listening
Built-in phono pre-amp
| Low motor torque
According to us, the Fluance High Fidelity RT81 is the best turntable under $500 for you. This is a classy machine with a speed selector switch. The tonearm rests an Audio-Technica AT-95E cartridge that features a replaceable needle. It features a built-in phono amplifier eliminating the need of purchasing an external phono amplifier. Fluance RT81 is an expert at providing good isolation from external vibrations.
While purchasing a turntable there are several factors to consider. If you have a vinyl record collection you would need one that is durable. Therefore, make sure you choose a sturdy machine with a replaceable needle. Your turntable should ideally spin at 33/3RPM (rotations per minute) and 45RPM, so you can play full-sized albums and singles. Also, check for the connectivity options before buying one.
We hope our review on the best turntables under $500 helped you make a choice.