Vinyl is back after decades of digital music dominance, which is why we put together a list of the best turntables under $500. Getting into the world of audio can be intimidating, but your first turntable doesn't have to be a four-figure investment, especially if you're busy building up your record collection. 

Vinyl's comeback has led to a resurgence of new turntable manufacturing. Classic audio companies like Audio-Technica and Pioneer are being challenged by relative newcomers like Pro-Ject and Crosley (which has put significant time into improving its reputation lately). The turntable boom means there're more options than ever if you're interested in getting your own deck, regardless of your budget. The best turntables under $500 are no-compromise machines that should last a lifetime with minimal maintenance. 

Best Overall: Pro-Ject T1
Best Budget: Audio-Technica AT-LP60X-BK
Best USB: Monoprice Monolith Turntable
Best Bluetooth: Crosley C6B-WA
Best for DJs: Pioneer DJ PLX-500-K

How We Picked The Best Turntables Under $500

Our best turntables under $500 recommendations are based on our experience reviewing audio equipment and research. Below are the factors we considered most highly when deciding which turntables to include in this buyer's guide.

Turntable Style: Like cars, turntables can be broken down into the two categories: manual and automatic. 

— Manual turntables require you to physically lift up its tonearm, and gently place it on the record's groove. Once the album is over, you'll need to lift the tonearm up, and return it to its resting area. 

— Automatic turntables will take care of both of those tasks for you. To begin playing a record, you'll typically hit a "start" button on the turntable's desk, and the tonearm will be lifted and dropped onto a record without intervention. At the end of an album, the tonearm will lift up, and return to its resting area. 

An automatic turntable may be a better fit for you if you're completely new to playing vinyl and don't want to risk damaging your needle by dropping it on an album from too high a height. That said, a turntable with additional moving parts is more likely to break down (in that scenario it'd function as a manual turntable, which isn't a total loss). 

Preamp: Classic turntables required an AV receiver with a dedicated phono input or an external preamp to amplify its signal. Without a preamp, the sound coming through your speakers would be extremely low — enough to be unlistenable. Many newer turntables have a built-in phono preamp, which allows you to plug them into any AV receiver or directly into a powered set of  speakers without any additional hardware. 

As with automatic turntables, this convenience does come with a cost. If a turntable's built-in preamp conks out (not likely, but a possibility after several years of extended use), you'll need to get an external one. Turntables with a built-in preamp typically have a switch that allows you to turn this piece of its hardware on and off. 

Bluetooth: Vinyl is a distinctly analog audio format, but new turntables are designed for the digital age, which means some can send their signal to wireless speakers or headphones over Bluetooth. Using a turntable's Bluetooth mode will compress its sound, but this is a convenient feature if you want to listen to albums late at night without disturbing the people you live with. 

USB Port: Some turntables have a built-in USB port, which allows you to connect them to your computer and digitize your albums. This can be extremely useful if you want a digital copy of an album that isn't available on CD or streaming services. If you have extremely rare records that you don't want to wear out, digital preservation is a way to enjoy them without running that risk.

Upgradable Cartridge: We generally only recommend turntables that allow you to upgrade their cartridge for two reasons. The first is that swapping out your phono cartridge will impact the sound of your records. If you pair a more entry level turntable with a higher-end cartridge, you may find the jump in audio quality high enough to keep your current hardware instead of replacing it. 

The second benefit is that you'll be able to swap the cartridge out if you accidentally damage it. If a turntable has a non-removable cartridge, it'll only last for the life of your stylus (needle) before you need to get a new one. Find out more about how we test audio gear.

Best Turntables Under $500: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Pro-Ject T1

All Analog. Pro-Ject

Why It Made The Cut: Pro-Ject's T1 crams a lot of audio hardware into a great-looking turntable. 

Specs:
Style: Manual
Preamp: Yes
USB: No

Pros:
— Glass Platter
— Built-in preamp
— Single-piece tonearm

Cons:
— Manual turntables may be difficult to use for some
— Price

Pro-Ject makes our favorite turntables at any price, but the T1 is the best option for anyone who can stretch their budget without hitting $500. 

The company used the highest-quality materials, including a thick glass platter that will keep your albums stable while they turn and won't be as susceptible to carrying vibrations from your speaker to the tonearm. The result is less distortion when listening to your records. We've used Pro-Ject turntables with this feature before, and it has made a difference in our experience. 

We're also fans of the T1's simple-looking single-piece tonearm, which is made from aluminum due to its solid construction and lightness. This is a manual turntable, which can be scary to some, but the T1 has a cue lever, which allows you to lift and lower the tonearm slowly and carefully. All you have to do is align the needle with your album's groove, the cue lever will take care of the rest. Another nicety is the T1's speed control buttons, located conveniently on the top of its deck (body or frame), right next to the power button. 

Speaking of the deck, we're big fans of the T1's Satin Walnut exterior. Pro-Ject offers this turntable in a plain white and black color if you'd like a turntable that looks a little more muted. Some mid-priced turntables are designed without a preamp, but Pro-Ject decided to build one into the T1, likely for the sake of convenience. 

The company makes its own standalone preamps, which we recommend to anyone who's using a turntable without integrated amplification. It doesn't have any ultra-modern digital features like a USB port or Bluetooth support, but Pro-Ject's T1 is still the best turntable for under $500.

Best Budget: Audio-Technica AT-LP60X-BK

Pushing Buttons. Audio-Technica 

Why It Made The Cut: The AT-LP60X-BX has beginner-friendly features for folks who are new to analog audio.

Specs:
Style: Automatic
Preamp: Yes
USB: No 

Pros:
— Fully automatic
— Built-in preamp
— Small

Cons:
— Plastic deck

If you've been intimidated by getting into record players, or don't know how deep you want to go down the rabbit hole, Audio-Technica's At-LP60X-BK is the turntable to get. 

It's a fully automatic turntable, which means the tonearm will lift, move, and descend onto a record when you push the "start" button on the front of the table. The AT-LP60X-BK also features a stop button, speed change button, and digital cue lever. This is an extremely user-friendly turntable made by a company that prides itself on making great-sounding audio equipment. There are plenty of budget turntables available, but they're typically designed as cheaply as possible. 

Conversely, the AT-LP60X-BK is made from materials like die-cast aluminum, comes with a built-in preamp, and has large feet to absorb vibrations. Nothing about this turntable would be considered "cheap," save for its plastic deck, which still looks okay. The At-LP60X-BK isn't a particularly great-looking table, but the audio hardware on the inside is rock solid. At the end of the day, audio performance is what matters anyway. 

We recognize that getting your first turntable can be a little scary, but Audio Technica's At-LP60X-BK will make listening to vinyl as simple as possible. 

Best USB: Monoprice Monolith Turntable

Digitally Native. Monolith

Why It Made The Cut: Monoprice's Monolith Turntable allows you to listen to and archive your most valuable records.

Specs:
Style: Automatic
Preamp: Yes
USB: Yes

Pros:
— USB port
— Bluetooth support
— Built-in preamp

Cons:
— Manual turntables may be difficult to use for some

Monoprice's Monolith Turntable's array of features allow it to successfully bridge the world between analog and digital audio. 

On the analog side, the Monolith features a carbon-fiber tonearm and aluminum platter, both of which are designed to optimize the playback quality of your records by reducing distortion and ensuring the album lays perfectly flat and turns at a consistent rate. The Monolith has a built-in preamp, too, so you can plug it into whichever AV receiver or powered speakers are a part of your setup.

If you never wanted to touch this turntable's digital features, it'd still be a great pick for under $500. This is a manual turntable, but you can adjust its speed by turning the dial on the top of its deck, and lift and lower the tonearm using a cue lever. With a little confidence, this turntable will be easy to master, but you can start off using cheaper albums to get the hang of things. 

However, we're recommending the Monolith specifically for its USB port and Bluetooth streaming capabilities. The turntable has a standard USB-B port, which you'd typically find on a printer. Monoprice includes a USB-B to USB-A cable in the box, so you can connect it to your computer. If your computer only has USB-C ports, you'll need to get a different cable, or use an adapter. Once the turntable is connected to your computer, you can digitize your albums using one of several audio programs. Our recommendation for this task is called VinylStudio. We've used the program, which is available for Windows and MacOS, for years, and it's made digitizing albums a lot easier. 

The Monolith also has a Bluetooth mode, which you can engage by pushing a button on the back of the turntable. In Bluetooth mode, you can connect this turntable to practically any wireless speaker or headphones. This may not be a feature you use very often, but it's a good one to have in your back pocket in case your music-listening situation changes. If you've been holding off on getting a turntable because you don't have any other analog audio equipment, the Monoprice Monolith Turntable may solve that issue for you.

Best Bluetooth: Crosley C6B-WA

Wireless World. Crosley

Why It Made The Cut: Crosley's C6B-WA helps continue one of the most miraculous rebirths in the world of consumer audio.

Specs:
Style: Manual
Preamp: Yes
USB: No

Pros:
— Built-in preamp
— Multiple color options
— Bluetooth support

Cons:
— No USB port

The C6B-WA is a complete 180-degree turn from Crosley’s earlier turntables, which were largely derided for their poor quality. We mention that up front because the company’s name is so poisoned in the audio community that this transformation is almost unbelievable. The C6B-WA isn’t the ultimate audiophile turntable, but it has more features than you’d expect given its modest price. 

Its standout feature is support for Bluetooth audio, which makes it a great option for those who already have a wireless audio system set up in their home. The range of Bluetooth is good enough that you could conceivably listen to music with your turntable and speaker in different rooms. Many Bluetooth-enabled turntables also have a USB port, but that isn’t true in this case, which is something you should keep in mind. 

Crosley outfitted the C6B-WA with a thick microfiber deck that’s available in several finishes. The thick deck is complemented by an adjustable tonearm, Audio-Technica cartridge, and a built-in preamp, which can be bypassed if you want to use your own amplifier. Previous Crosley turntables had a non-removable phono cartridge and subpar phono preamp.

If you’d like a well-specc-ed turntable with Bluetooth support, and don’t need a record player equipped with a USB port, Crosley’s C6B-WA is well suited for your needs.

Best for DJs: Pioneer DJ PLX-500-K

Scratch Away. Pioneer DJ

Why It Made The Cut: Pioneer DJ's PLX-500-K was designed for both music creation and enjoyment.

Specs:
Style: Manual
Preamp: Yes
USB: Yes

Pros:
— Pitch control
— Built-in preamp
— USB port

Cons:
— Manual turntables may be difficult to use for some

DJ turntables are designed a little differently than standard models, but the Pioneer DJ PLX-500-K's array of features make it appealing to anyone. 

From the top, the PLX-500-K looks like a pretty average turntable, except for the tempo control on the right side. Sliding the switch up and down will change the pitch of your music by gently speeding up or slowing down the speed of your record. On the topic of speed, this is the only turntable in our guide that can play 33.3, 45, and 78 prm (rotations per minute) albums. If you're a DJ incorporating 80-year-old 78s into your set, more power to you. 

The PLX-500-K is a manual turntable, but it has a bunch of modern conveniences, including a built-in preamp and USB port. It doesn't support Bluetooth, but that isn't a big loss considering this turntable's target audience. The PLX-500-K has a DJ-centric feature that anyone can enjoy: You can display the album you're playing by securing it into two ridges built into the turntable's dust cover. 

Pioneer DJ bundles the PLX-500-K with its rekordbox DJ production software. This professional app allows you to create DJ mixes with digital tracks — the app keeps track of the tempo of each track, allows you to hear both at the same time, and easily transition between songs. Your mixes can be synced to all your devices through the cloud. You can digitize your albums using the PLX-500-K's to import them into rekordbox DJ, or use pre-mixed tracks alongside the records you're spinning live. 

The combination of Pioneer DJ's hardware and software make the PLX-500-K the ideal choice for an aspiring artist. 

Things to Consider Before Buying a Turntable Under $500

Your Speakers

The turntable you end up with should be easily incorporated with the rest of your audio gear, especially your speakers. If you prefer to use a pair of powered speakers instead of an AV receiver, you should definitely get a turntable with a built-in phono preamp. If you have an AV receiver and passive speakers, your options open up quite a bit.

FAQs

Q: Should the genre of music I like impact my turntable choice?

No, all turntables are capable of playing music from any genre. The cartridge, AV receiver, and speakers you use will collectively have a bigger impact on the quality of your audio.

Q: How do I responsibly dispose of my old turntable?

If you're replacing an old turntable, we recommend reading our guide on how to responsibly dispose of e-waste

Q: How often should I clean my turntable's needle?

Many turntables come with a brush to clean dirt and dust off your needle. If your records are dirty, you may want to clean your needle after every album. If your albums are clean, you should clean your needle after every three or four albums.

Q: How do I make sure my turntable doesn't create static?

Static buildup on the surface of your album can attract dust and lead to more noticeable clicks and pops when you listen to albums. This is typically caused by your turntable's felt slip mat (the soft surface your album sits on as it spins).If static is a problem in your listening area, a cork slip mat is a worthwhile investment.

Final Thoughts on Turntables Under $500

Getting a turntable for under $500 used to mean making a lot of big compromises. The decks were typically made from plastic, many options in the price range had cartridges you couldn't upgrade, and some tried to attract you with a 1950s-looking exterior. All of those issues have been resolved, and investing in a turntable that costs far less will yield great results. 

If you can stretch your budget to reach closer to $500, you'll end up with a turntable that won't ever need to be replaced. That is, unless you end up getting bitten badly by the vinyl bug, in which case you may end up trading up your equipment in an attempt to reach the ever-elusive audio Nirvana, but we digress. There's never been a better time to get into vinyl, and the best turntables under $500 can help you appreciate this hobby.

This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.


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