What Are The Best Cheap Turntables? (REVIEW)

Buying a turntable doesn’t have to break the bank. If you’re new to the vinyl craze, and don’t know where to start, it can be easy to dismiss everything that’s not extremely expensive based on the negativity and elitism you’ll find on forums.

But the truth is, you can find yourself a damn good turntable for relatively little money.

In fact, some of the best cheap turntables can give much more expensive record players a big slap in the face for being overpriced without delivering any additional quality.

But how do you know which ones are good, and which ones are so cheap because they’re not worth your time?

When investing in turntables it is also worth considering investing in turntable amplifiers!​

At a Glance: Our Choice Of The 5 Best Cheap Turntables On The Market

Note: The links above take you to more information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon. If you do purchase something we get a small commission, which has absolutely no effect on the eventual price that you pay.

Buyer's Tips: What to look for when buying the best cheap turntables 

This price range is a pretty good place to start if you’re looking for your first turntable. Any cheaper and you’ll only get poor quality turntables that’ll damage your records permanently, making it impossible to listen to them ever again.

  • Look for turntables that come with a good cartridge, as this is essential to a good sound quality. Moving Magnet (MM) cartridges can be pretty good, and require less adjustment than a Moving Coil (MC) cartridge
  • It should be easy to swap out the tonearm, stylus and cartridge and replace them with better ones so that you can drastically upgrade an entry or mid-range turntable into a true audiophiles record player
  • Anything that can help isolate the turntable from vibrations is good. Whether that’s adjustable feet, construction material or mass - it’s all good

Ok let's look at each product in more detail. To make things easier for you, we've added pros and cons for each one, as well as a video demonstration so you can see them in action. So without further ado, let’s take a look...

5 Best Cheap Turntables

1. Fluance High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable

Fluance RT81 High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable Record Player with Dual Magnet Cartridge, Elliptical Diamond Stylus, Belt Drive, Built-in Preamp, Adjustable Counterweight & Anti-Skating, Solid Wood Cabinet

An attractive looking and great sound quality for the price, around $200 or so. You get all of the control that you would expect from a higher end turntable, and it plays very smoothly with minimal skipping.

  • Comes with a high performing AT95E Cartridge and decent quality tonearm that can easily be upgraded further with higher end components
  • The walnut-finish model has a great appearance and the MDF combined with the turntables other features provide good isolation and vibration reduction
  • Integrated pre-amp with bypass and gold plated RCA outputs give decent sound quality and transparency
  • Can’t play 78’s
  • To listen with headphones you will need an RCA adaptor
  • The integrated phono pre amp can be a little underwhelming, so it’s recommended that you use your own

Let's take a look at this product...

2. Pro-Ject Primary Phono Turntable

Pro-Ject Primary Phono Turntable (Black)

A high quality, belt driven turntable that is easily able to compete with more expensive record players.

  • Silent motor reduces resonance and stops any unwanted humming from preventing you from enjoying the music
  • Comes with a Ortofon OM5E MM cartridge that provides good audio quality
  • Comes with most adjustments preset by the manufacturer so you can immediately dive in and listen to your record collection, although some minor adjustments may need to be made
  • The high frequencies are slightly lacking, but this can be fixed by further upgrading the cartridge and tonearm
  • Isolation is poor, even walking past this turntable can cause skipping if it’s not properly positioned
  • You will need to manually change the belt drive to switch between speeds

Let's take a look at this product...

3. Pro-Ject Elemental Turntable (Editor's Choice)

Pro-Ject Elemental USB Turntable, White

A minimalist aesthetic that not only looks great, but helps you to isolate the turntable from vibrations as it can fit into much smaller spaces squirreled away from footfalls. It’s not an entry level turntable, but by no means high-end either. It still has one of the highest sound qualities you can expect at this price range, making it one of the best turntables under 300.

  • High quality tonearm and included Ortofon OM5E MM cartridge
  • Smooth belt drive and plinth loaded with artificial stone contribute to lower resonance
  • Small profile and non-rectangular shape make it easy to set up anywhere
  • You will need a phono preamp and external speakers
  • Doesn’t come with a dust cover, so you’ll need to purchase your own
  • Two speed only

Let's take a look at this product...

4. Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB

Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB Direct-Drive Professional Turntable (USB & Analog), Silver

A decent first turntable for someone new to the world of vinyl record players, as it’s fairly simple to get everything ready to use and also allows you to digitize your albums if you haven’t totally abandoned digital media.

  • Doesn’t require phono inputs on your speakers. It can use aux, phono or USB inputs
  • The USB output and included audacity software allows you to digitize your vinyls yourself, so you can take your music with you without relying on the low quality sound files that come with downloads and streaming
  • Can play at all three speed settings, as well as shifting the pitch up and down, and has reverse playback
  • Doesn’t support MC cartridges
  • The anti-skate isn’t perfect
  • A common problem is a warped platter, so that the record will wobble when played

Let's take a look at this product...

5. Music Hall Usb-1 Record Turntable (Budget Choice)

Music Hall usb-1 Record Turntable

A very quiet and fairly understated turntable that has a few extra features that are useful for burgeoning DJ’s and music enthusiasts alike.

  • Can shift the pitch up or down by 10%
  • Has an integrated preamp which can be bypassed if you prefer to use an external amplifier
  • The belt drive motor is extremely quiet
  • Two speed only
  • The stylus isn’t automatic
  • Uses a p-mount rather than standard-mount cartridge

Let's take a look at this product...

So what are the best cheap turntables?

Coming in at the top of our price range was the Pro-Ject Elemental. Not only does it look good, it sounds amazing too, making it one of (if not the) best turntable for a budget price.

However, you’ll need to shell out a little more money to get a phono amplifier and the combined cost of the turntable and a good quality preamp will easily take you past the budget.

Assuming that you don’t already have a preamp just lying around waiting to be used, the Music Hall turntable has you covered. The integrated preamp is very good, and the virtually silent motor guarantees a great listening experience.

Image Credits:
Featured image source: mtch3l / CC BY-SA 2.0

Ged is Founder and Editor-in-chief at Zing Instruments. He’s a guitarist for London based gypsy jazz band ‘Django Mango’ and a lover of all things music. When he’s not ripping up and down the fretboard, he’s tinkering with his ’79 Campervan.

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