The Best Budget Turntables in 2024: Discover Vinyl Without Spending A Fortune

Best budget turntables 2024: Rediscover vinyl with our top picks for audiophiles and beginners. Reviews, specs, and tips included.

The resurgence of vinyl records shows no signs of slowing down. Their unique sound signature and the tactile ritual of handling LPs continue to captivate music enthusiasts. If you’re looking to join this movement, the good news is you don’t need to empty your wallet. Here’s our expert roundup of 2024’s best budget turntables under $500.

Best Budget Turntables-Key Features to Look For:

Built-in Preamplifier: This eliminates the need for a separate phono stage, making it easier to connect your turntable to speakers and amplifiers that don’t have one.

Automatic/Semi-Automatic Operation: If you value convenience, these modes simplify things like starting and stopping playback.

Bluetooth Connectivity: Enjoy the warmth of vinyl wirelessly with Bluetooth-enabled turntables, perfect for wireless speakers or headphones.

USB Recording: Digitize your record collection! Some models let you record vinyl directly to your computer. We don’t recommend it for the best sound, but some folks enjoy it.

RELATED: Hi-Fi System Setup for Beginners!

Our Best Budget Turntable Recommendations:

1. Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT ($219)

Best Budget Turntables

Pros: Super beginner-friendly with automatic operation, Bluetooth capability, well-balanced sound.

Cons: Build quality feels a bit light, minimal upgrade path.

Mini Review: This is a near-perfect starting point for vinyl newcomers. It is easy to set up, has an understandable interface, and has the added convenience of Bluetooth. While it won’t offer the last word in sonic detail, it gives you analog warmth and provides a fun way to discover (or rediscover) your record collection. If you wish to dabble in USB recording, you can also get a version with USB for around $279.

Specs: Belt drive, built-in preamp, 33/45 RPM speeds, Bluetooth

3. Pro-Ject T1 ($399)

 Best Budget Turntables

Pros: Superb build quality, focuses on audio performance, smooth and refined sound for the money.

Cons: Manual operation (including speed) might deter beginners, no built-in preamp, basic aesthetic (some finishes).

Mini Review: Another contender for audiophiles on a budget, the Pro-Ject T1 delivers a refined and musical listening experience with excellent build quality for its price. We love the look of the Gloss Black model with the glass platter. Its manual operation adds a touch of the traditional vinyl ritual, while the focus on sound basics makes it an excellent long-term investment. There are some upgrade possibilities. The tonearm is set from the factory for quick and easy setup.

Specs: Belt drive, no preamp, 33/45 RPM speeds, Factory-Mounted Ortofon OM5e Cartridge

4. Fluance RT85 ($499)

Best Budget Turntables

Pros: Excellent sound quality, premium Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge, elegant looks (heavy wood plinth, acrylic platter)

Cons: Definitely pushes the upper limit of “budget”, requires an external preamp.

Mini Review: The Fluance RT85 caters to discerning listeners seeking the best possible sound at a still reasonable price. The premium cartridge extracts more detail and nuance from your records, while the heavy acrylic platter and motor with optical speed sensor deliver superior speed stability. The heavy MDF plinth with rubber isolation feet dissipates surface resonance. It offers a satisfying taste of high-fidelity vinyl playback. The cartridge is upgradable as well.

Specs: Belt-drive, no preamp, 33/45 RPM speeds, Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge

Advice and Tips for Finding the Best Budget Turntables:

  1. Define Your “Budget”: What is your actual spending limit? This narrows down your choices and prevents disappointment.
  2. Prioritize Your Needs: Consider these factors:
    • Ease of use: Do you need a fully automatic or semi-automatic turntable, or are you comfortable with manual controls?
    • Connectivity: Do you want Bluetooth for wireless speakers, or is a direct wired connection sufficient?
    • Sound preference: Do you prioritize a warm, classic sound or a more crisp, detailed audio experience?
  3. Read Reviews & Comparisons:
    • Reputable sites like What Hi-Fi?, TechRadar, and Hifitrends offer detailed reviews.
    • Compare features and sound quality to pinpoint what matters most to you.
  4. Shop Smart:
    • Check for deals and sales on manufacturer websites and trusted retailers.
    • Consider refurbished models for potential savings on like-new turntables.

Extra Tips:

Think Long-Term: If you see yourself as a serious vinyl enthusiast in the future, consider a turntable with upgrade potential (like a replaceable cartridge).

Don’t Neglect Speakers: Even the best turntable will sound bad through poor speakers. Allocate some budget for decent powered speakers or an amplifier and passive speakers if needed.

Ask for Auditions: If possible, visit a local audio store to test turntables with your favorite record. Hearing them in person helps you pick the sound profile you like.

Best Budget Turntable FAQs

Preamplifiers – do I need one? Often, yes. As stated earlier, many speakers and amps lack a ‘phono’ input, so check your setup.

Belt-drive or direct-drive? Belt-drive is typical at this price point, offering good performance and lower motor noise. Direct-drive can provide faster starts and stops.

Can I turn my vinyl into digital files? Some budget turntables include a USB output for recording your precious records to a computer.

Connecting Your Budget Turntable: What You Need

Setting up your turntable might seem daunting, but don’t worry! Here’s the basic breakdown of what you need:

Preamplifier: Many budget turntables have built-in preamps. If yours doesn’t, you’ll need an external one. This small device boosts the weak signal from your turntable to a level most speakers and amplifiers can handle.

Recommended Option: Pro-Ject Phono Box DC MM/MC Phono Preamp with Line Output (Black)

Speakers or Amplifier: There are two main paths:

-Powered Speakers: These have a built-in amplifier, and many have phono preamps built in. Just connect your turntable and enjoy!

Recommended Option: Triangle Borea Active BR03 BT Wireless Bluetooth Bookshelf Speaker (Built-in Phono input)

-Traditional Amplifier + Passive Speakers: If you have an existing amp, you’ll need a pair of passive speakers to complete the setup. If the amp has a phono input, then you won’t need a separate preamp.

Recommended Options: triangle Borea BR03 100W 2-Way Bookshelf Speakers and Cambridge Audio AXA35 35 Watt 2-Channel Integrated Stereo Amplifier with Built-in Phono-Stage

Cables: You’ll usually need RCA cables to connect your turntable to the preamp/amplifier. Sometimes these are included with the turntable.

Recommended Option: Amazon Basics 2 RCA Audio Cable for Stereo Speaker or Subwoofer with Gold-Plated Plugs

Best Budget Turntables: Conclusion

The vinyl resurgence is for everyone, regardless of your budget. There’s a fantastic budget turntable out there, ready to enhance the enjoyment of your record collection. Enjoy the classic vinyl experience without overspending!

Let us know your own favorite budget turntable recommendations in the comments below!

Why you should trust me:

I’ve been immersed in the audio world for decades, starting as a young enthusiast in the ’90s. That passion led to a career in consumer electronics, where I honed my understanding of great sound. This journey has fueled a lifelong passion for sharing the joys of music and hi-fi equipment. I have listened to and reviewed hundreds of turntables, comparing and contrasting them, which informs the list I have curated here.

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