I never thought I would see this since we’ve moved to the digital world but listening to vinyl is now popular again. I have multiple friends who have added turntables to their systems. There is something special about listening to music on vinyl and for those of us who have been around a while it brings back some great memories.
I’m sure the debate continues about what has better sound, digital or analog, but most of that depends on personal taste. Personally I really like the warmth you hear with vinyl records, something you don’t get with mp3 streaming which is greatly used today mainly for convenience I think. You can get a great digital sound on a CD but for me it leaves something to be desired when compared to vinyl.
In the current world it seems people are too busy to slow down and actually listen to music. Not just have it on while you’re doing other things but actually sit down and listen. I know I’m guilty of that myself. I can remember a time many years ago before I had kids or a full time job I would actually take a couple of hours and truly listen to some music. Back then you didn’t have many options, it was either vinyl or 8 track or cassettes. So I would pull out an album put it on the record player and just listen.
One of my goals this year is to slow down and take some time to actually listen to music. I believe the best way to do that is with a vinyl record and a turntable. Just put it on and let the sound envelope you as if you were in the front row of a well constructed theater. Maybe it’s time for all of us to re-think how we listen to music or it may be that I’m just late to the party. It wouldn’t be the first time, but I digress. In this article we will present to you some of the best turntables for the money that are also in line with your budget. So without further ado, let’s get started.
Pro-Ject T1 Phono SB Turntable with Built-in Preamp and Electronic Speed Change
The Pro-Ject T1 Phono SB turntable is affordable with a premium look and feel and has no plastic. The deck is solid made of 8mm thick bead-blasted glass platter. Just place the platter and belt and your ready to go. There are two playback RPM speeds toggling between 33 and 45 and a switchable moving magnet phono stage. This has a minimalist design and has no Bluetooth or USB recording. This isn’t a concern if you are just looking to listen to vinyl records. Some consider this turntable one of the best entry level turntables available. This turntable will run you about $400.
Pro Sony PS-LX310BT Belt Drive Turntable
If you are looking for a turntable with some more bells and whistles than the Pro Sony PS-LX310BT turntable may be the one for you. This turntable combines old-school WiFi with modern minimalism along with Bluetooth so that you can send the analog sound to your headphones or speakers without the need for wires. Of course, you can still plug into a stereo system directly using RCA cables. What I find cool is the tonearm action is automatic, just press a button and the arm will find the groove on your vinyl so you can find the groove in your music (oh boy did I just say that?). With the built-in switchable phono output you will hear music at its best with no distortion. This has premium quality and style and will only run you just over $180.
Audio Technica AT-LP120XUSB Direct-Drive Turntable (Analog & USB)
Audio Technica has a great reputation for their quality and that was even true back when I was a teenager some 40 years ago. With its user-friendly interface, this turntable is one of the best money can buy. It has a fully manual operation with an adjustable dynamic anti-skate control, direct-driven DC servo motor that includes selectable RPM speeds, and a tonearm with hydraulically damped lift control and rest that you can lock in. Vibration is minimized with professional-grade anti-resonance. This turntable also allows you to convert your vinyl records to digital audio using their free downloadable software. You’ll even be able to play old 78 records that you find in your parents’ or grand parents’ basement. This may be the best turntable on the market under $400. Right now these will run just over $200.
REGA – Planar 1
So this is probably the best budget turntable there is for those who put sound quality above anything else. You will not find Bluetooth, USB recording, or a built-in phono stage because this turntable was designed primarily for great quality sound. Its premium design makes this the best sounding turntable available. Did I mention that this turntable has great sound quality? The tonearm is Rega designed and has bespoke, zero play bearings with ultra-low friction performance. The brass main bearing has been re-designed to remove stress on the bearing itself and minimize the transfer of potential energy. The cartridge is a Rega Carbon MM that is supplied and fitted at the factory and the motor is a 24-volt synchronous model, the first ever on an entry-level Rega turntable. In addition to these features, this turntable is easy to set up with its user-friendly design. Oh and someone described the sound of this turntable as jaw-dropping. So if you are looking for a turntable on a budget with a sound quality that will force you to pick your jaw off of the floor, this is for you. The REGA – Planar 1 will run you about $475 which makes it the most expensive on the list. For the sound quality that you will get, it’s probably worth the extra dough.
So there you have it. Four of the best turntables out there for those on a budget and all under $500. With the growing popularity of vinyl records a turntable just may be the next addition to your home stereo system. Please leave a comment or question.