Looking for the best turntables under $500?
Shopping for a vinyl player is challenging. How much should you spend? What brands are the best? All this before undertaking the technical hurdles.
Let’s start by saying, $500 is a sweet spot for a turntable.
Turntables under $100 are a novelty rather than a piece of audio technology. At the other end of the spectrum, $2,000 for a premium turntable is out of the budget for many.
So $500 hits the spot.
I spend good money on new vinyl releases. I found cheap players would scratch the records. This was a counter-productive approach to the listening experience.
Scratched vinyl isn’t conducive to relaxed listening.
When I upgraded my player, I needed guarantees of quality. So, I did research.
In this article, I’ll share everything I found. You’ll learn all the pros and cons of the best turntables under $500.
So let’s help you find the perfect turntable to meet your needs. Read on for the best turntables under $500.
Best Turntables Under $500 in 2021
The best turntables for under $500 in 2021:
- Best Overall: Music Hall MMF 2.3
- Best With Preamp & Bluetooth: Pro-Ject T1 BT
- Best Minimalist Design: Rega Planar 1
- Best for DJ: Reloop Direct Drive DJ Turntable
- Best Value For Money: Audio Technica ATLP5
There are pros and cons to all turntables, even the ones priced at $500. So before we deep dive into each turntable, let’s look at the pros and cons at a glance.
|Best Overall||Music Hall MMF 2.3||High-definition audio quality. Carbon fiber tonearm Expensive cartridge||Need to buy extra equipment if starting from scratch.|
|Best with Preamp & Bluetooth||Pro-Ject T1 BT||Built-in preamp. Bluetooth connectivity Available in 3 colors with different finishes||Loose dust cover hinges.|
|Best Minimalist Design||Rega Planar 1||Ease of setup. British build quality with a lifetime warranty. Sleek and stylish aesthetics.||The power button is difficult to locate.|
|Best For DJ||Reloop RP-7000 MK2||Rugged construction. LED target lights. Features suited to DJs inc. Grip platter, adjustable torque setting, and pitch bend.||No dust cover included|
|Best Value For Money||Audio Technica ATLP5||Powerful sound from an affordable turntable. Audio Technica build quality. USB output to digitize your vinyl collection||Basic LooksNo Dust Cover|
Best Overall: Music Hall MMF 2.3
The victor in the under $500 category is the Music Hall MMF 2.3.
Since 1985 Music Hall has created affordable yet high-performance turntables. Music Hall manufactures their products in a Czech Republic-based factory. This factory has been churning out turntables for over 50 years. So, it’s safe to say, they know what they’re doing.
Why is it the best overall? This has everything to do with the components.
Let’s start with the tonearm. Made of carbon fiber the tonearm is strong but lightweight. Sturdy enough for precise playback but light enough for easy placement, the tonearm is high performance.
Alongside the raw material, the tonearm has four-point gimbal pivots for precision tracking.
Then, there’s the cartridge with a value of close to $100. This Music Hall Spirit cartridge has a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz. What’s this mean?
In short, the cartridge will capture all the details. Whether it’s the low end of a kick drum or the high-end sparkle of percussion… it captures every frequency.
As an audiophile myself, I appreciate the detail that the components on the MMF 2.3 pick up.
Sure, there’re turntables with more gadgets, but if your focus is on sound quality. The MMF 2.3 is your turntable.
Before you pull the trigger, here’s something you need to know. If you’re starting, you’ll need a preamp to drive the signal and a set of speakers. If you’re unsure how to do this read ‘How to Wire Speakers to An Amp’ for guidance.
A preamp is an extra expense. Being though this player is at the upper end of the under $500 category, it’s worth considering the extra cost in your budget.
But, the high-definition audio captured by the MMF is the core of an expert system. Available in high gloss piano black or Ferrari red, it looks pleasing on the eye to boot.
Best with Preamp: Pro-Ject T1 BT
Setting up a high-class audio system costs money. There’s the turntable itself, the preamp, and the speakers. The Pro-Ject T1 BT cuts the costs of an external preamp.
With its built-in preamp, the T1 BT just needs a high-definition pair of speakers to achieve crystal clear audio. Furthermore, at an extra cost, this turntable has Bluetooth connectivity so you can go wireless with your speakers.
While it’ll save you a few bucks on a preamp, the T1 BT is not a cheap quality turntable. You won’t find many shoddy plastic parts here.
A plastic platter is often a common area to cut. The T1 BT comes with an 8mm thick glass platter. It’s a heavy-duty feature allowing for resonant vinyl reading.
Try different slip mats to find a nuance to suit. For example, a cork mat will work with the glass platter for a different tone than the included felt mat.
Handmade in Europe, the body of the T1 looks and feels like an expensive turntable. The plinth is solid, with no hollow parts. This means there’s no room for vibrations and unwanted noises.
What’s there not to like?
Well, you’ll have to dig deep to find gripes with this one. Many reports suggest that the dust cover hinges are loose. The dust cover itself is also flimsy and lightweight.
But if you can overlook these small complaints, the Pro-Ject T1 BT is a high-performance attractive turntable. It’ll be the centerpiece of a room with its smooth look. Available in either walnut, black or white in either high gloss or satin, you’ll find a finish you like.
Consider the T1 BT if you’re starting your vinyl journey. Without the need for a preamp, a setup with the T1 BT has minimal bulk.
Best Minimalist Design: Rega Planar 1
Let’s introduce you to the Rega Planar 1. With contemporary looks, it’s a turntable bound to turn heads. But it offers more than eye candy alone.
Rega is a British company with a huge rep. Their catalog is home to some expensive turntables, we’re talking thousands of bucks.
The P1 is a product of Rega’s British factory and it shows because the build quality is reminiscent of higher-priced tables in their catalog.
A melamine plinth wrapped in a laminate looks sleek but also filters out external noise.
Rega doesn’t turn to other companies for components. The tonearm and cartridge are all manufactured by Rega. The reasoning behind this is so they can build parts to work alongside each other for optimum performance.
The downside of the factory-fitted Rega Carbon moving magnet cartridge is that replacing the cartridge is difficult.
While we’re touching on some negatives, the design is so minimalist, the power button isn’t as accessible as most.
Rega has created a turntable that offers upscale looks and sturdy build quality. Best of all, at all things considered… an affordable price.
While the P1 has all the features of a professional turntable, you don’t need expert knowledge to work it.
Quite the opposite, if you’re a newbie eager to get spinning, setup is easy. Unpack it, screw the counterweight on, take off the stylus guard, drop the platter in place, and away you go. It’s a simple process.
With suave looks, British build quality, ease of use, and sound quality to rival some of the best, the P1 is a hit.
Best For DJ: Reloop RP-7000-MK2
Now, so far, the turntables on this list look great in your living space. While they may look nice next to a candle and a plant, don’t go using them to scratch like Grandmasta Flash.
Save your DJ performance for a turntable more suited for this application. Like the Reloop DJ AMS-RP-7000-MK2.
The AMS-RP7000-MK2 is a turntable designed for this purpose and will not buckle under scratching. So how does the RP-7000-MK2 help DJs reach top performance levels?
For me, a lightweight turntable doesn’t install much confidence but the RP-7000-MK2 is the opposite with its heavy-duty build. The reinforced body makes it resistant to vibration from ultra-low frequencies that boom around a DJ booth.
From the moment you press the start button, the high torque RP-7000-MK2 is up to speed. Then you’ll find every feature meets the needs of a professional DJ performer. An aluminum tonearm carries little resonance for great tracking performance.
Whether it be 33, 45, each speed is actionable by the press of a button, furthermore, press both together and you’ll have 78-speed capabilities.
In clubs strobe lights flash and the rooms are dark. Visibility isn’t an issue with the RP-7000-MK2 as all the buttons are back-lit. A replaceable target light also helps you cue in demanding scenarios.
For more advanced techniques, the adjustable torque helps you scratch, a high setting improves the glide of the platter.
It’s an all singing all dancing table. Pitch sliders, reverse, and everything else you’ll need.
The most notable negative is the lack of a dust cover. But, this turntable is for the DJ at a club. It’s a reliable performer whether you’re inexperienced or a pro.
Best Value For Money: Audio Technica AT-LP5
The ATLP5 AT-LP5 offers definitive value for money. If you’re thinking the $500 mark is out of budget, then the AT-LP5 is under $400.
Not only will you have an extra $100 in your back pocket, but like Pro-Ject T1 BT, you need no preamp.
So if you’re a beginner, keep this on your radar. Nevertheless, the AT-LP5 is much more than a beginner turntable. There’s plenty of features that you’ll find on high-end turntables.
The J-shaped tonearm and its features contribute to the smooth playability of vinyl records, old and new.
There’s a hydraulic lift to assist you when placing the needle on the groove. An adjustable counterweight balances the tonearm for optimal tracking force. Then, the anti-skate control ensures the needle doesn’t veer off course.
An AT95EX cartridge sits in the AT-HS10 headshell. The cartridge is exclusively devised to work with the AT-LP5 for high performance.
But the AT-LP5 represents a player for the long term. I learned my lesson the hard way, cheap turntables will only go so far, so I had to buy new player after new player.
This won’t happen with the AT-LP5 because it has the core ingredients for a dominant player for years to come. The beauty is if you want to upgrade, the cartridge is easy to change. And, with the flick of a switch, you can use an external preamp if down the line you want more oomph.
The AT-LP5 is an Audio Technica and this adds prestige. But beyond that, this player is an affordable way to start your audiophile journey and it’ll progress with your hobby.
It may not be the most alluring on the list with its basic looks, and there may be more modern available. But the AT-LP5 offers an affordable opportunity to listen to vinyl through a high sound quality turntable.
Comparison Chart Of Turntables Under $500
No turntable is the same. Each has a distinct combination of features and specifications. Below are some specs for all the best turntables under $500.
|Make & Model||Speed||Built-in Preamp||Bluetooth||Drive System||Cartridge||Dimensions||Weight|
|Music Hall MMF 2.3||33/45 RPM||No||No||DC Motor Belt Drive||Music Hall Spirit MM cartridge||17“ (W) x 13” (D) x 4.5” (H)||17 lbs|
|Pro-Ject T1 BT||33/45 RPM||Yes||Output||AC Motor Belt Drive||OM5E Moving Magnet cartridge||16.34” (W) x 13.19” (D) x 3.94” (H)||8.3 lbs|
|Rega Planar 1||33/45 RPM||No||No||AC Motor Belt Drive||Mounted Rega Carbon Moving Magnet cartridge||17.7″ (W) x 15.1″ (D) x 4.5″ (H)||12.1 lbs|
|Reloop RP-7000-MK2||33/45/78 RPM||Yes||No||Direct Drive||Not included||21” (W) x 17” (D) x 7” (H)||24.69 lbs|
|Audio Technica AT-LP5||33/45 RPM||Yes||No||DC Motor||AT95EX||21” (W) x 16” (D) x 9” (H)||23.13 lbs|
Is it worth getting a record player?
The way we listen to music has changed. Music is available on the go through the convenience of a smartphone or a smart speaker. But in a hectic world listening to music on a record player is a relaxing experience. Furthermore, many argue the warm sound of vinyl is worth getting a record player.
What are the best turntables under $500?
There are many great turntables priced under $500. Some of the standout performers are the Music Hall MMF 2.3, Pro-Ject T1 BT, Rega Planar 1, and the Audio Technica AT-LP5. For DJ performance the Reloop RP-7000-MK2 is great in this price range.
There we have it, the best turntables for under $500.
All the turntables in this article are top performers in this price bracket. Thinking that $500 is out of reach? Check out ‘Best Turntables Under $300’ and even more affordable ‘Best Turntables Under $200’.
But for $500, you can get a turntable worthy of an expert. Which one’s right for you?
This all depends on your needs. For scratching and mixing, there’s only one turntable for it. The Reloop RP-7000-MK2 has all the features for DJ applications. Whether you’re in your bedroom learning the ropes or in a DJ booth at a busy nightclub, it’ll perform.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll love collecting vinyl, kicking back, and listening to full albums. If so, the Music Hall MMF 2.3 offers sturdy build quality and high-definition audio.
This turntable gives you the core of a great setup. But you’ll need to embellish your system with a preamp alongside a set of speakers.
$500 can be the top end of your budget. If you want a built-in preamp, the Pro-Ject T1 BT is a stylish turntable for the modern listener. Bluetooth allows you to pair with wireless speakers. So this is a good option if you like a minimalist setup without clutter.
Often, when the turntable is for home use, visuals are pivotal in your decision. The Rega Planar 1 offers something a little different with its space-age look. But as well as innovative visuals, it’s a great sounding player.
If you can only extend to $400, don’t despair, because while ATLP-5 may not look like a fancy player, it delivers sound quality… And after all, this should be high on the criteria.
But whichever you decide, you are on the path to becoming an audiophile with these turntables.
I hope your search for a turntable for under $500 now has some clarity.
All that’s left to do is take your pick and start spinning. Enjoy the music!