What is the Best Turntable Under $500?

Nina Fenton April 22, 2014 0

There isn’t much I love more than the sound of an old vinyl record spinning on a platform and playing music from a time long since passed. If you are an audiophile, like me, then you know exactly what I am talking about. I recently dug out all of my old vinyl records having decided that it was time to invest in a new and more modern turntable. I have an old one that I inherited and sadly it has seen better days, so out with the old and in with the new! During my quest for a new record player, I came to realize that there was quite a selection available at all different price points. I narrowed down my price range a bit and found some awesome turntables for under $500. I thought I would go ahead and share the cream of the turntable crop with my fellow vinyl obsessed friends. Take a look!

5 of the Best Turntables Under $500

Pro-ject Debut Carbon

[easyazon_block add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”B007XTE6YW” cloaking=”default” layout=”top” localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” tag=”ragtimedigital-20″]The Pro-ject Debut Carbon is one of the most sought out turntables on the market for audiophiles, so much so that they are quickly sold out and can be difficult to find. The sound is beyond clear and allows you to hear things on the record that you cannot otherwise hear on an mp3 or CD. This turntable has some really awesome features that make it worth the $399 price tag.

A few key features are: increased platter size with more weight, precision belt drive for a synchronous motor, the new sorbothane motor suspension, an Ortofon 2M red cartridge, 8.6” carbon tonearm as well as superior tracking and vibration absorption of tonearm. The Pro-ject Debut Carbon is super easy to set up and comes in 7 vibrant colors that enhance the sleek design. Like I said, this nice piece of equipment sells like hotcakes so keep your eyes peeled for one online or at a retailer near you.

Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB Direct Drive Personal Turntable

[easyazon_block add_to_cart=”default” align=”right” asin=”B002S1CJ2Q” cloaking=”default” layout=”top” localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” tag=”ragtimedigital-20″]The Audio-Technica is a nice turntable at a very reasonable price when you consider all that it is capable of from a sound quality perspective and with all the awesome features it has. The most exciting feature that drew me to it was the amazing feature of being able to turn your favorite record into a digital file that you can put on your Mac or PC.

I think it is pretty cool that I can finally have record quality sound in a convenient and portable format now. There are many other great things about the Audio –Technica, but there are a few things that most of you record lovers would find particularly important. This turntable offers: an internal stereo phone pre-amp that allows for compatibility for many other receivers, selectable internal stereo-phono pre-amplifier and USB connection to your Mac or PC, direct drive high torque motor and selectable speeds of 33-1/3, 45 and 78 rmp’s, +/- 10 percent or +/- 20 percent pitch adjust and a high accuracy quartz controlled pitch lock.

Suffice it to say that the Audio-Technica packs a lot of versatility and sound abundant punch for the price. The only hiccups that I could find with this turntable are that the audio cables are too short and that the tonearm may need to be calibrated to eliminate a humming sound when using it in USB mode. Neither of these things is major deterrents and easily fixed.

Rega RP1

[easyazon_block add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”B004B3GELG” cloaking=”default” layout=”top” localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” tag=”ragtimedigital-20″]The Rega RP1 is on the higher end of the price range that I had set out looking for, but it does not disappoint no matter which way you slice it. Let’s talk about the sound on this turntable for starters – talk about crystal clear and clean, which I suspect is due in large part to the high quality, low vibration motor and Phenolic resin flywheel for speed and stability.

The only thing needed to achieve stellar sound is an initial week to burn in, which will wear out the humming that is common on most new turntables.  The Rega RP1 also has the new Rega RB101 tonearm and Rega Carbon moving magnet cartridge that really up the ante in terms of overall performance. The set up for is super easy and although it doesn’t include too many fancy features, there is something really appealing about its simple aesthetic and amazing platter. I’m a huge fan of this turntable and it is definitely worth the money.

Music Hall MMF 2.2LE 2-Speed Limited Edition Audiophile Turntable

[easyazon_block add_to_cart=”default” align=”right” asin=”B000KOL7TY” cloaking=”default” layout=”top” localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” tag=”ragtimedigital-20″]The Musical Hall MMF is a great starter turntable for new audiophiles and it is very visually appealing and sleek looking. This turntable could not be any easier to assemble and it comes with an excellent manual should you have any questions. The old school record lover in me loves that there aren’t any automatic features or buttons to start or stop the tonearm.

I love the simplicity when starting the platter. Simply start the platter and use the small lever to raise the tonearm onto the record. The only thing that you may struggle with is getting the tonearm balanced and tuned properly as it can be a bit tricky, but once that task is complete you will be pretty happy with the sound quality.

A few other elements to the Music Hall MMF that I am really fond of are the balanced alloy platter that runs on high precision stainless steel and bronze bear assembly as well as the tone arm since it offers adjustable VTA for precise cartridge alignment. All of these features in conjunction with the relocation of the power supply to an external adapter made the sound quality awesome.

Denon DP-300F Fully Automatic Analog Turntable

[easyazon_block add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”B000FMNBXG” cloaking=”default” layout=”top” localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” tag=”ragtimedigital-20″]The Denon DP is a great middle of the road turntable for new and old vinyl lovers alike. It is pretty easy to set up, easy to operate and has a nice clean appearance that is easy on the eyes. It is designed with a heavier base that will decrease the vibration for stellar sound and performance that is comparable to that of mp3’s and Cd’s.

The only drawback is that the sound quality is slightly diminished at high volume levels, but this is not a deal breaker as long as you don’t plan on blasting your records too often. The turntable sheet is 5mm thick and uses hologram vibration analysis to improve its ability to hold a record and this is very important to keep your records in good shape and playable for the long term.

The tone arm action is pretty impressive with its start and stop ability uses smooth up and down motions that will help to protect your records as well. All in all this is a perfectly fine turntable. It will definitely serve its purpose and play your music, but here is just nothing super special about it.

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