Today’s market is packed with a variety of quality turntables, but what exactly is a good price for a high quality device? Well, we say that somewhat of a minimum would be around $500. In an attempt to reach that figure, but never cross it, we sifted through today’s market in a bold attempt to bring you the best turntable under $500.
Our quest was a fruitful one, as we can now proudly present you a rich set of five items featuring different price and a variety of features. When we were looking through the market, the main thing we kept in mind was that the sound quality is at the absolute highest level for the listed price.
Additionally, we took into consideration value for money and the price itself, along with durability, reliability, extra features, and even a pinch of good looks. You can check out the top picks in the rundown below.
Name the best turntable under $500
You wish is our command, sir! Our journey was quite a fruitful one, and we are very proud to present you these lads. Specifically, we bring you the Pioneer PL 30 Audiophile, the Onkyo CP 1050, the TEAC TN 300, the Pro-ject debut Iii, and the Audio Technica AT LP120.
The first item we have to offer comes from the renowned Pioneer. Featuring a dual layered chassis and a surprisingly top-quality phono equalizer. This one is perfect for the lovers of the traditional jazz vibe, as well as for fans of more modern values. It is very obvious from the get-go that the manufacturer wanted to reach the stars with this one, and for the listed price, well, so they have.
The turntable utilizes a fully automatic operation, featuring a dual layered chassis with a 4 mm thick metal plate and a low center of gravity. There is an on-board phono equalizer with an On and Through selector that operates the following way – when On is activated you are able to connect amps via the phono terminal, while when Through is activated you can use an external phono EQ.
Also included in the mix is a stable playback feature, an included high performance MM cartridge, an original 5 mm thick rubber mat for reduced friction and suppressed external vibrations with a firm grip. The product comes with total dimensions of 15 x 17 x 4 inches and a weight of 12.3 pounds.
The PL 30 Audiophile also utilizes an aluminum die-cast tone arm with a static balanced design crafted with a straight arm tube for optimum geometry. There is also a detachable aluminum die cast heads-hell that allows convenient cartridge swapping and overhang adjustments.
In the audio department, this is one very precise device. The needle grips very firmly here, offering a rock solid foundation for an enjoyable high fidelity experience. The built-in preamp is more than strong, and stands out as possibly the strongest aspect of the entire turntable. We pointed out that a quality audio output is what we are after, and sound is by far the strongest point of this little Pioneer.
Another strong representative of the under $500 realm is a bit of a hidden gem that not a lot of audiophiles have heard of. It goes by the name of Onkyo CP 1050, and it stands out as a device that can deliver a $500 performance at lower price.
The product comes with a die cast 12 inch aluminum platter with quartz lock control for accurate and stable rotations. This feature makes the Onkyo stand out from the rest by improving audio quality and reducing sonic disturbance. Also included in the mix is a strong anti vibration MDF cabinet design with classy, sly, sleek and subtle black wood grain finish. Among other notable features, the device has a signal to noise ratio of over 60 dB.
The item has a total isze of 14.5 x 17.5 x 6.2 inches and a shipping weight of 23.8 pounds. You might say that the looks stand out as the most prominent feature because this guy is nothing short of gorgeous, but we must point out that the sonic department is not lagging behind in any way. The turntable can play both 33 and 45 RPM records.
The sound just screams analog on all fronts. This is a type of item that was crafted with one goal in mind – to kindle, or in many cases rekindle your love towards high quality audio. The punch this puppy packs is rich with warmth and brightness not many devices are capable of offering these days.
We live in a day and age when people are willing to sacrifice quality sound for extra convenience, and it is only when you get a product like this that you truly spot the major difference. And once that happens, we guarantee that you will be absolutely hooked to vinyl. Trust us, it is absolutely worth it!
If you are looking for a little something red, you will love this guy! Needless to say, we didn’t just pick a random red thing, but this TEAC turntable did catch our attention with the pretty red casing, but it was only upon further investigation that we really noticed how hard rocking this device is. Once again, $500 sound for way less than that. The product packs a more modern vibe, filled with all sorts of goodies brought by modern age.
Available in a total of five color patterns – Cherry, Black, White, Red, and Natural – the turntable utilizes a manual belt drive that can support a 33 RPM and USB output for the transfer music files straight from vinyl records to your PC or Mac computer. It includes an on-board phono equalizer and features total dimensions of 13.4 x 16.5 x 7.1 inches, along with a light 11 lbs weight. Note that the mentioned EQ is Line and Phono switchable.
The turntable also comes with a AT95E VM cartridge and an aluminum die cast, high inertia platter that can increase the solid playback quality.
The sound quality is crystal clear, so if you are into a smaller amount of that vinyl crackle, this one is your winning ticket. Additionally, we are talking about a strong treble section that secures a brighter sound suited for classical music and the rock genre. Needless to say, many other genres also sound great, but the mentioned two apply in particular.
As noted, we are talking about a modern vibe, meaning that basses and middles are quite punchy, warm, fuzzy and hard hitting. If you want the groove delivered tightly, massively and strongly, this is where to look.
Up next is one very sleek-looking devil! The item goes by the name of Pro-ject Debut Iii, and we are talking about a load of old school charm. Essentially, if you are looking for a turntable that will sound like the older, vintage models, the ones everyone seems to be yearning for these days, this is your best pick.
The Debut Iii is packed with a variety of high quality components, but seeing that we are talking about a bit of an underdog, the manufacturer decided to place a really, really fair price on this one and offer the customers a little something extra in order to grab as big of a market share as possible. This run won’t last forever, so it is our advice that if you fancy this fella, you better grab one soon.
In case you’re wondering what exactly we consider as a very, very fair price for this item, we would say something around the $300 tag. Off to the features segment now, check it out in the paragraph below.
The item Includes a top quality pre-mounted Ortofon OM 5e moving magnet cartridge, a very strong component that makes this turntable stand out with a strong grip, securing a complete lack of any sort of unwanted sonic interference.
Additionally, this Pro-ject is packed with with the company’s 8.6 aluminum tonearm, along with a belt drive mechanism featuring a two step pulley for 33 and 45 RPM records. To sweeten the deal, and smooth up the sound, the item comes with a very quiet running and heavily isolated AC motor that will keep the record spinning while purring like a kitty cat. Finally, the fella packs a specially made set of isolation feet that reduces friction and any negative effects of vibrations caused by the motor and the entire device.
The item features a compact size, and a fairly light total weight of 16.3 pounds (7.4 kg).
As noted, we are talking about a very vintage like sound, packed with all sorts of old school goodies, including a very distinctive vinyl crackle and a strong mid range punch. The music of the older days was less packed with bass frequencies, and stronger on other sonic fronts, and that is not a bad way to describe this item.
But a pinch of modern vibe has also been added, meaning that the sonic output is more well rounded and free of certain setbacks that older models had. Nostalgia is a cute thing, but not everything about the past was perfect, fine and dandy. Many of the turntables had sound setbacks, as well as lower durability. Sure, the super high end items were perfect, but the ones with a price tag equating to this one, well, they were inferior to this fella.
Slightly more affordable, but equally effective, up next is the Audio Technica AT LP 120. We have to say that this model offers the same quality as some of the listed items, yet you can buy it for a slightly lower price. Not a whole lot lower, of course, but it is still a solid difference. Needless to say, the sound varies from each of the listed models, leaving you with no choice but to check them all out for more details.
Additionally, if we were to name the best turntable under $300, this model would probably be the absolute winner.
The turntable comes in silver and black color finish, utilizing an internal stereo phono preamp with additional selecting options, along with a USB connection that allows you to connect the device with your Windows or Mac computer. The mix also includes a high torque, a direct drive motor, a professional cartridge, and a strong and sturdy head-shell casing.
It can work with 33, 45, and 78 RPM speeds, while offering a + /- 10 percent and +/-20 percent pitch adjustment, as well as a high accuracy quartz controlled pitch lock. There is also an anti skate adjustment setting, an S shaped tone arm assembly featuring an adjustable counterweight, a tone-arm height adjustment and a lock. Included in the price is a USB cable, and a PC and Mac compatible Audacity software. The device features a total size of 13.9 x 6 x 17.8 inches and a chunky weight of 23.5 pounds.
Thanks to the wider frequency response and a pack of other distinctive features, the sonic drive of this product is truly top-notch for the listed price. Regardless of the genre, the turntable will offer a very warm and fuzzy bass packed with vintage charm and analog vibe, along with a punchy middle section to hit you straight in the noggin. To wrap and round things up, we have the bright treble section to secure the groove you crave for.
We have steadily reached the end of our journey here, the one that has hopefully brought you the best turntable under $500. Each of the listed items is secured to bring you the best value for money, as each of the lads here is worth more than the sum of its individual parts.
But there is one more matter to deal with before the final decision, for you will have to sum up your personal preferences, desires, needs, and your available spending budget. Once that is done, you can make the big decision and treat yourself with one of these turntables as early as today. If you appreciate quality sound, you are absolutely bound to appreciate these products. Turn your world of music into pure magic, get a turntable as early as today.