If you’re looking to get into playing vinyl records, you’ll probably need a good turntable to play said records. It goes hand-in-hand with the hobby. Without a turntable, you’re simply collecting dusty old records or new records, colorful or the typical black color without playing them.
That said, if you’re budget is between $100 to $300, there’s a great selection of quality turntables that I’m sure you’ll find nice, and they’ll last you for several years. That is, unless you decide to upgrade from one to another within the list, or upgrade to one outside the list or budget. With that in mind, let’s see what turntables I can find for you to help you out.
Note: Each of these turntables include a built-in pre-amp. One other note… to ensure that the cartridge isn’t too weighted after adjustments and all (because a heavy cartridge can ruin your records IE if it’s above 4.00 grams), I would strongly suggest purchasing a stylus pressure gauge.
Also no, this is not a sponsored post.
5. Best price: Crosley C100, $120
I’ll start off with the turntable that I own. As of this post, this turntable is worth $120 on Amazon, which is a great price for a turntable of this style and quality. It looks similar to the Audio-Technica LP120, it comes with a cartridge that you can simply attach to the s-shaped tonearm (might need some adjusting,) and it comes with varying speeds and the ability to play records at 33 rpm and 45 rpm.
It is a fully manual turntable, meaning that once the record is finished playing, the tonearm doesn’t automatically lift back up, although part of the fun of playing records is lifting the needle. It also comes with a felt-tip mat and a die-cast platter, along with an adjustable counterweight. Setting this turntable up is fairly straightforward. As long as you attach the direct drive belt in the correct spot, it’ll play pretty well. After that, you won’t need to make many more adjustments.
One drawback I’ve noticed with this turntable and its built-in pre-amp is the quality of the bass on most of my records. The bass is usually incredibly low in the mix. However, for its price, I really don’t think you can go wrong with this turntable to start your record collecting journey.
4. For USB capabilities: Music Hall USB-1, $200
For those looking for a turntable that can also be used via USB to rip your records to your computer, I would strongly suggest the Music Hall USB-1. I actually had the chance to use this turntable when I visited a small, local record store here in Denver called Recollect Records, and I was incredibly happy with the way it sounded.
This turntable also comes with an aluminum die-cast platter, an s-shaped tonearm with an adjustable cartridge you can simply attach to the tonearm itself, and a similar set-up to the Crosley C100 listed above. All you have to do is set-up the parts where the records will be played, adjust your counter-weight accordingly, and you’re all set.
3. Belt-driven turntable 1: TEAC TN 350, $260
I was initially going to place the TEAC TN300 in this spot, however, that turntable is on the out in terms of being in stock, so I’ve decided to replace it with its successor, the TEAC TN350. The link provided showcases its sound quality (skip to 4:37 to hear it). In addition to being a 2-speed belt-driven analog turntable, it also comes with the ability to transfer your vinyl records to the computer via USB, similar to the capabilities of the Music Hall USB-1.
This turntable, simply put, looks gorgeous. I find that a lot of the wooden-style turntables look aesthetically pleasant, and this means that it’d add more character and identity to your turntable set-up area.
It comes with gold-plated RCA connectors, and as it is described by TEAC, “The Gold-plated terminals prevent oxidation of the head shell connectors and ensure years of trouble free operation as well as easy customization through cartridge replacement.” This is the next turntable that I plan on getting for myself, in fact.
At 10.8 pounds, and with its high-inertia aluminum die-cast platter and a neoprene rubber belt, it is also heavy enough to resist most vibrations that might cause your tonearm to skip over certain parts of your vinyl record. If you’re looking to get into record collecting and you want to get an easy, no nonsense turntable that only needs an initial set-up, plan on getting this turntable.
That said, if you’re looking for a turntable that comes with the cartridge pre-aligned and already set-up to play records, I would strongly suggest getting the Fluance RT-81. There’s a great review of this turntable on Youtube here.
2. Most stylish: U-Turn Orbit (w/ Built-in pre-amp), $250
This turntable is a popular choice among hipster vinyl enthusiasts on Instagram, although they probably have more records then I do, so I guess I can’t call them hipsters, because that would be hypocritical…
This is a fairly straight-forward, no nonsense turntable. I believe you do have to adjust the belt in order to switch between 33 rpm and 45 rpm, but otherwise most of the turntable is set-up out of the box. Attach the belt where it needs to go, and you’re all set. It also has an anti-skate feature in order to prevent the tonearm from sliding into the middle of the record after you’ve listened to it. It also comes with a “CN5625AL cartridge with conical stylus”, meaning the record will pick up less dust and particles while playing through your records.
One big drawback to this turntable, however, is the lack of a cue lever unless you pay an additional $40. So I would suggest looking at the next turntable if you don’t have a steady hand for dropping the needle on certain parts of your records.
1 . Best price and quality, Fluance RT81, $250
If you’re looking for a turntable that covers all aspects including an easy set-up, anti-skate, auto-lift from the tonearm, a beautiful, walnut glossy finish, a great sound and a great price then look no further to other turntables than the Fluance RT81.
I already linked a review to this turntable above, but I’ll re-link it down here. This turntable, simply put, rocks. Literally! It’s got considerable weight at 15 pounds, and it plays records with no hum or vibration (unless of course your record is dusty. In which case, clean it!). The AT95E cartridge comes pre-aligned as well, the turntable has a built-in Texas Instruments pre-amp, premium components and high-quality RCA cables.
And I wouldn’t have placed this turntable at the top spot unless it has been getting consistently great reviews from both shoppers and online reviewers. It currently has 326 reviews on Amazon, of which 77% of those reviews are 5 stars.
So overall, if you’re looking for a turntable at a comfortable price range to start spinning your records, these five turntables wouldn’t hurt to get started with. A lot of reviews have been put out on these turntables showcasing their excellence for the price, and I hope that these personal testimonials and online reviews assist you in your journey to choose the correct turntable for yourself.