The 4 Best Affordable Turntables You Can Buy in 2019

If you are reading this page, chances are that you are looking to get into vinyl records for the first time, and are wondering which turntable that best fits your needs and budget. Or you might, as was the case for me a few years back, desire to get back into the format after a long time listening to "soulless" digitized music.

So in this article, we have picked the 4 turntables we truly believe is the absolute best buys in 2019. For every need and budget.

Turntables are truly wonderful machines. They reproduce music in the warmest, most natural, and most true analog sounding way. Not to mention all the cool things that come with it.

Like listening to a fantastic sounding tune while holding a cover in your hands that tell the story of the band and the song. 

Or spending a Saturday noon browsing for records in a used-records shop. Chatting with other vinyl browsing customers and the staff about your and their favorite bands and records. Having a good time.

Vinyl is just cool! 

When I got back into turntables and vinyl records, after many years in analog hibernation, I wondered why I ever left. 

So the question is this. How much money is necessary to spend on a turntable? How much do you need to spend to enjoy the bargain record you just brought back from the vintage record shop? 

It is not necessary to break the bank to buy a turntable that you can really enjoy. 

It is, however, good advice to stay away from the very cheapest ones. The super-cute all-in-one suitcase style ones that sell for 50 or 70 bucks at department stores. The biggest problem with them is that they are often reported to have a tendency to destroy records as they are notoriously designed with way too high needle tracking force. In addition, they sound quite medicore with their tiny built-in low-cost speakers and are really not built to last. 

In our list of recommended turntables below, we have a very good option for an entry-level turntable that is the is the absolute best buy if you are looking to get into vinyl as cheap as possible. 

On the other end of the spectrum, we don't think it is necessary for anyone that is not diagnosed a fully blooded stereophile to spend thousands of dollars on a turntable to obtain really good sound. 

As we throw more and more money on a turntable the gain in sonic performance gets smaller and smaller for the dollars spent. 

So even the most expensive turntable on our list is not that expensive. 

I recommend that you spend some time reading the reviews below to find out which turntable that is the best fit for you. Or for the one that you will give it to. If it is a gift. 

All four turntables on our list have received very good reviews on Amazon and in major HiFi publications online. So it might be worth to do some reading there as well. 

And when you are done researching, then make your decision and pull the trigger on the right one. Because one day too many spent dwelling on which turntable to buy is one day too many spent loosing out on the fantastic experience collecting and listening to vinyl records is.  

Best Cheap Turntable

Audio-Technica AT-LP60

If you are looking to get into vinyl records as cheap as possible, then nothing can beat the Audio-Technica AT-LP60 in our opinion.

This super-hit from Audio-Technica is one of the highest selling turntables worldwide. And with good reason.

First and foremost, it doesn’t have a reputation for destroying records that some other inexpensive turntables and record players tend to have. So it is a safe bet in that regard.

Its build quality is good and when we take the price into consideration, it is not possible to fault the sound quality either.

Features

- Belt Drive
- Fully Automatic
- Built-in Phono Preamp
- 33RPM and 45RPM
- Integral AT3600L Cartridge
- Replaceable Diamond Stylus
- Fixed Tonearm
- Many Different Colors

Being fully automatic, the AT-LP60 will play records with a push of a button. And when the record ends it automatically returns the tonearm. So the needle won’t spin around in the inner grooves for hours and hours if you get distracted and forget that you’ve put a record on the play. Which can happen. Just ask me…

The built-in phono preamp makes it straight forward to connect it to any receiver or powered speakers without the need of a standalone phono preamp. The built-in preamp can, however, be bypassed with a switch if you prefer to use an external phono preamp.

It has a replaceable stylus so if it gets worn out or destroyed by accident there is no need to replace the whole turntable. Just replace the stylus. Great if there are kids and teenagers in the house that might not always treat the stylus with utmost caution.

And as the tonearm is fixed there is no delicate adjustment to get wrong at all.

The AT-LP60 is very straight forward and easy to connect and use every day.

With its built-in preamp, it works beautifully with a set of affordable bookshelf speakers if you want a basic and affordable stereo setup that plays vinyl. The Edifier R1280T is our favorite powered speakers to pair with the AT-LP60 to create a budget vinyl-playing stereo setup.

Who is it for

Great for kids and teenagers and anyone else that want to get into vinyl records without breaking the bank.

And anyone that already run affordable bookshelf powered/active speakers.

Who is it not for

If you looking for a turntable to connect to a high-quality HiFi Stereo, you might want to look for something a bit more expensive than the AT-LP60 to match the sonic potential of your stereo.

And if you are looking for a manually operated turntable that can be modified and upgraded over time, the AT-LP60 won’t do the trick for you. In that case, the AT-LP120 will look at next is a better choice.

Alternatives

For anyone that prefers a wireless connection, there is a Bluetooth version of the AT-LP60.
The AT-LP60BK-BT.

Verdict

The Audio-Technica AT-LP60 is the best cheap turntable in 2019.

Best Beginner Turntable


Audio-Technica AT-LP120

Just like its smaller brother above, the LP120 is a real hit from Audio-Technica with a huge following in the vinyl community. This was the first turntable I bought when I got back into vinyl records a while back.

Right out of the box I was really impressed with how solid and well built the LP120 feels. It is a heavy beast that feels totally over-engineered for its price. As an electronics engineer that used to design consumer electronics for a living, I just can’t understand how Audio-Technica can make any money at all selling this piece of kit for such a low price.

It is designed to look just like the legendary Technics 1200 and can be used as both a music listening turntable and a DJ turntable. 

Features

- Direct Drive
- Manually Operated
- Built-in Phono Preamp
- USB Output
- 33RPM, 45RPM and 78 RPM
- Pitch control
- Forward and Reverse Play
- Replaceable AT95E Cartridge
- Fully adjustable tonearm

As you see in the list of features above this turntable has all the bells and whistles you can ever dream of in a turntable. Its high-torque direct-drive motor and pitch control functionality makes it ideal for DJ but it is also a popular turntable for music listening.

The built-in phono preamp makes it straight forward to connect it to any receiver or powered speakers without the need of a standalone phono preamp. The built-in preamp can, however, be bypassed with a switch if you prefer to use an external phono preamp.

The LP120 connects directly to your computer via USB if you want to use it to digitize your vinyl records.

It is also a good turntable to modify and upgrade as it has a replaceable cartridge and head-shell and a fully adjustable tonearm.

Who is it for

Kids, teenagers and vinyl newbies as well as long term vinyl collectors and enthusiasts. 

Anyone just starting with vinyl records that wants an affordable turntable with a lot of features and DJ capability.

And anyone that wants a fun project turntable to modify and upgrade over time for increased sonic performance. 

Who is it not for

While being an awesome beginner turntable with a lot of features and DJ capability, the LP120 will have its sonic limitations if connected to a very high-quality HiFi stereo.

It will work perfectly fine with powered speakers and with affordable home stereos.

But if you have invested in an expensive home stereo and are picky on sound quality, you might want to look further down this list and be ready to spend a little more money to find your ideal turntable. 

Alternatives

There are really no alternatives for a combined DJ and music listening turntable at this price point in our opinion.

Verdict

The Audio Technica AT-LP120 is the best beginner turntable in 2019.

Best Affordable Turntable Overall

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC

Probably the best sounding turntable under $500.

When I was looking to buy my second turntable beside my AT-LP120, I spent a lot of time listening to the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon (DC) at my local HiFi Shop.

It is truly a great sounding turntable. It comes standard with a better cartridge than what we usually see at this price point. And a carbon-fiber tonearm which is pretty cool too.

The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon (DC) has received almost exclusively positive reviews from major home stereo publications such as What Hi-Fi. And it’s fanbase in the vinyl community seem to be growing rapidly.

I did, however, decide to spend quite a bit more money and went for the Rega Planar 2 that we'll discuss as our fourth and final recommended turntable below. Mostly because I personally prefer the Rega's design a fraction more. 

But I still think the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon is the turntable on the market today that gives the most bang for the bucks. And that the Pro-Ject Debut carbon should be the go-to turntable for most people that are looking for an all-around awesome turntable.

Features

- Belt Drive
- Manually Operated
- No Built-In Preamp
- 33RPM and 45RPM
- Ortofon 2M Red Cartridge
- Replaceable Cartridge
- Replaceable Stylus
- Carbon-Fiber Tonearm
- Fully Adjustable Tonearm

The true benefit from this turntable lies in its amazing ability to reproduce fantastic neutral analog sound from vinyl records.

It doesn’t come with lots of features and visual bells and whistles.

The designers' focus has rather been on maximizing sonic performance from the very first day on the drawing table. And the carbon-fiber tonearm and the Ortofon 2M Red cartridge that come as standard really shows that. 

With the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon (DC) you’ll have a great turntable that can be enjoyed exactly as it is.

But it can also be used as a great foundation for further upgrades down the line. It will have no problems being matched with higher-end cartridges like the Ortofon 2M Bronze or the Audio-Technica VM540ML for even higher levels of sonic performance if such an upgrade will trig your interest sometime in the future.

As a true and authentic minimalistic design, the Pro-Ject doesn’t come with a built-in phono preamp. So if your receiver doesn’t feature a PHONO input, a standalone preamp like the Pro-Ject Phono Box MM DC will be a great choice.

Who is it for

Everyone that is into vinyl records. Also those with higher standards for sonic performance.

Who is it not for

If you are just getting into records, and don’t really know if spinning vinyl will be your thing, you might consider a cheaper turntable. Like the AT-LP60 that we discussed above.

Alternatives

The Rega Planar 1 might be an alternative to consider. It is usually a little bit pricier than the Project-Debut Carbon (DC). But in return for the extra money, you’ll get a design that might feel slightly more premium. I guess it is down to personal preference. But for sonic performance alone there are no reasons to select the Rega Planar 1 over the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon (DC). 

Verdict

The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon (DC) is the best affordable turntable overall in 2019

Best Higher-End Affordable Turntable 


Rega Planar 2

Probably the best sounding turntable under $1000. And the best looking in my opinion!

The Rega Planar 2 is the turntable I personally selected for my new every day turntable after spending lots of time researching and testing different models. 

Rega is a very well known turntable manufacturer with roots back to the early 70s. Since then, Rega has produced a whole range of legendary turntables that are considered all-time classics by major HiFi publications as well as hard-core Stereophiles.

And like so many Rega turntables before it, the Rega Planar 2 is loved by HiFi critics all over the world.

It is just the kind of turntable you’ll fall in love with!

Features

- Belt Drive
- Manually Operated
- No Built-In Preamp
- 33RPM and 45RPM
- Rega Carbon Cartridge
- Replaceable Cartridge
- Rega RB220 Tonearm
- High-gloss acrylic laminated plinth

The Rega Planar 2 features a really nice and minimalistic design. And feels very solid, well-built and premium.

It is very easy to set-up out of the box. Not a lot of parts to assemble or adjust. The tracking force is easy to get right and the anti-skate is set from the factory.

The Rega Planar 2 can be upgraded with higher-end cartridges from Rega’s own cartridge line or with a cartridge from any of the other major brand. I have personally upgraded mine with a Rega Exact cartridge and it now performs at a level where I am 100% satisfied with every aspect of its sonic performance.

Based on traditional design, it does not feature a built-in preamp. But it can be used with a phono preamp that is built-into your receiver. Another option is to match it with Rega’s own Rega Fono Mini A2D phono preamp. Or its award-winning bigger brother, the Rega Fono MM MK3.

Who is it for

Everyone that is into vinyl records. And especially those with higher standards for design and sonic performance.

Who is it not for

As for the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon (DC), if you are just getting into records, and don’t really know if spinning vinyl will be your thing, you might consider a cheaper turntable. Like the AT-LP60 that we discussed above.

But feel absolutely free to jump straight to a Rega Planar 2 if that feels right for you. You probably won’t regret it.

Alternatives

Nothing at this price point.

If you have and want to spend more money, the Rega Planar 3 would be my next choice. But I am going to stick with my Rega Planar 2 for a long long time.

Verdict

The Rega Planar 2 is the best sounding and looking turntable you can buy under $1000.
And our selected best higher-end affordable turntable. 

There you have it. Our honest advice on the best affordable turntables on sale today. 

The turntable is an old and quite basic design. So technological progress doesn't happen quickly. As the case is for other technologies like mobile phones and computers.

This is great news and means that the turntable that you buy today, will still be a good turntable 5, 10 and even 20 years from now. So it is an investment that will last a long time. If you don't buy a bad one....

Wikipedia has a good article on the history of the turntable that can be read here

We wish you good luck on selecting and buying the right turntable for you and hope you will enjoy listening to vinyl records just as much as we do. 

Enjoy! 

RESOURCES
Audio-Technica
Pro-Ject Audio Systems
Rega Research
Techradar: Best turntables 2019: the best record players for any budget
What Hi-Fi: Turntables Reviews and Products 
Youtube: Vinyl Gear 101 - Putting together a stereo system to play vinyl

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