Vinyl records are still one of the best sources of quality music.
This is relevant whether you’re an avid audiophile that loves high quality renditions of your favorite classic tunes, or a DJ who experiments with sound to mix your own creations.
If you’re looking to invest in a premium turntable and you’re not sure where to start, we’ve taken the liberty of breaking down the best turntables under $500.
We’ve put hours of research into the best units on the market, so we’re confident there’s the right turntable for you.
So, let’s get down to it!
Quick List: Top 6 Turntables Under $500
- Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC Turntable – Best Overall
- Fluance RT81 Vinyl Turntable – Best Vintage Look
- Audio Technica AT-LP1240-USB Professional DJ Turntable
- Pioneer PLX-500-K Turntable
- Denon DP-400 Analog Turntable
- Fuse Vert Vertical Record Player – Best Self-Contained
Researching Turntables Under $500
It’s important to know what you’re getting into with audio technology, so we put hours of research into the best turntables under $500. If you have even more to spend our article on the best turntable under $1000 is worth having a look at.
We looked for the best turntables with automatic or semi-automatic playback, for those that love enjoying simple playback and excellent quality.
We also sought out the best manually controlled turntables with customizable audio effects, for professional and aspiring DJs alike.
Across the board, we looked for turntables with superior audio technology that minimizes vibration, improves tracking, and delivers a smooth and balanced sound that can easily be boosted by external speakers. Turntables are also a serious investment at this price point, so we made sure to select turntables that can stand the test of time.
Aesthetics are also important, so we looked for both modern and vintage style units, so you can fit your turntable to your personality and decor.
Whatever your preferred playback style is, we’ve got you covered with the best turntables for every kind of audio enthusiast.
The Best Turntables Under $500 in 2021
1. Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC Turntable – Best Overall
The Debut Carbon DC Turntable by Pro-Ject is unassuming, with a minimalist design that doesn’t reveal its superior audio technology and smooth, balanced sound.
✔️ What we like: A sophisticated turntable that doesn’t need flashy details to deliver excellent sound.
❌ What we don’t like: Not suitable for beginners.
- Anti-vibration technology
- Minimalist design
- Premium construction
The Pro-Ject turntable is constructed with premium materials that eliminate resonance and ensure smooth playback. This includes an 8.6-inch carbon tonearm that is stiff and reduces resonance around the cartridge, and a heavy platter with felt mat that reduces vibrations.
Smoothness of playback is guaranteed by a precision belt drive with a synchronous motor. It uses TPE damping and an extremely precise frequency DC-driven AC generator to maintain a consistent speed across both available speed playbacks. The motor suspension is constructed with sorbothane, which eliminates all motor noise, leaving behind clean, balanced sound. All of this design results in the smoothest playback with no skipping or scratching.
The Pro-Ject turntable also includes an Ortofon 2M Red cartridge, which is of an audiophile quality, and reproduces only the most balanced sound from its excellent tracking.
The turntable has a gorgeous minimalist design that is sleek and available in a variety of different colors. The quality of the unit speaks for itself, without the need for flashy extras or adornments.
This turntable has fully manual operation, allowing you complete control over playback. However, this does make it more difficult to operate, and it’s not recommended for complete beginners. Assembly of the turntable can be time-consuming, and it’s important to know how to operate the unit to avoid damaging it or your precious vinyl.
If you’re looking for a turntable under $500 with superior audio technology and excellent sound, the Debut Carbon DC Turntable by Pro-Ject should be top of your list.
2. Fluance RT81 Vinyl Turntable – Best Vintage Look
The RT81 by Fluance is our pick for the best vintage look turntable under $500, with its stunning wooden base, smooth tracking, and advanced audio technology.
✔️ What we like: A visually stunning turntable with superior tracking and smooth playback.
❌ What we don’t like: No auto needle reset function.
- Superior tracking technology
- Attractive, vintage design
- High preamp signal clarity
The RT81 is a showstopper, with its solid walnut plinth that is vintage but timeless, making it perfect to display and show off in your home. However, this turntable isn’t just a pretty face, and the base includes anti-vibration feet, a solid aluminum platter, and a rubber slip mat, all which eliminate vibration and ensure smooth playback.
A premium S-shaped tone arm is balanced with an adjustable counterweight, paired with a cartridge that has a diamond elliptical tipped stylus. It can track your vinyl with greater precision, picking up all the tiny details of your favorite music, for a sound that is exactly as the artist intended. This is paired with an anti-skating design that keeps the stylus in position and avoids unnecessary wear and tear.
The RT81 also connects easily to external speakers, with a built-in Texas Instruments preamp, ground terminal, and gold-plated RCA output. This design ensures signal clarity when connecting to speakers, allowing for both volume and crisp sound quality.
This turntable has mostly manual operation, except for an automatic stop button that stops your vinyl spinning at the end of the music. However, it stops with the needle still in position, which can be frustrating if you are used to turntables with an auto needle reset setting.
3. Audio Technica AT-LP1240-USB Professional DJ Turntable
The AT-LP1240-USB by Audio Technica is a turntable for serious DJs, with fully manual control, customizable sound, and durable design that can handle hours of heavy tunes.
✔️ What we like: A professional DJ turntable that can handle hours of heavy playback.
❌ What we don’t like: No included cartridge.
- Fully manual control
- Superior tone arm design
- Durable for heavy use
The Audio Technica turntable can easily keep up with the demands of a DJ career, due to its direct drive, high-torque, multipole motor. This can handle hours of demanding use, perfect for DJ gigs in nightclubs, while touring, or in parties. The inclusion of a speed indicator and target light for the stylus is ideal for when you need to cue your playback in a dark club environment.
You have total control over the turntable, with fully manual operation of brakes, BPM across three standard speeds, variable pitch control, and forward/reverse operation. This allows you to be in complete control over your desired sound, while the ability to easily record to digital audio via USB and Audacity software allows you to immortalize your sets and favorite mixes.
The Audio Technica turntable features superior tone arm design, with an S-shaped arm that has hydraulically damped lift control, anti-skating design, height adjustment, and a lockable rest. This allows you full control over smooth and precise sound that can be adjusted according to your needs.
Hardy construction with an anti-resonance, die-cast aluminum stroboscopic platter and a slip mat ensure clarity of sound with smooth playback and minimal vibrations. You can easily amplify this smooth sound through external speakers, with a switchable phono preamp that is compatible with a myriad of receivers.
While this turntable includes a universal head shell that is compatible with most cartridges, it doesn’t include the cartridge itself, which is a little disappointing at this price point. However, if you’re looking to invest in a professional DJ turntable under $500, this is the top of its class.
4. Pioneer PLX-500-K Turntable
The PLX-500-K by Pioneer is suitable for novice DJs and audiophiles alike, with durable design elements that ensure smooth playback with minimal wear and tear.
✔️ What we like: A durable and customizable turntable for aspiring DJs.
❌ What we don’t like: No automatic tonearm movement.
- Customizable sound
- Durable for heavy use
- Anti-distortion design
The Pioneer turntable delivers a warm and balanced analogue sound with distinct lows, mids, and highs. It easily integrates with external speakers through its built-in preamp and RCA output, making it easy to sit back and enjoy your favorite vinyl as it was intended.
If you’re in the early stages of your DJ career, this turntable is also an excellent companion, due to its durable design and customizable sound. It includes a high-torque motor that can sustain heavy use, pitch control so you can play around with the sound, and the ability to easily integrate with a full mixer for greater mixing and scratching.
You can also easily record the vinyl into a digital format with just the USB connection, your computer, and recording software, allowing you to save your music creations.
The Pioneer PLX 500 turntable features superior design that eliminates distortion, including vibration damping and an anti-slip mat. An extremely short audio routing from the stylus to the outputs eliminates distortion from the unit. In addition, the S-shaped tone arm has anti-skating technology, an adjustable counterweight, and a stiff design that improves tracking. This all results in smooth playback that does your music justice.
Some users have complained about the lack of automatic tone arm movement, and the effort needed to wind it up and down in a straight line. However, if you’re well versed in the ways of turntables, this shouldn’t bother you too much.
5. Denon DP-400 Analog Turntable
The DP-400 by Denon is designed to make your life easier, with intuitive, automatic features, simple operation, and design focused on the smoothest and best quality playback.
✔️ What we like: A user-friendly turntable with great sound quality.
❌ What we don’t like: The included cartridge is average.
- Anti-distortion design
- Superior phono equalizer
The DP-400 is highly user friendly, with one-touch button controls and a unique curved tonearm that has automatic lift and playback. It can support both MM and MC cartridges, and is easy to install and start playing, making it perfect if you appreciate excellent sound but don’t want to put in too much effort. It also supports three speeds of playback, meaning that you can enjoy all vinyl from your collection.
This turntable includes a weighty, belt-driven platter with thick cabinet walls that eliminate distortion and ensure smooth playback. This excellent playback is also handled by the tone arm, which has superior horizontal tracking. This protects your vinyl against damage, brings out the best analogue sound quality, and minimizes harmonic distortion for clean and balanced sound.
It can be used easily with external speakers, with a built-in phono equalizer that preserves the integrity of the music while expanding the soundstage. When paired with speakers, you can fill a room with high quality sound and marvel at the details of the music.
The DP-400 has a clean and modern aesthetic that can easily integrate into your existing entertainment system. Our only criticism is that the included cartridge is of an average quality and should be replaced.
If you’re looking for a turntable that’s easy to use and has high quality playback, the DP-400 by Denon is calling your name.
6. Fuse Vert Vertical Record Player – Best Self-Contained
The Fuse Vert Vertical Record Player is an all-in-one entertainment unit with a unique and eye-catching appearance.
✔️ What we like: A visually stunning vertical turntable that can handle varied playback.
❌ What we don’t like: No Bluetooth output.
- Powerful in-built speakers
- Multiple playback modes
- Unique design
The Fuse record player is handcrafted from ash tree wood, with a stunning vertical turntable that deserves to be shown off. It works well as a centerpiece in your living room, due to its fusion of vintage and modern design elements.
The record player can handle diverse playback, including a belt-driven turntable, Bluetooth input, AUX, USB and even FM radio. It includes built-in 5W speakers that can comfortably fill your room with warm and balanced sound.
Its turntable has advanced audio design, including a balanced tone arm with Audio Technica AT3600L cartridge that has great tracking and smooth playback. Its counterweight and sturdy design allow vinyl to be played vertically without wobbling, while an updated needle design brings out the best details of your favorite music.
The Fuse record player is user-friendly, including push buttons to switch between functions, and the ability to play records at all 3 speeds. Our sole criticism is that it doesn’t include Bluetooth output, so you can’t wirelessly connect to Bluetooth speakers for extra volume.
If you’re looking for a unique turntable with extra audio playback modes, you can’t go past the beautiful Vert Vertical Record Player by Fuse.
A Guide to Choosing a Turntable Under $500
What kind of listener are you?
For beginners to the world of vinyl or classic listeners, you can benefit from turntables that have automatic controls. That way, you can sit back and enjoy the music without needing to worry about possibly damaging your vinyl. If you have a more general collection of records, then standard units that support 2 speeds of playback will probably suit your needs.
Audiophiles may appreciate some automated features like auto stop and auto return when the record has reached its end but can handle more manual control for needle placement. You’re also more likely to have a larger vinyl collection, so it’s worth picking a turntable that can handle all 3 playback speeds.
For professional and aspiring DJs, you’re best suited to a turntable with fully manual operation. You can also benefit from customizable sound like variable pitch, BPM, braking, and the direction of playback, allowing you to elicit the exact sound that you want. It’s also important to choose a turntable that has USB output that allows you to record digitally through your computer, to preserve your mixes.
No matter what kind of listener you are, you should look for a turntable that includes high quality design, including anti-vibration, anti-skating, and great tracking. This ensures smooth playback that picks up all the details of your favorite tunes.
Where do you usually listen to music?
If you’re looking to integrate your turntable into an existing entertainment setup with external speakers, it’s important to select a unit that has high-quality RCA output and a preamp that can optimize the sound for higher volumes.
If you’re looking to use your turntable in your bedroom or separate from external speakers, it’s worth looking into a record player that has powerful in-built speakers that can still generate decent volume.
What’s your aesthetic?
For subscribers to the Marie Kondo lifestyle, there are excellent minimalist turntables on the market. They have a modern and sleek design with advanced technology and minimal adornments, designed simply for excellent sound.
If you consider yourself thoroughly of the modern age, there are DJ-suitable turntables with multiple controls and flashier design that are sure to impress.
For the old souls among us, there are excellent turntables with a retro vibe and up to date technology. These include gorgeous, vintage design, or even fusions of vintage and modern that make great centerpieces for your home.
The Best Turntables Under $500 on the Market
Whether you’re a DJ that loves mixing and matching sounds, or an audiophile that loves the sound quality of classic vinyl, a turntable is an essential investment.
Superior design elements and durability are a high priority for all units, so we’ve found the best turntables under $500 for all kinds of use.
Don’t settle for mediocrity; it’s time to treat yourself to the high quality sound that you can only find with a high quality turntable.
So, what are you waiting for?
- 12 Best Portable Record Players In 2021 (Very Affordable)
- 7 Best Turntables Under $1000 In 2021 (Vintage, DJ & Self-Contained)
- 6 Best Turntables Under $500 (Top Quality For Mid Range Prices)
- 7 Best Turntables Under $200 (You Will Love)
- 8 Best Budget Turntables Under $100 (Some Under $50)
Simon is a music lover, musical instrument player and passionate audio afficionado. When he is not playing the guitar or listening to music he is either eating tacos or snoring too loudly.