Best Turntable

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Best Turntable Overall:

Our Best Turntable list covers turntables in the middle ground for those who want more than a budget solution but are not ready to make the leap to audiophile ground. To try to match the differing needs of people looking to upgrade, the list includes both belt-drive and direct-drive models. USB outputs are also in the mix as many music lovers want the convenience of computer connectivity without resorting to an aftermarket phono preamp with USB. One model is fully-automatic.

Given that best turntable could mean different things to different people, be sure to consider all of the features you need, your willingness to perform any upgrades, and whether or not you want an out-of-the-box solution for both digitizing and more critical listening.

At this level of product, you are paying for a better tracking tonearm with more damping and less resonance, a quieter motor with less variations in speed (wow and flutter), and in general better build quality. Our ratings are based on tonearm, supplied cartridge, overall construction, overall audio quality, and price.

Denon DP-300F Turntable

This is a good choice for those who want the convenience of an automatic turntable. The Denon DP-300F has a switchable built-in phono preamp to match up with basic A/V equipment and with better quality receivers. However, it does not have a USB output. The tonearm is high quality and the chassis is aluminum, not plastic. The included cartridge is only so-so, but otherwise the specs for noise and speed control are superior to the direct drive options in this price range. Fit and finish are excellent. Spend a little money to upgrade the cartridge and you'll have a fine player that is also easy-to-use. Read Full Review

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    Denon DP-300F Turntable

    Music Hall USB-1 Turntable

    The entry-level turntable from Music Hall, the USB-1 provides USB outputs, a switchable phono preamp, and two-speed playback with variable pitch control. The build quality is quite light, and the included cartridge really should be upgraded to something with an elliptical stylus. But, for an out-of-the-box solution for digitizing vinyl or playing a records in your A/V system, the Music Hall works well. The specs might not look much better than those of lower-priced options, but your ears will be able to tell the difference. Read Full Review

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      Music Hall USB-1 Turntable

      Pro-Ject Essential Turntable

      This turntable from project straddles the line between "high-end mid grade" and "starter audiophile". Pro-Ject makes excellent turntables, and the Essential is their successful attempt at an affordable turntable with superior audio fidelity. If you don't need USB outputs, or are on the fence about plunging into the world of audiophile turntables, this is a great choice. Read Full Review

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        Pro-Ject Essential Turntable

        Audio-Technica ATLP120USB Turntable with USB output

        A design that has been available for several years now, the A-T LP120 USB is a nice step up from budget turntables. This is a fully manual turntable, but it does have a cueing lever for gentle needle drops. With a quality direct-drive motor that can spin at 33/45/78 RPM, and tonearm with universal mount headshell, this versatile turntable with USB and a built-in preamp has all the essentials. Read Full Review

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          Audio-Technica ATLP120USB Turntable with USB output

          U-Turn Audio Orbit Turntable

          The basic Orbit turntable is a bit of an outlier in this list. It's by far the lowest priced turntable. It has no USB output. And it is built like an entry-level audiophile table. It is belt-driven with an AC synchronous motor and requires adjustment of the belt on the pulley to change speeds. The Orbit has an aluminum tonearm mated to an Ortofon Omega cartridge, a budget model know for its very good performance. U-Turn Audio is a new company, and with that comes a bit of risk. However, the Orbit turntable combined with a USB phono preamp might be exactly what you need. Read Full Review

          U-Turn Audio Orbit Turntable

          Best USB Turntable:

          In a digital world, analog has become a retroactive modern novelty item. Digital files have become the norm for DJs. However, a market for conversion has surfaced in recent years. Vinyl listeners of the past and present converge at portability. Converting analog into digital files allows listeners to take their music into their cars or iPods. These turntables vary in degree of usability in a club setting, but all are ready to transfer songs directly to a computer. Each were chosen because they include vinyl conversion software and all have a pitch variability of at least 10 percent. Furthermore, they are all capable of producing high sound quality for casual listening or conversion purposes.

          Audio Technica AT-LP1240-USB Direct Drive DJ Turntable

          This LP1240 has nearly unlimited range of pitch and is also reminiscent of the Technics 1200s, with modern upgrades. Ready for the club and vinyl collection. Read Full Review

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            Audio Technica AT-LP1240-USB Direct Drive DJ Turntable

            Stanton T92USB USB Direct Drive DJ Turntable

            Stanton designed this turntable to capture the best of both worlds: DJing and analog-to-digital conversion. It outperforms most USB turntables in a club setting and digitizes records precisely. Read Full Review

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              Stanton T92USB USB Direct Drive DJ Turntable

              Audio-Technica ATLP120USB Turntable with USB output

              Audio Technica includes everything needed to start DJing or listening to vinyl with the option to digitize analog music. It is somewhat reminiscent of the Technics 1200s, which is always a good thing in the DJ world. Read Full Review

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                Audio-Technica ATLP120USB Turntable with USB output

                Music Hall USB-1 Turntable

                Music Hall designed a turntable specifically for analog conversion with its excellent sound quality. It works as an entry level turntable for DJing as well as it includes reasonable pitch control. Read Full Review

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                  Music Hall USB-1 Turntable

                  Numark PT-01USB Portable USB DJ Turntable

                  A tiny package designed in a big way. This turntable is quite possibly the king of portable turntables, designed perfectly for "digging in the crates." Read Full Review

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                    Numark PT-01USB Portable USB DJ Turntable

                    Best Budget Turntable:

                    The Best Budget Turntable list is for three groups of music lovers: people who want to convert their records to digital format; those just getting their feet wet with vinyl; or people who only play records on occasion. At a minimum, these turntables were chosen because they hold speed correctly with decent noise and distortion specs, and have a magnetic cartridge-equipped tonearm that can track flat or very slightly warped records. Many in the list will include a built-in phono preamp. And, most will have a USB output for ripping to CD or MP3.

                    Sony PS-LX300USB Turntable

                    This Sony USB turntable offers a nice set of features on the cheap. USB and line outs provide connectivity for computers and stereo setups. It is fully automatic for ease of use, and includes Sony's Audio Studio software to make ripping your vinyl to digital easy. Read Full Review

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                      Sony PS-LX300USB Turntable

                      Stanton T52B Straight Arm Belt-Drive Turntable

                      An entry-level DJ turntable supplied with a better than average cartridge, the Stanton T52B might be the best sounding turntable on our best budget turntable list. You might be inclined to check out another option on the list if you need a plug-and-play turntable for digitizing and casual listening. Read Full Review

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                        Stanton T52B Straight Arm Belt-Drive Turntable

                        Audio-Technica AT-LP60-USB Record/CD Turntable

                        The LP60 USB turntable by Audio Technica packs a lot of features into a wallet-pleasing package. With both USB and RCA connections it is ready to take on the duty of digitizing your records, or become the vinyl player in your casual stereo setup. You cannot change out the cartridge, but this is designed to be a plug-and-play solution that fits a variety of situations. Read Full Review

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                          Audio-Technica AT-LP60-USB Record/CD Turntable

                          Pioneer PL-990 Fully Automatic Turntable

                          Without USB outputs, but including a non-switchable built-in phono preamp, the Pioneer PL-990 turntable does a good job at the core task of playing records. You can easily upgrade the cartridge, and operation is fully automatic. This is a good choice for those who aren't interested in digitizing, and simply want to be able to play their records again while enjoying good sound. Read Full Review

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                            Pioneer PL-990 Fully Automatic Turntable

                            Gemini DJ TT-1100USB Belt Drive Turntable with USB Output

                            The Gemini TT-1000 USB Belt Drive DJ Turntable easily makes the best budget turntable list due to its versatility (plays 33s, 45s, and 78s), S-tonearm, and USB outputs. It's a good pick if you want a starter turntable that could also be used for basic DJ-ing. Read Full Review

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                              Gemini DJ TT-1100USB Belt Drive Turntable with USB Output

                              Best Audiophile Turntable:

                              All turntables are designed to play records, so what is different about a turntable classified as audiophile? In a sense, the job of an audiophile turntable is to get out of the way of the music. The stylus and cartridge convert the undulations of the groove into an tiny electrical signal. Thus, the turntable must not impart any character to the sound via tonearm resonance, platter resonance, plinth resonance, speed fluctuations, or anything that prevents the stylus from making perfect contact to the groove.

                              If you think about it, that's a lot to ask. And that is why audiophile turntables cost more. Different manufacturers create different solutions, but in general, a high-end turntable uses expensive precision bearings in the tonearm assembly, with the tonearm designed for very low resonance. The platter typically will be very heavy, very dense, or both. Speed control will be precise, with no wow or flutter (long and short minor variations in pitch). Despite the fact that direct-drive motors have gotten much better over the past 30 years, the motor is usually of a belt-driven design which minimizes rumble that could get picked up by the cartridge. Depending on philosophy, the motor will be DC (lower noise) or AC (less speed variations).

                              We would be remiss in mentioning that an audiophile turntable is an item made in small numbers, for a special audience. Even so, our best list is for high-end turntables that can be readily found at specialty or select online retailers, and whose cost is way less than a late model used car (yes, some people spend that type of money!). Our ratings are based on a combination of overall specs, platter quality, plinth quality, tonearm, cartridge (if included), and value.

                              Rega RP3 Turntable

                              The Rega RP3 turntable provides Rega quality combined with some technology updates including the new RB303 tonearm. It was designed as an elegant, no-frills way to get the most from your vinyl. Changing the speed for playing 45s requires removing the platter and adjusting the belt on the pulley, but for playing albums at 33 1/3 this is truly a sweet and easy ride. Read Full Review

                              Rega RP3 Turntable

                              Marantz TT15S1 Reference Series Turntable

                              A collaborative creation of Marantz and Clearaudio, the TT-15S is probably the best value in a reasonably-priced audiophile turntable. It offers a balanced and uncolored sound with a good presentation using the included Clearaudio cartridge. It looks great, sounds great, and even comes with a record clamp and felt mat. It also comes un-assembled, a fact that might steer you to a different choice. Otherwise, jump on this one if you want the best bang for your audiophile buck. Read Full Review

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                                Marantz TT15S1 Reference Series Turntable

                                Pro-Ject RM5.1SE Turntable

                                A turntable that makes a visual statement, the Pro-Ject RM5.1SE does everything well, with a powerful DC motor, carbon fiber tonearm, and quality throughout. It even comes with a Sumiko high-output moving coil cartridge. Out of the box, speed changes are a manual affair. If the style suits you, this could be your best bet for an audiophile turntable at a reasonable price. Read Full Review

                                Pro-Ject RM5.1SE Turntable

                                Clearaudio Concept Turntable

                                German quality engineering, a balanced sound, and easy setup out of the box are the qualities that make the Clearaudio Concept a best pick. It offers the ability to play all three speeds too with no need to move the belt on the pulley. It's an attractive turntable too. The only negatives are a reported susceptibility to footfalls which is easily remedied. Read Full Review

                                Clearaudio Concept Turntable

                                Sota Moonbeam II Turntable

                                The least expensive turntable that SOTA offers, the Moonbeam II offers a truly musical analog experience at a nice price. A quality AC synchronous motor and belt-driven polymer platter bring out the detail with great timing. With a higher-end moving magnet or moving coil cartridge, this all manual turntable (speed changes require simple belt adjustment on the pulley) will bring lots of enjoyment. Read Full Review

                                Sota Moonbeam II Turntable

                                Best Mid Range DJ Turntable:

                                DJing has undergone a recent change from the days of two turntables and a mixer. Controllers have arisen as an all-in-one practical way of playing music. However, the fact of the matter is DJs still widely use turntables to rock a party. Popular software programs often require a hardware box that is meant to bridge the gap between the digital and analog world. Turntables and mixer are connected to a hardware box, bridged to the laptop, and ultimately out through the speakers. This makes the turntable a musical mainstay, not just to play your favorite jazz or classic rock record. And of course there are DJs who strictly play analog! Some prefer to stay averse from the changing, sometimes trendy technologically advancing scene and keep their style close to the original style of DJing. The turntables listed were chosen because they are all durable, feature modern upgrades, and are direct-drive, meaning the platter and spindle are directly connected to the motor which requires less maintenance. Furthermore, consistent match in speed between spindle and platter is needed for the demanding nature of scratching and beat matching that entails applied pressure to the vinyl. Anti-skate technology popularized by Technics have been mastered by other brands such as Reloop and Stanton. Wider ranges of pitch control give DJs unprecedented control over mixing and sampling. Combine this with MIDI capability, an auto beats per minute counter, and USB connectivity in some models, and its apparent that the wave of new features are staggering and promote new avenues to creativity.

                                Stanton ST-150 Digital Turntable with Cartridge

                                This turntable delivers bang for your buck, with features that far surpass that of its leading predecessors. Stanton upholds it reputation as an affordable DJ retailer, and does so without compromise. Read Full Review

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                                  Stanton ST-150 Digital Turntable with Cartridge

                                  Numark TTX Professional DJ Turntable

                                  This affordable, futuristic-minded turntable is perfect for the DJ who does not want to compromise foundational features for unique characteristics. Numark designed for versatility and personal preference. Read Full Review

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                                    Numark TTX Professional DJ Turntable

                                    Vestax PDX-3000MKII Turntable

                                    A modern take on the quintessential turntable with MIDI capability and seemingly insurmountable range. And it's half the price of a Technics 1210. Read Full Review

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                                      Vestax PDX-3000MKII Turntable

                                      Reloop RP-6000 MK6 b Turntable

                                      This is the total package, for a not-so total package price. A relatively newer brand that doesn't know its the new kid on the block. Read Full Review

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                                        Reloop RP-6000 MK6 b Turntable

                                        Technics SL-1200MK2 Turntable

                                        The 1200s pioneered DJing. Much of what was designed in the 70s remains standard because Technics got it right the first time. Read Full Review

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                                          Technics SL-1200MK2 Turntable

                                          Best High-End DJ Turntable:

                                          DJs who walk the line between experience and knowing what they want out of a turntable are going to find the best of the best listed here. Straightforward approaches to innovation drive these instruments, along with the most powerful and precise motors. Digitized fader systems insure more accurate pitch control. More accurate pitch control combined with balanced tonearms give way to steadier playback - ideal for club or party settings in which DJs can scratch and mix with confidence knowing that it is unlikely that the record will skip. Of course, with the advent of digital vinyl software, relative playback modes alleviate skip problems, but preventing needle jumping helps to produce a more accurate read of the software itself. Many of these turntables are also meant to be used with digital software, as made apparent by some of the MIDI capable features on this list. These products were chosen because in all aspects they exceed industry standards. They are all durable, highly resistant to skipping, have modern updates and the most powerful torque out of all turntables in the market. DJs who take their craft seriously and are ready to invest a few extra bucks will find a perfect match here.

                                          Stanton Str8.150 Turntable

                                          Stanton created another beast of a turntable: A straight-armed version of the 150, packing just as much punch with better anti-skipping. As Technics is no longer being manufactured, Stanton modeled many of the 150's features after the illustrious 1200s and improved upon them. At the forefront of the DJ scene, they are quickly placing dibs on who will be considered the new industry standard. Read Full Review

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                                            Stanton Str8.150 Turntable

                                            Reloop RP-8000 Turntable

                                            Reloop is leading the way amongst next generation of turntables. Pads and knobs that resemble that of a DJ controller's were designed to be right on the turntable itself, thereby creating new creative possibilities while maintaining the classic essence of analog playback. The industry is leaning towards controllers as the flagship instrument for DJs. Reloop took this into consideration and brought two worlds together in groundbreaking fashion. Read Full Review

                                            Reloop RP-8000 Turntable

                                            Reloop RP-7000 Turntable

                                            The RP-7000 does not care about being the newest kid on the block. Reloop goes big with their turntables, already establishing themselves as the brand to watch out for because of they are not afraid to take risks. But make no mistake, going with the 7000 is not a risky investment. Read Full Review

                                            Reloop RP-7000 Turntable

                                            Vestax PDX-3000mix Professional Direct Drive DJ Turntable

                                            Turntablists and standard club DJs can agree on the flexible nature of the PDX-3000mix. This turntable is ready for every demanding scenario a DJ can face. Throw MIDI in there, and that opens up many more doors to a unique sound. Read Full Review

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                                              Vestax PDX-3000mix Professional Direct Drive DJ Turntable

                                              Technics Technics SL-1210M5G Direct Drive Turntable

                                              Technics paved the way for every other turntable on this list. There would be no Stanton, Reloop, or Vestax without the innovations set forth by Technics. For the DJ who has a little extra to spend, this is worth purchasing for the simple fact that its status in the industry is legendary. Reliable and durable, as it always has been. Read Full Review

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                                                Technics Technics SL-1210M5G Direct Drive Turntable

                                                Best Budget DJ Turntable:

                                                DJing can be a pricey investment, especially if beginners are looking to purchase the most high-end equipment without being aware of what they are really getting into. The economical route was often seen as a joke in past times, because the quality of budget turntables was nowhere nearly as technologically advanced as it is now. Times have changed. Everyone of these turntables with pitch control surpasses the former standard set by Technics, which was +/- 8 percent. Now, all turntables listed with pitch control come equipped with +/- 10 percent, giving DJs more range to blend different songs together. Anti-skate technology was also not as reliable in cheaper models a few years ago. These turntables are more resistant to needle jumping than their predecessors, and some come with industry-standard cartridges for better sound quality and skip protection. The advent of newer, but sometimes redundant features on more expensive turntables has pushed the frugal types to step up their game. And they did.

                                                Stanton T62 Straight Arm Direct-Drive DJ Turntable

                                                This affordable turntable stands up to its pricier competition. The direct drive motor makes this turntable more scratch friendly than other budget Stanton turntables. Read Full Review

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                                                  Stanton T62 Straight Arm Direct-Drive DJ Turntable

                                                  Stanton T55USB USB DJ Turntable

                                                  Stanton's T.55 is a reliable turntable for DJing and converting analog to digital. With strong torque and a steady tonearm, this turntable is ready to spin at your next party. Read Full Review

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                                                    Stanton T55USB USB DJ Turntable

                                                    Stanton T52B Straight Arm Belt-Drive Turntable

                                                    Stanton did not skimp on the quality of this turntable for the sake of affordability. This turntable includes everything needed to start building a starter kit. Read Full Review

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                                                      Stanton T52B Straight Arm Belt-Drive Turntable

                                                      Numark TTUSB - Belt-drive Battle and Club Turntable with USB Output

                                                      Numark's TTUSB is a versatile turntable. Everything is included to start building a setup suitable for beginners or intermediate level DJs. Read Full Review

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                                                        Numark TTUSB - Belt-drive Battle and Club Turntable with USB Output

                                                        ION Audio TTUSB USB Turntable with Dust Cover

                                                        For the DJ who plans on mixing mainly through controls within software programs, this may be the best choice. No pitch control on board makes this more of a supplementary turntable to software. As a standard record player with less DJing involved, this turntable is highly effective. Read Full Review

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                                                          ION Audio TTUSB USB Turntable with Dust Cover
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                                                          1 comments
                                                          • Marco Flores Marco Flores

                                                          What about Pro Ject Turntables?

                                                          Posted on 12/27/2010 9:08 pm | Reply