Even with the advent of digital music, smartphones, mp3 players, etc. people haven’t forgotten the good old spin tables. A turntable is the de-facto when it comes to playing vinyl records, and it has surprisingly gained quite a bit of popularity in the last decade or so, mainly because of its unique sound and faithful audio reproduction.
Some people just like the feeling of gently lifting up a vinyl record from the rack, placing it on the platter and listening to that initial “thump” which happen as soon as you set the arm on the disk. A good turntable can produce much better sound than an average mp3 player or smartphone. Yeah, you can’t carry it around in your pocket, but who needs portability when you can get true audiophile level sound quality?
Best turntable under $1000: What to look for?
Vinyl records may be old tech but they absolutely excel when it comes to reproducing sound without adding any form of artificial distortion or digital compression. You can feel the warmth in the tone, along with that true analog audio quality which is miles ahead of an ordinary mp3 player or even a low-end CD player. So, how do you choose a turntable? Well, here are the things you should pay attention to while buying your brand new vintage music player:
The stylus: The stylus is the part of the arm that maintains contact with the vinyl record, and its job is to “extract” the music from the spinning disk. Normally, you can upgrade the stylus of a turntable, but it is best to have a good one installed right out of the box.
The cartridge: The cartridge is the little piece of hardware that holds the stylus in place, and its job is to pick up all the vibrations made by the stylus, so these can then be transferred to electrical signals. Upgrading the cartridge will make a huge difference in your turntables audio quality.
The platter: Heavier platters are better since they don’t vibrate as much and stay steady. Some good turntables come with mats on the platter to keep the Vinyl disk level and steady at all times. Less vibrations on the platter equals less noise in the final audio.
The drive system: Audiophiles will go for belt drives over direct drives, while DJ’s normally prefer direct drive systems, since they are much easier to spin backward and forward. If you’re getting a belt drive system, try to get a model with high-quality bearings underneath the pulley, so that the disk will spin more smoothly.
Phono preamp: It is always better to have a phono preamp built into your turntable, although you can buy an external phono preamp quite easily.
If you’re ready to go out and buy your new turntable, then take a look at the following models that we have listed below. They have been selected on the basis of customer feedback and specifications.
We also did a review of best turntables under $500!
Sony PSHX500 USB Turntable
Sony is renowned for its speakers, phones, CD players, etc. but most of you probably don’t know that they are also into vintage music players. Well, fortunately for us, Sony is pretty good at making turntables, and the PSHX500 is one of the best budget turntables on the market. The tone has plenty of warmth, along with very little distortion compared to what most other turntables at this range offer. It also supports both phono and line output so you can use both the integrated amp as well as an external phono EQ module. You can use the built-in USB port to connect this turntable to your PC or Mac, and then you can digitize your entire Vinyl collection to make it suitable for your mobile devices. The lightweight integrated shell minimizes vibrations and stabilizes the cartridge allowing it to extract more sound out of the tracks on your Vinyl disk.
Pro-Ject – Debut Carbon Esprit SB
Featuring an acrylic platter and a carbon tonearm the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit delivers plenty of quality at an amazing price. With a belt change, you can even play 78 rpm disks on this turntable. By default, it supports 33 and 45 rpm playback. The finely tuned belt drive is attached to a top notch synchronous motor, and this delivers two major benefits – less vibration in the platter because of the belt-drive and less variation in spin speed because of the use of a synchronous motor.
Thorens TD 170-1 Automatic Turntable
Yes, this is an automatic turntable. It does suffer from the fact that its arm introduces small traces of noise into the audio output. But here is a fact- if you’re a regular guy or girl who just listens to music because you enjoy it, then you will NOT be able to notice the slight ticks and noise snippets while listening to your favorite artist on this otherwise extremely well-constructed turntable. The automatic operation means that you basically place the disk on the platter (which comes with a mat on it), and press the start switch. When you want to stop it, just press the stop switch. That’s it, no more tuning, lifting and lowering the arm, or constant fiddling with the stylus and cartridge. The turntable also includes three-speed modes- 33, 45, and 78 rpm. Also, there is a “Made In Germany” badge on the top plate, right next to the “lift” knob.
Technics SL-1210M5G Black Record Turntable
If you want your Vinyl spinner to look as good as it sounds, then the SL-1210M5G is perfect for you. There are blue LED lights on the pitch indicator, along with LED’s on the stylus. While all this fancy lighting does not improve the sound quality whatsoever, the skip-resistant tone arm, the height adjustable pitch controller and the high torque motor make this particular turntable perfect for scratching. The direct drive features improved motor mounts for reduced vibration, as well as adjustable braking speed so you can make the track stop as slowly or quickly as you want.
SOTA MOONBEAM series III Turntable
This is one of the few turntables to employ a 24 V synchronous AC motor in the drive system. While high-quality bearings for the pulley and smooth belts can help with reducing vibrations, DC motors or non-synchronous motors have a tendency to rotate at slightly different speeds over time. This is not noticeable at first, but as the coils heat up and the record begins spinning at higher speeds, there will be a shift in tone that you’ll notice. Certain parts of the track appear rushed or louder than they should be. None of that stuff happens in the MOONBEAM III thanks to its AC synchronous motor and premium belt drive. It also employs a straight fixed-head tone arm to reduce friction, and the platter comes with a mat on top to further reduce noise.
Rega RP3 Turntable with RB303 Tonearm
This particular turntable might have the most advanced tonearm of any model currently on this list. Why does the tonearm matter so much? Because it is what holds the stylus, and the weight of a tonearm, as well as its inherent resonance and vibration, can greatly affect the audio quality of any turntable. You can get the best styluses and cartridges, but none of that will matter if you have a sub-par tonearm. If you upgrade the stylus and cartridge on the Rega RP3 however, you will find that it handily beats out turntables which cost anywhere between 2 to 3 times as much. Every single part of this device is designed to minimize resonance and vibration, including the lightweight turntable and the heavy acrylic platter.
TEAC TN-550 2-Speed Analog Turntable
If you want a no-holds-barred turntable that has all the features of a premium audiophile-grade machine, but at a sub $1000 price, then the TEAC TN-550 might be a good bargain for you. It uses a cogging-free 33/45 rpm belt drive, AC synchronous motor, as well as an ultra-light tone arm to completely eliminate vibrations and distortion. Not only did TEAC pay attention to the platter and the arm, but they even manufactured the box from resonance-free materials. The entire body of the TN-550 is made from a blend of marble and resonance-free MDF compound. The platter is made from completely transparent acrylic, and a PRS3 rotation sensing servo system keeps the platter speed stable at all times.
Pro-Ject – RM-1.3
Compact and Comprehensive: This turntable is very small in size. However, it incorporates all the critical traits of the ideal machine. It thus confers upon its users all the benefits of the ideal turntable while occupying as minimal space as possible. Those who are constantly on the go such as travelers, sportsmen, and adventurers may find this turntable very appropriate.
Stanton ST-150 Turntable with Cartridge
Very High Quality: The quality of this turntable is unmatched by any other turntable under $1000. Its high quality is brought about by a combination of factors such as a strong torque motor, heavy duty steel construction, and ultra stable platter, among others. It, therefore, returns very high value for money, produces records of very high quality, and lasts longer than almost all the competing turntables. This is the machine to go for, all factors considered.
Audio-Technica AT-LP240-USB Direct-Drive Turntable
Connectivity: It has a USB direct drive which offers seamless transfer of audio files in the digital format from the turntable to the computers and other digital audio players. This turntable, therefore, provides the users with a blend of both the old generation analog music technology and the new generation digital music technology in one comprehensive package. It is the turntable to settle for in case there is need to enjoy both worlds at the same time.
Pro-Ject – Debut III Matte Black Turntable
Pro: This equipment has a very quiet motor which minimizes vibrations and consequently produces recordings of very high sound clarity
Con: Limited applicability such as the lack of file sharing capability between various devices
Simplicity: This turntable is very simple to set up and operate. It has no technical or intricate features and thus does not need the mastery of technical engineering jargons to effectively control, set up, and operate. Complete novices in the field of music will therefore find this musical device a very handy companion.
Music Hall – MMF-5.1 Turntable
Quality Recordings: It is very effective in reproducing sounds thanks to its dual plinth chassis and viso-elastic cones which stops motor vibrations from interfering with the record interface thus ensuring minimal distortions as possible to the quality of the sound so produced. This is the kind of turntable to look up to in case you are intent on recording sound the analog way.
Thorens TD 209 Manual Turntable
Strength and Durability: Key parts and components such as high-performance bearing, ultra-low friction, and the zero-stiction anti-bias system are made of very high-quality materials that are resistant to warps, scratches, and corrosion. This negates the need for constant repairs and maintenance and thus greatly saves on operational costs and expenses for the users in the long run.
Owing to space constraints, all the features of the best turntable under $1000 as listed above could not be completely exhausted. It is therefore paramount that any prospective user studies the aforementioned turntables in details first before settling for the most suitable one.