Vinyl records have seen an enormous, unlikely resurgence in recent years, selling millions of copies and sparking a renewed worldwide demand for the format. In an era where technology has made music-listening increasingly digital and ubiquitous, vinyl offers a tangible option for music lovers to enjoy their favorite albums. A huge draw to records is the high-quality sound that they are universally known and loved for: richer, warmer tones that can make for a more meaningful music experience.
But the format of records is only one part of the equation of better sound. Quality of your turntable makes a world of difference in listening to vinyl albums. With millions of listeners just recently getting into vinyl for the first time, many have questions when faced with the prospect of choosing a record player to invest in. Record players come with a wide variety of different bells and whistles, and they are offered at a vast range of price points for various music-listening needs and budgets. Here we compare the pros and cons of seven turntable options at a range of prices from cheapest to most expensive, all under $500.
Check our list of best turntables for the money!
Jensen JTA-230 3 Speed Stereo Turntable With Built in Speakers
This turntable boasts a number of desirable elements, particularly for its low price. Listeners can have the best of both worlds by enjoying their records on vinyl as well as converting them to digital files by plugging the unit into a computer via the USB port and cable, which are included. Offering pitch adjustment and tone control, this turntable is a rarity among others at the same price point. It has built in speakers as well as an auxiliary port to connect headphones to. Some listeners might have complaints about the needle skipping or the overall quality of the turntable, but it is a decent low-budget option with appealing features.
Innovative Technology ITVS-200B Nostalgic Classic 6-in-1 Turntable
Mixing old-fashioned style and modern features, this turntable provides both nostalgia and convenience to listeners. Although on the outside this turntable looks like it belongs in the 60’s, it offers new technological features such as Bluetooth streaming, a CD player, and an auxiliary jack for headphone listening. The built-in speakers provide a warm, quality sound.
Crosley CR6232A-BR Nomad
Conveniently portable, this turntable can be toted around around as easily as a briefcase. It sports a vintage fabric cover on the outside and full sound speakers, as well as an auxiliary and headphone jack. It is USB capable, and even includes the software necessary to convert vinyl records to MP3s a computer.
Crosley CR6233A-RE Dansette Bermuda
Replicating the Dansette players popular in the 1950s and 60s, this record player has a delightfully retro appearance. It comes in a bright red and includes a four-legged stand that makes it a functional, stylish piece of furniture for a home. The stereo speakers play at a dynamic, full range, and the needle is a quality diamond stylus.
With CD, MP3, USB, radio, and even cassette capabilities, this turntable provides multiple functions beyond just playing vinyl records. There’s even an alarm clock and timer with blue light LCD screen display. This turntable includes speakers and a remote for easy control of sound.
Simple and solid, this turntable is a favorite of many DJs and other music professionals. Made of a weighty aluminum and built with a high-torque, low-speed motor, this player starts records quickly and maintains a fantastic responsiveness thanks to its fantastic design and masterful, quality construction that pays attention to detail. Listeners will have also have to invest in the cartridge and needle, however.
Rega RP1 Turntable
This gorgeous black turntable boasts a sleek minimalist design on the outside combined with excellent quality elements on the inside. Thanks to its excellent construction, this record player provides a stunningly clear, strong sound and is built to last for a lifetime. There are many features here that are generally only found in turntables at least twice the price: the tonearm assembled by hand and the extremely low-vibration motor, for example. Some listeners might not find enough value to pay the higher price, but this unit will appeal to discerning vinyl-lovers who are particular about sound quality.