Purchasing a turntable is a significant investment. It could be one of the most thrilling investments you ever make if you’re buying your first turntable or upgrading from basic equipment to a “real” vinyl setup. However, if you’re new to the world of vinyl, picking a turntable might be a daunting task. While you certainly want great-sounding equipment, you may not be ready to invest in the swankiest, most costly turntable on the market as a beginner turntable. Fortunately, there are a plethora of entry-level turntables available that provide superb sound quality and allow you to fully appreciate vinyl.
We’re going to look at the best starter turntables for prospective vinyl collectors. First, let’s look at what you shouldn’t buy and the most important elements to consider when choosing an entry-level turntable.
Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo
- 8.6" one-piece Carbon Fiber tonearm, integrated headshell
- Electronic Speed Selection for 33&45 RPM (78 capable)
- Low-friction precision sapphire tonearm bearings
The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO turntable has a lot of great features right out of the box for record players, including an 8.6-inch carbon fibre tonearm, height-adjustable aluminium feet, a redesigned motor mount that isolates both mechanical and electrical energy, and a brand new cartridge – the Sumiko Rainier.
Who knew you could buy such a high-end cartridge for this price point, which is typically $150 on its own? Or, for that matter, a tonearm made of carbon fibre? In fact, it was the tonearm that gave the original Debut Carbon its name. It’s also one of the reasons it’s become one of the world’s best-selling turntables.
The EVO includes ThermoPlastic Elastomers (TPE) for dampening in addition to its high-end cartridge and tonearm. This is the same as their X1 turntables, which are significantly more expensive. You’ll get Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE) dampened feet, a new motor with the same damping, and a TPE-dampened platter. Smoother rotation speeds and less resonance are the results of this high-tech isolation material. This is the Best Entry-Level Turntable in 2023.
Denon DP-300F Fully Automatic Analog Turntable with Built-In Phono Equalizer
- REDISCOVER YOUR PASSION FOR VINYL -Listen to your analog music in a brand new way with this rigid diecast aluminum turntable that comes with standard...
- LOWER VIBRATIONS DRIVE BETTER PERFORMANCE - This slim and sleek turntable is designed with a heavier base construction that helps decrease vibrations,...
- SMOOTH & GENTLE AUTOMATIC MOTIONS - The automatic startup feature allows the turntable to begin play. With the touch of a button, the tonearm gets...
The Denon DP-300F is a beginner turntable that sounds just as good as it looks. The included DSN-85 cartridge isn’t the most accurate but it nevertheless manages to make your music sound airy and reasonably detailed, especially for it’s price.You’ll need to spend a lot more cash to hear more detail.
While the DP-300F lacks the USB outputs of some of the best turntables listed here, it’s still a great starting turntable for anyone who doesn’t want to manually queue their albums or have a habit of falling asleep while listening to music. The Denon’s automatic start/stop feature means your needle won’t be worn down at the end of the record as the arm immediately returns when an album is done.
Build quality is decent for an all-plastic record player, but its buttons feel cheap – a minor problem but shouldn’t be a deal-breaker for you. If the Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB doesn’t fit your aesthetic, consider the Denon DP-300F instead. This is the Best Entry-Level Record Player in 2023.
Fluance RT81 Elite High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable Record Player with Audio Technica AT95E Cartridge
- PURE ANALOG LISTENING EXPERIENCE - Premium components allow this high fidelity belt driven turntable to recreate the performance the way the artist...
- HIGH PERFORMANCE CARTRIDGE - The Audio Technica AT95E featuring a diamond elliptical tipped stylus is designed to track your record grooves with...
- SUPERIOR RECORD TRACKING - Enjoy perfect playback using the balanced aluminum S-Type tonearm ensuring the stylus is rested deep in your record's...
This top-of-the-line high-fidelity vinyl turntable is simply exceptional. Not only because of the genuine analog experience it will provide (playing music the way the artist intended), but also because it is crafted of the finest materials and designed to deliver the best performance. The built in phono stage may appear more high-end (a good example of the finest turntables under $300), but it’s still ideal for a newbie starting their vinyl collection.
The Audio-Technica AT95E stylus rests deep in the grooves of the record thanks to the high-standing dual movement magnet cartridge and the aluminum balanced s-type tonearm. Even better, this turntable has a solid platter and is powered by a belt drive mechanism, which almost eliminates vibration and keeps your records from swaying.
The turntable itself, manufactured from the best walnut polished wood, has a wonderful old-timey aesthetic that is not overshadowed by the quality of its parts. This turntable is simple to set up once it arrives, and consumers appreciated the clear and thorough directions.
Rega Planar 1
- The Rega Planar 1 turntable features a brand new RB110 tonearm built with the new Rega designed, bespoke, zero play bearings with ultra-low friction...
- Every single aspect of the Planar 1 has been meticulously designed to improve performance. For the first time the Planar 1 is now running a 24v, low...
- Re-designed brass main bearing, offering improved fit and removing stress on the bearing itself whilst minimising the transfer of potential energy....
If you’re buying your first turntable, the Rega Planar 1 is one of the simplest and most user-friendly options on the market. Simply slide the balance weight onto the tonearm, remove the stylus shield and you’re ready to spin! As well as being easy to install, the Rega Planar 1 comes with a Rega Carbon MM cartridge and hand-assembled RB110 tonearm – great features for an entry-level model! The thermoset plinth is gloss laminated and is available in black or white. You won’t have to worry about unwanted interference with this turntable. It is the first entry-level model from Rega to feature a 24 V synchronous AC motor with a “low noise” aluminum pulley. At this price, it’s hard to find a turntable with high-quality components like these.
The Rega Planar 1 was first launched to a feverish audience in 2010, but has been refined and refined again since then. The latter has a new RB110 tonearm, with precision bearings and automatic polarization adjustment, and this is combined with a tracking weight whose ideal position is already marked for you. Now, that’s useful, and it means you can set up the hub in less time than it takes for a Brexit minister to step down. The Rega Carbon cartridge is fitted as standard, and this is the first of Rega’s entry-level turntables to feature a 24V synchronous AC motor with an aluminum pulley.
Even as an entry-level turntable, this is the type of player that might be the last component in your system that you feel you need to upgrade. Rega Planar 1 is the best entry-level turntable in 2023.
Pro-Ject Debut Carbon
- 8.6" carbon tonearm
- Increased platter size with more weight
- Precision belt drive with synchronous motor
The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon is the ideal turntable for audiophiles. It’s easy to set up and use, and lets you upgrade parts over time. The Carbon sounds excellent with the included 2M Red cartridge and offers stellar damping for the price. You can’t go wrong with Pro-Ject, especially at this price. Put simply, if you’re serious about collecting records, the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon is one of the best entry-level hi-fi players you can buy. For the money, you get a nice, well-built turntable that sounds perfect. It is easy to set up and use, even for absolute beginners. Right off the bat, the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon turntable offers fantastic features: Ortofon Red cartridge, 8.6-inch carbon fiber tonearm and precision belt drive with asynchronous motor combine to produce great sound.
Pro-ject Debut Carbon came in piano black but Pro-ject offers a few variations in white, gray, yellow, red, green, blue and purple. The turntable platter is made of medium density fibreboard (MDF), which provides good damping for isolation of footstep noise and speaker vibration. The turntable rests on non-adjustable rubberized feet which also help dampen the turntable from vibrations. The feature that sets the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon apart from the competition is its one-piece carbon fiber tonearm. Beyond just the looks, carbon fiber helps combat resonance with its stiff construction and natural damping capabilities. It’s also lightweight and makes it easy to keep track of recordings.
On the back of the turntable you’ll find RCA outputs and a grounding peg, which means it’s very easy to replace worn cables in the future. Pro-Ject includes a beautiful cable in the box for you to connect to your phono preamp. Note that the Debut Carbon does not include a phono preamp, so you will have to choose one for yourself. In terms of tonal balance, the Ortofon 2M Red combination sounds neutral with crystal-clear highs and velvety mids. This is the best beginner turntable in 2023.
- Experience the high-fidelity audio of vinyl
- Direct-drive, DC servo motor with selectable 33/45/78 RPM speeds
- Fully manual operation featuring adjustable dynamic anti-skate control, variable pitch control with quartz speed lock, and balanced S-shaped tonearm...
The Audio-Technica LP-120XUSB turntable can connect its USB output to your Mac® or PC to digitize your albums, so they can travel with you in your smartphone. If you like DJing, the at lp60xbt includes a high-torque direct-drive motor that achieves any record – 33-1 / 3, 45, or 78 RPM – up to at speed in a hurry. Adjustable pitch control lets you change platter speed by ± 8% or ± 16% for easier beat-match mixing, and a pop-up light on the stylus helps you find your groove in a club or living room dark. The included removable dust cover helps keep your table clean when not in use.
Audio Technica’s AT-LP120USB was recently replaced by this updated model. The original was without a doubt one of the best budget turntables you can buy due to the clear, solid sound, built-in phono turntable, and USB recording. Many of the features that made it a superior platform remained on the 120X, including quality USB recording, switchable input, and a speed of 78RPM (the only turntable on this list to offer this option). If the Audio-Technica LP120X appears familiar, it’s most likely because it resembles the world’s most famous DJ turntable, the Technics SL-1200.
AT-LP120XUSB is a direct drive turntable, powered by heavy DC servo motor. The ‘quick start’ and ‘quick brake’ for which direct drive is popular are also supplied with all DJ-oriented equipment: quartz-locked height control (switchable between +/- 8% and +/- 16 %), strobe, target lighting, anti-skid adjustment… And all this rests on four large, extremely flexible rubber feet. As such, there is a welcome degree of “giving” if the turntable is pressed at any time. The feet also help reject vibrations, which can only be a good thing.
- EASY OPERATION: Effortlessly enjoy your favorite records with one-step auto start, stop and return
- TWO SPEEDS: 33 1/3 rpm and 45 rpm, with the 45 rpm adaptor stowed neatly in a slot beneath the deck
- HIGH QUALITY AUDIO: Built in switchable phono output / line out phono preamp and 3 gain settings
If you’re looking to marry old-school hi-fi with new school cool, this Sony is the turntable for you. The big plus is Bluetooth, which you can use to send that rich analog audio over the digital domain wirelessly to a pair of Bluetooth headphones or a wireless speaker. Son? In the trash. On top of that, the tone arm action is automatic, so the needle will find the groove of your record with the push of a button and come free at the end with no intervention required. Importantly, the PS-LX310BT also sounds great. Detailed, punchy and straightforward, this is a deck that reveals the details hidden deep within those black discs and brings them to the surface in a fun and bubbly way.
As for the setup, apart from adjusting the belt to drive the platter, there is nothing to do. No need to mount and line up a cartridge, adjust tracking force, set correct anti-slip, or use a test vinyl record to fine tune before you start playing music. If you installed the belt around the motor pulley and placed the chainring on the main bearing, the PS-LX310BT simply requires you to remove the stylus cover and press “start”. You can pair the PS-LX310BT with up to eight Bluetooth devices, and in our tests with headphones, the connection was strong enough to walk into another room, close the door, and even walk outside – at least. 15 meters.
What makes this one different from the others is the variable gain selection. A switch lets you choose between Low (-4dB), Mid (0dB), and High (+6dB), which can make a real difference in audio quality with the ability to change the output to reflect a recording or an individual reading device. The audio was very good with the line output of the PS-LX310BT. Better than you might expect for a turntable in this price range (more on that later). However, one way to improve it – despite the lack of a scalable cartridge – is to use the PHONO output to bypass the integrated preamplifier. A preamplifier or standalone system with PHONO input will almost always do a better job. The PS-LX310BT facilitates Bluetooth connectivity. Put the speaker or headset in pairing mode and press the Bluetooth button on the deck to connect.
U-Turn Audio Orbit Plus Turntable
- Acrylic platter provides improved speed consistency and clearer more detailed playback.
- Ortofon OM5E cartridge with elliptical diamond stylus.
- Precision OA2 gimbal tonearm for accurate tracking and low distortion. Features internal anti-skate and adjustable counterweight.
This handmade turntable is very reliable and easy to use; What you see is what you get. It is perfect for beginners who are striving to become vinyl enthusiasts. Built with a precision gimbal adjustable tonearm and Ortofon cartridge, the weight of the stylus pressed into your vinyl can be adjusted at any time for optimal playback.
The U-Turn Orbit tonearm is extremely impressive for the money. It is virtually frictionless and we detected almost no wobble of the bearings. The arm even has built-in anti-slip. Although it is preset for the cartridge you select, the tracking force is adjustable if you decide to upgrade your cartridge. Like almost all turntables in this price range, the VTA (or vertical tracking angle) is fixed. U-Turn suggests a handful of cartridges (which we all love here at Audio Advice) that work great with the tonearm’s fixed VTA.
With the Pluto preamp built into the design, you can connect the player to the amplifier or powered speakers. You get excellent sound quality and great convenience all in one. Leave the sound low when you play that romantic music with your partner or crank things up and blow it up in the amps. He’s a powerful little player for the price. It rears its head and shoulders above other options in the same price range because of its amazing looks and the preamp that has been integrated. This hybrid design combines optimal sound quality and value for money. Acrylic plate performs more than just an aesthetic function – it actually helps improve sound quality.
Marantz TT-15S1 Manual Belt-Drive Premium Turntable with Cartridge Included
- VINYL MAKES A MAGNIFICENT COMEBACK – The warmth of analog music supersedes all digital forms. Marantz brings alive the old school charm with its...
- THE ULTIMATE VIBRATION-FREE LISTENING EXPERIENCE – Advanced cutting-edge materials & the uniquely configured design with FLOATING MOTOR MOUNT...
- IT'S ALL IN THE DETAILS. Better than any turntable on the market, TT-15S1 features a solid plinth belt-drive, a precision AC asynchronous motor, a...
The Marantz TT-15S1 is an expensive piece of equipment, but you’re getting a great deal. When purchased individually, the Clearaudio Virtuoso included with the turntable costs $1000. You also get a fantastic tonearm and a stunning turntable for a price that is obviously an investment but not ridiculous.
So, how does the Marantz TT-15S1 distinguish itself from the competition? The devil is in the details. Almost every aspect of the record player has been scrutinized to ensure that it is the best it can be for the money. The fit and finish are great, and handling the high-quality components is a delight. This is a record player that will impress you both visually and audibly.
This turntable is not recommended for beginners because it requires more knowledge to properly set up than the entry-level turntables on this list. The Marantz TT-15S1 is the right place to start if you’re ready to take your record collecting and listening to the next level.
How to buy the best entry-level turntable
A vinyl record contains a very small groove that runs from the outer edge to the center of the record, and in that groove are the ridge prints that cannot be seen by the human eye. When it comes to RPM and your stylus hitting all those grooves, your RPM (RPM) has to be right. Otherwise, you risk damaging your vinyl or causing it to jump. There are three types of vinyl records: 7 inch: played at 45 rpm. 12 inches: played at 33 rpm. 10 inch (fairly rare / old vinyl): played at 78 rpm. What you need to know is that almost all of the recordings you see at the store will be 12 inches, and so when buying a turntable you will want to find one that supports 33 RPM. and maybe even up to 45.
With an included preamp, your turntable can transfer that phono audio output to a “line-level signal” and can therefore work with other audio equipment, including computers, speakers and stereo systems throughout the house.
Stylus and platter
The stylus is also called a needle and is responsible for the accuracy and detail of sound reproduction while your record is spinning. Simply put, the better your stylus (its materials, positioning and weight), the clearer and more organic your sound will be. On top of that, the platter (the turntable the disc sits on) will not only rotate your disc, but will also help dampen vibrations based on its weight. The heavier the deck, the less vibration you will have, and the vibrations can scratch or jump your vinyl.
The arm that swings on the record then rises or falls to bring the stylus into contact with the record. What’s most important about this is the weight and accuracy of your tonearm, and it’s something you’ll want to check out the reviews or ask the manufacturer. Too much weight and your tone arm will push the needle into your record, too little weight and the needle will not catch all the grooves on your record.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do turntables come pre-assembled? What turntables are easy to assemble?
All of the parts for most turntables are pre-assembled. The tonearm and stylus must be attached, which may need some trial and error to determine where you want your pen to rest and how much weight (from the cartridge) you want pushing on your tonearm. Except for cover attachments and positioning the tonearm, models like the Fluance RT81 and Pro-Ject Debut III require very little assembly.
When it comes to this moderate construction, the instructions are highly specific for each model, explaining how to position the arm and how different angles, weights, and other factors affect sound quality.
Are turntables with built-in pre-amps better?
Turntables without pre-amps will sound just as clean and organic (just as the creator intended), but they won’t be nearly as loud. A pre-amp can also be used to link your turntable to a computer or a stereo system, allowing you to increase the volume even more. You’ll want a pre-amp if loudness and frills make a system ‘better’ for you; otherwise, depending on the model you buy, the sound quality will still be excellent without one.