You Can Get a Quality Affordable Turntable
Many wrongly believe that you have to pay a fortune for a true affordable turntable with audiophile quality sound. I have chosen 3 quality turntables that I have personally tested that put that myth to rest.
Sure you could spend thousands of dollars on a turntable, but why when you can spend no more than 300?
If you have the money, why get the cheapest record player? There is no reason to start at the bottom of the heap. There are many great turntable options that won’t ruin your budget.
Read on for my turntable picks with great sound.
Pro-Ject: An Audiophile Turntable Without a Doubt
The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon is really an audiophile quality record player. It just so happens you can get one of these for less than $400.
I have used mine since 2013 and love it. The one thing I always mention when discussing the Pro-Ject is: Surprisingly, the Pioneer PL 990 I had earlier was not nearly as inferior as you might think. For the 120 bucks I paid, it was a pretty good record player.
The Carbon though, had 2 major positives I noticed right away, the crystal clear highs, especially the crisp high-hat and cymbal clarity on certain jazz records; and the crisp and true bass. Usually with lesser record players, the bottom end gets a little muddy, not with the Pro-Ject Carbon
A great high-end tester in my opinion is Miles Davis’ Miles Smiles. Drummer Tony Williams’ cymbal work is ridiculously good, I could hear it rise above the mix, Miles trumpet sound was warmer and less distorted too.
You will need to make a separate pre amp buy for the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon by the way, if your receiver doesn’t have a dedicated phono pre amp.
U-Turn Audio Turntables
Might Be the Best Quality Turntable For the Price
What a fantastic minimalist design this record player has. Nothing here to distract from what it is, just a good record player. Why do you need bells and whistles on record player any way? I like a clean design myself.
The Orbit Basic and Plus come in 4 different colors: You get the black and white of course, as well as green and blue. But with a minimalist design, you’re obviously hoping that sound quality is the focus here.
As far as sound quality, I think it’s pretty good. I tested the $179.00 U-Turn basic turntable.
I played a new reissue copy of Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue and an original 1970 Columbia 2 eye version of Bitches Brew from Davis, and I have to say they both sounded very good.
The U-Turn had a better higher end sound, or at least I perceived clearer highs I should say, than both of the lower end Sony turntables I have tested.
I still prefer my Pro-Ject, but considering this basic U-Turn was half the cost of the Pro-Ject, I do recommend this for the beginner or any level of audiophile.
I realize you just want something that’s easy to assemble and sounds good. A good value is what’s expected. The U-Turn does all 3 of those easily. I am sure this will be a popular record player for bargain hunters, the price is just too reasonable for the quality. I hope they can keep costs down going forward, only time will tell.
Like the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon below, you will need to buy a separate phono preamp unless you have that built-in to your receiver; the U-turn does not have that built-in to the record player its self.
Uturn does now have a turntable that has a built-in pre amp, see directly below.
As mentioned above I am a fan of these Pioneer Turntables. The PL-990 was my first turntable, and honestly not nearly as inferior as you might expect to the Pro-Ject I upgraded to.
For the price the PL-990 is the best beginner record player on the market in my opinion. You will probably have to buy that on the secondary market or used.
The new pictured Pioneer PL-30 has the price hike comparing to the PL-990, but what do you get for the increase in cost?
The PL-30 has dual capabilities, meaning you can use a phono amp if you want. You can use the built-in phono amp as well, the PL 990 had a built-in phono amp. As a reult you can not turn it off if you wanted to use your own amp.
The PL-30 Also has a detachable RCA connectors, the PL-990 did not. The PL-30 also has an anti skating dial, and phono equalization, so you can tweak the sound as you want.
A Few Things to Consider Before a Purchase:
Don’t forget the possible need for a phono preamp when you budget for the turntable. A good pre-amp will probably run you about 70 dollars.
The Pioneer might be a better option with that pre amp being built-in, it is one less cost to worry about. You could upgrade the sound quality with a purchased pre amp on the Pioneer.
The U-Turn and The Project both come with a fine Ortofon stylus, but the Pioneer comes with a Audio-Technica 3600L cartridge, which is still pretty darned good, but you might want to upgrade to a grado or something.
Truthfully it’s all just a matter of preference, I like the Ortofon just fine, and the stock Audio Technica cartridge sounded good on the cheaper PL 990 I can attest to that.
Don’t forget there are many more beginner turntable options, at a much cheaper price too. You can check out some reviews for those right here.
Whether you spend 50 dollars or a 1000 dollars on your first record player is up to you. The point is, you want something that will keep you spinning vinyl for years to come.