If you are looking to join the ranks of those who love vinyl or maybe you are considering upgrading your current system, then there are a wealth of options. Recently we have looked at the best turntables under $100, fun things really, through the best turntables under $200 and the best turntables under $300 and now we take a look at those under $500, There have been some very good products.
We even covered the best turntables under $1000 for those who want to spend a bit more and really want to upgrade their systems.
But if you’re spending $500 on a table, then you are going to want to see and hear some quality, in the construction, the sound and any extras it will offer. At $500 it gets a little more serious.
You will read a lot of marketing literature about how good each turntable is.
But what’s the real story?
Let’s find out as we look at the best turntables under $500 and find the perfect one for you…
Top 10 Best Turntables Under $500 Reviews
1 U-Turn Audio – Orbit Plus Turntable
This is a turntable with elegant lines and a modern minimalistic look. Making this turntable from U-Turn audio appealing to a lot of people because of its style.
The design is simplistic, but it is a turntable that will pack a punch. In terms of its design and looks it is very attractive. And is not going to look out of place in the home.
Remove any unwanted sounds…
A manual belt drive machine running at 33 and 45 rpm. the straight-armed, machined precision-made tonearm with an Ortofon OM 5E cartridge comes with an adjustable counterweight. The acrylic platter is also machined to great accuracy and helps to remove any unwanted sounds.
There is a felt mat, dust cover, and RCA cables.
This is not a fully automatic turntable, and the tonearm has to be placed manually. There is no anti-skate feature, but it doesn’t seem to need it. The unpivot tonearm seems to cope with ease, and there are no problems.
Competes with turntables many times the price…
If you are thinking by the price that this might be an entry-level machine you are not doing it justice. It is way past that categorization and is a real alternative to some of the bigger names. The negative, in our opinion, is the way that you have to change the speed by using the externally visible belt.
And the best part? Considering the price is at the lower end of the price scale, it is a first-class machine and sound-wise will compete with turntables many times the price.
2 Crosley C200 Direct-Drive Turntable
It may be news to some people, but Crosley is one of the largest manufacturers of turntables in the world. They have been around for nearly a hundred years, first as Crosley Radio. But in the turntable market, they have primarily concerned themselves with the entry stage of the market.
This turntable then is a bit of a step up in terms of the production of quality.
A rugged look…
The C200 is a direct drive turntable, built with a rugged look. As you will see, most of what is required is included. But while some of the components have a quality some of the others maybe not so much. It looks like a host of the other best turntables under $500 in its appearance and has been designed just to do the job.
It will play 33 and 45rpm and has a sliding pitch adjustment if required, and it has a strobe speed indicator.
There might be better options…
The tonearm is ‘S’ shaped and aluminum made and has a counterweight and a hydraulic lift control with a lockable rest. The cartridge is an Audio-Technica NP5. This isn’t there top of the range by any means and we feel there were better options to choose from if you were using their products.
It does though have an in-built preamp but again on the downside no auto-return feature.
As you can see, the C200 is well-built and a sturdy machine that delivers a decent sound. It will never be at the top of the $500 range of machines, but then the price is much lower, and for that price, it is a decent turntable.
If you are looking to replace a lower end turntable with something a little better but don’t want to spend an awful lot of money, this is a great option.
3 Denon DP-400 Semi-Automatic Analog Turntable
We have had lots of personal experience with Denon equipment. Years ago, we had what was then a state of the art double cassette deck. It was superb, and now we look at their turntable, the DP-400, and you are about to learn all about it.
The first thing that strikes you is the design of the dust cover. Interesting, to say the least. This machine looks the part, but what will it sound like? More on that later.
The DP-400, like most Denon gear, is endowed with good features. The automatic turntable supports 33, 45, and 78 speeds all monitored by a speed sensor. A weighted platter that is belt-driven is installed for quality reproduction, which depending on your personal preferences will support both MM and MC cartridges.
Despite claims to the contrary, the tonearm is not the radical design the manufactureres think it is. More or less ‘S’ shaped in its design, there is a somewhat comforting feeling when using it with such a system already tried and tested.
The tonearm comes with a fitted cartridge. And the horizontal tracking feature though is important and the playback stop and the auto lift features are an advantage.
But what does it sound like?
Well, a distinctively open soundstage is created using the built-in phono equalizer. The role of this is simply to stay as close to the sounds of the original recording as possible as only vinyl recordings can do.
Why does this matter?
It matters because vinyl recordings carry a depth and clarity that recreates the session at which the song was recorded and in the case of the early years it includes warts and all. And this creates the original feel of how it was supposed to sound.
A super turntable from a great manufacturer, with brilliant build quality.
4 Audio-Technica AT-LP5 Direct-Drive Turntable
We have reviewed Audio-Technica at under $200 and $300 price points, and every time they have impressed. And their cartridges are ranked amongst the best and are often found installed in other manufacturers machines. Therefore, they are an esteemed manufacturer, and here’s why…
As usual, they combine the latest technology with good looks. The tonearm isn’t the more usual ‘S’ or straight shapes, more of a ‘J.’ It’s a bit of a throwback to days past and has a hydraulic lift action and lever and with a locking rest.
The machine is belt-driven and has a diecast aluminum platter powered by a high torque motor for its 33 and 45 rpm speed capability. The machine is fully manual. Other features include anti-skate control and adjustable counterweight and a lightweight headshell.
One special feature is that Audio-Technica designed a specific dual moving magnet cartridge for this turntable, the AT95EX.
Why does this matter?
Well simply put because Audio-Technica already has a range of excellent cartridges. Therefore for them to design one for this turntable specifically means it will be special. The stylus is replaceable.
The overall construction is sturdy and at 23 pounds quite heavy. The metal chassis and other vibration damping materials limit the potential acoustic feedback, including a heavy rubber damping mat. In case it is sitting on a slightly uneven surface it has standing feet that can be adjusted,
But, that’s not all…
Built-in is a switchable phone/line amp that will give connections to a home stereo or powered speakers. And a USB for connection to your laptop compatible with either Windows or Mac. Audacity software for download to your computer is included as is a 45rpm adapter, USB cable and of course a dust cover.
An excellent machine giving great value for money.
5 REGA – Planar 1
There is something about the look of the Rega Planer 1 that’s very impressive. But does it sound as good as it looks? We’re about to take a look, and you’ll learn all about it.
The Planer was one of this British companies flagship and most popular turntables. But here we see the new version with a few updated modifications.
Built to last…
The construction, of course, is excellent and the high gloss black finish adds style and a sense of chic. The off/on switch has been relocated in under the body, so there is an absence of clutter to be seen. The platter has been re-designed and sits higher on the plinth giving improved speed stability.
The tonearm hasn’t escaped a bit of modification with the bearings and now has a low friction performance level. The motor itself is a 24v synchronous AC with an aluminum pulley. The Rega carbon cartridge is fitted.
The sound is just stunning…
To Regar, this is an entry-level turntable, but the sound is just stunning. Wonderfully clear and decisive bottom end and a crisp top end while the mids are excellent. All this allowing even the separation on four-part harmonies to be clear and distinct.
It is very difficult to come to any other conclusion with this turntable, that Rega has raised the performance bar in this price bracket to a higher level. And set it at a level others must aspire to.
We asked at the beginning would its performance match its looks. It doesn’t match them; it exceeds them.
And the best part?
It still sits in a price range that is affordable to many.
An outstanding turntable and one that would compete with others that were much higher-priced. Could this be the best turntable under $500? Read on to find out…
6 Pioneer Pro DJ Black PLX-500-K
With this turntable, Pioneer has produced a machine that can be used at home but might be more suitable for the DJ market. And certainly, the controls and the way they are laid out will make them familiar to DJ’s.
The PLX-500K that is similar in design and its functions to the PLX-1000 and is a direct drive turntable that has a motor with high torque. This makes it suitable for personal use and DJ work. The layout will be familiar to DJ’s having tempo control and a speed guide that is lit along with a start/stop button.
No vibrations going on…
The turntable is well built and has a rugged construction and feels like it, weighing in at 30 pounds. The build is solid with good vibration damping. The shortest route between the stylus and the outputs is employed because that reduces the prospect of distortion, which again is a positive for DJ’s.
Onboard there are connections for the USB which will allow you to record your precious vinyl connection direct to your Mac or PC. And a phono/line out switch that allows you to connect directly to a sound system. A dust cover and slip mat are provided.
Built for the road…
Visually this turntable is very traditional, and there isn’t much in the way of an exciting new design. It is built tough for DJ use, which it definitely will need. And in doing so isn’t perhaps the most aesthetically visual turntable available.
The features though are good. And if what you want is either a workhorse turntable for the home or are about to start spinning at a club, either way, the sound quality is good.
A decent buy for the money.
7 Sony PSHX500 Hi-Res USB Turntable
Sony is, of course, one of the big names where home audio is concerned, and here they have come up with an interesting turntable.
The PSHX500 operates a belt drive system which of course is preferred by many. The belt’s job other than making the table spin is to make sure it revolves at a uniform pace and also to ensure it acts as a damper for any shocks that may occur from the motor.
This gives a smooth and clear sound without any unwanted interference. To add to any unwanted sound repression, Sony has insulated it thus further reducing sound disturbance. Sony has included in its design all the latest technologies to ensure great sound production.
The tonearm is straight, and the cartridge is balanced within the newly designed headshell to give a superior balance and operation with the cartridge. This allows the cartridge to produce a clean and natural sound.
The turntable has speeds of 33, and 45 and both phono and line outputs are allowing you the choice of sound output choices.
Save your vinyl collection…
A USB port onboard will give you the chance to connect to your computer and create a digital file to preserve your vinyl recordings in high resolution. The software that is supplied will allow editing and transfer of any of the vinyl tracks to any portable device of your choice.
You will have gathered by now; this is not just a turntable. And for those who want more than that, there is plenty to give them food for thought. For those however who want one of the best turntables under $500 without too much external paraphernalia, it might not suit.
8 Teac TN-300SE-MB Analog Turntable
Teac usually produces exceptional equipment along with their sister company Tascam, so let’s see what is on offer here. With the Teac TN-300SE…
It has a very basic style without too much glamour and glitz with its matt black finish. It is made from MDF which appears to be fast becoming an industry favorite which we think, to be honest, is a little disappointing.
An attractive look…
MDF is though, a very dense material and therefore, does go quite a long way to reduce any unwanted sound resonance. It is thankfully covered by a veneer to give it an attractive look.
The tonearm design they have chosen is the straight arm. Many believe that this improves tracking accuracy and an adjustable anti-skating mechanism is attached, as well as a counterweight. The tonearm has a manual lift. While the cartridge is an Audio-Technica MM. There is also a phono equalizer amplifier and a hinged dust cover.
A DC motor drives the diecast aluminum platter but rather strangely no turntable mat is included. It will play 33, and 45 rpm with a 45 rpm adapter included. All the connections are gold plated to resist corrosion.
It is a basic turntable but well put together. We don’t think it will win too many prizes for design quality or appearance, but the sound is good. They have taken care to include as many quality components as possible, but of course, this is not a top of the range TEAC so you cannot expect too much.
At the price, it is an entry-level machine and excellent value for money, easily one of the best turntables under $500.
9 Music Hall MMF 2.2 Belt Driven Turntable
Music Hall is one of the most respected names in the industry. Always trying to combine great performance with simple but effective and pleasing designs.
We wouldn’t say this turntable breaks any barriers down with its design, but it is not unattractive and is quite pleasing to the eye. It is designed very simply with the minimum of controls to worry about. All that is on the top are the on/off switch, the platter and tonearm, and associated weight and arm. A dust cover is provided.
Dense is good…
The base is made from MDF, which is not of course ‘real’ wood but is what many manufacturers use as their base material. It has several good points, one of which is its density which does assist sound wise. And it is, of course, a lot better material than some of the other imitation varieties.
The base is colored with a black lacquer which gives it a plush finish, and it has a healthy weight to the feel of it. And underneath are positioned some effective noise insulating feet.
It is a belt-driven machine giving a good standard of accuracy and low-noise. The tonearm is a one-piece straight alloy metal design. This has a removable stylus, fitted with a weighting system and anti-skate. While the RCA connectors are gold plated to avoid corrosion and to make the best possible connection.
This turntable does not come with many of the features that some of its competitors carry. It is built to play vinyl and play it well. Hook it up to a decent amp and a good set of speakers, and you will hear the Music Hall quality shine through.
10 U-Turn Audio – Orbit Plus Turntable
Do you want a turntable with elegant lines with a modern minimalistic and classy look? If so, then this turntable from U-Turn audio is going to appeal to you.
U-turn has designed this machine as a simple turntable but one that will pack a punch and deliver a great sound. In terms of its design and looks it is going to impress, and it has a certain style to it that is many people will love.
Let’s take a look at the basic spec…
Made in the US by Orbit it is a manual belt drive machine running at 33 and 45 rpm. And features a straight, machined precision-made tonearm with an Ortofon OM 5E cartridge with an adjustable counterweight. The acrylic platter is also machined to great accuracy and helps to remove any unwanted sounds. There is a felt mat, dust cover, and RCA cables.
This is not an automatic machine and must be worked manually.
It doesn’t feature a built-in preamp, which will have to be purchased separately. But, if you hook it up to a decent amp and speakers, then the sound produced is clear and defined and is a cut above a lot of the competition. It has to be said that sound-wise it is very impressive.
This is a quality machine and the best part? The cost. It is a first-class machine for the price and sounds at least the equivalent of machines at a much larger price ticket. And therefore, rightly fits in a review of the best turntables under $500.
So what are the Best Turntables Under $500?
When you are spending up to $500 on a turntable, it is a little bit more serious than if you are spending maybe $200. You want a great sound of course, but maybe you want some extra features thrown in as well?
For us, we want a great sound but are more interested in its design and overall style. And we want it to look good. And we don’t mind sacrificing some of the extra facilities if it sounds and looks superb.
We would, therefore, buy and highly recommend the…
Great sounds, and it looks fantastic. What more could anyone ask for?
Easily our choice for the best of the best turntables under $500.