Vinyl struggled for a long while when first cassettes and then CDs arrived. Many of us seemingly bade farewell to an old friend as the ‘record player’ just seemed to fade away. But now it is back, and we are looking for the Best Turntables Under $400.
Digital was the future we were told. But no, it wasn’t, not completely anyway. Musicians, recording engineers, and in fact, most people love the old analog sound. They can’t be beaten, and can not be exactly replicated, despite what the tech people say.
And so it was with vinyl. It just sounds better. We had forgotten until about 2007, and then someone reminded us. Now the use of vinyl is growing fast.
Maybe a first time user or someone with shelves packed with some great vinyl albums. We hate to use the word cheap. It implies substandard. But not with these turntables we are going to look at. They might not cost a fortune, but there is some quality here.
So let’s take a look at the Best Turntables Under $400 to let you renew your acquaintance with an old friend. Or maybe get a new one and find out for the first time what music should sound like…
Top 9 Best Turntables Under $400 2020 Reviews
1 Crosley C100 Belt-Drive Turntable
Crosley, in its original format, existed in Louisville, Kentucky, between 1921 and 1956 when it was closed due to dwindling sales. It was resurrected, and in its same name/new owner guise put a new turntable out in 1992. Since then, it has become better known for its jukeboxes but continues to produce turntables.
However, it has been subject to some criticism over the quality of their products over the years, but they are still here, and this C100 is a decent turntable. It is a belt-driven machine with 33 ⅓ and 45 rpm speeds. It comes with a 45 rpm adapter.
It is built from ABS-plastic, which is lightweight and resistant to impacts and corrosion. It has a plastic, transparent removable lid. There is a diecast aluminum platter, and it has a soft, felt mat.
The tonearm is ‘S’ shaped with an adjustable counterbalance weight, and is designed to resist skating. Around the edge of the platter are dots, these might look like a decoration item, but they are part of the adjustable pitch control. A strobe light beams on to the dots so you can raise the speed or slow it down as required.
It comes with an Audio Technica stylus. And the turntable is fully manual, not automatic.
The Crosley C100 comes with a built-in preamp so you can connect it up to some powered speakers, and away you go. If you prefer, you can use the RCA outputs to connect to your own preamp or any system that is compatible. There are also RCA ports for the speaker connections.
At its price point, this is a decent machine. It is obviously not the top of the range, but the features built-in are good, and the sound is ok. The adjustable pitch control is a nice feature. It is made in China.
- Decent build quality.
- Some nice features.
- Very affordable price point.
- Some will want a higher spec.
2 Fluance RT81 Elite High Fidelity Turntable
Fluance is a Canadian company. We have looked at their turntables before and been quite impressed with the build quality and the features.
It has an impressive look that is not flamboyant in any way. The plinth is made from MDF fiberboard finished in a glossy walnut. It has a tinted detachable cover. This machine is belt-driven and offers 33⅓ and 45 rpm speeds, and a 45rpm adapter is supplied. There is an aluminum platter with a rubber mat. It also has rubber feet to reduce any vibration noise.
The tonearm is a static balanced ‘S’ shape made from aluminum. It has anti-skate adjustments and an adjustable counterweight. And is fitted with a dual moving magnet cartridge made by Audio Technica. The cartridge offers a frequency response of 20-20,000Hz.
There is a Texas Instruments preamp built-in with a switchable phono/line. There is a switch on the back of the unit to bypass the preamp if you choose. The RCA outputs are gold-plated. There is an autostop feature that is switchable; this will stop the turntable from revolving but does not return the tonearm.
It is a plain and simple turntable that has a nice polished appearance. The only control on the top of the unit is the speed change.
Nice build and design; it is set at a decent price point. The turntable is made in China with Quality Control in Canada.
- Nice design with a very attractive gloss finish.
- Some nice features included.
- Rotation speed is not always accurate, and the adjuster is hard to reach.
3 Sony PS-LX310BT Belt Drive Turntable
One thing that is usually a given is that where you will find audio, you will usually find Sony somewhere. They are able to produce a wide range of audio that suits every level of requirement from entry-level to high-end professional kit.
The Sony PS-LX310BT might be an entry-level turntable, but it still has a few surprises to impress us.
The body has an all-plastic construction. The all-black design is very stylish and uncluttered with operating buttons that are flush to the surface of the plinth. The tonearm has a straight arm design, and it comes fully balanced with the stylus already placed in position. It is, therefore, ready to play right out of the box.
If you are one of those people who can’t stand setting things up, this is your lucky day. With this turntable, it’s all done for you.
It is a belt-driven turntable with an aluminum platter. The build is stable, and it is designed to reduce unwanted vibration. A slipmat is provided, as is a tinted cover that is removable.
It plays 33 ⅓ and 45 rpm and comes with a 45 rpm adapter. It is automatic, and all you need to do is press the autoplay button, and it will replace the tonearm when the side of the record has finished playing.
Well-made with a nice understated design. It delivers excellent sound reproduction and has a nice balanced sound across all the frequencies. It is typically Sony.
We mentioned it had a few surprises. Sony always likes to give you a bit more if they can, and this turntable does that. It can connect to your computer using a USB cable, and it can also connect through Bluetooth. Though it must be said that while it will connect through Bluetooth, the sound is better through an analog amp. An interesting extra though we feel.
The price point is set at a very attractive level for the quality of this turntable. It is made in China.
- Typical quality Sony build.
- Some nice features at an affordable price.
- Bluetooth compatible and will connect to your computer.
- Some may not appreciate a pre-setup turntable.
4 Reloop RP-2000 MK2 Direct Drive DJ Turntable
A quick look at this turntable from Reloop tells you that this is no ordinary unit for home use. Reloop is a German audio company that specializes in DJ equipment. When you are dealing with the pros, the quality has to be good.
This is a direct drive turntable with 33⅓ and 45 speeds. This quartz-driven Mark 2 turntable is the second generation of the RP-2000.
You won’t find much plastic on view here. It has a metal housing giving it a very rugged appearance. The control buttons on the top surface are also metal and have a tactile feel to them. The secure design gives this turntable good damping features to reduce vibrations.
On the top panel, there are controls for power, start and stop, and speed changes. There is also a sliding pitch adjuster with a range of plus or minus 8%. There is a precision diecast aluminum platter that has dots around its edge. These form part of the pitch control mechanism.
The tonearm is aluminum and has an ‘S’ shaped design. It has an anti-skate control and a hydraulic lift for placing the needle. It comes with an Ortofon pickup system and an adjustable counterweight.
You can record your vinyl to a digital format through the high-resolution USB. There are no drivers to install and so set up is quick and easy. For use in the dark, it has a targeting light. This shows you exactly where the needle will drop on the record. Maybe not so important at home but vital in a club in the dark.
Of course, it may be designed for a DJ, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be great at home. In fact, there are a lot of features on this turntable that make it good for home use. However, from the home use point of view, one thing lets it down. It has no plastic cover. You can buy one, but it is not included. It comes in just under our $400 limit, so in comparison with other models, it isn’t cheap.
- Rugged metal housing and design.
- Some nice features built-in.
- It doesn’t have a cover.
5 Pioneer PL-30-K Audiophile Stereo Turntable
Pioneer, like so many of the Japanese audio companies, has been around a long while. They have developed a track record that tells us when we see the name, that we expect a quality product.
The PL-30-K is a fully automatic belt-drive turntable with two operating speeds of 33⅓ and 45 rpm. It has a built-in preamp so you can connect up to other devices that have an auxiliary RCA connection.
It has a dual-layered chassis with a weight giving metal plate and a low center of gravity. This will give stability during use. We wouldn’t describe it as a high-mass turntable, but it certainly isn’t a lightweight at 12 pounds. It has a diecast aluminum platter that is driven by a DC servo-controlled motor. The platter has a rubber mat to reduce any external vibration being transferred to the record.
There is a balanced straight tonearm design that has anti-skate controls to give accurate tracking. It has a detachable headshell. It also has a counterweight system that is adjustable. And unlike the Reloop we just reviewed, there is a removable dust cover.
Controls are very simplistic, as is the design of the turntable: just a simple start and stop button and speed selector. A good quality MM cartridge and 0.6mil diamond-type stylus are included, and it also has a 45rpm adapter, There is a gold plated pin plug and a power cord that is detachable.
This has not been designed for the upmarket purist. It is more of an entry-level turntable. Nevertheless, it is packed with quality and some good features. Some companies in the rush to jump on the ‘vinyl bandwagon’ threw their turntables together in a rush. Not so Pioneer with this turntable. It is well-thought-out with a nice design and a very good sound.
- Well built with a low center of gravity giving stability.
- Includes some good features and an excellent MM cartridge.
- Probably not for the serious turntable enthusiast.
6 Audio-Technica AT-LPW40WN Fully Manual Belt-Drive Turntable
Audio-Technica produces the preferred cartridge used by many manufacturers in their turntables. That isn’t surprising, and they are very good. But Audio Technica also produces their own turntables, and the AT-LPW40WN is one.
This turntable has not only been designed for the vinyl lover. It is also for the vinyl lover who likes a bit of style. Its understated clean and simple design gives this an elegance not often found in turntable design at this level. It is a classy looker. The plinth is made from MDF fiberboard. It is given a simulated walnut finish, which we have to say is very attractive.
This is a belt-driven turntable with a servo-assisted DC motor with speed stability control. It has a sensor monitoring system to make sure there is an accurate and stable speed rotation. It handles both 33⅓ and 45 rpm. The AC adapter will control the AC/DC conversion externally from the chassis. This reduces any potential added noise in the signal chain.
It is fully manual with a diecast aluminum platter. The tonearm is a straight design made from carbon fiber. There is a tracking force that is adjustable and an armrest that is lockable. It also has a manual lift control and cue lever. This has a particularly slow and smooth action. It is fitted with an Audio Technica dual moving magnet cartridge and an elliptical stylus.
There is a built-in preamp, which has a select control and is usable as phono or line-level output.
This is a quality turntable with a very smart look. Up towards the top end price-wise but definitely a contender as the Best Turntable under $400.
- Great design and materials used.
- Good features with carbon fiber tonearm.
7 Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK Direct-Drive Turntable
Staying with Audio-Technica, we take a look at the AT-LP120XUSB-BK Direct-Drive Turntable. This unit has a totally different feel to the last turntable we looked at and resembles turntables that DJs use, with the dots around the platter. But it also differs in that this has a USB connection allowing you to connect to a computer.
We stand open to criticism, but here you are with a turntable. You have rid yourself of the mundane MP3 type digital sound and returned to vinyl. Why would you want to download your vinyl to play on an MP3? To save for posterity, possibly? But it certainly won’t be because it sounds better.
This model from Audio-Technica has a direct-drive design with a high-torque DC motor. And wow upon wow, this one actually has three speeds. Yes, folks, you get 33⅓, 45, and…78. Here is a manufacturer that recognizes there was life before 33⅓ and 45. Some might have heard of Presley, Sinatra, and also some killer Jazz.
It has some nice features. A sliding pitch adjuster with a quartz lock is one. Located on the top, it will adjust between plus or minus 16%. It has its USB port and included is a USB cable. It also has a preamp to give you great sound with any A/V receiver or mixer. The preamp is switchable.
There is a diecast aluminum platter, and it comes with a slipmat. The tonearm has the ‘S’ shaped design, and it has a lift control that has soft hydraulics. There is also an armrest that is lockable. Of course, it comes with a dual magnet cartridge with a universal headshell and an elliptical stylus. Anti-skate control and counterweights are fitted, and it has reverse and forward playback options.
This last feature is interesting and sits comfortably with the stylus target light. This is a feature usually included for DJs rather than the home. Add on the dots on the platter for pitch control, and you have a turntable that would suit a young DJ. Maybe that is the market they are hoping to attract. Decent price point, though, and you get a lot of turntable for your money.
- Good, strong build with some good features.
- The USB port will allow connection to a computer.
- Not the most aesthetically pleasing turntable made by Audio Technica.
8 Pro-Ject Essential III Belt-Drive Turntable
We step over our budget a little to include the Pro-Ject Essential III turntable. This is an entry-level turntable from a manufacturer who works equally well at the higher end of the market.
As with most Pro-Ject Turntables, it has a nice style to it and is certainly going to look impressive in the home. The chassis, as well as the platter, are made from MDF with a low-resonance factor, and the platter has a stainless steel spindle. It comes with a dust cover and a felt mat. It will handle 33⅓ and 45 rpm and comes with an adapter for 45 rpm.
This is a belt-drive turntable with a silicone belt and an aluminum drive pulley. The DC motor ensures the speeds are accurate and maintained, and there is a minimum of vibration. It has an aluminum tonearm with counterweight balance and anti-skate. The turntable has a pre-mounted Ortofon cartridge. To isolate the turntable from any external sound from its standing surface, there are special decoupling feet.
However, you should note that this turntable does not come with a preamp.
Upgrades are possible with this turntable if you wish. Adding an acrylic platter or changing the cartridge are easy operations.
This might be an entry-level turntable, but it will probably only suit those who are familiar with the workings of a belt drive. And also those who know how to set up anti-skate. Both are not easy operations on this turntable.
It’s priced just over our budget and therefore might not be so attractive to some. The features are quite basic, but it is a good turntable with a nice look that produces a good sound.
- Very nice aesthetic design and styling.
- Some good features built-in.
- Changing the belt for speed change isn’t easy.
9 U-Turn Audio – Orbit Plus Turntable (Blue)
Someone looking to get either a first or new turntable to whom style is important will find this interesting. It is a simple design but one that draws your look. And it has a minimalistic style that is appealing to the eye and is going to look good in the home.
It is no lightweight coming in at 13 pounds, which can be a good thing giving it stability. It has an MDF platter that is finished in a stunning blue. On the top, there is not too much in the way of controls. In fact, other than the belt for changing the speed, all you have is an off and on switch.
It has an acrylic platter. To reduce unwanted noise, this is machined to very fine limits. Included is a felt mat. While the tonearm has a straight design and features an adjustable counterweight and an internal anti-skate.
The Orbit Plus Turntable is a manual turntable. That means all the actions for starting and stopping are manual. The stylus is placed manually and removed at the end of the record. It is not a good idea to leave it running at the end without removing the stylus. An automatic turntable, you can leave to get on with it. A manual takes a little attention.
One visible aspect on the top is the belt drive. This is how you change the speed, which, if we are honest, would not be our choice. To change between 33⅓ and 45, you move the belt to a different pulley. If nothing else, it does seem a little vulnerable, especially if you have kids.
This turntable doesn’t come with a preamp, neither does it come with a tonearm lifter. That operation is performed by hand. A good looking turntable at just over our price range. It has some good points, but there are some elements missing in our view.
- Really nice design and build quality.
- It is fully manual for those that prefer that.
- No preamp and no tonearm lifter may disappoint some.
More Superb Turntable Choices
You may also be interested in our comprehensive reviews of the Best Record Player Stands on the market. And if you’re thinking of upgrading the cartridge on any of these turntables the Nagaoka MP 110 Cartridge is a great option.
So, What Are The Best Turntables Under $400?
If we could put time in a bottle, maybe we would have kept the vinyl thing going. It was only years later we realized. Then there was a lot of catching up to do. But we got there, and now you can buy some very good turntables for under $400.
Quite often, the choice is made by how you want to use it. If it is practical or maybe you will use it as a DJ occasionally, you will need a good build. Maybe you won’t be concerned about it ‘looking pretty’ for the home. In the home, of course, it needs to look nice. We’ve looked at both kinds.
For us, if we had to choose, then it would be the… Audio-Technica AT-LPW40WN Fully Manual Belt-Drive Turntable.
A great looking turntable for the home with some very good features at a nice price point.
Our choice as the Best of the Best Turntables Under $400. Happy listening.