Best Turntables under $100: A 2021 Buyer’s Guide and Review

Best Turntables under $100
Best Turntables under $100

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Turntables and vinyl records are more popular than ever, it seems, with hundreds of turntables currently being made and new models being introduced all the time. And while lots of these new ‘tables are of the high-end variety, with prices to match, there are also tons of budget and even ultra-budget turntables out there too.

Question is, in a world where you can easily spend over a thousand dollars on a turntable (or, truth be told, over ten thousand dollars), can you possibly find a turntable under $100 that sounds good and is worth buying?

Let’s find out, in this 2021 Buyer’s Guide for Best Budget Turntables.

What is the Difference Between a Turntable and a Record Player?

You may well have found our article by asking Google something like:

  • What’s the best budget turntable today?
  • What’s the best budget record player today?
  • What’s the best turntable under $100?

All good questions, and just why we’re here, but this does raise another question – is a turntable the same thing as a record player? 

Turntable” and “record player” can be used interchangeably, and really mean the same thing, but we usually use the phrase “record player” to indicate a less expensive machine, often with built-in speakers, and “turntable” to refer to a more expensive unit designed to really extract the most music from records and sound as good as possible, and which may need to plug into an often fairly pricey stereo component system.

Can You Get a Good Turntable on the Cheap?

Yes, absolutely! In fact, although I have had a lot of experience with expensive (and sometimes very expensive) turntables, which are obviously going to give you substantially better sound, I am constantly amazed at how good even very inexpensive turntables can sound

And I’m sure that if you find the best budget turntable in your price range, you will be amazed too – that fat analog sound we love so much, with all of its warmth, presence and realism will transform your listening experience. And you’ll have plenty of money left over for records!

How Can You Find the Best Turntable for Under $100?

Well, to start with, we’re going to cheat! Even with everything I’ve said about how great sub-$100 turntables can be, we find a lot more, and better, choices if we stretch the budget a teeny wee bit – all the way up to $120.

So, let’s hereby officially change the title of this article to:

Best Turntables under $120

And let’s also make it as easy as possible for you to find a really amazing turntable for that money – one that sounds fantastic is built well, and will do exactly what you want, including:

  • Playing (at least) 33 and 45 RPM records
  • Connecting to any stereo or music system with nothing else needed
  • And even digitizing (converting to digital files) your records, again with nothing else needed
  • Impressing your friends with just how cool you are

Based on my experience, on the experience of other Speakergy reviewers and our friends and colleagues, and on the reviews from lots and lots of actual verified customers from Amazon and elsewhere, we have cut out all the deadwood and narrowed down to the lucky 7 very best budget turntables you can get today.

Listed below, from least to “most” expensive, these are all great units, with wonderfully musical analog sound and surprisingly high resolution and fidelity, and they are built much better than we have the right to expect for their price range.

If you already know your budget, simply find the turntable that matches from our list below and you can buy with confidence, and before you know it you will be hearing your stereo system and your records in a whole new way!

Best Turntables under $100 (uhm, $120)

Our Pick
Crosley RSD3 Mini Turntable for 3-inch Vinyl Records, Silver
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At a Glance:

  • Speeds: 33 RPM – Only For 3 Inch Records
  • Outputs: Headphone :: RCA for Stereo System
  • Phono Cartridge / Needle Included: Yes
  • Built In Phono Preamp: Yes
  • Digital Conversion Possible: No
  • Bluetooth Streaming: No

We start out with a very specialized little record player. If you are looking for the best budget turntable to play normal LPs and 45s you can go ahead and move down to the next recommendation, because this wonderful little Crosley RSD3 is meant for one thing – 8BAN or 3 inch records, and won’t play anything else.

Considering the charmingly lo-fi quality of those little discs, the Crosley RSD3 makes 8BAN records sound surprisingly good. And with the famous Crosley excellence in design and build quality, there is no doubt in our mind that this is the best 8BAN record player available. Includes everything you need, and with a built in phono preamp it is ready to plug into any stereo or music system.

Our Pick
Crosley T400 Fully Automatic 2-Speed Component Turntable with Built-in Preamp, Grey
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At a Glance:

  • Speeds: 33 & 45 RPM
  • Outputs: Headphone :: RCA for Stereo System
  • Phono Cartridge / Needle Included: Yes
  • Built in Phono Preamp: Yes
  • Digital Conversion Possible: No
  • Bluetooth Streaming: No

And we’re right back to Crosley for our second choice in the list of best turntables for under $100, with the surprisingly good sounding T400 fully automatic 2-speed turntable.

For around $60, the T400 is the first turntable we could consider to be truly high fidelity, and while it isn’t going to match a more audiophile deck in terms of resolution, imaging or subtle shifts in tonality and dynamics, it pulls an amazing amount of detail out of every records we played, and has a warm and rich analog quality that is satisfying without veering into artificial sounding.

While it doesn’t record or convert LPs into digital, the Crosley T400 is still a complete record playing unit, including a cartridge and phono preamp, so you can plug it into any stereo or active speakers and you’re good to go. Add to this the famous Crosley design and build quality and this is easily the best entry-level turntable we’ve ever found.

Our Pick
ION Audio Premier LP | Wireless Bluetooth Turntable / Vinyl Record Player with Speakers
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At a Glance:

  • Speeds: 33, 45 & 78 RPM
  • Outputs: Headphone :: RCA for Stereo System; USB for Computer; Built-in Speakers
  • Phono Cartridge / Needle Included: Yes
  • Built in Phono Preamp: Yes
  • Digital Conversion Possible: Yes
  • Bluetooth Streaming: Yes

And as good as the Crosley is, for an extra 40 bucks you will hear a pretty dramatic improvement with the Ion Audio Premier bluetooth turntable, which has a more dynamic and energetic sound, deeper bass and sweet, shimmerling high frequencies – pretty amazing, really, for the price.

The Ion Premier also has all the tech you might want. It has a built in phono preamp, so you can plug it directly into any stereo or active speakers without any additional kit, and it will also stream to Bluetooth speakers.

Add to this the ability to digitize your entire LP collection, with the Premier’s built-in analog to digital converter and included software, and you begin to understand how the Ion Premier is a wonderful combination of modern capability and old-school analog sound, and a remarkable value to boot!

Our Pick
Victrola Pro USB Record Player with 2-Speed Turntable and Dust Cover, Silver (VPRO-3100-SLV)
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At a Glance:

  • Speeds: 33 & 45 RPM
  • Outputs: Headphone :: RCA for Stereo System; USB for Computer
  • Phono Cartridge / Needle Included: Yes
  • Built in Phono Preamp: Yes
  • Digital Conversion Possible: Yes
  • Bluetooth Streaming: No

With the Victrola Pro you can hear a small but significant increase in sound quality over the Ion above, but at the same time the Victrola has less high-tech capability.

Without built-in speakers, the Victrola Pro is more physically stable, carefully engineered (like more high-end turntables) so that the record and needle won’t be moved or jostled around as much, and thus providing a clearer and more coherent sound, and one that at any volume is rich and dynamic, with real tonal accuracy.

The Victrola does have an included phono cartridge, and built in phono preamp, so it can be plugged into your stereo or active speakers without any additional investment, but it does not have Bluetooth streaming. If Bluetooth is crucial to you, the Ion Premier above may be for you, but if not the Victrola Pro is a better sounding turntable for about the same money, and an equally great value.

Our Pick
ION AUDIO BT-80 Automatic Belt Drive Turntable
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At a Glance:

  • Speeds: 33 & 45 RPM
  • Outputs: Headphone :: RCA for Stereo System
  • Phono Cartridge / Needle Included: Yes
  • Built in Phono Preamp: Yes
  • Digital Conversion Possible: No
  • Bluetooth Streaming: No

Here Ion proves again that it can make a brilliant sounding turntable for very little money. Markedly better than their own already sweet sounding Premier (reviewed above), the Ion Audio BT-80 turntable focuses more purely on analog audio playback, without Bluetooth, digital conversion or any other modern tech.

The extra investment and care Ion has put into the engineering and materials really pays dividends sonically, and this is the first model in our list of best bargain turntables which begins to capture that elusive sense of actual reality and presence we come to expect in much more expensive audiophile ‘tables.

A well built and well designed basic turntable with included cartridge and phono preamp, the Ion Audio BT-80 has everything you need to plug and play – for stereo systems or active speakers – and has an unreasonably pleasing and engaging sound signature for the price – an amazing value, and the perfect turntable for the entry-level audiophile.

Our Pick
Ion PowerPlay LP USB-Powered Vinyl-to-MP3 Turntable
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At a Glance:

  • Speeds: 33 & 45 RPM
  • Outputs: Headphone :: USB for Computer
  • Phono Cartridge / Needle Included: Yes
  • Built in Phono Preamp: No
  • Digital Conversion Possible: Yes
  • Bluetooth Streaming: No

With sound quality that’s almost as good as the more basic Ion Audio BT-80 above, and also the ability to convert your records into high quality digital files, the Ion PowerPlay turntable is a perfect choice for anybody on a budget who wants to not just bring their record collection into the digital realm, but do so with the best sound possible.

This turntable is not meant to run through a stereo system, but only designed for playback and conversion through a Mac or PC computer. Including a cartridge, conversion software and more, the Ion PowerPlay has everything you need to enjoy and convert your records, and is one of the most useful and best sounding budget turntables for this purpose we’ve found.

Our Pick
Audio-Technica AT-LP60X-GM Fully Automatic Belt-Drive Stereo Turntable
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At a Glance:

  • Speeds: 33 & 45 RPM
  • Outputs: Headphone :: RCA for Stereo System
  • Phono Cartridge / Needle Included: Yes
  • Built in Phono Preamp: Yes
  • Digital Conversion Possible: No
  • Bluetooth Streaming: No

For our last recommendation for the best turntables under $100 ( or so…), we turn to a real legend in audiophile gear – Audio Technica. This incredible turntable does not have digital outputs or Bluetooth, or really any post-analog technology whatsoever, but oh that sound…

Audio Technica’s most affordable turntable is an amazing value, and easily our strongest recommendation. There is an authority to the sound of records played back on the AT-PL60X which is only hinted at with the lower priced decks – and remember that all of them are pretty amazing sounding for the money.

But the Audio Technica AT-LP60X simply brings more information out of the grooves of any LP, provides deeper bass and more extended high frequencies, more dynamic energy, a larger, more holographic soundstage and an overall sweet and musical sound similar to much more expensive audiophile gear.

Complete with an Audio Technica cartridge which sounds as good as the turntable itself, and is a perfect match, and with a finely tuned phono preamplifier built in, the AT-LP60X is the best budget audiophile turntable on the market today. If sound is the main and most important thing, and you can push the budget a little, this brilliant ‘table is the obvious choice.

Final Thoughts: What Else Do You Need?

All of the turntables on our 2021 buyer’s guide to the best turntables under $100 include everything you need to plug in and start spinning those discs, but there are still a few basic accessories you should strongly consider getting – to protect and preserve your precious records and to optimize the sound.

Let’s keep it simple, though, and not load up on a bunch of stuff you simply don’t need or won’t ever use. In our experience the most important – even must-have – record playing accessories are:

Big Fudge Record Cleaner Kit – the most important accessory you can get, and the best way to make your records sound better and last longer.

Boundless Audio Record Cleaner Brush – Vinyl Cleaning Carbon Fiber Anti-Static Record Brush – an especially important accessory for dryer climates, which will keep your records dust-free and make them last longer, and will clean up the sound as well.

Boundless Audio Stylus Cleaner Brush – keeping the stylus as clean as the record grooves allow it to move more freely and sound better, and prevents it from pressing dirt and particles into the soft vinyl record grooves.

Crosley ST66-MA Manchester Turntable Stand with Wire Record Storage – Ok, it’s hard to justify this one based on record health or sound quality, but it is just so cool looking.

Timothy Scott
Timothy Scott
Hey there, I am Timothy and I am an aspiring bass guitarist and lover of high-quality speakers. Music has been my life. I've owned several high-quality speakers over the last few years and have become obsessed with them. At Speakergy.com I share my knowledge on choosing and using speakers. I hope you enjoy my articles!

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