Best Turntables Under $1000: A 2023 Buyer’s Guide & Review

Best Turntables Under $1000

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It’s been my experience that people who are looking for a good turntable at or under a thousand dollars are looking for two main things – first, extraordinary audiophile sound, and second, a true investment piece.

Because really we audiophiles may be continuously chasing the dream of perfect sound, and may buy new gear more often than some people buy new shoes, but it’s also nice to know that we can trust that our new reference turntable will last a lifetime.

So I have put together a highly selective list of the best turntables under one thousand dollars, with special focus on the high end but with some less expensive choices as well, all of them the best sounding turntables at their price point, and all superbly built and made for many years of use.

If you’d like to get right to the good stuff, here are a few of my top picks:

How Can You Find the Best Turntable Under a Grand?

With the explosion in vinyl sales over the last few years, seemingly countless companies are rushing in to make new turntables and sell them to the public – and, to be fair, some of these new products are really quite decent, with nice build quality and fine sound.

But we don’t really want to settle for ‘nice’ or ‘fine’ at this level, do we?

I have to assume that a consumer who is considering a fairly major investment in a new turntable wants absolutely reference quality sound, superb material and build quality, flawless operation and absolute long term reliability.

So really all we want is an extraordinary piece, that makes you say wow when you look at it, and makes you fall silent when you’re listening to it.

The great news is that, in the overwhelming profusion of new makes and models, there are a few really extraordinary pieces, and not all of them hovering right below a thousand bucks, either – in fact, this buyer’s guide to best premium turntables will also include mid-priced, affordable and even budget choices.

What I’ve Included

From the questions and feedback I’ve gotten from so many folks, I’ve decided to include, at all price levels, two primary recommendations:

  • the very best choice overall – that is, the best sounding turntable I know (which also, probably not coincidentally, tends to be the best built and best designed turntable).
  • a second recommendation for the best possible choice for archiving / digital recording – a turntable with essentially reference analog playback and digital conversion, for the highest quality you can get in converting your records into digital music files.

The first option is best for the most discerning audiophiles, but the second will feature turntables which are really close to that same stellar sound quality, and which can make superb high resolution digital audio files that retain the analog warmth and musicality of the LPs from which they came.

The main focus of this article is on the higher levels, but again I will also include some quite inexpensive turntables, which obviously can’t compete with the big boys but which come amazingly close considering their prices.

What I Didn’t Include

I haven’t put as much focus on the less expensive turntables – I know that a buyer’s guide for best turntables below a thousand dollars could go all the way down, but I assume most people who end up here are more interested in the higher end products.

That said, I do include a couple of great choices at the affordable and budget levels, and I think you will find that they are very much akin to the more expensive choices – that is, not just the best and best sounding turntables, but truly reference quality for their respective levels, and investments that will last for many years, even a lifetime – or at least until you upgrade…

If you would like more extended coverage of the best less expensive turntables on the market today, please feel free to check out my other turntable buyer’s guides:

Best Turntables Under $500: A 2023 Buyer’s Guide And Review

Best Turntables Under $100: A 2023 Buyer’s Guide And Review

And for some even more expensive, and often even more extraordinary,audiophile turntables, I’ve also written:

Best Turntables Under $2,000: A 2023 Buyer’s Guide And Review

But for now please read on! I’ll also throw in some extra choices and special-case recommendations along the way, and the list will be simply ordered by price, from the most to the least expensive.

So let’s look at my personally curated list of the best turntables under a thousand dollars.

Best Turntables Under $1,000 for 2023

Best Turntable Under 1000 Dollars – Overall

NAD C 588 Fully Manual Reference Turntable with Glass Platter

NAD C 588 Turntable
  • Belt Driven Turntable 33/45
  • 10mm Glass Platter with Felt Pad
  • Precision Alloy Sub Platter
  • Precision AC Motor
  • Isolated AC Power Supply with Universal Voltage

At a Glance

  • Drive System: Belt Drive
  • Speeds: 33 & 45 RPM
  • Type:  Fully Manual
  • Phono Preamplifier: No
  • Cartridge Included: Yes – Ortofon 2M Red

The top spot in this buyer’s guide for best audiophile turntables was a really tough choice, because there are two superb products which really deserve the nod, and in the end I almost kind of arbitrarily decide between the two.

One of my favorite turntables of all times, and the cheapest entry I know to the very highest levels of audiophile transparency, neutrality and effortlessness, the Rega RP3 Turntable with RB303 Tonearm is probably the best value I have found in the true high end, and a stunning reference playback system.

The Rega RP3 is out, though, because we are sticklers for details, and it is at normal retail price a few dollars more than a grand, and that doesn’t even include a cartridge! Forget about its supreme value, its matchless neutrality, its utter lack of interference with the music – it’s just a tad above our limit, so let’s move on.

All joking aside, my final choice, the NAD C 588, is the only turntable I’ve ever auditioned that can pretty much match the Rega in transparency, speed and control, neutrality, absolute lack of noise, perfectly scaled and incredibly precise soundstage and more, and it is just below  thousand dollars – and with a cartridge. Another candidate for best-ever value in the high end.

The NAD is a stunningly beautiful turntable in all ways, and is almost too beautiful in sound – that is, while the Rega is almost too neutral for some, the NAD is the tiniest (really, the tiniest) bit warm, and is a little prettier in presentation. This in no way deters from its utter lack of noise, physical or electrical interference or any other kind of artifacts, its superlative resolution, phase coherence, speed, timing or dynamics – all as good as it gets at this level – but it is not quite as tonally neutral as the Rega RP3.

Ultimately the two are about the same price – the Ortofon Red cartridge included with the wondrous NAD C 588 is ridiculously undermatched – it’s a wonderful cartridge, and will get you up and running, and it does sound better here than I’ve heard it anywhere else, but you will want to upgrade to something like the Ortofon Blue or the magical Nagaoka MP-200, which sounds especially right with the NAD.

So I will officially proclaim the NAD C 588 as the very best turntable you can get for under a thousand dollars, and I find it to be one of the most lovely and musically satisfying pieces of audio gear I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing. That said, if ultimate neutrality is your thing, the Rega is the way to go. All things considered, though, I am not sure I would consider one or the other somehow superior (even if I do admit to enjoying the NAD a wee bit more…).


Best Turntable For Archiving / Digital Recording Overall

Teac TN-4D Manual Audiophile Turntable with Preamp & USB Output

Teac Direct-Drive Analog Turntable TN-4D (USB Output for Digital Recording on PC/Mac and Built-in...
  • Newly Developed Low-profile Brush-less DC Motor exclusive for Direct-drive
  • Sleek Cabinet Design that conventional Direct-drive Turntables never achieved
  • Static-balanced S-shaped Knife-edge Aluminum Tone-arm by SAEC
  • Anti-skating Mechanism and universal Head-shell for quick cartridge replacement
  • Built-in Phono EQ Amplifier and USB Output for Digital Recording on PC/Mac

At a Glance

  • Drive System: Direct Drive
  • Speeds: 33 & 45 RPM
  • Type: Fully Manual
  • Phono Preamplifier: Yes
  • Cartridge Included: Yes – Sumiko Oyster
  • Digital Output: USB

Just like with the top spot overall, I was torn between two ‘tables in choosing the best turntable for digital archiving under a thousand dollars.

I have spent like thirty minutes with the Cambridge Audio ALVA ST turntable – just enough to see how beautiful it is in appearance and finish and in operation, and to get a taste of its sound, but not really enough to make a recommendation – I found it to be a lively and engaging turntable, with amazingly open and effortless sound, a neutral to warm signature and exceptional resolution of detail and dynamic cues, and have heard from many people that it is not just a reference turntable, but one with an addictive sound.

And since it has excellent lossless Bluetooth streaming, the Alva ST would be the perfect choice for this spot.

But I opted instead for a turntable I know, from more extended personal experience, to be an amazing product, one I have spent a lot of time with, both in pure analog playback and in digital recording, editing and processing – the Teac TN-4D reference turntable.

Let me just put my cards on the table here – the Teac TN-4D is the most accurate, fully musical and unrestrained turntable I know for making superb digital recordings from vinyl. I say ‘unrestrained’ because nothing, really nothing, is held back – dynamics, detail, spatial and temporal cues, even at the most subtle levels, come through with perfect fidelity and integrity.

We often talk about turntables with digital outputs ‘preserving’ the warm analog sound of the original LPs, and we might well wonder if perhaps they are adding a bit of warmth of their own, or even messing with phase, dynamics or other factors a tiny bit, to make that happen. But with the TN-4D there is no question of that. The digital recording simply sounds like the record.

The Teac TN-4D includes a brilliant Sumiko Oyster cartridge, a superb phono preamplifier and equally superb analog to digital conversion circuitry – all perfectly suited to the exceptionally high level of performance of the ‘table itself – and the 4D offers truly beautiful reference quality listening with any associated gear.

In fact, based on pure analog playback alone the Teac TN-4D (which is almost 200 dollars below our upper limit) is an easy recommendation, and one of the most musical and accurate turntables I know – and when you factor in true reference-level digital recording and archiving, it’s a no-brainer!


Best Fully Automatic Turntable Under 1,000 Dollars

Dual CS 429 Fully Automatic Turntable with Die-Cast Aluminum Platter

Dual CS 429 Fully Automatic Turntable with Die-Cast Aluminum Platter - Black
  • Fully Automatic tonearm lifts with the push of a button.
  • Solid aluminum construction with ball–bearings allow the tonearm to smoothly lift from rest to album.
  • Solid MDF Plinth construction with internal vibration absorber.
  • Die–Cast Aluminum platter with heavy rubber mat.

At a Glance

  • Drive System: Belt Drive
  • Speeds: 33, 45 & 78 RPM
  • Type:  Fully Automatic
  • Phono Preamplifier: Yes
  • Cartridge Included: Yes – Ortofon 2M Red

There’s a common sentiment that fully automatic turntables will never have the levels of accuracy or resolution of pure manual decks, and actually this is generally quite true.

That said, a fully automatic turntable which has been engineered the right way can and will easily out-perform certain other turntables at the same level, especially if they don’t have the same quality of design, engineering or physical / electrical components, and this has never been more evident than with the wonderful Dual CS 429.

The Dual 429 is a fully automatic turntable, which uses a mechanism to move the tonearm to the beginning of the record and then back to the resting cradle after the record is finished, and yet in terms of tracking – and the audible evidence of superior tracking, like properly sized, accurate and coherent soundstage, resolution of inner detail and slight dynamic nuances, overall dynamic power, deep bass and treble extension and focus in the midrange – the 429 is clearly superior to almost any fully manual turntable in this price range.

The Dual, which is slightly warm and rich in sound (or, from another angle, slightly less than neutral), will benefit enormously with a cartridge upgrade – even the affordable Ortofon 2M Blue will really up the Dual’s game – and would end up being even closer to ‘proper audiophile ‘tables’ in ultimate transparency, imaging, frequency extension, transient speed, dynamics and detail.

But even just as it comes, the Dual 429 is very close to as good as it gets at this premium level, and as a fully automatic turntable it has no serious competition.


Best Value Turntable Under 1000 Dollars

Rega Planar 2 Turntable with RB220 tonearm & Carbon Cartridge

Rega Planar 2 Turntable with RB220 tonearm, Glass-platter and Carbon Cartridge (Gloss Black)
  • Re-designed feet - New improved foot assembly to increase stability and reduce vibration transfer.
  • Carbon cartridge - supplied as standard on all Planar 2’s for simple plug and play convenience.
  • Motor cover tray - with integrated cooling.
  • Optional lid / plinth protectors - supplied to prevent marks on the plinth and keep it looking its best.
  • Instructions - Easy to use multi-lingual quick start guide for easy set up.

At a Glance

  • Drive System: Belt Drive
  • Speeds: 33 & 45 RPM
  • Type:  Fully Manual
  • Phono Preamplifier: No
  • Cartridge Included: Yes – Rega Carbon

The Rega Planar 2 turntable is without a doubt the most accurate, neutral, high resolution, low noise turntable anywhere near this price, and is rightly considered one of the supreme values in high end audio today.

The only thing wrong about that statement is that this is not really ‘high end’ audio – yes, of course, almost 800 dollars, even including a superb tonearm and an equally superb phono cartridge, is a big chunk of change, but you should know that the Rega P2 competes with, and often handily trounces, much, much more expensive turntables – seriously, I have heard ‘tables that are 3 to 4 times more money which don’t come close to the open, effortless quality of the Planar 2.

I think it has so much to do with the way Rega as a company is able to design and manufacture products at all levels which simply do not compromise in terms of interference – that is, resonance, physical/acoustical feedback, electrical or electronic interference, mechanical noise, friction or misalignment, all of these factors (and many I’m sure I don’t even know exist) are so perfectly controlled and.or essentially eliminated on this turntable.

And the result is a table that is as resolving of inner detail and subtle dynamic cues as I’ve ever heard short of a thousand dollars (with the possible exception of the Rega RP3 and the NAD I mentioned above), and one with an utterly silent background, a wholly immersive soundstage, deep bass extension and slam, eerily palpable vocals, shimmering and liquidly beautiful highs, timing, authority, energy and speed that are all at the highest levels imaginable, and essentially unimaginable at this price.

Yes, ultimately the higher priced Rega (which still needs a cartridge) and the NAD are slightly more accurate, effortless and transparent, with such tiny increases in energy, engagement and presence that only the best associated equipment will reveal the differences, but the Rega Planar 2 is actually more neutral in tonal balance than the NAD, and very close to both of them in every way, and is easily the best value turntable on the market today under a thousand dollars.


Best Turntable for 78s

Rega Planar 78 Dedicated 78RPM Turntable with RB220 Tonearm & Dust Cover

Rega Planar 78 Dedicated 78RPM Turntable with RB220 Tonearm & Dust Cover
  • The single speed RP78 has been designed and engineered to achieve outstanding performance way beyond the expectations of a product at this...
  • Designed solely for the reproduction of 78 rpm records, we have omitted any unnecessary gimmicks allowing us to concentrate the...
  • An evolution of the famous RB250, which was supplied as standard on early Planar 2 and P2 turntable, the RB220 uses our patent pending ultra...
  • Hand assembled RB220 Rega tonearm. Precision main bearing. Flywheel effect platter manufactured from phenolic resin which assists start up...
  • Light weight plinth. Low vibration 24v motor. Rega manufactures a dedicated 78 moving magnet cartridge, the RB78 (sold separately).

At a Glance

  • Drive System: Belt Drive
  • Speeds: 78 RPM
  • Type:  Fully Manual
  • Phono Preamplifier: No
  • Cartridge Included: No

This will be a brief section, because there is not that much to say about this very special, and very specialized, turntable, and there are very few other products to compare it with.

I haven’t properly auditioned the Rega Planar 78 in my own system, but I spent a thrilling and fascinating afternoon at a local hi-fi shop auditioning a system built around the P78, with the equally impressive Rega – RB78 Mono MM Cartridge, listening for hours and hours to old monaural 78 RPM records.

Three things kept coming to me again and again as I listened – energy, imaging and realism. We may dismiss antique 78s as records that will never provide any kind of accurate or satisfying sound, but with this turntable and cartridge I was blown away by how exactly the opposite was true, and so very dramatically so.

Energy, like real musical dynamics, expressive inflections, overall dynamic range, came through in such an immediate and physical way – not as powerful or impactful in a physical sense as a modern stereo recording, but in many ways more powerfully.

Imaging was absolutely mind-blowing, with properly played mono 78s casting a soundfield that is astonishingly large and open, and with actual specific placement in that sound stage (this was a system which used stereo speakers, but only mono (and pure analog) signals).

Realism was the main thing, though, and an outcome of the two above factors and so much more. Voices, instruments and even time and space had a quality that wasn’t realistic so much as real, in a way that modern playback systems don’t quite get.

Hey, didn’t I say this is going to be a brief section? I thought it would be because I myself have no way to explain how such old mono recordings can have such impact and authority, and sound so real and so alive, but in each and every case they did. So I can’t really offer any reasons or insight as to why the Rega 78 sounds so amazing, but when I think about it, and write about it, I get so excited that I tend to ramble on and on!

I haven’t compared my friend’s magical mono system to others, or the Rega Planar 78 to similar turntables, but by every account if you are putting together a serious 78 RPM mono record playback system the P78 is the only game in town, and it is a beautiful object unto itself, clearly built for a lifetime of use.


Best Mid-Priced Turntable

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO Turntable with Sumiko Rainier Cartridge

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO, Audiophile Turntable with Carbon Fiber tonearm, Electronic Speed...
  • 8.6" one-piece Carbon Fiber tonearm, integrated headshell
  • Electronic Speed Selection for 33&45 RPM (78 capable)
  • Low-friction precision sapphire tonearm bearings
  • Sumiko Rainier phono cartridge, factory mounted and precision aligned
  • Heavy 1.7kg Stamped Steel Platter w TPE Damping

At a Glance

  • Drive System: Belt Drive
  • Speeds: 33, 45 & 78 RPM
  • Type:  Fully Manual
  • Phono Preamplifier: No
  • Cartridge Included: Yes – Sumiko Rainier

I am sure that most people would expect to find the Fluance RT85 Reference Turntable here, and that super-popular and highly acclaimed turntable definitely deserves the recommendation, and is obviously one of the best mid-priced turntables you can get.

In fact, every single Fluance turntable, at every price level, is a wonderful piece, often the very best in its class, and they are all supreme values.

But I have had the opportunity to compare the Fluance 85 side by side with the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO, and while the Fluance does offer some real advantages – like a removable headshell, a better cartridge (Ortofon 2M Blue) and an auto-stop function – the Carbon EVO is just a better sounding turntable.

With the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO I immediately noticed an increase in focus – this is actually a pretty strong point with the Fluance RT85, but everything is even much more palpable with the Pro-Ject, with a more physical and convincing presence in time and space. Transient speed, detail, deep bass, dynamic expressivity and general openness are markedly better with the Debut Carbon, and it has a lower noise floor, and seems less susceptible to various kinds of physical / acoustic / electrical interference.

As regards the cartridge, yes, the Ortofon is a bit better than the Sumiko Rainier supplied with the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon, but the Rainier and the EVO seem to have a synergy which kind of transcends that, and the combination sounds fantastic – sweet, musical and a touch warm, while still maintaining real accuracy and neutrality.

I guess the Fluance RT85 is the more popular choice, but for my money I would always opt for the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO, which is a beautiful and finely made turntable with a fit and finish well beyond what we might expect, and a sound that is the best I’ve heard in this class.


Best Turntable For Archiving / Digital Recording – Mid-Priced

Pro-Ject T1 BT Turntable with Preamp and Bluetooth Wireless Audio

Pro-Ject T1 BT Turntable with Built-in Preamp and Wireless Audio Transmitter (Piano Black)
  • Tonearm and cartridge completely setup at the Factory for simple installation at home
  • 8mm thick bead-blasted glass platter
  • Premium mechanical parts used throughout for smooth, precise playback of records
  • Phono level outputs and built-in phono preamplifier for connection to any audio system
  • Wireless Audio transmitter for connection to BT enables speakers and Audio devices

At a Glance

  • Drive System: Belt Drive
  • Speeds: 33 & 45 RPM
  • Type:  Fully Manual
  • Phono Preamplifier: Yes
  • Cartridge Included: Yes – Ortofon OM5e
  • Digital Output: Bluetooth

So many of the qualities which make the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon special – the open, effortless sound, the sweet musicality, the exceptional resolution of detail and dynamics, the focus and the superior imaging, the very low levels of noise – are very much in evidence with this lovely Pro-Ject T1 Bluetooth turntable, which has the added advantages of a highly musical phono preamplifier, an excellent analog to digital conversion stage and Bluetooth wireless streaming.

The Carbon Debut EVO is actually the same price as this Pro-Ject T1 BT, but is pure analog and doesn’t need to put any resources into digital circuitry, and also doesn’t include a phono stage, and so it does sound better – a bit more neutral and transparent, with slightly lower noise and a more dynamic, fast and effortless quality overall – and includes a better cartridge as well.

But the Pro-Ject T1 BT is also, in its way, a truly best-of-class product, and a wonderful sounding turntable that also makes wonderful sounding digital transfers.

Both this Project T1 BT and their Debut EVO are what I would consider no-compromise turntables, and amazingly so for mid-priced units, and this Pro-Ject T1 BT turntable is a fantastic sounding ‘table for the price, and even without its advanced digital functionality it would be highly competitive – indeed, if it weren’t for the Debut, it might be my own choice at this level, even just for analog vinyl record playback.

In fact, I would be willing to say that, again not even factoring in the digital conversion and streaming capability, if you needed a turntable at this level that also includes a superb phono preamplifier, the Pro-Ject T1 BT should be at the top of your list.

But with all that sweet digital processing included – and not just add-on stuff, but a truly talented analog to digital converter which allows all of the essential qualities of the original record to come through with true fidelity – the Project T1 BT is an easy choice for best mid-priced turntable for digital recording and archiving your record collection, as well as a superb match for any high-end Bluetooth speaker system.


Best Affordable Turntable

Fluance RT83 Reference Turntable with Ortofon 2M Red Cartridge

Fluance RT83 Reference High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable Record Player with Ortofon 2M Red Cartridge,...
  • PURE ANALOG PERFORMANCE - The definitive vinyl record listening experience for beautifully warm and natural music, transporting you into the...
  • EXCEPTIONAL MUSICAL ACCURACY - Immerse yourself in the open, dynamic and warm sound of the Ortofon 2M Red elliptical cartridge delivering...
  • SPEED CONTROL FOR PRECISION PLAYBACK - The isolated motor prevents unwanted vibrations and noise while the speed control mechanism ensures...
  • High Mass MDF Wood Plinth - Revel in the gorgeously crafted cabinet with real wood finish and a highly precise metal platter with adjustable...
  • SPECTACULAR SIGNAL CLARITY - Caress your records with the balanced S-shaped tonearm for accurate tracking of the record groove and no...

At a Glance

  • Drive System: Belt Drive
  • Speeds: 33 & 45 RPM
  • Type:  Auto-Stop
  • Phono Preamplifier: No
  • Cartridge Included: Yes – Ortofon 2M Red

I kind of gave another Fluance turntable, the Fluance RT85, short shrift above, in my recommendation for best mid-priced turntable, as I had to admit that as excellent as the 85 is, the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO is something really special.

But here, at the more affordable level, there is no doubt: the Fluance RT83 is by far the finest turntable I’ve found.

The Fluance RT83 has amazing authority – almost unbelievable, in fact, at this low price – with real power and real dynamic expressiveness, tons of resolution, wide-open and immersive imaging and serious deep bass slam. A lot of attention has gone into reducing all kinds of feedback, interference and noise, and the RT83 really allows music to emerge from silence with ease and natural beauty.

It’s so rare to find a turntable that offers such a combination of delightfully musical and engaging sound and the highest levels of honesty and accuracy imaginable at this level, but that is, in a nutshell, why the RT83 is one of my favorites..

A beautiful turntable with very high levels of fit and finish, material quality and reliability, the Fluance RT83 is a great choice on all levels, and a joy to use and to listen to – an easy choice for best affordable turntable, and a fantastic value.


Best Turntable For Archiving / Digital Recording – Affordable

Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB Direct-Drive Turntable with USB Output

Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK Direct-Drive Turntable (Analog & USB), Fully Manual, Hi-Fi, 3 Speed,...
  • Experience the high-fidelity audio of vinyl
  • Direct-drive, DC servo motor with selectable 33/45/78 RPM speeds. Damped base construction for reduced low-frequency feedback coloration
  • Fully manual operation featuring adjustable dynamic anti-skate control, variable pitch control with quartz speed lock, and balanced S-shaped...
  • Convert your vinyl records to digital audio files by downloading and using the free Mac- and PC-compatible Audacity recording software (or...
  • Includes: USB cable, detachable RCA output cable (dual RCA male to dual RCA male), AC adapter, 45 RPM adapter, counterweight, felt mat, and...

At a Glance

  • Drive System: Belt Drive
  • Speeds: 33, 45 & 78 RPM
  • Type:  Fully Manual
  • Phono Preamplifier: Yes
  • Cartridge Included: Yes – Audio-Technica AT-VM95E
  • Digital Output: USB

If ever a turntable simply breathed quality, it is the Audio-Technica  AT-LP120XUSB, which has a solidity and a professional feel that makes one think it must be much more expensive than it really is.

The sound of the LP120 is also at a higher level than you’d expect – not flashy, overly warm, phase enhanced, bass boosted or whatever some of the affordable turntables get up to in order to sound ‘better,’ but a simple and honest approach, with extreme physical, acoustic and electromagnetic isolation and exceptionally low noise, and a sound that is neutral, open, highly detailed and revealing but never analytic in nature.

Imaging is fantastic for the price, as is deep bass extension, and for all its neutrality the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB is warmly musical, and its dynamic energy and life make listening such a pleasure.

The LP120XUSB also makes fantastic digital recordings, with an analog to digital converter that is itself surprisingly musical, as well as highly accurate, neutral and unrestricted in sound. The speed adjustment and the standard USB output make recording and editing easy and effective.

There are tons and tons of affordable turntables with digital outputs and phono preamplifiers these days, but the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB (which is among the most highly rated and best reviewed turntables at any price level) is the very best I’ve found – in design and functionality, in build quality and in sound. Highly recommended!

You might also want to consider the AT-LP120XBT, which is the same in every way but has both USB and wireless streaming outputs, making it a great archiving solution as well as a great match for Bluetooth wireless speakers and systems.


Best Budget Turntable

Fluance RT80 High Fidelity Turntable with Audio Technica AT91 Cartridge

Fluance RT80 Classic High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable Record Player with Audio Technica AT91 Cartridge,...
  • Premium components allow this high fidelity belt driven turntable to produce a pure analog listening experience that recreates the...
  • High performance Audio Technica cartridge produces outstanding clarity. The diamond tipped stylus is designed to track your record grooves...
  • Perfect playback using the balanced aluminum S-Type tonearm ensures the stylus is rested deep in your record's groove, producing every audio...
  • Each turntable is beautifully crafted with thick, engineered wood, incorporating isolation feet & an aluminum platter which results in...
  • Captivating signal clarity is produced with a high quality Texas Instruments preamp, ground terminal and gold plated RCA line outputs that...

At a Glance

  • Drive System: Belt Drive
  • Speeds: 33 & 45 RPM
  • Type:  Fully Manual
  • Phono Preamplifier: Yes
  • Cartridge Included: Yes – Audio Technica AT91

Best Turntable For Archiving / Digital Recording – Budget

Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT-BK Fully Automatic Bluetooth Belt-Drive Turntable

Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT-BK Fully Automatic Bluetooth Belt-Drive Stereo Turntable, Black, Hi-Fi, 2...
  • Fully automatic operation with 2 speeds: 33-1/3 rpm and 45 rpm
  • Anti-resonance, die-cast aluminum platter
  • Redesigned tonearm base and headshell for improved tracking and reduced resonance
  • Integral Dual Moving Magnet phono cartridge with replaceable diamond stylus (ATN3600L)
  • High-fidelity audio with Bluetooth wireless technology

At a Glance

  • Drive System: Belt Drive
  • Speeds: 33 & 45 RPM
  • Type:  Fully Automatic
  • Phono Preamplifier: Yes
  • Cartridge Included: Yes – Audio-Technica ATN3600L
  • Digital Output: Bluetooth

I’m going to talk about my two budget picks – the Fluance RT80 and the Audio-Technica AT-60 – together here, because they seem to share a lot of the same qualities and are strikingly similar in many ways.

For one thing, both of these super-affordable turntables can still hold their own and bear up to direct comparison to my more expensive picks. Yes, on pretty much all levels they’ll show a lower level of performance – less dynamic energy, less deep bass information and definition, slightly higher noise floor, slightly constricted imaging and so on – but the margin will be smaller than you’d think.

And if you compare either the Fluance RT80 or the Audio-Technica AT-LPX60BT to similar-priced turntables, ones more on their own level, you will simply be blown away. They both have an ease, an openness, speed, transparency and musicality – not to mention real neutrality and accuracy – that is astonishing for their price.

They are both also possibly the most highly rated, popular and widely acclaimed turntables of their type – and this has so much to do with not just the power, clarity and effortlessness of their sound as the warm musicality they bring – or at least the way they both allow the warm musicality of analog vinyl records to shine through.

The Fluance RT80 is a basic fully manual turntable with a phono preamplifier, and is the most truly audiophile level turntable I know for under 200 dollars. It is also beautifully finished and has excellent material and build quality, and people seem without exception to love owning, using and listening to their 80.

The Audio-Technica AT-LPX60BT is, if anything, an even better built machine, with a real professional feel and obvious material quality throughout – not as pretty, perhaps, as the Fluance, but a quality piece. The 60BT is also a pretty basic turntable, but does have a decent phono preamplifier and a surprisingly excellent digital converter and Bluetooth streaming, allowing you to make digital recordings of your precious vinyl with very high levels of accuracy and fidelity, and with amazing musicality, warmth and energy.

For accuracy, clarity and musicality at the lowest possible price level, the Fluance RT80 is the best budget turntable I have used in a long time. And for the best budget turntable for digital recording at that same bargain-basement price level, the Audio-Technica AT6LPX60BT is unsurpassed, and is very close to the Fluance for full analog record playback as well.

Either way you can’t go wrong, and in both cases these are turntables that maintain and successfully incorporate the ideals of every other turntable on this list of best turntables below a thousand dollars – excellence in engineering, design, material and build quality, beauty in form and true utility in function, and absolutely beautiful, exceptionally honest and engaging sound.