Home Turntables Best Record Players Under $500 Reviews

Best Record Players Under $500 Reviews

I often get asked, “Where can I get a decent sound at a low price?” Well, you know, it takes a big dollar to get high-quality audio. The lower prices always cut some possibilities and the assembling quality.

Luckily, there is a happy medium – the best turntable under $500. Yes, these models do not guarantee you audiophile sound quality, but they are superior to competitors from the budget class, and some are even close to the top level.

So, if you want to begin your vinyl journey from a good deck and hear how analog really sounds, do consider one of the top turntables under $500 from this list. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

Our pick
Fluance RT85
Fluance RT85
Best Turntable Under $500
This turntable will make your plates sound deep and rich with its Ortofon Blue cartridge – the best in this price range. Read the full review.

Turntables under $500 comparison table

Name Speeds Phono pre-amp RCA Review
Fluance RT85 best overall 33 1/3, 45 no yes Review
Pro-Ject T1 also a great choice 33 1/3, 45 no yes Review
U-Turn Audio Orbit Plus under $400 33 1/3, 45 no yes Review
Denon DP-400 semi-automatic 33 1/3, 45, 78 yes yes Review

What to expect from a record player under $500?

what to expect from a record player under $500?

I’d say that the soul of vinyl is living here… at a mid-range price.. Spending 500 bucks for a proper gadget is practical for enthusiastic rookies or those people who are tired of an entry-level vinyl sound. The lowest limit for a decent LP player is about 200 bucks. You can easily double the price and get a significant boost in sound quality. However, if you don’t know what to look for in record players, read our buyers guide for the answers.

Note that the sound depends not only on the audio gear you have but also on your vinyl plates.

When buying a turntable for about $500, you can expect decent-quality mechanical parts and good assembly. The design of these players is usually typical and classic, meaning you can place this LP turntable in the middle of the traditional interior. Almost all of the models are covered by wood, matte and glossy metal. They are looking strict but gorgeous and pompous.

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Best turntable under $500 reviews

Fluance RT85 – best overall

Fluance RT85 features

Looking for the best semi-automatic turntable under $500? Fluance has got you covered! Fluance is a Canadian company that has been manufacturing speakers since 1999. Their interest grew over time to include spinners and other audio equipment. The RT85 is the brand’s finest mid-range product, well-known and valued by many vinyl aficionados – just check at the countless positive reviews!

The RT85 exemplifies the wonderful results that can be achieved when accuracy and superb craftsmanship come together. First of all, I love this player’s appearance – its glossy finish gives it a sleek and modern aesthetic. However, such a finish is quite the magnet for fingerprints, something I’ve noticed when using the table. On the other hand, a bit of regular wiping is all it takes to keep it looking sharp, though, which, honestly, is a pretty easy trade-off considering how elegant it looks.

Fluance RT85 sound

The next thing I really appreciate in the RT85 is its build quality. Even without a mat, vibrations are dampened thanks to the clever design of the high-mass plinth, acrylic platter, and customizable resonance-absorbing feet. It allows for a very distinct and dynamic audio experience.

Finally, I can’t help but mention the Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge – it allows this model to compete with systems that cost twice as much. The cartridge delivers a consistently clear sound across all frequencies. The midrange is notably fuller, and the bass is deeper without any muddying effects. I’ve experienced this firsthand when playing a variety of records. For instance, when I spun Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon,’ the intricate layers of sound were reproduced with great clarity, each instrument distinct and full-bodied. And it’s not just the new pressings that shine; my oldest LPs, like a vintage Beatles album, sound revitalized. The scratches and pops inherent in older vinyl are there, of course, but the overall warmth and richness of the sound are truly enhanced.

Fluance RT85 is the best turntable under $500 available on today’s market. It boasts a killing combination of great build, top-quality components, excellent sound, and reasonable price. What not to love about it?

Key specs

  • Drive type: belt.
  • Operation type: fully-manual.
  • Speeds, RPM: 33 1/3, 45.
  • Cartridge: Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge.
  • Built-in preamp: no.
  • Bluetooth: no.
  • USB: no.
  • AUX: no.


  • Weighty & stable.
  • Functions perfectly.
  • Effortless tonearm balancing.
  • Gorgeous shiny wooden finish.
  • Rubber pads perfectly cushion the table.


  • A bit fragile tonearm.
  • Inconvenient semi-automatic mode.
  • Cheap cue-lever.

Pro-Ject T1 – also a great choice

Pro-Ject T1 features

Modern technology, good sound quality, and a reasonable price are combined in the Pro-Ject T1. Like other vinyl turntables of the brand, T Line is made of high-quality materials in strict style. The manufacturer offers a choice of three colors: Walnut, White, and Piano black.

The relative affordability of the turntable is achieved by the base, which is made of solid, full-size particleboard. The material is inexpensive but sturdy and dense enough. In addition, the reduces electromagnetic interference. But the distinguishing detail of the Pro-Ject T1 is that the power supply and motor are built into the chassis. That way, the belt doesn’t fly off when you transfer the rotation to the sub-disk.

Another notable feature of this model is its tempered glass base plate, which helps balance the turntable’s structure and reduce resonance. However, this sleek design comes with a caveat. The lightness of the table, surprising for its price range, means it can easily slide around if not carefully handled. While aesthetically pleasing, this lightweight design demands extra caution during use.

The tonearm, an 8.6-inch aluminum piece, is built for precision and features low-friction bearings. It’s fitted with an Ortofon OM 5E cartridge, ready to use straight out of the box, which is ideal for beginners. However, I’ve experienced some challenges with this setup. The tonearm tends to skate at the start of records, causing skips in the initial moments of play. This issue became particularly concerning with valuable records, such as my copy of John Coltrane’s ‘Giant Steps.’ Additionally, the slightly oversized spindle made it tricky to remove records without risking damage.

Pro-Ject T1 sound

Despite a few hiccups in its design, the Pro-Ject T1 really delivers where it matters most: the sound. There’s a warmth in the audio that really brings records to life, whether it’s the deep, resonant bass lines in jazz classics or the crisp, clear highs in modern pop tracks.

I like that the T1 has a grounded phono cable integrated into its base, eliminating the need to find the right cable to connect it to a phono stage or other device. The turntable comes with special feet that perfectly isolate the player from external resonance irritants, and the transparent cover protects it from dust and dirt. Finally, it is also equipped with a phono stage, Bluetooth output, and a speed control button, in addition to its basic features.

The Pro-Ject T1 is a commendable turntable, blending modern technology with good sound quality at a reasonable price. Its sleek design and user-friendly features, like the pre-mounted Ortofon cartridge, make it a solid choice for beginners. However, when compared to the Fluance RT85, it falls slightly short due to its lighter build and tonearm skating issues. While the T1 excels in convenience and aesthetics, the RT85’s superior craftsmanship and audio performance give it an edge for serious vinyl enthusiasts.

Key specs

  • Drive type: belt.
  • Operation type: fully-manual.
  • Speeds, RPM: 33 1/3, 45.
  • Cartridge: Ortofon OM5e cartridge.
  • Built-in preamp: yes.
  • Bluetooth: no.
  • USB: no.
  • AUX: no.


  • Great sound for its price.
  • Nice appearance.
  • Easy to set up.
  • Quality Ortofon OM5e cartridge.


  • Limited upgrade options.
  • Tonearm skating issues.
  • Some records fit too tightly on the spindle, making them difficult to remove.
  • Lightweight design – while sleek, the turntable may move or shift if not handled gently, lacking stability.
Here, you can read more about external amplifiers.

U-Turn Audio Orbit Plus – best under $400

U-Turn Audio Orbit Plus features

If you need a simple, good-sounding player without big investments, do consider the U-Turn Audio Orbit Plus – the best turntable under 400.
Its heavy acrylic platter and precision gimbal tonearm, coupled with the pre-balanced Ortofon OM5E cartridge, ensure an effortless spin and a gentle, precise needle drop onto the record surface. The factory-set cartridge and tracking adjustments simplify the initial setup.

However, the turntable does have its drawbacks. The absence of auto-cue and auto-stop features means you need to be more hands-on and careful with the needle placement. The dust cover hinges are a bit flimsy (more flexible plastic than sturdy hinge), which can be a bit frustrating. The tonearm rest, while it does the job, feels somewhat cheap and could be better designed.

Cartridge upgrades aren’t as straightforward as they could be. The counterweight is fixed, so adjusting for a different cartridge requires a bit more effort and potentially additional equipment like a tracking force scale. I found the factory setting to be accurate for the included cartridge, but keep this in mind if you’re considering changing it.

U-Turn Audio Orbit Plus sound

The sound quality of the Audio Orbit Plus is pretty solid for its price. It handles different types of music well enough – rock tracks come through clearly, and jazz tunes have a decent clarity, though it doesn’t quite capture the full depth you might find in more expensive models. What surprised me was how well the player kept steady when there were small bumps or taps near it – the music played on without skipping a beat, which is a big plus in a busy household.

I also love this model’s sleek, minimalistic design that will complement any home style without taking up too much space. Moreover, you can choose from six different vivid colors to make your environment even more appealing.

In summary, the U-Turn Audio Orbit Plus is a solid choice for an affordable, entry-level turntable. But while it offers decent sound quality for its price, be prepared for a hands-on experience and some limitations in customization. Its sleek design and color options are a bonus for those valuing aesthetics.

Key specs

  • Drive type: belt.
  • Operation type: fully-manual.
  • Speeds, RPM: 33 1/3, 45.
  • Cartridge: Ortofon OM5e cartridge.
  • Built-in preamp: yes.
  • Bluetooth: no.
  • USB: no.
  • AUX: no.


  • Easy setup.
  • Good sound quality.
  • The heavy acrylic platter contributes to smooth and consistent playback, minimizing disturbances.
  • Modern, minimalist design available in six different colors, fitting well in various home decor.


  • Lacks auto-cue and auto-stop functions, requiring more hands-on operation.
  • The dust cover is supported by weak, flexible plastic hinges that are less durable and functional.
  • The tonearm rest feels cheap and does not secure it as firmly as it could.
  • Limited cartridge customization.

Denon DP-400 – semi-automatic

Denon DP-400 features

Having spent a significant amount of time with the Denon DP-400, I must say it’s been a journey of mixed feelings.

At first glance, the DP-400 presents a modern, elegant design. Setting it up was straightforward, but I quickly encountered its first shortfall – the dust cover. It’s lightweight and unsettlingly easy to dislodge. This isn’t just a minor inconvenience – it speaks to the overall build quality, which feels lacking in robustness.

This model handles 33 1/3, 45, and even 78 RPM records. This versatility is a significant plus for collectors like me who have a range of vinyl from different eras. However, the sound quality, while decent, doesn’t quite hit the mark. The built-in phono equalizer is a nice touch, yet the unit’s motor noise is hard to ignore. This constant whirring detracted from the listening experience, particularly during quieter passages of music.

Denon DP-400 sound

On the plus side, the detachable RCA cables and the dual MM and MC cartridge support offer a degree of flexibility. The horizontal tracking angled tonearm, which ensures needle safety, is a thoughtful feature, too.

When pitted against a turntable like the Fluance RT85, the Denon DP-400’s shortcomings become more pronounced. The RT85, in a similar price bracket, boasts superior build quality, notably less motor noise, and a more refined audio experience, thanks to its high-quality Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge. It delivers a clearer, fuller sound and better isolates vibrations.

To sum up, the Denon DP-400, while a serviceable entry in the midrange market, leaves room for improvement. Its motor noise, build quality issues, and practical design oversights make it a less compelling option, especially when compared to models like the Fluance RT85, which offer a more polished experience for a similar investment.

Key specs

  • Drive type: belt.
  • Operation type: semi-automatic.
  • Speeds, RPM: 33 1/3, 45, 78.
  • Cartridge: pre-mounted Denon MM cartridge.
  • Built-in preamp: yes.
  • Bluetooth: no.
  • USB: no.
  • AUX: no.


  • Versatile speed settings.
  • User-friendly controls.
  • Features a horizontal tracking angled tonearm with auto lift and playback stop.
  • Supports both MM and MC cartridges.
  • Ready to use out of the box.


  • The dust cover is lightweight and can be easily dislodged, raising concerns about durability and protection.
  • Audible motor whirring during operation, which can be distracting.
  • The turntable can be sensitive to vibrations and may require careful placement or additional isolation.
I also made a list of the turntables with built-in preampbuilt-in preamp.

Music Hall MMF-1.5

Music Hall MMF-1.5 features

My experience with the Music Hall MMF-1.5 was a mix of modest highs and noticeable lows, explaining its place at the tail end of my reviews.

This player immediately charms with its real cherry wood veneer, exuding a warmth that complements any room’s decor. Unboxing and setting it up was quite straightforward. The overall design, with its S-shaped tonearm and full-size aluminum platter, promises a lot at first glance.

The table comes equipped with the Music Hall Melody cartridge and seems ready to deliver. Yet, as I spun my first record – a pressing of Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” – the limitations became apparent. The included conical stylus, frankly, lacked the finesse I’ve experienced with more sophisticated setups. Upgrading to an elliptical stylus (which is an added expense) might bring out more nuances in the sound.

Music Hall MMF-1.5 sound

The S-shaped tonearm and removable headshell are a nod to flexibility, but the factory cartridge alignment didn’t hit the mark perfectly. Inner track distortion was noticeable, prompting me to consider a cartridge realignment with a protractor – another added step for optimal performance. Moreover, the need for a stroboscope to accurately adjust the platter speed speaks to a lack of precision in its design.

But despite these drawbacks, it’s not all gloomy skies. The MMF-1.5’s built-in phono pre-amplifier, which can be bypassed, and its adjustable electronic speed control are good features.

Wrapping things up, the Music Hall MMF-1.5 is like the first rung on a ladder. It’s a starting point, offering a glimpse into the world of vinyl with its aesthetic appeal and basic functionality. However, for those seeking a refined audio experience, this turntable might fall short, nudging them towards more sophisticated models.

Key specs

  • Drive type: belt.
  • Operation type: fully-manual.
  • Speeds, RPM: 33 1/3, 45, 78.
  • Cartridge: Music Hall Melody MM cartridge.
  • Built-in preamp: yes.
  • Bluetooth: no.
  • USB: no.
  • AUX: no.


  • Features a real cherry wood veneer, offering an attractive and warm appearance.
  • Capable of playing 33⅓, 45, and 78 RPM records.
  • Includes a phono pre-amp with a bypass option.
  • Comes with an S-shaped aluminum tonearm and a removable headshell for easy cartridge swapping.
  • Includes high-quality gold RCA connectors.


  • Factory cartridge alignment might not be optimal, potentially necessitating manual adjustment with a protractor.
  • Issues with speed accuracy, requiring additional tools for precision.

Buyers guide

turntable under $500 buyers guide

What should you look for in turntables under $500?

The audio system is complex, meaning that every part of the audio set matters. First off, your vinyl plates should have a clean surface – without scratches, dust, signs or cracks. Of course, your speakers should also have proper reliability and a certain level of quality. There is no sense to buy an expensive audiophile turntable without powerful and crystal dynamics. The room’s acoustic parameters are also quite important, and this aspect must be taken into account.

However, your turntable plays the first role in the sound scene. That’s why price and quality always matters. So, what to look for in the best turntables under 500 dollars?

The foundation of a good turntable should be heavy and solid. In the cheap audio gadgets, the bottom part is plastic, which is unacceptable for some valuable plates. With a heavy wooden or metal foundation, the sounds go deeper and have more velvet notes, and the risk of skating is reduced. The tonearm should be perfectly balanced – and in the models on my list, it is an aluminum cast, not some cheap acrylic matter. Also, pay attention to the quality of the assembly. Parts and components should look sturdy and organic. Check the balance and determine how stable the model is. This, too, affects the final sound quality. These are the basic aspects I suggest you pay attention to when looking for turntables under $500.

How to pick the right phono preamp to record player?

The main thing about a phono preamp is the sound consistency of the whole audio set. It should enrich the sound, not make it worse. Here are a few simple tips on how to choose the right preamp:

One of the most important factors is the input impedance of the preamp. You want to make sure that the impedance of your preamp matches that of your cartridge, or you may experience decreased sound quality.

Another thing to consider is how much gain you need from your preamp. If you have a low-output cartridge, you’ll need a preamp with more gain than if you have a high-output cartridge.

Finally, think about how much money you want to spend on your preamp. There are many affordable options available, but there are also some high-end models that can cost a lot of money. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what’s better for your needs.

What’s the difference between MC and MM cartridges?

Every single self-moving detail of the LP player is powered by electricity. MC and MM are the marks of the cartridge technology that indeed are important for sound. Do you ever see a volume wheel on professional headphones? No. Because this part could influence the output sound. A similar thing is with cartridges.

The MM is standing for magnet moving technology. These cartridges are less complicated when they are assembled. The electrical scheme with a single circuit is more affordable since it contains less copper and alloys. Also, the main electric parameters for MM are always the same. Manufacturers can produce many relatively cheap models.

The MC is standing for moving coils. And every type of coil is unique. It has its resistance, inductance and capacitance. When it comes to low-output parts – the MC cartridges are similar. But for high-output models, the type of coil is individual. For the non-physic people: lesser resistance always means duller sound. But you still need to listen to every plate record player with your ears.

I also recommend replacing your needle every 500 hours of use.

What turntables under $500 we also tested?

In my review of sub-$500 turntables, Rega Planar 1 and Audio-Technica AT-LP140XP were tested but didn’t make the cut due to their significant flaws and questionable value for their price.

Rega Planar 1

Rega Planar 1 features

The Rega Planar 1 features decent sound quality, boasting dynamic range, detailed treble, and robust bass. Setup is remarkably easy, though the lack of an auto shut-off and tracking adjustment is noticeable. However, the player’s major downside is the inadequate grounding, leading to significant buzzing issues, a surprising oversight for its nearly $500 price tag. While sonically pleasant, the grounding flaw and high cost make it a less appealing choice, especially given more reliable alternatives in the market.

Audio-Technica AT-LP140XP – for DJ

Audio-Technica AT-LP140XP features

Testing the Audio-Technica AT-LP140XP, I was initially drawn to its sleek look and straightforward setup. As a jazz enthusiast, I found the sound quality rich and deep, even with the stock headshell. However, I can’t overlook some glaring issues. The cue lever and feet feel disappointingly cheap, detracting from the overall build quality. Also, the tracking light mechanism feels flimsy and poorly designed. A significant annoyance was the machine noise during quieter moments, though some DIY oiling did help. The mat’s corrugation causing ripples in records was another letdown, requiring makeshift solutions.

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