HouseTechGuys Turntables The Best Turntables Best Record Player Under $500 Reviews

You are probably here because you have decided to get serious about upgrading your audio system. Or you are looking for your first vinyl record player and want to buy a decent deck right away. In that case, this brief review of the best turntables under $500 will be very useful for you. Because in this category, you can find a lot of great record players on the market today that will last you a long time. They can also be upgraded over time. Anyway, they are initially a great starting point to enter the world of vinyl.

Our pick
Fluance RT85
Fluance RT85
Best turntable under $500
Fluance RT85 is a Record Player with Ortofon 2M Blue Cartridge, Acrylic Platter, Speed Control Motor, High Mass MDF Wood Plinth, and Vibration Isolation Feet. Read the full review.
Name Drive type Operation type Speeds Phono Pre-Amp Bluetooth Review
Fluance RT85 best overall belt manual 33 1/3, 45 no no Review
Sony PS-LX310BT budget belt fully-automatic 33 1/3, 45 yes yes Review
Pro-Ject T1 Phono SB also a great choice belt manual 33 1/3, 45 yes no Review

Of course, the cost of the turntable depends on many factors, including the brand. And it, in most cases, guarantees the quality of the device. But along with such record players, some companies on the market produce decent alternatives in the same price range, although not as famous. Believe me, they are also worth our attention. So in this article, I will consider different models that, in my opinion, are top turntables under $500.

Best turntable under $500 reviews

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Fluance RT85 – best overall

Today in the Fluance RT85 review, I suggest getting to know the Canadian record player made in Taiwan in detail. On the manufacturer's website, it has a long name: Fluance RT85 Reference High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable. And I will share my opinion about this great worth of your attention device.

Design

Fluance RT85

There are four colors in the Fluance RT85 line. You can choose the one that fits your interior: Natural Walnut, Piano Black, Piano White, or Lucky Bamboo. Each comes with an acrylic dust cover and gloves to keep the glossy surface clean. The MDF case is strong and solid, standing on three adjustable rubber feet, and that means assured balance on uneven surfaces and maximum absence of vibration. Its weight is 17 pounds.

The 12-inch diameter acrylic solid (3 pounds) platter is also designed to dampen vibration and speed stability. All in all, every detail is thoughtfully designed to save you the hassle of setting up and using the turntable. All control is performed with a single knob on the cabinet, designed to change speeds and turn the record player off.

Rounding out the image is a static-balanced, S-shaped aluminum tonearm with anti-skating adjustment. So, in general, nothing extra, only restraint, without superfluous details, but so elegant.

Features

Fluance RT85 photo

First of all, it is a manual Fluance turntable with a belt drive and insulated motor, so it does not create additional noise during operation. The RT85 has two rotational speeds (33 ⅓ rpm and 45 rpm), which can be switched with a simple knob on the plinth and also has an auto-stop function.

The Ortofon M2 Blue Moving Magnet cartridge with a diamond stylus deserves special attention. It is the true advantage of the Fluance RT85, which is half its price. It will not leave you indifferent because it is accurate and long-lasting.

It is important to know that this model does not have a built-in phono stage. This is more of a plus, as it will allow you to set up your stereo in the best way possible. But it is an additional cost to your budget. The system is connected to the turntable via the two standard RCA outputs on the back panel and the gold-plated RCA cables that come with it.

Sound

You will surely appreciate the clean, undistorted bass and spacious soundstage, the stylish retro design, and the quality of the individual parts of the Fluance RT85. The manufacturer has really tried to eliminate all extraneous factors that can affect noise and vibration as much as possible. The cartridge captures sound in detail and clarity, so you can enjoy the clean analog sound.

Key specs
  • Drive type: belt.
  • Operation type: manual.
  • Speeds, RPM: 33 1/3, 45.
  • Phono Pre-Amp: no.
  • Speakers: has stereo outup.
  • Bluetooth: no.
  • USB: no.
  • AUX: no.

Fluance RT85 is the best turntable under $500. It proved to be better than all the rivals on my list. You will appreciate the clean, undistorted bass and spacious soundstage, the stylish retro design, and the quality of the individual parts of the Fluance RT85. The manufacturer has really tried to eliminate all extraneous factors that can affect noise and vibration as much as possible. The cartridge captures sound in detail and clarity, so you can enjoy the clean analog sound.

Pros
  • The S-shaped aluminum tonearm with anti-skating adjustment is better than the straight one.
  • Diamond stylus cartridge.
  • Dust cover and gloves.
Cons
  • No built-in phono stage.

Sony PS-LX310BT – budget

Today I bring to your attention the Sony PS-LX310BT review. It is a mid-priced player that takes into account all the needs for easy installation and use. Moreover, Sony has long been a mark of quality in modern technology production, which means you are supposed to hope for a really good product. Let's see if this is true.

Design

Sony PS-LX310BT

Weighing approximately 7.7 pounds, the record player is a rather elegant device made of black plastic. An understated style, suitable for any room. All the buttons and controls are also located on the cabinet, so you don't have to look all over the enclosure for the needed controls. Everything is simple: start, stop, gear shift, as well as switching the size of the used records (7" and 12") and the tonearm control button. I don't see the difficulty in controlling the tonearm manually, but full automation means you don't do anything by hand (except set the record).

To the touch and appearance, the deck doesn't look cheap, though it rather gives the impression of having been produced somewhere in the 90s of the last century. It's even nice. An 11.65-inch cast aluminum disc and a dust cover complete the design.

Features

Sony PS-LX310BT photo

The Sony turntable is simple not only in exterior design but also in setup. All you have to do after taking it out of the box is install the belt, motor pulley, and platter. All settings are already in order, including anti-skating and downforce of the already built-in cartridge as well. The Moving Magnet cartridge is easy to replace or install - it's removable. Records can be played at 33 1/3 rpm and 45 rpm. I should point out that the materials for this model are inexpensive and fragile, so handle them gently.

The PS-LX310BT comes with a built-in phono stage. Of course, for this price, you shouldn't expect something fantastic from it, but the manufacturer tried to make a fully automatic "plug and play" vinyl player. So the phono preamp is more of a plus. The more so is that you can always connect an external one with the RCA cable, which is included in the package, through the phono output on the deck's rear panel.

I consider the USB Type-B output jack and the Bluetooth feature to be a nice bonus. Although I'm not a fan of digitized sound, it's still a plus for those who prefer to listen to music on headphones but don't want to be tethered to the source by a wire.

Sound

As for the sound, as you have guessed, you should not expect anything supernatural or highly professional. The parts on which the sound depends are inexpensive and not of the highest quality. But if you know about sound and want to improve its detail, it is worth spending a little money on upgrading, and the system will sound in a new way. For example, a good external phono preamp and a more advanced cartridge will change the situation beyond recognition.

On the other hand, if you are not a professional, you will be satisfied with the sound in the standard package. In fact, the PS-LX310BT produces a tight, rich, clear performance. I did not hear any noticeable perceptible crackling or buzzing. The sound is stable, with a wide range of musical colors. As a musician, I missed the detail, but I think the turntable is up to the task for its segment.

Key specs
  • Drive type: belt.
  • Operation type: fully-automatic.
  • Speeds, RPM: 33 1/3, 45.
  • Phono Pre-Amp: yes.
  • Phono out: yes.
  • Speakers: no.
  • Bluetooth: yes.
  • USB: output port Type-B.
  • AUX: no.

Having analyzed its capabilities and financial component, I can say that this is the best budget record player with the preamp. The parts on which the sound depends are inexpensive and not of the highest quality. But if you know about sound and want to improve its detail, it is worth spending a little money on upgrading, and the system will sound in a new way. As standard, the PS-LX310BT produces a tight, rich, crisp, stable sound with a wide range of musical colors.

Pros
  • The built-in phono stage saves money at the start.
  • Bluetooth feature.
Cons
  • The sound lacks detailing.

Pro-Ject T1 Phono SB – also a great choice

The mid-price segment of turntables offers a very wide range of choices. Unfortunately, it is very easy to get confused or make the wrong choice in such an abundance of models. So you should pay attention to the details that can distinguish a particular device, putting it at a level worthy of your attention. In this Pro-Ject T1 Phono SB review, I will tell you about a record player of good build quality, sound, and straightforward operation, as well as a detailed examination of its features.

Design

Pro-Ject T1 Phono SB

The lightweight and portable Pro-Ject T1 weighs only 8.4 pounds and measures 415x100x335 mm without a single plastic part. The medium-density, cavity-free fiberboard deck is available in three colors: Gloss Black, Satin White, and Walnut Veneer, so you can choose to match your interior. Its very discreet, elegant design is not overloaded with anything. The only On/Off switch is on the bottom left - you don't have to look for it. It's very handy.

Although the manufacturer compensated for the lightness of the turntable with a heavy 8mm abrasive glass plate with a felt mat, and it is quite capable of handling vibration problems, unfortunately, the feet are not adjustable, so you better set the turntable on an as flat surface as possible.

The 8.6" straight aluminum tonearm is also very lightweight but sturdy and will last a long time. The overall visual impression of the deck is very nice and doesn't look cheap. It comes with a dust cover, and a high-quality Connect it E RCA Phono cable.

Features

Pro-Ject T1 Phono SB photo

The Phono SB is an upgraded version of the T1, so it has some bonuses. Such as the Precision Belt Drive with precisely adjustable speed stability and 33/45 RPM electronic speed changeover.

The deck also has a built-in preamp, so you don't have to splurge to buy one. But thanks to the RCA Phono/Line output switch, you can always connect an external preamp to enhance your audio system.

The tonearm has a very good built-in Ortofon OM5e moving-magnet cartridge. It is pretty expensive separately, but it's qualitative and durable, so you don't have to worry about replacing it in years to come. In general, the tonearm's design inspires confidence with its anti-resonance action, thanks to the low-friction bearing of the tonearm and the absence of vibrations. The Wow and Flutter provide a range of 0.23% - 0.25%. Considering the price and the handmade European assembly, this is great functionality!

Sound

The T1 Phono SB turntable produces a very warm, enveloping sound. It won't probably satisfy the sophisticated audiophile's needs because its bass is not the cleanest and most detailed, but it is quite compensated by the low and midrange frequencies. The upper frequencies are also quite good, without any outright flaws, creating an overall pleasant picture. I did not hear any outright shortcomings, noise, or blurring, which means that T1 Phono SB copes with its task, suppressing noise and vibrations. And taking into account its elegant appearance, functionality, and ease of setup - I would conclude that it is worth its money.

Key specs
  • Drive type: belt.
  • Operation type: manual.
  • Speeds, RPM: 33 1/3, 45.
  • Phono Pre-Amp: yes.
  • Speakers: no.
  • Bluetooth: no.
  • USB: no.
  • AUX: no.

The T1 Phono SB automatic turntable is perfect for those who like plug-and-play devices. Its bass is not the cleanest and most detailed, but the low and middle frequencies compensate for it. The upper frequencies are also quite good, without outright flaws, creating an overall pleasant picture. And given its elegant appearance, functionality, and ease of setup – it is worth its money.

Pros
  • Fully automatic.
  • Easy setup.
Cons
  • Not much in the way of upgrades.

1byone H009

In this 1byone H009 review, I want to tell you about a nice retro-style all-in-one record player. The turntable is inexpensive but has features that many people might like. It's more of an out-of-the-box audio system, so you also get rid of the extra spending and hookups. Let's go!

Design

1byone H009

Well, the turntable's plinth is made of wood and metal in a streamlined shape with rounded corners. It is very transportable as it weighs only 13,3 pounds and measures 14.57x17.32x7.56 inches. The H009's natural wood veneer finish is pleasant to the touch, and its retro-style design is eye-catching.

On the front of the case, there is a speaker with a sleek 1byone logo. The control buttons are located on the top panel and are a playback speed switch, a switch to Bluetooth, and a start button, which must be pressed and held for the system to turn on.

A 30 cm diameter Aluminum die-cast platter that weighs about 1.2 pounds, a slip mat, a dust cover, and an instruction manual are included.

Features

1byone H009 photo

1byone is an all-in-one audio system that includes a turntable, receiver, and speakers. The manual belt-driven control ensures that records rotate at 33-1/3 and 45 RPM and dampens vibration well. Stable operation is ensured by a DC motor and an anti-skating function.

The 8.6" long static balanced straight tonearm has a very good Audio-Technica Moving Magnet AT3600L cartridge with a diamond tip stylus. It glides precisely over the groove and extracts a clear, crisp sound.

The H009 has a built-in switchable phono preamp that will allow you to connect external powered speakers. The proprietary speaker has four speakers, and you can not only listen to vinyl records with it, but you can pair and play music from any device, be it an iPhone and Android smartphone, tablet, PC, the USB-mp3 player through the player speakers using Bluetooth as well as through the Aux-in port.

Sound

Regarding the sound, I think that for its price, the turntable sounds pretty good. I would even say it is more a speaker with a vinyl playback function than the other way around. However, that doesn't make the 1byone a bad record player. In principle, it does its job. The manufacturer has saved money on materials, but the technical parts are of quite good quality. For example, the cartridge really does half the job when extracting sound. Thus, I can conclude that the sound is stable and clear, with no obvious flaws. If you are not a professional musician and don't want to bother with connections, settings, and so on - this H009 may satisfy your desires well.

Key specs
  • Drive type: belt.
  • Operation type: manual.
  • Speeds, RPM: 33 1/3, 45.
  • Phono Pre-Amp: yes.
  • Speakers: yes.
  • Speakers power, W: 36.
  • Bluetooth: yes.
  • USB: yes.
  • AUX: yes.

It’s a ready-to-use audio system with an attractive design, so you get rid of extra costs and connections. There is a Bluetooth function. For its price, the player sounds good and copes with its duties. The manufacturer has spared some materials, but the important technical parts are of good quality, so the sound is stable and clear, with no obvious flaws.

Pros
  • Wood and metal body.
  • Easy to use.
  • A classy interior attribute.
Cons
  • Some parts look cheap.

Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB

In this Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB review, I'll take a look at an inexpensive but interesting deck from the famous Tokyo-based company, which has been making turntables for a long time. The AT-LP120XUSB is a replacement for the original popular model, first released in 2009. The new version not only retained the advantages of the first model but is also equipped with many additional functions, including those for DJs.

Design

Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB

The AT-LP120XUSB record player has a modern style design. The matte black or silver plinth stands on four legs. It is stable and has all the control buttons: start/stop, record rotation speed change, switch the built-in preamp to external, variable pitch control with quartz speed lock. Precisely these features make it easy to control and will be useful to DJs.

An anti-resonance cast aluminum disc with a professional-grade felt mat can dampen any motor vibration. It is an important factor that affects the final result of the played music. And the balanced metal S-shaped tone arm with a hydraulically damped lift regulator and lockable stop, though heavier than the carbon one, is easy to use.

Additional bonuses will be a dust cover and a removable plug-in target indicator for easy aiming in low light.

Features

Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB photo

The AT-LP120XUSB is a fully manual vinyl turntable with a direct drive DC servo motor as well as adjustable dynamic anti-skate control and selectable phono preamp. You can always set the preamp externally, just toggle the control. The AC adapter provides AC/DC conversion outside the plinth, reducing noise in the signal circuit.

The player can play records at 33-1/3, 45, and 78 rpm. The AT-VM95E Dual Magnet phono cartridge with the elliptical stylus is very good and also, if necessary, adaptable for replacement. It comes with an AC adapter, an adapter for 45 rpm, and a counterweight.

As you can guess from the name, the vinyl player has a USB output, which you can use to connect directly to your Mac and PC and digitize your recordings without any help. A USB and a removable RCA output cable for dual RCA male output are included.

Sound

The sound was satisfactory when testing the AT-LP120XUSB turntable, as it was clear and pronounced. I purposely listened to the records at different speeds. There are almost no defects typical for vinyl. The tonal balance is even, detailed, and with deep bass. The player is stable, and no vibrations are felt. So I think the results will be very good whether you set up your own system or connect to a computer.

Key specs
  • Drive type: direct.
  • Operation type: manual.
  • Speeds, RPM: 33 1/3, 45, 78.
  • Phono Pre-Amp: yes.
  • Speakers: no.
  • Bluetooth: no.
  • USB: yes.
  • AUX: no.

This model has developed the success of its predecessor and can be considered an entry-level audiophile turntable. It is versatile and suitable for both home audio systems and professional DJs. I want to mention the detailed and even tonal balance, which is organically complemented by deep bass.

Pros
  • The S-shaped tonearm is more accurate than the straight one.
  • Variable pitch control with quartz speed lock.
Cons
  • Not the easiest to use.

FAQ

How much should you spend on a turntable?

The turntable is the most important part if we’re talking about putting together a quality audio system, no matter how good your speakers and receiver are. Because they only reproduce the signal your turntable receives, extracting it from the record. So, I would call the $300-$500 range the optimal value for money.

It is important to remember that too cheap turntables can damage your record, as well as not allow you to improve the system over time. On the other hand, players in the under $500 price range usually have good basics and will not damage your records at first. And over time, some important parts (cartridge, stylus, platter, or phono preamp) can be replaced and, in some cases, to better ones.

Can I find a really good turntable under $500?

Yes, you can. As I explained in a previous reply, turntables in the $300-$500 range offer initial good quality that can be upgraded over time by replacing significant parts. In addition, they sound good, hold balance, and have stylish designs.

How can I upgrade the record player for under $500?

The most important parts that affect the sound and integrity of a record are the parts that come in direct contact with the record (the platter, tonearm with cartridge, and stylus) and the phono stage. Thus, to improve your turntable, you must purchase a quality phono preamp, as well as replace the straight tonearm with a curved one, replace the cartridge, and make sure that the new stylus has a diamond tip. These will greatly improve the sound quality. It is also better to buy a heavier cymbal and slip matt to go with it.

Do I need a built-in phono preamp in my turntable?

You can get by with the built-in one at first. You do NOT need an external preamp if you are satisfied with the quality of the built-in one. But if you understand the sound, sooner or later you will conclude that it would be better to buy a separate one, because it will open new sides of the sound for you.

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