12 Best Turntables Under $300 in 2018
A solid turntable can add an entirely new dimension to your home stereo, but you need to have a few dollars left over to add records to your collection, so we have come up with a list to help you find the best turntable under $300.
Not all turntables are created equally, but we will give you the low-down on the analog hardware that is going to best help you get the sound and function for products within this price range.
Top 12 Turntables Under $300 Comparison Chart
|Design||Name||Outputs||Drive Type||Rating (1-5)|
|1. Pro-Ject Primary Phono USB Turntable||RCA, USB||Belt-drive||4.7|
|2. Audio Technica AT-LP120BK-USB Direct-Drive Professional Turntable||RCA, USB||Direct-drive||4.5|
|3. House of Marley Stir It Up Turntable||RCA, USB, Headphone jack||Belt-drive||4.5|
|4. Akai Professional BT500 | Premium Belt-Drive Turntable||Bluetooth, RCA, USB||Belt-drive||4.4|
|5. Electrohome Wellington Record Player Retro Vinyl Turntable||None||Belt-drive||4.3|
|6. Teac LP-R550USB CD Recorder with Cassette Turntable||USB, RCA||Belt-drive||4.3|
|7. Crosley C200A-BK Direct Drive Turntable||RCA||Direct-drive||4.2|
|8. Fluance High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable Record Player||RCA||Belt-drive||4.2|
|9. TEAC TN-300 Analog Turntable||RCA, USB||Belt-drive||4.1|
|10. Audio Technica AT-LP60NV-BT Fully Automatic Bluetooth Wireless Belt-Drive Stereo Turntable||RCA, Bluetooth||Belt-drive||4.0|
|11. Pioneer PL-30-K Audiophile Stereo Turntable||RCA||Belt-drive||3.9|
|12. ION Forever LP Digital Conversion Turntable||RCA||Belt-drive||3.3|
A Few Tips About Choosing the Best Turntable
An important part of choosing the best turntable under $300 is understanding how it is going to integrate with your current system. Portable turntables are often all-in-one affairs with their speakers and pre-amps, so you don’t need to worry about connections or power sources.
- Are You Just Listening, or Will You Be Ripping, Too? – USB outputs aren’t standard yet, but it’s not hard to find a high-end turntable that can send a signal directly to your computer; this is an excellent feature that lets you sample music or convert entire albums into digital files.
Digital outputs also let you connect to a Bluetooth transmitter, which in turn connects to Bluetooth speakers if you’re looking to create a wireless system.
If you’re into vintage setups, standard RCA plugs are going to be the most common type of connection. A little bit of internet work can find you every sort of adapter you might need for any vintage plug, so don’t let the connections of antique hardware scare you.
- Get to Know Your Needles – The business end of every single turntable is going to be a needle that contacts the grooves of your records. As these needles drag across the surface, they will wear down over time, so you’ll need replacements at some point. Record needles are easy to change, but not all models are the same, so you’ll need to make sure that you’ve got the right cartridge for your particular model. Needles don’t have to be expensive, but there are a wide range of materials and prices to meet every need. High-end needles can produce a better sound, but the real benefit of diamond-tipped needles is their long life.
Make Sure You Have the Proper Space
You can put a CD player almost anywhere, but your turntable takes a bit more thought to find the perfect spot for the best results. The wrong spot on your shelf or entertainment center can make it difficult to enjoy your records, so there are a few things to keep in mind when you’re setting up your first analog system.
Make sure that there is enough room above your turntable to flip the records. Not enough clearance means that you might scratch your records while you’re turning them, and it could interfere with the movement of the tone arm, especially if it moves automatically.
The other pitfall to avoid is placing your speakers too close to your turntable. You’d be surprised how many people are troubled by constant skipping on their records, only to be caused by the thumping bass from a speaker that’s set on the same shelf or entertainment center. If you put a little space between your turntable and your speakers and your turntable, you’ll be surprised how you can get a louder sound without the skips.
Always Keep Your Accessories Handy
Even though the turntable is the essential tool for listening to vinyl, for the best experience, you should add a few more tools to your record shelf.
- 45 Adapter – First, you must have a 45 adapter: that is the little plastic insert that lets you center up the big hole on a 45 with the small metal post on the center of your platter. Buying one will cost you less than a dollar, but not having one will cost you valuable listening time.
- Dust Brush – Make sure you that have a dust brush handy. Even when they’re tucked away in their sleeves, records can get dusty, and while that dust isn’t really harmful to your albums, it does make a lot of extra noise as the needle moves across your vinyl. A simple cleaning brush is usually made from microfiber, and just needs a quick pass over your records to keep them clear. Some models include a cleaning solution, but unless you’re really rescuing your records from some serious gunk, a simple dry-brush will do the trick.
Top 5 Best Turntable Under $300 Reviews
In addition to making turntables with a focus on quality engineering, Pro-Ject’s turntable offerings are consistently the best-looking pieces of hardware on the market, and the Primary is no different. It is Pro-Ject’s entry-level offering, but the design of it anything but basic. The adjustable tone arm lets you get the perfect balance on a high-quality, Ortofon OM5E cartridge. Gold-plated RCA jacks allow for the best sound transfer, but you also have USB outputs to send the signal directly to your computer. The low-vibration belt-drive gives smooth, reliable movement without interfering with the sound of the turntable.
The super-sleek design has a matte black finish that’s free of ornamentation, and a matching dust cover keeps it clean when it is not in use. If you’re looking for a piece that’s part of a chic, modern set-up, then this turntable is a great way to make that happen.
Audio Technica makes an excellent line of contemporary turntables, and the AT-LP120 is an extremely popular model for analog fans of all stripes. This direct-drive turntable includes an internal phono pre-amp and gives you the option of USB and standard RCA outputs.
The adjustable tonearm features an anti-skate mechanism with adjustable counter-weight and a simple height adjustment. The S-shaped arm is tipped with a pro-grade needle cartridge.
The direct-drive provides smooth, consistent motion at 33, 45, and 78 RPMs with pitch control for fine-tuning. The included dust-lid adds protection while making it a suitable choice for any home system.
High-quality RCA outputs make it suitable for standard or modern hardware, but the USB outputs allow you to digitize your collection. Included with this turntable is a copy of the Audacity audio software that’s compatible with both Mac and PC platforms.
The House of Marley combines a socially conscious business plan with a dedication to high-end audio, but the result is a turntable that looks and sounds fabulous. The modern profile of this turntable features a natural bamboo top with a hemp-cloth vertical surface and aluminum platter. The speed adjustment gives you the ability to play at 33 or 45 RPMs, and even the brushed aluminum knob has a modern, appealing design.
This particular turntable offers all the choices, with standard RCA outputs, a USB output, and a standard 3.5-mm headphone jack. The aluminum tonearm is fitted with a high-end stylus and adjustable counterweight and smooth-moving lifting mechanism. A built-in pre-amp makes it suitable for use with non-powered speakers.
There’s no dustcover provided with this turntable, but the exceptional level of design makes it a standout piece for any home audio system.
We wanted you to have more than one good-looking option in our top 5, and the Akai BT500 is a pretty face and a whole lot more. Obviously, the first thing you’ll see is a thick slab of glossy cherry hardwood, but the real fun begins when you start it up.
A high-torque, belt-drive motor sends your vinyl sliding past one of AT’s MM-type phonograph cartridges for a high-fidelity sound that’s going to fill any room. The simple function plays at 33 and 45 RPMs, and the gold-plated RCA output help send low-loss signals to your stereo.
If you’d like to go from analog to digital, this handsome unit also has a USB output that lets you connect directly to your Mac or PC for dead-simple vinyl ripping and digital archiving. Cushioned feet protect from vibration-related skips, and a hinged dust cover keeps everything neat and tidy.
A lot of the appeal of turntables is a love for vintage style, and Electrohome’s Wellington model is all about the classic style with a full selection of modern features. The body is crafted in the style of an antique radio with real hardwood with a mahogany finish. You can play at 33 or 45 RPMs, and when you’re not listening to vinyl, you can play CDs or even listen to AM/FM radio.
The headphone output is perfect for private listening, and the USB connection gives you the ability to go digital to start ripping your albums. A pair of integrated stereo speakers make this into a standalone unit, but if you wanted to connect it your existing home audio system, you could easily use the RCA outputs to connect it to a standard system.
The auxiliary input also allows you to plug in your phone or tablet, making this a central piece to enjoy music of all types.
We like to think that our top five breakdown choices for the best turntable under $300 into a few different categories.
If you’re serious about function and appearance, then the Pro-Ject Primary Phono is a must-have piece. Not only is it the best-looking of the bunch, but it’s also built with Pro-Ject quality so you can be sure it will sound excellent.
When performance is the goal, then you have to go with the Audio Technica AT-LP120. This turntable delivers on solid performance and has all the adjustable features that a serious audiophile will need for the best sound on any album.