Starting to build a record collection is pretty easy and fun — you can pick up your favorite new releases at the local record shop or scope out some great deals on classic LPs at the thrift store. But finding the gear you need to actually play those albums? That can feel a lot more like a chore. And once you start getting into preamps and cartridges and receivers, you’ll find that record collecting can be an expensive chore. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be, if you invest in one of the best cheap record players.
At the very low end of the record player market lies the stuff you’re probably best off avoiding. Some cheap record players don’t compare to an album’s digital version, let alone how it should sound on vinyl. But you also don’t have to spend too much to get a good turntable. You can find some good options in the $100 – $200 range.
Generally, more advanced turntables will include fewer components. That’s because it’s expected that audio enthusiasts will want to customize their setup to a greater extent. On the other hand, some cheap turntables will include everything you need but the album. These are some terms to know when shopping for a turntable.
- Built-in preamp: A turntable with a built-in preamp can be plugged directly into a stereo or a pair of speakers, reducing the amount of extra gear you need to buy. Most audiophiles prefer a separate preamp for greater customization, but casual listeners are likely better off with a preamp that’s built-in. Fortunately, these are very common.
- USB record players: If you’ve got rare records that aren’t on streaming services, or you just want to have high-quality digital versions of your favorite albums, a USB record player can plug directly into your laptop and allow you to rip your favorite LPs.
- All-in-one record players: These include everything you need to listen to an album, including speakers. All-in-one record players tend to have lower-quality audio, but they can be an affordable and convenient place for beginner record collectors.
- Cartridge: The cartridge houses the stylus, which is the part of the record player that makes direct contact with the record. Many turntable makers don’t manufacture their own. Trusted brands include Audio-Technica and Ortofon, who both make cartridges in a wide array or prices.
We’ve rounded up some of the best cheap turntables that’ll allow you to make the most of your growing record collection without emptying your bank account.
1. Audio-Technica AT-LP60X-BK
Audio Technica is one of the best brands when it comes to value turntables that are worthwhile. The brand has a long history and experience in audio gear, and the AT-LP60X is a user-friendly option. The tone arm automatically starts playing the record with a push of a button, and you can also lift the needle with the up button to “pause” the album.
2. Sony PS-LX310BT Belt Drive Turntable
The Sony PS-LX310BT turntable isn’t cheap cheap, but it’s a great value for all of the features that are included in the turntable. The switchable preamp allows you to add a preamp later if you want to, and you can connect to your headphones or speakers using the built-in Bluetooth. Plus, you can even use the USB port to rip high-quality digital versions of your favorite albums.
3. 1 BY ONE Turntable
1 BY ONE makes a great affordable turntable that has a built-in speaker. This option features an adjustable counterweight to change the tracking force, a feature typically found on more expensive turntables. It also has an Audio Technica cartridge, so you know your records are in good hands when you put the stylus down. You can play music to the turntable using Bluetooth, or connect to an external set of speakers using RCA cables.
4. U-Turn Audio Orbit Plus Turntable
The U-Turn Audio Orbit has one of the most striking designs in a not-too-expensive package. The Orbit basic is available from $200, though at that price it doesn’t come with a built-in preamp. The Orbit Plus has a built-in preamp for easy setup, and it uses a Ortofon OM5E cartridge. Plus, the external belt drive adds to the striking look of the turntable, while reducing motor noise. It can play records at 33/45 RPM using the manual adjuster.
5. Audio-Technica UO Exclusive LP60X-BT Record Player
BEST BLUETOOTH RECORD PLAYER
If you want your record player setup to be free of a tangle of wires, Audio-Technica’s LP60X-BT can connect to your stereo system or speakers through Bluetooth, allowing for greater versatility in choosing how you want to listen to music. It’s an upgraded version of the LP60X, which does not have Bluetooth capabilities. The turntable has a unique rose gold finish.
6. 1 BY ONE Belt Drive Turntable
This turntable from 1 BY ONE has a surprising amount of features for its modest price. It has a stylish, retro-tinged look and premium details like an Audio-Technica cartridge and an adjustable counterweight for improved audio and less distortion. The built-in phono preamp makes it easy to connect directly to speakers or a stereo system. Plus, you can use the USB port to rip your albums to your computer.
7. Crosley Voyager
Crosley turntables aren’t known for having the highest quality audio, but they are an incredibly affordable option for a starter record player. The Voyager has built-in speakers, but the RCA outputs let you connect to an external speaker for an improved listening experience. It also has a Bluetooth input if you want to use the record player as a speaker.