Updated on December 27, 2020 by Lyric Fergusson
After years of being old school, vinyl records are back in style. Although, I probably don’t need to tell you that if you’ve ended up on this blog. There are hundreds of different turntables out there these days, which can make the buying process confusing. You need to think about the needle, the platter, and the tonearm–all of which makes for the perfect listening experience.
Choosing the right turntable is vital for a clear and robust sound, which is why I’ve gathered the seven best turntables under $1000. While there are many below this price range, a majority of the best tables range from $500-$1000, so that’s where we’re going to be looking today. So, get those records ready, because these turntables are some of the greatest on the market.
Best Turntables Under $1000
Why it’s great: Audio-Technica has made a name for itself as one of the top-rated companies in the music industry. They have a wide variety of turntables at various price points. And while some of their top-rated tables are priced lower, they do make high-quality, high-end tables. The AT-LP7 is excellent for anyone looking for incredible sound.
The turntable has solved the problem of inconsistent playback speed with a highly accurate speed sensor. It also has a very high-quality cartridge, extremely easy to set up, and its sleek design makes it look more expensive than it really is. Overall, there’s a reason that numerous blogs have listed this turntable as one of the best available.
Keep in mind: It does not have many modern features–i.e., a USB out port.
Good for: New turntable users
Why it’s great: The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC Espirit is arguably one of the best selling turntables under $600, especially with first-time turntable users. Complete with a carbon tonearm, a great-sounding phono cartridge, and electronic speed control, you’ll never have to worry about fumbling with belts and pulleys ever again.
Despite its simple appearance, it’s an exquisite piece of equipment. The acrylic base is glossy and clean. As for overall quality, it’s worth every penny. It’s user-friendly, the music flows excellently, and delivers a flawless performance.
Keep in mind: There is no built-in pre-amp, thus it requires an external preamp.
Good for: Great sound for a lower price tag
Why it’s great: Many of the turntables that you will come across have belt-drive designs rather than direct drives. With belt-drives, the belt mechanically isolates the motor from the platter, so you don’t hear any noise the motor makes. Professional DJs highly favored direct drives up until recently. The Pioneer PLX-1000 has quickly become a favorite with audiophiles.
The high-torque direct drive ensures stable rotation while the die-cast zinc chassis prevents any resonance or vibrations, so you’re getting crisp, clean sound every time. It also features RCA output jacks, quick-disconnect power, VTA tonearm adjustment, and more.
Keep in mind: Because the table is designed for DJs, the arm bearings are on the looser side.
Good for: A turntable upgrade
Why it’s great: The Stanton ST. 150 MKII is aimed for those in the DJ industry. However, Stanton also knows the importance of using your turntable at home as well. Weighing 28 pounds, this turntable is heavy duty and built to last. The base is made of aluminum for low reverberation, and the rubber feet help absorb any unwanted vibrations.
Along with its high-quality design, it’s also got a near-silent motor. Much like the Pioneer PLX-1000, it is a direct drive with a 4.5kg of torque. Not sure what this means? High torque means the platter will spin at a proper speed, so you won’t hear any distortion of sound once the record begins to play. My favorite feature, though, is the fact that it comes with an installed cartridge, which means you won’t have to spend your time or money installing one.
Keep in mind: Because it is meant for DJ’ing, there is no included hard glass or plastic cover to keep it dust-free. However, it does come with a covering cloth. There is also no USB port.
Good for: Aspiring DJs
Why it’s great: The mmf-5.3 2-speed turntable uses a dual plinth design that has become a staple for Music Hall tables. Because of the design, the platter, main bearing, tonearm, and cartridge are isolated, making for superb sound. Additionally, the custom carbon fiber tonearm provides incredible tracking, so your records will play seamlessly.
If you have never used a turntable before, you may be overwhelmed with setting the equipment up. But Music Hall does a great job of making the process painless and easy–even for newbies.
Keep in mind: A lot of the tech is previously installed–which makes set up a piece of cake–but this also means that should there be a bad delivery, items could be damaged.
Good for: Old school listeners who don’t want to digitalize their music
Why it’s great: The original Rega Planar 2 was created in 1978. Over the past 40+ years, the table has gone through a wide variety of changes. The only existing parts from the original table are the drive belt and dust cover lid hinges. New changes include a 24v low-noise motor, central bearing, and an upgraded platter.
These high-end changes make for a turntable with an impressive scale, crisp, clean sound, and deep bass. Improve the experience with an upgraded cartridge and well-matched phono preamp, and you will never want to stop listening. It also happens to be a piece of cake to set-up, so you’ll be up and running within 5-minutes of opening the box.
Keep in mind: It does not have a built-in phono stage, so it will have to be hooked up to a stereo that already has one, or you’ll have to buy a separate one.
Good for: Those that want a turntable that’s going to last them 40 years
Why it’s great: One glance at the Denon DJ VL12 turntable, and it will look like every other table on the market with the addition of pitch range controls and an LED ring around the platter. However, if you come down to eye-level, you will find that there a ton of differences that make for a unique experience. Some of these differences include orientation and inset feet.
At a hefty 27 lbs, this turntable is made of quality metal. The minute you turn it on, you’ll find that it could easily take first place as the best DJ turntable in the industry. Denon has done a great job of isolating vibrations, so you know you’ll be getting top-quality sound with every use.
Keep in mind: It does not include a pre-amp or cartridge.
Good for: Audiophiles that love the newest technology
FAQs about turntables
1. Does vinyl really sound better?
While it may sound silly to get all new records, vinyl really does sound better than digital music. A lot of data is lost when an audio file is compressed, whereas vinyl doesn’t lose that data. Thus you get to hear the music the way that artists intended to.
2. What makes one turntable sound better than the other?
There are a lot of different factors to think about when purchasing a turntable. The two parts that play the biggest role are the quality of the cartridge and the attached stylus. Tables that have less vibration also tend to have better sound quality as well.
3. Which is better – belt-driven or direct driven?
Both types of turntables have their pros and cons. Belt driven tables can easily absorb vibrations which make for better sound quality. Direct driven tables have more consistent speed and don’t get worn down like belt-driven tables. However, the motor can cause unwanted vibrations.
4. Is it bad to leave a record on a turntable?
Yes, keeping your record on a turntable raises the chance of exposure to dirt and even damage. Ideally, you want to put records back in their jackets. If you tend to forget this, a turntable with a dust cover is a wise choice.
5. Do you need speakers for turntables?
This truly depends on the quality of speakers in your turntable. Most of the time, the speakers are not of great quality. If you’re looking to use your turntable to entertain or want to get the full listening experience, a set of separate speakers is a must.
6. Do you need a preamp for your turntable?
Most of the turntables that you find on the market already include a built-in preamp. However, if this is not the case, you will want to buy one. The preamp is responsible for translating sound signals into something that your turntable can read. If you’re truly an audiophile, you may even want to upgrade the preamp that is included.
Listening to music on vinyl has taken the world by storm. If you’re craving the experience of listening to music the way it was intended to be heard, having the right equipment is essential. There are hundreds of turntables on the market, with a wide variety of price points. If you’re looking to get the best quality and the best sound, you’re going to have to spend a little extra money.
These seven turntables are worth every penny and will change the way you listen to music forever, trust me.