Turntables and record players are one of those things where you definitely don’t want to cheap out. At least that’s what a good portion of the audiophiles will tell you.
But how true is that statement? Is it possible to find a decent record player for around $100?
You can bet your behind it is. But with a lower price comes a bit of sacrifice, which we’ll discuss in today’s article.
With that said, this article will present you with ten turntables that we think are really great for the money (and are $100 or less), as well as ones that are truly ideal for beginners.
Below, please use our interactive table to see how some of the turntables we will discuss today compare to one another in a variety of categories.
|Audio Technica AT-LP60X||$||Plug and Play via Built-In Phono Preamp|
|Audio Technica AT-LPW30||$$||Built-In Phono Preamp|
|Audio Technica AT-LPW50||$$||Manual Drive Belt with Speed Control|
|Pioneer PLX-1000||$$||DJ Turntable Similar to Technics 1200|
|Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC (Yellow)||$$||Yellow Gloss Finish|
|Pro-Ject Debut III RecordMaster USB (Walnut)||$$$||USB Output; Built-in Phono Preamp (Walnut version)|
|MoFi StudioDeck||$$||Pre-mounted StudioTracker MM Cartridge|
|Music Hall MMF 1.3||$$||Built-in, switchable phono pre-amp|
|Pro-Ject RPM 1 (Red)||$$||Sumiko Rainier Cartridge|
|Pro-Ject T1 (Black)||$$||Features Ortofon OM5e Cartridge|
This was my very first turntable, and I think it’s a great way to jump into the vinyl game without breaking the bank.
Audio Technica is not only known for their great line of microphones and headphones—they actually make some pretty great turntables as well. The LP60 we are looking at here belongs to the most basic segment of the LP family.
However, don’t be fooled by that. This little box of muscle brings a rather impressive performance for the money.
You get fully automatic operation, the ability to play both 33 1/3 and 45 RPM records, a built in amp, amongst other things. This turntable is also fully automatic—which means you push a button and the tone arm cues up the first track to play the record. Once the record is over, the tonearm automatically returns to its rest.
The LP60 is probably the closest thing you can get to a legit mid-range record player while staying within that $100 budget. The only cons we can think of regarding this model is the fact that you won’t be able to upgrade nor customize it later. It’s a very integrated package.
With that said, it’s still the best choice under $100 at the moment.
You can read our review of the Audio-Technica AT-LP60X here.
ION Audio Max LP
ION Audio has decided to pack as much heat as possible into a very basic record player. Aesthetically, it’s a very attractive unit, but its true value comes from the performance it offers, which is pretty outstanding. The audio quality is surpassing minimum requirements, even for a more expensive unit. Just like the AT model we just talked about, the Max LP is a highly integrated record player.
The device comes with built-in speakers, RCA output, and the ability to play 33 1/3, 45 and 78 RPM records just fine. The platter and belt drive system it comes with are both great for the money, too.
One area where this model really shines is its ability to perform record to Mp3 conversion via USB cable. That is neat, but definitely not a deciding factor for everyone. In fact, there are many out there in the vinyl community who look down on USB turntables. But, I personally think it’s a nice feature to have, especially if you have a rare LP or 45 record that has never been repurposed on CD or a streaming service. If that’s the case, you would want to have a backup copy.
With the TechPlay TCP5, we are slowly entering the Swiss army knife category of record players. What we have here is a unit that is capable of playing records at speeds including 33 1/3, 45 and 78 RPM. It also has a built-in radio with AM/FM capability, an MP3 player, a variety of outputs, integrated stereo system and more.
Usually, people are skeptical about a device that claims to be the jack of all trades, but somehow TechPlay managed to pull it off with a package that simply delivers on all fronts.
It even comes with an adjustable pitch control. That is a feature you’re not supposed to see in this price range, yet here it is.
Here comes another nice surprise, only this time it’s from 1byone.
What they wanted to create was a record player that gave the end user all the necessary features packed into a format that is highly mobile and reliable. Tough order for a sub $100 turntable, right?
Well, they pulled it off. This tiny turntable comes with an offset platter, which was necessary considering the size, but it doesn’t affect the performance one bit.
This 1byone is also capable of playing 33, 45 and 78 RPM records, comes with built in speakers and RCA/headphone outputs. The sound is pretty much great for a mobile record player, which makes this one rather practical. If you need a model that you can take with you, this is probably the one you might want to consider.
Pyle is one of those companies who opted to disregard everything else and completely focus their attention on delivering an authentic turntable experience at an affordable price. The whole idea was to show you what some more expensive units are capable of doing, and what using one looks like. Just to drive the point home even harder, let’s just list a few things you get with this turntable.
Decent quality belt drive, a weighted tone arm, pitch control, speed adjustment, anti-skating and more. All of these things are more or less standard on any mid-tier record player.
So where’s the catch? Well, in order to achieve their goals, Pyle skimped a lot on their choice of materials. The majority of the Pyle PLTTB3U is made of plastic and really doesn’t inspire confidence.
Alas, we can’t have it all.
Sony is not the brand you expect to even find in the depths of affordable Hi-Fi tech, yet they are here with one of their models which are being phased out. In other words, now is the time to get yourself one of these, otherwise you might not get another chance.
The model in question is the Sony PS-LX250H, and here’s what makes it a good buy— it’s flexibility.
You can customize some of its components and enhance your listening experience quite a bit here. On the other hand, it’s one of the rare semi-serious turntables in this price range. In all honesty, it’s similar to the AT PL50, which is actually good.
If you’re planning on sticking with turntables and vinyl in general, this Sony is a great place to start learning the ropes.
Numark came out with their own version of a portable record player that is self-sustaining in all aspects of its operation. Compared to the 1byone we talked about earlier, this Numark gives off a much more serious vibe. Being so small, you will definitely need to make compromises in terms of sound.
However, this little box is a pretty capable one.
It plays 33, 45 and 78 RPM records, allows you to convert vinyl audio into MP3, and simply works quite well overall. Interestingly enough, it’s a battery powered unit which you charge using a USB cable.
On a single charge, you can expect to get about four hours of operation. AUX outputs for headphones and other devices come as standard. Compared to most other models, Numark definitely hit the nail on the head with this one.
Musitrend Bluetooth Turntable
Here’s another compact turntable that is packed with a variety of features. Among the most notable ones has got the be its Bluetooth support. In terms of raw specs, we’re talking about a three-speed turntable with vinyl to MP3 capability, RCA and headphone outputs, and much more.
The aesthetics of this model are far more conservative, which is not always a bad thing. The black and red combination really give it an edge. The only real flaw is that it can be rather disruptive when used consistently.
The Bluetooth feature has some voice responses that might freak you out at first, but after some getting used to will become the norm.
ProduTrend is another company that is trying their best to elbow their way into the portable record player arena. Their racehorse comes in form of the VinylPal – a brightly colored box that is packed full of goodies.
Since this is a battery powered unit, you can expect to get at least four hours of music using the built-in stereo speakers. If you want a bit more of a defined experience, you can always use the RCA or headphone outputs.
In terms of performance, VinylPal performs up there with the best of its competition. Comparing this to a flagship record player that uses a stand alone amp is simply not fair nor possible, however.
So what good are these mobile turntables, you might ask? Well, they allow you to enjoy your favorite vinyls on the go and are relatively cheap compared to stationary record players.
This record player from Crosley is a fairly simple design that aims to deliver modern performance in a vintage style cabinet. Speaking in terms of aesthetics alone, it’s a hit. Everything that attracts us toward true vintage units is embodied by this turntable.
Sitting at the very edge of our $100 budget, you get a very versatile unit that is capable of playing 33, 45 and 78-speed records, along with AM/FM/MP3. One thing that makes the Crosley CR704C-PA stand out from the rest is the quality of their speakers. Sure, it won’t replace a legit audio system, but it’s definitely a decent deal.
What to Look For In An Affordable Turntable?
The best thing you can do is look for simplicity and good build quality. More serious brands will do their best to give you the best possible experience they can. Often, this means that you won’t get any of those cool (though probably unnecessary at this moment of your vinyl listening phase) features.
Instead, you are graced by the full potential of the components they chose for that particular model. Since this performance is usually much better, you definitely need to keep in mind that simplicity is sometimes the key.
So now, let’s recap real quick with a set of tips for getting the right turntable:
- Do a lot of research
- Figure out what type of turntable you’re after
- Simple designs are usually better
- Don’t expect advanced features
- Don’t expect customizable designs
At the end of the day, you can find a variety of decent turntables below or near the $100 mark. The only thing to remember is to expect very little in terms of features usually found on mid to high tier units. The sound quality is also not going to be anywhere near audiophile level, but not everyone wants that anyway.
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