Manual turntables are not your only option when you’re on a budget. For under $500, there are plenty of options for you if you are looking for a semi automatic turntable.
Instead of searching the internet for what semi automatic turntables are, or even where to find some great options under $500, it’s all for your right here in this article. As we look at each semi automatic turntable, we’re going to be looking at these 5 points of importance in each table:
Below, please take a moment to use our interactive table to view some of the best turntables (both automatic and manual) on the market. And compare them to the ones we’ll discuss in today’s article!
|Denon DP-400||$$$||★★★★||Supports MM and MC cartridges|
|Audio Technica AT-LP60||$||★★★★||Fully Automatic|
|Denon DP-450USB||$$$||★★★★||Built-In Phono Equalizer|
|Audio-Technica AT-LP120USB||$$||★★★★||USB Direct Drive|
|TEAC TN-300SE||$$||★★★★||USB Audio Output, Phono Pre-Amp|
|Audio Technica AT-LP1240-USB||$$||★★★★||USB Direct Drive/DJ Table|
|Crosley C200A||$||★★★★||Direct-Drive Turntable|
|Marantz TT-15S1||$$$||★★★★||Solid Plinth Belt-Drive Design|
|Music Hall MMF 5.3SE||$$$||★★★★||Dynamically Balanced Alloy Platter|
|Pioneer 990||$||★★★★||Full-Automatic Operation|
|Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit SB||$$$||★★★★||Pro-Ject Speed Box Built-in|
|Rega Planar 1 Plus||$$$||★★★★★||Built-in Phono Preamp|
|U-Turn Audio Orbit Plus||$$||★★★★||Machined Acrylic Platter|
What is a Semi Automatic Turntable?
There are three main types of turntables: automatic, semi automatic, and manual.
A fully automatic turntable will lift the tonearm out of the resting position and gently lower it onto the record at the right spot. After it is finished playing, it will lift it back up and shut the turntable off. Fully automatic turntables are typically more expensive due to all of the extra components required to make those mechanisms move automatically.
Another downside is that all of those moving parts under the turntable can reduce the sound quality. Having all those extra attachments can prevent a tonearm from tracking perfectly.
As you might expect, with a manual turntable, you do all of the work. You lower the tonearm onto the record to start play and when the record is over, you lift it off, put it back in the resting position, and turn the table off. Going with a manual turntable will give you the widest range of options — there are simply more of them than anything else.
That being said, you will need to be comfortable lowering the cueing lever and lining up your stylus to land at the beginning of the record groove. You will also want to stick around and stay awake, to life the lever back up at the end.
Semi-automatic turntables won’t lower the tonearm onto the record, but when the record is over, a lift will automatically pick up the tonearm and shut off the table. If you worry about falling asleep while listening and having your stylus sit in the outer groove, a semi-automatic takes that worry away. At the end of the record, a mechanism will lift up the tonearm and shut the turntable off.
With all of that in mind, there are definite perks to semi automatic turntables, so let’s look at what options you have under $500 for this type of table. And because many people that are interested in semi automatic turntables are likely also interested in fully automatic turntables, I’ve included both kinds of record players on this list.
Fluance’s RT81 High Fidelity Turntable plays traditional LP and EP vinyl records with stunning quality that achieves the purest sound reproduction. When you want the absolute best in music performance, pull out your favorite 33 1/3 or 45 RPM records, hook up your sound system, drop the needle, and immerse yourself in the Fluance RT81 Record Player.
Your soul will be captivated by the crisp, distinguishing characteristics of the music you love. Premium components allow this belt driven turntable to produce a pure uncompressed listening experience that recreates the performance the way the artist intended.
You’ll savor every note thanks to the balanced and adjustable counterweight of the S-Type tonearm. The fluid movement of the bearings within the tonearm coupled with the advanced anti-skating system practically caresses your record, preventing scratching and ensuring the stylus is perfectly rested deep in your record’s groove while splendidly coaxing the music out of your vinyl.
You also might like: Fluance RT81 review
Pioneer introduces a true audiophile turntable that makes listening to records easier and more rewarding than ever before. Everyone knows the joys of spinning a treasured LP, with its warm, rich, accurate sound and a sense of aliveness that rivals or surpasses even the best digital formats. The new Pioneer PL-30-K turntable allows seasoned vinyl lovers to upgrade their existing phono system, while new-generation music listeners can explore the thrill of collecting and engage with music in a way unique to the vinyl experience.
PL-30-K setup is no biggie: place the metal platter over the turntable’s spindle, do a quick reach-around to thread the drive belt over the motor pulley, attach the tonearm’s counterweight, adjust the stylus tracking force, and you’re good to go. The owner’s manual provides good information for first-time turntable buyers.
The PL-30-K turntable delivers so much value, because it comes equipped with a high-performance, high-output moving magnet (MM) stereo phono cartridge, pre-mounted and ready to play. Because it’s already precision installed, there is no tedious mounting necessary. And because the PL-30-K is equipped with a built-in phono equalizer and On/Through selector, it’s the perfect turntable for systems that use a preamp, integrated amp or receiver without a built-in phono stage. Just plug the PL-30-K into an auxiliary RCA input, select “On” and play.
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This is one of my very first turntables when I got into vinyl, and I think it still remains one of the best options to strongly consider if you’re brand new to the hobby. Coming with fully automatic functionality, this turntable starts its automatic function with the touch of a button.
Once engaged, the tonearm will move itself over to the first track of the record, and you’ll notice the record player drop’s the stylus right into the groove of the record.
The album will play all the way to the end, where the AT-LP60 will pick up its tonearm and return it to rest.
So, if you’re looking for a record player that requires absolutely no maintenance whatsoever (not to mention a built in phono preamp), look no further than the AT-L-60.
You also might like: Audio-Technica AT-LP60 review
The TURN 3’s belt drive operation is powered by a low-vibration DC motor, keeping unwanted noise to a minimum. The straight tone arm, which was especially designed for TURN 3, offers optimal tracking performance for a superior sound experience. With the integrated semi-automatic control, TURN 3 stops automatically at the end of a record. TURN 3 comes equipped with a pre-mounted, high-quality Ortofon 2M Red pick-up system.
TURN 3 is operated by a master switch on the back panel. A plinth controller allows for switching between 33, 45 and 78rpm speeds. There is a switchable semi-automatic, auto stop function, which allows the turntable to automatically start when the tonearm is placed in position and stop again at the end of the record. The design includes a phono amp (an external unit is another option) and USB port for digitizing your vinyl at 16bit/48kHz.
A precision tone arm draws out every little sound from your records, while the anti-skating system wheel ensures safe, reliable playback. With a flexible headshell connection, USB recording functionality, and anti-vibration feet, the Reloop TURN-3 turntable is as complete as they come for the price.
I also wanted to add a couple manual turntables that I think are quite nice and affordable.
Here they are:
Now, the U-Turn Orbit is actually a manual turntable…but in a way, it can be a semi-automatic record player with one added accessory. If you acquire the Q Up Tonearm Lifter, it will indeed work with the Orbit. And what this will do is auto lift your tonearm up onto and off of the record. The only downside, however, is that this accessory is not compatible with the Cue Lever, which assists in actually raising and lowering the stylus attached to the cartridge.
Now, the U-Turn turntables broadcast brilliant sound by offering a pure analog experience in a simple design. The Orbit Special pairs high-performance features with elegant hardwood bases. The solid hardwood plinths are constructed out of sustainably sourced US flatcut maple and rift walnut.
Depending on whether you get the Orbit Basic or Orbit Plus, it’ll likely come with either the CN5625AL cartridge or Ortolan OM5E cartridge.
The acrylic platter provides improved speed consistency and clearer, more detailed playback. Likewise, clarity comes from the ability of the external belt drive to eliminate motor noise and ensures speed consistency at 33 and 45 RPM. A precision gimbal tonearm for accurate tracking and low distortion makes this a smooth experience no matter what genre you’re listening to, and the table also features internal anti-skate and adjustable counterweight for confident listening.
Check out our U-Turn Orbit Plus review
Spin into the next generation of the vinyl revolution with the direct-drive power of the Crosley C200, mixing Crosley’s vintage-inspired, synth style with high-tech, high-end features. Crosley’s first direct drive turntable motor brings records up to speed quickly and smoothly.
Rock the built-in preamp, or bring your own into the mix to make the greatest mashup ever. The C200 is equipped with a sharp Audio-Technica magnetic cartridge, adjusted to perfection. Choose your own beat with another cartridge and balance the sweet curves of the S-shaped tonearm with adjustable counterweights.
This turntable was designed with elegant style, sleek lines, and cool technical details that are as functional as they are awesome to look at. The clear plastic case plays with the lid shut, so that partying won’t bump and grind your precious records.
For a brand that gets trashed on so often, the Crosley C200A is actually an incredible turntable, and one that you should consider if you’re in that $200 range for your budget. It’s going to last you a long time, and includes some amazing specs that outkick the table’s price point.
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The TN-300 is a belt-drive analog record player with a stylish chassis and built-in MM Phono equalizer amplifier with USB output. The TN-300 includes both Phono and Line outputs, which allows you to play vinyl with a stereo that isn’t equipped with Phono input.
Transfer music from vinyl records to your Mac or PC, using the USB digital output and optional recording software. CD-quality digital archiving preserves your vinyl collection and allows you to enjoy vinyl records with a smartphone or Digital Audio Player.
The sound you get is definitely fit for the price and the expected quality. Also, there’s a slight warm quality to how it sounds and a welcome richness to it. It doesn’t disappoint in terms of playback quality. The high notes don’t go awry and the bass is pleasing. Overall, in terms of performance, the Teac TN-300 is definitely one of the best record players under $500.
Using Audio-Technica’s AT95E VM cartridge, the TN-300 lets you enjoy high accuracy tracking sounds as soon as you set up. An aluminum die-cast, high inertia platter also contributes to solid playback quality. The TN-300 comes with a high-quality Audio-Technica VM type cartridge for accurate reading. As soon as you set up the TN-300, you can enjoy high quality sound with outstanding clarity and detail.
The TN-300 is the perfect turntable for any music lover, from first time users to audiophiles, who appreciates high quality sounds and sturdy yet stylish design. For those who can push closer to the $500 mark, this is a great place to start your semi automatic turntable journey.
For those looking to spend under $500, but still want a semi automatic experience, it’s likely that a turntable on this list will fit your every need. With a variety of features in each table, any semi automatic turntable in this list is a great addition to your personal vinyl setup.
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