The debate between belt-driven turntables vs direct drive turntables has a bit of a long history. Suffice it to say that both have their pros and cons, but at the end of the day, both are good options if you’re interested in jumping into vinyl.
With that said, belt-drive turntables are bit more mainstream (or, at the very least, belt-drive turntables are more widely made and available). They offer great sound, are easy to set up, and while some can be very expensive, there are many on the market that are very affordable and cost less than $300.
Below, please take a moment to view the interactive table we put together that contains some of the best belt-drive turntables currently on the market today.
|Audio Technica AT-LP60X||$||Plug and Play via Built-In Phono Preamp|
|Audio Technica AT-LP3||$$||Built-in Phono Pre-amp, Switchable On/Off + MM/MC|
|Audio Technica AT-LPW40||$$||Manual Drive Belt with Speed Control|
|Pioneer PLX-1000||$$||DJ Turntable Similar to Technics 1200|
|Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC (Blue)||$$||Comes in Various Colors|
|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 2.3||$$||Plays 33 and 45 RPM records|
|Denon DP400||$$||Built-in phono preamp; Switchable on-off|
|Pro-Ject T1 BT (Black)||$$||Features Bluetooth connectivity|
Drive Belt Turntables: How Do They Work?
Since these machines are built with an isolated motor and a thin, rubbery belt, these work in conjunction with a rotating main platter. Squeezing the platter, the belt will spin it around like a car tire while balancing the vibration pulsing from the speakers. The stylus will be much more open to receiving information from the vinyl without the ruckus the usual direct-driven turntables exude.
Helping track the notes without the fear of friction from any sort of vibration, the belt working in conjunction with an isolated motor absorbs the shock reverberated from spinning records. There are a few flaws in this design, seeing as the belt wanes in reliability, losing all sense of its taut nature after being used for many years.
The belt also has potential to slip, though one can simply place the belt back onto the sub-platter very easily.
Once in a while, the belt make snap due if you’ve been using your turntable for a long time. In a situation like that, you can usually replace your broken belt very easily and cheaply and be back up and running in no time.
|Best Selling Turntables|
|1) Marantz TT-15S1|
|2) Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT|
|3) Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO|
Specs and Standards
Each vinyl player comes with a few essential functions, such as a stylus, a belt, motor, and a platter. One may question how accurate the quality of a prospective vinyl player’s sound production, whether the belt causes much vibration while playing any size vinyl or not, and what material should coat the platter.
The first two can be answered by hundreds of reviews online, as well as the listener’s preference based on those results. However, the platter’s design is completely unique! Most vinyl lovers choose acrylic or glass platters due to the crisp, edgy sound relayed through the speakers. Others prefer MDF platters due to its ability to balancing studio quality with the organic nature of the record player’s acoustic sound.
While modifying your record player is highly recommended, this is totally up to the listener’s preference and listening style. Investing in a new stylus crafted with diamond or carbon will significantly improve the quality of those old blues and jazz roots albums hiding on your shelf.
Not only that, but having a quality set of external speakers that are crafted to stream vinyl will make Clapton’s wailing Sunburst sound like he’s dancing on the couch. The acoustic reverberation casts a more genuine depiction of the scene in the studio, playing the music’s true essence.
The Best Affordable Belt-Driven Turntables
Let’s begin with a PylePro portable record player.
5) Pyle PTCDCS3UIP
Okay, let’s first have a little fun by going super-duper old school. Now, styled like classic phonograph players, the Pyle PTCDCS3UIP comes with a timeless gramophone horn, a perfect addition to the elegant vinyl player’s collection!
This player comes with an old-style radio control, made with a gold dial, a yellowed paper marked with radio stations like a thermometer, and a plastic cover to protect it all. Right below, there are many buttons and two dials to control the source, volume, and CDs output, as well as the CD tray, USB port, and a record button.
Yep, this is essentially an all-in-one record player.
With this fancy machine, anyone can take their old 33, 45, and 78 RPM vinyl records and burn the tracks to their own USB drive with ease.
In addition, the creative placement of the speakers weaving in and out of the acoustic case helps to reverberate notes with an organic wind. One can easily play all the old cassette tapes hiding in storage with Pyle’s tape port, as well as plug in a pair of headphones, speakers, and an auxiliary cord!
Grazing the vinyl LP with a gold stylus shaped like an industrial film roll, the aesthetic attributes Pyle offers in this design beats the majority of their inventory. Though this version is the classic phonograph, one can always invest about $100 more for Bluetooth connectivity.
Okay, let’s discuss one more all-in-one machine before we move onto standalone record players that only play records. Here, Victrola’s 7-in-1 Aviator record player is one of the most versatile musical machines out there.
The radio’s channel navigation is charmingly detailed, with a yellow-tinted paper behind protective glass. Each button is off-white to give the appeal of a vintage model, with a font that comes out of a classic paperback novel. With plenty of control over the quality of the vinyl’s sound, as well as the ability to play 33 ⅓, 45, and 75 RPM vinyl records, the Aviator is great for anyone that wants a mix of connivence and nostalgia.
In addition to the sleek, enchanting design and radio, the Aviator allows you to record cassettes and vinyl to CD with ease. Having the ability to play and record practically any vinyl, it’ll be a breeze to download one’s entire collection to their stack of CDs.
The sound transmitted to CDs from cassette tapes is divine, reverberating notes against the acoustic lining. Those who still have a desire to use their vinyl player as a set of speakers, there’s plenty of connectivity for other devices with an auxiliary jack and Bluetooth.
One can have all these awesome specs for only $199.
Audio Technica is one of the most popular and beloved record player producers in the world. The AT-LP60X is certainly one of their lower end record players, but it’s a solid entry into the beginners market (about $99), and it allows you to play both 33 1/3 and 45 RPM vinyl records. The AT-LP60X is a fully automatic record player, and if you are willing to spend a bit more money, you can invest in an Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT, which is a bluetooth capable record player.
The dual moving magnet design of the phono cartridge holds the stylus. The turntable also comes with a built-in phono preamp, which is perfect for anyone that has a amplifier that is missing a built-in phono stage.
2) Sony PS-LX 300USB
How common is it to have a diamond stylus for a record player? It isn’t, really! Though Sony’s USB turntable offers this awesome spec to give off outstanding sound reproduction. Not only that, but the belt-driven design helps this fully automatic machine protect vinyls from damage while playing a smooth sound.
With this portable, easy-to-control design, Sony’s PS-LX 300 model will tie together your musical experience with optimal clarity. If one craves the studio sound over the organic nature of acoustic designs, this will be the best option on the market under $200.
Easily Convert Vinyl to MP3
Having issues finding the time to download all these MP3 files to a computer? Luckily, Sony offers a deluxe feature to record all 33 ⅓ and 45 RPM records onto a USB drive – perfect for those who have an extensive online library, and need their classic vinyl in the mix.
The high-quality playback of the record beneath a protective dust-cover enhances the stability and quality of the sound streaming through great speakers while including the listener with the luxury of a rubber mat.
Coming in at just under $300 (about $289) is the very nice U-Turn Orbit Plus, a manual belt-driven turntable that comes in a variety of fun colors and is a solid entry into the world of turntables for those that consider themselves to be record player novices.
And on top of that, the U-Turn Orbit Plus is made in America.
Coming with a very attractive acrylic platter (improves playback speed) , an ability to play both 33 RPM and 45 RPM speeds (break out those 7” records, my friends), and featuring a solid Ortofon OM 5E cartridge, the U-Turn Orbit Plus is a fantastic record player that beginner and veteran vinyl enthusiasts can enjoy and use for years to come.
It should be noted that the U-Turn Obit Plus does not come with a built-in phono preamp—at least not on its base model. U-Turn does indeed sell the Orbit Plus with a built-in phono preamp (so you can connect it directly into a CD or AUX input on your amplifier, or just connect it into your powered speakers), but you’ll likely have to pay approximately $70 more for it.
In all honesty, every single record player on this list would be a great addition to any vinyl lovers household. Nonetheless, the best belt-driven vinyl players in the world have the ability to balance the vibration exuding from the main platter and belt’s partnership, giving the listener optimal precision on all notes without any disturbance.
While the Boytone is the best model on the market for its extensive versatility and technological advantages, the other models on this list include similar specs that the ordinary record player wouldn’t care to have – such as vinyl conversion, cassette players, and Bluetooth connectivity.
Considering these amazing specs these machines offer in 2018, having an affordable belt-drive turntable is essential for vinyl fans all over the world.
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