The Best Turntables Under $500

A Vinyl Record Player Stylus Up Close as it Begins to Play a Record.

There is something special about listening to an album on vinyl; sitting down with the record jacket in your hands, flipping through the liner notes, as the needle drives its course to the first note. There is a ritual to the process; one that settles the mind and creates an opportunity to appreciate the music as the artist intended, with sonic nuances that may slip past your ears in other settings.

The world of music appreciation through vinyl all begins with the piece of equipment that sets the record on its spinning cycle, the turntable. The question is then asked what is the best turntable for me; the answer lies in what type of experience you are looking for.

Below is a list of some of the best turntables under $500, all impressive in distinct ways.

Best Overall
Fluance RT81


For anyone who wants to immerse themselves in high-fidelity audio, Fluance’s RT81 is an excellent choice, whether you are just getting into vinyl or looking to upgrade your table. Borrowing many elements from Fluance’s reference line up, the RT81 will bring every detail of your music to life.

From the diamond elliptical tipped stylus that tracks record grooves with greater precision and accuracy, to the aluminum S-Type tonearm, and aluminum platter, every component of this turntable is designed for superior performance. The solid wood plinth is crafted to increase vibration resistance, ensuring the stylus picks up nothing but the music.

Finished in either piano black or high-gloss walnut, the look is as exquisite as the sounds it produces. A high-quality built-in Texas Instruments phono preamp ensures a warm, true sound that can plug directly into your stereo for incredible results. The RT81 accomplishes all this at a price point that seems too good to be true.

This Turntable is For:

Anyone looking to begin their journey into vinyl with a great sounding turntable.

This Turntable is Not For:

Someone who wants modern options like USB or Bluetooth.

Best Value
Sony PS-LX310BT

Simple, Clean, and Best Value Record Player

The Sony PS-LX310BT has as many features as it has letters in its name, while still providing high quality audio performance at a very competitive price. Hiding behind all the features is a sleek turntable that will give you a classic and sharp look wherever you place it in your home; even across the room from your speakers.

Sporting Bluetooth connectivity, with the push of a button you can play your vinyl records out of a Bluetooth speaker, headphones, or enabled receiver. If you want to grow into more of a traditional set-up or already have one, then Sony still has you covered providing both phono and line outputs with adjustable gain settings.

If you want even more portability, a USB connection allows the ability to rip your vinyl to your computer. At the press of a button an auto start tonearm will find the start of your record and begin playing with no drama, and with the stop and return functions working the same way.

This Turntable is For:

Someone looking to break into the world of vinyl with a feature-rich platform.

This Turntable is Not For:

Someone who wants the adjustments found on traditional turntables.

Easiest to Use
Rega Planar 1

Elegant High Gloss Black Turntable by Rega

If you are looking for a no-fuss turntable that comes out of the box ready to go while still maintaining sonic performance, Rega’s Planar 1, known as the RP1, should be at the top of your list. Taking only seconds to set up, all that is needed is to slide the balance weight onto the tonearm and you can start listening to your music on a perfectly set up hi-fi turntable.

This is due to Rega’s newly designed bias assembly and integrated tonearm that automatically adjusts the bias without the need of any fine tuning from the end user. A 24volt, low noise, synchronous motor reduces vibration transmission while the high mass phenolic platter was designed for improved speed stability.

The RP1’s elegant design looks impressive in gloss black or white with serious performance hiding behind its simple appearance. This turntable will deliver the warmth and detail you desire out of your vinyl without complicated adjustments.

This Turntable is For:

An audio enthusiast looking for easy setup and outstanding performance.

This Turntable is Not For:

Someone looking for feature rich performance.

Best Looking
Pro-Ject VT-E BT

Modern White Upright Turntable with Album

Turning the turntable look on its head (literally) is the Pro-Ject VT-E BT. Designed to stand vertically, the VT-E BT will be a piece of art as it plays your favorite music.

Using a threaded clamp to secure the vinyl in a vertical position while it spins, this turntable can stand proud on a table or catch your eye on the wall using the included wall-mounting bracket. It is available in high gloss black, white, or red finishes and in both left or right-handed versions.

Adding to a clean look, Bluetooth connectivity eliminates the need for a cord to a receiver. Simply supply power and connect it to any of your Bluetooth devices. The VT-E BT comes with a built-in phono preamp to connect through RCA cables to a hi-fi system, even while simultaneously transmitting Bluetooth. A precision silicon belt drive, low vibration motor drives this unique turntable that comes pre-adjusted out of the box.

This Turntable is For:

The person looking to grab some attention with their vinyl set up.

This Turntable is Not For:

The person looking to put performance first above all else.

Best Sound
Fluance RT85

Honestly Audio's pick for best sound turntable under $500

When it comes to hearing every nuance of your music, vinyl can come to the rescue by providing a true analogue path from the musicians to your ears. If you are looking for a turntable to deliver you the purest sound, look no further than Fluance’s RT85.

Being part of Fluance’s reference series, every component of the RT85 has been developed to create exquisitely warm, natural, linear sound. Its weighted plinth is constructed out of solid wood, providing greater resistance to vibrations while three rubber spike-type adjustable feet minimize surface contact.

At the heart of the RT85 is a precision servo-controlled belt drive motor with a speed regulating optical sensor that measures and makes micro adjustments, ensuring linear speed within 0.07%. The motor is then decoupled from the plinth, reducing any vibrations from reaching the stylus. Providing extra damping against unwanted noise is a high-density acrylic platter with extra mass to increase inertia for consistent speed.

Capturing every detail of the music is a Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge that maintains a flat frequency response for pure sound without colorization. The RT85 requires a separate phono preamp, which is expected at this caliber of hi-fi audio, and provides the listener another element to customize in their system.

This Turntable is For:

The Audiophile looking to draw out every detail from their music.

This Turntable is Not For:

The casual listener whose music is often in the background.

Best Tech
Pioneer PLX-500

The best choice for those in need of a DJing Turntable

If you are looking for a turntable that is more than just a stationary piece that lives in a living room then the Pioneer PLX-500 may be for you. Filled with features and technology that can take you from listening to your favorite records at home to performing at a club.

Departing from others on this list, the PLX-500 has a servo-type direct drive motor. While most audiophiles prefer belt driven motors, direct drives provide a near instant start, and have fewer moving parts to wear out. Direct drives are also superior for ‘scratching’ while DJing because there is almost no resistance and the record can start back up at the proper tempo.

The PLX-500 is ruggedly built and tops the scales at 23lbs, making it durable enough for the road. A built in USB connection allows you to link the player to a computer to digitize your collection with the included rekordbox software. Another option for the USB port is to use a computer as an interface to mix your playlist together between the digital files on your computer and your vinyl collection.

This Turntable is For:

The aspiring DJ.

This Turntable is Not For:

The audiophile looking for the best sound experience.

Honorable Mention
Pro-Ject Debut Carbon

Lime Green Hifi Turntable

Delivering a premium audio experience, with astonishingly transparent sound, and in a stunningly designed package is the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon (DC). A redesign of a revolutionary model from the late nineties, the DC carries over its timeless design while improving performance.

A newly designed one-piece carbon fiber arm adds stiffness and reduces resonance around the pickup cartridge. The platter has increased in both size and weight from the original to gain smother rotation. A low noise motor uses a DC-driven AC generator for excellent speed stability without vibration.

Because it comes without a phono preamp, it must be matched with an external one or have a receiver with a phono input. The Debut Carbon has a plethora of finishes to choose from including high-gloss black, shiny red, green, blue, yellow, silver, purple, white, or walnut mat; letting you find the perfect match to your style.

This Turntable is For:

The person passionate about audio and wants to have style options to choose from.

This Turntable is Not For:

The casual vinyl listener on a budget.

About The Author

Jack Nemo is a professional sound engineer based in Alberta, Canada. He’s managed to make a career out of his love for music while working with artists from around the world. When not behind a soundboard he can be found taking things apart to see how they work and attempting to put them back together again.