Best Turntables Under $500 | 2022 Buying Guide

Are you a vinyl enthusiast looking to purchase or upgrade your turntable? Hi-Fi vinyl systems are becoming more and more popular by the year. People love the analog sound and vinyl culture, that’s easy to see.

A $500 budget will get you a lot in a turntable. If you’re an avid viny listening looking to purchase an audiophile turntable, this is a great place to start as you’ll begin to get into some of the high-end feature sets.

Not quite ready to spend $500? We have a budget-friendly guide for turntables under $200 as well – check it out!

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The 10 Best Turntables Under $500

  1. Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO
  2. Fluance RT85
  3. U-Turn Audio – Orbit Plus
  4. Audio-Technica AT-LP120
  5. Fluance RT83
  6. Pro-Ject T1
  7. Denon DP-400
  8. Music Hall MMF-1.5
  9. Denon DP-300F
  10. Yamaha TT-S303

#1: Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO Turntable

Noteworthy Features

  • Belt-drive turntable with electronic speed control
  • Built-in phono preamp with gold plated sockets
  • Comes with a Sumiko Rainer cartridge
  • Carbon fiber tonearm
  • 33 RPM, 45 RPM, and 78 RPM speeds

Why Should You Buy This?

When it comes to a quality turntable, you can’t look any further than the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon. This player is packed with desirable features such as a lightweight carbon-fiber tone arm, TPE-damped isolation feet, belt drive motor with a steel platter, and electronic speed changes with stabilization.

It’s also available in a variety of colors, allowing you to match it to your room and setup.

Vinyl communities rave about this system on Reddit – and for good reason. You will not find a better audiophile turntable that includes a ~$150 phono cartridge for the price.

#2: Fluance RT85 Turntable

Noteworthy Features

  • Automatic, Servo-controlled belt drive motor
  • Acrylic platter
  • Includes an Ortofon 2M Blue Moving Magnet Cartridge
  • S-shaped tonearm
  • 33 and 45 RPM speeds
  • Solid wood body

Why Should You Buy This?

This wouldn’t be the best turntables under $500 guide without including the Fluance RT85. This player is a favorite amongst our staff at HiFi Hippo due to its build quality and features.

The solid wood design creates an elegant feel that not only looks luxurious but also serves an important purpose in reducing micro-vibrations. The isolated motor has high torque, bringing your vinyl record up to speed very quickly while the automatic tonearm retracts when the record is done.

There is so much thought put into this design to prevent unwanted vibrations from making their way to the needle. This is a true vinyl enthusiast turntable and it definitely delivers.

One thing to note: This system does not include a built-in phono preamp, meaning you’ll need to buy an external one or have a stereo that can accommodate phono input.

#3: U-Turn Audio – Orbit Plus

Noteworthy Features

  • External belt drive motor
  • Acrylic platter
  • Comes with an Ortofon OM5E cartridge
  • Adjustable tonearm and internal anti-skate
  • 33 and 45 RPM speeds

Why Should You Buy This?

U-Turn is an exciting brand in the turntable world. They’re a small operation that manufactures turntables with part 100% from the USA. From pre-made designs like the U-Turn Orbit Plus or fully-customized systems, U-Turn does it all.

The Orbit Plus is their mid-level system for those looking to improve their listening experience. It has some awesome features for a mid-price turntable and comes stock with an Ortofon OM5E – a nearly $70 cartridge.

We can’t say enough good things about these turntables. They’re easy to set up, easy to maintain, and look so unique!

#4: Audio-Technica AT-LP120

Noteworthy Features

  • Manual direct-drive motor
  • Anti-skate and variable pitch control
  • Includes an Audio-Technica AT-VM95E cartridge
  • S-shaped tonearm
  • 33, 45, and 78 RPM speeds
  • Built-in preamp
  • USB output for digitizing your vinyl records

Why Should You Buy This?

The Audio-Technica AT-LP120 has been a staple turntable ever since it became available to consumers. At a relatively modest price point, the AT-LP120 boasts many unique features that other audiophile turntables don’t possess such as USB connectivity and pitch control.

It’s a direct drive system, meaning is suitable for DJs as well as vinyl enthusiasts. While we won’t get into the pros and cons of each system here, just know that the motor has very high torque and can move freely.

Design-wise, the AT-LP120 resembles that of a vintage Technics SL-1200; slightly more industrial with all the functions on the top of the body.

One major drawback is its plastic body design. This in addition to the direct-drive motor makes it subject to micro-vibrations.

#5: Fluance RT83

Noteworthy Features

  • Belt driven motor
  • 33 and 45 RPM speeds
  • Aluminum platter
  • Includes an Ortofon 2M Red Moving Magnet Cartridge
  • S-shaped tonearm
  • Gold plated RCA connectors

Why Should You Buy This?

Here we have another Fluance turntable making the list! The RT83 is at a slightly lower price point than that RT85 for a few reasons. Here are some of the key differences:

This system includes an aluminum platter instead of an acrylic platter. While aluminum is not bad, acrylic is a nice feature including in myself high-end turntables. There’s also no fully automatic tonearm return feature. Lastly, the included cartridge is a tier below the RT85’s, but this can be upgraded down the line.

This is not to say that the RT83 is a bad product at all. It possesses many of the high-end features we’d expect out of a system of this price range. One thing to keep in mind, like the RT85, this does not include a pre-amp.

#6: Pro-Ject T1

Noteworthy Features

  • Belt drive motor
  • 33 and 45 RPM electronic speed change
  • Phono preamp
  • Comes with the Ortofon OM5E Moving Magnet Cartridge
  • Glass platter

Why Should You Buy This?

The Pro-Ject T1 is a sleek turntable that comes in a variety of colors suitable for any room decor. While it does not have the same level of features as its Carbon Debut counterpart, it’s meant to bridge the gap between starter turntable and full-on enthusiast.

By far, the best feature of this system is its elegant design. If tying a room together through music is your objective, this is the system for you.

We won’t lie, there are “better” turntables on paper than the T1, but this is a system that will work flawlessly and look stunning while it plays.

#7: Denon DP-400

Noteworthy Features

  • Belt drive motor
  • S-tonearm design
  • 33, 45, or 78 RPM speeds
  • Phono preamp built-in
  • Semi-automatic: stops at the end of play

Why Should You Buy This?

Denon is a brand with a long history of quality consumer audio products since 1910 – over a century! The DP series of turntables is an example of their expertise in design and sound quality.

This system comes in piano black and is filled with desirable features. The build quality is as outstanding as the aesthetics.

However, we are not huge fans of the dust cover design. While the design is meant to be an album sleeve display, we just find it awkward and an eyesore to an otherwise very visually appealing turntable.

Now, that’s not why we’ve ranked it below some of the other turntables. We feel that even though the DP-400 has many high-end features, the price-to-feature ratio does not stand up when comparing it to some of the other tables at the top of the list. While you’re paying for a great brand name, that only goes so far.

#8: Music Hall MMF-1.5

Noteworthy Features

  • Belt drive motor
  • S-style adjustable tonearm
  • Built-in preamp
  • 33 and 45 RPM speeds
  • Vibration-dampening platter slip mat

Why Should You Buy This?

Music Hall is a lesser-known brand in the turntable world even though they’ve been in business since 1998. Music Hal specializes in high-end, audiophile turntables and the MMF-1.5 is their step into “prosumer” gear.

They didn’t do a bad job at all and created a solid turntable that’s good at doing one thing: playing records. While this Music Hall system is not a feature-heavy turntable, what it does it does well.

If you’re looking for a simple player right in the middle of the $500 price range, Music Hall is the way to go.

#9: Denon DP-300F

Noteworthy Features

  • Belt drive motor
  • 33 and 45 RPM speeds
  • Fully automatic tonearm
  • Built-in Phono pre amp
  • Includes a moving magnet cartridge

Why Should You Buy This?

The DP-300F is a solid turntable, but rather unexciting when it comes to features. In a similar vein to the DP-400, we feel as if you’re paying for the Denon brand name instead of an extensive feature list.

This system has many of the same features as many entry-level systems that cost a fraction of the price.

While we believe this would be a solid player for anyone, there are much better turntables on this list when it comes to either price or features.

#10: Yamaha TT-S303

Noteworthy Features

  • Belt drive motor
  • Phono preamp built-in
  • Heavyweight body to suppress vibration
  • Static balanced tonearm
  • Includes a moving magnet cartridge

Why Should You Buy This?

Yamaha is a solid electronics brand, everyone knows this by now. This system is going to do as advertised and it’s going to do it well. That being said, Yamaha obviously was just trying to steal some of the turntable market-share and push stereo systems when they released the TT-S303.

While some technical details might be a slight improvement over some of the turntables on this list, the feature list is lacking and is comparable to an entry-level system. While build quality certainly is better than systems of a lower price, we feel that after purchasing, one will wish they opted for a similar turntable in the same budget, but with more additions.

Staff Picks: The Best Turntables Under $500

$500 is a great price range to shop for turntables and opens the doors to some exciting options. However, we understand that looking through a list of options might be overwhelming, that’s why we’ve hand-picked some options based on 3 parameters: staff favorite, the best value, and the best budget turntable.

Take a look at our opinion on the best turntable under $500.

Staff Favorite

Our staff favorite at the $500 price is without a doubt, the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO. This turntable has so much to offer and the carbon fiber tonearm equipped with an Ortofon 2M Red cartridge is a match made in heaven.

This audiophile turntable is capable of producing great sound quality and it looks amazing. With 6 different colors to choose from, you can place this turntable in almost any room.

Do yourself and your vinyl collection a favor by purchasing the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO.

Best Value Turntable

Best Value TT under $500

Our pick for the best bang for your buck is the U-Turn Orbit Plus! U-Turn Audio is creating a lot of noise in the vinyl world, and for good reason. This system is an elegant pairing of quality and aesthetics – and it comes in at a lower price than many of the others.

With high-end features such as an acrylic platter and external belt, the Orbit Plus gives you the most for the price.

Best Budget Turntable

Best Budget TT under $500

The pick for the best value turntable under $500 is the Audio-Technica AT-LP120 series. It’s the only direct-drive turntable on this list, but don’t let that deter you. Plus, it enables you to DJ with physical vinyl should you want to!

Okay, we understand that not everyone reading is a DJ, but this system is filled to the brim with features for such an affordable price. Additionally, there are many unique offerings with this system such as USB connectivity.

While build quality might be somewhat of an issue, with the right cartridge, this system will produce high fidelity sound from your record comparable to many of the top-price systems on this list.

Choosing the Right Turntable for You

At the end of the day, this article is just a list of recommendations. Ultimately, you need to find the right turntable for your needs and budget. Maybe you want to splurge on the highest quality hi-fi setup, or perhaps you need to find a modest system on a higher budget? Maybe a record player would suit you better than a turntable?

These are all things to consider when looking through the feature list of the different systems.

Most importantly, we at HiFi Hippo want to provide you with accurate and non-biased reviews to help you make an important decision. Don’t lose sight of what matters: the music.

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