The Best Turntables Under 600€
This blog post is part of our That Special Record vinyl resources guide
Much has been written about Panasonic's spectacular new Technics SL-1200 turntable. Wired magazine wrote about how "Panasonic's reborn turntable celebrates the triumph of vinyl", The Verge called it "a beast", vinyl heads around the World rejoiced, drooling at the new High Sensitivity Tonearm, the new 78 RPM option for playing speed (versus the former 33 and 45 RPM options), etc, but soon many of us got disappointed when we heard that the manufacturer's suggested retail price is $4,000 (!!!).
"Why would anyone spend $4,000 on a turntable?" many vinyl heads started asking. Some industry experts believe that Technics is targeting the luxury demographic with this new model, rather than trying to compete with other mass-consumed mid-level turntables, but here's the good news. If you are just now starting to dive into the world of vinyl record collecting, there are plenty of brands producing quality turntables that won't break your bank. Here are 6 turntables that we recommend.
Pro-Ject Essential II www.project-audio.com
Don't let the price fool you, and don't get scared when you unpack the Pro-Ject Essential II. Easy to set-up, this low cost record player does what it's supposed to do - it plays records and delivers a nice clear sound. The Essential is not about flashy designs or unnecessary flashy features, but it remains a solid listening record player boasting excellent sounds and a sleek, minimal design and it also comes with a punchy Ortofon OM5e cartridge included. It does have a couple of problems though. The anti skating weight is a bit questionable, very light, and the felt mat is crap (but easy to replace), but overall one can say that If you're looking for a turntable in the 100-300€ price range, Pro-Ject Essential II is definitely a solid choice.
Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB www.audio-technica.com
If you're looking for a mid-range record player, this is a great turntable for the price. Sturdy, and hefty, the sound quality of this Technics "clone" is pretty good, it looks really clean and modern, and all the additional features (USB connection to your Mac or Windows computer, adjustable speed, 3 speeds - 33-1/3, 45, and 78 rpm -, reverse and the miniature light for setting the needle more accurately) are all cool.
Denon DP 300 www.denon.co.uk
The Denon DP-300F is a belt driven turntable with great speed accuracy. This Denon turntable performs and sounds great for the price, and is a solid option if you're looking for a great entry to mid-level turntable under 300€. Pro tip: To make this turntable reach its full potential, it is highly recommendable that you upgrade the cartridge.
Rega RP1 Turntable www.rega.co.uk
Great turntable for the price, but have an upgraded cartridge ready because the cartridge that comes with this deck is too tall for this tonearm. Overall, this Rega deck has a great build quality and great sonic qualities. What it lacks in features it more than makes up for in sonic performance, and lets be honest that is what truly matters. One important thing to have in mind before buying this Rega turntable: This is a manual turntable, meaning the needle won't lift off by itself at the end of the record.
Music Hall MMF-2.2 www.musichallaudio.com
If you're on a budget, have an ever-expanding vinyl collection and are wondering what you might be missing without audiophile-quality turntables...the Music Hall MMF-2.2 is a great choice. Fairly easy to setup, the piano black lacquer finish is gorgeous, comes with a Goldring Elan cartridge, and the motor is ultra quiet. Having to move the belt to switch from 33.3/3 to 45 is a little cumbersome though, but overall this belt-driven turntable looks and sounds great.
Technics SL-1200 MK2
Price: +500€ (second-hand market)
Discontinued by the manufacturer in 2010, there is a reason why this turntable is so popular and has sold so much all over the World. Yes, it's a fact that it became popular as a DJ turntable, but it was originally designed as a pro-level audiophile home turntable. Just match it with the best cartridge and needles you can afford, follow the setup instructions carefully, then sit back and enjoy the incredible sonic qualities of this turntable. The pitch is immaculate, the tonearm is adjustable in any way you'll ever need, and because the SL-1200 is a direct drive turntable designed to put up with scratching, the motor will last forever. Yes, you can spend more money on more expensive "boutique turntables", but to be honest you're just wasting your money. If you look hard enough and are a bit lucky you'll probably manage to find one in great condition on the second-hand market (ebay, amazon, pawn shops, etc) somewhere in the 500€ - 600€ range. This will probably be your last & best turntable and will probably outlast your lifetime.
Next Read: 10 of The Best Vinyl-Friendly Dj Mixers