Best Record Player Under 300

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The time is right to get into budget hi-fi. From [/reviews/elac-debut-2-0-b6-2-review/ amazing, cheap speakers] to a [/pictures/best-turntables-you-can-buy-from-affordable-to-absolute-insanity/ high-quality turntable], it's never been more affordable to get a great-sounding system for [/pictures/best-sounding-albums-to-own-on-vinyl/ vinyl records]. One of the first questions to ask is: How much should I spend if I want the best turntable? Name a price from $40 or up, and there's no doubt you'll find a record player to fit your budget: from vintage turntables to the newest fully automatic and Bluetooth turntable options. For example, the [/reviews/audio-technica-at-lp60-turntable-review/ Audio Technica LP60] is a great little turntable for $100. But there are even [/news/are-you-ready-to-upgrade-to-your-first-really-decent-turntable/ better choices] for the best turntable under $300 out there.



























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I've chosen $300 as the sweet spot because it opens up the options for finding a high-quality model. These vinyl record players are no longer simple toys but can be considered true hi-fi: They offer elevated vinyl record sound quality and high-quality components. With an analog turntable or manual turntable, you'll be constantly removing a vinyl record, moving the tonearm and spinning up an actual motor -- so it's worth spending a bit more for record players that will last.


Best turntables under $300
















Best overall





Best minimalist





Best mainstream





Best plug and play





Best design





Best for newbies





Best step-up





Best under $100









Product





Fluance RT82





Pro-Ject Primary





Crosley C10A





Music Hall MMF-1.3





Audio Technica AT-LPW40WN





U-Turn Orbit Plus





Pro-Ject T1





Audio Technica AT-LP60









Price





$300 at Fluance





$249 at Pro-Ject





$299 at Amazon





$289 at Amazon





$299 at B&H





starts at $289 at U-Turn





$329 at Turntable Lab





$79 at Amazon









Cartridge





Ortofon OM10





Ortofon OM5E





Ortofon OM5E





Audio Technica AT3600L





Audio Technica VM95





Ortofon OM5E





Ortofon OM5E





Audio Technica AT3600L









33/45 speed switch

























































Onboard preamp



































✘ at $289, ✔ at $359





















Adjustable feet

























































Platter





Metal





MDF





Metal





Metal





Metal





Acrylic





Glass





Metal









Removable headshell











✘ 













































Weight (lbs)





14.1





8.8





12.1





11





10.4





12.5





11





6.6















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I also considered vinyl record players from the bigger electronics manufacturers -- [/tags/sony/ Sony], Denon, Yamaha -- but didn't find any below $300 that beat the quality of the ones above.

Each of the turntable models I tested for this buyer's guide has at least something to recommend it, but a couple stood above the rest with solid builds, user-friendly features and excellent sound quality. Let's dive in and wiki.skylinesolutions.org check out the top picks for the best turntable under $300.

Read more
[/news/are-you-ready-to-upgrade-to-your-first-really-decent-turntable/ Are you ready to upgrade to your first really decent turntable?]
 [ ] 
[ ]
[ ] 
[/news/best-streaming-speakers-and-wi-fi-music-systems-of-2020/ Best Wi-Fi speakers and music systems of 2020]
[ ]
The winners [ ]





[ Best overall under $300]




[ Fluance RT82]






[ ]

Sarah Tew/CNET



The Fluance RT82 offers everything you could want except an onboard preamp, so if you have a receiver or amplifier with a dedicated phono input, this is the model to get.

I was mightily impressed by the well thought-out inclusions with the Fluance. Auto-start on/off, adjustable feet and even a little bubble-level were designed with the user in mind.

This high-quality turntable had one of the most entertaining sounds of the bunch, with plenty of insight into recordings as well as a healthy bass kick.










[ See at Fluance]




[ ]





[ Best minimalist alternative]




[ Pro-Ject Primary]






[ ]

Sarah Tew/CNET



I expected the $250 Pro-Ject Primary (an affordable version of the original Pro-Ject Debut) to perform towards the bottom of the roster: It's the cheapest, the lightest and it has an unusual wooden platter. According to hi-fi folklore "heavier" is supposed to equal "better," so I found it surprising that the Pro-Ject belt driven turntable was one of the best sounding. (And if you want even better-sounding, you can pay more for the [ ].) It was also one of the easiest to set up. Most of the work was done in the factory -- I just had to attach the belt.

If you can handle its barebones aesthetic and want to save a little money on the Fluance, the Pro-Ject Primary is an excellent choice. You can also upgrade to the version with the phono pre-amplifier (also known as a phono preamp or phono stage) for $299, which would make the Pro-Ject even more foolproof. 










[ See at Pro-Ject]




The best of the rest





[ Best mainstream model]




[ Crosley C10A]






[ ]

Sarah Tew/CNET



Among audiophiles the name Crosley has a bad rap, but it still manages to produce some excellent hi-fi models. The C10A is a case in point: It's been engineered with help from Pro-Ject but it offers even more refinement than you may expect from either company (the T1 below excepted). It sounds good, it looks great, and if you can get it under $300 it's a bargain.


[ Read CNET's review of the Crosley C10A].








[ See at Amazon]




[ ]





[ Best plug and play]




[ Music Hall MMF-1.3]






[ ]

Sarah Tew/CNET



Arriving in the middle of the pack in terms of both build and sound quality, this is a good turntable at a good price range. It had an even-handed response with all types of music but wasn't as engaging as the Pro-Ject and Fluance tables.

If you're looking to plug a modern turntable straight into any receiver (that is, one that lacks a phono preamp or phono stage) then this is the model we'd opt for.










[ See at Amazon]




[ ]





[ Best design]




[ Audio Technica AT-LPW40WN]






[ ]

Sarah Tew/CNET



With its carbon-fiber arm and natural wood veneer plinth, the Audio Technica was my favorite design, but a mixed bag in terms of sound quality for vinyl. The table was the boomiest sounding model when plugged into the same phono pre-amplifier as the others. When I tested its own preamp it was much less bassy, though also less exciting, and this was presumably due to a better match with the cartridge. 

Though the Music Hall's onboard preamp sounded better, the Audio Technica could be the one to get if you want an all-in-one package that also looks great.










[ See at B&H]




[ ]





[ Best for newbies]




[ U-Turn Orbit Plus]






[ ]

Sarah Tew/CNET



There's no denying the U-Turn Orbit Plus looked striking with its red plinth and acrylic platter. I also appreciate that the tonearm has been upgraded from the [ ] with a new gimbal bearing. While it's better sounding than I remember from the original, the U-Turn couldn't compete with the sound of the others. It sounded truncated with a lack of extended high frequencies, and on the hardware side the lack of a cue lever felt like a glaring omission. Note that you can also get this model with a built-in preamp for $70 more.










[ See at U-Turn]




[ ]





[ Best under $100]




[ Audio Technica AT-LP60]






[ ]

Sarah Tew



If you're just starting out in vinyl or looking for cheap turntables to give as a gift, the inexpensive Audio Technica AT-LP60 belt-drive turntable is a good option with fully automatic operation. While I didn't test it directly against the other six, I have listened to it previously. Even with speakers such as the [ ], the LP60 was able to give a convincing and musical performance. Plus, that fully automatic operation really helps.


[ Read CNET's review].








[ See at Amazon]










[ Best step-up option]




[ Pro-Ject T1 $329]






[ ]

Sarah Tew/CNET



The Pro-Ject may be a little over $300, but it shows how spending a little more can reap benefits. In terms of sound quality it really can bring out the best in your records. It offers refined treble, an expansive, detailed midrange and supple bass. It looks lovely too with its glass platter -- second only in appearance to the Audio Technica (but the Pro-ject sounds better). The T1's only "problem" is that it's ergonomically awkward -- the switch is deep on the left-hand side instead of on the front, and you need to apply a bit of upwards force to remove the tone arm from the rest. The Pro-Ject T1 is sometimes on sale for under $300 and it's a great deal at that price.










[ See at Turntable Lab]




What does $300 buy you?

Above anything else, sound quality is the main reason to upgrade to a better turntable. Compared to an all-in-one design by the likes of Victrola or the cheaper Crosleys, the lack of integrated speakers means the designers can concentrate on things like better motors and upgraded tone-arms. These are hi-fi components that can stand alongside stereo systems worth many thousands of dollars in a way that a $100 turntable can't.

From left to right: Music Hall MMF-1.3, Fluance RT82, U-Turn Orbit Plus, Audio Technica AT-LPW40WN, Pro-Ject Primary E.

Sarah Tew/CNET

There are four main elements to a turntable: The plinth or base, the platter on which the vinyl record sits, the motor and the arm. Both external and internal noise can affect the sound quality of the vinyl, and the idea is to ensure that vibrations don't travel from one to the other of these components, and the vibrations don't interfere with sound.

All six $300-ish vinyl record players offer a belt drive design which helps isolate the rumble of the motor from the pickup or stylus. Each vinyl turntable also includes either a removable headshell or at least a replaceable cartridge should you want to experiment with a higher-quality cartridge (such as an Ortofon 2M Red).