If you are new getting to this hobby and need some guidance or something terrible happened to your turntable and you’re looking for something cheap that has room for upgrades, I have reviewed my top 2 picks for a record player on a budget. I’m excited to share my choices with you but first, I’d like to share the two most critical components to understand that are absolutely crucial to a good listening experience. When choosing a good quality turntable, no matter what price point you’re looking at, keep these two things in mind above all else.
Do you know that part of a record player that spins? That’s called a platter and since without it you have no sound, it matters quite a lot. Unfortunately, not all platters are created equal. You should be looking for a nice heavy platter that spins smoothly at a constant speed. A heavier platter will give you a nice steady speed and will prevent the sound from warbling.
Balanced and Strong Tonearm
Your tonearm is absolutely critical to getting a beautiful sound out of your record. The bulk of the weight is at either end of the arm, there’s a cartridge at one end and a counterweight at the other. The arm in between must not resonate, it must be strong so the material this is made from matters greatly as any vibration or extra movement in that arm will create disturbances in the sound. Most turntables being made now use carbon fiber for the tonearm.
Now, I had hoped to provide a longer list than this but I was trying to keep the price point as close to $100.00 as possible while still providing options that I can stand behind, if you know of other quality options for people on a budget please leave them in the comments below.
My first pick for a reasonably priced record player is the exact turntable I have. This record player has played well for me for 4 years and is going strong. I have never needed to replace a part and have never had any problems with it at all. It stands up to my 3-year-old bouncing around, pushing buttons and messing with it from time to time. I’m surprised at how great it sounds, how durable it has been, and as a bonus, it’s also the cheapest of my picks; I’m big on finding bargains!
USB & Analogue | Audio line-out (RCA x 2) – rear | Type – Full automatic | Speeds Supported – 33.3rpm, 45rpm
Drive Type – Belt drive | Cartridge Type -Dual Magnet | Platter – Aluminum Diecast | Wow & Flutter – 0.25 % (WRMS) | Features – Built-in RIAA equalizer
Audio Technica is a trusted brand, with the USB connection you can copy your records to your computer. My husband and I really thought we would do that when we first got the turntable but it turns out – for us – it kind of defeats the purpose of a record collection, but if you have use for it, it is a nice feature.
$126.95 on Amazon
Drive Type – Belt drive | Speeds Supported – 33.3rpm, 45rpm | Fully manual operation with start/stop control | Balanced S-Shaped tone arm with anti-skate, height adjustment, and lockable rest | Built-in switchable phono pre-amplifier | Detachable RCA output cables
This turntable does have great reviews though not nearly as many as the Audio Technica one, it’s a solid unit with a great price point and slightly different features so it all depends on what you’re looking for.
Word Of Caution
I just want to take a moment to recommend against the all-in-one suitcase variety of players. They’re great for decoration, but that’s about it. You’re not going to get quality sound and they’re typically made with light plastic platters that just aren’t sturdy enough for even play.
If you buy a suitcase record player for $60, you’ll get what you pay for.
It took me in, I’ll admit. My first record player was exactly that, a $60 player, in the cutest little suitcase…and it was garbage. It wouldn’t play half the albums I tried on it and as soon as I could afford to get something else, I did. I really wanted it to work out but I had no such luck, it’s worth a few extra dollars to get something that will last you years.
Hope this guide helps some of you who are thinking about getting their first table or those of you who love a good bargain, like me. Both of the players listed above are excellent low-cost options, happy spinning!