Even though record players were considered to be relics of the past, audiophiles and turntable enthusiasts have proven that the situation is quite the contrary. More and more people are returning to the roots when music was plain, simple and pure, so it’s safe to say that record players are as famous as they used to be.
Brands such as U-Turn, Teac, Roland, and Pro-Ject have graced the market with numerous quality turntables, and I’m here today to showcase my selection of the best sounding budget turntables. Without any further ado, let’s get straight to it.
Here’s My Selection of the Best Turntables Under $300 or Less
Last update on 2018-09-18 Source: Amazon
1. Fluance RT81 Vinyl Record player
Let’s open up with Fluance RT81 – this is a plain looking record player which comes outfitted with bleeding-edge technology and top-shelf features, including a supremely reliable belt drive, high-performance cartridge, exceptional signal clarity, and a breathtaking walnut cabinet.
First of all, the sound of RT81 is unparalleled – it boasts high-fidelity performance due to its AT95E (borrowed from Audio Technica) cartridge and the exquisite diamond-tip stylus, so the tracking is executed with pinpoint accuracy. What’s more, you’ll need some time to raise the bar in terms of playback quality, as this model features a well-balanced aluminium tonearm which rests deep in record’s groove, leaving no details out.
As for its exterior, the RT81 features a solid, sturdy wooden cabinet with a walnut finish, so it excels in both performance and aesthetics. Last, but not least, this is the cheapest turntable among the five I’m covering in this review, so if you’re looking for quality but feel insecure about paying a fortune, this one’s your safest bet.
- Superb-quality features
- High-performance cartridge
- Impeccable sound clarity and tracking precision
- Outstanding value for the buck
- Not too expensive
- Mediocre versatility
- Certain parts (within the interior) are quite flimsy
2. Roland TT-99 3-speed 909 Special Edition Turntable
Roland is “responsible” for numerous highly sought after record players, and I’m presenting you their TT-99 Special turntable. It looks modern and expensive, although it doesn’t cost a fortune – in fact, it might be the best turntable under $300 ever made.
It comes supplied with a brushless motor which boasts a nearly soundless method of operation (the attribute “nearly” is fitting due to the direct drive performance) which offers plenty of reliability on top of the granted convenience. You’ll be able to play your 33 1/3, 45 and 78 rotations per minute records on it – that’s plenty of versatility to go about, considering that I was after best sounding turntables in the first place.
The S-shaped tonearm is onboard – it’s extremely accurate when digging deep into the grooves of your records and it’s fairly balanced for a budget record player. Lastly, Rolan’ds TT-99 special might cost just a bit more than my previous pick (Fluance RT81), but its value is exceptionally high – the sound quality is simply amazing, tracking is sharp, and the overall quality of features can’t be higher.
- Excels in aesthetics
- Nearly soundless method of operation
- Reliable brushless motor
- Three selectable speeds (33 1/3, 45 and 78 rotations per minute)
- Incredibly precise tracking
- Poor torque
3. Audio-Technica AT-LP3BK Belt-drive turntable
Audio-Technica is one of the biggest names in the turntable industry, and there are only a few reviews that don’t feature at least one model from their catalogue – I didn’t want to be an exception, so I’ve tested out their AT-LP3BK belt-driven record player.
This record player looks rather plain, but you’ll be able to choose between “black” and “white” color variations if the original is not to your liking. You can also playback records at two selectable speeds – 33 1/3 and 45 rotations per minute.
You’ll find a built-in switchable pre-amp (phono and line) onboard which features a dual RCA output – this feature is the one responsible for AT-LP3BK’s exceptional sound quality. Audio-Technica is pretty famous for making some of the best cartridges for record players, and this particular model features the moving-magnet cartridge and a long-life diamond-tipped stylus. All things considered, this is a phenomenal, if not the best.
- Available in black and white color variations
- Built-in pre-amplifier
- Amazing sound quality
- Phenomenal cartridge and stylus
- Flimsy switches made of plastic
4. Crosley C200A-BK Direct Drive Turntable
Crosley is often considered as the godfather of record players – these guys have been around ever since the trend began, and they certainly know a thing or two about how turntables should be made. I’m here with the review of C200A-BK turntable, and hope you’ll like it as much as I did.
The high-torque motor can playback records at two speeds – 33 1/3 and 45 rotations per minute. What’s more, the platter is incredibly stable as it features a felt slip mattress below it, not to mention its robust construction which heavily complements it.
It features a pre-installed Audio Technica cartridge and a balanced tonearm with the hydraulic-lift control, the anti-skate mechanism, and height adjustment.
- Extraordinary set of features
- Superb sound quality
- Stable and durable
- Beautiful outlook
- Quite heavy and unwieldy
5. Teac TN-350-WA Walnut Belt Drive turntable
I’m closing down the curtain with Teac’s TN-350-WA belt drive turntable. Teac is a big name in turntable industry, and I can safely say that most audiophiles have owned at least one model from their assortment.
This turntable features an MDF cabinet which minimizes external resonance, a built-in phono preamp, and a set of gold plated terminals that prevent eventual oxidation of headshell connectors. As for the sound, this turntable boasts high-torque motor and exceptional hardware, making it possibly the best turntable under $300 in this review.
Record players are scattered throughout various price point categories, and finding the best turntable under $300 might sound easy, but it might not be so – there are plenty of brands (both underdog and famous), so weeding out valuable models from mediocre ones proves to be quite a job. That’s the reason why I’ve made this review for your convenience – simply kick back and take your pick.