10 Best Turntables Under $250


It seems like you only hear about two kinds of record turntables. There’s the vintage model you come across in a thrift store. It’s pretty battered on the outside and only costs a couple bucks. There’s a 50-50 chance that it sings like an angel… or screeches like the lead in a Hair Metal band.

On the other hand, there’s that sleek modern machine advertised with all the accessories and smart capabilities you could dream of. You’ve been drooling over it for a while now… but it costs two months’ rent.

There’s some good news here. Thanks to the resurgence in vinyl’s popularity, you don’t need to break the bank or risk your eardrums. The market has some quality record players at a decent price, if you know where to look. All of the devices on this list have 33 and 45 RPM capability. Many of them also include the same features as top-end turntables, like:

  • Bluetooth compatibility
  • upgradeable cartridges and other components
  • curved S-type tonearms
  • automatic operation
  • vibration-dampening design
  • gain controls
  • anti-skate systems
  • a variety of aesthetics, from playfully retro to classic wood to sleek metal

What’s the catch? If you’ve gotten bit by the vinyl bug, you probably want it all. For under $250, you’ll probably need to pick your priorities and let a few extra features go. That’s why this isn’t a Top Ten-style list that ends on the absolute ‘best record player under 250’. However, there’s a good chance that you’ll find the best turntable under 250 for you somewhere down below.

The record players on this list were drawn from a variety of review sites. Some were more tech-oriented, focusing on advanced features and fine-tuned control.  Others focused more on beginner-friendly options that were durable and easy to operate.  I took a look at buyers’ reviews as well to get some insight on real user experiences.  Finally, I chose a mix of devices to cater to every kind of user.  In the list below, you’ll find recommendations for everyone from beginners who just want to play their favorite records to techies itching to fiddle with the controls and get that perfect sound.  Let’s take a look.

10 of the Best Turntables for Under $250

U-Turn Orbit Basic

U-Turn Audio - Orbit Plus Turntable (Black)

Best for: Vinyl beginners willing to save a little by learning manual controls.

U-Turn designed the Orbit for beginners who’ve gotten a taste for vinyl but don’t want to break the bank. You won’t see all the high end features here or a lot of automatic controls. What are you getting instead?  A simple set up, manual operation, and the option to upgrade certain components in the future. Overall, the U-Turn Orbit Basic incorporates a quality build with great sound for your investment.

As we mentioned, the turntable’s manual. Users need to set the needle by hand. You also need to manually adjust between 33 and 45 RPM speeds. This can take a little practice and may be difficult for people with poor grip strength or finger dexterity. The advantage of manual over automatic is price, and there’s one less component that might get damaged and need replacing.

The U-Turn uses a midrange cartridge with a conical diamond stylus. This can be upgraded later, if you’re interested. The cheapest version of the Orbit doesn’t have a preamp, but you can find the model with this feature and still fall within the budget for this list.

Features:

  • a precision OA2 gimbal tonearm
  • Audio-Technica AT91B cartridge
  • adjustable counterweight
  • low-noise motor
  • powdercoated MDF acrylic platter for clearer playback
  • a cue lever, available separately

 

1byone High Fidelity Belt Drive Turntable

1 BY ONE High Fidelity Belt Drive Turntable with Built-in Speakers, Vinyl Record Player with Magnetic Cartridge, Wireless Playback and Aux-in Functionality, Auto Off

Best for: People looking for an easy-to-use device that’s compatible with even complex music systems.

1byone’s High Fidelity Turntable is compact and unobtrusive, keeping the focus on the music. At just 7 ½ inches high and a touch over 17 inches wide, it’s also a great space saver.  You’ll be able to slot the record player into your media tower or the corner of your desk without sacrificing another part of your sound system.

1byone isn’t marketing this as a turntable so much as an all-in-one music system. In today’s world, that means Bluetooth compatibility. You’ll be able to go analog with your records and then transition smoothly to streaming music from your phone, PC, or other compatible devices. However, that has a limit as the Bluetooth connectivity is input only. You can connect it with devices like tablets but not Bluetooth speakers. On the plus side, the High Fidelity also features an AUX input, addingflexibility to your music setup.

 

1 BY ONE High Fidelity Belt Drive Turntable with Built-in Speakers, Vinyl Record Player with Magnetic Cartridge, Wireless Playback and Aux-in Functionality, Auto Off

 

Features:

  • manual start
  • switches for pitch correction and shifting speed
  • a universal head shell
  • diamond-tipped MM Phono Audio-Technica stylus
  • adjustable counterweight
  • manual start
  • built-in preamp
  • analog Phono and Line outputs
  • Bluetooth

Fluance RT81

Best for: Users who are willing to give up some features for a machine that doesn’t cut corners on quality. Fluance RT81 Elite High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable Record Player with Audio Technica AT95E Cartridge, Belt Drive, Built-in Preamp, Adjustable Counterweight, Solid Wood Plinth - Walnut

Fluance is one of the bigger names at this price point, so it was tricky to narrow the options down. Their RT81 turntable rises to the top of the pack by offering a solid and usable set of features at a reasonable price.

The appearance may be a little on the plain side, but every part of it was designed with function in mind. First of all, this record player has a real wood plinth, not veneer. Who cares?  Well, the combination of solid wood and sound isolation feet dampens vibrations throughout the machine. This helps the needle transmit a more accurate sound. Meanwhile, the aluminum platter is lightweight yet sturdy. This helps it keep a steady pace and further reduces the vibration.

Fluance is offering an upgraded elliptical stylus as well as a curved S-type tonearm. The curve, plus 2.0 grams of tracking force, doesn’t just echo the sleek design of more expensive turntables. It also increases accurate music tracking by keeping the needle centered in the groove. There are semi-automatic controls for the tonearm. You get a switch to engage or disable auto-stop, but no auto-return.

Features:

  • built-in Texas Instruments pre-amp Fluance RT81 Elite High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable Record Player with Audio Technica AT95E Cartridge, Belt Drive, Built-in Preamp, Adjustable Counterweight, Solid Wood Plinth - Walnut
  • gold-plated RCA line to protect sound quality
  • a pre-balanced and adjustable counterweight
  • an advanced anti-skate system
  • reverb-controlling rubber slip mat
  • AC power adapter for 100V and 240V

Crosley C100 Belt-Drive Turntable

Best for: Those who want a modern aesthetic with modern tech as they enjoy classic sound.

Instead of the usual understated fare and dark woods on the list, Crosley’s C100 has a sleek and modern design incorporating bright aluminum, black accents, and an S-shaped tonearm. It’s a departure for this list and for Crosley itself. The brand used to stick to a retro-replica aesthetic and suitcase style machines. Crosley C100A-SI Belt-Drive Turntable with S-Shaped Tone Arm with Adjustable Counterweight, Silver

However, the C100 isn’t just good looking. It’s also highly adjustable and customizable. The adjustments give you a lot of control over your final sound. Meanwhile, customization options mean that the device can be grown into as you upgrade features along the way.

This turntable gives you stop-start controls and an adjustable strobe pitch. The arm itself offers a lockable rest, height adjustment, a counterweight, and hydraulic lift control. All of this is calibrated to keep the needle in position and reducing skipping. This means moment by moment control for people with turntable experience. Raw beginners may have a bit of a learning curve as they learn how to coax out the best analog sound.

However, it isn’t the most feature-heavy item here. There’s no Bluetooth receiver, which somewhat limits your setup options.

Features:

  • AT3600L cartridge and NP5 needle
  • adjustable counterweights
  • a preamp ready to plug and play
  • detachable RCA output cables
  • felt slip mat
  • die-cast aluminum platter

Sony PS-LX310BT

Sony PS-LX310BT Belt Drive Turntable: Fully Automatic Wireless Vinyl Record Player with Bluetooth and USB Output Black

Best for: Those with the space for a large, solidly built machine that offers quite a bit of audio control.

The Sony PS-LX310BT belt drive turntable is heavier and has a larger footprint than many on the list. It’ll take up more space in your media center or audio tower. On the plus side, this size and mass can help keep vibrations to a minimum.

You’ll be able to fine tune your audio experience with a smartly thought out control scheme, no manual fumbling involved. This includes switches to adjust the speed, accommodate 7” and 12” records, and lift and lower the needle.

The PS-LX310BT has a preamp like many others here. It stands out from the competition by featuring three gain control settings. For added versatility, you can also switch the preamp off and connect to other devices with Bluetooth.

Always wanted to digitize your vinyl collection? This turntable can connect to your PC via its USB port. You can use this to record digital files. If that’s a priority for you, check the specifications carefully to make sure your system’s compatible.

Features:

  • Sony PS-LX310BT Belt Drive Turntable: Fully Automatic Wireless Vinyl Record Player with Bluetooth and USB Output Blackeasy-to-replace cartridge and stylus
  • toggle for speed control
  • a built in preamp
  • one-step audio playback
  • a thick dust cover
  • Phono and line output

House of Marley Stir It Up Wireless Turntable

House of Marley Stir It Up Wireless Turntable: Vinyl Record Player with Wireless Bluetooth Connectivity, 2 Speed Belt, Built-in Pre-Amp, and Sustainable Materials

Best for: People who want an eco-friendly device with a rustic look.

There’s a growing concern about the environmental impact of the electronic gadgets we love so much. People are looking for that middle ground between enjoying their favorite hobbies while minimizing their carbon footprint. House of Marley’s Stir It Up is a record player designed to fit neatly in that market space.

This turntable is crafted from multiple sustainable and eco-friendly materials. House of Marley uses bamboo for the wood top. This highly sustainable source of wood offers an elegant natural grain, a clean look, and visual warmth. Here, bamboo is paired with recycled fabric, a solid aluminum platter, and a slipmat of recycled silicone. The Stir It Up turntable has a simple, brighter presence than the dark hardwood or polished steel bricks of some devices. This makes it a comfortable fit for more rustic or casual homes.

It may seem homey, but this record player offers users a host of modern features. There’s a preamp, making it a snap to integrate with speakers and stream to other devices. The base model doesn’t have Bluetooth, but you can get an upgraded model with pairing capability. You can also take advantage of its USB port to back up your favorite albums on your PC or MAC. This uses Audacity as the recording software. You may want to check out our review of the AT-LP60 (see below) for device compatibility.

Features:

  • Audio-Technica MM ATN3600L stylus with replaceable cartridge
  • adjustable counter balance
  • volume control
  • a switch for shifting playback speed
  • belt drive with auto start and stop
  • multiple options for connectivity
  • RCA and Phono line

Audio-Technica AT-LP60

Audio-Technica AT-LP60-USB Fully Automatic Belt-Drive Stereo Turntable (USB & Analog), Silver

Best for: Vinyl enthusiasts with some technical knowledge, looking for a feature-rich device on a budget.

Looks-wise, the AT-LP60 is not that impressive. It’s a simple black and grey with boxy lines and a plastic frame. So what’s it doing on this list?

You may be giving up a certain style factor, but in return you’ll be gaining a record player with many of the bells and whistles of more advanced and expensive models. It gives you a lot of direct control, with 33/45 RPM toggle, start and stop, and buttons and switches to precisely position the tonearm at the start of the single or album.

Complete newbies might be overwhelmed by this array of controls. Audiophiles with more experience will appreciate the convenience.

Looking to connect your Audio-Technica record player with the rest of your setup? There’s a built-in preamp that’s compatible with powered speakers. You can also connect via RCA cables to your stereo, or through the USB to your computer.

You can use the AT-LP60’s USB connection to make high quality backups on your computer… maybe. The system requirements are fairly basic: a PC or Mac with a USB port of USB 1.1 or higher, running OS X 10.1, Windows 98, or later versions. Most computers have that. The included software itself, Audacity, has been somewhat fiddly for reviewers to use. Backing up music on this device may be better suited for tech-minded people who are already passingly familiar with Audacity.

Note that you’ll need a CD-R or CD-RW drive for burning the files onto the CD. If your computer doesn’t have one (nowadays, many laptops don’t), you can get a portable CD-R drive and plug it into a second USB port.

Features:

  • dual magnet ATN3600 cartridge with a replaceable needle
  • a 7” adapter
  • fully automatic belt drive
  • compatible with Mac and PC
  • aluminum platter that dampens resonance and vibration
  • 120V AC only

Audio-Technica AT-LP60X

Audio-Technica AT-LP60X-BK Fully Automatic Belt-Drive Stereo Turntable, Black, Hi-Fi, 2 Speed, Dust Cover, Anti-Resonance, Die-Cast Aluminum Platter

Best for: Users who liked the specs on the Audio-Technica LP60 but want crisper sound.

Audio-Technica earns another spot on this list with the AT-LP60X. This is technically a newer model of the LP60 that we already covered. However, it isn’t so much an across-the-board upgrade as it is a moderate redesign.

You’re getting a budget, fully automatic turntable that offers quality sound. The LP60X has many of the same features of the LP60 including:

  • built-in preamp for your powered speakers
  • fully automatic playback with play, stop, and autostop capability
  • multiple switches for device control
  • quality components
  • USB output and Audacity software for archiving your discs to the computer
  • compatibility with 7” and 12” discs

So what’s different? Audio-Technica has made a number of tweaks to improve the sound experience. The tonearm was redesigned with a new headshell and base to improve needle tracking and reduce vibration. The power cord includes an AC adapter that reduces possible interference. The cable output has been switched from non-removable RCA to removable AUX, allowing you to upgrade the cable or replace it if it gets worn.

Can a casual ear tell the difference between this and the earlier model? It’s hard to say. Both devices are solid in the mid-range and have decent bass. True beginners may want to choose whichever unit is on sale at the time. People with a trained ear may benefit from the LP60X’s audio fine-tuning.

The overall look has also gotten an overhaul. The compact design has been squared off a bit. It comes in a choice of classy colors. Overall, it has a more subtle look that would be right at home with other electronic devices. This turntable will fit easily into smaller setups and tight gaps in the media tower.

Features:

  • upgradeable line and phono outputs
  • adapter for RCA cable

Pro-Ject Primary E

Best for: People willing to sacrifice bells and whistles for a quality build that will last for years.

Pro-Ject has earned a solid reputation on the market with their midrange devices. However, they’ve also dipped their toes into the more budget friendly edge of the scale. The Pro-Ject Primary E is a great introduction to the brand. It’s also a good choice for people who may work up to more expensive record players.

The Primary E doesn’t offer USB recording. It doesn’t have a built-in phono stage. What it does have is a seriously sturdy build and quality components. These all tie together to create great sound without the hassle of a finicky setup and multiple buttons and switches.

This device’s overall look is understated. It has a simple top in solid colors, available in white, red, or black. This keeps the focus on the record itself. Note that this unit is designed with three feet, and some users have struggled to keep it stable.

Features:

  • Ortofon OM cartridge pre-set with tracking force and anti-skate
  • tonearm with durable sapphire bearings to improve needle tracking
  • Made in Europe with a 230V motor
  • acrylic lid and felt mat
  • manual speed control
  • gold-plated RCA Phono cable
  • 7” singles adapter
  • stylus pressure gauge

 

Lenko L-85

Best for: Those looking for user-friendly operation in a budget-friendly package.

The Lenko L-85 has had a polarizing entry into the budget-friendly turntable market. It is lightweight and includes a lot of plastic. It’s available in a variety of vivid colors that might be at home among Crayola crayons. The rounded appearance has been compared to old-timey school lunch boxes. In short, if you love the classic elegance of hardwood and aluminum, look elsewhere on this list.

However, the Lenko L-85 is a great choice for the right user. This petite record player is one of the most affordable we cover. It also offers a very user-friendly music experience. The turntable is essentially plug and play. Buyers can be enjoying their favorite vinyl within minutes of unboxing. It may not have the crispest sound, but it handles voices and the midrange well.

This is a semi-automatic device with a built in phono stage. You can get started right away with the RCA cables and a stereo amp. Sadly, your other devices will languish because it doesn’t offer Bluetooth. As a pleasant surprise, there is an included USB port. That’s a feature missing from some turntables twice the price.

Features:

  • integrated stereo preamp
  • USB port
  • MM cartridges
  • mechanical arm lift
  • auto return
  • removable plastic dust cover

 

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