Best Cheap Turntables And Why You Shouldn’t Buy a Record Player Below $200

Disclaimer: If you don’t want me to burst your bubble about buying a good cheap turntable under $100 dollars I do not recommend you to read this article (although, as I explain in this article, there could be a couple of reasons to buy one). If you are just looking for the “Best Cheap Turntables” section click here.

What is your budget? If it is $100 I have some bad news for you: you are not going to find good sound quality for that price. And, if you don’t choose correctly, you may ending up damaging your records.

Don’t worry, we have all done the same mistake. Some time ago I bought my first record player, it was a $100 dollar Crosley. For my inexperienced ear (I got late into music) it sounded amazing, actually a lot better than any CD Player set-up that I have had the chance to test. After a few months I could see a Pro-ject Debut Carbon in action, it amazed me how much better it was. This motivated me to start researching about the difference between crappy and high end turntables.

Here are the results.


The Cartridge

Turntable cartridge photo

The most important part of a record player it is the stylus. This part of the turntable is what is going to make the difference between a good cheap record player and a lousy one.

The cartridge is the most important part of a turntable. As I stated before on “How do record players work” in the homepage (almost at the end) the cartridge converts the mechanical vibration from a stylus (needle) riding on the record groove into an electrical signal. Depending how this signal is generated it has to be amplified or not. Here is where we can find the sound quality difference between cheap and expensive record players.

The cartridge that cheap turntables use it’s called “ceramic cartridge”, it main advantage is that it creates a stronger electrical signal that does not need to be amplified, making record players cheaper since they don’t need a preamp. What is the problem then? There is a huge sound quality difference between this and magnetic cartridges, that are used by higher end turntables.

But that isn’t all, ceramic cartridges need more pressure on the record in order to generate a stronger signal. This extra pressure will damage your vinyls on the long run.

So, should we NEVER buy a $100 dollar turntable? No, I am not saying that. I am pointing out that you shouldn’t be surprised if the sound quality from it isn’t as good as you expected.

Some reasons for buying a cheaper record player could be that you are expecting a sound quality boost from your CD Player (but not expecting a huge boost and you are not concerned about the health of your vinyl collection on the long run). Maybe you are giving the turntable as a gift and this aspects are no that important. Maybe you want to start with a cheaper record player to see if it worth it to make a bigger investment in the future. There is a lot of valid reasons (and one of them is the one that I used to buy my first turntable) and I won’t judge you.

“Well, nice preaching, now what?” Well, you should get to it and buy your turntable. In the next section I talk about the ones I recommend.

Best Cheap Turntables


Under $100 dollars

What!? Didn’t you just sat that we shouldn’t buy record players this cheap?

You are right, I did say that. But I also mentioned that there is a couple of good reasons to buy one under this price tag (my first record player was de Crosley Cruiser that is under $100).

I am going to simplify this and define two types of people: those willing to sacrifice sound quality over design, and the others that are exactly the opposite. I am going to recommend a model for each of this groups:

Design over sound quality

Best turntable under $100 dollars

If you want to get a great looking vintage record player get the Crosley Mini TurntableThis is a great looking record player with more than good enough sound quality for its price tag.

Amazon reviews: 4 out 5 stars



Sound quality over design

Best cheap record player under $100You can’t get better sound quality than the Audio Technica AT-LP60 at this price. The thing about this turntable is that it is easily upgradeable. The turntable comes with a ATN3600L . You can change that needle with the ATN3600DLX  for even better performance.

Amazon reviews: 4.4 out of 5 stars


Under $300 dollars

Best turntables under 300 dollars

The Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB it is simply the best record player that you can find for this price tag. It has great sound quality and it is compatible with 33-1/3, 45, and 78 rpm speeds.

Amazon reviews: 4.4 out of 5 stars


Under $400 dollars

 Best turntable under 400 dollars
Trust me when I say this turntable beat most of the record player that are sold for $1000 dollars. Its sound quality it is simply amazing. If you want to get serious into playing record, this is the way to go!

The Pro-ject Debut Carbon it is the choice of most turntable audiophiles in a budget

Amazon reviews: 4.4 out of 5 stars