Making a choice of the best turntable under 500 dollars might be a venture for those who make their first steps with vinyl. However, the audiophile also might find some handy features in these entry-level decks, and their sound is often listenable.
The cost of the turntable is often determined by the quality of the materials it’s made of. The wooden plinth, acrylic platter, carbon tonearm, expensive cartridge can’t cut the cost to less than a few hundred dollars. It’s the same with comfort features like micro lift, auto stop, one-button speed changing, and so on. In some turntables in this price category, these features can be sacrificed for the sake of more expensive engineering decisions. The silent belt drive, the steady subplatter-to-platter bearing, the smooth motion of tonearm can be found on some of the decks under $500.
Speaking sound-wise, the turntables in this price tier frequently offer an accurate picturing of frequencies and a good balance. The distortion might be present depending on the construction materials, and fitting of the belt / direct drive. These turntables often feature good bass and midrange, and a bit smoothed out treble. The dynamics is fine, while the accents might be a bit blurred. However, these record players can well transmit the analog warmth and joint effect of multiple instruments and voices, unavailable with the digital sources. In other words, they’re a great starting point to vinyl listening and a handy but not too expensive option for regular listening.
Solid non-ringing construction of the RT85 is enough to call it the best turntable under 500 dollars. It features the MDF plinth with the rubber feet on the bottom, the precisely aligned belt, and the acrylic platter ensuring you'll listen to the LP only, not the way it resonates with your interior. Still, the picky audiophile might note there’s a slight motor noise heard over the fully silent periods. Besides, this can be compared to the noise of shuffling the book's pages next room, so tiny it is.
The tonearm on this record player is S-shaped and equipped with several appliances, making the operation plug-n-play one. There’s the cue lever regulating the tonearm motion and tracking force, the anti-skating mechanism, and the silent stainless steel bearing. The turntable is supplied with the Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge, known for the accuracy of sound reproduction and the spaciousness of a soundstage. This cartridge has an elliptical tip made of a solid diamond piece ensuring high fidelity playback.
Turning on the RT85 for the voice-featuring compositions, you might notice the good separation and lively dynamics it produces. Its soundstage isn’t limitless but features a good depth and imaging. During the complex instrumental parties, the tiny detail might be blurred, but the main line is always clear and prominent. This record player is a worthy entry-level option that gets on the list of the best turntables under 500 dollars available on the market.
A no-frills but convenient design of the RT83 makes the setup and operation of this deck quite simple. Fit for beginners and audiophiles, it belongs to the best turntables under 500 dollars.
The turntable is made solid and weighs 15lbs. Its plinth is wooden (MDF) with a glossy veneer cover. It doesn’t look flashy but quite elegant. There’s no built-in amp, so take that into account when making space for a deck in your room. The assembled parts also look good, especially the Ortofon 2M Red cartridge that is already installed in the headshell. The latter has an easy-swap design, which is handy but renders the tonearm some awkwardness.
The tonearm is equipped with an anti-skating option and a slow lowering lever, letting you be confident about your vinyl collection. It also has an auto-stop feature, which doesn’t send the tonearm back to its resting place but only stops the record motion, leaving the stylus within the LP groove.
Still, the sound of the RT83 justifies the title of the best record player under 500 dollars. It’s rich and has a good definition on all frequencies, providing full and non-shrieking highs. It also creates quite a wide soundstage letting you feel the reverb and the strong bass. Still, it features some muddiness in the midrange and dynamics when dealing with the complex instrumental parties.
This deck can be upgraded as for the assembling parts and connected appliances as well. It sounds confident with bookshelf speakers, tower monitors, and can be matched with various phono preamps. If you look for the best turntable under $500, the Pro-Ject EVO might well be it.
The motor and belt mechanisms are hidden under the platter. This makes it look minimalist and also secures the belt in a single position, ensuring minimal reverberation and zero noise. The motor drives the platter through a sub-platter mechanism with the bearing and belt on it. The platter is made of metal and features the polymer layer on the bottom to prevent ringing. Overall, the construction is very stable, and the noise is non-existent.
The tonearm is a single straight metal tube with inner threads of carbon and a non-removable shell. It’s equipped with an anti-skating mechanism, and that’s it. You can’t regulate the height and, thus, there are some limits to the variety of cartridges used with this turntable. Still, it comes with the Ortofon 2M Red, which fits this record player well.
The Pro-Ject EVO creates a lively and deep soundstage. It might lack some subtle nuance while providing a distinct picture for each instrument and voice involved. The solid bassline not overlapping the precise fluent mids and airy treble make it one of the best turntables under $500.
Assembled manually in the USA, this turntable features tons of smart engineering decisions. The turntable foresees considerable room for an upgrade as well.
Precise assembly and a unique platter bearing design let the turntable maintain consistent speed with very little fluctuations. This results in the high dynamics and punchiness of the sound, its lively character. Meanwhile, the Orbit Plus model is equipped with the Ortofon OM5E cartridge, known for its neutral tonal character and high fidelity of sound reproduction. Installed at the proprietary Orbit tonearm, it creates an airy soundstage with a lot of detail for each instrumental and voice party. The smoothness and natural character of the sound make it the best audiophile turntable under $500. Meanwhile, the performance might feature the mild roll-offs at extreme lows or highs as well.
The construction is belt-driven, foreseeing the two-speed operation (the belt is adjusted manually). The tonearm has the anti-skating mechanism built-in and pre-adjusted, which is a clever decision. Nonetheless, you can easily swap the cartridges, as the tracking force is controlled by hand. There’s no auto-stop mechanism in this turntable.
The platter is a massive acrylic disk, supplied with a felt mat. The sub-platter fixation has the original design, ensuring the rock-solid construction with no side reverb or resonance. Among the turntables under 500 dollars, this one makes a great offer.
For a Denon deck, it’s pretty usual to be the best $500 turntable. These record players are marked with precise assembly, a sturdy construction, and a handy operation. Let alone the typical Denon's hefty dynamics and neutral signature.
The proprietary tonearm of this record player is S-shaped and equipped with anti-skating functionality. There’s also the auto-stop feature lifting the needle from the groove once the playback is over. Besides, the tonearm construction allows installing not just an MM cartridge, but an MC one as well.
The platter of this model is aluminum with a damped bottom. The bearing, motor, and belt systems are of good quality. There’s no ringing when tapping on the plinth, and the background is silent during the playback.
The sound output features the well-drawn images “blending” smoothly within a soundstage. The latter isn’t too deep but by no means narrow. The details are distinct but don’t attract too much attention, while their summed-up output and one-to-one resonance are on the forefront. There’s no coloring of the sound, while the warmth of the analog records is conveyed in full.
Another feature the beginner vinyl fans might value in this deck is the built-in phono stage. The true audiophile, on the other hand, will appreciate that it can be disabled. The turntable can operate at three speeds and fits for the shellac 78 RPM records playback. A handful of features and a room for the upgrade make it one of the best turntables under 500 dollars.
The user-friendly Denon DP-300F lets you do the minimum after tuning the tonearm, and, thus, makes the best automatic turntable under 500 dollars. Still, to keep within the cost limits, the engineers had to sacrifice some features like the plinth material or the needle type.
The plinth is made of thick plastic, but it's quite massive and doesn’t make a resonance. It rests on four wide round legs ensuring stability and zero outside vibration. A DC motor is connected with the aluminum platter via the belt. The phono preamp is integrated. The turntable can play the LPs and the 45 RPM records (all you need to do is to press a button for it). Power on and Power off are the separate buttons located on the front side of the plinth. Pressing the Power on, you’ll have the tonearm gotten above the record and lowered for the needle to touch the groove. After the playback is over, the stylus is removed using the micro lifting mechanism, and the tonearm goes back to its place.
Through the built-in phono stage, the sound of this model is okay. It embraces the frequencies between 20Hz – 18,000Hz, and the lack of treble is noticeable when listening to the complex compositions. The midrange is represented better, providing good detail. Lows are tracked well but seem a bit contoured, without depth. Nevertheless, the soundstage becomes wider, and the playback is more detailed and dynamic when the turntable is connected to the more powerful external phono preamp.
This turntable can serve for both DJing and listening to analog music. It lets you record your vinyl into a digital code. For a starter vinyl lover, it can be the best turntable under 500 dollars. However, the detonation of this machine is up to 0.15% making the slight speed inconsistency audible at fluent analog compositions.
The speed is controlled via the buttons, and there’s an option of choosing 78 RPM as well (press the two buttons at once for that). The brake system is electronic and works quite well, having no “skating” feature.
The aluminum platter feels a bit lightweight. Yet, it spins steadily without wobbling issues. The tonearm has an S-shape and a removable headshell, letting you swap the cartridge easily. The VTA is controlled manually via the 6-point switch. The built-in phono stage can be turned off when connecting the turntable to the external preamp. The connections make the Line / RCA port, and the USB-B one. The latter can serve for linking to the PC or mixer to work with the Rekordbox software, using the samples for mixing and scratching.
The sound of the PLX-500-K is smooth on highs and quite dynamic on bass and midrange. The tonality is neutral, the details are audible and accurate. The soundstage isn’t vast but has enough depth to enjoy the instrumental compositions. The overall balance is slightly shifted towards the low end. Considering the direct drive and tons of features on this device, it stands among the best record players under 500 dollars.