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It's safe to say that vinyl is back and here to stay, so it might be high time to invest in something a little better than that cheap one you picked up at Urban Outfitters that will only scratch your valuable records. Sure, digital is more convenient, but vinyl offers a listening experience much more intimate for true music lovers. Listening to music becomes a ritual, and spinning your favorite bands records is more rewarding because you really get to sit with it, as opposed to skipping around every 30 seconds, succumbing to the musical ADD we have all developed.
Now, that doesn't mean you have to run out and get a setup with all the bells and whistles that will cost you thousands of dollars. For most of us, a basic setup is all we're after, and that starts with a high quality, belt driven turntable. Don't go too cheap or you won't get as much out of it, instead shoot for one of the best record players for under $500. This is the sweet spot for durable players even the most obnoxious audiophiles would approve of, so check out some of the best audio technica below.
Debut Stereo Turntable by Pro-Ject
The Pro-Ject is a manual turntable that doesn't care about convenience, instead they use only the best materials to construct a top end product, including one of the best tone arms on the market. The carbon tube tone arm makes your records play clearer, getting rid of resonance and unwanted feedback.
When it comes to belt driven turntables, the most important factor in getting great playback from your LPs is a high quality tone arm, so it's no surprise one of the best record players for under $500 has one. The noiseless AC motor delivers perfect speed and stability in every single use.
Turntable by Marantz
The Marantz comes fully automatic and lets you play your records at the touch of a button. So, if you like to literally drop the needle, than it may not be for you, but it is one of the best record players for under $500 on the market. Its advanced magnet cartridge helps reduce distortion and gives you crystal clear playback.
It has a great little motor that keeps it humming at optimal performance after hundreds of hours of listening. If you're just getting into vinyl, this trusty turntable by Marantz is a great place to start.
AT-LP1240 by Audi-Technica
Originally, the AT-LP1240 was designed as a professional quality DJ turntable primarily for use in nightclubs, but over the years vinyl fans have loved it for its amazing playback quality. Coming with direct drive high-torque, this player is capable of rotating at a variety of speeds (33/45/78 RPM), all with little to no distortion.
It comes with a substantial built-in pre-amp, and since it was made for extreme work loads from DJ's, going from forward to reverse play is a breeze. You can feel the quality in the thing's weight, and its solid build helps reduce vibration, making it one of the best record players for under $500 to listen to records on.
Analog Record Turntable by Denon
The Denon has been crafted with a heavier base construction for reduced vibration, increasing LP playback performance. It comes with a reliably great tone arm, however, it is designed to be easily replaceable if you happen to have a cartridge issue. This convenience alone makes it one of the best record players for under $500.
The base is constructed with diecast aluminum, which helps to produce vibration free playback. It's built with an internal amp, but it also is designed to make it easier to connect to a high end amp later down the line, like every audiophile's dream, the insanely priced tube amp.
Orbit Plus Turntable by U-Turn Audio
The Orbit Plus turntable is a great combination of functionality and price. They do this by limiting the moving parts, leaving you with a sleek looking, high quality belt driven turntable with a reasonable price tag. You will always get consistent LP playback when listening to vinyl on your Orbit Plus.
It's trademark rubber suspension keeps the skips and scratches out of your music experience. While it is a manual player, it does offer some modern amenities like a speed control button, allowing you to get the RPMs to your liking. It releases incredibly warm sound, giving you one of the best record players for under $500.
MMF 2.2 Belt Driven Turntable by Music Hall
Music Hall is well known in the turntable community for the lush and warm sounds their belt driven turntables deliver. It's not the fanciest thing to look at, but its clean black design is timeless. If you happen to be a minimalist, this thing is right up your alley, and even better, it's one of the best record players for under $500 you can buy.
It comes with a dust cover and a slip mat so the player always stays in place and never skips a note. Music Hall really lets the sound quality come through as it was intended, allowing you to listen to your favorite musicians as they would've wanted.
RP1 by Rega
The Rega RP1 is renowned for its high quality, low vibration motor, ensuring your records sound great at all times. The quality and reliability are what really makes this one of the best record players for under $500. It's quite a bit lighter then most of the others on this list, and that is all part of the Rega philosophy to reduce unwanted energy transfer.
It comes stock with a Rega carbon moving magnet cartridge, which is known for having a very low resonance. The tone arm is simple but delivers well over the long haul, giving you consistently great music for years to come.
CP-1050 Direct-Drive Turntable by Onkyo
Onkyo delivers an easy to use, smooth sounding low-torque turnable with their CP-1050 model. It also includes a useful dust cover to keep debris off your turntable and reduces unwanted vibrations. It's low-torque motor is all about reducing noise, and sometimes this causes tracking issues, but not enough to stop it from being one of the best record players for under $500.
If you are a fan of vintage style, this no frills offering will be something you'll love playing vinyl on for years to come. It's S-shaped tone arm is good, but you can always upgrade down the line, so don't worry if it seems a little weak for a player of this stature.
TN-300 Analog Turntable by TEAC
This beautiful walnut turntable does more than just look good — it offers superior LP playback! It's highly adaptable to most setups, so don't worry if you are at the earlier stages of your vinyl hobby. You also get USB output, so you can connect to computers and even convert analog to digital recordings.
It comes with a good cartridge for the price, and you always get a warm and welcoming sound from your TEAC. The biggest selling point is its high usability rating, making it one of the best record players for under $500. It comes with a great felt slip mat, driving home the point that this player is built for functionality.
LP-120 by Audio-Technica
Lastly, the LP-120 is a little bit more affordable than the LP1240, but it is still one of the best record players for under $500. This is one of the best basic setups you can get, especially if you aren't the obnoxious type of audiophile. As far as getting top value in a direct drive turntable, you can't do any better than the LP-120.
The high-torque motor allows you to play at a variety of speeds, all clear and vibration free. It's easy to set up and you can be spinning records minutes after you take it out of the package. It has a USB output and connectivity, with a changeable preamplifier, so you can play music on any type of speaker system.