Music streaming services have fundamentally altered the way we consume music, but some of us still crave the tactile experience and warm, crackly sound of vinyl. If you’re one of those people — or would like to be — you’re obviously going to need a turntable. But where to begin? If you’re new to the game and want to test the waters before diving in, there are a lot of great tables out there that won’t leave you penniless (don’t worry — once you’re hooked, the vinyl will take care of that).
Better yet, affordable turntables have gotten progressively better since the vinyl resurgence of the early 2000s, with many now offering options like replaceable and upgradeable cartridges and styluses, built-in phono preamps, and other notable features, including those designed to improve sound and help preserve your vinyl.
Here, we’ve vetted five stellar turntables under $200 that will get you in the right groove (see what we did there?), with our top choice being the Fluance RT80, a great-sounding deck with a high-quality Audio-Technica cartridge and an enviable list of tweakable features.
The best turntable overall: Fluance RT80
Why you should buy this: It’s the full package — great sound, classic looks, and high-quality upgradeable components that can grow with your vinyl obsession.
Who it’s for: Newbies who want more features and component control than their old turntable-in-a-suitcase but don’t want to break the bank.
Why we picked the Fluance RT80:
The Fluance RT80 is slick as heck with its piano-black finish, but when it comes down to it, it also sports many of the same features found on more expensive turntables for hundreds less. It comes equipped with Audio-Technica’s AT91 cartridge, the brand name alone of which gives you the peace of mind that you’re going to get balanced, rich sound. And unlike some cheaper turntables with single-piece headshells that can’t be fixed or upgraded, here you can easily replace a broken stylus or upgrade to a higher-quality cartridge should you outgrow the AT91. You also don’t see a lot of automatic start-and-stop features on newer turntables, but the RT80 has it, with the platter spinning when the tonearm is lifted from the cradle and stopping at the end of a record, reducing stylus wear from a forgotten, rotating disc.
The Fluance RT80 has a built-in Texas Instruments phono preamp, which means you don’t need to fork over hundreds on a receiver with a phono stage to play your records — a powered set of speakers will do, at least until you’re ready to get deeper into the hobby and upgrade your components for better sound. Quality materials, including an aluminum platter and MDF plinth, round out this belt-driven turntable, which also has an adjustable tonearm counterweight and anti-skate features to further fine-tune your music.
The best for ripping vinyl: Audio-Technica AT-LP60XUSB
Why you should buy this: Audio-Technica makes consistently great turntables, and whether you plan to rip vinyl or simply listen, the AT-LP60XUSB is a solid choice.
Who it’s for: Enthusiasts who want the best of both the digital and analog worlds, plus the ability to add to their growing digital libraries with high-quality conversions.
Why we picked the AT-LP60XUSB:
As part of Audio-Technica’s most recent trio of affordable turntables under the LP60X series moniker — a series that also includes a standard model (LP60X) and Bluetooth model (LP60XBT) — we chose the LP60XUSB, a USB-enabled turntable built with the 21st-century in mind. Not only will the reliable workhorse of a deck produce high-quality sound, but it will allow you to easily convert your records to digital formats via a USB cable connection and Audacity.
First and foremost, though, the sound from this turntable is clean and full for the price, which isn’t surprising considering Audio-Technica’s reputation. But the name isn’t doing the heavy lifting here. It’s the quiet belt-drive, aluminum anti-resonance platter, and replaceable diamond stylus that you can thank for adeptly spinning both 12- and 7-inch records at 33 and 45 RPMs. Delivering that signal is a built-in switchable phono/line-out preamp, which allows you to toggle between your choice of speakers or receivers, depending on your setup or obsession level. For beginners, the LP60XUSB is ready to go out of the box, but might not be the best choice for those wanting a higher level of control or upgrade options.
The best direct-drive turntable: Crosley C200A
Why you should buy this: It offers DJ-level features and high-stability control due to its direct-drive motor.
Who it’s for: Budding DJs and general vinyl listeners who seek no-nonsense construction and ease of use.
Why we picked the Crosley C200A:
Crosley has come a long way from suitcase turntables, and it has upped its game with low-cost, entry-level decks that offer higher-end features. The C200A is a great example of this, and the fact that its design borrows heavily from Audio-Technica’s popular LP-120 isn’t a bad thing. Because the platter is connected directly to the motor, direct-drive turntables sometimes get a bad rap compared to their belt-drive siblings for transferring some of those vibrations to the stylus. But most users won’t notice the difference, and the benefits of a direct drive are substantial — the higher torque means near-instant startup time, perfect for DJs cueing up and tempo-matching songs while scratching.
The pitch-control slider on the C200A is another DJ plus, too. Sound-wise, the C200A doesn’t disappoint and easily compares to the other turntables on our list with its removable and upgradable Audio-Technica cartridge, S-shaped adjustable tonearm and counterweight, and built-in switchable preamp. Originally listed at $280, the Crosley C200A can now be found sub $200, further upping its value.
Read our in-depth Crosley C200 review
The coolest-looking turntable: House of Marley Stir it Up
Why you should buy this: It packs amazing sound and features, and it’s a beautifully-designed deck made with sustainable materials.
Who it’s for: Those who want a cool-looking, belt-driven turntable with great sound and upgradeable parts to last as their vinyl obsession grows.
Why we picked the House of Marley Stir it Up:
For under $500, you’d be hard-pressed to find another turntable that looks and sounds as good as the Stir it Up. The brainchild of Bob Marley’s son Rohan, House of Marley has gained a reputation for making high-quality audio products out of sustainable materials, with the Stir it Up being crafted from natural bamboo, hemp, and recycled plastics and aluminum, among other materials. The little design touches really make this a handsome deck, with an etched Marley logo on the plinth, and red, green, and yellow stripes on the headshell, which also houses the turntable’s quality, upgradeable Audio-Technica cartridge.
Like most of the turntables on our list, the Stir it Up features a switchable phono preamp for connection to your sound system of choice. But the listening options don’t stop there. Along with RCA outputs, this deck comes with a 3.5 mm headphone jack and USB connectivity for hooking it up to your computer, which lets you rip your records and convert them to digital. For $50 more, the Stir it Up also comes in a Bluetooth-enabled version, should you want the convenience of using Bluetooth speakers.
For newcomers to vinyl, the Stir it Up couldn’t be easier to use, with automatic start-stop and a straightforward switch selector for choosing either 33 1/3 or 45 RPM from its belt-drive motor. And although the turntable comes ready to go out of the box, should you need to modify for sound issues or change the cartridge, the Stir it Up features an adjustable tone-arm counterweight and an anti-skate control, to boot.
Read our in-depth House of Marley Stir it Up review
The best turntable for DJs: Numark PT01 Scratch
Why you should but this: The PT01 Scratch is rugged and loaded with features, making it a compact and super-portable DJ setup for $150.
Who it’s for: Budding DJs and turntablists who want to be able to practice and perform anywhere.
Why we picked the Numark PT01 Scratch:
If you’re a beginner DJ familiar with the term “portablism,” or turntablism made portable, then the Numark PT01 Scratch has probably been on your radar already for the brand name alone — not to mention its compact, take-anywhere design. The star of the show with the PT01 is its integrated scratch switch, which gives you the ability to practice and perform scratch and cut routines from basically anywhere without having to add additional hardware. And while some might scoff at the switch versus traditional slider design, the PT01’s switch feels comfortable after just a few uses. The PT01 comes with an AC power adapter for home use. However, where it really embraces the portablism movement is with its battery option — six D-cell batteries open a world of remote scenarios. Combine that convenience with the turntable’s rigid case and handle, and you have a device meant for the move.
For such a compact design, you’d expect this DJ deck to be light on features — but you’d be wrong. As far as outputs go, the PT01 features both 1/4-inch and 3.5mm headphone jacks and USB connectivity for recording your jams, while an RCA line out delivers your scratches and mixes to the masses. There is no built-in preamp, however, so you will need to connect to a receiver or powered setup. It does have a built-in speaker for solo practice sessions, but the sound is what you’d expect. And while the PT01 Scratch’s single-piece headshell and cartridge isn’t anything to write home about (and not upgradeable), it delivers a sound that is surprisingly above average, as you play records at 33, 45, and 78 RPM from the deck’s belt-driven platter. Rounding out the features, the PT01 Scratch includes a 3.55mm line-in for external sound sources and a pitch-control dial for matching cue and mix speeds — everything a growing DJ needs on the go.
Note: Most turntables on this list include a built-in phono preamp and do not require a separate receiver with a phono input — they can be connected directly to a pair of powered speakers. While many older receivers have a phono input, some newer devices don’t. Whether or not you need a pre-amp will depend on your receiver/amplifier and favorite speaker setup.