No matter the music genre, or any particular style that you’re interested in, there’s always a need for good equipment. After all, that’s the only way that you’ll be able to get not only a good tone but also enough functionality and easy operation in any setting. However, some things along the way might get a little complicated when you realize that you need to set aside a substantial sum in order to build your rig that’s capable of all this. At this point, you might even get discouraged.
Thankfully, there’s still some pretty great gear that’s not expensive at all. With all this in mind, we figured that we could cover the topic of turntables and help you guys find the best turntable under 200 dollars that will suit your needs.
But before we get into all this, there’s a brief guide that we would cover first. While some may be more or less familiar with turntables and how they actually work, it’s important to cover all the basics and find the best way to explain everything to a beginner musician. After all, they’re the ones who look for cheaper alternatives in most cases. Anyhow, let us explain some of these basic concepts before we get into the list, shall we?
What Is A Turntable?
So let’s first cover the very basics – what is actually a turntable? You know what’s a record player, or a gramophone, or a phonograph? We could, in some way, say that turntable is the same as a record player since it’s intended to play vinyl records (as its name suggests). The term “turntable” refers to the part of the record player, the one where you actually put the record and it spins and sends the information to other parts that reproduce the audio.
However, in today’s practical terms, the word “turntable” refers to a record player that’s specialized as a standalone unit for DJs or any electronic artists. It comes without any type of a power amplifier or the speakers with it. This means that you’ll have to find an external way to produce the sound.
In addition, as opposed to conventional record players, turntables are supposed to withstand some meddling. You know how DJs constantly put on new vinyl records throughout one single performance and just spin it back and forth or just sample it? This means that these specialized record players are rugged and designed for constant action.
What Are The Main Components Of A Turntable?
With an average turntable, we have the basic components like the motor, platter, stylus (or the needle), cartridge, and the tonearm. In many cases, they’ll also come with a preamplifier, which makes it easier for the artist to connect it to a PA or any other means of sound reproduction.
How Do I Use It?
It would probably take an entire detailed guide on its own to explain how one should operate a turntable, but we’ll try and cover some of the basic principles and practices here.
The first and the most obvious thing to do is to place the desired vinyl record on the turntable. Before you do that, it’s really important to make sure that the turntable is not spinning – you don’t want any potential damages and scratches on the record. When placing the record, make sure to do it gently, without wobbling it, and place the hole right on the spindle.
There will be some differences among turntables and various models, but some basic principles remain. When the record is placed down, you’re supposed to set the platter to spin but turning on the turntable’s motor. In most of the cases, you’ll also have the switch that allows different speed settings. Different speed settings go with different types of records, and this is something that you’ll need to be informed about before setting out to become a DJ. In some cases, turntable’s motor engages automatically when you lift up the tonearm.
When the record starts spinning, put the arm with the needle gently at the beginning of the record – the outmost grooves on the disc. You can do this easily as records usually have wider grooves at the beginning.
When you get all this covered, you’ll need to explore other controls and features. There’ll often be a speed button and a few other buttons. After getting a hang of it, you’ll be facing other more or less advanced challenges, like proper rig setup and proper scratching techniques.
Clean Turntable Needle
Just like any other piece of equipment, turntables require proper maintenance. The first and most important thing is to keep the needle clean. Although very durable, they are the essential component of your gramophone or a turntable, so any unwanted dirt can create longterm damage and ultimately ruin the sound quality.
There are plenty of tools and methods for this, like specialized brushes or cleaning gels. You can also use rubbing alcohol and apply it to your brush. But in order to keep the needle and the records clean, you’ll also need to use the carbon fiber brush and gently go across the grooves on your records. How often you’ll need to clean depends on how frequently do you plan on using the turntable. But the moment you see any noticeable dust, it’s a good idea to clean everything up.
Check All Components Regularly
Since this is a mechanical device, there are moving parts here that would require regular checking. After all, you don’t want it to fail on you midway through the show. One of the most common issues is the bad motor belt. Even the best turntables with the most expensive components eventually give out. By checking the motor and the belt in time, you’ll be ready to deal with any potential issues. If you see that the belt is slipping lower and lower, it’s probably the right time to replace it.
Top 5 Best Turntables Under $200 Reviews
See our list of top 7 best turntables under $500 here.
Best for Beginners: Stanton T62
It’s pretty interesting to see what Stanton has to offer. There’s some pretty great stuff in their arsenal, but for this list, we’re going with their T62 as one of the best turntables under 200 dollars. And there are a few good reasons for this.
First off, we have a belt-driven piece on our hands here, as well as some surprisingly professional features for this price range. Although some might prefer curved arms, T62 is a delight for anyone who’s into straight tonearms.
It comes with two playback speeds, 33 and 45 rpm, which is definitely an important trait here. There are also two individual play and stop switches, which is a formation that comes in handy for the battle or even the mix-style type of setup.
Going further into the features, it comes with the slider for pitch control, giving options to adjust it anywhere between minus and plus 10 percent. It’s also important to note that the slider here is built very well. This is a fairly important trait, as you don’t really want to deal with any flimsy parts in this regard. If you’re planning to use the pitch control often, this is a turntable to consider in this particular price range.
But aside from the turntable itself, you also get a few important pieces of gear along with it. First off, T62 comes with an additional set of RCA cables. Then we also have the slip mat and the dust cover, which is a very useful inclusion here. And another important piece of gear is the Stanton 300 cartridge that’s mounted on the headshell.
On top of all this, T62 comes with Stanton’s own Deckadance 2 software. This is most certainly a useful addition for anyone looking to enhance their work and even record their performances. It works both as standalone software or as an integrated plugin for any standard DAW.
Best Overall: Fluance RT80
It’s definitely hard not to mention something like Fluance’s RT80. Although it’s right on the edge of the price limit for this particular list, it’s most certainly worth every penny. One of the main things that the guys from Fluance are proud of is the high fidelity sound quality. In addition, the user gets a fully analog experience.
Of course, another great idea was also the addition of Audio Technica’s cartridge, which adds to the overall performance and tonal qualities. We have a very delicate and well-made needle here that’s intended to give very precise “reading” of the grooves on vinyl records.
The tracking is further enhanced by the addition of an S-type tonearm. Again, like we already explained with Stanton T62, what tonearm type is better is a pretty subjective topic and thus open for discussion. But if you’re into S-type arms, then RT80 is definitely one of the turntables to consider.
Fluance RT80 also comes with an integrated preamp. Here we have one made by Texas Instruments. The outputs here are golden-plated, which helps retain some important tonal qualities and overall natural feel and warmth.
As if good sound reproduction and quality weren’t enough, we also have a few very interesting design and build features that ensure very stable operation. First off, we have an aluminum-made platter. Combined with thick wood, well-designed isolation feet, and the overall build and design qualities, RT80 can provide you with a very stable and safe performance. There’s hardly any chance that you’ll have to deal with excessive vibrations ruining the performance. You just can’t go wrong with this one for the set price range.
Best Value for the Money: Audio-Technica AT-LP60XUSB
Looking at the reputation that Audio-Technica has built over the decades, it’s pretty clear that they’re full of very reliable and quality products. Anyone who’s in one way or another related to the world of music has heard of their name. So it comes as no surprise that we’re including one of their products here.
From the list of their turntables, we decided to go with AT-LP60XUSB for the list. For some, it’s the best turntable under 200 dollars, and there are good reasons for it. First, the price is well below this set limit, making it a great choice for beginners and those who want to save up while making their rig. Nonetheless, users will still experience some of the professional qualities with such a turntable. This is a piece with a belt-driven motor. We also get two different speed settings for rotation, one that’s 33.3 and another for 45 rpm.
It’s important to note that AT-LP60XUSB features fairly stable operation as well. Maybe not as highly developed compared to Fluance RT80, but we still have a quality-built aluminum platter with its anti-resonance features. We have a straight tonearm here, bearing a dual-magnet cartridge.
Output options are pretty interesting. First, you can choose between the regular phono preamp or the regular line out. However, aside from its analog output, there’s also USB connectivity. Connecting it to your computer, you can open up the world of possibilities, both for performing and recording.
In some way, it can operate as an audio interface when paired with any DAW of your choice. It works both with MAC and regular PC configurations and brings enough quality for home recording and some mid-sized gigs. Nothing too fancy, but it’s still a great option for anyone who’s more into digital outputs, rather than analog ones.
The Most Stylish: House of Marley Stir it Up EM-JT000-SB
Now, this is something a little different. The first look at House of Marley’s Stir it Up gives us some strong 1970s or 1980s vibes. While not a crucial trait, it’s something that particular turntablists (or future turntablists) might prefer as an aesthetic addition.
But although vintage-inspired with its looks, it’s far from an archaic and outdated piece.
Aside from its great design and build qualities, we have some fine features and additions on our hands here. Sure, we have the same old stuff like the 2-way speed switch with 33 and 45 rpm settings. It also comes with the much-appreciated auto pitch control, as well as the auto start. The tonearm on it is a straight one, something that comes in handy for those who love doing extra-controlled scratching.
The aluminum platter is something we’d expect on a good turntable like EM-JT000-SB. However, additional stability is also achieved thanks to its build and clever design features.
As far as the outputs go, we have the classic 3.5 mm jack in front, and the RCA out in the back. It also comes with its own built-in preamp, which is definitely a great addition here. Especially since this is a quality preamp, and many of its users have been praising this turntable for it. The 3.5 mm jack allows operation with headphones or any other type of easy connection, even to a home stereo.
Stir it Up also has a USB connection and the standard analog to digital conversion. Like with the turntable we discussed above, it provides enough quality for decent recordings or setups with laptops.
In the end, practicality and great design are some of this turntable’s biggest strengths. Looking at all of the products in this price range below $200, it’s definitely one of the first that you should look into.
Best Features: Sony PS-LX310BT
There’s some oddly specific simplicity with Sony’s PS-LX310BT turntable, both with its operation and design. And that was the whole idea behind a piece like this one. Straight out of the box, the user will be able to work with PS-LX310BT.
While we have some of the regular features – including two standard playback speeds, a belt-driven motor, as well as a stable platter – there are some very useful additions here. The first one we’d like to mention is Bluetooth connectivity. If you want to get going straight away, without having to deal with all the cables and complicated setups, you can just connect it to any speaker or an amplifier that supports Bluetooth technology. Of course, this also goes for any type of Bluetooth headphones. Nonetheless, there are also options for RCA and regular 3.5 mm cables.
Aside from the phone and line switch for its output, we also have a 3-way gain setting on it. Depending on the other equipment that you’re using, you’ll be able to adjust your tone for any occasion. It’s a very simple, yet a surprisingly useful feature.
What’s also worth noting about PS-LX310BT is that it has a quality straight aluminum tonearm, along with the mandatory aluminum platter. Together, these two components ensure stable operation.
There’s also the USB connection, which provides yet another way to connect digitally to your computer. What’s really great here is that PS-LX310BT became famous for its use in ripping records into digital files. This is especially useful if you have some of those albums from the old days when mixes and masters still weren’t ruined by the infamous loudness wars that have been hitting the music industry for decades.
Although it takes some time to become a great turntablist, it’s important to get yourself good equipment at the very start. After extensive research, we’ve chosen these five as the best turntables under $200. While it’s hard to say for sure which one of these is the best one, as this comes down to some personal preferences, you can’t go wrong with any of these. And when you get yourself a turntable from the list, all you need to do is practice and have fun!
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