Being a vinyl fan can be a costly hobby. From the record themselves to ensuring you have the right components to play them – it can all add up. But that doesn't mean there aren't some superb turntables around at truly budget prices.
In this list, we've highlighted the best budget turntables currently on the market. Whether you're dipping a toe into analogue with your very first turntable, want to rip your vinyl using a USB deck or are simply upgrading an ageing entry-level model – you'll likely find a record player here that will suit you (without having to spend a silly amount of money.)
At its most basic, a good turntable will play your records smoothly to give you a steady sound that your integrated amplifier can work with.
More advanced options will let you rip that music to your digital archive in hi-res, some will handily come with a built-in phono stage, and we've even managed to track down an all-in-one turntable system that includes amplification and the ability to stream music via Bluetooth.
And despite what you might think, good turntables do exist at cheaper price points, so spinning vinyl doesn't have to be an expensive affair as this list below will show – including long-running Award-winners and cheap but cheerful options.
If you need a bit more of a helping hand, we have a whole guide for choosing the right turntable for you, and once you do get your ideal deck, we have tips on how to set it up perfectly so you get the best performance always.
Our expert What Hi-Fi? team has thoroughly tested all of these record players in our dedicated test rooms, reviewing each budget unit and comparing it with its relatively priced equivalent - so you can be sure you're getting an authentic, authoritative recommendation.
The Pro-Ject Primary E looks like the identical twin of the original Pro-Ject Primary, a sparsely designed turntable that also boasted a 22cm tonearm and Ortofon MM cartridge. The only difference with the Primary E is that the power supply is built into the deck and customers can only have it in black rather than the Primary’s red or white options. It also costs a little less than the original model at around £150.
£150 isn’t much for a turntable by anyone’s estimate, but the Primary E confidently nails the basics, providing an even tonal balance and a delivery that’s clear, clean and spacious enough to keep things coherent. Decent body and substance cling reliably to every frequency, made all the more enjoyable by a spirited sense of drive and momentum. So impressed were we with the Primary E, that it’s been winning the best turntable under £200 trophy at the What Hi-Fi? Awards for five years in a row now. If you’re looking for your first turntable, the Primary E is almost impossible to beat at this price.
Read the full review: Pro-Ject Primary E
Another five-star performer, the Audio-Technica is genuinely one of the finest automatic turntables we’ve heard at this price - with the bonus addition of a built-in phono stage. In terms of ease of use, nothing really comes close to this Audio Technica deck, so you’ll only have to poke a few buttons before you’re enjoying your vinyl collection as God intended it to be enjoyed. Along with the integrated phono preamp, you also get a fool-proof set-up and a removable cartridge that can be traded out for another moving-magnet or moving-coil alternative.
Considering that this is still very much a budget option, none of what’s on display with the AT-LP3 feels cheap or flimsy. Quite the opposite, and you’ll be impressed by the powerful work the player does when it comes to playing records, too. Sound is robust and full-bodied, with plenty of space, detail and enthusiasm. Overall it’s a balance that keeps the music’s character its priority. At this price, it’s an impressive combination of talents.
Read the full review: Audio-Technica AT-LP3
It’s hard to go wrong with the unerring usability and reliability provided by Sony, one of the most consistently impressive audio companies around, and the PS-LX310BT is no exception. While the name might not be the easiest to spit out, Sony’s fully automatic Bluetooth turntable is a cinch to use, working straight out of the box and providing a pleasing, stress-free vinyl experience.
There’s also a very decent phono stage built in and the Bluetooth connection is strong and works with up to eight devices – meaning you can stream your vinyl to a pair of wireless headphones or a Bluetooth speaker, should you so choose. For the money, you get an easy-to-use deck with a very decent phono stage built in. There's also Bluetooth support so you can stream your vinyl to a pair of wireless headphones or a Bluetooth speaker. The very best decks at the same money pip it for pure sound quality, but you won't find many as fun, ridiculously user-friendly and resoundingly listenable.
We’ve come to expect this sort of customer-friendly usability from Sony, but what we hadn’t quite prepared for was just how good the PS-LX310BT sounds. Yes, it has its limitations and yes, purists will likely look elsewhere for more detailed and dynamic alternatives, but Sony’s budget effort still provides an entertaining sound with a healthy dose of drive and attack. If you want something fun, user-friendly and unquestionably listenable to get your vinyl adventure started – not to mention want the added convenience of Bluetooth – the PS-LX310BT is a five-star recommendation.
Read the full review: Sony PS-LX310BT
If budget really does mean budget, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better plug-and-play turntable than Lenco’s eye-catching, cheap and cheerful L-85. The semi-automatic, belt-driven turntable features a built-in phono stage and even supports USB recording so you can rip vinyl into MP3 files, so a desire to save money doesn’t starve you of features. Even the build quality is decent for the price, and colour options are theoretically plentiful, although you might have to shop around to find the shade you want from the retailer who will actually provide it.
There are plenty of trendy, cheap turntables available that sound poor at best or damage our records at worst, but the Lenco does what the others haven’t been able to: deliver a likeable, enjoyable sound in a competent manner (without, crucially, gouging our records). This isn’t the sort of turntable that’s going to blow you away with incomparable sonic heft and detail to make a sound engineer swoon, but for the price you’re paying, you could certainly do a lot worse.
The Lenco L-85 handles vocals especially well, and while it’s not a remarkable performer for capturing rhythm or timing, the balance across the frequencies is admirably even and there are no coarse edges at the top end. Whether it’s for your kids or you’re a student keen on vinyl but looking for a great deal at £100 (or less), this is a decent place to start.
Read the full review: Lenco L-85
It’s hard to think of a company that really gets how to make consistently good record players quite like Rega, now celebrating its 50th anniversary. The Rega Planar 1 is the cheapest turntable Rega makes and has been a What Hi-Fi? Award-winner since 2016 and in truth, it’s an accolade it fully deserves. Built superbly to Rega’s typically high standards and featuring a Rega Carbon cartridge attached to a new RB110 tonearm, the Planar 1 is easy to use and simple to set up.
It sounds great, too. Rega’s forensic attention to detail results in a roomy, spacious sound that never skimps on the particulars, while voices sound superb and rich. The Planar 1 delivers a combination of clarity and accuracy that's almost unparalleled at this price, providing an exciting and engaging experience no matter what you throw at it. It’s a clear step up in performance from the Pro-Ject Primary E and if you’re able to spend the extra dosh, it’s absolutely worth it.
Read the full review: Rega Planar 1
Pro-ject's Juke Box E is a tad more expensive than some of the truly budget entries on this list, but you are getting a system – not just a turntable – for the increased financial outlay. This Pro-Ject Juke Box E is another What Hi-Fi? Awards winner, winning us over thanks to its potent mix of quality, usability and great range of features.
The Juke Box E is an all-in-one package combining a record player - based on Pro-Ject’s Primary turntable – with built-in amplification (25W per channel), phono stage, plus a Bluetooth receiver. We saw the concept initially flown up Pro-Ject’s flagpole with the original Juke Box back in 2010, but the E model gives a really comprehensive update to an already impressive recipe.
The listening experience, especially, has been superbly refined. It’s on the warm side of neutral, and impresses with a spacious soundstage and is capable of dealing with tricky rhythms and various genres. Listeners will enjoy the detailed midrange and top-end brilliance, along with bass weight that’s ample if not as punchy or impactful as we’d like. Pair it with the right speakers though, and the system will shine. We recommend partnering it with speakers such as the Mission LX-2 or Q Acoustics 3010i to really get the full experience.
Read the full review: Pro-ject Juke Box E
If you liked the sound of the excellent Planar 1, then the Planar 1 with the added convenience of a built-in phono stage could well be music to your ears.
Rega tends to keep things pure on the analogue side, but it eventually succumbed to trends and delivered the Planar 1 Plus, the first time the British manufacturer has incorporated a turntable with a built-in phono stage. It’s a Rega Planar 1 turntable with the excellent Rega Fono Mini A2D built-in (also a five-star product). The Planar 1 Plus also costs less than if you were buying the two components separately, so it’s no contest which option you should choose (unless the phono stage in your amp is vastly better).
Rega has built a reputation for bringing style, substance and consistently high audio standards with its turntables, and it’s the same story with the Planar 1 Plus. The deck looks identical to the straight Planar 1, which is no bad thing considering its sleek look and easy set-up.
It’s the sound quality, though, that makes the Plus a five-star smash. Put simply, it sounds superb, and while it may take a while to fully reveal the warmth and depth of which it’s capable, give it a few days and it will be purring like the best. Rega's knack for delivering terrifically agile, subtle and hugely enjoyable dynamics is replicated in the Plus. It’s also clean, crisp and open. At this price, the Planar 1 Plus is a hugely appealing and talented package.
Read the full review: Rega Planar 1 Plus
Time hasn’t been easy to Dual, a name once so closely associated with its dominance of the turntable market in the 1980s. A lot has changed since then thanks to evolving trends and competition from stellar rivals such as Rega and Pro-Ject, but the CS 418 is perhaps the strongest indication that the fallen giant is stirring from its slumber.
While not exactly ‘budget’, the CS 418 is a genuine alternative to the more established class leaders. Yes, it’s the priciest deck on this list but still comes in just under £500 and for that money, you get a built-in phono stage and Ortofon’s 2M Red moving magnet cartridge fitted as standard. That’s quite a great package for those who want a good deal without sacrificing sound quality.
What really gives the Dual CS 418 the edge, though, is its sound quality. Get it up and running and it sounds as polished and cared for as you can expect at this price without going the purist route. It delivers a clear, expressive and balanced sound while reserving plenty of energy for mining out those subtle nuances and meaningful details. You’ll have to pay quite a bit more for the next step up in performance (Dual’s CS 518 or the superb Rega Planar 3, for instance). A serious contender at this price.
Read the full review: Dual CS 418
How we test record players
Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.
Here at What Hi-Fi? we review hundreds of products every year, from TVs to speakers, headphones to hi-fi systems. So how do we come to our review verdicts and why can you trust them? Allow us to explain.
The What Hi-Fi? team has more than 100 years collective experience of reviewing, testing and writing about consumer electronics – and that includes plenty of record players. We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in Reading and Bath, where our team of expert reviewers do all our in-house testing. This gives us complete control over the testing process, ensuring consistency across all products. We always ensure we spend plenty of time with each turntable, setting them up correctly, trying them with different electronics, in different positions and with different music.
All new turntables are tested in comparison with rival turntables at the same price (and often cheaper and more expensive alternatives, too), and all review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than a single reviewer, helping to ensure consistency and avoid individual subjectivity. That's why our reviews are trusted by retailers and manufacturers, as well as consumers, the world over.
From all of our reviews, we choose the top budget turntables to feature in this Best Buy. That's why if you take the plunge and buy one of the products recommended here, or on any other Best Buy page, you can rest assured you're getting a What Hi-Fi?-approved product.
You can read more about how we test and review products on What Hi-Fi? here.
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