Best budget turntables Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best budget turntables you can buy in 2023.
These are the best budget turntables currently on the market, for whether you're dipping a toe into analogue with your first turntable, want to rip your vinyl using a USB deck or are simply upgrading an aging entry-level model.
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, while 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.
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.
The Primary E confidently nails the basics, from an even tonal balance to a delivery that’s clear and clean and spacious enough to keep things coherent. Decent body and substance cling reliably to every frequency, and that’s made all the more enjoyable by a spirited sense of drive and momentum. As a first turntable, it's hard to beat near this price.
Read the full review: Pro-Ject Primary E
The Audio-Technica AT-LP3 manages to offer the full automation of a suitcase turntable without compromising on sound quality. That means you get a built-in phono stage, a removable cartridge so you can upgrade to another moving-magnet or moving-coil at a later date. It delivers a full-bodied and musical sound, with plenty of space and detail. And at this kind of money, it's a veritable bargain.
Read the full review: Audio-Technica AT-LP3
If you’re after a fully-automatic deck which works virtually straight out of the box, the Sony PS-LX310BT one of the best we’ve heard.
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 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.
Read the full review: Sony PS-LX310BT
If you want a budget turntable that just plugs in and gets on with the job of spinning your records, you'll be hard pressed to find anything better than the Lenco L-85. The semi-automatic, belt-driven turntable features a built-in phono stage and even supports USB recording. Build is decent for the price and the colour options are plentiful. Sound quality is very good for the money.
Read the full review: Lenco L-85
The Rega Planar 1 became a 2019 What Hi-Fi? Award-winner thanks to its wonderfully exciting and engaging sound. Build quality is superb and features include a Rega Carbon cartridge, which is attached to a RB110 tonearm.
It's a simple deck to get up and running, too. The result is a roomy, spacious sound that's full of detail. Voices sound superb and the Rega delivers a combination of clarity and accuracy that's tough to beat at this price.
Read the full review: Rega Planar 1
The Sony PS-HX500 is a slick operator. It connects to your computer via USB and uses Sony's Mac and Windows-compatible High Res Audio Recorder software to rip your vinyl either as a WAV (up to 24-bit/192kHz) or DSD (5.6mHz) file. It's a simple process, all done at the press of a button.
Build quality is excellent - the Sony uses a one-piece tonearm with an integrated head shell - and its sound mirrors this. It extracts a superb level of detail and delivers it in an articulate. coherent and entertaining manner. Stereo imaging is up there with the best at the money.
Read the full review: Sony PS-HX500
Pro-ject's Juke Box E crams lot of usability and features into a vinyl-playing package. You're looking at a turntable, amplifier, phono stage and Bluetooth connectivity all in one box - all you have to do is add a pair of budget speakers.
It's a concept we've seen before, but Pro-Ject has refined it to great effect. The system sounds on the warmish side of neutral and it's no slouch when dealing with complex rhythms. Overall it's an enjoyable listen, but you will need to think about the speakers you use to partner it with. Think along the lines of the Mission LX-2 or Q Acoustics 3010i and you'll be onto a winner.
Read the full review: Pro-ject Juke Box E
The Pro-Ject Essential III looks fantastic with it's slimline build but also crams in great features like an enhanced platter and plinth and upgraded cartridge and cables. This belt-driven deck sounds easy-going and enjoyable, with exciting highs and an excellent sonic balance. The soundstage is open and scale is decent. At this price, what's not to like?
Read the full review: Pro-Ject Essential III
How we test record players
Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. 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.