Best budget turntables 2018: USB, Bluetooth

These are the best budget turntables money can buy, whether you're dipping a toe with your first turntable, want to rip your vinyl using a USB deck or simply upgrading an ageing entry-level model.

Spinning vinyl doesn't have to be an expensive affair - our favourite budget decks start at under £100. At its most basic, a good turntable will spin vinyl smoothly to give you a steady sound that your amp 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. All the options we've listed below come in at under £500.

Best budget turntable under £100

Best budget turntable under £100

Lenco L-85

Hands down, one of the best budget plug-and-play turntables we've seen.

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions (hwd): 15 x 42 x 36.2cm | Motor: Belt drive | Cartridge: MM | Phono preamp: Yes | USB: Yes | Speeds: 33 1/3, 45 (manual speed change) | Finishes: Green, red, yellow, black, white, grey

Reasons to Buy
Decent, enjoyable sound
Good with voices
User friendly
Reasons to Avoid
Rivals offer better sound

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. 

Best budget turntable under £200

Best budget turntable under £200

Audio Technica AT-LP3

Excellent performance meets a great set of features.

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions (hwd): 12.8 x 43.5 x 35.3cm | Motor: Belt drive | Cartridge: AT91R VM | Phono preamp: Yes | USB: No | Speeds: 33 1/3, 45 (manual speed change) | Finishes: Black, white

Reasons to Buy
Expressive and musical
Built-in phono stage
Fully automatic tonearm
Reasons to Avoid
Nothing of note

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, an a removable cartridge so you can upgrade to another moving-magnet or moving-coil at a later date. The Audio Technica delivers a full-bodied and musical sound, with plenty of space and detail.

Best budget turntable under £300

Best budget turntable under £300

Pro-Ject Essential III

Fantastic part of a long line of great-value Pro-Ject decks.

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions (hwd): 11.2 x 41.5 x 33.5cm | Motor: Belt drive | Cartridge: Ortofon OM10 | Phono preamp: No | USB: No | Speeds: 33 1/3, 45 (manual speed change) | Finishes: Red, white, black

Reasons to Buy
Smart styling
Relatively simple set-up
Open, detailed sound
Reasons to Avoid
Build isn’t rock solid

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.

Best budget turntable under £500

Best budget turntable under £500

Rega Planar 1

Yet another Award-winning entry-level turntable from Rega.

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions (hwd): 11.7 x 44.7 x 36cm | Motor: Belt drive | Cartridge: Rega Carbon MM | Phono preamp: No | USB: No | Speeds: 33 1/3, 45 (manual speed change) | Finishes: Black, white

Reasons to Buy
Good amount of detail
Rhythmic and expressive
Easy to put together
Reasons to Avoid
Nothing at this price

The Rega Planar 1 is a 2018 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.

Best budget USB turntable

Best budget USB turntable

Sony PS-HX500

Want to rip vinyl to hi-res? This five-star turntable has that ability at a good price.

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions (hwd): 10.4 x 43.0 x 36.6cm | Motor: Belt drive | Tracking force: 1.7kg | Cartridge: MM | Phono preamp: Yes | USB: Yes | Speeds: 33 1/3, 45 (manual speed change) | Finish: Black

Reasons to Buy
Rips vinyl to hi-res
Simple set-up
Lively, transparent sound
Reasons to Avoid
Doesn’t look all that special

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.

Best budget turntable system

Best budget turntable system

Pro-Ject Juke Box E

Pro-Ject forces a little of the 21st century into a turntable

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions (hwd): 11.8 x 41.5 x 33.4mm | Motor: Belt drive | Cartridge: MM | Phono preamp: Yes | USB: No | Speeds: 33 1/3, 45 (manual speed change) | Finish: Black, red, white

Reasons to Buy
Just-add-speakers convenience
Good range of features
Capable, even-handed sound
Reasons to Avoid
Baffling remote control
Some will desire more power

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.