Best budget turntables Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best budget turntables you can buy in 2020.
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.
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 play your records 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 that includes amplification and the ability to stream music via Bluetooth.
All the options we've listed below come in at less than £500 – but many are less than half that. And with Record Store Day delayed now until three dates at the end of lockdown, there's just enough time to upgrade before heading out to pick up some limited edition vinyl.
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 well under £200 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 just under £200, 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
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
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
Those familiar with Pro-Ject will recognise the T1's ability to wrap its arms around you and hug. Its full-bodied, weighty presentation is akin to a slice of home cooking, but it can really dance as well.
Its build is not to be sniffed at either, with a CNC machined chassis that not only avoids the use of plastic but has absolutely no hollow spaces, quelling unwanted vibrations, and a weighty glass platter you almost want to carry around like a trophy. It has some tough competition at the price, but there are plenty reasons to go for the T1.
Read the full review: Pro-ject T1
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