In the world of DJing, a few pieces of equipment identify someone as a DJ as much as turntables.
While some might argue that they have been displaced and overshadowed by electronic solutions such as controllers and CDJs, there's no doubt that they are still an excellent choice for anybody serious about this craft, especially one that is looking for a more old-school approach to the art of song mixing and DJing in general.
The trick about using turntables is actually using decent gear. If you didn't know, there are many mediocre turntables for sale today, and so purchasing the right one might be a challenging task, especially for somebody unfamiliar with this kind of equipment.
That's why I made this article. I wanted to talk about the best turntables out there. Below I mention the best turntables for all kinds of budgets and skill levels, and I also talk about the particular things that I like and dislike about each model.
This article will be really useful if you are looking to make the transition from CDJ/controllers to turntables and aren't sure which ones to purchase.
I also talk a little bit about what you should be looking for in a set of turntables, among other things. I hope you find this article useful!
Since turntables aren't as well known as controllers/CDJs, with people knowing less about them, many do not know what to look out for in a particular model.
Because of this, I wrote a few paragraphs of the most important things to look for. This will hold especially true if you DJ for a living, can't afford technical failures/reliability problems or if you are on a budget.
The most important thing that you must keep in mind when you buy a turntable is how reliable and dependable it is going to be.
There are a lot of crappy turntables out there, with people often finding this out in the middle of a set.
Plus, since turntables are much more mechanically dependent than controllers and CDJs, they are much more prone to malfunction.
They need much more maintenance than other types of equipment out there too.
A turntable that doesn't get regular maintenance tends to break really quickly and combine this with subpar components and reliability will definitely be compromised.
The best turntables are sometimes the most expensive ones, but sadly not everybody here is a millionaire, and so budget is a big consideration.
Thankfully, there are a lot of great turntables under $500 dollars, even under 300 dollars really.
Just keep in mind that more budget-oriented turntables aren't going to be the best. They might not provide the best sound or might have subpar reliability.
Since turntables tend to be chosen because they look really cool and DJs tend to be pretty fashion-conscious, they are going to prefer gear that looks more interesting.
That's why when possible, it's best to go with the more flashy choices. Thankfully, the market is chock full of interesting turntables that will satisfy any DJ when it comes to how edgy and cool they look.
Just keep in mind that there are several turntables with very cool styling, but with mediocre performance.
If you find a turntable that combines all three of these characteristics, then you have a great product in your hands that will serve you well in your next mixes.
In fact, many people even opine that using turntables can have its own set of advantages over CDJs and controllers, and if you agree with this, then using turntables can be of your best interest.
Anyways, below I go through what I think are the very best turntables on the market. These models will not only last you a long time, but they are excellent components throughout and most look sick!
Perhaps the best turntable on the market at this price point, the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB Turntable is lauded for its combination of great build quality, decent sound output for the price tag, and a dead quiet motor/platter.
While some might prefer more upscale materials used throughout or reverse play, the mix of the aforementioned features combined with the accessible price point makes this a must-have for all kinds of DJs. I highly recommend this turntable!
This turntable features direct-drive, which is what I personally recommend for DJs, especially if they are going to be scratching often. I was very impressed by the motor on this turntable. As I mentioned above, it sounded dead quiet, which is a nice indication that platter vibration is isn't very prevalent in this model.
Platter vibration tends to distort the sound that is outputted by the PA, so it should be kept as minimal as possible. This turntable seems to provide a lot of torque, making this an ideal model for scratch DJs and anybody looking to use this heavily.
What I personally don't like about this product is that I think Audio Technica should have used more upscale materials for this turntable. Don't get me wrong, the materials are decent for what you pay for, but I would say that they overdid it with the plastic.
At this price point, I was expecting them to use something a little bit fancier, such as metal. The only metal found on this turntable is the tonearm parts and the bottom panel, which leaves you kind of expecting more.
The plastic materials aren't going to give you any durability problems, but they sure aren't going to last you longer than something that uses metal.
In short, the direct-drive mechanism is very durable and it provides great sound quality, making this an excellent choice for the journeyman DJ that doesn't want to use controllers or CDJs.
Looks-wise I would say that this is just okay. Most will be satisfied with this, but you might want to go for something else if you really care a lot about how your gear looks since there are fancier turntables on the market.
Those looking a tried-and-true turntable with no compromises have to take a look at this awesome turntable from Pioneer. This particular model distinguishes itself for featuring a very high-quality sound coupled with very low levels of vibration, a hard to find combination on the turntable world.
As this turntable is made by Pioneer, it has a few interesting features that are specifically catered to DJs. The multi-tempo control in particular is super useful, and the high-torque direct-drive nature of this turntable allows you to reach 45 rpm in under 0.3 seconds.
All in all, one of the best turntables out there!
While this Pioneer turntable was specifically made for DJs in mind, many audiophiles have been raving about it because of the pristine sound quality that it offers.
The different components found on this turntable, such as the rubber covered tonearm and the die-cast construction work together to reduce vibration as much as possible.
The tone-arm, in particular, has been lauded for being very stable and easy to tweak, and when calibrated properly, I personally think that this is one of the best DJ turntables on the market, especially at the price point.
This turntable does have some very interesting features that any DJ will find useful, but the truth is that these turntables do not innovate as much as other models on the market.
Expect this to excel at what matters the most: a quiet motor/platter combination, very low levels of vibration, and a pristine sound quality that is rarely found on other models on the market, without focusing that much on sheer technological advancement.
So aside from this, if you are looking for more innovative features or a more extravagant visual appearance, it might be better to choose something else.
A hell of a turntable made by one of the most acclaimed turntable manufacturers ever, the Technics SL-1210 is in my opinion and in the opinion of many other DJs, the best turntable on the market, bar none.
This turntable is perfect for the serious DJs that tend to play in different venues frequently. The direct drive mechanism found on the SL-1210 is famous for being very reliable and dependable.
Technics was even able to incorporate some new useful features such as the ability to switch voltages between 110 and 220, ideal for those that tend to play in different countries.
If you are a turntable enthusiast, I'm pretty sure that you have heard of this model and know how good it is, so if you do not care about pricing and just want a rock-solid turntable that won't let you down, this is the one that you need!
Often considered the go-to choice among DJs that want to use turntables, this model distinguishes itself by using very reliable components, something that is crucial for DJs that want to go the more old school route.
The analog nature of turntables means that aside from being more fragile, they also tend to be more prone to malfunction. However, the SL-1210 is a notable exception of this rule.
Expect this model to withstand several years or even several decades of heavy use without a sweat, and you can even find old SL-1200 models still being used alongside CDJs in nightclubs around the world.
There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to this turntable though. The first one is that it's definitely not cheap.
This is one of the best turntables that money can buy, and these sell very well on the used market, this is a testament on how much people want them, so if you do not have the budget to get and maintain one of these, it might be wise to start out with something that is more affordable at first.
The second thing is that these can be pretty hard to find. Technics doesn't make a lot of these turntables because they do not want to risk jeoparding the quality of these, which is one of the reasons why it can be hard to find.
This turntable is made by Audio-Technica, and just like the first turntable on the list, this one is definitely a fine choice for both the journeyman DJ and the aspiring DJ as well.
This particular turntable retains the Audio-Technica looks that many of us are fond of, while at the same time being more affordable than the one above while missing a few key features.
Whether you should choose this one or the other depends if you are not going to use the aforementioned features. If not, I'd say that this can be the better choice!
Audio Technica is fast becoming one of the most important turntable manufacturers on the market, and this is because they have been making very durable products that are a few hundred dollars cheaper than what the competition offers.
This is why they have been taking market share off Pioneer. This particular turntable doesn't have the same sound quality as the first choice above, but the tonearm feels high-quality.
Also, this turntable is lacking a preamp which the first entry above does have, but this could be a pro for several reasons.
The first one is that the preamp in the AT-LP120XUSB-BK has been criticized for lowering sound quality, something that I personally didn't notice but others did.
However, not having a preamp means that you are probably going to have issues connecting to some kinds of music systems. This is the reason why I tend to skip turntables with preamps, but if you can make it work or have made it work before, then you might want to take a look at this.
Denon has been one of my favorite manufacturers involved in the DJing business for several years now, and this is because they have been creating some excellent controllers and mixers at affordable prices.
Denon has definitely been stealing market share from Pioneer for some time now, and now they want to make a name for themselves in the turntable market.
The VL12 is part of Denon's Prime series, and I love the fact that this turntable offers excellent sound quality and a very capable tone arm perfect for scratch DJs.
Better yet: this turntable looks awesome! The materials look and feel like a million bucks, and even better: the RGB makes this look like it belongs on a spaceship! Definitely a must check turntable, especially if you love flashy and elegant looks as much as I do.
Some DJs have said that this turntable kind of emulates the RGB look found on some gaming computers, and I'd definitely say that's true.
In fact, this would be a great choice if you tend to prefer brighter colors and color aesthetics that stray from the usual norm found on DJ gear, while at the same time being professional enough to fit right into a high-end venue.
All the materials used feel really sturdy, and while it is quite heavy for a turntable, It isn't supermassive, so moving it around isn't too hard.
This direct drive turntable is stable enough to be used without any major inconveniences, but I did notice a slight wobble on the platter, which is a little bit disappointing at this price point.
Also, I would have liked for this model to have a preamp, which in my opinion is pretty much mandatory to play on more spacious venues. But aside from these, I didn't find any other cons about this turntable.
The price might be a little bit high, but this baby looks so good that I'd say it's definitely worth it.
An affordable but cost-effective turntable, this model distinguishes itself from the pack because it only has the most fundamental features, making this look like a true old-school turntable.
While not everybody will appreciate the belt-drive mechanism used on this model, it more than makes up by featuring a great price point and relatively durable construction. If this were better looking, I would put it a little bit higher, but the cons cement this turntable in this spot.
Another turntable from Audio-Technica on this list, the AT-LP60X-BK is one of their entry-level belt drive models. This turntable isn't specifically made for DJing, but I have seen several deejays make it work.
It is a favorite among newbie DJs because of the simple operation and easy to maintain mechanisms.
The belt-drive mechanism works well, but I did notice increased vibration when playing, something that not everybody will notice so it's not a big deal, but people looking for something more stable might want to look for something else.
Finally, the construction of the turntable is good, but I would like for the plastics and buttons used to feel less cheap. I don't like how they feel when I press them, it makes me think like this turntable is a toy, which it isn't but you get what I mean.
Also, as I mentioned above, there are a few features that are almost always found on a turntable that is not found in this one, which is a bummer, but you can't ask for everything at this price point.
If aesthetics and looks are what you are looking for, then you really need to check out this turntable. This gorgeous and simplistic turntables feels and looks like it's worth a million bucks, and the performance of it is pretty decent too.
Those who prefer belt-drives are going to find this model really easy to use and mix with, and while people that are just starting out might want to choose a direct drive instead, there's no arguing that belt drives provide an excellent sound without the motor noise associated with direct drives.
The pricing isn't too bad either. All in all, if you are looking for a turntable with a gorgeous, simplistic finish, quality sound output, and aren't intimidated by belt-drives, this might be worth a look.
Another big pro about this turntable is the fact that it is much more compact and less heavy than other turntables on the market. This is because of several reasons.
The first one is that this turntable doesn't use as many materials as other entries on this list. This is primarily because of the belt-drive mechanism and the intrinsic minimalism of the design.
This turntable is perfect if you do not want to carry a lot of gear with you and need something lighter and easier to move around.
Something that I must mention is the fact that belt-drives do require more maintenance and upkeep than other turntables, especially if you are expecting them to last you a long time.
Also, belt drives can be a little bit cumbersome to use at first, especially if you are looking to scratch with them, so I personally wouldn't recommend them if you are looking for
the Audio-Technica ATLP5 is a worthy model that is perfect for budget-conscious audiophiles and DJs looking to start playing with turntables. The affordable cost and direct-drive mechanism is perfect for people looking for a first model but do not want to go to the used market for one.
However, I personally dislike the crude black on this turntable, which looks very utilitarian but not sophisticated at all. I do know that there are some of you that will like it though, so it might be good to take a look at this turntable if you like the aforementioned style.
Something that I would like to criticize about this turntable is the tonearm. The truth is that the tonearm is one of the most important parts in a turntable, and the one found on this one sadly isn't very good, especially when compared to other turntables on the market.
The hydraulics aren't very effective and they feel very erratic when using it. I also had a hard time adjusting the counterweight, which seems to be a common problem with this turntable model. This is still a great turntable don't get me wrong, but the aforementioned cons are something to keep in mind when you go out shopping for one.
Also, I have already talked about this but I don't like the way this turntable looks. For what you are paying, you kind of expect to get something much more premium, but this particular model looks pretty crappy if I'm being honest.
The materials are pretty good, but the plastic finish can fool anyone into thinking like this is an entry-level model. Aside from this, I like this turntable. The direct drive mechanism is typical audio-Technica but I would personally choose something a little bit more flashy over this.
One of my friends recommended that I try this particular turntable, and I have enough time using it that I can make an informed appraisal of it. This turntable is excellent for people looking for a compact and light turntable for constant touring.
Journeyman DJs will also love the fact that this turntable is very affordable for what you get. I would recommend this model for anybody looking for a decent turntable without having to go to the used market to get one.
This turntable isn't as stable as many other models found on this list, which I think has to do with the lightweight of the unit. Still a worthy unit deserving some consideration.
A bad thing about this turntable is the fact that this model doesn't have a built-in preamp. This model isn't meant to be used by a DJ, and so the sound that comes out isn't exactly the loudest, so you are going to have to hook this up with an external preamp.
Also, the light weight of this unit means that stability is affected. This isn't the best model for people looking to scratch with the turntable, so if you are looking to do that, I would personally recommend that you go and choose something else.
Also when it comes to looks, this model is nothing to write home about. It is definitely not as ugly as some of the utilitarian models in this list, but it is definitely not as good looking as the Denon or some Audio-Technica models on this list.
Something that I didn't like about this turntable is the fact that I think the manufacturer didn't ship the unit with enough instructions. This is a problem that has been reported by other consumers, and this definitely makes starting to use the turntable a more challenging task.
I would recommend that you try checking this turntable out on youtube if you have problems when it comes to operating it because the few instructions that it comes with are definitely lacking.
But all in all, I like this model and I recommend that you check it out especially if prefer lighter turntables.
This model is excellent for people with a very limited budget and that do not want to choose a used turntable.
The wood used on this model might attract some people that prefer that look, but it also adds some unneeded bulk to the unit, making moving this around harder and more tedious.
The audio isn't too good, and the belt-drive mechanism isn't the best one on the market either.
The built-in speakers are excellent for room DJs that haven't gotten professional speakers yet, making this model a very attractive choice for people that are just getting into DJing and or people that have a very limited budget.
As I mentioned above, this turntable's audio leaves a lot to be desired, But it isn't so bad when you consider the pricing on this model.
This is one of the few models on this list under $100 dollars, and when you consider the features that it comes with, you can appreciate the value of this model.
The belt-drive mechanism is just okay, but it isn't as unstable as many other belt-drive mechanisms, which means that you definitely use this turntable more aggressively.
I must mention that it's missing some important features though. For example, it doesn't have as many inputs and outputs for DJ gear, which is understandable given the fact that this model isn't really meant to be used for DJing.
While some will like the bulk of this model, I personally find it to be too cumbersome, especially when DJing in close quarters.
The wood used on this model needs to be big enough to fit the speaker components, so this is perhaps something unfortunate that needs to happen in order to fit the speaker.
I would recommend this model for anybody looking for something very affordable and isn't intimidated by the size of this.
Another turntable from Denon, this model is pretty decent for the price, but it has enough flaws to make it secondary to other models on this list.
The sleek black styling of this model will be a big hit or miss depending on your tastes, and the stylus found on this model is very smooth and will likely not give you any problems, but some users have reported a few technical difficulties with these model, and they seem to be endemic to most turntables of this kind.
I would recommend that you check this model out if it's for sale, but I wouldn't buy this model until Denon fixes the problems that have been so common in this model.
Unlike the Denon Prime series model that has been so acclaimed above, this model has been receiving more lukewarm reviews, and for good reason.
While the build quality of some of the components found on this model is top-notch, some of the other parts of this turntable have been found to be fraught with problems.
For example, this model has been found to have playback speed consistency issues, which is disappointing when you consider the price of this model.
This issue has been found by several other people using this turntable, so I wouldn't recommend that you check out this model until you at least look at the alternative ones found on the market.
When it comes to looks, this model is a hit or a miss. Like I said above, it depends a lot on your tastes. If you prefer the understated, minimalist look, then this model might be a good fit for you.
The almost gloss black used on this model looks great on a nightclub, but it attracts so much dust that it can also look really crappy.
You are going to have to clean this model often because of this, but if you are willing to get past that, you have a really nice looking turntable at your hands, especially if you prefer more understated looks.
I hope you have found this article about the best turntables useful. The reason why I wrote this article is that since I have several years DJing, many people often ask me which turntables are best for an aspiring DJ.
Also, I wrote this article because of the fact that since I have so much experience, I know which turntables are best.
Because of the fact that I know that people's budgets are different, I made sure to focus on different price points so that everybody can find a great gift without breaking the bank.
In general, all of the turntables on this list are excellent, so you honestly can't go wrong why any of them.
If you hardly know anything about turntables, it might be wise to gift an entry-level turntable, like the AT-LP60X-BK. Not only is this turntable perfect for newbies because it doesn't overwhelm the user, but also because it's so budget-friendly and cost-effective when you consider the quality of it.
Other great turntables include the Denon DJ VL12 PRIME and the Technics SL-1210MK2, especially if you have the budget to afford them.