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The 5 Best Turntables Under $400: 2017 Reviews and Top Picks

By djadmin | best turntables

best turntables under 400

It wasn’t too long ago that turntables were for only two types of people – those who were serious about spinning disks and making tunes, and those who had more money than sense.

While it was common knowledge that vinyl was an elite form of listening to music, it was not nearly as accessible as other (read: cheaper) modalities of music. Fortunately for us, as the popularity of vinyl has grown (and in a HUGE way too) there has been an increasingly large demand for quality turntables that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

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With this in mind, we have seen an enormous growth in the turntable market, with affordable options popping up left, right, and centre. This has essentially provided us the means to listen to our favourite vinyl records without having to dip into our life savings.

Now with this in mind, many of these more affordable options are a little hit and miss – which is why I have gone and done the leg work for you.

Taking into consideration a number of factors, I have gone ahead and outlined the 5 best turntables for under 400 dollars on the market today – allowing you to quickly find the best option to suit both your needs and your budget.

Product Summary

Denon DP-300F Fully Automatic Turntable

The Denon DP-300 is a fully automatic turntable that offers an extremely convenient means to listen to your favourite records. It is extremely simple to both set up and use, and comes with a heap of features that are not always offered with other turntables within this price range. It is made with high quality material and durable construction – meaning it will last you a long time.

Akai Professional BT500

While less known than many on this list, the Akai Professional BT500 is a fantastic looking machine that offers a number of unique features rarely seen on turntables within this price range. With durable construction, great sound quality, and a high quality walnut finish you really can’t go wrong with this fantastic option.

Audio Technica AT-LP1240

Audio technical are really making waves in the vinyl world at the moment, and the LP1240 is no different. This is one of the higher quality turntables made by Audio Technica, and it offers a lot in regards to both looks and performance. With excellent sound quality and a high degree of durability, this is a great option.

Pioneer PLX-500

The PLX-500 is pioneers answer to the budget turntable market, in which it is geared towards both DJ’s and vinyl enthusiasts. This machine offers great sound quality, is extremely well constructed, and looks absolutely fantastic. A great option that won’t break the bank.

Project Debut Carbon

Now, you may have seen this model in some of my other reviews, and that is for good reason. It is a fantastic machine that competes at an extremely good price point. Providing great sound quality and gorgeous construction you honestly can’t go wrong with the debut carbon – particularly at this price.

Comparison Table

Reviews Of The 5 Best Turntables (Under $400)

1. Denon DP-300F

Denon is a company that has only recently moved into the turntable market (particularly when compared to some of the others we have on this list), but that should not act to deter you in the slightest – in fact you should be incredibly happy they have made this transition.

The DP-300F is a fully automatic turntable that offers an automatic play function – meaning that the tonearm moves and plays the entire side of any given record and then returns back to the arm rest when finished – all at the push of a single button. This makes it simple to use. Additionally, this machine also offers two speed settings (33 and 45 RPM), and great sound quality to boot.

This particular turntable has a very durable aluminium body that significantly reduces the vibration caused by the motor. This reduced vibration also improves sound quality significantly when compared to some other lower end turntables. As an added bonus, the DP-300F also offers a removable cartridge, allowing you to upgrade the cartridge as you see fit.

It is important to note that some consumers have complained of the speed of this turntable slowing down after extended use – something that I haven’t experienced personally but is worth noting.

What we liked

  • Simple and durable design
  • Full Aluminium construction
  • Removable cartridge

What we didn’t like

  • Minimal Features
  • Only two speed settings

2. Akai Professional BT500

The BT500 is one of the higher end turntables produced by Akai (who are relatively new to the vinyl game). The first thing you notice about this machine is how ridiculously good it looks – it is well-crafted using both aluminium and walnut, ensuring that it would look at home in the most well respected lounge room or DJ booth.

This particular model offers a belt drive deck with an isolated motor that eliminates unnecessary noise and vibration. With this comes a weight adjustable tone arm that also has anti-skating control, a built in phono pre-amp, and a moving magnet cartridge. The combination of these factors allows excellent sound quality – seriously – it will blow your socks right off.

As an added bonus, this machine can also playback wirelessly through Bluetooth speakers, and can also transfer your vinyl records to a digital formant – with all this in mind, this machine can seriously do it all.

It is important to note that we have heard reports of some syncing issues with Bluetooth specifically – but despite this, the BT500 is a great option for those looking for a unique turntable that offers some excellent features for its price.

What we liked

  • Great looking machine
  • Great sound quality
  • Heaps of features

What we didn’t like

  • Have had complaints about syncing issues
  • Walnut finish susceptible to scratching

3. Audio Technica AT-LP1240

Audio Technica have really gone all out with the LP1240. It is a high quality piece of equipment that was designed with the professional DJ in mind. With this, it has been designed using high quality materials and with extremely durable construction, ensuring that it can genuinely handle anything you throw at it (making it perfect for both nightclubs and touring if you so desire).

This is a fully manual machine (appealing to those vinyl purists out there) that offers a high torque direct drive motor, 3 speed settings (33, 45, and 78 RPM), and an S-Shaped tonearm with adjustable tracking force – all of which ensure an absolutely crystal clear sound.

Seriously, the sound quality on this thing is through the roof.

It is important to note that this machine doesn’t come with a cartridge (in which you have to purchase one separately) and offers minimal features – but in saying that, it does the simple things incredibly well, and will last you a lifetime doing it.

What we liked

  • Awesome looking machine
  • Great sound quality
  • Incredible durability

What we didn’t like

  • Minimal Features
  • Doesn’t come with a cartridge

4. Pioneer PLX-500

The PLX-500 is one of the more interesting turntable releases within this price range. Pioneer have been producing some seriously high end stuff over the last couple of years, and their first machine in the budget realm is honestly no different.

The first thing you notice about the PLX-500 is how it physically feels – this thing is sturdy. Made from high quality materials and finished with an extremely hard resin, this thing is built to last. And as an added bonus, channelling the famous designs of the 90’s, this machine looks absolutely fantastic as well.

This machine is built with a high torque direct drive system that provides a nice and smooth feel, while also ensuring that you won’t get much buckle or wobble while under heavy use. This provides an amazing sound that has minimal distortion during the most intense manoeuvres.

This particular machine allows you to digitise your music through Rekordbox DJ software (which is included – a nice touch I must say), and provides three distinct speed settings (33, 45, and 78 RPM). The PLX-500 is an awesome deck that will suit those looking to take a turntable touring, or those who want have a casual listen at home.

What we liked

  • Awesome looking machine
  • Great sound quality
  • Incredible durability

What we didn’t like

  • Nil (seriously)

5. Project Debut Carbon

One of the large seeling points of this machine is its somewhat unusual, super light, super strong, fully carbon tonearm (hence the name debut carbon…). Combined with this, the Debut Carbon comes with an Ortofan moving magnet cartridge, and a factory fitted head shell, creating a machine that both sounds fantastic and screams quality.

With this, this machine also looks incredible. Opting for a minimalistic design, the Debut Carbon will turn heads – irrespective of whether you are using it in a busy nightclub or at home for casual listening.

Now while this machine offers both incredible sound and looks amazing, its durability has been questioned by some individuals. This essentially comes down to its rather standard counter weight and bias weight – both of which are precariously put together at best.

In saying that, this machine offers an excellent option for those wanting a great looking machine that has excellent sound quality for home – but I wouldn’t trust it on the road due to its durability and construction.

What we liked

  • Great looking machine
  • Quality sound
  • High quality pieces

What we didn’t like

  • Durability has been questioned

Value Section

Now I am absolutely certain that when it comes down to it, these are the best five machines available on the market today that cost less than 400 bones. They all offer great sound quality, have solid solid construction value, and look mint to boot.

But, in saying all that, I do understand that they may not appeal to absolutely everyone (seriously who am I to judge). So with that in mind, there are a few certain tips I would recommend you adhere to if you want to go for a different option.

These tips will ensure you don’t end up paying too much for a given machine, while still getting decent construction quality and sound quality.

Shop for your needs: Now this may sound stupid, but it is still incredibly important. If you are after a machine with decent sound quality so you can listen to vinyl in your lounge room, then you don’t need a turntable that has a ridiculously high build quality. In the same vein of thought, if you are after a simple machine to take on the road, then you probably don’t need a deck that looks incredible. By prioritising what you need specifically, you will end up saving some coin in the long run.

Do your research: when shopping on a budget you may come across some machines that seem too good to be true – and a bit of a hint – they probably are. Do your research and read reviews. This will ensure you don’t end up paying too much for an average piece of equipment.

Consider the machines ‘feel’: This may seem a little left of field, but I think it has a lot of merit. By actually feeling the machine you intend to buy, you can get a sense of both its quality and durability. If it feels like it’s will fall apart in a strong breeze, then it probably will.

Using these tips you can find a quality turntable on a budget – or you could let me help you and read the above guide again (and again if necessary, seriously can’t go wrong) – your choice!

Conclusion

While I do honestly believe that each of the five machines appearing within this guide offer fantastic value for money, for me personally, there is a clear winner.

The Pioneer PLX-500 takes us back to the golden age of DJ equipment. Not only does it look incredible (coming in both black and white options), it is built using very high quality materials and using very solid construction. This ensures both fantastic sound and HUGE durability.

Suitable for both a decent home system and the travelling DJ, this professional machine is honestly the best turntable for under 400 available on the market today.

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