You don’t have to be David Guetta to own a turntable – and unlike David, you probably don’t want to shell out thousands of dollars for one.
Having a turntable isn’t only a fun way to play your favorite music – it’s a great way to relive old LP’s, or have fun with brand new ones.
There is nothing quite like the cracking sound of old tunes.
You don’t have to be thrifty to have a top of the line turntable or gramophone.
In this article, I’ll talk about what makes a turntable great, give you all the info you need on turntables, and list some of my personal favorites for under $200.
Don’t worry! I’ll hyperlink all the extra homework so that you can become a true audiophile in no time.
What Is a Turntable?
A turntable is a rotating phonograph platform. The term turntable isn’t synonymous with a record player or gramophone. While the latter has a built-in amplifier and speakers, a turntable does not.
However, it’s a fantastic device that allows you to play (or Scratch) all your old records (or your parent’s records) or even brand new releases.
Saying that vinyl records have made a comeback would be an understatement. They’ve come back alright and in a big new way.
With some hot new tracks being released daily, you will need a stunning, affordable, new turntable.
Just because vinyl has been around for a while doesn’t mean that there is no outstanding new technology to play it.
While your vintage gramophone might mean the world to you, perhaps it’s time for an upgrade. Upgrading to a turntable will give you an abundance of benefits and new features.
If you’re just getting into vinyl – don’t worry, I’ve got your back with the following section.
Things To Look For In A Turntable
Remember when we said that turntables and gramophones weren’t the same things? Well, while that is entirely true – people use the two terms interchangeably.
If you’ve stumbled upon this article looking for a gramophone, don’t worry, you’re not going to be disappointed.
Most modern turntables already have all the built-in features that make them viable tools for listening to vinyl records.
Below, I’ll tell you all about the things you need to look for in a turntable. As long as you keep all these in mind, you’ll become a turntable pro in no time.
Manual, Automatic, or Semi-Automatic
There is something about lowering the needle onto a spinning record and hearing that crackling sound. With manual turntables, you put the needle down, pick it up, and turn off your gramophone.
On the other hand, a semi-automatic will only lift the arm off the record once it’s done. It’s plain and simple – you put it down, the Turntable picks it up.
A fully automatic is what you think it will be. It will automatically put the tonearm on the record correctly, lift it off once the album is done – and automatically turn it off.
All the different types have their respective pros and cons, but if you’re new to the subculture – perhaps automatic is the way to go.
Now, this is a personal pet peeve of mine. The only speeds these days that appear on turntables are 33 and 45.
While these are the correct speeds for the records being released today, there used to be two more (or perhaps I’m just a salty hipster).
My old reliable has both 78 and 16 on it, aside from 33 and 45. These numbers dictate the speed at which the record is spinning.
The faster the album, the further apart the grooves on it. Audiophiles report that the best speed is 45, but some records require different speeds, so they’re going to sound sped up or slow down on this setting.
Input & Output
Now, this is one of the critical parts of a turntable. One thing that my old reliable doesn’t have is a USB port or a 3.5mm port for headphones.
State of the art new turntables have all sorts of inputs and outputs, such as the RCA.
Whether you want to listen to your records on your headphones or via Bluetooth – the top of the line turntables has got your back.
I’ll tell you about my personal favorites down the line, and I’ll make sure to include all the connectors.
Platter Design & Material
Something that is often overlooked about turntables is platter material. The platter is one of the most critical parts of turntables – as it handles all the pressure.
If the platter is adequately designed, it’ll hold the record in place, regulate the speed, and absorb all the vibrations. That will minimize any distortions and issues with playback.
Best Turntable Under 200 Review Guide
To get you this list, I’ve been reviewing turntables for a while. Frankly – it was a tough choice to pick just five from the roundup, but below, you’ll find the creme de la creme of affordable turntables.
When it comes to audio equipment that you absolutely can’t knock – Audio Technica comes to mind.
The AT-LP60XUSB-GM is a remarkable model with some features that I found neat – all while being bold, beautiful, and affordable.
Turntables like this don’t come this cheap, that’s a fact. All top-of-the-line turntables with these kinds of features cost over $400.
Speaking of the features, the first one that comes to mind is the automatic belt drive that comes in the standard 35-45 speeds.
Aside from the speed, the design of this thing is awe-inspiring. It looks so slick, so gorgeous, and yet so functional.
AT is known for its sleek design, but in my personal opinion, they’ve outdone themselves with this one.
This Turntable has a USB port, allowing you to turn your favorite records into digital tunes.
With top of the line records, grindcore to hip hop alike, being vinyl only, you could share them with the world.
An excellent way to tell if a turntable is a reliable option is by its stylus. AT supplies many other manufacturers with their famous stylus.
This particular item has a superb Dual Magnet phono cartridge with a diamond stylus.
I am in love with this Turntable, no doubt about it.
There are more ports than the only USB, as this device comes with a built-in switchable amp for either phono or line-level output.
The platter on this thing is also a beauty to behold.
It’s made out of anti-resonance, lightweight die-cast aluminum, and even comes with a felt mat, to make sure your vinyl records are nice and cozy.
- Top tier performance
- Astonishing aesthetics
- Chock full of features
- Not compatible with Catalina iOS
- Scratches easily
While AT might be a renowned name for audiophiles and vinyl record enthusiasts, Numark is an equally famous name with DJs, and while I’m not a DJ, I love this brand as well.
The PT01 Scratch is a funky portable DJ turntable that comes equipped with everything you’d like to be a DJ.
This item is an Amazon’s choice item – need I say more?
Well, even if I don’t need to say anything further, I’ll still do it. The device comes packed with three speeds – 33, 45, and even my favorite, 78.
Aside from the DJ speeds, this Turntable was built for DJs on the go.
It’s small, sturdy, and portable – meaning you can go scratching your records anywhere. It also has a 1/8″ stereo input.
I’m not going to lie – I’m into hip hop, but I’ve never tried scratching before I got this Numark.
And I can say that I was having a blast scratching with my friends.
Learning to Scratch was simple, and the fully adjustable scratch switch did its magic.
While the user manual wasn’t much help, YouTube had all the answers I needed.
The built-in speaker made it so I could scratch literally anywhere – it even comes with different RCA audio outputs!
I was personally surprised when this Turntable came with its very own carrying case, which allowed me to flex my Numark wherever I went – it’s just so slick. The tonearm, stylus, and tray were all pretty standard.
Like any good DJ turntable, this one comes with a USB cable allowing you to digitize all your songs. Whether you’re a DJ or only looking for a cool looking turntable, the Numark PT01 is for you.
- Fun to use
- All the input and output options you can imagine
- Numark carrying case
- Overwhelming design
- Confusing user manual
Music Hall is another renowned manufacturer in the gramophone/turntable industry. I hadn’t heard of them before writing this, but it was recommended to me by a friend.
When the time was right for me to get one as well, I wasn’t disappointed with the features, performance, and sheer beauty of this device.
While it’s not the cheapest option on this list, and it’s nowhere near the flashiest, it’s trustworthy and dependable – I really, really like it.
The first thing that caught my eye when I unboxed this Turntable was the design. It’s simplistic, beautiful, and fits in any aesthetic.
Nothing was overwhelming about this Turntable, and that’s precisely why I like it.
It comes with the classic 33 and 45-speed options, allowing you to play all your records the way they’re meant to be played.
God forbid you to want to play them any slower or faster than that.
Platter-wise, this sturdy little device as a die-cast aluminum platter does wonders for deadening any disturbances – it even comes with anti-skating control!
I liked that there were no disturbances or vibrations that interfere with the sound.
It comes with a USB port that allows you to digitize your favorite vinyl tunes.
I was surprised that the Music Hall USB-1 comes with the diamond Audio Technica AT3600L.
That’s quite an expensive stylus for such an affordable turntable. It comes with an analog output through a direct line out or a built-in Phono Amp.
That is a manual turntable – so you have to interact with it if you want it to do its magic.
While it has all of the ports you’d like, it can’t drive a speaker on its own, so you have to use an amp with it.
- The solid and simplistic design
- Very high-quality components
- Diamond stylus
- Requires an amplifier and speakers
- A bit on the pricey side
This Turntable is one of the most attractive options on this list.
I am used to seeing black blocks, with slick granite, and all the blackout there – so I was surprised to find out that there was a slick, bamboo trimmed turntable made out of sustainable materials.
House of Marley refers to Bob Marley, and while I don’t like smoking trees, I can appreciate a gorgeous turntable trimmed with trees like this.
It’s affordable, good looking, and chock full of fantastic components.
It comes with two standard speeds and automatic pitch control.
That is a semi-automatic turntable itself, so while you have to put it down – you don’t have to pick it up.
It comes with a lightweight aluminum platter that regulates speed perfectly, and the silicone matte on top of it helps keep vinyl records in place.
I’ll be honest with you, while delighted by the idea and looks of this Turntable, I didn’t expect it to be so high in quality.
It comes with an RCA output and a headphone jack and an Audio Technica stylus.
The belt drive has automatic pitch control and starts the system, giving enough offset that ensures that the sound is fantastic.
Even old records sound new when you’re playing them on the EM-JT000-SB.
While this Turntable doesn’t come with aplastic housing, it comes with a sustainable dust cover that perfectly fits the aesthetic.
Unsurprisingly, you need an amplifier to run this Turntable.
It caught my ear with this Turntable was the bass and treble response – it was flawless.
I was surprised that it had an adjustable counterweight, and while this is a good thing, fine-tuning it takes a few attempts.
- Sustainable, gorgeous, wood-trimmed design
- Superb bass and treble response
- Crafted from mindfully sourced materials
- You need to adjust the counterweight yourself
- Requires an amplifier
Audio-Technica AT-LP3BK – Best Turntable Under 200
That is the second AT on this list, and believe me – I’d make a whole list exclusive to AT if I could. Audio Technica is simply one of the best turntable manufacturers out there, period.
While this device is undoubtedly scraping the border of $200, it’s still a worthwhile addition to this list. If this Turntable were twice the price, it would always be a very viable candidate for my top five.
The AT-LP3BK is a fully automatic turntable, allowing you to sit back and relax while your favorite analog tunes are playing.
Personally, I prefer semi-automatic turntables as opposed to automatics. Some automatic turntables have a very rough lift control.
I was amazed at the hydraulically assisted lift control on this automatic Turntable, as it’s as slick as a classic vinyl record.
It’s a fantastic turntable, there is no doubt about it – and it gets even better.
It comes with all of the features you’d want in a superb turntable – the standard speeds, dual RCA outputs, power speakers, and even a switchable phono pre-amp.
Its tone is impeccable, as it has a diamond-tipped tonearm and a dual-moving magnet phono cartridge.
I love the aluminum cantilever, as it really does make a vinyl record sound more detailed. The sheer finesse of this Turntable makes Lil’ Pump sound like Mozart.
I might seem a little biased when I’m talking about AT turntables, but trust me – they’re just that good.
While cracking vinyl records are charming, distorted music is not.
This whole thing is constructed out of anti-vibration damping materials, meaning that there are no interruptions in the music.
I adore the sound, which is further smoothed through a die-cast aluminum platter with a thick, 4mm rubber dampening mat.
I was surprised that this AT, unlike the previous one on this list, doesn’t scratch so quickly – all in all, a fantastic option for your next best Turntable.
- Astonishing quality components
- Unparalleled sound
- Well optimized, functional, and plentiful features
- Stylus needs some time to “break into”
- No USB port
In my honest and modest opinion, I’ve truly saved the best for last.
The Audio-Technica AT-LP3BK is an absolute gem, and I simply can’t knock its design, features, and superb function.
It has all of the things I want in a turntable – an excellent stylus, anti-vibration materials, hydraulically assisted lift control.
While I prefer the manual or semi-automatic turntables, this automatic one seamlessly works so perfectly – I can’t help falling in love with it.
Even if this is my favorite out of the bunch, I still have to give props where they’re due.
All the products on this list are fantastic in their own way – this one is just my personal favorite.