Not everyone that wants to enjoy vinyl has an astronomical budget, and may be wondering ‘what is the best turntable under 100 dollars? The extra money not spent on a fancy record player can be spent on vinyl instead, a tip that the most hardcore audiophiles could be reminded of from time to time (especially right before they’re about to buy a $100,000 turntable).
To be quite honest, the best turntable under 100 dollars is probably not going to sound a great deal better than CD. It will have the characteristic rolled off highs of vinyl, which for the uninitiated is the warmth in the high notes. That might be all that’s needed. The best turntable under 100 will definitely provide you with a machine to play your vinyl collection, and at this price range you won’t find anything fancy-schmancy, but you will definitely be able to pick up a turntable that plays your records well without damaging them.
Our rankings for the best turntables under 100.
1. Audio Technica AT-PL60.
At the bottom of the range of acceptable turntable options is the the Audio Technica AT-PL60. For bargain basement price turntables, this is my number one pick, and it’s extremely cheap. Audio Technica products in the cheap price range are really second to none, which applies to their cartridges as well.
The AT-PL60 comes ready to go with a built in preamplifier, which means it can be plugged in to any old auxiliary slot in your amplifier. If you have a vintage amplifier with a phono input, it can plug in to that as well – just be sure to switch the settings on the pre-amplifier. You will probably get better sound quality by going this route if your amp with phono input is any good, since the built in pre-amplifier is likely to be beaten quite easily in the sound department. The is maybe the best turntable under 100 considering value for money, and is certainly the best turntable under $100.
The AT-PL60 is fully automatic, which means play can be started by the flick of a switch. This saves the pesky trouble of having to line-up the cartridge manually. The turntable plays at 33 and 45 RPM and is usable on 12 inch and 7 inch records – it is not clear why 10 inch was omitted as an option.
The cartridge is not changeable due to the lack of counterweight on the tonearm, but the stylus can be upgraded to a ATN3600DLX for a decent sound improvement.
It’s big brother the AT-LP120 provides the option of cartridge upgrade, but cannot really quality as the best turntable under 100 seeing as it costs just above that. The wonderful thing about the AT-LP120 is it comes with the very good AT95e cartridge, which is one of the best value for money cartridges on the planet. Consider whether upgrade paths are important – if so, the AT-PL60 is not worth buying as it provides no room to move.
The Pyle PLTTB-1 is just about the gaudiest turntable ever. At this price range, plastic will naturally be the choice of material to save on costs, but does it really need to have a pink tattoo?
The advantages of the PLTTB-1 over the AT-PL60 are that it includes dust cover and has built in anti-skate. Whether or not the anti-skate makes a great deal of difference is debatable, but it’s a nice feature to include that is present on a lot of more expensive turntables. The included dust cover is a welcome feature and it is the only turntable on this list of best turntables under 100 to include one.
The start-stop mechanism of this turntable is different to the AT-PL60’s fully automatic system. The start stop switch simply starts and stops the platter, so the cartridge must be manoeuvred on to the record manually. This takes some practice for beginners to get right, but
is actually a more revered system for sound quality as it eliminates moving parts that could interfere with sound reproduction.
The big disadvantage of the PLTTB-1 is the lack of built in phono pre-amp, which means unless you have an amplifier with a phono input you will need to buy a separate pre-amplifier as well. This seems to be a glaring omission, as on this best turntable under 100 dollars list, being able to plug-and-play is a must. I think the Audio Technica beats the Pyle for super-cheap best turntable under 100 for this reason…as well as aesthetics and build quality. The Pyle feels very light and cheaply made. Of course the Audio Technica is light and cheaply made too – just not quite as bad.
3. Numark TTUSB
The Numark TTUSB, as one could judge from th
e name, is clearly marketed as a turntable intended for ripping LPs to mp3. It does that well enough with its included software, EZ vinyl converter 2, which is easy to use. It’s also quite cheap.
The Numark’s tonearm is manually cued, which is a total nightmare on this model. The tonearm is very light and trying to drop it on to the record without it bouncing around is
The Numark TTUSB is difficult to elaborate on because it’s a very plain unit with almost no bells and whistles. If mp3 conversion is one of the main reasons you’re looking for one of the best turntables under 200 then consider the TTUSB, otherwise go with the Audio Technica or Pyle. a difficult task. At the end of the record the platter will continue to spin until the stop switch is pressed, so make sure to not fall asleep when records are playing unless you want to wake up with a deep groove in your vinyl.
4. Sony PS-LX250H
I have no idea why every mode on this best turntable under 100 list has a ridiculously long name. Anyway, the Sony PS-LX250H has gone a different route with the aesthetics of their turntable, instead opting to replicate the looks of a turntable that would have come as part of an all in one unit from the 1980s, rather than copy the Technics 1200.An extremely interesting fact about this turntable is that it’s nearly identical to the Pioneer PL-990 and the Audio Technica AT-PL50. With the exception of a couple of features, such as a strobe light, the PS-LX250H is practically identical to the PL-990. Definitely do not pay the extra money for the Pioneer model! It raises the question of whether there is a factory in China that is pumping out these units to a lot of major audio manufacturers hoping to sell turntables based on their name.We’re back to including pre-amps, thank goodness. Also included are a dust-cover and cueing lever, which eliminates the risk of drunkenly shredding your vinyl when trying to cue on the TTUSB. Feature wise, this model should beat the AT-PL60, but it does come down to craftsmanship in the end, and the Audio Technica wins. Grab this model if the looks especially appeal though.
The Best Turntable Under 100 Will Play Your Vinyl Well Enough
But it won’t give the beautiful, warm, mellow reproduction that is provided by more expensive turntables. Spending an extra few hundred dollars should seriously be considered, as turntables by Pro-ject, Music Hall and Rega provide excellent bang for buck. The best turntable under 100 will be a good entry level option for anyone with an interest in vinyl that is on a budget, and upgrades can always be made later on.