Having reviewed the best turntables under $200 a few weeks ago, we now move our attention to looking at some quality turntables for less than $300. What we will find here is a little bit more build quality and maybe some with added features. Some of the operational procedures with the machines themselves will go up another level, as well as improved performance.
It is interesting to see just how much technology is crammed into these turntables. When you consider that it wasn’t that long ago that they had all but disappeared and seemed hardly likely to return, or so we thought? But back they came, better and stronger and recorded music is all the better for it.
So let’s take a look at the best turntables under $300, and find the perfect one for you…
Top 10 Best Turntables Under $300 In 2021 Reviews
1 Crosley C100 Belt-Drive Turntable
Until quite recently, Crosley has been more intent on designing and manufacturing turntables that were enclosed in mock vintage suitcases. We reviewed one such machine in our best turntables for under $100 article, and it was decent enough, but it was a little like some of the others under review – a bit of a toy.
They have produced one or two other machines for the higher level of the market, so this then is a change of strategy for Crosley to produce for want of a better term ‘real’ turntables.
The C100A is a belt-driven machine with two speeds, 33 and 45 rpm. It is made of quite a tough-looking plastic with a lightweight damped diecast aluminum platter with a felt mat. The tonearm is also aluminum and has an ‘S’ shape design.
It has anti-skate, height adjustment, lift control, and a lockable tonearm rest. The arm has removable headshell, and it is fitted with a very good cartridge from Audio-Technica, the AT 3600L. There is a counterweight for creating the right balance for the arm.
At the back are some phono controls to link up to an amp or alternative output source via the Line Out. It has a built-in phono preamp and detachable RCA cables and comes with a hinged dust cover. There is a pitch slider to allow some adjustment.
Regardless of the price, this might still be classified as an entry-level turntable, and it does not have some of the qualities that you might expect. The sound is a bit thin, and the build quality not quite as good as it could be.
It does make a decent enough sound for the money, but some will be looking for a little more.
2 Fluance Elite High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable
We previously reviewed a Fluance turntable and was very impressed; let’s see if this model reaches similar standards at its price level.
The immediate thing you notice is how good it looks. They have clearly spent some design time making an attractive looking machine. As an entry-level turntable, it definitely looks the part.
It has a walnut finished cabinet that is made from MDF but is made to look very special. It is belt driven and has an aluminum platter with a rubber mat that isolates unwanted sounds, and to further assist, there are isolation feet. Because the base is heavy and there are extra features built-in, the sound is very good.
It has an ‘S’ shaped tonearm with an Audio-Technica cartridge with a diamond-tipped stylus and is fitted with an adjustable counterweight. It plays two speeds 33 and 45 rpm. There is a built-in preamp that can be bypassed if necessary.
It does have an automatic stop, but the arm must be lifted back to its rest. It is fitted with a hinged dust cover, and the turntable can be used when it is in the closed position.
One thing we did establish is that it can sometimes have a problem with its speed if played for a long time. We are talking 5 or 6 hours, not 2 hours, so maybe that should be borne in mind.
Everything about this machine is understated and quite classy. Its build quality is solid with good materials, and the features included to ensure a quality sound are also of a high standard.
It is an excellent machine in every aspect, as was the previous Fluance we reviewed. Easy to set up with very good reproduction and a great build it is tremendous value for money. It is built in Canada.
Definitely, one for serious consideration as the best turntables under $300.
3 House of Marley, EM-JT000RC-SB, Stir It Up Turntable
In five short years, Bob’s son Rohan has created quite a stir with his House of Marley products and in many ways has shown what can actually be done if you put your mind to it. Everything about their products is built to be sustainable and with conservation in mind.
This belt-driven machine has a bamboo plinth, bamboo being one of those woods that when harvested correctly is going to continue to provide us with wood that will not only replace itself but grow stronger. It has a recyclable aluminum platter and slipmat.
There is an adjustable counterweight and 45 rpm adapter. RCA, USB, and power cables are supplied. And the set up is easy. There is also an RCA analog output and a USB that will let you transfer your vinyl collection to your computer and finally a headphone socket.
It will play both 33 and 45 rpm, and as mentioned, the 45 rpm adapter is included. There are an auto-start and a power-down function, so if the machine is left idle for some time, then it will automatically shut itself off to conserve energy.
To restart a simple turn of the speed selector will restore it. It is supplied with a thick cloth dust cover. It is not an automatic turntable. On the rear are the RCA sockets, the USB port and a switch to engage or disengage the preamp.
The first thing that strikes you, though is the design. The bamboo top is really quite stunning and beautifully made, and the sides and the underneath of the unit are made from solidified hemp, organic cotton, and recycled plastic.
It is a well-thought-out and well-made machine using creative materials. It looks great, produces a super balanced sound, and is reasonably priced.
I think his dad would have been very proud of him.
4 Sony PS-LX310BT Belt Drive Turntable
Sony of course, as we all know, produce quality at every level and they also operate at every level. This model is one of their less expensive designs, designed for entry-level turntable users.
I suppose you could call this Sony turntable a no-nonsense design. It looks very stylish and minimalist with its all-black looks that seem to hide away what few controls there are.
The build is of a sturdy plastic that is quite lightweight. It is a belt-drive turntable with a diecast aluminum platter. And has a straight design tonearm made from aluminum and creates a rich, clear sound.
It has automatic playback if desired, and the turntable will place the arm on the vinyl for you and when it is finished, return it to its rest. However, it will only take its intended cartridge and will not take an upgrade.
It runs at two speeds – 33 and 45 rpm – and comes with a 45 rpm adapter. There is a USB port that will transfer your vinyl to mp3 files on your laptop. It also includes RCA connections to plug directly into an existing system. And it can connect to wireless speakers or other Bluetooth devices.
On the rear of the machine, there are three gain settings – low, mid, and high – and a switchable line/phono output.
For a machine that on the face of it looks as we said, no-nonsense, it has a lot of technology packed it into it. And the setup is quick an easy.
It is very typically Sony at the lower end of their spectrum. Well made and efficient with not too many frills. A decent buy for the money without setting the world alight.
5 Reloop RP-2000 mk2 Turntable
The RP-2000 is a turntable designed very much with the DJ in mind, but it is also suitable for home use as well. It is a quartz driven direct drive turntable. And has a quality direct-drive motor and a precision diecast platter.
Some people, especially DJ’s, often prefer direct drive machines to belt driven as the motor transfers its force straight to the drive. This generates a higher torque and thus creates power faster with a minimum of wow and flutter. The adjustable pitch control set at +/-8% is ok for any pitch adjustments. And it will run 33 and 45rpm.
The tonearm is a statically balanced ‘S’ shape and has a hydraulic lift and anti-skating mechanism. It is also designed so that it will take a variety of cartridges should you wish an upgrade. It is fitted with an Ortofon OM black cartridge pre-fitted to the headshell.
A fitting, especially for DJ use, is the extendible needle illumination to allow you to see exactly what you are doing in manual mode in a dark environment.
It has a sturdy and strong construction and is quite heavy in weight at about 15 pounds, with shock-absorbing feet to reduce unwanted vibration. The black metallic top surface has metallic buttons for start, stop, and change the speed. This machine does not come with a dust cover though it is an optional extra.
It is a fully functioning turntable for home use but has a lot of extras a home user might not really need. It is well made and sturdy and looks quite impressive.
As mentioned at the beginning, the company usually make turntables for DJ’s, so if you are an aspiring spin maestro, this entry-level machine could be the place to start. If not, it will still deliver a great sound and some useful features. All this makes it one of the Best Turntables Under $300.
6 Pioneer PL-30-K Audiophile Stereo Turntable
Pioneer, of course, will provide us with a quality turntable to take a look at. And this model is fully automatic, can play 33 and 45 rpm and has a built-in phono equalizer. There is also a built-in phono preamp that will connect to devices through the aux output. The stereo RCA output is gold-plated to ensure good connections with external amplifiers.
It is a belt-driven turntable with a straight tonearm with fitted counterbalance and an MM cartridge fitted. The stylus can be exchanged but not the cartridge. It has a dual-layered chassis with 4mm metal plate.
It has a low center of gravity to provide stability. And has a rubber mat which will help to suppress any external vibrations. It is also fitted with anti-skating control and speed and record size selector. It is supplied with a removable dust cover, and you can play records with the cover down.
There are, however, some features found on other turntables in this price range that are noticeable by their absence, and one is the lack of a USB port. But, our feeling is that this is on purpose. Pioneer has built a turntable that is exactly that. Its job is to play vinyl, nothing more.
Pioneer has made a very good job of this turntable. However, it is very much like some of its competitors, and so personal manufacturer choice may come into play. It is well-built with good components and produces a good sound — good value from a very reliable manufacturer at the price.
7 Audio-Technica AT-LPW40WN Fully Manual Belt-Drive Turntable
Audio-Technica one of the big players in turntable manufacturing these days, and are especially renowned for their excellent cartridges.
This turntable is a belt drive machine for speeds of 33 and 45 rpm that is completely manual. An accurate rotation speed of the platter is achieved by a speed sensor attached to the motor. It is fitted with dynamic anti-skate control.
The platter is made from anti-resonance diecast aluminum and has a rubber mat to assist in removing any unwanted operational noise. The platter is mounted on a walnut wood veneer that is very attractive and makes the unit look more expensive than it actually is.
The wooden construction of the plinth adds even more anti-vibration assistance.
The tonearm, so important and efficient in Audio-Technica products, is a straight design made from a carbon-fiber and has a lockable rest and hydraulically controlled lift control. It has a universal ½” mount headshell and most importantly, the inclusion of the AT-VM95E dual moving magnet cartridge that has an elliptical stylus.
This design is made so that the included cartridge is compatible with virtually all of the VM95 replacement stylus series.
Connections to your stereo system or choice of speakers are made through the onboard preamp or via RCA cables. Included in the package are an RCA audio cable, 45rpm adapter, and it has a removable dust cover.
Further attention to detail in reducing any unwanted noises creeping into the signal chain is given by the inclusion of an AC adapter which handles the AC/DC conversion away from the chassis.
It looks good and sounds good and is well built. It is at the top end of our review budget, but when you have this much quality it is going to be, we are just surprised the price is not set a bit higher.
8 Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB Direct-Drive Turntable
Another machine from Audio-Technica, but this time moving away from belt driven to direct drive. It has gone the extra mile with its speeds as well, including 78’s along with the standard 33 and 45 rpm.
It is a fully manual turntable and includes a USB port that will connect directly to your laptop. From there you can download either Audacity or the software of your choice to your Mac or PC and convert your vinyl into digital audio files.
The turntable has a selectable phono preamp built-in to connect to your stereo at home and comes with a detachable RCA output cable. The tonearm is ‘S’ shaped and features an anti-skate device.
It is fitted with one of Audio-Technica’s high-performance cartridges, the AT-VM95E, mounted into the ½” mount headshell. This is part of the VM95 series of cartridges, so any from that range will fit as an upgrade if you wish. It also has a cueing lever for manual operation.
Looks-wise it is a very attractive turntable with its classy black exterior. It is fitted with a diecast aluminum platter and has a speed indicator. A quartz-controlled high accuracy pitch lock and slider control with a choice of adjustment ranges from +/-8% or +/-16%.
It also comes with a removable stylus target light and a removable hinged dust cover.
This is a pure turntable with the extra advantage of a USB to download and preserve your precious vinyl to digital files in case of disaster. It has no Bluetooth or wireless connections.
It is a great example of a company producing a quality product at a reasonable price. This will be a contender for the best turntables under $300.
9 Pro-Ject Essential III Belt-Drive Turntable
Well, you can’t deny that this Pro-Ject Essential turntable looks the part, especially with the dust cover off. Guests are going to walk into your home and go wow! Does the sound match the appearance though? We will discuss that in a minute, but first to its great looks…
If they have set out to achieve a modernist, minimalist appearance for this turntable, then they have succeeded, and in the white finish, it looks well above its price point.
The main platter and chassis are made from MDF. It’s a shame it isn’t ‘real’ wood, but at this price, you wouldn’t expect it to be. MDF though is a step up from some of the other wood alternatives and does give off a certain resonance due to its density. It has a hinged removable dust cover.
The plinth itself is free of clutter and switches; in fact, the first thought you will have is how do you do to turn it on? All that is visible in the logo and the drive pulley. The on/off switch is located under the chassis — a nice touch.
Maybe one criticism coming now, there is no speed change. To alter the speed between 33 and 45 rpm, you must manually move the drive belt up or down on the pulley — not such a good idea in our view. The belt runs around the outer edge of the platter and then round a pulley.
However, if we look at it from a practical point of view, most people nowadays own and play a lot more albums than singles. So if you are like most vinyl owners, and over 95% of your vinyl listening is records at 33 rpm, it really isn’t that much of a problem.
The tonearm is aluminum and has sapphire bearings, and the Ortofon OM10 cartridge is pre-mounted and setup. The counterweight has to be balanced properly, and this is not the easiest part of the setup. And neither is the anti-skate system which is a weight attached to a thread that also takes a bit of work to organize. This turntable comes without a preamp.
We’ve talked a lot about the appearance and what’s onboard but what about the sound. We left it to last as it won’t take long.
The sound quality is amazing, and this is easily amongst the best Turntables Under $300 you’ll find anywhere. That’s all we need to say.
10 U-Turn Audio – Orbit Plus Turntable
If your dream turntable has elegant lines with a modern minimalistic look, then this turntable from U-Turn audio is going to appeal to you.
It has been shown that vinyl will reproduce recorded sound more accurately than any other medium, assuming, of course, the equipment you are using is of a certain quality. It will bring you as close to the live performance as it is possible to do, and the Orbit Plus attempts to do that.
This is designed as a simple turntable but one that will pack a punch. In terms of its design and looks it is going to raise a few eyebrows, especially if blue might not be your guests favorite color, but let’s ignore that there are more important things to look at.
Let’s take a look at the basic spec. It is a manual belt drive machine running at 33 and 45 rpm. It has a straight, machined precision-made tonearm with an Ortofon cartridge with an adjustable counterweight. The acrylic platter is also machined to great accuracy and actually helps to remove any unwanted sounds. There is a felt mat, dust cover, and RCA cables.
It has a Pluto preamp built-in to connect it up to powered speakers or your amp. The sound produced is clear and defined and is a cut above a lot of the competition.
It is very slightly over the budget of this review, but only marginally. And since it was close, it was included and is definitely worth considering.
It is a first-class turntable for the price.
So What Are The Best Turntables Under $300?
As the standards get higher, so do the options. The majority of turntables we have looked at are designed for one thing. Delivering great sound from vinyl recordings. And there is one that might also be used by aspiring DJ’s. But the others have varying degrees of features and designs, some a little flamboyant and heavyweight, some minimalist and chic.
It is a tough choice to pick the best turntable under $300. Sony is there, and Audio-Technica always produce quality, and we admire the sentiments and quality of the House of Marley unit. But we have chosen the…
Great looking, good performance and with a certain understated excellence about it.
That is our choice for the best of the best turntables under $300.