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The 7 Best Vintage Turntables Under $500 That Are Still Great

Discover the best vintage turntables under $500 on the market

Turntables are half of the present vinyl transcription panorama. Annually, increasingly more report fanatics become involved. Vinyl has not, regardless of all the digital sound recording and playback choices, come to an finish. 

Sure, there are many choices for many who need to buy a brand new turntable—Professional-Ject, Rega, Music Corridor are a number of that make very good decks. Nevertheless, there are these of us who take a look at a deck produced within the ‘70s or ‘80s and keep in mind their dad’s system and even their very own. These are actual craftsmanship and high quality which you can see, really feel and listen to. Identical to the movie cameras and sports activities automobiles of that period, it’s not only a fad. It’s a cottage business – fixing up previous turntables and getting them working once more and getting that sound. 

However isn’t it simpler to only hop onto Amazon and buy one thing new, a pleasant shiny new Professional-Ject  or Audio Technica deck? Why classic turntables? Aren’t classic tables simply beat up junk?

Properly, on this article, we’re going to debate the perfect classic turntables you will get for underneath $500, so yow will discover out how a few of the old-fashioned turntables stack as much as trendy ones made at this time. 

And, to raised enable you to, we’ve compiled an inventory of some trendy turntables within the desk under, so you’ll be able to immediately examine how a few of the greatest turntables of as we speak examine to the classic ones we’ll talk about all through this text.

Why Use a Classic Turntable?

Right here’s the cope with classic sound repro gear — it’s arduous to seek out and even if you discover an previous deck, it’s could also be in items. Perhaps the platter isn’t even spinning. But individuals are nonetheless attempting to find their dream deck. 

Maybe it’s as a result of, identical to those that lurk on Jalopnik to examine barn finds of 40 yr previous Porsches, individuals like to gather classic sound gear. You see, analog sound gear was in a type of evolutionary part from the early 1950’s till it’s obvious demise within the late 1990’s. All types of enhancements and upgrades have been completed to advance analog sound copy for the audiophiles. 

These have been the individuals who had the cash to spend on a pleasant system, so the engineers went to work. That is nicely earlier than corporations like AR, Kenwood, and even Sony started outsourcing their elements and meeting to remain in enterprise, thus dropping high quality management.

Have you ever ever completed this? Gone out to a storage sale or thrift retailer and located one thing made within the ‘60s or ‘70s? It’s the joys of the hunt.  As a result of, unbelievably, there are nonetheless a whole lot of them on the market that also work. That’s how nicely they have been constructed. A few years in the past I picked up a Twin 1218 turntable. It was simply sitting there, on the again wall at a GoodWill.

This factor was hardly used. I took it house, re-lubricated some elements and there it was. Even the cartridge was in good situation. There’s something to be stated for recycling, particularly issues that look good and work properly. Sound gear from the 20th century is a type of niches that match into that description. They have been made nicely. The turntables-  idler-drive, direct-drive or belt-drive have been made in Germany, Japan or the USA.

The elements have been, principally made to final. These decks weren’t low cost. You’ll in all probability want or need to perceive easy methods to restore or restore the turntable to working situation. Some individuals will go as far as to construct their very own plinths or bases and discover aftermarket mud covers. Identical to classic automobiles, actually. Solely cheaper.

The 7 Greatest Classic Turntables Underneath $500

Right here’s an inventory of seven top quality turntables that I might advocate. This isn’t a very complete record, clearly, however they characterize one of the best and most dependable decks, for my part, you could buy for beneath 500 dollars or much less.

This record consists of turntables which you can buy to revive or ones you should purchase which have already been refurbished by different fanatics who’ve the type of time and assets to offer clients with the classic expertise with out the time and studying curve required to do it your self. 

So, in no specific order, listed here are my decisions for the 7 of the highest classic turntables beneath $500.

Twin 1219

That is the idler-drive deck of selection for the medium priced, nice worth class. Truthfully, you may as well decide up a 1218 (10 inch platter vs 12 inch) and even the 1019 and do exactly positive. All the Duals from this time interval have the all wooden base. This can retail, refurbished in working situation for round $400.

There are additionally an excellent variety of them on Ebay for much less, however there’s probably work concerned. The excellent news is that Twin turntables are one of the crucial dependable, straightforward to work on decks. Spare elements can be found, however you actually need to discover ways to work on them. The most important factor to search for on Twin decks from this period is the steuerpimpel. It’s a small rubber cap that assists the tone arm return and most classic Duals will almost definitely want it changed.

Thorens TD 160

A extremely popular belt-drive mannequin with each modders and audiophiles simply beginning out. This can be a quite simple but high-end deck. The one deal breaker could also be that the tone arm just isn’t auto return, which suggests you need to manually raise the tone arm at the start and finish of a document. There are workarounds for this, with aftermarket fixes to return the tone arm.

Different fashions to think about are the TD 124, TD 125 which do have auto return. Costs will vary from $200 – $500 for a TD 160 in working situation. Some individuals choose belt-drive over loafer or direct-drive decks so it’s a matter of what you want. Probably, the drive belt on decks from this time interval might must be changed. Luckily, you should purchase them on-line fairly simply.

Technics SL 1500

Within the direct-drive class, this Japanese-made mannequin will get my vote. It’s thought-about one of many extra dependable classic direct-drive decks and holds as much as today. It’s a absolutely guide participant, so, just like the Thorens TD 160, no auto-return right here.

For auto-return you’ll need the Technics SL-1300. It’s aluminum die-cast base provides it a glance not a lot like that of classic decks just like the Duals or Thorens, however extra just like the all metallic decks of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Used spare elements are nonetheless obtainable.

Lenco L75

You will see that some good examples of this elegant Swiss-made idler-drive deck on Ebay or on some audiophile websites. The center of this deck remind me of a Swiss watch.

If yow will discover one in working situation, seize it. In inventory type, they will typically go for $400-$500 and with a bit of labor could be operational with an honest quantity of obtainable elements.


Right here’s one other belt-drive deck that’s easy to make use of and mod as nicely. This was thought-about one of many first mass-market belt drive turntables, initially produced within the early sixties and remaining in manufacturing till the early seventies.

It broke floor as being one of many first decks to get rid of the noise generated by the tone arm and uneven vinyl. Superbly designed and, properly, it’s an Acoustic Analysis product. As with the above examples, it is possible for you to to seek out elements for this deck.

Sansui FR-4060

Here’s a quality-built Japanese made deck from the early ‘70s. Typically arduous to seek out, you’ll be able to nonetheless decide one up for round $450 in respectable situation. This can be a belt-driven turntable and elements can be found.

Though not probably the most wanted of the Sansui decks from that period, it’s nonetheless a superb catch for the worth and won’t disappoint.

Pioneer PL-71

From the 1975-1980 period, this can be a direct-drive deck that has the basic wooden block plinth that personifies excessive finish turntables from this time interval. Arrange just isn’t that tough and elements appear to be out there, if wanted. 

Word: The one drawback to purchasing one of many above turntables in ‘as-is’ situation is that you could be have to restore the deck your self. Proprietor’s manuals and restore manuals for a lot of of those decks might be discovered on-line. So can loads of elements. 

This is usually a drawback when you aren’t mechanically inclined, have issues studying directions or don’t have the time or endurance to do the restoration. Classic turntables are numerous occasions finicky and random points pop up steadily.

So, this ought to be a ardour for you, whereby your TLC and understanding of the mechanics of the deck override these points. Assume classic British or Italian sports activities automobiles – pretty to personal, unimaginable to drive, however require upkeep and the power to stay with any shortcomings as a result of age or engineering flaws.

Get Began

Don’t get into all the tech specs the primary time round. There are too many overly-technical descriptions, principally meant for seasoned audiophiles, that drown out the actual essential factors to concentrate on when buying a turntable.

Right here’s my recommendation, in small easy-to-take parts:

1. In case you’re shopping for from a thrift retailer, take a great take a look at the unit. You also needs to use your smartphone and seek for that unit on the internet, proper there within the retailer. You’ll get sufficient knowledge within the first two or three search outcomes to inform whether or not or not this can be a canine or a diamond within the tough.

2. Are all of the elements there (or at the least an important ones)? If there isn’t any cartridge or stylus, don’t fear. You should purchase these new all day lengthy. If the platter is lacking or there isn’t any tone arm, you may run into an issue, however that can also be solvable.  

I truly used his elements to rebuild a United Audio Twin 1228 (take a look at a video somebody uploaded onto YouTube under to see what this turntable seems to be like). Most of those decks can go from $5 to $25 every, as a result of the individuals on the thrift shops haven’t any option to check them.

Positive, it’s a crap shoot, however in the event you see a pleasant Twin or a Technics deck for $15, decide it up and take it house. If nothing else, it’s a studying expertise.

three. In the event you’re shopping for from an internet retailer or brick and mortar vendor, then you’ll have to know a bit extra concerning the situation of the turntable earlier than shelling out $300 – $500 for a pleasant deck.

Ask the salesperson to play one thing on the turntable. Make certain the tone arm comes off the remaining and lands on the run-in grooves, take heed to the sound and ensure there isn’t any apparent distortion (that might come from an improperly set-up tone arm or cartridge).

Be sure the tone arm returns easily to the remaining and turns off. Attempt each guide and auto features. Hell, attempt all the buttons, bells and whistles which are on it. When you don’t know, simply ask the salesperson, ‘what does that button do?’ and make him activate it.


The underside line is, take heed to the deck and the album being performed on an honest pair of audio system proper there on the retailer or the lounge (in case you are shopping for on Craigslist).

four. Except for thrift retailer or CL finds, ensure you get some sort of assure on the deck. Look, in the event that they’re charging you $400 for a forty-year-old turntable that they’re promoting as refurbished, they should have some kind of high quality assurance.

Thirty days must be nice. Simply get it house, check it by yourself gear and play the hell out of it for every week. If it nonetheless works positive after every week, you need to be alright. However, keep in mind, you’re coping with older gear and previous gear can break down, even after it’s been refurbed.

 The place To Purchase? 

In the event you’re questioning the place to purchase turntables like these listed, I might think about using the next locations to seek out classic turntables, from $10-$500, and up:

1. Thrift Shops – Goodwill is my go-to, however there are others, similar to Habitat For Humanity, the native Humane Society and different native locations in your city or close by. The rule is: in case you don’t look, you’ll by no means discover it.

2. Craigslist – Whereas I’ve by no means bought gear on CL, I do know some individuals who have discovered respectable decks there. You simply should go go to the vendor and do the above check on the gear. There’s actually no assure on these things and when you pay, that’s that, so do your analysis as above.

three. Ebay – Sure, you will see that all types of fantastic turntables on the market on Ebay. Not all the time the perfect deal on the town, however there are a number of moral sellers who truly know their stuff who actually do an honest job of reviving classic gear. Delivery is excessive, until there’s native decide up. The great factor is that Ebay has a superb return coverage for consumers receiving stuff in non-working situation or one thing that isn’t as marketed or listed.

four. Classic Turntable web sites – There are greater than a handful of those. is a reasonably well-established website for Twin decks. is the place to go for each Thorens and AR decks in refurbished situation.

Your greatest guess when discovering one thing you want, is to completely analysis the deck you have an interest in, utilizing different websites and boards, to see what different individuals who use vinyl take into consideration the product. 

AudioKarma and Vinylengine are each an extensively used boards with numerous nice opinion, evaluations, assets, consumer manuals and specs on all types of turntables and a spot to select up properly maintained decks from members who’re able to improve. 

For elements, you’ll be able to head over to and search for what you want. I personally was capable of restore my Twin/United Audio Twin 1228 with elements from his stock. 

5. Brick and Mortar Classic Sound Gear Shops – There are a number of of those, principally within the extra closely populated areas, however that’s altering, because of the continued curiosity in all issues classic. Simply comply with these recommends for testing and you ought to be wonderful.

Summing It Up

The primary factor with buying a turntable is to know what you need before you purchase. There are such a lot of variations of turntables, even inside the similar model or sort, that to enter a shopping for mode earlier than you perceive what you’re shopping for is asking for disappointment or frustration. So, do your analysis. Search for the perfect deck you can at present afford. Don’t spend hundreds of dollars on one piece of your system. 

You’ve acquired amps, audio system and different elements that may greatest match one another. Hold it enjoyable. Attempt becoming a member of a vinyl discussion board, similar to AudioKarma or VinylEngine to get a greater concept of what’s being mentioned, however don’t get into the forwards and backwards of it. Simply decide a number of reasonably priced models and do your analysis on them till you are feeling snug with one, then pull the set off. 

That ought to get you going in your vinyl pastime. Perhaps you’ll tire of it and need one thing higher in a number of months or a yr. That’s wonderful, simply decide up one other deck and promote your previous one on Craigslist. 

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