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Best Turntables: Under $2,000

Pro-Ject T1 Phono SB

Pro-Ject T1 Phono SB

$449

The Pro-Ject T1 Phono SB is an attractive entry-level turntable with important ease-of-use upgrades and a high level of fit and finish. It includes a defeatable, built-in phono preamp that sounds very solid, electronic speed switching between 33rpm and 45rpm, and a cartridge pre-mounted and aligned. Unusual at this price, the T1 features a glass (rather than plastic) platter, and the included felt slip mat is simple but effective. Set-up is as easy as it gets, and sound is fantastic—especially at this price point. Overall tone is warm-to-neutral with lively dynamics and a lot of heft, particularly in those more up-beat tunes. It’s a fun deck and a fantastic starting point. Forthcoming

U-Turn Orbit Special

U-Turn Orbit Special

$459

The Orbit Special is U-Turn’s top-of-the-line turntable. It includes an acrylic platter, a built-in phonostage, and an Ortofon 2M Red cartridge that is factory-aligned. The phonostage can be bypassed for those looking for an easy upgrade, which is a very nice feature. Overall, the Orbit Special is as easy as it gets in terms of setup and usage. It has some flexibility for those thinking about an upgrade path but sounds solid in stock form. Recommended for anyone looking for a place to start down the analog path. DK, 295

Rega Planar 1 Plus

Rega Planar 1 Plus

$725

The Rega Planar 1 Plus is Rega’s entry-level turntable and includes a factory-aligned Carbon cartridge and a built-in phono preamp. Setup couldn’t be easier; most people will have it unpacked and spinning records in a matter of minutes. It plays both 33s and 45s, though the upper platter must be removed in order to switch the belt to change speeds. The stock built-in phonostage is the real star here, however. It sounds particularly good, with tight midrange details and a treble that just about sparkles. It’s truly a step up from other built-in preamps. A fantastic entry-level option. DK, 295

Technics SL-1500C-K

Technics SL-1500C-K

$1299

The Technics SL-1500C is a direct-drive turntable with a built-in phonostage. Its shiny aluminum top plate sits on a matte black body of ABS mixed with fiberglass, which Technics says helps with rigidity. The tonearm is the same S-shape version found in the 1200 Series, with adjustable height and an extra counterweight for use with heavier cartridges and headshells. On the back is a switch to defeat the auto tonearm lift, two sets of RCAs, and a switch to change between the built-in phono preamp and straight line output. Sound is fantastic for this price point, especially through a separate phonostage rather than the internal phono preamp. Overall, an absolute bargain and a pleasure to use. DK, 308

Clearaudio Concept

Clearaudio Concept

$1600 ($1800 with Concept mm cartridge; $2400 with Concept mc cartridge)

The Clearaudio Concept turntable package does everything but unbox itself. Preset at the factory, this spinner features a svelte belt-drive chassis, a stunning friction-free, magnetic-bearing Verify tonearm, and the Concept moving-magnet cartridge. The build and finish of this German-made ’table are superior. For sheer musical engagement and superb speed stability, it’s the one to beat in this price range. WG, 205

Read the full review: Clearaudio Concept Black Turntable with Satisfy Tonearm
PolyTable Standard9

PolyTable Standard9

$1795

If you’re an analog lover who doesn’t have a massive living space and/or a massive budget, this high-value, small-footprint, belt-driven turntable could be just your ticket. From setup to playback to overall musical enjoyment, we found this American-made ’table to be user-friendly in every way. It comes with a Jelco tonearm of your choice, which allows for VTF, VTA, and azimuth adjustments. For the past few decades, George E. Merrill has steadfastly been designing and small-batch-manufacturing turntables that offer high performance at a friendly price. With both the mm and mc cartridges we’ve tried, the PolyTable Standard9 delivered serious analog pleasure worthy of far bigger bucks. JM, 260

Rega P6 with RB330 tonearm

Rega P6 with RB330 tonearm

$1875 ($2245 with pre-mounted Exact cartridge; $2595 with pre-mounted Ania; $2895 with pre-mounted Ania Pro)

The belt-driven unsuspended P6 doesn’t deliver the ultimate punch, detail, or transporting emotional thrill of the very finest vinyl playback gear money can buy, but that’s hardly the point, or the design goal. The point is that like all the best and longest-lived audio gear, the P6 compels us to play record after record, to revisit music we love, and explore music we have yet to discover. To say that the P6 sets a new standard for Rega ‘tables at this price point is not damning with faint praise; it’s instead high praise for what Rega has accomplished—and continues to. WG, 313

Read the full review: Rega P6 Turntable, RB330 Tonearm, Neo PSU, and Ania Moving-Coil Cartridge
Pro-Ject RPM 5 Carbon

Pro-Ject RPM 5 Carbon

$1999 (including Sumiko Amethyst cartridge)

The RPM 5 Carbon turntable from Pro-Ject is possibly the first and last turntable you’ll ever need. The aesthetics are gorgeous but also functional: the heavy, detached motor and minimalist yet still substantial plinth mean fewer potential vibrations. Pace and timing are spot on, while the surprisingly quiet backgrounds and the sheer depth of soundstaging elevate playback to that next level. Music flows in an incredibly precise and pleasant way, never lagging or falling behind. The RPM 5 will accommodate solid upgrades down the signal path for years to come. It’s an easy and obvious step above the rest and highly recommended. DK, 295

Pro-Ject RPM 5 Carbon

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