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Best Turntables Under $100 – Our Favorite Budget Vinyl Players For 2017

You might be surprised to learn that serious audiophiles pay up to $10,000 for a premium turntable. That doesn’t mean listening to vinyl is an expensive hobby. It certainly can be, but there are much more affordable options for those just starting out on their vinyl journey.

I have never seen the point of spending hundreds, let alone thousands, on a record player. I would much rather buy a decent vinyl player, and have a larger collection of records to play. For anyone new to the world of vinyl, I would recommend doing the same. Today I will be looking at the best turntables under $100.

Keep in mind that at this price you shouldn’t be expecting high-fidelity sound. Your objective should be finding a good cheap turntable that is simple and easy to use, and that produces reasonable sound quality.

If you can afford to spend an extra $100-150, you can move up to a turntable that produces much better sound quality.

If you are really particular about how your records should sound, I would suggest saving up a little while longer and going for something like the Audio Technica LP-120.

The following are the best record players for those on a budget (under $100), and although they’re not perfect, some of them still have some pretty impressive features for the price.

Jensen JTA-230 Review

Jensen JTA-230 3 Speed Stereo Turntable with Built in SpeakersJensen JTA-230 3 Speed Stereo Turntable with Built in Speakers

The Jensen JTA-230 3 Speed Stereo turntable is very popular with the budget conscious. It has the lowest price of the record players we are looking at. I have to say, it is also the least attractive when it comes to looks. Having said that, if you are shopping for cheap turntables, looks are probably not at the top of your list of requirements!

The JTA-230 has some impressive features that would surprise most seasoned turntable fans:

  • This belt-driven stereo turntable comes with a handy USB port to convert your favourite vinyl records to digital format (software is also included). Typically this is a feature that is only included in much more expensive models.
  • This table can play 33, 45 and 78RPM records which is another feature typically only available in a higher price range. I will mention that the included stylus can only play 33 and 45 RPM.
  • You will need a second stylus to play 78s, as they have deeper and wider grooves. A 3 millimeter (0.003 inch) stylus will work perfectly.
  • It also comes with the ability to adjust the pitch and tone so you can fine tune the table to deliver your favourite songs exactly how you like them.

Sound

The JTA-230 comes with built-in speakers that perform reasonably well considering the price you pay. While the sound is OK, playing it through external speakers will allow you to crank the volume much higher, although it won’t do much for the sound quality. I found the sound to be quite tinny, and the bass is disappointingly lacking.

Quality

This table comes with a ceramic cartridge, similar to most other cheap turntables. This cheaper cartridge is typically more robust which works well in cheap tables that are lighter and less stable than higher priced models. One problem with a ceramic cartridge, is that the stylus tends to jump out of the groove at low frequencies. A counterbalance is used in premium turntables to counter this, but at this price you won’t find this feature on the Jensen.

Pros

  • This table comes at a very low price, the USB port, the ability to play 33/45/78 and the pitch control are features not commonly found in affordable turntables.

Cons

  • The sound is very poor, and perhaps Jensen should have focused on sound quality, rather than on adding features usually reserved for higher-priced models. I can’t help but feel they are trying to make up for the poor sound.

Verdict

I personally don’t like the looks of this table, and while it has some nice features, the sound is just not good enough for serious listening. I would only recommend this table to you if paying more for one of the other options will leave you without money to spend on records. After all, having a turntable without any records would be worse than owning a slightly inferior table with a good selection of records.

If you want true high fidelity sound, or you want to listen to loud music, steer well clear of the JTA-230.

Check Today’s Price For the Jensen JTA-230 On Amazon

Jensen JTA-230 3 Speed Stereo Turntable with Built in SpeakersJensen JTA-230 3 Speed Stereo Turntable with Built in SpeakersJensen JTA-230S 3 Speed Stereo Turntable (Silver, Limited Edition)Jensen JTA-230S 3 Speed Stereo Turntable (Silver, Limited Edition)

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Audio Technica AT LP60 Review

Audio Technica AT LP60 Turntable

Audio Technica achieved great success with both the LP60 and the LP120 (see my review here). While its big brother has become something of a cult favourite among serious listeners and amateur DJ’s, the LP60 aims to win over the budget conscious market.

This belt driven turntable is fully automatic and comes with a USB port. The manufacturer labels it as a “LP to digital recording system”. I wonder how much the marketing guys get paid over at AT, probably too little to come up with better marketing jargon than that. The table doesn’t do the actual recording, instead it outputs the sound to a computer which uses software to do the recording. All in all, the recording process is time consuming, and can be a bit technical.

Sound

While other tables in this price range typically come with ceramic cartridges, the AT LP60 comes with a magnetic cartridge. The user manual lists wow and flutter as less than 0.25%, which is really good considering the price of this unit. Premium turntables will score a value of less than 0.05%, but you will likely pay 5-10x the price.

Quality

Audio Technica is known in the music world for their well-built audio products that offer good value for money. They didn’t stray from this path with the AT LP60.

Pair this table with a good set of speakers, and your audiophile friends won’t believe that this table is priced at less than 100 dollars.

Pros

  • This easy-to-assemble turntable is fully automatic, which is awesome at this price range.
  • It is very easy to use, and comes with a USB port for digitizing your vinyl collection.
  • The replaceable stylus is a nice feature, and the magnetic cartridge makes for affordable sound quality that blows the other best record players under $100 out of the water.

Cons

  • For what the LP60 offers at this price, one really shouldn’t be too harsh. If I had to nitpick, I would say that the hard-wired RCA cables are too short. Some adjustment features, like a counterweight and anti-skate would have taken this table from really good value for money, to exceptional.
  • The lack of built-in speakers and volume control might also put off some consumers.

Verdict

Without a doubt, the LP60 is my choice as the best record player under $100. The magnetic cartridge ensures that the sound quality is much higher than any of the other tables mentioned here. It lacks a few features, but don’t consider this a bad thing. This just means that Audio Technica preferred to focus on the sound quality, rather than just adding features for the sake of it.

If you are in the market for an affordable turntable, but you care about the quality of the sound, this table presents the best of both worlds.

Check Today’s Price For The Audio Technica AT LP60 On Amazon

Audio Technica AT-LP60 Fully Automatic Stereo Turntable System, SilverAudio Technica AT-LP60 Fully Automatic Stereo Turntable System, SilverAudio Technica AT-LP60BK Fully Automatic Belt-Drive Stereo Turntable, BlackAudio Technica AT-LP60BK Fully Automatic Belt-Drive Stereo Turntable, Black

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Crosley Cruiser Review

Crosley CR8005A-TW Cruiser Portable 3-Speed Turntable, TweedCrosley CR8005A-TW Cruiser Portable 3-Speed Turntable, Tweed

I guess there are those that would label the Crosley Cruiser as cute. I, for one, don’t care much for the design. It makes the product look cheaper than what it really is. I guess this is one of those products you either love or hate.

But my job is to look at more than just the looks of a product. Close this record player and it turns into a small and light briefcase, something that might be useful for those who like to take their table to a party or to a friend’s house. I suspect this might make the Cruiser popular among younger vinyl fans.

Perhaps the design is an indication of who this table is aimed at. The design will appeal to younger fans, and won’t look out of place in a child or teenager’s room, while the small size makes it perfect for a dorm room.

The built-in speakers, as is the case with most cheap turntables, disappointed me. But again, for those just starting with vinyl these speakers will be good enough to get going. I have to mention that you don’t want to be playing your mint records on this player, and I would also avoid playing any rare records. With any best cheap turntable, there is a chance of damage to your record. If you have a serious collection of vinyl with rare records, you need to look at a serious turntable.

Sound

The ceramic cartridge (also called piezoelectric pickup) on this player is standard for this price range, and delivers sound quality that will underwhelm serious listeners. For those just starting out the cartridge does its job of boosting low frequencies reasonably well. The main advantage with this type of cartridge is that you won’t need an equalizer or pre-amplifier, making this Crosley both easy to use and affordable to get up and running.

Quality

At this price you can’t expect the highest of quality in workmanship or in sound. The built-in speakers do not produce sound of high quality, and while this table isn’t aimed at serious audiophiles, I still feel that you can do better in this price range with other options. Whether or not you are a serious listener, I would always recommend getting the best audio you can for your money. I would disregard any features and looks for the most part, getting the best audio will make you enjoy your vinyl records so much more.

Pros

  • This turntable is incredibly easy to use, and is one of the more compact tables on the market. This table is also lightweight and the built-in speakers makes it an affordable starter kit.
  • The volume control is a nice touch, and I also like the auto stop feature.

Cons

  • As with any turntable with ceramic cartridge, the sound quality isn’t the Crosley’s main selling point. I am also not a big fan of the looks, but I suspect it might appeal to a younger audience.
  • While the ability to digitize your music sounds like a great feature at first, the sound quality just won’t do your vinyl records justice. If you plan on using your turntable to digitize your vinyl collection, I would suggest getting a table that produces a richer, fuller sound.

Verdict

This is a good turntable for the young bunch to get started with vinyl. It is simple and easy to use, but I found it lacking on a number of fronts. Most notably the built in speakers don’t perform well, while I don’t like the one size needle being used for playing 33s, 45s and 78s.

I feel that this table is only suitable for the younger generation where the looks matter more than the quality of the sound. For anyone else remotely serious about listening to vinyl, go for the Audio Technica LP-60.

Check Today’s Price For The Crosley Cruiser On Amazon

Crosley CR8005A-TU Cruiser Portable 3-Speed Turntable, TurquoiseCrosley CR8005A-TU Cruiser Portable 3-Speed Turntable, TurquoiseCrosley CR8005A-PI Cruiser Portable 3-Speed Turntable, PinkCrosley CR8005A-PI Cruiser Portable 3-Speed Turntable, PinkCrosley CR8005A-BK Cruiser Portable 3-Speed Turntable, BlackCrosley CR8005A-BK Cruiser Portable 3-Speed Turntable, Black

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Ion Audio Max LP Review

Ion Audio Max LP Turntable

The Ion Audio max LP has a distinctive look and feel which I really like. For a turntable that cost less than $100, it looks great. I have seen many TT’s costing three times as much, that don’t look half as good.

This sturdy and robust table features a stylish natural wood finish that will look great in any modern home. The volume control and the auto stop are nice features, and the USB port allows you to convert your vinyl collection to digital format. Digitizing your records is fairly straight forward, although you will need to manually enter the track and album data.

While this table can play 33, 45 and 78 RPM, you will need to use the included special adapter to play 45 RPM.

Sound

While no one in their right mind would expect hi-fi sound from a sub-$100 turntable with built-in speakers, the sound is pretty OK. Not great, but not as bad as you might expect from a table in this price range. This table offers surprisingly pleasant range, and the lack of hiss or pop noises is noticeable.

The volume on the built-in speakers is much better than the Jensen, although the headphone jack underdelivers. As with any of these cheap turntables, a separate speaker system will add to your listening experience.

Quality

In comparison to the other tables in this price range, the sound quality is definitely up there with the AT LP-60. The wood finish looks great, but I suspect it might not be quite as durable and rugged as the other tables.

Pros

  • This is another easy to use turntable, and has the most stylish looks of all the tables reviewed here. It is portable and lightweight, so you can take it to a friend’s house to share the joys of listening to vinyl.
  • The built-in speakers produce impressively loud sound, and the built-in USB allows you to output to your computer which makes digitizing your vinyl records easy.

Cons

  • While this model features one of the louder speakers for the price, it doesn’t sound quite as crisp as the LP-60. I also experienced more skipping records than I would have reasonably expected.
  • I am also not a big fan of the power button located at the back of the unit. This wasn’t a smart choice, and made it a hassle to turn the table on or off, which lead to me just leaving it always on. Surely it can’t be good to leave it on.

Verdict

The Ion Audio max LP’s main selling point will be its distinguished wooden finish. In stark contrast with the tacky design of the Crosley Cruiser, this table won’t look out of place in any home. Display this table where visitors can see it, and you are sure to draw some favourable comments on its good looks. As far as sound quality goes, this table comes a close second to the LP-60.

Check Today’s Price For The Ion Audio Max LP On Amazon

ION Audio Max LP | 3-Speed Belt Drive Turntable with Built-In Speakers & 1/8ION Audio Max LP | 3-Speed Belt Drive Turntable with Built-In Speakers & 1/8ION Audio Max LP | 3-Speed Belt Drive Turntable with Built-In Speakers & 1/8ION Audio Max LP | 3-Speed Belt Drive Turntable with Built-In Speakers & 1/8

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Wrapping it up – And our top pick is…?

The Audio Technica LP-60 is easily the best turntable under 100 dollars. It is the only table to feature a ceramic cartridge, and the difference is clear to even the untrained ear. The Ion Audio max LP finishes in second place with a good sound quality, and appealing looks. As for the Jensen JT-230 and the Crosley Cruiser, I would avoid them.

Want to try the Audio Technica LP-60 for yourself or purchase as a gift? Read hundreds of user reviews and see today’s best price on Amazon.com.


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