For nearly a decade now, vinyl has steadily been making a huge comeback. It’s not just a kitschy, outmoded way of listening to music, and it’s taken over newer technologies such as CDs for home audio listening. They’ve even started adding bonus tracks on the LPs, something unheard of back in the day when it was the industry standard.
Today, the music industry is a strange and complex world, and it can be easy to feel like an older millennial when you start hearing band names you don’t know. It can be even easier when technology changes. Fortunately, turntables are one thing that has been around long enough for any age to understand their purpose, even when that purpose has changed.
Turntables were once exclusive to the dance floor at weddings, social events, and house parties. But today, not everyone’s a DJ, and people use them to digitize their record collection properly. It may be kitsch and vintage to have a hard copy of the piece of pop culture, but you still want a backup. After all, records are fragile.
Before going through each turntable under $200, here are some things to consider that may help you arrive at your final decision.
Remember, much of your choice will be based on your living arrangement, work, lifestyle, and budget, and when weighed against each other, the Victrola may not be the best specifically for you.
What To Look for in the Best Turntable
Your Record Collection
If you already have a decent-sized record collection, then you should know what kind of turntable you need to play everything you own. If you only have a handful of records and are fairly new to the world, then there are a few things you need to understand.
Records come in three sizes that have been used throughout their popularity. To get your player to play them at the right speed for the size, you must manually switch them. It’s not a complex process, it’s a switch. The sizes are:
45 – You’ve probably seen these small 10-inch records that hold about 5 minutes of music per side
33 – the most common for a full album is this 12-inch record that holds about 22 minutes of music per side.
78 – These ten-inch discs are rarer but popular among fans of older music that prefer the original copies.
Many turntables only play 45s and 33s.
Where you put the record player in your home is equally important, so you’ll want to take into account the size of the machine. It’s not just that it must be stored comfortably, as the sound works off vibration.
It must also be placed for best use. So make sure you have the space to put the turntable where it needs to go.
Can It Be Upgraded?
When something becomes fashionable, a lot of the technologies given to the add-ons may be thrown in to attract more buyers but have little practical use or staying power. Some of them may become obsolete within a year.
It falls on you to do a little research before buying to ensure that repair and replacement will be an easy and long-term guarantee. The last thing you’d want is to purchase a turntable that you’ll barely be able to use not long after.
As technology has improved, so has the ability to connect products together and make them work in unison. You can stream on a television. You can stream with a soundbar.
And you can stream using a turntable as well. Learn about the wireless Bluetooth capabilities of the turntable you want. If it can do it, make sure it can do it well.
Fortunately, it’s not a piece of technology that’s going to blow your budget. There are plenty of solid turntables that are USB compatible for less than $200. Let’s take a look.
The 10 Best Turntables Under $200:
- Hi-fi audio
- Fully automatic, 2-speed belt drive
- Anti-resonance, die-cast aluminum platter
- AC adapter handles AC/DC conversion
This is a surprisingly inexpensive turntable, and it certainly does the job it’s supposed to do. It’s also incredibly easy to use. One might liken it to a CD or DVD player, with everything done for you with the simple click of a few buttons.
The Audio-Technica is a fairly basic turntable. The automation is nice, but it can be a little finicky. For some reason, ten-inch discs are problematic. The machine appears not to understand how to play them correctly. One of the first things you’ll notice is how amazingly light it is.
This is because the cheaper models often only use light plastic, which doesn’t mean it’s an inferior product, it just means you’ll have to exercise some caution while carrying it. It’s what’s inside the machine that counts.
Audio-Technica isn’t known for its shoddy sound equipment, but it’s still impressive to learn that it still sounds fantastic even with some pretty cheap design. Once the platter was in place – pretty much all that’s required of you – you can experience the full sound of your favorite artists.
Do you enjoy the soothing bass of someone like Luther Vandross? It’ll play without distortion. Even more complicated classical music or inventive pop and rock, such as Elvis Costello, will come through with a clear, coherent presentation.
Timing is probably one of the hardest aspects to get right for a turntable, and it may not be 100 percent accurate here, but it works well enough that only the most astute audiophile will notice. The balance is also impressive, though one wishes it would delve a little more into bass frequencies. There’s really nothing lacking in what it delivers, you just want more.
The best thing that can be said about the Audio-Technica is that it’s a fantastic device if you’ve never had one before. If, however, you’re already a pro, it’s probably a little too basic.
- Easy Operation
- Two Speeds
- High-Quality Audio
- USB ripping
- Wireless Connection
The first thing you’ll notice about the Sony PS-LX310BT is how easy it is to set up. Within the time it takes to boil a cup of chamomile tea, the box was opened, the device plugged in, and Bob Dylan’s “Blood on The Tracks” was playing. You have to appreciate that level of simplicity.
The second thing that stands out is the design—a sleek, serious look like it’s there to get the job done. A nice, simple black plastic case is all you need, and it’s pretty much what you can expect at this price.
Thankfully, it’s also one of the most user-friendly turntables around. There’s no manual-reading necessary, no watching tutorials on youtube repeatedly until you feel comfortable enough, in fact, there’s nothing to preset. The buttons that take care of the needle and arm may feel a little too automated, especially if you enjoy the physical act, but it also removes the hassle.
They do feel a little unnecessary, as someone who has spent years around vinyl and has experience dropping needles. Using a button takes the fun out of it, but for a quick spin or those that worry about scratching, it’s a good option.
As for the sound, it’s Sony, and it’s high-quality audio at its best. Any older rocker loves how clearly it transmits the percussive bass of so many favourites.
- Handsomely presented in wood and metal materials
- All-in-one, both 33 and 45 speeds
- Magnet Type Cartridge and Adjustable Counterweight
- Wireless Streaming
- Audio-Technica Stylus
This is, hands down, the best-looking turntable one can find at a low price. The wood and metal exterior give it a retro throwback look that fits nicely in any house decorated with some vintage items. It’s a little embarrassing, but a little kitsch can be a nice thing to have in your life, so it shouldn’t be.
Most turntables that advertise their built-in speakers are a clear indicator that you should stay away. They are often poorly built, their sound comes in tinny and weak. Fortunately, these speakers offer enough bass response that a real, distinguishable sound is coming from them. They aren’t as good as a full speaker set, but they aren’t bad for their price.
The one downside with the 1 By One is that while they play 45s and 33s quite well, it would be nice if they had the option of playing 78s too. It’s a mild annoyance, but one that musicologists and those that seek out the very finest editions of their favourite old tracks perfectly understand.
- 3-speed belt-drive turntable
- Dual power external speakers
- Modern Bluetooth Turntable
- Vintage Design with Natural Wood
- User Friendly
Admittedly, you get a lot for such a low price. The external speakers are a nice touch, and they’re a major improvement from the typical built-in models that often disappoint. The LP & No. 1 is presented in a suitcase, much like the old school record players you see in 60s movies. It’s a real touch of class, and the mahogany makes you feel especially upscale.
What’s more, the speakers deliver. While they could go deeper into bass, the sound is still as clear and crisp as the first day the record was released. Rich and warm, with pristine vocals. It’s also one of the most convenient turntables both to set up and travel with. Simply close the device and carry it to the next venue.
The best selling aspect of the turntable, however, is that it truly plays the old technologies. As mentioned above, it’s three speeds. Not enough record players of any kind these days play 78s properly, and if they do, you’re spending upwards of $200. An inexpensive turntable capable of playing 78s, and playing them well, is a real find.
- Hi-fi belt-driven turntable
- High-performance Audio-Technica cartridge
- Perfect playback with balanced aluminum S-type tonearm
- Crafted with thick, engineered wood
- Captivating Signal Clarity
At this price, you’re going to find a lot of turntables that come preassembled. Most of what you’re looking at is going to be an all-in-one device, as that’s the least expensive way to mass-produce something. You can replace a worn needle or stylus, but everything internal is kind of blended together, so repairs are not going to be easy.
To be perfectly honest, that should not be the problem that it sounds like it could be. Most people are perfectly happy with this kind of device. And one of the nicest aspects of the people at Fluance is that they realize we’re not all techno-literate. The manual is probably one of the most helpful ever written.
There’s a lot about the Fluance that feels remedial like it’s a trainer for a bigger, better device. It can serve perfectly well as a full-time turntable. However, it’s the kind of transitional system that could also be permanent, as there’s really no need to develop your audio skills unless you want to.
That being said, the sound is anything but remedial. For such a low-cost turntable, they must have driven every nickel into making sure the sound was as warm and full as one could possibly desire.
- Bluetooth input and output
- USB Direct Vinyl to MP3 Recording
- Accurate Pitch and Counterweight Adjustment
- Professional Full-pitched turntable
- 24 Hour customer response
One thing you might want to consider when shopping for a turntable is the variety of features it offers – how you can listen to music on it is important depending on what you want. If you’re looking for a straight record player that also has the ability to digitize your records, there are plenty of affordable options.
If you’re just a fan of music, however, then an all-in-one line, the SeeYing might be exactly what you’re looking for. It not only plays records at two speeds, but it also streams music wirelessly as well as tunes into the radio. The one thing it doesn’t have is a CD player, a dated and failed technology anyway.
The records play well enough, but the streaming is just as necessary, and there was little quality loss in the Bluetooth.
The only problem is that perhaps they went a little overboard on the “compact” aspect. This may not be the most important aspect, as not everyone needs to have a record player on the move, though its streaming ability makes it good for any party. It’s also one of the most compact models on the market, making it easy to transport.
It’s simply a little too small, hard to use the buttons properly. But after getting used to it, there should be little trouble.
- Solid Iron Platter
- Two Speed Turntable
- Adjustable counterweight and anti-skating weight
- Built-in phono preamp
- High-quality cartridge
You aren’t going to find a loftier name of turntables on the market. It’s a major supposition that your device will produce sounds akin to that which will allegedly signal doomsday, and while it shouldn’t live up to that, the audio should at least be something jaw-dropping.
As for the presentation, it certainly has the weight and appearance of something significant. The mahogany gives the feel of craftsmanship. Admittedly, though, it’s a machine that looks far better than it sounds. The sounds are average, which is about on par for most turntables that normal people buy. If you aren’t looking for some kind of high-tech upgrade, this is a good start.
Unfortunately, the Bluetooth connection isn’t as solid as it should be, making it hard to connect. It’s much easier to use the device as a record player than to try to deal with its touchy Bluetooth.
It should be noted that the company that makes this turntable has fallen under some scrutiny due to a youtube video posted that blasted some pretty noticeable bugs and problems. While it was definitely an older model, and there were no such issues found in the one we had, it should give some pause that the company went through this not that long ago.
- Bluetooth input and output
- USB direct vinyl to MP3 Recording
- Accurate Pitch and Counterweight Adjustment
- Professional full-sized turntable
- 24 Hour Customer Response
There’s a lot to love about the design of the SeeYing’s vinyl record player, which has abilities beyond just playing your favorites. For one, it has one of the best operating Bluetooth connectivity in the game. Bluetooth is usually something you complain about, but this time it’s an actual selling feature.
There’s also sturdiness to the design that you don’t see in a lot of less expensive models. It really looks handcrafted, like someone cared for it and wanted to protect it. Better still, what it’s protecting is a clear and crisp audio presentation.
The only downside is that the needle arm stops when the album side is done, but it doesn’t bother to put itself back in place. This is an especially odd quirk, as they had this pretty much nailed down long before vinyl came back into fashion.
- Dual Powerful External Speakers
- Adjustable Counterweight
- Plays two speeds
- User friendly
- Vintage natural wood design
Vinyl Music On is a company that’s gone heavy on the nostalgia factor, and this piece is no exception. You can easily imagine this gorgeous, natural wood right next to the old paneling of an 80s basement, or more appropriately, right alongside things found in an episode of The Brady Bunch.
Soundwise, it’s about on par with the rest listed here, nothing that really screams out beyond the fact that the speakers are slightly weaker when dealing with deeper bass.
It does have the standard two speeds, which is good and largely what you will find at this price range. And the diamond-tipped needle provides a sharper sound that’s noticeable.
- 3 Speed Belt Drive
- Record from vinyl to MP3
- Stream to any headphone or speaker with Bluetooth
- RCA output jack
- Anti-skating adjustment
- Stroboscopic aluminum platter
Here’s one where one again, you have a design so simple it’s deceptive. It’s simple, but it’s sleek and ready to get to work. When it plays, it’s probably the freshest sound you’ll hear from a turntable under $200. It’s the kind of machine that makes nonbelievers suddenly convert and understand why vinyl truly is the better audio experience.
It’s also conveniently easy to use, with great wireless Bluetooth connectivity and a simple setup. Having the much-coveted ability to play 78s is also a major selling point.
The biggest complaints appear to come from those who either never read the instruction manual or have some sort of agenda against Victrola. If there’s any truth to it, the big claim is that the Bluetooth connectivity is spotty at best. However, several other users fired back at those reviews, outright accusing them of lying.
Whatever the case, the Bluetooth worked just fine, making the Victrola the best turntable option under $200.
Now that you know the optimal options for how to spend your money on a turntable let’s check these frequently asked questions about Best Turntables Under $200. Also if you are interested in more expensive and higher quality turntables you can read our list of 5 Best Turntables Under $500.
Is a Turntable Worth The Money?
Absolutely. If you value music and like staying abreast of the latest releases, or if you’re an older music fan who still plays albums the old-fashioned way, a turntable is absolutely worth the investment.
Compact Discs were a thing of the 90s, and if you’ve noticed, no one held a particular love for that technology.
Will Cheap Turntables Ruin Records?
There’s certainly a risk if you buy the wrong turntable because the price tempted you that it could scratch your records. A cheap stylus or weak needle could really do some damage.
But it’s important to distinguish between what’s cheap and what’s inexpensive. If you would like to know more about this topic we have dedicated a full article to this question. Read: Can Cheap Turntables Damage Records?