Vinyl records are not only objects of nostalgia. Their use is turned into a full-fledged ritual that brings back the value of music. The cost of a device determines its quality, therefore, it is recommended to choose the best turntable under 200 dollars, which doesn’t bring the cheap sound (too artificial) and can be modified for further improvement (in most cases).
Most such turntables have the following features:
- The Bluetooth connectivity for easy connection to speakers and wireless music listening.
- Two speeds (in most cases this refers to 33 1/3 and 45 RPM). Many $200 units don’t have the construction peculiarities for 78 RPM playing, but there are some exceptions to this rule.
- The USB out for easy connecting the vinyl turntable to a PC.
- A sleek design and sturdy assembly quality make the unit reliable and able to perform its direct functions for more than one year.
- The presence of auto start, auto stop, and return make the usage convenient.
- They can be powered by batteries.
- The FM/AM radio that doesn’t require difficult adjusting.
- A cassette tape player and a CD player.
- The inbuilt speakers, which are loud enough and don’t have to be replaced by external amplifiers.
If you have a desire to make sure that the vinyl players, which belong to the mentioned budget, have all the listed features and have saved all the sound peculiarities of classic units, check out the best turntables under $200 and choose the viable option.
Turntable Under $200 Reviews
Victrola V50-200 – best vintage turntable under $200
The Victrola V50-200 has a retro look and the average size (15 x 13 x 7 inches). The belt-driven unit has 3 speeds (33 1/3, 45, and 78 RPM) and can be easily placed even in a bedroom (the construction reduces the vibration and the noise is almost imperceptible). Its front side contains the Volume and Tuning knobs, Play/Pause button, Stop, Skip, Memory buttons, and the blue screen, where the operating mode and all the features of the radio tuning are displayed. The 3.5mm AUX-in and headphone jack work seamlessly. There’s an inbuilt CD-player. Moreover, the inbuilt speaker is loud enough to fill the mid-sized room with the sound, so there’s no essential need to purchase additional amplifiers. The unit can be probably called the best vintage turntable under 200 dollars, but the tonearm is rather flimsy.
- The Mac/PC software and USB cable come with the turntable.
- It’s possible to wirelessly stream music via Bluetooth at a 33ft distance.
- The player has a built-in USB Digital Encoding for direct recording of music to external media.
- The CD player doesn’t recognize the presence of a CD sometimes.
- The sound detail isn’t clear enough and bass is weak.
Video Victrola V50-200
The unit has a retro case (8 x 9.6 x 13.2 inches) made of real wood that contributes to the creation of an appropriate atmosphere. It also has 3 speeds (33 1/3, 45, 78 RPM) and might be called the best record player under 200 dollars for old records owners. There’s no noise or vibration while playback. A Volume knob, AM/FM tuner, and buttons for input select, power, play/pause/forward/rewind are located on the front side. A cassette tape player is a pleasant bonus and such a feature works seamlessly. There’s a remote controller that performs all the functions seamlessly (unlike other models, when the controller is able only to change the volume). There’s a possibility to hook up an amplifier (via the RCA line outputs) in order to make the music louder, but such a solution can be made optionally, as the inbuilt speakers produce a loud sound. The unit might be perceived as the best turntable under 200 dollars but after playing the music CD (2 or 3 seconds of the first song) the record gets stuck sometimes and I have to restart the player and get the records.
- The AM and FM work without problems even despite having small single wire antenna.
- The turntable comes with 3 extra needles, which can be used in a case of need.
- The unit stops working while FM playing and I have to reboot it.
- The bass isn’t deep and there is no adjustment possibility about it.
Video Victrola VTA-600B-MAH
The Audio-Technica AT-LP60BK easily converts the vinyl records to digital audio files and is compatible with Mac and PC (via Audacity software or any other). Its case isn’t one of the smallest (14.02 x 14.17 x 3.84 inches), but the device has the anti-resonance cast aluminum platter that reduces the vibration level and makes the noise barely noticeable. The Start button (it’s located on the front side) positions the tonearm and lowers it, while the Stop button performs these operations in reverse order. When the playback runs out, the tonearm moves into the socket by itself, so you don’t have to worry about it. The button on the other side toggles the performance speed between 33 1/3 and 45 RPM. The built-in phono stage makes it possible to connect the player directly to a pair of active speakers (using an RCA cable). The RCA output cables allow using an external phono amplifier. The unit makes the words of the song legible and the piano accompaniment is clear enough to hear all the music bridges. It can be probably called the best turntable under $200, but the unit has only 2 speeds (33 1/3 and 45 RPM), while some other models at the same price range support 3 speeds.
- Piano tones are properly accentuated and a composition based on percussion and vocals seems to flow naturally.
- The tonearm does not need any manual adjustments.
- It comes with the removable hinged dust cover that greatly protects the unit.
- The attached cables aren’t long enough for hooking up, so it’s better to purchase a longer one for connection.
- You have to precisely fit the cast aluminum platter and move the belt into its position beforehand.
- The plastic cover can be scratched easily.
Video Audio-Technica AT-LP60BK
It comes out of the box in the form of separate parts. This is actually a base with damping legs fixed from below, a drive motor in the rear left part of the case, and a simple straight tonearm already tuned for a specific head (unfortunately, it does not have a lock, so be careful when assembling). The assembly quality is good, as there are no creaks. All the controls work smoothly. The unit itself isn’t small (19 x 17 x 7 inches) and has a dust cover made of transparent polycarbonate that greatly performs its direct task but can be scratched easily. It is essential for the turntable to be placed securely and not on the same surface with the speakers (the tonearm picks up even the smallest vibrations). By the way, the noise level of the AT-LP60X-BK is pleasantly low despite the lightweight design of the table. There are Start and Stop buttons on the front side and the controller for speed switching (33 1/3 and 45 RPM). The sound is smooth with a soft analog high-frequency interpretation of the treble and rich timbres in the middle register. The detail and dynamics of the sound are moderate.
- Its built-in preamp sounds good, so there’s no essential need to purchase and connect additional speakers.
- The controls are located on the outside, so there’s no need to lift the dust cover.
- When the tonearm is raised and lowered, it returns to the same place.
- The tonearm can occasionally skip forward on some records (without external interference).
- You have to precisely fit the cast aluminum platter and move the belt into its position beforehand.
- Its 4 legs don’t perform their main task, so the stability isn’t on a high level (a slight accidental push can move the device and change settings).
Video Audio-Technica AT-LP60X-BK
A special combination of a case’s rectangle and disk’s round contours give the device an aesthetic appeal. The platter and tonearm are made of aluminum, while most of the construction is made of plastic (14.5 x 17 x 4.3 inches), however, the exterior looks premium despite its affordable price. The assembly takes no more than a few minutes (the unit comes disassembled). The Sony PS-LX310BT might probably belong to the best turntables for under 200 dollars, but there are 3 buttons on the front panel (Start, Stop, and Up/Down), which are pretty difficult to see (so I have to kneel down at an angle to get them). The headshell and cartridge are preinstalled. The only thing you need to do is set up the belt on the drive, the platter on the spindle, and add the disc mat and dust cover on top. There is a round button for pairing with wireless Bluetooth headphones and speakers on the left front side. The selectors for record size (7 or 12 inches) and speed (33 1/3 or 45 RPM) are located on the right side of the turntable. After hardwired connection, the tracks are played musically and excitingly. Wireless connection is more convenient, but it loses a little to the hardwired one in dynamics and detail.
- It is enough to press the Start button and the tonearm stands at the beginning of the record and starts playing. Upon the playback completes, it returns to the initial state.
- The tonearm can be raised or lowered sharply in inexpensive models (less than $100), but here everything works smoothly.
- Its massive platter is dense and is made of an acoustically inert plastic that dampens parasitic vibrations and noise.
- The USB audio output is not provided here. Those people who wish to digitize their records, have to use an external audio interface.
- The preinstalled headshell and tonearm limit system upgrade options, so you can’t improve the turntable from a personal perspective.
Video Sony PS-LX310BT
The unit (19 x 17 x 7 inches) has a black matte case with Start and Stop buttons, selectors for record size choosing (7 or 12 inches), and speed. You should just press a Start button and the tonearm itself brings the cartridge needle to the beginning of the record and lowers it onto the track. The auto-stop feature gently returns the tonearm to the holder at the end of the playback. Also, the unit provides the ability to switch the disc rotation speed between 33 1/3 and 45 RPM. It can boast a built-in switchable phono preamp. This model has inbuilt Bluetooth 5.0 and supports the aptX conversion codec, so you can easily listen to music in the highest quality wirelessly. It comes with the tonearm and head that improve stability and diminishes resonance. Noise and vibration have also been reduced by using an external AC adapter, which moves the converter outside the enclosure. The AT-LP60XBT-BK comes with RCA cable, single coil adapter, and detachable hinged dust cover. The specified model can be probably the best record player for under 200 dollars, as its resolution is extremely high, the dynamic capabilities are good, the tonal balance is even, but with some tendency to lighten the sound.
- It has an Integral Dual Magnet phono cartridge with a replaceable diamond stylus, which makes it easy to improve the unit.
- The turntable comes with a separate external power supply, which allows getting rid of the noise influence on the sensitive audio signal.
- The safety feature is absent. Pressing the “Start” button without a record on the platter can destroy the stylus.
- There’s no anti-skate feature.
Video Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT-BK
The wooden turntable is compact (12.36 x 10.86 x 4.92 inches) that is both good and bad. It’s good because it doesn’t take up extra space and collects less dust. It’s bad because of high sensitivity to vibrations, so it’s important not to place the turntable right next to the speakers (otherwise, you’ll hear acoustic feedback). The front side of the case contains the FM channel screen and Power/Volume and Tuning knobs. The FM works without problems, moreover, it supports the sensitive reception of stations, so the signal is clear. The unit comes with the Bluetooth feature, so I enjoy playing tracks from a tablet, smartphone, MP3-player, and other Bluetooth-enabled facilities. It proposes the 33/45/78 RPM with 7/10/12-inch vinyl records. The sound of the unit is quite clean with a slightly raised neat middle and moderately deep bass. Perhaps, some people refer the SeeYing TT-185BT to top record players under 200 dollars, but the inbuilt speakers are not loud enough.
- The 45 RPM record adaptor comes with the device.
- It’s possible to pause the playback via the tonearm raising and place it back.
- At the end of the operation the player automatically stops (the corresponding switcher has to be turned on).
- The Volume knob refuses to increase/decrease the volume level on occasion (perhaps, the problem is in the collector grid).
- Sometimes the device starts shaking.
This unit is one of the best turntables under 200 dollars for those people who prefer to use things made of eco-friendly materials. The turntable base (13.78 x 16.54 x 4.33 inches) is made of bamboo and formaldehyde-free MDF. Its platter is comprised of recycled silicone rubber. I really like that the unit can be hooked up to a standard receiver via the RCA connections. The package includes a dust-resistant woven cover, also made from recycled cotton and hemp fiber. A headphone jack is located on the front of the case, the same as the Speed knob (the unit boasts the 33 1/3 and 45 RPM). The player is equipped with a built-in phono amplifier. The USB-to-PC mode allows you to convert your vinyl music to MP3 format. The noise and vibration are absent. Compared with more expensive players, you can feel the simplicity of sound, especially at midrange (this may be a feature of the inbuilt phono amplifier).
- The inbuilt preamplifier can be shut down in a case of need.
- Solid rubber feet guarantee the immovability of the unit.
- The tonearm doesn’t automatically return when playback is finished.
- There’s no Power button, the unit starts turning after the arm for the stylus is lifted and moved (it was not clear at first how to start the device).
Video House of Marley EM-JT000-SBA
What to expect buying a turntable under $200?
Pay attention that there’s a great difference between a $200 record player and a $100 unit. The matter is that players for beginners (cheap ones) have lots of embedded elements without the possibility to upgrade them (for example, the inbuilt amplifier can’t be replaced). The turntables under 200 dollars allow you to switch the current amplifier off and connect the device to almost any other more powerful amp that usually makes the sound much better. Such players belong to the middle level (somewhere between units for beginners and professionals).
When choosing the best record players under 200 dollars, the user gets balanced tonearms, anti-skate, lift control, etc. All these features have a positive influence on the sound quality level (the music becomes more pure and realistic). The high-quality styluses are really good in the long run, especially when using thin needles, which due to their small size better fit into the track and do not cause serious damage to the vinyl. The $200 turntables give you the possibility to improve the unit, so you have to know about the device construction peculiarities and other features that are present in devices of this price category.
Surely, features should be at the top priorities on your list when choosing the units. It’s recommended to pay attention to the tonearm, base, stylus, platter, speed controls, and drive belts. The buttons or knob-speed switchers have to be placed at a convenient level for management. Some units might be amended by a deck with an automatic tonearm and the speed control properties in others can be controlled via the drive belt on the platter. A phono in pre-amp also has to be the inherent part of the decent turntable.
The turntable under 200 dollars has to sound warm, smooth, and deep. The cleanness of sound also greatly distinguishes the turntable form the standard digital sound devices. Bear in mind, some record players produce some noise together with the warm sound. It comes from the deck and such a problem can easily be solved with a separate loudspeaker (noise is quickly eliminated).
The damping is regarded as the method of vibration control (internal or external). Construction configuration influences on such a feature, so draw your attention to the belt-driven turntables, which are well-known due to the much better dampening and higher fidelity, comparing with direct-driven units. The last ones are directly hooked up to the platter, which makes the vibration rather noticeable.
Record clamps are also used to improve the sound quality of turntables. They can be made in the form of massive hold-downs pressing the record with their weight, or various clamps (for example, screw) fixed to the spindle of the turntable. This clamping provides better damping due to its tight mechanical contact with the platter. A mat that is placed on the platter also isolates the record from vibrations that come from the turntable. Mats can be made of cork, rubber with high lead content, synthetics, and even leather. These materials have their own pros and cons, but all of them greatly absorb the vibration.