Turntables are highly popular at the moment and manufacturing companies are happy to produce different budget options to keep up with the growing demand.
Let’s explore the options available in the market for the best turntable under 100 dollars as well as discuss the reasons why such an affordable price is possible.
- Built-In Components of Turntables
- All-in-One Budget Turntable: How Does It Work?
- The Best Turntables Under $100 Reviewed
- Hidden Secrets of Best Turntable Under $100
- Final Words
Built-In Components of Turntables
1. Built-in Speakers
Except for our first choice, Audio-Technica AT-LP60X-BK, all the other turntables in this list have built-in speakers. And, although this is a practical feature to have, remember that the quality of the sound of built-in speakers, even in the best budget turntables, is not that great.
For this reason, I do personally recommend you use external speakers if possible. A turntable with built-in speakers just sounds louder but not better than the standard computer’s.
In this case, you can connect the turntable directly to active speakers or to an Amplifier (if you have passive ones) using an RCA cable output (red/white cable) and you are good to go with improved sound quality.
2. Built-in Preamp
A Preamp (short for pre-amplifier) is a gear that receives the electrical signals coming from the turntable. Then it boosts this electrical signal to send it to the speakers’ amplifier.
For the sake of this article, you may want to know that all of the best turntables for under $100 selected in this article have their Preamp built-in.
All-in-One Budget Turntable: How Does It Work?
Except for the Audio-Technica AT-LP60X-BK turntable, all the other record players in this article are “all in one” products. This means that all the necessary components that a turntable needs to play a record are all built-in.
Which one are these components? And what do these components do?
- A turntable is translating the music from the Record into electrical signals.
- Preamp receives those signals and transforms them into an audio signal.
- The amplifier or Receiver sends the audio signal to the speakers while powering them.
- Speakers play or reproduce the music by the Amplifier.
The best turntable setup (and the most expensive) is to buy all of these components individually. Standalone components are known to deliver a better performance in sound as well as give you the possibility to upgrade your hi-fi system over time.
Yet not everyone can afford such a cost and that is why manufacturer companies have come out with more affordable options such as all-in-one turntables or those with a built-in preamp.
This is the case of our first choice Turntable in this article, the Audio-Technica AT-LP60X-BK. It has a built-in Pream but in order to hear your vinyl, you need a pair of Active Speakes to connect to.
All the other turntables listed in this article are ready to play once out of the box. They have the four components listed above all built-in. That is convenient and makes life easier, especially for a newbie. Yet the quality of sound is not comparable to what a good set, like the above options, could deliver.
The Best Turntables Under $100 Reviewed
Here is a list of our top picks, along with a quick review of each turntable so you understand its pros and cons.
With this piece, Audio-Technica gives you the possibility to have a good quality of sound for a very reasonable price. This is also the only Turntable in this article that comes with a built-in preamp but doesn’t have built-in speakers.
It’s super simple to use as it comes with a balanced tonearm thus no pre-setting is required. Four different colors to choose from Black, Brown-black, Gunmetal-black, and Red-black.
A belt-driven turntable that absorbs the vibrations created by the engine better than a direct-drive one, The plastic body makes it lighter but more fragile and the aluminum gives more quality and stability to it.
- Easy to use
- Affordable price
- Good for beginners
- No pre-setting required
- Built-in preamp (plug to external speakers to work)
- Light to take it where you want
- Aluminum Platter to absorb better vibrations
- Stylus skipping due to lack of a counterweight
- No latching system to keep the Tonearm on the rest position
Rustic Vintage Look Turntable is perfect for beginner users. The retro look is very pleasurable to the eye and the price is even more pleasurable for the wallet.
No presetting is required for a plug-and-play experience. This is for me the best turntable under 100 with speakers as it comes with built-in ones. Of course, you can bypass them with an RCA cable. The quality of sound will still improve.
Bluetooth friendly if you want to listen to music from your mobile or other devices. The body is light and Wockoder promotes this turntable as a portable item.
It spins at 3 different speeds (33 – 45 and 78 RPM), thus you can play 7″, 10″ and 12″ records. It is cheap for a reason though The overall quality of the material is mediocre.
- Plug and play
- Pleasurable design
- Built-in speakers
- RCA cable to play from external speakers (recommended)
- Beginner first choice
- Bluetooth friendly to play from mobile or laptop
- Light and portable
- Semi-automatic – stop spinning when LP is over
- Overall low-quality material
- Average built-in speakers
Another good choice for beginner users. If you do not want to struggle to do all the presetting you may find this turntable another valuable option.
The built-in speakers do the job but you can also connect them to a pair of external speakers. Increase the quality of sound for a better experience. You can use the RCA cable (red and white) output to do so.
The look is elegant and pleasurable to the eyes. I personally like the minimalistic style and this Turntable definitely got my attention because of that. The wooden body also gives an extra vintage feeling.
Some people have found it too wobbly (too light) and some report that the Stylus skips on the vinyl sometimes.
- Elegant wooden body
- Vintage look
- Not presetting required. Good beginner choice
- Built-in speakers
- Built-in preamp (save money on preamp)
- RCA output to connect external speakers for better sound quality
- Bluetooth friendly to connect with mobile or computer
- Tonearm level to lower the tonearm on the Record
- Vinyl to MP3 recording option
- A USB port to export the vinyl recording or to play MP3 directly through the Turntable
- Cute present for friends or family
- 3-speed setting (33 – 44 or 78 RPM)
- Not connectable to Bluetooth external speakers
- Wobbly Platter (Turntable plate) and some report that the Records skips easily
Another affordable turntable with a particularly good-looking design. Extremely cheap and doesn’t require any of the presetting. Just plug it and play it.
You can listen to your mobile or laptop music by connecting via Bluetooth. You can also listen to the most common vinyl in the market (7″, 10″, and 12″ records).
It has built-in speakers and RCA output to connect to external speakers. External speakers are always a better choice if you want to increase the quality of sound.
I find it a little weird that, in this model, the internal speakers are at the bottom of the body. Kind of an unusual place where to put speakers. Even though, most customers seem satisfied with the sound quality if they relate it to the value for money.
- Classic Vintage Design
- No presetting is required which makes it perfect for beginner users
- Three different speeds 33 – 45 and 78 RPM
- 45 RPM adaptor for 7” vinyl records
- Built-in speakers
- RCA output to connect external speakers
- 3 elastic plugs were planted under the platter to minimize vibration
- Bluetooth friendly to connect mobile or other devices
- Semi-Automatic it stops on its own when the record is over
- Pretty and affordable present idea
- Wobbly Platter (Turntable plate)
- Built-in speakers on the bottom of the Turntable (not a great way to release the sound)
- Cheap material
- Flimsy tonearm
The cheapest choice with the better reviews I have been able to find. Desirable design and is very easy to use for customers who are new to Turntables and on a budget.A decent option for a present to those who have some vinyl on the shelf getting too dusty.
Super easy to use it won’t need any presetting. Plug and play out of the box if you are new to this realm. Built-in speakers and RCA output to pair it to external speakers. Always a better choice if you want to get a better sound experience.
The semi-automatic Turntable will stop the record once it finishes. Bluetooth-friendly if you want to listen to your mobile music or laptop. It is a basic and cheap Turntable so do not expect what it cannot provide.
The overall material is average and so is the quality of sound from the built-in speakers if not connected to a pair of external ones.
- Minimalistic pleasurable design
- Easy to use
- No presetting required
- Plug and play out of the box
- Good first choice for beginners
- 3-speed option (33 – 45 or 78 RPM) for most common vinyl on the market
- Bluetooth friendly to pair with mobile or other devices
- Built-in speakers
- No preamp required
- RCA cable output to listen through external speakers
- Cheap material
- Wobbly platter (where the Records spin) may cause the needle to skip
- Average sound from built-in speakers
Imagine that at the end of the last century (21 years ago from the time of writing) this article could not exist. There was not such a thing as a turntable under 100 bucks.
Not only the turntable was at least double the price, but you also needed more money for a preamp, an amplifier, and a pair of speakers.
But guess what? Today you can buy one for such a little money and with all of the components built-in. How? With cheap material and missing bits. Let’s go a little deeper.
Missing Parts: No Counterweight Nor Anti-Skate
These are the two most important adjustments required to do some of the preliminary settings on most Turntables. The good news is that you won’t have to do it.
This presetting is a series of actions that include balancing the Tonearm, setting the tracking force of the stylus, and adjusting anti-skating”. It is mandatory for most of these machines if you do not want to damage your records and/or the stylus/needle.
In fact, together they provide the necessary horizontal and vertical pressure to the Stylus (Needle), on the vinyl. What’s happening here is that none of these budget turntables needs this presetting. And the reason is that they lack both adjustments and the Tonearm comes balanced already.
This means that you won’t have to do any presetting with these machines. As you receive it, you simply take it out of the box, put on the dust cover lid, and plug it on the wall to spin the first record.
But, what am I missing without these adjustments?
The lack of a Tonearm weight and Anti Skate adjustments may cause the wearing of the Stylus and LPs to be damaged. Most of these cheap Turntables have the Tonearm balanced in excess. This means that the pressure of the Stylus (Needle) on the Record is heavier than it should be.
Imagine a kid drawing with pencils on a piece of paper. Imagine the same kid putting way too much strength with the pencil on a piece of paper.
What happens is that the pencil tip wears out and the paper, eventually, gets ripped off. Now picture the pencil being the needle of the turntable, while the piece of paper is the record. It hurts, doesn’t it?
Cheap Material for Plinth and Platter
The Plinth is the body of the Turntable and the Platter is the spinning part that hosts the records. In a quality turntable, these would be made of heavy quality materials like wood and metal.
It is necessary for a quality Turntable. The weight provides stability to the machine. Absorbs the vibrations coming from the engine and delivers a better quality of sound.
Affordable Turntable has replaced most of these expensive materials with plastic. The lightness of a Turntable does not absorb properly the vibrations of the Turntable motor. This often causes the stylus to skip on the records.
Actually, this appears to be the main problem reported by buyers of these babies. If a Stylus skips, it is worn out and may also scratch the records.
Some people have tried to solve this issue by attaching a coin to the Cartridge (the plastic part that holds the Stylus). But that is not the greatest idea either. If the Cartridge becomes heavier, the Stylus is going to press stronger on the records. Remember the kid drawing too strongly with a pencil on paper.
Now at least you know what to expect when you are looking for the best turntable for under 100 bucks. It’s obvious that we are not all the same and we don’t all have the same expectations for what we buy. Plus within the available option, I think I picked the very best affordable turntables choices out there right now.
Many people seem to be happy with these machines, which are so easy to use and get the job done. I personally think that somehow they allow more and more people to try the turntable experience and a great start or good present for a newbie of the record player.
Another option though is to spend just a little more and buy something more qualitative and durable. If you can afford a little extra money or you can wait to save for a little longer, that will be, in my opinion, a better choice.