After a long search and comparison, we have decided to give our gold medal for the best turntable under $1000 to the Audio Technica AT- LP7. This model has a sexy-minimalist look and it is outstanding in performance.
Take your time to check the other options as all the turntables we have picked are highly professional and gorgeous-looking machines such as the Rega Planar 2 and the Pro-Ject – Debut Carbon Esprit SB.
I have included some useful information related purely to the best turntables in this article such as which of the selected models have a direct or belt drive system or if they have a built-in pre-amplifier or not. You can also find more general advice about pre-setting and more.
Enjoy reading and I hope you find what you were looking for.
- The Drive Systems of Our Best Turntable under $1000
- Do I Need a Preamp for Best Turntable Below $1000
- The Best Turntables under $1000 Reviewed
- Turntable Shrine: Breath in and Place It Right
- Best Audiophiles Preliminary Settings
- Long Life to the Stylus
- Final Thoughts
The Drive Systems of Our Best Turntable under $1000
I believe this is perhaps the most important choice to make before choosing a turntable. It determines the use and performance you are seeking for your machine. The Drive Systems of the turntables in our list are either belt-drive or direct-drive.
Let’s dive a little deeper and find out the difference between these two drive systems and which model has which.
The Belt-driven turntable has an elastic belt that connects the motor of the turntable to the platter. Thus allowing the platter (spinning part of the turntable where the records are placed) to do its beloved job. Let’s see some of the advantages and which are the turntables with such a drive system. A belt-drive turntable:
- Absorbs shocks and suppresses unwanted vibrations
- Fewer vibrations translate into better sound quality and overall performance.
However, you must remember that due to the continuous friction, the belt might need a replacement after a few years of usage. If you are looking for a turntable just to listen to your vinyl and not for DJing, I suggest you choose this type of turntable drive.
Please find below our belt drive best turntable under $1000:
Direct Drive Turntables have the motor ‘directly” attached to the platter. The advantage of the direct drive turntables are:
- speed accuracy
- Less sound distortion
- No belt to replace over time as there aren’t any
While purchasing, it is important to remember that you should use any type of shock absorber (for example a good mat) to reduce the effect of vibrations caused by the direct driven turntable.
This is the kind of turntable that a DJ needs. The speed accuracy is better than the belt drive and that is the most important feature a DJ relies on.
And on this article’s list, I’d choose Pioneer DJ Direct Drive (PLX – 1000) as the best direct-drive turntable below $1000.
Do I Need a Preamp for Best Turntable Below $1000
The preamp (short for pre-amplifier) is a necessary component to make a turntable work. It receives the electrical signals produced by the turntable and boosts them to the amplifier or to a set of powered speakers (speakers with a built-in amplifier).
Some new turntables have their amplifier built-in already so you won’t have to worry in case you do not have an amplifier at home. Let’s check one by one of all the models in this article to help you choose the best turntable under $1000 yourself.
1. Audio Technica AT-LP – this model has a built-in switchable phono pre-amplifier. This gives you freedom of choice. If you do not have a standalone phono preamp already, you can still use your turntable and plug it directly into the amplifier/receiver or into your powered speakers. Otherwise, If you do have a preamp or want to upgrade your hi-fi system with an external one in the future, you can simply switch from the ‘phono’ mode and do as you please.
2. The Rega Planar 2 – this turntable does not have a built-in preamp. This means that if you don’t have already an amplifier or receiver with a phono input.
3. Pro-Ject – Debut Carbon Esprit SB – as the Rega Planar this turntable does not have a built-in preamp. Buy an amplifier or receiver with a phono input or buy a standalone amplifier.
4. The Rega Planar 1 – this turntable does not have a built-in preamp. Use an amplifier/receiver with a phone input or buy a standalone pre-amplifier.
5. Pioneer DJ PLX – 1000 – our Best DJ Turntable in this list does not have a built-in preamp. Connect it directly to an amplifier or receiver with a phono input or buy an external preamp instead.
The lack of a built-in Pre-amplifier is often synonymous with quality. Standalone components are usually more qualitative and provide better performance. On top of that, you have the freedom to upgrade your hi-fi system over time.
The Best Turntables under $1000 Reviewed
Now that we know what features to look for in your new buy, let us look at the best audiophile turntable for under $1000.
1. Audio Technica AT- LP7
The brand Audio Technica started in 1962. It originally started as a designer and manufacturer of elegant phonographic cartridges. They introduced the innovative dual moving magnet stereo cartridge to the audio world. The key features of the turntable were the outstanding channel separation, extended frequency response, and great tracking.
This Turntable comes with a built-in preamp. You can plug it directly to a pair of Powered Speakers and be ready to spin. If you have an amplifier or receiver with a “phono input”, you can decide to bypass the internal one thanks to the phono switch in the back of the turntable.
Fully manual belt-drive turntable reduces motor vibration and delivers a better sound. It has a polyoxymethylene platter. The Audio Technica AT – LP7 can be played at two different speeds (33 and 45 RPM).
- HIgh-quality build
- Easy to semble (step by step video on product link)
- Adjustable feet to level the Turntable
- Built-in Pre-amplifier. Save money from buying one.
- Belt Drive System – reduce motor vibrations
- Aux inputs help easy connection to various devices to listen to your favorite songs.
- Great design
- Comes with dust cover
- Flimsy speed selector knob.
2. The Rega Planar 2
Rega is a famous company that has been producing great quality audio devices. The Planar 2 from Rega is one such product which is regarded as one of the best so far. It has a redesigned tonearm and carbon cartridge. All primus components.
You will be able to operate this turntable quite easily. The Rega Planar 2 has a high gloss acrylic laminated plinth. The new float glass platter that is Opti white makes it a thing of beauty.
This video is a step-by-step on how to set it up once received.
The Planar 2 has new 11 mm self-securing brass bearings. They improved the overall fitting of each part which helps to induce minimum stress on the bearing. The Planar 2 also has a new 24v, low noise, and low vibration motor assembly.
- Great build with a glossy finish.
- High-quality sound
- Three different color choices (Black, White, Red)
- Belt drive system reduces motor vibration
- No resonance
- The carbon MM cartridge delivers high-quality sound
- Comes with dust cover
- Balancing the tonearm might be a bit of a task for some people.
- Need an external pre-amplifier to work
3. Pro-Ject – Debut Carbon Esprit SB
The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit SB is one of the most sorts after turntables with an audiophile design. It is one of the bestselling models of Pro-Ject with a DC power supply.
It has a good carbon tonearm and a heavy acrylic platter which is non-resonant. That is why there will be no unwanted echoes or reverberations. This acrylic platter is 300 mm in length. The carbon tonearm is 8.6”.
The main bearing of the turntable is made of stainless steel. Carbon tonearm reduces unwanted vibrations and increases stiffness. It has got a new DC power supply with a synchronous AC motor.
You can expect great sound quality from this device. It weighs 12.35 pounds. The device can also play at 3 speeds. The motor suspension is powerful, and it has the TPE (Total Power Exchange) feature.
PS. This model does not have a built-in preamp. If you don’t have one at home here is a good one from Pro-Ject.
- Good quality build
- Beautiful minimalistic aesthetic
- High-quality sound
- Belt drive system for less unwanted vibration
- It is very easy to set up and control as well.
- Rund on 3 different speeds (33, 45, 78 RPM)
- It is available in 4 different colors (Red, white, brown and black)
- There have been some complaints about the playback
- Need an external pre-amplifier to work
4. The Rega Planar 1
Rega Planar 1 is one of the most famous turntables of recent times. This turntable has seen massive improvements and it is easily one of the best turntables under $1000. It has an all-new RB110 tonearm. All features of the Rega Planar 1 have a great design that ensures an even better performance. The internal motor is a 24 V low-noise synchronous motor.
The Planar 1 has an all-new PCB and an aluminum pulley. This produces a smooth and low noise. It also provides better stability. Rega Planar 1 has a brand-new thermoset gloss laminated plinth which improves the overall look and appearance of this turntable. It is the perfect combination of traditional manufacturing and modern technology.
The On/Off switch is on the underside which gives Planar 1 a nice complete look. This is known as an ergonomically designed on/off switch. It also has a 23 mm high mass phenolic platter.
The Rega Planar 1 also comes with an improved foot design. This increases the overall stability and reduces unwanted vibrations. The all-new motor cover tray helps it to cool down easily when it’s shut down. It weighs around 12.05 pounds. If you are looking for quality and the best turntable for under 1000, your search could maybe end here.
This turntable does not come with a built-in preamp. U-Turn Audio – Pluto Phono Preamp could be a cheap option if you do not have a preamp or receiver at home.
- Great Plug and Play design
- 2 colors choice (Gloss Black or White)
- Sleek minimalistic look
- Easy Setting
- Top-quality motor
- Planar 1 has the all-new factory fitted carbon moving magnet cartridge
- Dust cover included
- Some users have reported that its quality reduces within a year’s time
- If physically damaged, it might be difficult to get repairs done
- Needs an external pre-amplifier to work
5. Pioneer DJ PLX – 1000
Pioneer is a name that is always among the top products whenever discussing audio equipment. PLX – 1000 is a professional turntable and it has a very reputed quality. The Pioneer DJ Direct Drive Turntable has an S-shaped tonearm.
A Gimbal supports the bearing structure of the Pioneer. A “Gimbal” is reliable support that helps your vinyl to rotate freely without any hiccups. Pioneer PLX-1000 will play your music without any changes or distortion in sound even if you are continuously playing for a long time.
The high torque direct drive ensures stable rotation and exceptional control. The platter is very heavy which ensures that there is no sound distortion.
The device comes with a pro-grade gold plated RCA jack to connect to the speakers or amplifier. This ensures low impedance and great sound quality.
It uses a 3-phase brushless DC motor. It weighs about 40.3 pounds and can be operated at two speeds. It has an electric motor braking system. This is one of the best turntables under $1000 for its irresistible features that are mentioned above.
- It produces high torque and provides a consistent playback
- Direct Drive System
- Perfect for DJing/scratching
- The heavy body prevents resonance and vibrations
- Solid platter – no bouncing
- Multi-pitch control enhances the sound quality.
- Good quality material and sound.
- Heavy to carry
- There might be an occasional flutter in speed
- Needs an external pre-amplifier to work
Turntable Shrine: Breath in and Place It Right
Dedicate a space for your new arrival. Your music shrine has to be a solid and steady place. A steady surface absorbs the motor vibration of the turntable which translates into better performance and a longer-lasting machine.
Then level your turntable once you have chosen your music shrine. If you have a level at home use that, otherwise download a “level application” on your mobile. Plenty of those out there. You want a perfectly flat record on which the stylus can groove properly and prevent its wearing.
Put the level directly on the platter for this purpose. Place your turntable at a decent height if you have little creatures like kids or pets who willingly or not could do something regretful to the audiophile.
My dad taught me how to use his turntable and the reasons to be careful with it when I was very young. That was his way to deal with his little problem, I guess. I am still very grateful for his approach.
Best Audiophiles Preliminary Settings
You may have heard of this preliminary adjustment. If not, check out the video below to learn how to “balance the Tonearm” and “setting the tracking force of the Stylus” in your new Turntable. It takes just 5 minutes and it is simple to do.
This adjustment is important to give the right vertical and horizontal pressure to the needle on the vinyl. Too little pressure may cause the jumping of the Stylus on the vinyl. Too much pressure can scratch the vinyl or wear the Stylus. That’s why is better to get it right from the very beginning.
In the video below you can learn every step to take for such a setting. Even if they are using a Pro-Ject Debut Carbon turntable, it can be applied to all the other best turntables under the $1000 list.
Long Life to the Stylus
The stylus is the needle that rides the groove of your record. It is usually made of hard materials like diamonds or sapphires. One of the turntable parts can be upgraded to get better sound quality or change when it wears. How long does it take to wear?
Take care of it and it can go for over 3 years.
- Put on the lid on the stylus when you are not using the turntable
- Clean your vinyl before and after every use
- Keep the lead on the Turntable all the time if possible
- Be gentle when you place the stylus on the vinyl groove or let the automatic level do it if you do not have a steady hand
A damaged stylus can ruin or scratch your records. So extra care to this little thing. Definitely the most delicate part of the whole turntable.
I believe that all of the above options are worth every cent of their value. Although this article is about the best turntable under $1000, most of them are cheaper than you may expect.
If you still want to invert a little more on your purchase and upgrade some of the components you may think about changing the Cartridge and Stylus or buying a better mat to put on the Platter.
These types of upgrades are quite affordable and can make a great impact on the overall quality of the sound of your new audiophile.