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Shopping for DJ turntables is always a thrill! I love my existing gear and I take good care of it, but I always get butterflies in the stomach when it’s time for a new piece of DJ equipment. When it comes to turntables, you should have a clear plan and buy the best ones out there.
DJ turntables are tricky because most people just see a big platter, a “big needle” which they often think is one big separate entity, and some random knob laying there. However, the best DJ turntables have a lot more going on, so I will try to make everything clear to you, give you buying advice, and even some concrete suggestions.
You will find this article useful if you’re looking for the best DJ turntables so you can mix tracks the old-school way using traditional vinyl, or if you’ve gone semi-digital playing digital vinyl on turntables using DVS.
I personally always advise beginner DJs to first learn how to beatmatch or scratch on traditional vinyl turntables, or at least play a track from a laptop but work on it on a turntable. And by the end of this read, you should be able to recognize a good DJ turntable and estimate its price point.
Before reading, don’t forget that the prices refer to one turntable. A DJ setup includes two turntables.
Terms And Parts To Get Familiar With
Looking for the best DJ turntable can be exhausting, but it can also get very frustrating if you don’t understand certain terms that are used to describe a DJ turntable part or control.
That’s why I will explain everything in this section so you could proceed with the top 10 list without question marks floating around your head! Let’s cover the basic parts and controls on a DJ turntable!
The platter is the most common part of the turntable or a record player. It represents the “circle” on the surface where you would place the vinyl.
The slipmat is the tiny elevation between the surface and the platter. You can use it to physically slow down or speed up the rotating record.
The tonearm is the long metal tube which you use to start playing the record. It can be S-shaped or straight, and it has other elements attached to it, such as the cartridge and stylus (needle) on one end, and a counterweight on the other.
The cartridge is a very tiny but significant part of the turntable. It’s used as the link between the tonearm and the stylus, and it uses a magnet to transform the vibrations coming from the stylus into electrical signals. It is mounted to a headshell.
The stylus is a tiny little metal that picks up the sound from a record using vibrations. It’s attached to the cartridge.
The counterweight is located on the opposite side of the tonearm than the stylus. It’s used to balance the pressure that is put on the needle.
The pitch adjuster is usually placed next to the platter and allows you to slow down or speed up a track by a certain percentage. Most DJ turntables have a range of plus or minus 8%.
The anti-skating mechanism takes control over the cartridge making sure it stays fixed and doesn’t rush to the middle of the platter or more.
Top 10 DJ Turntables For Beginners
Overall Best: Stanton T.62 MK2
The Stanton T.62 MK2 direct-drive DJ turntable is excellent for beginners because it strikes the perfect balance between price and performance. It costs some $100 which is very little for a turntable, but it meets all the criteria for a solid piece of DJ gear.
The design is quite interesting, including a flat tonearm and two start-stop buttons, which is a magnificent idea and allows you to easily reach this control regardless of the DJ setup configuration.
It comes with headphones, a wide pitch range ( /- 10% adjustment) for more flexibility, and a dust cover, which will save you a lot of time wiping dust. Also, the cartridge is pre-mounted to the headshell.
The turntable comes with two playback speed controls, set at 33 and 45 RPM. The higher the RPM, the faster the record spins, providing better sound quality. Singles (7-inch records) usually rotate at 45, while long records do it at 33 RPM.
You can hook up your external speakers through the RCA output it has, as this one will provide high-quality stereo sound! However, you can’t connect it via Bluetooth or plug in a USB drive.
The design and build quality are a downturn for this one since a lot of plastic and aluminum was used there. It’s pretty light so it’s not gonna do well in louder spaces i.e. the club, this is more for home use and practice.
- Very high value for money
- Good pitcher width
- Two start-stop buttons
- Direct drive
- Comes with dust covers
- Only for home use, light
- Questionable build quality
- No USB output
Runner-Up: Reloop RP 2000 MK2
Reloop offers a range of quality DJ turntables suitable for beginners and more advanced users. For the former, I’d say that the RP 2000 MK2 turntable is the right choice. It doesn’t cost too much, it’s pretty light, and it includes a quartz-driven direct-drive engine.
I love the minimalistic approach the designer took on this one, perfectly matching it with the black metallic skin! The manufacturer also did a good job on the metal buttons. They’re quite firm and stable and give a cool light show.
The features on the RP 2000 MK2 prove that it is indeed a solid DJ turntable. Like most DJ turntables, it operates at two speeds, 33 RPM and 45 RPM. The pitch range is acceptable, going plus or minus 8%, while the turntable also packs high torque.
Torque is important for a turntable since it shows how much power is used for the platter to rotate. Higher torque means faster start-up time, but it also means that the engine resists more when you physically slow down or speed up a vinyl.
This DJ turntable offers enough torque, I’d say (> 1 kg/cm). This is the minimum amount of torque a turntable should have. The fact that this one offers the minimum disappoints me in a way, but I still find the amount to match the price.
On the surface, everything looks nice and neat. The platter shines thanks to that die-cast aluminum, while the S-shaped tone arm packs a hydraulic lift and anti-skating mechanism.
- Good for beginners and advanced DJs
- Slick design
- Quartz-driven direct-drive motor
- Hydraulic lift tonearm
- No USB output
- Dust cover is optional, so you have to make sure you mention them when ordering
- Pitch range could be better
- Torque should be a bit higher
High-End Sound Quality: Pioneer DJ PLX-1000
The Japanese manufacturer stands proudly behind every product it makes and with good reason. The famous Pioneer DJ PLX-1000 turntable has set standards in the industry. From looks to brains – this one has it all, but it also comes at a price.
The PLX-1000 packs a high-torque direct-drive engine which gives it the perfect control and stable vinyl rotation. It’s able to start playing a 33 RPM single in 0.3 seconds thanks to the torque of 4.5 kg/cm or more.
Another feature that makes the PLX-1000 stand out from the rest is the chassis, which is made of die-cast zinc, used for the prevention of vibrations or resonance. The pitcher features the multi-tempo control that will allow you to speed up or down by 8, 16, and 50%! You can bring it back to 0% with a simple touch of the reset button.
The Pioneer DJ PLX-100 comes with a dust cover and has gold-plated RCA output, which will ensure that the sound quality remains untouched. It has two-speed rotations, the classic ones: 33 and 45 RPM. The package doesn’t include a cartridge, which can cost you another day or two until you get one.
- High torque direct drive motor (> 4.5 kg/cm)
- Multi-tempo pitcher feature (8$, 16%, 50%)
- Die-cast zinc chassis to prevent vibrations and resonance
- Gold-plated RCA output
- Comes without cartridge
- A bit pricey
- No USB input
Classic And Powerful: Audio Technica AT-LP120 X USB
Audio Technica AT-LP120XUSB is an analog and USB turntable that has all the features and specifications to be a decent-looking and performing DJ turntable.
When it comes to the looks, I’m not as impressed as I am with the Pioneer DJ, but I would certainly not say it’s ugly or anything. Actually, the design is quite modern with an S-shaped tonearm and a slick slipmat. You can choose whether you want it in black or silver, and they’re both excellent.
Audio Technica AT-LP120XUSB plays analog vinyl records, but you could convert these records into digital files by connecting your laptop via USB and using software of your choice. I usually use Audacity because I find it very simple and easy to use, plus there are plenty of tutorials online on how to use it.
The motor uses direct-drive, as the Audio Technica comprises a dynamic anti-skate control, as well as three rotating speeds: 33, 45, 78 RPM. The last one will allow you to play very old-school records produced in the late ’50s or earlier.
The AT-LP120XUSB Audio Technica offers very flexible connectivity settings. Apart from the USB input, this DJ turntable has an RCA output and has a built-in phono preamp, which means that you can connect it to your home stereo even if it doesn’t have a phono output.
The torque on this one is not satisfying and I would expect more for the price point. It goes at 1 kg/cm or more, which is the bare minimum. The pitch range is fine as it can slow down or speed up a track by plus or minus 8 to 16%.
- USB connection
- Built-in phono preamp
- 3 speeds: 33, 45, 78 RPM
- Direct drive
- Anti-skate control
- A bit pricey
- Torque doesn’t meet Audio Technica standards
For Scratch DJs: Numark PT01 Scratch
Numark PT01 Scratch is a well-known model in the “portablism” market, which comprises portable turntables that are very compact, easy to carry around, and have built-in speakers. This model comes at a very affordable price and has some pretty solid features.
The Numark PT01 Scratch comes with a very cool red removable slip mat and has, all-in-all, a slick design. It’s very easy to carry around, weighing less than a large bottle of Coke. It comes with a removable slip mat, a cartridge, and a dust cover.
The flexible Adjustable Scratch Switch feature allows scratch DJs to unscrew the switch and then screw it back in, to make it comfortable for both right and left-handed scratchers. However, it’s disappointing that the motor is belt-drive, which makes it harder to scratch on.
At the same time, you can take your portable Numark and scratch anywhere you want, regardless of whether you’re connecting it to a wall power outlet or not. The DJ turntable comes with an AC wall adapter but also has long-lasting batteries.
Another impressive feature is the 3 speeds the Numark offers: 33, 45, and 78 RPM, while other DJ turntables in this price range only offer the first two. There’s a headphone jack and a stereo system output (via RCA), but there is also a USB connection which you can use for music recording to your computer!
- Includes cartridge, removable slip mat, and dust cover
- Adjustable Scratch Switch
- AC wall adapter
- Long-lasting batteries
- 3 speeds: 33, 45, and 78 RPM
- Headphones, USB, RCA connection
- Built-in speaker
- Not very useful if you don’t scratch
- Pretty tiny turntable
- Belt drive
Great Sound And Good Price: Pioneer DJ PLX-500
Pioneer’s PLX-500 direct drive turntable looks a lot like the PLX 1000 but lacks some things, which is why it’s the cheaper variant. It produces a great vinyl sound just like its older sibling and packs pretty solid torque power of 1.6 kg/cm or more, which allows 33 RPM vinyl records to start within 1 second!
The surface of the PLX-500 DJ turntable includes a USB output which you can use to make digital recordings of your vinyl tracks. All you have to do is use the Rekordbox DJ software, which you can get for free.
If you don’t want to play analog vinyl, you can always start DJing via the Rekordbox DVS pack. Of course, you will need some additional equipment for that, such as a mixer and control vinyl.
As for the build quality, I’d say it’s doing okay but it could use a lot of improvement. The platter is made of die-cast aluminum, which is fine. The tonearm and the pitch control are also made of metal, but almost everything else is made of plastic, which brings down the build quality.
Also, the pitch control has an 8% plus and minus range, so that’s how much you can slow down or speed up a track. On the plus side, Pioneer DJ PLX-500 has three rotation speeds: 33, 45, and 78 RPM. Moreover, they are not as heavy as the PLX-1000, but they’re in a similar category.
- Direct-drive turntable
- USB connection
- 3 speeds: 33, 45, and 78 RPM
- Solid torque
- A bit heavy
- Questionable build quality, except for tonearm, pitch, and platter
- No cartridge included
Elegance And Power: Numark NTX1000
Numark NTX1000 is a solid Dj turntable, packing a lot of cool features and a decent build quality, but it has a price point that might be high for some people. Anyway, after peeking into the features and specifications, I’d say it’s worth the money. So, what’s the deal with Numark NTX1000?
To start off with the design, it looks quite elegant and minimalistic, unlike its cheaper models. The manufacturer claims to have used a special isolation design to resist vibrations or feedback from loud environments.
This is a high torque direct drive turntable, with the NTX1000 packing 4 kg/cm of torque or more. This is far better than most brands, which move from >1 kg/cm to >1.6 kg/cm. High torque will improve the start-up time and will make sure that the engine lasts longer.
Another great feature is the pitch control which has a range of /- 8, 16, and 50%. Once you’re done speeding up or slowing down the tracks, you can reset it with a simple push of a button. Although the pitch range is somewhat wider, the NTX1000 offers two speeds: 33 and 45 RPM.
The model offers various connection outputs, such as RCA and USB. You can connect it to your laptop or stereo system, which means that you can change the purpose of the turntable and start converting your vinyl collection into digital music, using DJ software.
The Numark NTX1000 is not very heavy but you won’t be able to hold it in one hand lightly. It comes with a dust cover, headshell, and all the cables needed, but it doesn’t include a cartridge.
- Isolation design to prevent vibrations, feedback
- High torque direct drive (>4 kg/cm)
- Wide pitch range (8, 16, and 50%)
- RCA, USB connection
- Includes dust cover
- Doesn’t include a cartridge
- A bit pricey
High Performance: Audio-Technica AT-LP140XP
Audio Technica AT-LP140XP might not be an obvious pick for a beginner DJ, but I think that an ambitious beginner could get started with this turntable; plus they might progress faster. I like almost everything on this turntable, although some things do bug me. Let’s check it out!
The first thing that I love about Audio Technica is the design that shows certain seriousness and build quality. The die-cast aluminum platter has some pretty cool strobe lights accompanied by an S-shaped tonearm with height adjustment, as well as anti-skate control, which will keep the vinyl in place at all times.
Due to the professional design, the turntable will resist any resonance or vibrations. To use this turntable, you will need an amplifier or powered speakers.
The AT-LP140XP performs impressively, offering 3 speeds of rotation which will allow you to play 33, 45, and 78 RPM vinyl. It has a direct drive engine and pretty high torque so you can quickly start the music. Moreover, the pitch range is decent, allowing you to speed up or slow down tracks by plus or minus 8, 16, and 24%.
On the downside, this Audio Technica DJ turntable doesn’t have a USB input which you might have expected for the price. However, it does include an RCA output, a cartridge, and a dust cover, which kind of compensates for it.
- Die-cast aluminum platter with strobe lights
- S-shaped tonearm with height adjustment
- Anti-skate control
- 3 speeds: 33, 45, and 78 RPM
- Pitch range: 8, 16, 24%
- Includes cartridge
- No USB connection
- A bit pricey for a beginner
For Beginners On A Budget: Pro-Ject Primary E
The Pro-Ject Primary E DJ turntable is a great example of a turntable for beginners. It has a great price tag, it’s compact, and has some pretty good features to its name.
I’d start with the classy design that may seem simple to some, but I love when the surface is not covered in dozens of knobs, lights, and whatnot. The Primary E has an aluminum lightweight tonearm which is optimized for the cartridge to perform its best.
Another great thing about this DJ turntable is that it comes with an Ortofon OM cartridge, which, if used properly, could play some 1,000 hours of music without underperforming. The package also includes dust covers and a felt mat.
Other than the tonearm, the chassis is made out of plastic, which might be a bummer to some people. It also uses a belt-drive motor – not the best thing for DJs to use, but, sound-wise, it does have its charms.
The Primary E DJ turntable includes a switchable phono and line output, as it also comes with a gold-plated RCA phono cable. It operates at two speeds: 33 and 45 RPM, while the company doesn’t disclose the torque power, making it a bit suspicious.
- Aluminum lightweight tonearm
- Includes cartridge, dust cover, and felt mat
- No info on torque
- Belt drive
- Plastic chassis
Ultra-High Torque: Denon DJ VL12 PRIME
As we are slowly but surely reaching the end of this list, I figured there’s no harm in showing you some DJ turntables that could be used by experienced DJs. Such is the Denon DJ VL12 turntable which I personally really like, although it carries a higher price tag.
The VL12 sets new standards in the industry with a few new innovative features and high-quality existing ones. I love the design on this DJ turntable model, especially the built-in RGB lighting that goes all around the die-cast aluminum platter, illuminating its edges – looks mega cool!
This direct-driven DJ turntable packs 5 kg/cm of torque or more, which is above average. This amount of torque allows the engine to start playing the vinyl in 0.4 seconds! At the same time, the pitch range is quite broad, enabling you to slow down and speed up a song by 8, 16, and 50%.
The motor is isolated, so it will prevent any potential vibrations due to high bass. It can handle pretty noisy facilities, which is basically why it’s considered to be more of a pro turntable rather than a beginner one.
On the other hand, it “only” operates at two speeds: 33 and 45 RPM. It doesn’t include a cartridge, which I expected, but I am very disappointed that you don’t get dust covers at this price!
- High torque (>5 kg/cm)
- Direct drive
- RGB lighting along the platter edge
- Pitch range (8, 16, and 50%)
- Isolated motor
- A bit pricey for entry-level DJs
- No cartridge
- No dust cover
Best DJ Turntables For Beginners: Buyer’s Guide
Now that we’ve covered the basics and went through our suggestions, let’s see what you should keep in mind when purchasing the best DJ turntable.
Set Your Price Limit
Before buying DJ turntables, you must know that this way of DJing is the most expensive one. The turntables themselves are not as cheap as you might think, plus they might need additional maintenance in the future.
I’d say that a decent beginner DJ turntable should cost at least $100. I would seriously advise you against going below that because you’re just gonna end-up giving more money for repairs. If your budget is not that tight, you can consider getting something from the $200-$300 range.
However, if you want to have a turntable that you can use even after your beginner DJ days, consider the $550 options.
Look For Direct Drive Motor With High Torque
Turntables run on two types of engines – direct drive and belt drive. As you can probably see, the latter suggests that there is a belt used as a motion mechanism between the platter and the engine. This will make it hard for you to scratch or cue.
The torque on your turntables should be higher than 1 kg/cm. This is very important, especially when you’re spinning at an event and you need a new song to start quickly! Usually, you’d want your motor to pack some >1.5 kg/cm of torque. The only thing you ought to remember is not to go under 1.
Weight Is Your Friend
I’ve noticed that some people think that a turntable should be light. Well, no! Unlike DJ controllers, which you want to be light so you can easily carry them around, the turntables are very sensitive to vibrations and resonance. So, the heavier the turntable, the higher resistance it will have.
Best DJ Turntables For Beginners: Conclusion
When you’re buying a DJ turntable it should look and feel right. The best DJ turntable is a mix of good price, quality, and performance. The article above describes 10 turntables in detail, so let’s refresh our memory.
If you’ve just started DJing on turntables, I’d advise that you opt for the Stanton T.62 MK2 or the Reloop 2000.
In case you don’t like these and wouldn’t mind spending an extra buck or two, consider the Pioneer DJ PLX-500 or the more advanced PLX-1000 model.
If you want to go the extra mile and make sure you have a high-quality DJ turntable, give Audio Technica AT-LP140XP or Numark NTX1000 another look.
Whatever you do, always stick to the buyer’s guide and don’t make compromises; you want your new DJ turntable(s) to serve you well!
Best DJ Turntables For Beginners: FAQ
What Do You Need For a Turntable Setup?
For a turntable setup you will need:
- Two turntables (with cartridge)
- Stereo system or amplifier
- Speakers or headphones
What Is A Phono Preamp?
Every turntable produces a PHONO output signal which needs to be converted to LINE signal to be played via audio equipment such as a computer, stereo system, etc. Your turntable might have a built-in preamp, but you could also use an external one. A DJ mixer, per se, could be used as a preamp.
Can You DJ With One Turntable?
To DJ using turntables, you will need two of them. However, there are ways to DJ using one turntable and DJ mixing software. The Serato DJ software, for example, has a feature using instant doubles which will have the effect of mixing with two turntables although you’ll be using one.