In addition to being a private violin teacher, Alecia started writing music-related articles 3 years ago and has been enjoying this experience greatly. Loves quilting and scrapbooking in her free time.
Marcus has a vast experience in digital audio and sound design. Thanks to his knowledge, he actively helps musicians with technical problems, improving their audio quality and even promoting their tracks so that thousands of listeners could enjoy some really good music.
Last updated: January 24, 2021
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Making music is like any other job in the world. Having the right equipment will make things 100 times easier. Whether you are looking to get a new microphone, amplifier or a turntable, the quality of your instruments determines the final output. Some turntables are specially designed with beginner DJs in mind. With that said, finding the best DJ turntable for beginners is not a walk in the park.
Luckily, we are here to help you search through the hundreds if not thousands of turntables in the market. We took our time to try out about 22 products and reviewed the top five. We were impressed by the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK, and for obvious reasons. This well-designed turntable features a powerful DC drive motor, bonded elliptical stylus, an anti-resonance platter, and great sound output.
We consider several features in our quest to find the top DJ turntable for beginners. Some of the essential factors that we consider in our review include the speed, pitch controls, dimensions, type, and even warranty. The review starts with a comparison table of the five products that we reviewed. This is then followed by in-depth reviews of each product and a buying guide to offer more information about beginner turntables. We also include a FAQ to answer all your pressing questions and give a verdict of the top three products that we reviewed.
You may have noticed the resurfacing of analog music and the rising popularity of vinyl records over the past few years. The Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-Bkis a premium turntable that can double up as your vinyl player. It will not only allow you to jam to your favorite music but it can help you to digitize your collection.
Great design is the first thing you notice about this turntable for beginners. It features a polished die-cast aluminum case that is fitted with felt mats to reduce vibration. Unlike other premium turntables, the other parts of this model such as the knobs are made from plastic. This reduces the high-end feel of the turntable but still works great.
Setting up the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK is quick and painless. It was easy to install the platter and felt mat but we must say that the instructions could do a bit more work. After a few cases of trial and error, we were able to balance the tonearm. The tonearm is S-shaped to give it a modern feel and it works well with the AT-HS6 universal headshell. The stylus can be upgraded for richer and sharper tones.
We also found that this model offers great audio performance and format support. Selecting the correct speed has been made easier with the control knobs for 33/45/78 RPM just next to the power dial. It also features a DC servo motor that makes it spin well with little to no resistance. A built-in preamp works well if your stereo has no dedicated phono line.
The Pioneer PLX-500-K is a simpler and cheaper alternative to the powerful Pioneer PLX-1000. This model has a similar direct drive DC motor but does not have the variable pitch control of its predecessor. However, it comes with a USB output, which allows you to rip vinyl into your laptop. Other extras that you get include a dust cover, a slipmat, and a PC-HS01-S headshell.
Setting up the PC-HS01-S headshell will not give you any headaches. It comes with everything that a novice DJ needs such as a slipmat, headshell & stylus, dust cover, USB cable and a 45 adapter for smaller records. Using it will not also be a problem as it is easy to use and all controls are easily visible. The machine has a power button, target light, a tonearm, a pitch fader, and a start/stop button. The tonearm is made of metal but its assembly has been made using plastic.
The playback performance of this model is impressive. It is great for general playback or listening to vinyl records at the comfort of your home. We also had a positive experience ripping tunes using Rekordbox. DJing with this product does not offer the best turntable experience but this should not worry beginners. We noticed that the headshell would pick up other unnecessary noises such as thumps on the deck, which means you ought to be extra careful. You may have to nudge the record forward with some extra effort when cueing a jam.
The Crosley DJ100 is a great choice for those that are just starting and would love to take their time on a turntable. It is completely manual and offers two speeds to the DJ. Unlike other products in the lower end spectrum, this model has a direct drive motor. This means that is works well and even allows you to reverse the turntable with ease.
It is easy to install and use this turntable, especially if you have some previous experience. It features a direct drive motor that allows two speeds including 33.5 and 45 RPM. This motor offers enough torque to quickly startup and get to the desired speeds. It also gives total control to the DJ by allowing them to switch speeds, reverse the motor and aDJust the pitch how they want. Its tonearm is S-shaped and has anti-skate control settings with headshells that can be replaced later.
This product is not as heavy as other models and it has a great design that makes it portable. You can also easily store away the USB/AC plugs to make it fit into a coffin. Its versatility also enhances its ease of use and convenience. The Crosley DJ100 comes with a built-in preamplifier, which means you will not have to connect one externally.
If you want an ultra-portable and versatile equipment then you should go for the Numark PT01. You can use this product anywhere you like as it is highly portable. What’s more, you do not have to use an AC wall power allowing you to use it outdoors too. One major difference with this turntable is that it is belt-driven. This means that it may not have as much torque as other high-end machines. It also means that you have to extra careful when using the turntable as it is not as powerful.
One of the reasons we loved this turntable is that it is packed with features. It features three-speed settings including a 33.5, 45, and 78 RPM options. This gives the DJ a greater form of control. It can also be powered by 6 D batteries if there is no power source hence the portability. You may also choose to use an AC adapter if it’s more convenient for you.
This turntable is also easy to use and quite reliable. It has a built-in scratch slide switch that is aDJustable and replaceable. This system also accommodates both the right-handed and left-handed DJ’s for extra comfort and compatibility. What’s more, you can use any vinyl records to scratch and add cuts as the equipment works with most records.
What we liked:
Easy to install and use even for beginners
Portable and versatile
Can use batteries if there is no power source
What could be better:
Some users have reported problems with the on/off switch
The Stanton T.62 MKII is a powerful turntable with a belt-driven motor. This machine is great for DJs of all skills and experiences. While it is great for DJs that just got started, it has advanced features that an intermediate DJ could also use. This means that you should buy it if you are looking to become a DJ to maximize all its features.
The powerful belt-driven motor supplies a strong torque consistently to give you one heck of a performance. The straight tonearm gives it a classic look too like the traditional vinyl player. With a powerful motor, the machine can give a consistent rotation speed while the straight tonearm enhances accuracy.
To give you greater control of the equipment, the Stanton T.62 MKII comes with the famous Stanton 300 cartridge and a good quality slipmat. Its relatively heavy weight and larger dimensions of 17.8 x 14.6 x 3.4 inches make it a stable turntable too. You will also be impressed by the high-quality finish and components given the affordable price tag. This is a great buy for entry-level DJs but may also work well for intermediate DJs.
What we liked:
Easy to use and operate
Made of high-quality components
Nice sound quality
What could be better:
Lacks a USB or Bluetooth connectivity
Only plays vinyl records
Things to Consider
With advancements in technology, your mixing options as a DJ are becoming endless by the day. You can choose to get a traditional turntable or one that is packed with extra technological features. There are also several features that you should consider before you choose a turntable. The last thing you want is getting an entry-level turntable that you outgrow in days. With that said, this buying guide outlines some of the important information to keep in mind when shopping for the best DJ turntable for beginners.
Make it simple – DJing for beginners
DJing looks quite simple but it requires hundreds if not thousands of practice hours. Here are a couple of tips to help you move from setup to making wonderful music from your turntable.
Location- Carefully remove everything out of the box that the turntable came in and place the main part on a level surface. We recommend that you get a solid surface for extra stability.
Speakers- If you have large speakers with the ability to produce a deep bass then you need to place your turntable a bit far. We actually hope you don’t have a subwoofer. You can, however, place your small speakers near the turntable as the bass won’t likely affect the playback.
Installing the belt- If you have a belt-driven motor turntable such as the Numark PT01, you may have to install the belt. You can easily tell if the motor in your turntable is under or outside the main platter and place it accordingly. Turntables with direct drive motors such as Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK will not need this step.
Set up the tracking force and anti-skate. Each turntable comes with instructions of the recommended tracking force.
Connections- Some turntables may need you to connect some cables at the turntable and the receiver ends. You should ensure that both ends are tight and secure.
This video gives more details on how to DJ with a vinyl player:
Buying a turntable can easily turn into a pricey affair as there are a lot of high-end equipment that you can choose from. This is why you need to have a budget to help you decide the model that is best for you.
There is plenty of variety when it comes to turntables. What you need to do is to get good quality yet affordable model. We advise that you don’t splurge on an entry-level DJ turntable as you may overgrow it and need to upgrade. Our best value pick, the Crosley DJ100, is a great choice for anyone that is on a tight budget but would still love to enjoy a direct drive turntable. Of course, if money is no problem then you can get a premium turntable such as the Pioneer PLX-500-K.
Features to consider while buying the best DJ turntables for beginners
Shopping for a DJ turntable is fun but finding the right equipment may be a bit difficult. You are swarmed with great looking equipment but this does not mean that they are the perfect turntable. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind before you buy an entry-level turntable.
There is an influx of all sorts of turntables in the market. You will likely find a good looking and cool turntable that looks like a retro décor. And while this may impress you, we recommend that you avoid playing your records on such audio equipment. For a rich and quality sound, you need a turntable made from quality materials.
First, the audio equipment that you choose should have a heavy and solid platter. Such good construction will ensure that your platter spins at a constant speed and prevent the music from warbling. You also need a well-designed tonearm that is made from quality materials that don’t resonate. Using the turntable should also be comfortable as you are likely to use it over extended periods.
Number of turntables
DJs also have the option of picking one, two or even more turntables. If you only want to scratch or sample some vinyl records then one turntable should be enough. For those that want to mix and mash tracks on a live performance, two or more may be sufficient.
As an entry-level DJ, you should start with a simple one turntable such as the ones we reviewed. You can then add more turntables as you progress, which makes it important to get an audio equipment that integrates well with other machines.
A guarantee gives a client the confidence to purchase and use a turntable. Ideally, you want a turntable with the best guarantee terms and the longest warranty period. This also helps you to ascertain that the audio equipment you are getting isn’t a knock off that will breakdown after a week or two. The Numark PT01 and Pioneer PLX-500-K are some of the products we reviewed with a one-year limited warranty. This means that you can have peace of mind that the turntable won’t present problems in the first year.
Modern or vintage?
As outrageous as it sounds, there is a significant number of DJs who prefer using vintage turntables. You may even be advised that it is best to start with an old school turntable before bumping up to a modern one. The choice is ultimately yours but we recommend you get a modern turntable if you want to save on costs and time. Most of the turntables being made today are modern turntables that are optimized to save time and work smartly. A turntable with a modern setup, RCA connectivity, and USB connections will allow you to practice easily before you become a pro.
Belt or direct drive
Choosing a belt or direct drive has been a subject of debate for the last few decades. We believe that how you intend to use a turntable and your budget will likely determine the best type of motor for you. A belt-driven turntable uses a belt to spin the platter and separates the motor from the platter. These turntables will take some few seconds to get to full speed and you may need to repair the belt after a while. The Stanton T.62 MKII and Numark PT01 are examples.
On the other hand, direct-drive motors have no belt but are placed under the platter. These types of turntables are popular since they get to top speed in an instant and the platter spins with no resistance when off. They also make it easy to control the speed of play when mixing. The Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK and Crosley DJ100 are examples.
While it is important for your turntable to have pitch control, you can live without it. That said, it is reassuring to have a feature that allows you to check and review the speed and pitch of the sound. Most modern turntables with direct-drive motors have pitch control but belt-driven motors will often lack it.
This feature is mostly used by scratch artists with most turntables allowing you to switch the range of the pitch slider from +/-8% to +/-16% or even +/-100%.
Some turntables come with a fixed torque while others will allow you to customize the torque to your preference. Essentially, the torque determines how powerful the motor is since powerful motors have higher torques. A higher torque will also come in handy when back-cueing or reverse scratching as it keeps the platter spinning.
Stylus and needle
The needle and the stylus refer to the same thing. It is the pin with a diamond-shaped tip. You should choose a turntable with a detachable needle that you can replace. This is because replacing the needle only is cheaper and will not need you to track your turntable again.
How to maintain DJ turntables
Surprisingly, you do not need much cleaning and maintenance with this complex audio equipment. What you ought to get worried about is dirt coming into contact with the stylus or the record. This may cause some distortions on the song during playback.
You must clean your records after using it every third time. You can wipe off the dust with a smooth and dry piece of cloth. Also, remember to store them in a non-dusty place.
For cleaning the stylus, you will have to choose between a brush or another cleaning medium that is designed for this purpose. If you are a heavy user then you should clean the stylus on a weekly basis. It is important to first check what the manufacturer recommends to use when cleaning the needle. However, you should note that the stylus should be replaced after every 500 hours of playing music regardless of how many times you clean it.
A turntable is where the DJ industry arose. It is the traditional audio equipment that relies on your skills to play the music and match the pitch etc. They give a more natural sound but need the user to input their skills into making nice quality music. DJ controllers, on the other hand, are modern audio equipment that work as turntables but makes it easy for the user to compile and remix tracks. They have extensive features such as looping, sampling, and cue points. Anyone can use a controller and you will not have to be a professional to get the hang of it.
A turntable stylus will often wear and tear if you are a heavy music user. As a rule of thumb, you should change your stylus after every 500 hours of music play. Of course, this depends on your level of maintenance but the stylus ought to be changed even when you take regular care of it.
Reviewing the different entry-level turntables was fun but we still have to choose our top 3 turntables. In first place is the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK, our editor’s choice. We loved this turntable for several reasons. Its great design, 3-speed setting, anti-resonance platter, an s-shaped tonearm, and DC motor were some of the seasons. It is a great buy for those looking to make quality music.
The Pioneer PLX-500-K comes in second as our upgrade pick. You may have to fork out some extra cash but totally worth it. This turntable is a powerful yet compact turntable with an electronic brake and a brushless DC motor. It is also quite durable and reliable.
Our budget pick for best DJ turntable for beginners is the Crosley DJ100. This turntable will come in handy if you would love a modern turntable without breaking the bank. It is sturdy, features a great design and produces nice sounds.