11 Amazing DJ Turntables to Create the Most Crowd Engaging Mixes
Last updated: May 11, 2020
53Hours of Research
Perfect deejaying needs you to have a pretty solid turntable. Whether your family has entrusted you with the music at the family function or you are playing a set at a house music festival, you will need quality equipment that won’t embarrass you. That said, finding the best DJ turntable will not be a walk in the park. There are hundreds, if not thousands of these turntables on the market.
Luckily, we took some time to review about forty products on the market. Of course, it took us several weeks but we enjoyed making mixes from different turntables. We feel that there is something special about the Pioneer PLX1000, our editor’s choice. From the startup speed of the platter to its scratching capabilities, we are sure you’ll love this. It also looks great and packs lots of extra features including a brushless motor, die-cast zinc chassis, electronic brakes, and an s-shaped tonearm. You can get a lot out of this turntable if you are an intermediate or professional DJ.
Top 11 DJ Turntables Review 2020
We considered several features that are important in a DJ turntable when trying out the different products and writing the review. Some of these include the weight, design material, dimensions, pitch control, and even warranty. The review commences with a comparison table that outlines each product that we tried out. This is followed by a buying guide that gives you all you need to know about turntables and our verdict of the top three products.
If you have a couple years of experience as a DJ, then you have probably heard of the Pioneer PLX1000. Pioneer is a reputable brand that draws on more than 50 years of experience in the industry. This high-end turntable is a result of decades of improvement in the pioneer brand.
The Pioneer PLX1000 is jam-packed with features. You get a turntable with a high-torque direct-drive motor system when you purchase this product. Such a motor gives you more control over the turntable and is powerful enough to reach speeds of 33 RPM in 0.3 seconds. This is made possible with the 4.5kg/cm torque.
If you want a well-designed turntable made from quality material, then you should get this model as well. It features a heavy die-cast chassis made of zinc, which prevents the occurrence of vibrations or resonance. Moreover, the base of the unit is made from thick resin and vibration damping material to enhance stability. You will also be impressed by the rubber insulated tonearm that reduces any howling effects that arise.
To help you pick up or even slow a track, the Pioneer PLX1000 includes a multi-pitch control with three control options including ±8%, ±16%, ±50%. This feature lets you have better control over the speed of playback when using the turntable. A reset button is also included to make it simple for you to get back to ±0%.
Works well for experienced DJs
It only offers jacks for the USB-cable and power cord
RANE Twelve is the perfect choice for you if you would love the intricacies of a turntable without the hassles of a vinyl player. It can also serve as a great choice for Serato DJ’s that are looking for a smooth deejaying experience. This turntable will impress you with its great performance and good quality build.
Although the RANE Twelve looks and even feels like a turntable, it is a DJ controller for Serato DJ. What does this mean? This turntable does not have or support the use of a tonearm or a needle. That said, this turntable features a 12-inch motorized platter that gives you full control of the music. It has the layout of a regular turntable so you will not have to learn anything extra.
This turntable allows you to strip search for songs as it features 8 cue triggers access. Its powerful direct drive motor also allows you to choose between high and low torque with its platter speed options being 33.3 and 45 RPM.
Other impressive features of the RANE Twelve include the ability to connect up to 4 decks, a multi-pitch control with the ±8%, ±16%, ±50% options, and a MIDI interface that uses a USB port to connect to your PC. This would be a great buy for those who would love the look and feel of the regular turntable without its analog hassles.
If you are in search of a beautiful turntable with quality design and marksmanship then the Reloop AMS-RP-8000-MK2 is a great fit. This wonderful machine is an advanced turntable made with input from several turntable professionals in the market. We found that using the pads was quite pleasant and the turntable has insane functionality.
This DJ controller is specially made and works exceptionally well with Serato DJ Pro. It will deliver the right performance if you know how to use it well. This controller has a unique feature that allows you to choose between 7 performance modes using the pad section. Moreover, you can also access the platter play mode that lets you create harmonious melodies by using the pads to control the platter’s speed.
With regard to housing, the Reloop AMS-RP-8000-MK2 is more reinforced than the models that came before. This ensures that you have a turntable that is resistant to heavy vibrations even when you are playing sounds with heavy bass. This is further complemented by an impressive S-shaped tonearm that is not only statically balanced but also includes a hydraulic lift & an anti-skating feature.
Performance wise, this DJ controller will not let you down too. It features a quartz-driven motor that is fine-tuned for perfect precision. The motor has a starting torque of 2.8kg/cm but it can also be bumped up to a maximum of 4.5kg/cm. If you want a great balance between a professional turntable and an innovative modern sound solution then this is your best bet.
Often fancied a portable turntable that you can always rely on even while on the road? The Reloop AMS-SPIN is such a DJ turntable that is not only compact but works well too. The machine has an on-board crossfader that can be switched from right to left depending on how you prefer it. An extra slot is also included to help you integrate the turntable with another fader.
But what the Reloop AMS-SPIN worth buying? First, this turntable is packed with several features. It has a blue tooth audio streaming technology that uses SPIN to stream wireless music. This means that you can connect the turntable to your phone and play some sweet melodies with it. Awesome right?
You will also notice that there is a USB recording function that you can use to record scratches and music directly to a USB device. This feature comes in handy when you want to digitize some records. A speaker is fitted on the left to let you listen to music on the go even without headphones.
With the AUX input, you can connect a number of devices or turntables when working on a group project or so. The turntable also comes with an exclusive vinyl that has some scratch samples and even beats for the novices. This makes the Reloop AMS-SPIN a good choice for any beginner DJs out there.
Stanton has been a popular brand in the audio industry for more than five decades since its inception in 1946. Originally started as a stylus producing enterprise, the brand has grown to create excellent devices with its wide breadth of experience. The Stanton T.92 MKII is no exception as it offers its users a great audio experience as well as an easy to use interface.
Whether you are a pro or just starting, this is the perfect turntable if you wish to digitize your vinyl collection fast. It features a high-tech analog-digital conversion that can be connected to either a USB or S/PDIF digital output. With this, you will be able to easily create a digital archive of your vinyl collection. You can do this with a wide range of software solutions that are freely available for both windows and apple PC users. You also get access to the Deckadance DVS software that is included in the pack. This software will open up a whole new world of exciting opportunities and creative capabilities for your music.
All these unique features are powered by a direct-drive brushless DC motor. The powerful motor gives the turntable exceptional performance while ensuring that the machine is still stable. Other unique features that you will find in the Stanton T.92 MKII include an S-shaped tonearm with less distortion, a key lock to properly control the tempo, and a custom slip mat for extra stability.
Another portable turntable that is popular in the market is the Numark PT01. You can connect this compact turntable to a wall outlet with its AC adapter to scratch some melodies. Alternatively, you can use batteries to use the machine anywhere. Yes, you can finally scratch away when out in the wild.
One of the first things that you notice about the Numark PT01 is its clever design. This machine is placed inside a hard case that protects itsfrom any external forces when the turntable is closed. This also makes it easy to travel with the turntable, which is not very uncommon for DJ’s. At only 4.3 pounds and compact enough to fit in your backpack, you will never complain that the turntable is too heavy.
Working with the Numark PT01 is a great experience too. Not only was setting up the turntable easy but using it was also a breeze. This turntable has an aDJustable Scratch Slide switch that can work for both right and left-handed DJ’s. It allows you to use listen to the music via the headphone outputs, record music with the on-board interface, or scratch your records with ease. Furthermore, the Numark PT01 has in-built speakers that may come in handy when you are performing or playing outside. Alternatively, you can use the RCA outputs to connect to external speakers.
Features a built-in USB interface for recording vinyl
Audio can get muffled under high tones
May not be as stable especially for heavy scratchers
Technics has been a powerful brand in the audio industry for a couple of decades now. Its parent company, Panasonic have produced several audio equipments in the market including turntables. This brand is also preferred for its affordability. The Technics SL-1210MK2 offers great performance without burning through your pockets.
You will realize that the manufacturer put a lot of thought into the design of this turntable. The machine comes with a matte black construction including the tonearm, which is elegantly designed to give a refined look. It is made of an aluminum frame and an ABS plastic construction that is reinforced with glass fibers for extra strength. This robust design provides for excellent vibration damping, which is a critical feature for scratch DJs.
With an iron coreless direct-drive motor, you know you can expect the Technics SL-1210MK2 to perform exceptionally well. This type of motor rotates at low speeds but it powers the turntable directly unlike belt-drive motors. The benefits of this direct-drive motor are the stable rotation of the platter, a powerful torque, and enhanced sound features that give good quality sounds.
The tonearm is also S-shaped, which gives it several advantages aside from looking great. For example, it helps track the rotation of the record accurately, improves its sensitivity, and also enhances its precision.
We also loved the reverse play. Holding a speed button and pressing the start button allows you to reverse the playback.
The Reloop RP-8000-STR is built with the modern scratch DJ in mind. But first, you will notice is its beautiful and compact design. Placing two or more of these close to your entertainment systems will improve the aesthetics of your living room. But what makes the Reloop RP-8000-STR special?
First, it has a straight tonearm as opposed to an S-shaped one, which can track precisely without any skips. While the Reloop RP-8000-STR is a turntable, you will find some features that are popular in a controller. These include a loop and slicer, cue, and sample that are all compatible with the Serato Software. With the customizable MIDI trigger buttons and its Serato Scratch Live mappings, you can easily use this Reloop as a controller. A rotary encoder is also included on the deck to allow you to go through your playlist while still using the turntable with the DVS timecode vinyl. This will come in handy if you are playing some smooth mixes for an extended period.
You can attach up to 4 decks with the Reloop RP-8000-STR thanks to its turntable link mode. What’s more, you will only have to use one USB port to link all four of the decks to your career. Think of all the musical capabilities that this gives you. This turntable is a perfect pick for an intermediate DJ that would love to expand their skills.
If you have ever used a Stanton turntable then you know the manufacturer puts a lot of effort into design and performance. The Stanton ST.150 MKII is no different but incorporates more technologies that have changed since the inception of the brand.
Like other models in the brand, the Stanton ST.150 MKII puts a lot of emphasis on the stability of the turntable. This turntable weighs about 23 pounds with an all-steel upper body and a large lower part. This means that you will no longer have to worry about bumps or vibrations.
Setting up and using the Stanton ST.150 MKII is a piece of cake. You may have noticed the two start/stop buttons on the deck with the extra one useful in a battle situation. Moreover, this turntable comes with a pre-mounted 300 cartridge which means you won’t spend extra time mounting the cartridge.
Stantons are also known for creating some of the first turntables with reverse buttons. The Stanton ST.150 MKII offers a useful reverse play button that is unmatched. Other features that you would love with this turntable include internal grounding, three-pitch control ranges, a brushless motor, and an aDJustable brake speed. This solid turntable is an audio equipment that both intermediate and professionals can rely on to step up their DJ skills.
Are you a music enthusiast or professional DJ? Do you not mind spending a few hundred dollars on a great turntable? If this is you then you need to get yourself the Audio-Technica AT-LP1240-USB. One of the first things you notice about this machine is just how good it looks. This sleek machine is made from classy die-cast aluminum with a matte black and silver color. It looks great and can easily integrate with any stereo music or home theater system. Moreover, it has a USB output that gives you the ability to connect to a computer directly. This feature may come in handy when you wish to convert your LP to digital music. It also includes a built-in pre-amp that you can use with several receivers and powered speakers.
Performance-wise, the Audio-Technica AT-LP1240-USB is a great deal. It features a three phase motor that comes with several advantages. These include a quick startup, great stability, smooth operation, reverse play, and easy back-cueing among others.
The tonearm in the Audio-Technica AT-LP1240-USB is s-shaped. It also features aDJustable tracking force and anti-skate mechanisms to improve the functionality of the tonearm. The AT-XP5 DJ phono cartridge that the tonearm comes with promises a combination of both accurate tracking and high-fidelity performance.
Other features in this machine that you would love include the detachable stylus target light, a hydraulically damped lift lever, dual start or stop buttons, and even a locking tonearm.
The Reloop AMS-RP-7000-MK2-SLV is another great product from the Reloop brand. It looks like similar models but it is packed with advanced features. These include MIDI control and other rich features that make it a great turntable for the club.
A quick talk with professional DJ’s and industry experts led us to discover that this is one of the few turntables that was designed for deejaying. It has a controlled pitch range that includes 8, 16, and 50 percentage change. You can also customize its starting speed and choose from 0.2 to 6 seconds. This is a great feature for beginners since they would have more control over the powerful quartz-driven motor.
Setting up the Reloop AMS-RP-7000-MK2-SLV is easy and using it feels even better. It features an s-shaped tonearm, which has perfect accuracy tracking and improves the aesthetics of the machine. Moreover, the tonearm has an anti-skating control for better accuracy. You can rest assured that you will get some quality sound output from this turntable.
This machine also features several extra features that are not found in the previous Reloop models. These include a quartz pitch lock, a reverse button, two RCA sockets, and a safety lid around the switch. Get the Reloop AMS-RP-7000-MK2-SLV if you want a reliable yet durable turntable that will always rock your club sessions.
Easy to use
Quartz driven motor offers more accuracy
Motor is noisy at high volumes
The turntable that you choose should essentially be one of the best in the market but it should also be able to address all your needs. You will also have to learn about how to use and take care of your turntable. This comprehensive buying guide will give you more information about turntables and the best way to take care of them.
Why DJ turntables are awesome
Audiophiles understand that the quality of sound is just one aspect of enjoying music. The current digitization of music has made it possible to virtually access any song that you wish. However, the convenience and simplicity of using a turntable are some of the main reasons why they are not obsolete. You’ll experience pure nirvana when you can listen to all tracks of your LP without skipping tracks or listening to ads. Here are some more reasons why you should get a turntable.
Interact with the music– Unlike iPods or other MP3 players that play music at the touch of a button, you get engaged in playing the music when you use a turntable. You will have to find the perfect record in your vinyl collection, place it on the platter, move the tonearm, and lower the needle to play melodious sounds. Once you get engaged in playing the music, you will surely dedicate your time to listen to the record.
Turntables are as affordable as ever– While you had to fork out some serious cash to get a vinyl record back in the day, they are not as pricey today. More brands have got into the market and you can find a good DJ turntable if you have a reasonable budget. You can get an affordable turntable such as the Numark PT01 or the Reloop AMS-SPIN. If you don’t mind the cost, you can get pricier models that may cost you $1000 or more. Of course, these are still less expensive than the old phonograph players.
Unplug from the digital world– Smartphones are necessary today but that is not to say that they do not cause a lot of angst. Admit it, the endless choice of music on your Apple music app sometimes overwhelms you and you may not find something suitable to listen to. With a turntable, you get to unplug from this world of anxiety about finding the next perfect song to match your mood. Let your eyes rest from all the browsing and listen from your turntable.
Versatility– We have more choices today when it comes to playing music using a turntable. If you are the old school type then you can get a classic turntable with manual features. There is also an automatic option for new school types that moves its arm at the touch of a button. Moreover, some turntables have blue tooth connectivity, USB functions, or a direct MP3 sound converter while some are battery-powered.
They accentuate your style– It would be wrong to not mention how turntables can add style to your home with ease. If you have a stylish DJ turntables such as the Pioneer PLX1000 or the Audio-Technica AT-LP1240-USB then you know what we mean. An attractive turntable placed at the center or the side of your entertainment system invokes exudes sophistication.
High quality sound output– There are a lot of reasons why people get record players but one of the main one is the high quality of sound. Each record is made to deliver great sounds and it is very unlikely that you will find any distortions in a turntable. You will also find that it is better to listen to live music with a turntable than a digital version as they are mastered with better dynamics. It is unlikely that the craze for turntables will ever stop, which is why you need a good quality one.
DJ basics – main tips and tricks
You will need three things if you want to play records using a turntable. These include two turntable decks, an aDJustable pitch, and lastly, a mixer that allows the DJ to set the volume or crossfade that put between the two decks. It will also allow you to choose the turntable that you want to use your headphones with when cueing up records. You should also note that the number of channels on your mixer will let you know how many sources you can connect and mix with. But what can you do outshine other DJ’s?
Adequate preparation– As simple as it sounds, you should always ensure you prepare well before any set. You’d be surprised that this may make a big difference between a pro and a novice. Once you find out the venue of the event, take the appropriate music and some back up too.
Work on your performance– No one wants to watch a boring deejay that only stares down their turntable when performing. The best DJ’s are the ones who sing, dance, and interact with the crowd. If not, at least smile. The best way to practice is by setting up a camera to record yourself when mixing. Try to think that you are at a live venue and put on a show. The video will help you determine if you like what you see and to note what you should change.
Learn to scratch properly– All crowds love it when you throw in some scratching. Set yourself apart by learning how to scratch well and incorporate it into your sets. You’ll sure get some compliments regardless of the music you are playing.
Play several genres– One way for beginners to level up their skills is by playing multiple genres. Being conversant with one genre only can limit your progression and trying out other genres will present a new challenge. You can be a great trance DJ but can you play a hip-hop set over the weekend?
Master how to use your EQ’s– Advanced DJ’s know that the 3 band EQ is one of the most essential functions in a mixer. Yet it is not uncommon to see many newbies or even professional DJ’s finishing a complete set without touching the EQ’s. If you fail to use the EQ well then it is likely that you will experience distorted speakers and bassline clashing. This can mess up your set even if you made a perfect playlist.
Practice– Deejaying is one of those skills that require constant practice over a long period. This is especially true if you want to master the art of scratching. When you first start scratching, it will feel completely new and you may even think you’ll damage your audio equipment. However, you should not get worried as the turntable should be able to handle all the heavy work. With time, you will start getting used to it and you may even enjoy finding breaks and scratching to them.
Like everything else, price is critical when choosing the best turntable on the market. Of course, there is the belief that pricier models often have more and better features. And we concur. That said, the most expensive product may not necessarily mean the best or the right one for you. You may find a good budget turntable that will not cost you more than a few hundred dollars. If the price is no problem to you then you should opt for a premium turntable such as the Audio-Technica AT-LP1240-USB or the Pioneer PLX1000. These turntables will not only offer you the best quality sound but also feature some great quality designs.
However, if you are walking on a tight rope with regards to budget then we propose something else. While you may want to save some few bucks here and there, you should be on the lookout for trustworthy and durable turntables. It is not difficult to find an affordable yet fully functional turntable. The Reloop AMS-SPIN and Numark PT01 are examples of affordable DJ turntables on the market that do not compromise on quality.
Features to consider while buying the DJ turntable
You have finally decided that you want to buy the best DJ turntable you can find. While a review of some of the top turntables is useful, you should also consider other important factors before you make a purchase. Here are a couple of important factors that you ought to review when looking for the best DJ turntable.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of audio brands that produce different audio products every year. Some are popular while others are less known but that does not mean that they don’t offer quality products. In fact, you should strive to get the best quality turntable, which may not be the most popular brand. For example, Crosley turntables are quite popular but there are less known brands such as RANE that offer better quality turntables.
In our review, we tried out several brands. Pioneer, for example, is one of the high-end brands that we review. The Pioneer PLX1000 does not disappoint too. Turntables from the pioneer brand often feature high-quality designs, good construction, awesome audio output, and other extra features. The Audio-Technica is also a popular brand that is known to offer good turntables with attractive designs. It is, however, worth noting that these top brands may cost you a fortune. If you want a relatively affordable brand then you can try the Numark, Stanton, or the Reloop.
Automatic or manual
In the past, DJ’s would only need two turntables and maybe a mixer to perform whether they were playing dance music or scratching vinyl records. The advent of digital music such as MP3 and CD’s, however, brought about easy transport, better library management, easier control, and increased reliability. This prompted turntable manufacturers to go back to the drawing board and design products that could slice beats and use technology to create show-stopping sets.
Today, turntables and controllers are more powerful with some being fully automated. Highly experienced DJ’s can use manual turntables as they have years of experience with them. If you are a beginner but would still love to make jaw-dropping music then you need to get an automatic turntable. These turntables are much smarter and convenient, which means you won’t have experience difficulty setting them up or using them. Moreover, DJ controllers are integrated with specific hardware and software that make producing music a breeze.
Direct or belt drive – what’s the difference
At some point, you will have to decide whether you want a direct-drive or belt-drive turntable. You have probably heard of the two. But what’s the difference? And which one should you go for? Well, most of the turntables on the market today have a belt-drive system. This is where a motor is placed on the edge of the platter and spins a belt to rotate the turntable platter. Tor those with twin-deck turntables, you are likely to find the belt-drive motor near the inner platter. Many audiophiles will tell you that belt-drive motors such as the one in the Numark PTO1 are not quite powerful. However, you gotta admire how silent these motors are since they are separated from the platter. Belt-drive motor systems also produce consistent speed, which is great if you want to listen to your music exactly as recorded.
On the other hand, direct-drive motors get to top speed in a jiffy, which may explain why a lot of DJ’s love them. They are also relatively powerful but this does not mean that they do not have their demerits. For one, they are placed directly under the platter making it difficult to isolate its motor noise. The speed is rarely consistent too and the motor system will have to correct it regularly. The RANE Twelve & Pioneer PLX1000 are some of the turntables we reviewed with a direct-drive motor system. There are also turntables with a quartz-driven motor system, which are known for their speed accuracy. The Reloop AMS-RP-7000-MK2-SLV and Reloop RP-8000-STR are examples.
A turntable has a lot of controls. No doubt. If you are a beginner, you may be overwhelmed at the number of controls that you see on a turntable. If you are a beginner, you should not get worried about the high number of controls that you see. You will soon learn what each of them does. And it is unlikely that you will be using all the controls at once. That said, you need to get a turntable with simple controls that will not give you a headache. Some essential controls in your turntable will include
Strobe dots– these are the dots on the side of your platter that indicate when you achieve some pitch speeds. They freeze to let you know the precise speed of the deck.
Power switch– Either a button or a switch, the power switch will let you power the deck on/off.
RPM buttons– Depending on the turntable, you will find an RPM button with two or three-speed options.
Pitch Control– This is an essential part of a turntable that lets the DJ select the precise speed of the platter using a certain range. You are also likely to find a scale on the side that shows you the percentage of speed changed.
Today’s machine has several controls that it would be difficult to list them all. If you want a machine with fewer controls then the Reloop AMS-SPIN might be worth a shot.
The tonearm is arguably one of the most important parts of a turntable, and a lot of DJ’s agree with us on this. Both manufacturers and DJ’s have experimented with the tonearm for years since the first stylus touched a record groove. Today, there are hundreds if not thousands of tonearms to choose from with each of them made differently. Some tonearms are made from exotic material that is rather fragile while others are made from hard materials that can take a hit from regular DJ work.
The tonearm holds the stylus and guides it through the whole musical experience from the time the stylus hits the outer rim to when it gets to the center. It then takes a recording of the groove readings and converts them into electrical energy. To ensure that the stylus on your turntable sits right, the tonearm should be designed with some clever mechanism. This simply means that your tonearm should not only be balanced and aligned well but should also be adjusted for height.
A good tonearm should move freely without any resistance and one way to do this is by using an S-shaped tonearm. The Stanton T.92 MKII and Reloop AMS-RP-8000-MK2 are some examples of turntables with S-shaped tonearms. A suitable tonearm should also be long, rigid, compact but lightweight too such as the low mass tonearm used in the Technics SL-1210MK2.
Torque is simply used to determine how much power your motor is kicking out. If your turntable has a high torque then this translates to quick start times, which you will highly desire when you go pro. Additionally, a higher torque motor offers more resistance when you slow it down. The fast start will come in handy when performing at a live event and the resistance is great for DJ’s that love scratching. Its powerful spin and also keeps the platter spinning when back-cueing tracks.
You will notice that some turntables have a fixed torque while others will let you customize it how you want. Ideally, you want your torque to kick out a torque of at least 1.5kg/cm for a great performance. It is, however, worth noting that the figures that some manufacturers quote may not be accurate and you should not always rely on them. Instead, you can do the research yourself or test out the turntable yourself if you get the chance. We found the Audio-Technica AT-LP1240-USB and the Pioneer PLX1000 to have some high torque and they may be worth checking out if you want a turntable with higher torque.
Dimensions and weight
Like buying any other equipment, it is important that you take a look at the dimensions and even the weight of the product before purchase. Dimensions of a product are important as they let you know your storage or transport options. You do not want an extremely large turntable that takes too much space in your truck that you cannot carry other musical equipment. At the same time, medium to large-sized turntables are often attractive and may improve the aesthetics of any room. This is especially true if you get two decks of a good-looking turntable such as the Stanton ST.150 MKII.
With regards to weight, you may find it surprising that you actually need a heavier turntable. When it comes to getting the best DJ turntable, heavier is often better. This is because the vibration from the music or even the motor causes several problems when one is using the turntable. It is not uncommon to experience a degradation in the quality of sound or find that some tracks keep skipping. In other instances, there is a feedback loop from the speakers to the turntables through to the stylus. To prevent such problems, we recommend that you get a heavier turntable. If you want to use a turntable for paid gigs then you should invest in a heavy turntable with sturdy construction. The Technics SL-1210MK2 is one of the heavier models that we tried out, it was quite stable and we did not experience any vibrations.
A guarantee from the manufacturer offers clients confidence in their products for the stated period. Turntables are long term investments that you hope will last for a couple of years before you need to make a replacement. That said, you should get a product with good guarantee terms and a reasonable warranty period. Since turntables are technical audio equipment that may cost you a few hundred dollars, you do understand why we stress this is an important factor. All products that we reviewed have a one-year limited warranty, which we think is enough to guarantee that the product is in mint condition when you receive it.
The pitch control is also considered to be one of the most important parts of a DJ turntable. It helps DJs to fine-tune the speed of their record when playing and it is often measured in percentages. You will have to first check if the pitch control in your turntable is working well. How do you do this? You may ask. Well, you should first use the strobe to determine if the platter is moving at the right speed. The strobe lights should also change accordingly when you move the pitch control in one way or another.
With the pitch control, you can set the precise speed of the platter with a range of +/-8%. This range is not always the same on all decks and you may find that the range is wider on other turntables. To increase the speed of rotation of the platter, you should move the pitch control in the direction that the platter rotates. To slow down the speed of the platter, you can move the pitch control upwards. A significant number of turntables that we reviewed including the Reloop AMS-RP-8000-MK2 and RANE twelve have three pitch control options with a ±8%, ±25%, and ±50% range.
Many turntables on the market are powered by electricity. And while this may be the best option, it also comes with its own demerits. Other turntables such as Numark PTO1 and the Reloop Spin have a dual power option that allows them to use batteries. This feature can come in handy when you need to perform out in the wild. These turntables also have internal speakers to ensure that they are fully reliable without the need for an electric power supply.
The cartridge in your turntable produces a precise signal but it is often weak. This is why you may have to connect to a phone pre-amplifier if you wish to get to loud sound from your speakers. While it may seem like you do not need a phone pre-amp, it may be in-built in your sound system. You can find a phono preamp in your turntable or have it built in your receiver. You can also find a phono pre-amp in a powered speaker or get it separate on a system.
Other parts and features
Turntables have lots of parts and extra features that ensure these records are playing well. While it will takes some time to know and learn how to use all the different features in a turntable, you become pretty good once you can work your way around it. Here are some other parts and features that you should also consider when purchasing a turntable.
Cartridge– You may have heard of the cartridge in a turntable as it is quite important when playing records. It is simply a minute attachment that is fitted at the end of the tonearm where the stylus is plugged. The cartridge has a magnet that works to transform the vibrations that occur on the stylus to electric energy. A DJ mixer will then use its phono pre-amp to amplify the signals before directing the sound to the speaker.
Anti-skating dials– Without this feature, turntables are less likely to work as it helps to counter the force pulling the cartridge to the center of the platter. Once you use this control, it sets the anti-skating force that is enough to handle this type of work.
Counterweight– As the name suggests, this feature is used to counter and balance the weight exerted by the tonearm. It does this by applying the perfect amount of pressure to the cartridge. You will need about two or three grams as the tracking weight but it is not uncommon to find DJ’s adjusting it to be as heavy as possible. They may even use extra weights to increase the counter weight and prevent skipping of tracks.
Cue leveler– This feature is rarely used by experienced DJ’s. It helps you to lift the needle without having to touch the cartridge. Some DJ’s prefer using the arm of the headshell to lift the tonearm instead.
Headshell– As stated above, this part will help you to mount the cartridge and needle to the platter. Turntables will often include a headshell holder that can help you store any headshell that you are not using.
Pitch control and pitch control range– the pitch adjuster, as highlighted above, is a useful feature when it comes to beat mixing. This because it allows you to vary the speed of the motor and subsequently, the speed of play and tempo. Moving it up lowers the pitch while a shift downwards will speed up play and the pitch. You may find a scale on the turntable that lets you see the percentage change. A pitch adjuster range may be included, which doubles up or down, the speed of the record but you may need some experience under your belt for more accuracy.
Pitch reset– This feature helps to reset the pitch of the record to 0 regardless of where you set the pitch adjuster. In other words, it helps to reset the pitch control to 0 and pressing it again returns the pitch to its current level.
Slipmat– You will always find a slippy felt mat that rests between the record and the surface of the platter. This thin and slippy mat is essential to scratching as it aids DJs in stopping the record while the platter still spins.
Spindle– The spindle is the part that holds the center of your record. Some records may be accidentally designed in a way that the hole is not the most central part. This will affect playback as the tonearm will shift irregularly with each revolution.
Stylus/Needle– You have probably heard a lot about the stylus (also called the needle) in a turntable. It is a small piece of diamond attached to a metal arm to pick up sound from the record. The stylus vibrates when the diamond tracks through a vinyl and a sound is produced.
As easy as scratching looks when done by a pro, learning this great art will take you a lot of time, practice and patience. You will have to be willing to learn rhythm and beat mixing if you want to become a good scratcher. Here are a couple of tips to help you scratch well.
Get the right gear- You will need the right pair of turntables, a collection of some of your records, and a mixer. DJ controllers have also become popular and you can choose to go with this too. If you don’t own a turntable then this guide should pretty much help you get the right equipment. Also, remember to get a slipmat between your platter and the record.
Have a collection of records- You don’t need to get new records when you start scratching as you can use some of your old records. As a start, you can get some instrumentals, acapella, or any other beat that isn’t too busy.
Find a sample or sound on your record- This is not as complicated as it sounds. All you need to do is to listen to records and look for any interesting sounds that you would love to scratch. Stop the record with your fingertips when you hear something you like and mark the groove that it is on. You can use a sticker but don’t put it where it can interfere with playback. Push the platter up and down to get a scratch while you look for a suitable song to scratch to.
Put on another song and scratch to it- play another song and you can use the sample record to scratch. Of course, this will take you time to master but you can learn a lot from this video. With some dedication and regular practice, you should be on your way to performing at a paid gig soon enough:
Cleaning the turntable is a simple affair that should not take you a lot of time. You will need a non-abrasive cleaner and cloth. You can start by unplugging the turntable and using an air duster to blow off any dust from the turntable. Wipe off the surface with the non-abrasive cloth and cleaner. Remember to wipe down the platter after removing the slipmat and the strobe lights too. Remove the platter off the turntable and use an air duster to remove dust and blow away any debris left in the equipment. Regular cleanups like this can put your turntable in the best shape possible. You can use the special brush to clean the sensitive parts of your turntable such as the tonearm and cartridge.
Cleaning the felt mat will be a bit different. You will need to clean your slip mat regularly, and for obvious reasons. Any mat will pick up debris and transfer the dust to your records, which can affect the turntable’s playback. We recommend that you always keep your turntable closed if there is no action. If you have a rubber mat then you can just wash it with some mild detergent and use an air dryer before placing it back. A felt mat can be cleaned with the small brush attachment from your vacuum cleaner.
If you are a beginner and need a turntable then we recommend you get a simple yet functional turntable such as the Stanton T.92 MKII. This turntable is great since it is easy to use and set up, includes a ton of features and it is just the right price for a novice. With the Stanton T.92 MKII, it won’t take you long before you can become an intermediate DJ.
Once you get your turntable, it is highly likely that the equipment will need some bit of assembly. Here are a couple of steps to take when positioning and setting up a turntable.
Find a flat sturdy place- Every DJ will tell you that vibrations and knocks are their number one enemy. It is, however, worth noting that the stability is as good as the floor you set up on. You don’t want your turntable to vibrate every time a heavy-duty vehicle passes.
Place the platter on the unit- The platter will almost always come in separately and you need to insert it into the base unit. Don’t worry, it is also packed in a protective design to keep both the spindle and platter safe.
Assemble the needle, headshell, and cartridge- This may be a bit technical but you should be good if you follow all the instructions. You will have to put back into place the fiddly wires and tighten the screws. Some turntables have the cartridge and headshell fixed together, which will make your work easier.
Balancing the tonearms- This is also an essential part of setting up your turntable and you will have to be keen on this. Remove the stylus protector from the needle and aDJust the counterweight till the tonearm lies at zero degrees when the tonearm is released. You should now be able to indicate that this is the 0-gram setting and set the anti-skate to a similar value.
Try it out- Now that everything seems perfect, it is time to try out your new turntable. Play your favorite vinyl record and see if the stylus will stick to the groove well. It should also be somewhat resistant to jumps and skips when you bump the surface or try knocking it. Follow our instructions above and try scratching
While we enjoyed using the different turntables in our review, we still have to pick our top three. In first place is the Pioneer PLX1000, our editor’s choice. Coming from a reputable brand, the PLX 1000 has everything that you need in a turntable. Other impressive features that we loved in the PLX1000 include its thoughtful design, die-cast zinc chassis, S-shaped tonearm, and electronic brake.
As simple as it looks, RANE twelve comes in second place. The solid steel construction of this turntable ensures that its powerful direct-drive motor works without any problems. You will also like its 12-inch platter and 8 hot-cue hot-trigger access.
Last in our review for best DJ turntable is the Numark PT01, our best value pick. It is one of the portable and versatile turntables that we tried out. You can use it in the wild as it has a strong case, internal speakers and can be powered by batteries.