Over $1,000, you’re in the realm of professional gear and collector’s pieces, and these can quickly skyrocket into the tens of thousands of dollars. But, stratospheric price doesn’t mean the sound is that much better, especially for the prosumer audiophile. Just under $1,000 is the sweet spot where you receive fantastic sound, and a fantastic value. We’ve listened to a plethora of wax spinners, and to help narrow down the options we curated a simple list of three excellent turntables, all under a grand.
Pro-Ject RPM 3 Carbon
Best Modern Design: As far as modern turntable designs go, the Pro-Ject RPM 3 takes the cake. And the sleek, minimal design also has great hi-fi chops. The S-shaped tone arm is lightweight and rigid, crafted from carbon fiber for long-term performance. In 2015, the RPM 3 rightfully won the EISA 2015 Turntable of the Year award — an honor giving to innovative European products each year. And it can be yours for just a hair under $1K.
Rega Planar 3
Best for the Serious Enthusiast: When designing the Planar 3, the team at Rega took the platform from its highly lauded RP3 and stripped it down to its bare bones, then started over. Start to finish, the design process took over two years. The resulting Planar 3 features a Rega RB330 tonearm — regarded as one of the best available. Beyond that, the elements are a bit technical. The Planar 3 uses Rega’s double braces, which are comprised of a reengineered “3mm phenolic bottom brace and new metalized skin phenolic top brace.” It also features an updated bearing housing — Rega redesigned the brass main hub central bearing, making for a more durable construction. All that is to say, it sounds great.
Music Hall MMF-5.1
Best Double Plinth: Music Hall’s MMF-5.1 turntable features a double plinth design, which means, basically, that two platforms are separated by a rubber spring. All wires and electronics are isolated in the lower platform while the upper platform holds the record. The idea is that any interference that could hamper playback is kept separate. The result is a consistent, high-quality playback that will satisfy anyone from the entry-level enthusiast to the prosumer.