Are there any decent, affordable new turntables?

Yes, though this answer somewhat depends on what you consider decent and affordable!

Those looking for new high-performance machines for under $1,000 will find very little of interest. High-performance turntabling can’t be done for $1K new, spend a little more though and things start to improve. If you broaden your horizons to include pre-owned equipment, then $1,000 gets you something much more interesting.

Decent, New

  • The Pioneer PLX-1000, at around $1100 and weighing in at 15kg is one of the best value new options available. No, it’s not high-end, but it’s a little over a grand. It’s cheap and cheerful, like some of the Audio Technica decks.
  • You might find the occasional Technics SL-1200 Mk7 on special from online sellers, though by now these have probably dried up. For around $1600, this is the best deal up to about $3K.
  • A new Technics SL-1210GR at around $2,700 AUD is good value if you want a new deck. Just keep in mind that you will get a far better machine on the secondhand market for around $3K.
  • The new Technics SL-1500 is worth considering at around $2,000 AUD, discounted to $1,500 at times. It’s a basic deck, but solid value.
  • The MoFi StudioDeck for around $2,000 is also a decent value. Be careful of the loose bearings I’ve found in a few of these now though.
  • The MoFi UltraDeck is a much better turntable, though perhaps not what most consider affordable.
  • The Rega Planar 3 is a belt-drive classic and can be had for around $1,500. This is a solid value, not a high-precision deck by any means but they do sound decent. Don’t go lower than a Planar 3 in Rega’s lineup though.
  • Cheap ProJect, Thorens, Denon and other $500 or less turntables are not worth buying if you want something decent.
  • Non-brand name gear like Crosley, Marley and other such equipment is junk and should avoided if you care about your records and how they sound.

Best Options

The only new deck I could live with here is the SL-1210GR. Spending around three grand gets you a heck of a lot of second-hand golden-age vinyl goodness, so keep this in mind. You could find a Kenwood KD-650 for much less than that or even a Yamaha GT-2000 for that money and these are altogether better options. The real value, as always, is on the second-hand market.

The Technics SL-1210GR ‘grand class’ turntable is far from grand class in the overall scheme of things and not as good as the KD-650 below, but this decent 11kg deck destroys many cheaper new offerings.
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The iconic Kenwood KD-650 is certainly in another universe compared to anything you can buy new for $2,000!

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