It all comes down to what you consider decent and affordable.
Those looking for high-performance machines for under $1000 will find very little of interest, new. High-performance turntabling can’t be done for $1K new, but spend a little more and things start to improve and it is certainly possible with secondhand equipment.
- 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. That’s cheap.
- 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 by far the best deal up to about $3K.
- A new Technics SL-1210GR at around $2700 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 $2000 AUD, discounted to $1500 at times. It’s a basic deck, but solid value.
- The MoFi StudioDeck for around $2000 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 $1500. 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 and Thorens gear is generally rubbish, the cheap Denon and AT machines are likewise not really worth buying in my opinion.
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 of vinyl goodness, so just 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.