Best DJ Turntables 2021
We round up the best DJ turntables on the market, from classic Technics to specialist scratch decks.
With the legendary Technics SL-1210 back in production and fresh products on the market from brands including Pioneer and Reloop, there’s a strong argument that the range of DJ turntables on offer is better than ever before. Vinyl may not be the only option for DJs as it once was, but despite the arrival of CDJs and DJ software, the turntable market is strong, buoyed in part by the vinyl resurgence. In no particular order, we run through the best options, from budget choices through to professional models.
- What to look for
- The best DJ turntables
- In summary
What to look for
Conventional or specialist?
Looking through the options on our list, you’ll very quickly notice that most DJ turntables look very similar. The style and features of the classic Technics SL1200/1210 models set a blueprint which most other brands are happy to follow: solid construction, a pitch slider and simple looks.
The Reloop RP-8000 MK2 is the obvious choice for DJs who use digital vinyl system (DVS) software such as Serato or Traktor. It’s a clever hybrid turntable which includes controller features designed specifically for software.
The other unconventional turntable on our list is the Numark PT01 Scratch, which offers ultimate portability thanks to its compact size and built-in speaker. It even runs on batteries, meaning you could take it out when crate digging. A very different type of turntable altogether, but a good reminder that there’s much more to DJing than just sticking to the classics.
What do you get for your money?
Almost all DJ turntables are now direct-drive models, meaning they have better pitch stability and more power than the cheap belt-drive models which used to be common entry-level options. More expensive options look very similar to cheaper models, which means it’s sometimes not obvious what more you’re getting for your money.
In simple terms, more expensive turntables tend to perform better thanks to higher quality materials, more precise build and better components. At the top end of the market, you’ll generally find higher build quality but also more powerful motors and better quality sound thanks to better tonearms and superior electronics. You generally get what you pay for, and when you put the cheaper models side by side with pro-quality options like the Technics SL-1210 MK7 or Pioneer PLX-1000, it’s easy to see and hear the jump up in quality.
The best DJ turntables
The discontinuation of the iconic SL-1200/1210 caused widespread anxiety among DJs, fearing that this marked the end of what had been the industry standard DJ turntable since the 1970s. Thankfully its absence proved short-lived, with Technics’s parent company Panasonic retooling, redesigning and bringing back the SL range including the DJ-focused MK7 model. Almost every aspect has been modified and updated, from the new motor technology through to the composite materials used to construct the chassis itself, but it very much retains the original look and feel of the classic older models.
As we found in our review of the SL-1210 MK7, the new model lives up to the legacy of its much-loved predecessors. What more is there to say? It’s the definitive DJ turntable for a reason, and it’s still our favourite all-rounder. It’s not the cheapest model on the market and it’s easily beaten when it comes to features by models like the Reloop RP-8000, but it still sets the benchmark for solid build quality, reliability and feel.More info/Buy
|Starting torque||1.8 kg cm|
|Wow and flutter||0.025% WRMS|
|Dimensions||453 x 169 x 353 mm|
In the few years between the discontinuation of the ‘old’ Technics SLs and the arrival of the new models, there was a huge opportunity for a new brand to step in and fill the gap in the market for a solid, professional-grade DJ turntable. Decks from brands like Stanton and Numark have always been popular, but perhaps the closest thing to a Technics replacement came from an unexpected source. Pioneer DJ are best known for digital products, from their CDJs to DJM mixers, but the PLX-1000 and its little brother the PLX-500 (below) mark their entry to the turntable market.
Now that Technics have returned, the main selling point of the 1000 over the SL1210 is fairly simple: it comes in at a lower price point. Other than that, the formula is familiar: it’s the same basic look and feel, very similar sound and solid, durable construction. A worthy alternative to the MK7.More info/Buy
|Starting torque||4.5 kg cm|
|Wow and flutter||≤0.1% WRMS|
|Dimensions||453 x 159 x 353 mm|
Established in 1996, just as digital DJing options first emerged, Reloop were relative latecomers to the turntable industry but quickly established themselves as major players. The Münster-based company dabbles in digital DJ controllers, but it’s committed to keeping the faith as far as turntables are concerned, whether that means traditional vinyl DJing or modern digital vinyl system (DVS) approaches.
The RP-8000 is the brand’s flagship turntable, aimed mainly at DVS users. It’s a good turntable when used the traditional way, simply playing records, but the whole thing was really built with Serato in mind, integrating digital controls and MIDI features for trigger actions. The direct drive motor takes care of timecode playback, while eight pads offer quick access to hot cues, loops and sample decks. Features like variable torque and adjustable stop/start speed also make it a versatile option for scratch DJs. All of this comes in at a very reasonable price point. A very impressive option for use with Serato.More info/Buy
|Starting torque||2.8 – 4.5 kg cm|
|Wow and flutter||0.01% WRMS|
|Dimensions||458 x 144 x 354 mm|
Japanese brand Audio-Technica was founded in the early 1960s as a phono cartridge specialist, branching out over time into the headphone and microphone markets, with a sideline in sushi robots. Today, their flagship ART1000 cartridge retails for the thick end of £5,000 and is resolutely aimed at audiophiles rather than DJs.
The brand’s turntable range is admittedly a little more humble than their cartridge offerings, but worth considering nonetheless if you’re in the market for midrange decks. The LP140XP is a solid Technics-inspired option with a classic look and feel, featuring basic additions to the classic SL1200 formula such as removable RCA cables and adjustable pitch range. Very much a no-nonsense approach with very little in the way of embellishment or frills. Just a good, solid all-rounder, supplied as standard with the brand’s own impressive AT-XP3 moving magnet DJ cartridge.More info/Buy
|Starting torque||>2.2 kg cm|
|Wow and flutter||<0.2% WTD|
|Dimensions||452 x 352 x 158 mm|
The PLX-500 is the budget model in Pioneer’s small range, coming in at half the price of the premium model and offering a more basic spec aimed at home DJs rather than professional club use. Switching the 1000’s metal construction for a more basic plastic chassis, the 500 isn’t as rugged and it’s missing some of the features of the top model, like adjustable pitch range. However, it uses the same motor, so it’s fundamentally very close in terms of feel and sound where it matters. It also adds some handy features not found on the top model, such as a USB output.
The PLX-500 is clearly a much more humble offering than the PLX-1000 but that’s no reason to write it off. At this price point it holds its own as an alternative to the likes of the Audio-Technica AT LP140XP or Numark NTX1000.More info/Buy
|Starting torque||>1.6 kg cm|
|Wow and flutter||≤0.15% WRMS|
|Dimensions||450 x 159 x 368 mm|
There was a time when entry-level turntables were the stuff of nightmares. Anyone who tried to hone their skills on a cheap pair of belt-drive decks will remember just how frustrating it was to try and beat match with low-torque motors and excruciatingly unstable pitch controls. Things are completely different these days, with various brands offering cheaper decks that genuinely live up to expectations, either as a budget option for home practice or as a way to hone basic mixing and scratching skills before investing in more expensive turntables.
Reloop’s beginner-friendly RP-2000 is a case in point, with a direct-drive motor and sturdy feel that belies its price point. Very much built in the mould of the classic SL1200 MK2, the RP-2000 is a bare-bones offering that does everything well, with no frills and no fuss.More info/Buy
|Starting torque||>1 kg cm|
|Wow and flutter||<0.15% WRMS|
|Dimensions||450 x 352 x 144 mm|
Our final pick is something a little different. The market for turntables aimed at scratch DJs seems to have cooled slightly since peaking in the late 90s and early 2000s, most probably since the rise in DVS use has helped solve some of the challenges that faced vinyl scratch DJs. However, there are still interesting scratch-focused products to be found on the market. Numark’s PT01 Scratch is a good example: a lightweight, portable deck with a built-in ‘scratch switch’ (a bit like an on/off crossfader for fast cuts), aimed directly at scratch DJs.
There’s a small portable turntablism (‘portablism’) scene based around this kind of diminutive scratch deck, but it’s not hard to see the appeal of this kind of thing for other uses. The built-in speaker and headphone outputs would make it a nice option to carry round while crate digging, plus it’s also got a USB output for ripping records or sampling. Certainly the most unique option on our list but an interesting proposition for those who think outside the box.More info/Buy
|Dimensions||302 x 302 x 102 mm|
The DJ turntable market is in good health, with value for money at the entry-level price range, and true professional options at the high end.
Our list ranges from beginner-friendly budget options through to pro models suitable for club use, but the bottom line with turntables is that you generally get what you pay for. That’s not to say that cheaper models aren’t very impressive these days, but if you’re able to step up to a mid-range or high-end turntable you’ll see and hear the benefits in terms of build quality and sound.
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