For serious DJs, a turntable is a must-have piece of equipment. Turntables allow you complete control over the music as well as the ability to accomplish complex scratches and sound manipulation with the push of the hand. Vinyl enthusiasts argue that there is no replacement for the feeling you get from DJing with a turntable.
However, you should note that DJing with turntables is not an easy feat. While manually spinning the record, you will worry about the record skipping and your records sustaining any damage. Thus, you need to familiarise yourself with the right equipment for the job. Based on what we have learnt, we hope this can help as your guide or checklist that you should consider before buying a DJ turntable.
5 Things to note when buying a DJ Turntable for scratching
Is a Direct Drive Motor preferred over Belt Drive?
There are several types of motor that are used in turntables. However, as a DJ, you should always go for direct drive turntables and not belt drive turntables. In direct drive turntables, the motor is placed beneath the platter centre and directly attached to it. This makes it possible for a higher torque as well as less wow and flutter. This makes scratching possible, as the motor would continue to spin consistently at the correct RPM even if the DJ reverse plays the record.
On the other hand, belt drive turntables use a motor that is placed off the centre of the platter, attached to it using a rubber belt. These motors have lower torque, with greater platter speed fluctuations. These belt drive turntables are inappropriate for DJs. A belt-drive deck cannot maintain a constant speed of platter rotation and has a lower start-up time. This is extremely important for a DJ because even the slightest speed fluctuations will lead to galloping. Belt drive motors are also prone to wear-and-tear and breakage as the belt would break from back spinning or scratching.
Why you should look for a turntable with a High Torque?
A turntable with a higher torque refers to when the platter quickly accelerates to its proper speed after pressing the Start button. At the same time, it will not slow down when you start scratching your vinyl records. The torque on direct-drive turntables is usually much higher than on belt drive models.
A higher torque also means that the platter speed is less susceptible to outside forces such as the stylus or your hand. Higher torque also means the platter will accelerate to its proper speed faster which results in less distortion when the record begins to play.
How about the Pitch Control?
This feature is not necessarily available in all models, but professional DJs find this feature a must-have. An adjustable pitch range allows you to switch the range of the pitch slider. For example, you can adjust the pitch from +/-8% to +/-16% or even +/-100%. This feature is useful mainly for scratch artists. When using the slider, check that your turntable is quick to respond to those adjustments.
An adjustable pitch control is especially useful for professional DJs who perform beatmatching. Beatmatching or pitch cue is a technique of pitch shifting or time stretching an upcoming track to match its tempo to that of the currently playing track, and to adjust them so that the beats are synchronised.
Is it necessary to have a Digital Output?
Many modern DJs lean towards having digital setups. Digital setups are usually smaller and allow a DJ to bring the world’s collection of music to the venue. Thus, having digital outputs (S/PDIF, USB) in your turntable is a must-have. Your turntable can then digitise the sound and send it to a computer or another device with a digital input.
Digital connections are occasionally found on some audio interfaces and some high-end club mixers. This is because of the nature of digital signals. Digital signals are much less vulnerable to external interference than analogue signals, and as such do not need to be balanced.
Should I invest or opt for Higher-End Cartridges?
If you have some experience with DJing, you should be more focused on performance and seek out turntables in the $400 to $800 price range. Turntables in this range offer better sound quality due to their more precise construction and higher-quality parts. Most turntables in this price range also come with adjustments that can accommodate a range of phono cartridges.
Some turntables have a cartridge included. However, this should not stop you from upgrading to a higher-end cartridge. A higher-end cartridge and stylus that can pull more music from your records’ grooves while treating your vinyl collection more gently. This upgrade alone can make a huge sonic improvement.
Additionally, most turntables give you 33-1/3 and 45 RPM capability. But if you have a collection of 78 RPM records, make sure that you get a specialised cartridge or stylus. This specialised cartridge can better accommodate the wider grooves of these increasingly rare records.
Our Top 8 Picks for DJ Turntables
Numark PT01 Scratch Turntable – Great Value for Money
- Very portable
- Easy to set-up
- Easy-to-replace cartridge
- May require an external amplifier
The Numark PT01 Scratch is a portable vinyl turntable with the rare feature of 3 speeds, 33 1/3, 45 and 78 RPM. The PT01 Scratch also has a built-in Scratch Slide Switch. The Scratch Switch on this turntable is fully adjustable and user replaceable. With either hand, you can easily adjust the DJ Scratch Switch to your preference.
The latest models of the Numark PT01 Scratch are portable and lightweight. The Numark PT01 Scratch can be plugged into a wall outlet with the included AC adapter. It can also run on its six batteries. At only 4.3 lbs, this turntable is small enough to fit into a backpack and can be used at any time when you are on the move.
The PT01 Scratch is ready to use right out of the box with a pre-balanced tonearm. You need not worry about assembling the tonearm, as it is as easy as plug-and-play. Additionally, the tonearm is sturdy and offers maximum stiffness. It also has magnetic anti-skating mechanism which minimises cartridge vibrations and sound distortions.
Another excellent feature of the PT01 Scratch portable turntable is its easy-to-replace cartridge. This turntable has the convenient function of a user-replaceable cartridge which makes needle replacements a breeze. From a sound quality perspective, the supplied needle is of acceptable quality and does an excellent job in playing your vinyl records.
The PT01 Scratch comes with an array of features. Unlike many other turntables, the PT01 Scratch has a built-in speaker and a 10% pitch control which is useful to play 45-speed vinyl records. You need not spend more to purchase an external speaker. There are also headphone outputs and RCA line outs for hooking up to external sound sources. The PT01 Scratch is certainly an excellent turntable for personal listening and scratching.
There are a few other features that can be a let-down. While the switch works, the location is a compromise for those with their left hands on the fader, and the on/off nature can make certain techniques difficult. Other users also noticed that the sound from this turntable is not room-filling and thus you might require an external amplifier.
Overall, despite having some flaws in its design, one cannot deny that the Numark PT01 Scratchoffers great value-for-money. The PT01 also possesses an array of admirable features at an affordable price. It is also an ideal entry-level turntable for DJs and offers an effective way for beginners to learn scratching.
Stanton T62 DJ Turntable – High-Quality Components at an Amazing Price
- 300 cartridge is of excellent quality
- User-friendly features
- Little sound distortions
- Lacks the 75 RPM speed option
- Not the lightest or most portable of turntables
- No USB
The Stanton T62 is a sturdy, professional-quality turntable that uses a high-torque, direct-drive motor. It also has two available playback speeds (33 and 45 RPM). With a direct-drive motor, this turntable promises a more accurate sound and playback speeds. The turntable produces excellent sound quality and as a budget turntable, it is hard to beat!
The platter itself is relatively lightweight while the slip mat assists in dampening any resonance or unwanted sound distortions. There is also no obvious motor sound or rumble that you sometimes encounter with budget DJ turntables. This turntable also has a ground cable and there are no humming or whirring sounds.
The T62 possesses a minimalist and modern design. It is based on the best-selling original T60. It has an all-black top and grey controls that are nicely spaced apart. The compact squared-off design sits comfortably on four feet. While the T62 turntable is not the most portable device as it weighs in at 16.5lbs, it will suit any home entertainment system or home studio.
The Stanton T62’s headshell uses a pre-mounted 300 cartridge and a straight tonearm. Despite its affordable price, the 300 cartridge is of excellent quality and completes the high-end look and feel of your T62 turntable. The tonearm is nicely weighted which improves tracking and produces excellent sound quality. The tonearm’s design also makes it ideal for scratching.
The Stanton T62 comes with many enjoyable features. Like many DJ turntables, you get a manual pitch fader, to increase or decrease the playback pitch by 10%, dual start/stop switches for two-person scratching, and RCA stereo outputs with included RCA cables. Controls are smooth and both start/stop switches are easy to access.
However, the T62 is lacking in some features. It is missing certain features like a headphone output which is considered a standard feature on most turntables, even among turntables of this price range. This turntable is also missing any built-in speakers or a USB interface for home recording. The playback speeds are also limited to just 33 or 45 RPM and is missing the 75 RPM option.
Overall, despite a few shortcomings, the Stanton T62 boasts an array of features and features high-quality components. What it lacks in features, the T62 more than makes up for it in performance. For most day-to-day users, the T62 is a fine piece of equipment. Stanton clearly demonstrates that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get excellent sounding gear.
Crosley C200A-BK Turntable – Modern Look with an Expensive Feel
- Resilient S-shaped tonearm
- Excellent features suited for both beginner and professionals
- Easy to use and set-up
- Shorter RCA cables
- Low quality in-built pre-amp
The Crosley C200A-BK is Crosley’s first direct-drive system. Among the benefits of switching from the belt-driven turntable to direct drive, is that it promises a more accurate sound and fast playback speeds. While a belt-driven motor usually absorbs motor shock and vibration, Crosley has done a decent job in eliminating unwanted noise.
The Crosley C200A-BK is also equipped with a sharp Audio-Technica magnetic cartridge that is adjusted to perfection. This turntable has been tested with several types of genres including trap, ambient, deep house, and indie rock. The sound quality did not disappoint even when turned to excessively loud volumes and produces little distortion at high volumes.
The Crosley C200A-BK Direct Drive Turntable has a modern and expensive design. While many budget Crosley turntables appear cheap, the Crosley C200 is an exception. The turntable’s dazzling strobe dots and matte black finish makes it very eye-catching. This turntable’s sleek lines and cool technical details are also functional. The transparent plastic case can even play with the lid shut, and certainly won’t damage your precious records.
The Crosley C200A-BK has a resilient S-shaped tonearm. The balanced S-shaped tone arm comes with a hydraulic lift control, anti-skate, height adjustment, and lockable rest. At times, setting up a brand-new turntable can be slightly tedious due to the process of balancing the tonearm. However, that is not the case with the Crosley C200 Direct Drive Turntable as the turntable’s tonearm comes pre-assembled.
The Crosley C200A-BK model is incredibly easy-to-use and set-up. To set-up this turntable, you will just set the turntable platter in the centre, connect the headshell into the front side of the tonearm, steady the stylus pressure and the tonearm, and put on the lid of the turntable. The included manual also provides straightforward and easy-to-follow directions. It is as easy as plug-and-play.
The Crosley C200A-BK has several features that experienced DJs will love. This turntable includes an adjustable pitch control of this turntable is a nice touch, especially for the more advanced DJs. With the pitch control, you can easily adjust the tempo and pitch. This function makes the device more appealing to experienced DJs.
However, this model has a few shortcomings. The Crosley C200A-BK Direct Drive Turntable comes with an in-built pre-amp. However, the pre-amp does not produce the finest sound quality. It is recommended that you acquire your own pre-amp. The included RCA cables are also a bit shorter. Thus, you might want to reconsider in investing in a longer set that is in case you have a large home system.
Overall, the Crosley C200A-BK is a solid direct-drive turntable with all the functionality that most of us desire. Everything included in the package feels respectably solid and works well. This turntable produces an excellent sound with crisp highs, a warm mid-range and a tight, clean bass. This model is an extremely solid option for those looking to replace a lower-end turntable. It is also a perfect starting point for a novice DJ player. Over time, you can incrementally upgrade this turntable.
Stanton T92 USB DJ Turntable – Amazing Sound with Little Distortion
- Lightweight and portable
- Amazing sound quality
- Excellent USB capabilities
- High frequencies are too analog-sounding
The Stanton T92 USB is not a typical audiophile turntable. In fact, it is a high-quality and durable DJ turntable that is built to withstand a great deal of punishment while providing accurate playback speeds. The Stanton T92 has a high-torque direct-drive motor, a pitch control fader with DSP keylock, the Audiophile-quality Stanton 500.v3 Cartridge already added to the head shell, an S-shaped tone arm, RCA stereo outputs, start-stop switches for mix and battle uses.
The T92 also comes with three play speeds (33, 45, and 78 RPM). The T92 does away with belts and the usual DJ accouterments, such as speed and pitch controls. With a direct drive motor, the Stanton T92 will have a smaller failure rate than a belt-driven motor. A direct drive motor also has faster start up speeds and will spin at a more consistent speed to maintain better pitch when your record is playing.
When it comes to sound quality, the Stanton T92 is a great performer. The T92 has a reported frequency response of 30Hz to 20kHz, with a total harmonic distortion rating of .03 percent. The turntable’s signal to noise ratio is 65dB. The T92 comes with a rich and defined mid-range, coupled with solid low-end punch. The sound stage width and depth is good.
The Stanton T92 comes complete with an S-Shaped Tone Arm and a Stanton 500v3 cartridge. The included tone arm has a length of 230.5mm, with a tracking force range of zero to three grams along with a cartridge weight allowance of three to four grams. This is also a fully manual tone arm. To start playback, gently place the stylus on the record using the headshell finger support. Avoid dropping the stylus onto the record as it may cause damage to the diamond tip and to the record.
The Stanton T92 comes with USB and S/PDIF Outputs. This allows any user to transfer music from vinyl records to your Mac or PC. Thus, this turntable’s USB and digital output facilitates the transfer of your favourite records to MP3 via the included software. This software also enables you to edit your music files. This is a feature that is frequently sought after by newer generations of DJ users. The included manual provides detailed instructions on using this software.
Although, the Stanton T92 is not perfect. The turntable’s high frequencies are not as good and some users even find that the high frequencies are too analog-sounding.
Nevertheless, overall, the Stanton T92 is the perfect turntable for home use. The turntable is made of a high-grade plastic, unlike the metal used in most DJ level turntables. The lack of metal allows the T92 to be a much lighter turntable, and therefore, much more portable. It allows you to digitise your vinyl without the need for an interface and lets you mix and scratch with great pick up and platter response. Includes all necessary cables as well as editing software for digitizing your records. If you need a basic, direct drive turntable with USB capabilities, this is the turntable for you!
Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB Turntable – Best Left to the Professionals
- High-torque direct drive motor is enables controlled playback
- Quality aluminium tonearm is durable and tracks excellently
- USB connectivity for digital archiving
- Attached RCA are slightly inconvenient
- Included cartridge should be replaced
Audio-Technica’s own AT-LP120-USB is a high-performing and flashy model. Unlike other entry-level turntables which are simplistic and tone-downed in design, the AT-LP120 pulls out all the stops. It appeals to professional DJs as it has many knobs and switches to fiddle with. As a direct drive player, the LP-120 grants you access to a pitch control and reverse play button.
The only real downside down side of direct drive tables does not apply to this well-built AT-LP120. Other direct drive tables will be more prone to motor vibrations leaking into sound, but the LP120’s motor is not at all intrusive. The LP120 offers its own high-tech look. In addition to the numerous extra controls and sliders, the LP120 also has a pop-up stylus target light and stroboscopic platter speed indicator.
Another benefit is that this turntable can automatically change player speeds. Users can change to the 33 1/3 RPM button and a 45 RPM button, and pushing them both will allow 78 RPM playback. The high-torque motor starts and stops quickly, and has no trouble turning its solid die-cast aluminium platter. With a drive belt design, there is higher torque which means that the platter can accelerate to a constant speed faster. This results in faster start-up times. The Audio Technica AT-LP120’s motor can also do back-cueing and reverse playing with ease. All DJs need is a special needle to do so.
The more precise and stronger motor means that there will be less wow and flutter in your playback. The sturdy build also prevents vibrations or motor noises from interfering with the music and sound quality. This is especially useful for DJs as a stronger motor can withstand rougher and prolonged use. Any recorded audio comes through clear, and free from wow and flutter.
The turntable includes excellent USB connectivity. The turntable’s PC and Mac-compatible Audacity software that converts the audio on a record to MP3, WAV or other format digital audio files. In the same vein, the records do not lose their integrity or “vinyl touch”.
The S-shaped aluminium tonearm is quite durable and can withstand frequent use. The S-shaped tonearm also has an adjustable tracking force/counterweight, an anti-skate adjustment and a removable universal cartridge mount. With an S-shaped tonearm, the player tracks effectively right out of the box. Distortion is minimal, and skipping and popping are rare thanks to its anti-skate control and tone arm height lock.
The LP120 does have some faults. The LP120’s attached RCA cables are a bit of a disappointment, since replaceable ones are so convenient. The included AT95E Dual Magnet phono cartridge functions decently, but should be replaced due to its heavy tracking force of 3-5 grams. A heavy tracking force can be rough on a record if the player is bumped or jostled.
All things considered, the Audio Technica AT-LP120 still offers a lot of value at an affordable price. It is a versatile turntable that will not disappoint with its USB connectivity function. Most entry-level turntables do not have this feature! The Audio Technica AT-LP120 also has a built-in switchable phono preamp, which allows for properly amplified playback. These additional functions then make the turntable more expensive. Nevertheless, the Audio Technica AT-LP120 does not compromise on quality and the sound it produces is greatly enjoyed by DJs.
Pioneer DJ PLX-500-K Turntable – Precise Sound with a Durable Build
- USB connectivity
- Excellent vibration damping structure
- Precise audio playback with high-torque motor
- Hard to determine cartridge’s origin
- Some users prefer a more manual turntable
The Pioneer DJ PLX-500-K turntable is noticeably quite heavy as it is solidly built with excellent vibration damping and precise audio playback. This high-torque deck allows the platter to accelerate to a constant speed faster. DJs greatly value faster start-up times in a direct drive turntable.
The high-torque deck is ideal for scratching and this makes the Pioneer PLX-500-K a favourite among DJs. DJs can further upgrade this turntable by purchasing a rekordbox DVS, a compatible DJ mixer and the RB-VS1-K Control Vinyl to play and remix the digital files.
The turntable comes with an electronic speed selector. This makes the PLX-500-K turntable even more convenient for DJs. With the simple press of a button, you can change the speed between 33, 48 and 78 RPM. The Pioneer PLX-500-K is also one of few turntables that has the option of 78 RPM. It is usually enjoyed by DJs who use records from before the 1960s.
This turntable also comes with USB connectivity. This will enable any user to make digital recordings of their vinyl collection. Users can record their vinyl collection to high-quality digital files by simply connecting the turntable to their PC or Mac via the USB cable. Pioneer supplies the USB cable as well as a free rekordbox software. You can refer to this link for more detailed instructions on using the free software: https://www.pioneerdj.com/en/news/2016/plx-500-direct-drive-turntable-for-djs/
The Pioneer PLX-500-K has a universal type S-shape tonearm with a gimbal-supported type bearing structure. With a gimbal design, there is less bearing friction which allows the stylus to better track the grooves in the record. The aluminium die-cast platter has excellent speed stability and further reduces unwanted vibrations.
The Pioneer PLX-500-K produces a high-quality sound that is expected from vinyl. The turntable has the shortest possible audio routing from the stylus to the outputs which then reduces sound distortion. The phono and line outputs enable users to connect directly to their sound system or powered speakers to enjoy a clear and warm analogue sound.
One particularly intriguing and creative feature of this turntable is its sleeve stand inside the dust cover. The sleeve stand allows you to put your covers on display while listening to your vinyl. Not many entry-level turntables have this feature which makes the Pioneer PLX-500-K slightly more unique than the rest.
However, the PLX-500-K does have a few less-than-impressive features. Although the turntable comes with a pre-mounted cartridge and stylus, the origin of the cartridge and stylus is indeterminate. You may end up spending more to replace the cartridge. Some users were not impressed with the electronic speed selector as they prefer a more manual turntable.
With all these features, the Pioneer PLX-500-K is a stunning turntable for DJs and even home listeners. It offers a clear and warm sound that is free from distortions and vibrations, at a great price. This makes it a great record player for any music lover to have.
Audio Technica AT-LP1240 Turntable – High-end Performance for the Professional DJs
- High-torque direct drive motor is enables controlled playback
- Quality aluminium tonearm is durable and tracks excellently
- USB connectivity for digital archiving
- More expensive
- No included cartridge or stylus
The Audio-Technica AT-LP1240-USB is the premier vinyl turntable from the Audio-Technica DJ Line-up. The Audio Technica AT-LP1240 turntable is high-performing and glitzy model. Unlike other entry-level turntables which are simplistic and tone-downed in design, the AT-LP1240 pulls out all the stops. It has many knobs and switches to fiddle with.
All the buttons have a more rubberized feel to them and have an audible click so you can be sure if you activated the button or not. There is also a blue LED next to the absolute zero marker so you know when you are at perfect vinyl speed.
This turntable has an electronic speed selector which has three options unlike most turntables. Users can select either 33, 45 or 78 RPM. For vinyl record enthusiasts with records made between 1898 and the late 1950s, the option of 78 RPM would be greatly appreciated.
The Audio Technica AT-LP1240 has a direct drive design and high-torque motor. The more precise and stronger motor means that there will be less wow and flutter in your playback. With a drive belt design, there is higher torque which means that the platter can accelerate to a constant speed faster. This results in faster start-up times. The Audio Technica AT-LP1240’s motor can also do back-cueing and reverse playing with ease.
The S-shaped tonearm has an adjustable tracking force/counterweight, an anti-skate adjustment and a removable universal cartridge mount. The 3-way adjustable tonearm enables greater convenience. The aluminium tonearm is quite durable and can withstand frequent use. It also enables excellent tracking and produces a detailed sound. However, the cartridge needs to be bought separately.
One other outstanding feature with this model is its USB connectivity function. The turntable includes PC and Mac-compatible Audacity software that converts the audio on a record to MP3, WAV or other format digital audio files. In the same vein, the records do not lose their integrity or “vinyl touch”.
This turntable comes with an array of features suited for any professional DJ. For DJs wanting to lay their decks in ‘battle’ configuration, this turntable has two start/stop buttons. There is a slider to adjust pitch, and a quartz lock button to bypass that slider. The turntable also includes a stroboscope which indicates speed accuracy. The removable ‘stylus target light’ lets you put the needle in the groove in the dark. These professional features for excellent for DJ use in nightclubs, touring and mobile applications.
The Audio Technica AT-LP1240 also has a built-in switchable phono preamp, which allows for properly amplified playback. However, some users preferred using other phono stages such as the Rega Fono Mini A2D which enabled a more dynamic and detailed sound with greater clarity. These additional functions then make the turntable more expensive.
Nevertheless, the Audio Technica AT-LP1240 does not compromise on quality and the sound it produces is greatly enjoyed by all music lovers. The Audio Technica AT-LP1240 offers multiple features at an affordable price.
Stanton STR8150 DJ Turntable – Durable Construction and Made for Heavy Use
- Heavy duty, all-steel construction
- Strong high-torque direct drive motor
- Perfect for scratching
- Does not have a dust cover
Stanton’s STR8 DJ turntable is perfect for the modern digital DJ. Stanton’s STR8150 comes at a hard-to-beat price and is the best DJ turntable for the money when compared with all the others on the market. The Stanton STR8150 is equipped with a super high torque turntable with an ultra-stable platter and tone arm for remarkable control. The STR8150 starts and stops immediately and is virtually skip-proof.
The STR8’s heavy duty steel construction offers durable construction designed to minimize feedback. The upper body of the turntable is all steel while the lower portion of the deck is a very heavy rubber material for dampening and isolation purposes. This turntable includes features that every professional DJ needs. Some of the features are Key Correction, Reverse, up to 50% pitch adjustment, and S/PDIF digital outputs. The key correction alters platter speed without changing pitch.
The STR8 comes with a 194mm straight tonearm with a detachable headshell. It is also designed to minimize inward and outward force on the needle. Unlike the S-shaped tonearm, there is no natural pull toward the centre of the record which can cause even more skipping during back-cue movements. The additional benefit of the straight tonearm design is superior tracking for better audio quality.
The STR8 comes with the Stanton 680HP Cartridge. The 680HP cartridge is a reliable, solid, and precise piece of equipment. The newer version comes with a spherical stylus which is better for scratching. This version also has higher output and a sturdier suspension for the stylus. In terms of construction, the 680HP cartridge is known for its durability and should last a long time with heavy use.
Along with an excellent motor, there are many enjoyable features such as the ability to play records in 33, 45, and 78 RPM, a reverse play button, adjustable pitch range buttons (8%, 25%, 50%), and two start/stop buttons that are aligned in the perfect position for turntablists and scratch DJs who like to place their decks in the battle configuration. Additionally, there are coaxial digital-audio output plugs directly into a CD recorder, audio/video surround receiver, or a PC or Macintosh sound card.
The Stanton STR8150 High Torque turntable also comes with internal grounding, which means that there is no need for those clumsy pre-gigs. These features are perfect for those who are searching for a professional level, heavy weight turntable. This model also comes equipped with a pop-up light which is designed for easier replacement. These are some features that modern DJs love from Stanton.
One minor complaint is that the turntable does not include a dust cover. Nevertheless, the Stanton STR8150 is still an excellent turntable for DJs. It is well recommended for turntablists or professional DJs who need a high-quality machine for their work.
Hope you have found this post useful, if you are looking for some turntable mats to go along with these, check them out in our turntable mat review post.