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5 Best DJ Turntables

DJ Turntables - Past, Present, and Future

It’s no secret that the style of DJing these days has come a long way since the world’s first discothèque, The Whiskey A Go-Go, opened in Paris way back in 1947 (a bit of trivia to impress your friends there). And although the official term “disc Jockey” has been around since the 1940s, the culture as we know it was really born in the 70s; Deep in the boroughs of New York City and the Bronx, the founders like DJ Kool Herc and Grand Wizard Theodore started throwing large block parties, laying down break beats, and began mixing two records together creating something that would come to be known today as hip-hop. These creative masterminds would mix disco, implement electronic sounds, manipulate the records and even messed around and invented a little technique known as the scratch.

Fast forward 30+ years and today the art form has morphed into a mixture of dozens of different genres of music capturing the decades of experimentation, the blending of creativity, and the advancement of technology into a much more modern scene. In a typical nightclub nowadays you would be hard pressed to find a DJ booth that doesn’t have a pair of Pioneer CDJs, a laptop, a Serato interface and MIDI controllers in place of a classic pair of Technics 1200 turntables and a club mixer. Because of the absence of turntables from DJ booths, for DJs just starting out, it might be hard to make the case that they should start out DJing on vinyl.

Well, let’s clear up that misconception right away; while DJing with vinyl records is not the only game in town anymore and plenty of options certainly exist, the art is anything but outdated. With vinyl sales on the rise, more and more DJs who started out digging in crates in the 80s and 90s are returning to their roots, and younger DJs and those just starting out are finding the idea of spinning records more and more appealing. With the world-wide popularity of competitions like the Red Bull Thre3style that blends the use of two turntables and a mixer along with a digital vinyl system (DVS) into a fun and exciting DJ battle, it’s easy to see why.

Unfortunately, the immensely popular, industry standard DJ turntable that so many DJs know and love - the Technics SL-1200 series - was discontinued in late 2010. Shortly thereafter, the Vestax corporation of Japan - one of Technics’ only close competitors for a long time in the turntable market - also closed its doors in 2014. For a brief moment, it seemed the all-in-one DJ controller would rule the market to come. Luckily, the turntable is alive and well with several respected names in the DJ market manufacturing high quality decks these days. In fact, life after Technics seems to be thriving!

Best DJ Turntable - Technics SL-1200MK2

So in the spirit of good old fashioned beat matching, if you are tossing around the idea of getting a new shiny set of decks or just returning to the craft, we’ve put together our shortlist of five of the most popular DJ turntables on the market today in different price ranges, put them through their paces, and reviewed them for your reading pleasure.

What To Look For in a DJ Turntable

Today’s DJ turntables come in many flavors with some great upgrades in quality over the turntables of the past. With so many respectable companies entering the DJ market with high quality decks, it can a bit daunting to distinguish between what is a necessary feature and what may just look good on paper. Before we get started, let’s go over a few of the features and qualities to look for when purchasing a DJ turntable. Learning these things will help you immensely when looking for the best DJ turntable for your needs.

  1. Motor (direct vs. belt drive): The most important thing to look for hands down in a DJ turntable is a direct drive motor and preferably a high torque direct drive motor. Although belt drive turntables are historically thought to have better sound, it’s not an issue these days with the quality of brushless direct drive motors on the market. The direct drive motor is preferred by DJs because it allows for much better pitch control and is less susceptible to outside manipulation from cueing, back cueing and scratching. Furthermore, the direct drive motor will get up to and hold speed better than belt drive motors (belt drive motors are generally low torque and much slower when getting started). A few of the turntables we review in this guide use a similar direct drive motor manufactured by a company out of China called Hanpin. Hanpin was the first company to copy the classic Technics SL-1200 direct drive motor and patent it after the Technics patent expired. They manufacture what is referred to as a “Super OEM” turntable and several well known DJ equipment companies have licensed this motor design from Hanpin due to its extremely high quality and durability. We’ll be referencing their motor and tonearm several times in our reviews.

  2. Tonearm quality: The type of tonearm is an important factor because it can relate directly to sound quality and tracking ability. A heavy duty tone arm with height adjustment, counter weight adjustment and anti-skating is preferred for DJ use because it is fully customizable and will stay in place when manipulating the record. The anti-skate feature puts slight pressure on the angle of the turntable cartridge and does just what it says, prevents “skating” across the record surface. The proper way to set up a tonearm is usually listed in the manual of the model of turntable and will give the recommended counterweight adjustment, height and anti-skate setting. This can always be found in the paperwork included with standard DJ cartridges like the Shure M44-7 or Ortofon Concorde Pro. It’s also important to recognize the difference between an s-shaped tonearm (most common) and a straight tonearm. This is no deal breaker, however a common footnote is that most club DJs prefer s-shaped tonearms for sound quality and many scratch DJs like a straight tonearm for superior tracking. The straight tonearm typically stays in place a bit better when scratching due to the force on the vinyl, but when set up properly, a s-shaped tonearm is just as good. DJ Turntable Tonearm

  3. Pitch control: The quality of the pitch control is not to be overlooked. This is the DJ’s main source of record control when adjusting the speed and pitch when beat matching. A high quality pitch control with adjustments of 8%, 10%, 16% and even 50% is nearly standard on many of today’s turntables. With a good direct drive motor at work, the better the pitch fader the faster a DJ can match beats, and some of the turntables we review here have amazing pitch sliders. One thing to note however, is that many DJs like a pitch control that is similar to a classic Technics SL-1200 for its world renowned feel and accuracy (we’ll make mention of that similarity in our reviews). DJ Turntable Pitch Control

  4. Build quality: This is often a bit overlooked in a DJ turntable with all the other bells and whistles, but it can be as important as any other feature, especially for the working DJ. Turntables can get abused on a weekly basis and it’s recommended to note a tables construction and weight when making a decision. Also, the weight of a turntable can give a buyer an idea of the quality of the components used as well as the amount of rubberized damping material often found in a high quality turntable. The technology is improving all the time, so a lighter turntable isn’t necessarily less durable, but if you plan on gigging regularly a good coffin or set or road cases is recommended. Even the strongest tonearm can be bent easily by mistake and turntable feet are one of the most commonly broken parts, so protect your hard earned gear! If you don’t plan on them leaving the house you may not find this as important, so keep that in mind too.

  5. Miscellaneous features: Things like an external USB port, removable RCA plugs, reverse buttons, extra start and stop buttons and removable target lights are all features that don’t affect the ability to DJ as much as the four main features above. However, they are commonly found on many of today’s models and depending on preference can make a difference when buying a turntable. A USB port, for example, is big plus if one wishes to rip tons of old vinyl to a computer, so these are things to think about as well and we’ll cover them throughout this guide. Accessories are also important, as some turntables come with high quality RCA plugs and a pre-mounted cartridge right out of the box. Others will require the extra purchase of a cartridge and needle which can add to the overall cost of a setup.

  6. Budget: As with most things, the price of a DJ turntable can be a deal breaker, and with some of the budget friendly models on the market being stocked with many of the same great features as the more expensive models, this can make all the difference. For this reason we’ll be giving one of the DJ turntables the “Best of the Best” award, and one the “Best Bang for your Buck” award, so keep an eye out.

Top 5 DJ Turntables

The five turntables we’ll be reviewing include the Stanton STR8-150 / ST-150, the Pioneer PLX-1000, the Reloop RP-8000, The Audio Technica AT LP-120USB and the Numark TT-250USB. Throughout the reviews we’ll also be referring to the time honored classic Technics SL-1200 for feature comparison as well as a good general benchmark in quality. Let’s get started!

Stanton ST-150 / STR8-150

Stanton ST-150

The first turntable in our shootout comes to us from the halls of the Stanton Magnetics corporation who have been in the DJ game for over 50 years. Well known for their turntable cartridges, headphones and turntables, Stanton has a long history of manufacturing quality equipment for DJs and their flagship turntable does not disappoint. The oldest model being reviewed in our list, the Stanton ST-150 has been on the block for nearly a decade now and has a reputation for being durable and reliable. Stanton was one of the earliest companies to really develop a turntable with the features and build quality to directly compete with the Technics SL-1200 in the marketplace. Stanton hit a homerun with the ST-150 and the unit has held the test of time and is widely used in DJ competitions as well as being the turntable of choice at the world renowned Scratch DJ Academy, which is a testament to its durability.

The ST-150 comes in two versions that are identical except for the tonearm system. The St-150 has a standard s-shaped tonearm that is commonly seen on most turntables including the Technics SL-1200, and the STR8-150 is the same model with a straight tonearm as the name suggests. The advantages of a straight or s-shaped tonearm vary depending on who you ask, but typically a straight tonearm is a thought to be better for the scratch DJ as it is more skip resistant to those with a heavy hand. We find that if properly set up with a quality cartridge, the two tonearms perform excellently so it boils down to personal preference in this category.

Best DJ Turntable - Stanton ST-150

As for features, the ST-150 is packed with advanced features that up until its release were not common in the turntable market. It boasts one of the strongest high-torque direct drive motors in the industry, coming in at a whopping 4.5kgf-cm. This, combined with its proven longevity makes the ST-150 a premier player in the turntablist market today. Some other major features include a the ability to switch between line out and phono outputs, internal grounding, and a heavy duty build with a rubberized bottom half for sound dampening. When we say heavy duty we mean heavy duty. The ST-150 weighs in at over 40 lbs, making it the heaviest DJ turntable on our list by some margin. Despite making it a little heavier for transport, the extra weight is a good thing as it speaks to the quality of the internal components and the build of the all-metal body of the turntable. Quartz controlled, it has a familiar layout with the welcome addition of an additional start and stop button for setting up battle style, separate start and brake adjustments, a reverse button, key lock, a fully adjustable high quality tonearm and the choice between 8%, 25%, or 50% on the pitch control which is smooth and precise.

We’re very pleased to see some bonus accessories boxed in with the turntable which include a set of very thick, right angle, detachable high quality RCA cables and a detachable power plug as well as a very thin slipmat, removable LED target light and a very high end Stanton 680v.3 cartridge pre mounted on a silver Stanton headshell that compliments the unit perfectly. It appears that Stanton was keen to make sure at the price you pay for the ST-150, you would be ready to rock right out of the box with a high-end setup and exceptional needle.

Performance-wise the Stanton ST-150 really shines. The tonearm is solid and adjustable and the sound quality of the Stanton is as good as any turntable out there past or present. Having such a strong, brushless, high torque direct drive motor, the platter strength is considerably greater than a Technics SL-1200 and may take some getting used to, but the pitch control is defined and accurate making mixing on the table enjoyable and quick. The platter is very stable and sits on top of the deck rather than down in the unit slightly giving the ST-150 a bit of a raised feel which scratch DJs can appreciate. The 680v.3 cartridge sticks to the record like glue and scratching on the ST-150 feels fast and sharp with absolutely no slowing down of the platter even when pressing firmly and doing advanced cuts. There is no doubt that this beast is a battle level turntable that can handle the abuse of years of hard competition and professional use, and will no doubt last for years to come. All in all the only thing missing from this unit is the addition of a USB output commonly seen on newer turntables - however, it does offer a digital output that may be a manageable substitute depending on the type of sound card one might want to plug directly into.

Bottom Line: It may be important to note that the ST-150 falls into the category of the Super OEM turntables, and uses a modified version of the proven Hanpin direct drive motor that is based off the original Technics SL-1200 and has become well known for quality. The Stanton ST-150 may not be the cheapest turntable on the market, but it is professional grade and the price is fair considering the level of quality and the amount of features and accessories it carries with it. The cartridge alone is about an $80 bonus which takes some sting out of the cost. We give the Stanton ST-150 a well earned 10 out of 10 (despite missing a dedicated USB output) for price, style, build, features and durability. Out of the 5 best DJ turntables we review, this one wins .

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Pioneer PLX-1000

Pioneer PLX-1000 Turntable

Second in our DJ turntable reviews is a pro deck manufactured by one of the largest and most recognizable players in the game, Pioneer DJ. The Pioneer PLX-1000 is the first turntable made exclusively by Pioneer DJ and draws on Pioneer’s pro audio history of over 50 years of making audiophile turntables. Being a pro DJ unit it comes as no surprise that Pioneer openly markets the PLX to appeal to the die hard Technics fans who have been yearning for a quality, yet straightforward replacement to the famous SL-1200.

Pioneer DJ is extremely well known for their high quality DJ equipment, especially their industry standard professional DJM line of DJ mixers and their CDJ line of digital media players that are a staple in thousands of nightclub booths worldwide. Then again, another thing Pioneer DJ is well known for is their consistently high “Pioneer pricing,” and in that regard the PLX-1000 is no slouch; its price tag is near the upper end of our DJ turntable reviews list. However, considering their CDJ line of media players and DJM line of mixers are well into the thousands of dollars this may seem relatively affordable for a piece of kit with the Pioneer Professional logo gracing the face plate. They rely heavily on the popularity of the Pioneer DJ brand and we have little doubt the PLX-1000 will sell well due to their fine reputation in the DJ scene. So, is it worth every penny? Let’s dive in and see.

Best DJ Turntable - Pioneer PLX-1000

One of the most familiar looking turntables on the market, it’s clear that with the PLX-1000 Pioneer was careful to copy the layout and minimal feature set of the ever popular Technics SL-1200 line of turntables. It’s a beautiful looking turntable, weighing in at a meaty 29 lbs with a black brushed aluminum face plate, blue LED lights and the patented shiny round Pioneer START/STOP button seen on their CDJ media players. Another Hanpin driven Super OEM turntable, the PLX-1000 features the same strong direct drive motor as the Stanton ST-150 with 4.5kg/cm of starting torque. It also has comparable detachable RCA and power cables, however the similarities between the two models end there. This is a very different animal, and where the PLX differs the most is actually the LACK of features that you might expect to see on a unit of this caliber. Pioneer DJ is quick to point out that this was completely intentional when designing the PLX, and they directly market the deck to be a solid, no-frills, professional unit that is as similar to a Technics SL-1200 as possible.

Utilizing a pure analogue signal path, the PLX-1000 is the most conventional turntable in our guide. The unit does not feature a built in line-level preamp like most newer models, and this means the audio runs directly from the cartridge to the RCA output under the body of the turntable exactly like the Technics 1200 series. It even has a good old fashioned ground wire. The platter is heavy and solid and sinks into the deck just like a 1200, and the target light is an LED that pops up exactly like a 1200 as well. The tonearm is mostly a Pioneer DJ creation morphing the Super OEM design to look nearly identical to that of a Technics tonearm right down to the height adjustment, and we’re glad to say it performs flawlessly. It’s a custom, rubber insulated, s-shaped arm and is actually a bit heavier than expected which is a slight but welcomed improvement. One obvious feature that Pioneer DJ was wise to include is the ability to change the pitch from 8% to 16% and even 50% respectively with the push of a button.

Performance is very solid which is to be expected from something made by Pioneer DJ, and it appears Pioneer has taken aim at the club owner and installer with the PLX-1000. Rather than worry about finding a used set of Technics, a club owner can purchase a new set of these and get a full warranty along with a familiar brand that will match the DJM 800 or 900nexus mixer and the set of CDJ 2000s most likely already in the booth. Pioneer is really proud of their “industry standard” reputation and it shows through every detail in the quality of the PLX-1000.

Now, although some missing features are not necessarily a negative for the PLX since it was designed specifically to be a rock-solid yet basic professional turntable, there is one fairly large gripe we found when testing the turntable. The pitch slider, which does happen to be buttery smooth, is apparently hard soldered to the internal PCB inside the unit. This may or may not become an issue in the future, however, it’s worth noting that the most replaced part on many Technics SL-1200s over the years is the pitch control. They wear out over years of abuse, but in almost every other pro turntable on the market can easily be replaced. Why Pioneer did this is a mystery and may be something to consider before forking out the cash for a pair of PLX-1000s. Maybe they plan on the units being sent into a licensed Pioneer service shop if the pitch fader ever breaks. Also the unit does not come with a cartridge or headshell like the Stanton ST-150, so keep that in mind as well.

Bottom Line: Overall, the Pioneer PLX-1000 performs exactly how it was designed to and is already popping up in clubs all over as the new standard to replace the infamous SL-1200s. We rate it an 8.5 out of 10 simply because of the high price and hard soldered pitch control, for which only time will tell just how well it holds up.

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Reloop RP-8000

Reloop RP-8000

Next in line in our duel of the decks is another relative newcomer to the professional turntable market by a relatively new DJ equipment company compared to most others; a little company by the name of Reloop. Reloop started making quality DJ gear in the mid-90s, growing over the last twenty years consistently, and today stands as one of the most innovative manufacturers of high-end DJ gear in the world. The corporation creates high quality DJ mixers, controllers, turntables, headphones, speakers and even partners with major software designers like Serato and Algoriddim.

The Reloop RP-8000 is our most feature packed turntable of the list, and in fact may be the most feature packed DJ turntable in the world. Roughly two years old, it hasn‘t been out very long at all (alongside the Pioneer PLX-1000), but the feedback from the professional DJ scene is overwhelmingly positive so far. This thing does it all. The first professional grade turntable to implement full MIDI control, the RP-8000 has built in drum pads that control cue points, loops, samples and more as well as a built in rotary decoder for scrolling and loading tracks in Serato DJ, TRAKTOR, Virtual DJ or any other digital vinyl system (DVS) on the market.

Best DJ Turntable - Reloop RP-8000

With the invention of the Novation Dicer, the idea of adding buttons to control parameters in DVS software directly from the turntable is not new, but the RP-8000 is the first and only turntable in the world to come with the feature built right into the face plate. They’ve even partnered up with Serato DJ as an “official accessory” to the software making the RP-8000 a plug-and-play MIDI controller with instant connectivity to Serato DJ, requiring no additional MIDI mapping to use. The turntable comes complete with eight RGB backlit pads and four banks of control that feature cue points, looping, sampler, and stutter as well as a built in USB port on the rear of the unit. There’s also a separate “turntable link” port that allows up to four RP-8000s to be connected at a time running through one USB to the laptop and software. Reloop updates their firmware regularly to keep up with the latest releases of Serato DJ and also claims to have mapping files available for TRAKTOR and Virtual DJ users as well.

Other features of this hybrid creation include a familiar layout, again modeling the classic Technics SL-1200, with the addition of an extra START/STOP button, adjustable start and brake time from .2 - 6.0 seconds, internal grounding with phono and line outputs, quartz lock, reverse switch, and a high resolution digital display. The digital display shows the ultra precise pitch change percentage of the high resolution pitch fader in increments of 0.02% resolution with options of 8%, 16%, and 50% range on the pitch control. Also, the BPM of a track can easily be read on the bright led display when focusing on beat matching. The turntable even has adjustable torque control for those Technics fanatics that prefer a bit less than the massive, finger tearing 4.5kg/cm standard and want to adjust the turntable platter strength to feel just like a perfect Technics SL-1200. Furthermore, it comes stock with removable right angle RCA and power cables and a removable LED pop up light. Again, however, no cartridge or needle is included which is unfortunate because the turntable lands at the highest price point of our shootout.

Being chock full of goodies is not all the RP-8000 has to offer though, and being yet another Hanpin model Super OEM style deck it has the same exact super high torque motor and heavy duty tonearm as our Stanton ST-150, and even comes in a straight arm version just like the Stanton STR8-150 mentioned earlier. The finish is a metallic black on an all-metal faceplate with a composite plastic base instead of the rubber style base on the Stanton and other models. This makes the turntable weigh in at around only 21lbs which is extremely light for a pro turntable, but may be an advantage when carrying these from the trunk of your car to the DJ booth and back. We suggest investing in some flight cases though, since the build quality feels firm enough but not incredibly solid like our earlier turntables.

The sound quality is terrific, and once you’re in the mix, the performance when DJing feels just as concrete as our Pioneer and Stanton recommendations despite the decks weighing less. Scratching is precise and being able to turn the turntable battle-style really lets the DVS MIDI control stand out, putting the array of drum pads comfortably within reach at the bottom of the turntable with the extra START/STOP button accessible on the bottom-left as well. This is how the RP-8000 is meant to be rocked in full battle mode. It’s fair to mention the feel of the pitch may be the closest to a classic SL-1200M3D or MK5 so far without the center “click,” and is as close as the Pioneer PLX-1000’s pitch feel.

Bottom Line: All in all the Reloop RP-8000 is the most advanced turntable in this review and would have landed Best of the Best if it was a bit more affordable, came with a cartridge, and had been around a bit longer on the market. Being only two years old, the jury is still out on overall durability over time, and the light weight of the deck is a bit concerning. Our top pick of the Stanton ST-150 is safe... for now. The RP-8000 lands a strong 9.5 out of 10 and is just a great innovative turntable that is super fun to use and really pushes the creative envelope in digital DJing.

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Numark TT250USB

Numark TT250USB Professional DJ Direct Drive Turntable

Now that we’ve seen some of the industry’s best and most sought after high-end DJ turntables, we move on to some decks aimed more at the mid-range DJ market. After all, many DJs have a specific budget to stick to, so whether you are just starting out or in need of some new gear we’ve got you covered. The newest of the products in our list is the Numark TT-250USB which steps up to the plate, but does it hit a homerun, or strikeout? Let's find out!

Numark, just like Pioneer and Stanton, have cut their teeth in the DJ market over the past 40+ years and much like Pioneer DJ have developed a degree of respect and a reputation for quality, especially in the last decade or so, with a noticeable improvement in quality and an array of new cutting edge gadgets. Numark really is one of the original DJ brands and lays claim to being the largest brand under the inMusic corporate umbrella (which features major brands like Akai, M-Audio, Alesis, Alto, Denon and most recently Rane alongside Numark). Because of this partnership, Numark has inherited new designs and technologies from these sister companies that are visible in many of their DJ controllers and other products.

Best DJ Turntable - Numark TT250USB

But how does the TT250USB stand out? Well for starters it has that Technics SL-1200 look and layout to it (much like the rest of the turntables in this review), but Numark was smart to add a feature or two of their own like a USB port for directly recording into a computer from vinyl, a built in stereo preamp and pitch bend buttons on the pitch fader. Yes that’s correct, pitch bend control! We found that to be a really nice addition since so many digital media players and DJ controllers offer this feature today and DJs welcome little bonuses like this. The motor is not as strong as our earlier models in the review but it does boast 2.0kg/cm start up torque which isn’t bad. And although the platter strength is less than that of a Technics SL-1200, the pitch bend buttons help a lot when mixing, keeping the hands off the platter and making up for the decrease in platter spin power.

Weighing in at just 22 lbs, the build is decent - although not fantastic - but it does have a die cast aluminum platter, a sturdy, adjustable tonearm and the sound quality is very good all things considered. As far as mixing the pitch fader is very smooth and surprisingly accurate and the TT250USB is more than capable of getting the job done. When scratching, the tonearm holds up unexpectedly well also, however the included cartridge from the factory leaves something to be desired. We recommend replacing the included magnetic cartridge with something better for DJ use like a Shure M44-7 or Ortofon Concorde Pro, but for playing vinyl or recording the included needle will suffice and makes for a nice addition since it gets you playing right out of the box.

Bottom Line: Our conclusion is that the Numark TT250USB is a good all-around turntable for average DJ use, however not as much for the nightclub circuit, club installation or for hard abuse like advanced turntablism. Numark advertises the TT250 as a turntablist level unit, but advanced scratches are a bit tricky to pull off due to the lack of torque and the lightweight build. The TT250USB carries a budget-friendly price tag, so this DJ turntable is certainly easy on the wallet and for the money is a very good feature-rich semi-pro unit. Scoring a respectable 8 out of 10 mainly for value, pitch control quality and being a really fun deck to spin on.

Audio-Technica AT-LP120USB

Audio Technica AT-LP120 Turntable

The final turntable in our lineup is made by the Audio-Technica group who, much like Stanton, originally grew a fine reputation for developing high-end audiophile phonograph cartridges. Audio Technica has grown over the past 60 years to incorporate the manufacture of high-performance microphones, headphones, wireless systems, mixers and electronic products for home and professional use. The Japan-based technology company make some of the world’s best microphones and wireless systems that are regularly used for major broadcast music events, so you can be sure they have some pretty smart engineers working on their DJ turntables.

Visually, the Audio-Technica AT-LP120 looks almost exactly like a classic Technics SL-1200, and once again we can see just how much of an influence the iconic turntable has had on yet another successor. It’s so close that it even has the same silver finish, a trait that some of our earlier turntables had modified into a black or blue color scheme. The simple yet effective layout features a die-cast aluminum platter, three speed DC direct drive motor with a respectable 1.6kg/cm of torque, a balanced S-shaped tonearm with hydraulically damped lift control and lockable rest, a built-in switchable phono pre-amplifier, a built in USB port for direct recording to a computer, quartz lock, and fine pitch adjustment of +/-10% or 20%. The pitch even has the familiar “click” in the center when set a 0%, which is a nod to the original SL-1200MK2 model.

Best DJ Turntable - Audio-Technica AT-LP120

The s-shaped tonearm is sturdy and offers good sound quality, and the unit does include an entry-level cartridge in the packaging to get you started but much like the Numark TT-120 we recommend upgrading to a better cartridge for DJ use. The pop up target light is a familiar feature and the unit has a clear dust cover that easily attaches to the turntable for home use. It’s clear that Audio-Technica wanted to make a good quality direct drive unit that Technics fans could appreciate, while keeping the price in the ballpark of the everyday musician which is a big plus for the working DJ. At its budget-friendly price you get a fine turntable that gives you the sense that it could handle the rigors of weekly club gigs or weddings. Just get some flight cases and you are good to go! It has a hefty feel with the all-steel construction bringing the weight in at about 24 lbs; a few shy of the weight of a Technics SL-1200.

Bottom Line: As far as performance is concerned, the turntable is a competitive piece and when side by side next to an SL-1200 they not only look almost the same, but performance is close enough to not just get the job done, but get it done well. Mixing is easy and fluent and with a bit of tonearm adjustment and a proper cartridge, scratching is pretty solid as well. The tonearm is slightly lighter in feel to the Technics SL-1200 and the RCA cables are hard wired (like a 1200), but other than that you have a winner. Combine value plus performance, and the Audio-Technica AT-LP120 gets a 9 out of 10 and lands our title in this DJ turntable shootout.

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We hope you enjoyed our recommendations and reviews of 5 of the best DJ turntables, as we tried to pick models with a variety of prices and feature sets. We’re always adding more reviews on more great musical equipment and DJ gear, so don’t forget to sign up with Equipboard to stay in the mix for the latest updates and news!


25 Dec What’s the deal with “Super OEM” turntables?

Posted at 10:08h in Gear by vinyloftheday

If you’ve done some browsing for a budget turntable, chances are you’ve heard this term before. OEM (Original Equipment Manufacture) products are mass-produced by one company for a low cost and sold to other companies that build upon them by adding their own features to complete a unique final product. To put it briefly, they are essentially core components to the product of another brand. In our case, Super OEMs are a clone of the classic Technics SL1200 and are made by a Taiwanese company called Hanpin, though they are re-badged and enter the market through the likes of Audio Technica, Stanton, Reloop and Pioneer. Frequently mentioned on online audio forums, they’re a somewhat divisive topic. Let’s have a look at the cases for and against them, and try to ascertain a conclusion that may aid the curious or confused shopper.

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Initially created to fill the gap in the market that Technics created once they ended production of the SL1200, the Super OEMs bear a similar set of specs from a glance – albeit with a much more appealing price tag. Both turntables have direct drive motors with a good amount of torque for DJing, and have similar S-shape tonearms. The Super OEMs do come with many more features (depending on the brand), such as wider pitch ranges, USB connectivity, line level output, 78 rpm playback etc.

Some of these features turn out to be a double edged sword though. For example, the turntables with line level outputs usually come with built-in preamps that fall below the standards of audiophiles, and many feel that an external one is needed, turning out to be a hidden cost. The biggest complaint against the Super OEMs found after trawling countless forums was mainly about build quality. Anybody who’s owned a pair of SL1200’s can attest to their sturdiness and durability – no question about it. When looking closely at the performance differences between the Hanpin and Technics turntables, the differences begin to arise. Based on user reports online, the tonearm on Super OEMs tend to come with some margin which may cause skipping, only to be further exacerbated when placed next to a full soundsystem stack in a club without proper isolation. Users who went so far as to perform wow/flutter tests also found that the Technics performed better in most, if not all cases.

But these differences aren’t huge. Sure, the Technics perform better, but these turntables are engineering marvels released almost 50 years ago that are still in widespread use today. They’ve carved out an entire legacy for themselves, DJing and music culture probably wouldn’t be what it is today without them. As such, it’s a little bit unfair to compare the two in the same context. Overall, much of the feedback from the Super OEM users was actually positive, and most of the dissatisfied reports came from serious audiophiles who were paying attention to every bit of detail. My advice to anyone considering buying Super OEMs vs second-hand SL1200’s would be to carefully consider what your use for them would be, and what you want out of them. If it’s just for spinning at home and you don’t want to empty the bank account, then Super OEM turntables are perfectly adequate. That said, if you can find a pair of Technics for cheap and you know a reliable place to get them maintained, you’ll most likely have a set of decks that you’ll never regret buying.

Check out a quick comparison done by DJ TechTools below:

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Top 5 Pro DJ Turntables of 2018

My list of the top five professional DJ turntables of 2018 has arrived.

1. Stanton ST-150/STR8-150

The Stanton ST-150 & STR8-150 turntables have been around for over 15 years now and they've proven themselves among DJ's all over the world. I've had my own personal set for 10 years and they still seem as fresh as new. The Stanton 150's have a super fast motor, dual start-stop buttons, Stop/Start adjustment speed knobs, along with internal Line-Level amps and grounding. The 150's are also the heaviest DJ turntables ever created making them as sturdy as a tank.

2. Reloop RP7000/RP8000

The Reloop RP7000 & RP8000 are both Super-OEM turntables so they have the same motor and tonearms as the Stanton 150's mentioned in the #1 spot. The RP8000 has all the features of the Stanton decks with the 8 MIDI pads and other MIDI controls to perform different functions inside DJ software. The RP7000 costs about $100 less than the RP8000 and removes the MIDI controls but retains all the other features including the digital pitch display.


3. Denon VL12 PRIME

The Denon VL12 PRIME is a SOLID turntable that is heavier than all the others except for the Stanton 150. It also has the best look of all turntables on this list with the brushed metal top and a fully LED ring that wraps around the platter. It also has great pitch resolution and a really sturdy all around feel than most others. The VL12 does NOT have internal grounding or the line level amp found in some others on this list.

4. Pioneer PLX-1000

The Pioneer PLX-1000 turntable is the deck that most closely resembles a real Technics 1200 in practice since it has almost no extra features or bells and whistles. It's just a good deck all around with a strong motor and good tonearm with good sound quality. It doesn't have the start/stop adjustments, Line level amp, MIDI controls, or anything else out of the ordinary. Still, this is a solid choice for any DJ looking for a professional deck.

5. Numark NTX1000

The new Numark NTX1000 turntable is the new kid on the block and it is also the most affordable turntable on this list of Pro decks, coming in at only $400 each. The NTX has the adjustable start/stop knobs and it has a phono to line preamp as well. The NTX1000 has a few plastic parts and doesn't feel as professional as some of the others, but it still has a very strong professional motor and great looks as well. The performance is top-notch.

Honorable Mentions: Epsilon DJT1300 & DJ Tech SL1300MK6

The other two decks on this list aren't in the top 5, but they deserve an honorable mention. The Epsilon and DJ Tech 1300's are true Super-OEM turntables that have the same motor and tonearm as the Stanton and Reloop decks. They also come in at only $200-$350 per deck, if you can still find them somewhere online. They may be mostly plastic in construction, but they are definitely pro-level turntables that can pull off everything necessary.

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Pioneer PLX-1000 DJ Turntable Review \u0026 Super-OEM Comparison Video

The 8 best DJ turntables 2021: top decks for vinyl DJs

What is the best DJ turntable for spinning vinyl? Unlike many of the buyers’ guides we produce here at MusicRadar, this one comes with a fairly straightforward answer – the Technics SL-1200. Ever since its Mk2 iteration hit the market in the late 1970s, the Japanese-made deck has been the standard weapon of choice for hip-hop scratchers and club DJs alike. It wouldn’t be at all controversial to describe it as a definitive DJ turntable.

Quickly adopted by early hip-hop, disco and house DJs at launch, within a decade the SL-1200 – and its close sibling the SL-1210 – dominated the DJ landscape to such an extent that most DJs would refuse to play on anything else. In the latter decades of the 20th century, if you were building a DJ setup for a club, bar or radio station, there was no two ways about it, you needed a pair of Technics.

That said, if you have a smaller budget or different needs, there are plenty of great alternatives on the market, which we'll be taking a look at in this guide.

Top picks

What are the best DJ turntables right now?

Now that the Technics SL-1200/1210 is back in production with the Mk7 version, it’s undoubtedly regained its crown as the definitive, go-to DJ turntable. Even in its updated form it’s still the standard model of choice for DJs, and not without reason.

That said, there are cases to be made for looking elsewhere; the 1200 is far from the cheapest DJ deck, especially when you factor in buying a pair, and lags behind much of the market when it comes to modernised features. 

For something that crosses into the digital DJ realm, Reloop’s RP-8000 Mk2 is good value and well-worth a look. For the more budget conscious, a pair of Pioneer’s PLX-500s cost less than a single SL-1200 and the look and feel punches well above that price point.

Buying advice

Best DJ turntables: buying advice

Because the majority of DJ turntables on the market take their cues from Technics to varying degrees, there’s often not a huge amount of variation between designs. There are some aspects worth considering though:

Drive type

There are two kinds of motor used in turntables – belt drive and a direct drive. Audiophile turntables tend to opt for belt drive models as these distance the motor from the record itself, resulting in reduced vibration. For DJ use, however, a belt drive motor lacks the power and precision needed for cueing, scratching or accurately beatmatching records, so a direct drive design is a must.

Depending on model and motor used, different DJ turntables will provide varying degrees of torque – ie. the power with which it drives the platter. Higher torque effects factors such as how rapidly a turntable will start up and how much pressure is needed to slow the record when mixing.

Realistically any of the products in this roundup will provide enough power for most DJs. It’s only really high-level scratch DJs who need to worry too much about torque levels.


Tonearms come in a few shapes. On DJ turntables, ‘S’ shaped is the most common variety, but you sometimes see straight tonearms too. Functionally there’s little difference between the two, and choice comes down to personal preference – some scratch DJs swear by straight tonearms, but there’s no definitive right or wrong.

Pitch fader

Another DJ essential not normally found on audiophile/home listening decks, the pitch fader controls the speed at which the record spins (albeit, completely separately to the standard 45/33rpm control). Pitch faders offer a percentage range by which they can speed-up or slow-down the record – a higher percentage range means more scope to reach higher or lower BPMs, but less accuracy within that range. Modern pitch faders tend to be digital, and more reliable. Newer varieties often allow users to change between a variety of different percentage ranges.

Are all DJ decks the same?

Do a little Googling around the subject of DJ turntables and you’ll rapidly stumble upon the term ‘Super OEM’, and likely a few forum posts telling you why many turntables need to be avoided. So what’s this all about? The long and short of it is the suggestion that the bulk of modern Technics-inspired turntables are rebadged versions of the same Super OEM range produced by a single Taiwanese company (Hanpin).

There is some truth to this; as with some other products, brands tend to outsource parts of production, and a number of turntables have underlying similarities between them because of this. 

However, that’s not to say that there aren’t design variations between models. Equally, while there’s a case to be made that few turntables can match the sturdy build of the original Technics SL1200 Mk2, any forum posts telling you that all other models are a write-off are complete hyperbole. Our advice – don’t worry about it too much.

8 best DJ turntables

The best DJ turntables available today

1. Technics SL-1200/SL-1210 Mk7

Vorsprung Deck Technics: the definitive DJ turntable reborn


Launch Price: $999/£1,030/€999

Drive: Direct drive

Weight: 12kg

Pitch Range: +/-8%, +/-16%

Digital compatibility: None

Reasons to buy

+The industry standard DJ deck +Now with detachable leads +Adjustable pitch fader

Reasons to avoid

-Not the cheapest or most feature-packed

Throughout their production run from 1979 up to 2010, the original SL-1200s changed very little in terms of design and materials; a 2010 unit was remarkably similar to the original Mk2s coming off the production line in the late ’70s. When Panasonic brought production of a DJ-centric 1200 back in 2019, they had to create a new production process and effectively ‘redevelop’ a new version of the classic design.

There are a number of changes between the Mk7 and the original decks, but they’re mostly subtle and in many cases decidedly positive. While the dimensions, feel and style are all familiar, the new SL-1200s have a slightly modernised look, along with a new, more powerful motor. 

Feature-wise, it’s mostly a case of ‘if it ain’t broke...’ but there are some small, welcome upgrades: the RCA and power leads are now detachable, so far-easier to replace, and the pitch fader now has a x2 mode for doubling its range. Functionally, there’s no difference between the 1200 and 1210 models here – the names are just regional.

These latest models are no-longer produced in Japan, and the build is, by all accounts, not quite up with the Mk2s, although it’s still solid. In terms of the all-important sound and feel though, these new 1200s live up to the legacy. These remain the industry standard and, if you’re buying a new DJ turntable, you can’t really go wrong here.

2. Pioneer DJ PLX-500

An affordable deck with ‘pro’ look and feel


Launch Price: $349/£440/€449

Drive: Direct drive

Weight: 13.7kg

Pitch Range: +/-8%

Digital compatibility: USB connection

Reasons to buy

+Build and audio quality that punches above its price +Stylish look +Very affordable

Reasons to avoid

-RCA cables and tonearm feel a little cheap

Although Technics dominate the DJ turntable market, Pioneer DJ are the standard when it comes to CDJs, so it’s a brand name with a lot of clout when it comes to DJ gear.

The PLX-500 is Pioneer’s entry-level DJ turntable, which has a similar look and many of the same features as the 1200-rivalling PLX-1000 turntable, albeit at a street price that means you can pick up a pair for under £600. While the motor doesn’t have quite as much power as its higher-priced sibling, it should be enough to suit all but the most serious scratch DJs.

There are design elements where you can tell costs have been cut – the tone arm and RCA cables feel a little cheap compared to ‘pro’ level decks – but on the whole the build is solid and the torque and stability punch well above the price point. There are cheaper decks out there, and better spec’d ones, but for quality and style at this price point, the PLX-500 is hard to beat.

Read the full Pioneer DJ PLX-500 review

3. Pioneer DJ PLX-1000

The usurper to the throne


Launch Price: $699/£930/€900

Drive: Direct drive

Weight: 18.4kg

Pitch Range: +/-8%, 16%, 50%

Digital compatibility: None

Reasons to buy

+As close as you can get to an SL1200 bar the real thing +Cheaper than the Technics equivalent+Adjustable pitch range

Reasons to avoid

-It’s not an SL1200...

In the days before Panasonic revived the Technics 1200s, Pioneer’s ‘pro’ DJ turntable looked all set to fill the gap in the market. One look at the PLX-1000s and its immediately obvious that Pioneer were aiming to closely replicate the look and design of the industry standards. 

Debate raged amongst DJs about how close these came to the sound and feel, but it’s fair to say they’re in the right ballpark, with enough stability and power to make these impressive DJ decks in their own right.

Of course, now that you can pick up an actual Technics-branded 1200 new once again, the PLX-1000 is a slightly tougher sell. There are a few factors to differentiate the two though – these Pioneer decks retail for around $/£100 cheaper than their Technics counterparts, and there’s more flexibility in the pitch range too, with +/- 8%, 16% and 50% modes available.

4. Reloop RP-8000 Mk2

A digitally-equipped deck with DVS users in mind


Launch Price: $699/£590/€590

Drive: Direct drive

Weight: 11.8kg

Pitch Range: +/-8%, 16%, 50%

Digital compatibility: 8x MIDI pads, smart USB port

Reasons to buy

+Combines traditional features and modern tools +Well-priced Adjustable torque

Reasons to avoid

-On-deck MIDI controls can cause unwanted noise

Although it works perfectly well as a traditional record player, the RP-8000 is aimed primarily at DVS users – DJs who use a ‘digital vinyl’ system that allow them to control DJ software with a hardware turntable.

The RP-8000 is essentially a hybrid between a traditional vinyl turntable and a MIDI controller. Its direct-drive motor, adjustable torque and pitch faders, and Technics-like layout put it in line with many other 1200-inspired decks on the market, but by incorporating a host of rubber buttons it can also be used to perform a number of digital tricks such as hot cueing, looping, slicing and triggering samples.

As a companion to Serato DJ or Traktor, the RP-8000 has a lot going for it, and the price is appealing too. For DJs who want to incorporate modern touches into their traditional vinyl setup, this is a great option.

5. Denon DJ VL12

Mmm, Denon…


Launch Price: $899/£650/€699

Drive: Direct drive

Weight: 12.4kg

Pitch Range: +/- 8%, 16%, 50%

Digital compatibility: Custom RPG platter ring

Reasons to buy

+Stylish looking +Low resonance feet and isolated motor+High-torque mode

Reasons to avoid

-You’re paying for the Prime styling

The VL12 is part of Denon’s Prime range, which also includes powerful players and mixers boasting a host of modern digital DJ trickery. Despite the bells and whistles of its Prime counterparts, this is a fairly straightforward vinyl turntable. The only ‘flashy’ feature to speak of is the light ring that sits around the edge of the platter providing a customisable visual effect.

Other key features are less visually obvious. Denon boasts about the VL12’s special isolation feet, designed to eliminate feedback and disruptive vibrations, along with the isolated motor to reduce unwanted noise. The motor has a high-torque mode for extra power too.

This is a great compliment to an existing Prime setup, although for non-Prime users there are more affordable options out there.

6. Numark NTX1000

A rugged no-frills workhorse at a good price


Launch Price: $378/£350/€350

Drive: Direct drive

Weight: 9.5kg

Pitch Range: +/- 8%, 16%, 50%

Digital compatibility: None

Reasons to buy

+Affordable +Solid build +USB output

Reasons to avoid

-Little to differentiate it from other Technics-alikes

Numark’s NTX1000 is a rugged Technics-inspired deck at a good price. It boasts powerful start-up torque and an adjustable range for the digital pitch fader, switchable between 8, 16 and 50%. There’s a USB output too, which is handy for those wanting to rip records from their collection to digital formats.

This is a fairly no-frills affair, but that doesn’t mean it’s one to avoid. At this price the NTX1000 offers most of the features you need, along with decent power and sound, all at a very appealing price point.

7. Audio-Technica AT-LP140XP

A solid, mid-range Technics-inspired deck


Launch Price: $399/£410/€410

Drive: Direct drive

Weight: 10kg

Pitch Range: +/-8%, 16%, 24%

Digital compatibility: None

Reasons to buy

+Solid build and specs +Well-priced +Supplied with Audio Technica cartridge

Reasons to avoid

-Not much innovation here

Audio-Technica is better know in the DJ and production world for its cartridges and their headphones, but its sole DJ-centric turntable is no slouch either. This is a classic, mid-priced Technics-inspired deck.

There are a few factors that differentiate it from its inspiration – removable RCA leads, adjustable pitch fader – but on the whole this is a solid, if fairly standard DJ turntable.

Possibly the most appealing standout factor here is the fact it comes pre-stocked with one of Audio Technica’s AT-XP3 DJ cartridges. If you see the AT-LP140XP at a good price, there’s no reason not to go for it.

8. Stanton STR8 150 Mk

A high-torque deck designed with turntablists in mind


Launch Price: $599/£550/€550

Drive: Direct drive

Weight: 10.2kg

Pitch Range: +/- 8%, 16%, 50%

Digital compatibility: Includes license for Deckadance DVS

Reasons to buy

+High torque motor +‘Skip proof’ tonearm +Deckadance license included

Reasons to avoid

-Not the cheapest

The flagship decks from US brand Stanton boast some of the highest torque on the market. The STR8 also features a ‘skip-proof’ straight tone arm, making it aimed squarely at scratch DJs.

It boasts a heavy-duty aluminium chassis paired with low-resonance feet for reduced noise. Other features include an adjustable brake speed and switchable pitch fader. It also comes with a full license for Stanton’s DVS software, Deckadance.

More on the Technics SL-1200

What made the 1200 range so popular with DJs? While they did – and still do – sound decent enough, they were by no means the pinnacle of audio quality, neither were they the most feature-packed record players on the market in their day. In fact, a combination of fairly straightforward features add up to make the 1200s an ideal tool for mixing music.

The first of these is the high-torque direct drive motor that, when combined with a slip mat, allowed DJs to scratch, nudge and generally manipulate records without the player itself grinding to a halt. Then there’s the now-ubiquitous pitch fader, that gave DJs precise control over the playing speed of a record, making it possible to sync one track with another. Other winning features included the sturdy, grip-like feel of the platter edge – ideal for slowing records – and the s-shaped tonearm.

Perhaps most important though was the rugged build quality, which was a cut above many other record players on the market. While the 1200s aren’t entirely free of flaws – common issues include gradual oxidisation of the tonearm connections and unreliable hardwired RCA leads – a well maintained set would provide DJs with years of use.

To some extent, as time wore on, the 1200’s dominance became a self-fulfilling prophecy; new generations of DJs learnt to mix on 1200s because they were what their heroes used, and would become so used to the decks’ feel and design that anything different would likely throw them off their mix.

While the Technics 1200 series remains the definitive choice of DJ turntable, it’s not the only game in town. There have always been rivals out there that make a solid case for themselves by undercutting the Technics on price or offering additional features. 

Technics’ parent brand Panasonic ceased production of the 1200 line back in 2010, citing fall in demand and difficulty sourcing parts, and although a new Mk7 deck has been in production since 2016, in the intervening years a number of potential third-party successors have emerged.


Turntables super oem

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The PDX 2000 Mk1, and why you should want one. A Retro-Review.

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Now discussing:

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