Look away now if you don’t like the sound of vinyl scratching
If you’re thinking of making your first steps into the world of home music production or even the live DJ circuit, you’ll want to be spending your hard earned cash on the right gear and the best turntables for DJing! Walking into any gig with the wrong equipment could be disastrous, so knowing the difference between turntables designed for DJing and those designed for basic listening is vital. The DJ world is slowly becoming far more accessible now thanks to the huge amount of gear on the market designed to make music production easy, whether it’s software-based DJ technology and music production software or DJ controllers designed for beginners. But with that, there might be some confusion as to what DJ controllers/turntables you should be using for DJing and which ones you need for basic listening. So with that in mind, we’re looking at turntables designed specifically for those who want to be able to take to the stage or just give DJing a go rather than rocking out to old records.
If you’re new to the world of DJing our beginners guide to DJing might come in handy, but for now we’ll delve straight into the turntables starting from the more budget-friendly models for beginners right the way to the top gigging turntables for the professional DJ.
Pioneer PLX-500 Direct Drive Analog Turntable
Our best option for scratching!
For those of you who want to be able to feel the vinyl on the slipmat with a high-quality turntable rather than mix with CD’s, you’ll love the Pioneer PLX-500 Direct Drive Turntable which has been designed specifically for the DJ arena. One of the key benefits of this direct drive turntable is its edge over traditional belt-driven turntables – it allows you to go between 33 and 45 rpm in the blink of an eye! Not feeling the vibe? Just switch it up with the brushless motor which has been designed with longevity in mind offering up many years of accurate usage. For those who love listening to vinyl – you’ll be horrified to know that the straight tone arm can support cartridges up to 10g – so those heavy scratchers will absolutely love it – just don’t let your vinyl collector friends know you’re scrubbing your favourite records.
One thing to be aware of is the +/- 10% tempo range, which can be restrictive if you’re doing more creative mixing – but overall it’s a great starting point for those who want to move into the live arena.”
A wide range of features for a great price
Moving up to the next level, we have the Audio Technica AT-LP120-USBHC Professional Direct Drive USB Turntable and Josh’s favourite option. This professional turntable is not only easy to use, making it a great turntable for the beginner, but for those who want to be able to mix in the professional arena. The high torque direct drive motor provides rock-solid stability during playback, whether you’re chilling at home or dropping a set at a festival. Enjoy quick start-ups and effortless beat matching as well as an expertly designed S-shaped arm, crafted to stay clear of your hand during performances.
Here’s what Josh had to say about the Technica: “As far as DJ turntables go, I would wholeheartedly recommend this one! For the price, the spec is really good, especially if you want to make the jump into playing live. One of the more interesting things about the Technica AT-LP120-USBHC is the fact that it plays at 33 1/3, 45 and 78 RPM, making it one of the only options available that can handle these different RPM’s in one set.
The Built-in pre-amp, USB connectivity with Mac & PC makes it an extremely useful turntable especially when you think about how Technica have even included Audacity software, which allows you to digitize your LP’s. It also ships with high-quality cartridge too, so you can rely on it to perform.
The only note to be aware of is the fact that the RCA cable is hardwired in, which can be a little restrictive. It does have one of the highest signal/noise ratios out of the turntables in this blog, so I wouldn’t recommend it for recordings in particular, but as far as value for money goes, this is one of my favourite turntables and definitely one I’d recommend to DJ’s of all levels.”
A club industry standard with world-class construction and quality of parts
Like the name suggests, the Pioneer PLX-1000 is a professional grade analogue direct to drive turntable widely used within the DJ community due to the superior design and inherent features. DJ’s will appreciate the huge tempo adjustment range allowing users to go from +/-8% to +/-50% instantly as well as the lightweight S-shaped tone arm that minimises pressure on your vinyl, ensuring they last a lot longer! It’s powered by a 3-phase brushless DC motor makes great use of an electronic braking system, and the PLX-1000 will reach its fixed rotation speed in an impressive 0.3 seconds (at 33 1/3 rpm) providing accurate and consistent playback and rotation speed. Each RCA jack is gold plated too, offering low impedance and a superior level of sound quality.
Here’s what Josh had to say: “The Pioneer PLX-1000 takes inspiration from the coveted Technics 1210 turntable, but adds a host of modern features like reinforced damping to the base and rubber-insulated tonearm, as well as little improvements that make life easier for the performing DJ such as RCA and power supply ports with removable cables – which explains why they are now the standard decks in clubs such as Berghain.
They are also ideal for easy transition between home and club as they are easy to use/learn on and widely used in the industry due to the increased stability inherent in these models owing to the 13.1kg weight – a little hefty, but in the live arena, you’ll appreciate the extra stability.”
So there you have it, 3 awesome DJ turntables that will easily provide you with the tools, stability and functions you need to gig, produce music and perform at a high standard confident in the knowledge your gear won’t let you down!
View a full range of DJ turntables and equipment over at the Dawsons website.
Lee Glynn is a guitarist and multi-instrumentalist who lives in Liverpool, England. After moving to the UK from Perth, Australia, Lee enjoyed a successful career as guitarist in Liverpool based rock band Sound of Guns.
After releasing two albums, a myriad of EPs / singles and touring extensively around the world for 6 years including stops at Glastonbury, Latitude Festival, as well as the coveted Reading & Leeds Festivals, Lee decided it was a time for a change of scenery.
Utilising his experience in music journalism, Lee now works within the web team at Dawsons Music, where he can still relay his passion for music by producing great content for the Dawsons blog and social media. Lee is still an avid guitar player and writer.