A guide to DJ turntables

By in Features





Bring your vinyl collection to the dancefloor.

Whether you’re a seasoned DJ or an aspiring enthusiast, vinyl DJing is an experience like no other–an opportunity to bring your collection to the public and share a love of vinyl with your audience.

At the heart of any DJ setup lies the indispensable duo: a pair of vinyl DJ turntables. Not all turntables are created equal, however. For the discerning DJ, direct-drive turntables reign supreme. Their high-torque motors ensure swift start-ups and consistent playback, essential for beat matching and scratching—the cornerstone techniques of DJing. With direct-drive technology, you can command unparalleled control over your vinyl.

It’s also vital to note that DJ turntables may lack built-in preamps and often don’t include cartridges suitable for DJing. DJ cartridges fall into two main types: elliptical and spherical. Spherical styli are ideal for heavy back-cueing and scratching, remaining firmly in the groove. The elliptical stylus is better suited for lighter back-cueing and scratching.

Second-hand markets can provide affordable options for DJ turntables, especially considering some excellent decks are discontinued. When purchasing used DJ turntables, verify that the torque functionality remains intact for optimal performance.

Numark PT01 Scratch

Price: £150.
Pros: Portable design enables scratching anywhere, adjustable scratch switch for customised scratching styles, compatible with AC power or battery operation, USB recording capability for digitizing vinyl.
Cons: Limited customisation options compared to larger turntables, built-in speaker may lack power for larger gatherings.

Verdict: The Numark PT01 Scratch offers portable scratching capabilities with adjustable features, making it ideal for DJs passionate about turntablism.

Numark PT01 Scratch revolutionises portable scratching with its adjustable scratch switch and USB recording capability. Its compact design, compatibility with AC power or batteries, and built-in speaker make it perfect for on-the-go scratching sessions. The adjustable scratch switch allows for customisation of scratching styles, while the ability to connect external audio sources adds versatility. A solid choice for DJs seeking portability and convenience.

Reloop RP2000mk2

Price: £250, £500 for a pair.
Pros: Statically balanced s-shaped tone arm with anti-skating mechanism, newly developed top panel and reinforced housing for durability.
Cons: Limited speed options compared to some models, additional accessories like a dust cover may require separate purchase.

Verdict: The Reloop RP-2000 MK2 offers reliable performance with its direct drive motor and precision engineering, making it an ideal entry-level turntable for aspiring DJs.

Ideal for beginner DJs, the Reloop RP-2000 MK2 provides reliable performance and essential features at an affordable price. Its direct drive motor and precision-engineered platter ensure stable rotation and minimal wow and flutter. The adjustable pitch control allows for fine adjustments, while the statically balanced tone arm with anti-skating mechanism ensures accurate tracking. It features an amazing top panel and reinforced housing to enhance durability. Overall, it’s a solid choice for those starting their DJ journey.

Denon DJ VL12 Prime

Price: £500, £1000 for a pair.
Pros: Isolated motor for optimal signal-to-noise ratio, two motor settings with high torque for robust performance, isolation feet for stable playback in loud environments.
Cons: Limited colour options available.

Verdict: The Denon DJ VL12 Prime offers professional-grade performance with its isolated motor, high torque settings, and superior isolation feet, making it ideal for demanding environments.

Denon DJ VL12 Prime stands out as a premium choice for professional DJs with its isolated direct-drive motor and high torque settings. The two motor settings provide flexibility for different performance styles, while the chamfered easy grip brake platter enhances touch-sensitive control. Additionally, the superior isolation feet ensure stable playback even in loud, bass-heavy environments. While its price may deter budget-conscious users and colour options are limited, the VL12’s performance and features make it a solid investment for DJs seeking reliability and quality.

Stanton ST. 150/STR8. 150 

Price: £519, £1038 for a pair.
Pros: Industry-leading torque motor for precise performance, durable build minimises feedback for optimal sound quality.
Cons: Availability is limited to used market, pricing may vary based on condition and seller, limited warranty or support options compared to new products.

Verdict: The Stanton ST. 150/STR8. 150 turntables offer professional-grade quality with industry-leading torque motors and versatile features, making them strong contenders for enthusiasts.

The Stanton ST. 150/STR8. 150 turntables, available used only, prioritise quality and performance with their durable construction and industry-leading torque motors. Designed for professional DJs and serious audiophiles, these turntables offer features like key correction and pitch adjustment, enhancing their versatility in different settings. While availability may be limited to the used market, these turntables remain a strong choice for those seeking top-tier performance and reliability, albeit with potential variations in pricing and warranty options compared to new products.

Audio-Technica AT-LP1240-USBXP DJ Turntable 

Price: £699, £1398 for a pair
Pros: Versatile for both professional and home use, built-in switchable phono pre-amp, USB output supports multiple speeds (33/45/78 RPM)
Cons: May be pricey for casual users, USB output may not produce audiophile-grade digital recordings

Verdict: This DJ turntable boasts professional-grade features, versatility for club DJs and home users, robust construction, adjustable controls, and compatibility with various audio systems. 

Combining professional-grade build with versatile features, this DJ turntable excels in both club settings and home environments. Its sleek design seamlessly integrates into any stereo setup, while its adjustable controls and high-torque motor deliver precise performance. The built-in phono pre-amp and USB output offer convenience for digital conversion, although audiophiles may seek higher fidelity. Despite the investment and slight learning curve, its quality construction and compatibility with various software make it a worthwhile choice for discerning DJs. 

Technics SL-1200 MK7 Turntable 

Price: £899, £1798 for a pair.
Pros: Three-speed options cater to various vinyl formats, adjustable torque and brake speed enhance customization, precise pitch control with ±8% / ±16% adjustments.
Cons: Cartridge not included.

Verdict: The Technics SL-1200MK7 maintains the series’ legacy with audiophile-grade performance, high-torque motor, and precise control. Its premium price and lack of cartridge may deter some, but it sets a new standard.

Technics’ SL-1200MK7 Direct Drive Turntable upholds the series’ esteemed reputation, boasting an audiophile-grade signal-to-noise ratio, powerful torque, and precise rotational accuracy. Its advanced features like adjustable torque, pitch control, and LED stylus illuminator enhance user experience. With its impeccable performance and reliability, the SL-1200MK7 sets a new benchmark in DJ turntable excellence.

Pioneer DJ PLX-CRSS12 Digital-Analog Hybrid Turntable

Price: £1,199, £2398 for a pair.
Pros: Well-damped pitch control enhances precision, crisp, high-resolution audio playback, flexible and customisable on-deck performance pads.
Cons: Interface can be fiddly and confusing.

Verdict: The Pioneer DJ PLX-CRSS12 offers a versatile digital-analogue hybrid experience with inbuilt DVS control, high-quality playback, MIDI-mappable pads, and OLED display.

Blending digital innovation with analogue warmth, the Pioneer DJ PLX-CRSS12 is a great experience for vinyl enthusiasts and modern DJs alike. Its well-damped pitch control and robust construction provide confidence during use, while the crisp audio output ensures an immersive listening experience. However, the interface may initially confuse users, requiring some patience to master. A strong contender in the world of hybrid turntables.

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