Few people have heard of it, yet many consider John Blankenbaker's KENBAK-1 to be the first commercial personal computer.

Koss introduced these headphones over 40 years ago, and they remain affordable favorites to this day.

Affordable Turntable Roundup

The vinyl resurgence has led to an explosion of turntables on the market. As with anything in the hi-fi world, prices range from under $100 to several thousand bux for 'audiophile' styling and sound. It's possible to get excellent quality at a decent price, though. Here are a few thoughts about some easy to find units in the sub-$150 range.

DJ-friendly Turntables

In the DJ world, the Technics 1200 line (and it's brothers) are the de-facto standard. They run $400+, which is a fair chunk of change. Here are a couple of inexpensive DJ turntables that'd also work wonders with your home system:

Stanton T.60 (approx $150)

The T.60 (above) is the least expensive direct-drive turntable in the Stanton line. It offers basic features for DJing and a reasonably high-torque motor for OK scratching capability. Included are two stop/start buttons so you can mount it horizontally or vertically. You'll also find a +- 10% pitch control, removable target light, and a clever cloth dust cover. The body is weighted plastic with an aluminum platter, but that's to be expected in this price range. 33 1/3 & 45 RPM compatible.

Numark TT1650 (approx $160)

Numarktt1650_1Also direct-drive, this entry from Numark is an excellent starter model. It has a strong and consistent motor, which is important if you're planning to DJ. The TT1650 can be mounted horizontally or battle-style and features an aluminum platter with plastic body, just like the Stanton. Plays 33 1/3 & 45 RPM. Competent and curvy.

Home Stereo Units

Both of the DJ models could serve admirably in a home rig, but if you're into something more traditional, several well-known manufacturers make decently priced home components:

Sony PS-LX250H (approx $100)

Sonypslx250hSony's low-cost entry is an automatic belt-drive system with respectable sound. It features a built-in preamp for compatibility with newer stereos that don't have a phono-in jack. I bought one of these several years ago and my only gripes are a slightly out-of-true platter and the cheap plastic feel of the controls. Decent quality at a bargain price. Plays 33 1/3 & 45 RPM.

Audio Technica AT-PL50 (approx $100)

AT-PL50This is the lowest cost unit in the Audio Technica range. It's belt drive, which means lower torque, slippage, and potentially more rumble. Includes a built-in phono preamplifier. At this price, don't expect zillion-dollar quality; some users comment it skips quite frequently and doesn't have the best sound. Plays 33 1/3 & 45 RPM.

Quality Portable Turntables

Yes, you read that right. These little beasts are designed to travel -- great for trying out used vinyl before laying down your cash or for dropping by a friend's place:

Numark PT-01 (approx $100)

Numarkpt01This capable little turntable plays 33 1/3, 45 and 78 RPM discs. It measures a very compact 12"x12"x4" (30x30x10 cm) and includes a built in speaker and protective cover. It offers up a hi/lo tone control, varispeed, and can run on 6 D batteries. My only gripe is a slightly weak headphone amp, but that could just be a sign of my impending deafness. The PT-01 is a well thought-out portable that could easily serve double duty as your main home deck.

Vestax Handy Trax (approx $125)

VestaxhandytraxturntableThe Handy Trax was first in the modern generation of portables. It features a clean and powerful headphone amplifier, built-in speaker, and runs on 6 C batteries while you're out and about. Like the Numark PT-01, it plays 33 1/3, 45 and 78 RPM records and has hi/lo tone control and varispeed. A definite contender, although not nearly as stylish as the Numark. In fact, it reminds me of the borkish players I was subjected to in early grade school.


If I was buying again, I'd probably take a hard look at the direct-drive DJ models from Stanton and Numark. They're excellent quality for about the same cost as a lowly iPod Shuffle. Proof that good things do come to those who wait.

Audio Technica AT-PL50
Numark TT1650 and PT-01
Sony PS-LX250H
Stanton T.60
Vestax Handi-Trax


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