Lightweight and easy to carry. Built-in speakers provide enjoyable sound for the size and price. Consistent playing without warbling or skipping. Our tester noted that this is an excellent starter record player thanks to its intuitive and straightforward design.
Only accepts Bluetooth input. Does not output from vinyl to Bluetooth speakers.
Besides your records, this can play music from your phone via Bluetooth or a 3.5-millimeter auxiliary cord. It can play those sources through built-in speakers by connecting to external speakers or to headphones using the 3.5-millimeter jack.
A few customers found the built-in speakers to be quiet. It only comes in black or light blue.
Performed well out of the box in our user testing. Lightweight yet solid feel and easy to carry around. Needle lever lifts high; convenient for needle changes. Needle itself performs well. Rotates seamlessly. Offers Bluetooth input.
Speaker quality is only average at high volumes. We had difficulty getting the Bluetooth to work.
The distressed blue design has a sleek black handle and worn brass accents while the distressed gray design has an antique handle and lock. It can use a USB cord to convert your records into an MP3 format.
It doesn’t come with a spare needle. Some people had issues with the needle not being secure on the record.
The solid-color exterior and straightforward handle keep the focus on the design of your records. It can play 7-, 10-, and 12-inch records at 33, 45, and 78 rpm. It has Bluetooth to play music from your phone.
Some customers found the needle would occasionally skip and suggested replacing it. Others had issues with the speakers after a year or so.
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You might have access to a large amount of streaming music through your smartphone, but a portable turntable offers a different way to take your music on the go. Most portable turntables have built-in speakers, and some are powered by batteries.
Suitcase-type designs are popular, though compact models can be considered portable as well. Most of these turntables have built-in speakers, but many offer Bluetooth or wired connectivity so you can use your own speakers. And portable turntables that offer digital conversion via USB allow you to create digital files from any vinyl record.
As with traditional turntables, quality and price vary widely, though the less expensive models are well suited to newcomers. Portable turntables come with plenty of unique features to consider, and a good shopping guide and recommendations can help you narrow your choices.
Just like with headphones and speakers, there are numerous terms it helps to know as you shop for the right portable turntable for you.
Stylus: Also called a needle, this is the part that sits in the groove on the record, picks up vibrations, and transfers them to the speakers in the form of an electrical signal.
Tonearm: This is the piece that holds the stylus on the record and moves as the stylus follows the groove.
Platter: This is the flat surface that supports and spins the record.
LP: This is a long-playing analog record and is the standard size and length of most albums.
Wow and flutter: These are the speed and pitch fluctuations in an analog recording.
Ports: RCA and 3.5 mm are types of ports for connecting wired speakers or headphones to the turntable.
The paper sleeves many records come in can leave dust in the grooves. If possible, replace paper sleeves with plastic ones.
Before you buy a portable turntable, consider how you plan to use and listen to it and weigh factors like audio output and overall design.
Portable turntables either play music through built-in speakers or through a connected Bluetooth speaker. Many turntables offer both, giving you a few ways to enjoy your music. Turntables with a 3.5 mm or RCA port can connect to speakers or headphones with wires.
Built-in speakers are as easy to use on a portable turntable as putting on a record and adjusting the volume. However, the audio quality can be limited, and it can be difficult to find the manufacturer's specs to determine aspects like driver size.
Bluetooth connectivity gives you control over the speaker you use, so the audio quality is limited only by the turntable itself. Using a Bluetooth speaker also allows you to set up the turntable in one place and put the speaker in the best position for listening.
Many portable turntables use a traditional AC wall adapter with a short cable. This works well for most situations where you have access to an outlet. However, you might have difficulty finding a safe, level surface for the turntable that is within reach of an outlet.
Battery-powered turntables are less common, but they offer a truly portable listening experience, especially if they also have built-in speakers.
The term “portable” applies loosely to small turntables whether they have carrying handles or are simply easy to carry.
A suitcase-style turntable folds up and has a handle so you can easily carry it from place to place. The folding design protects fragile components like the tonearm and stylus. These turntables tend to be a bit heavier, but the weight can reduce external vibrations and improve the audio quality.
Turntables that don’t come in their own case are less convenient to transport, but they’re generally lighter, and some have a transparent dust cover to protect records while they play.
You might have a dedicated spot for your turntable in your home. Measure this area before you buy a turntable to make sure it will fit, including a few inches of room near the speakers.
Some portable turntables are so small that a 12-inch LP extends past the edge of the case. This saves space and looks stylish, but it also means you could accidentally bump the record, risking damage to the turntable or the record.
Just as with a traditional turntable, portable models have several key specs that determine the quality of the audio and the size of the records they can play. If you aren’t an audiophile, you’re unlikely to notice a significant difference between budget and high-end models.
There is plenty of debate about the best motor design. Both have advantages and disadvantages.
Direct drive motors have a motor that turns the platter with a direct connection (hence the name) and are more common in portable turntables. These motors are more likely to pick up vibrations from the surface the turntable is resting on, resulting in distorted sound. This is an important consideration when you’re taking a turntable on the go. However, there is less variance in the rotation speed.
Belt drive motors have a motor connected to a belt that loops around the platter or part of the platter to rotate it. These are less likely to transfer disruptive vibrations, but the speed can be inconsistent. The belt can also come off the platter, and looping it back on can be tricky. These turntables are usually more expensive than similar direct drive models.
A variable speed motor isn’t for playing your music faster or slower; it’s for playing records of different sizes. Portable turntables usually play at one speed (33 1/3 revolutions per minute for LPs, the most common size) or have up to three speeds (including 45 rpm and 78 rpm). In most cases, a single-speed motor will meet your needs and play standard-size vinyl albums.
Some of these turntables have a USB port so you can use a computer to digitize your albums. Due to the lower audio quality of vinyl recordings compared to MP3s, the resulting files are typically lower quality than digital albums.
For $40 to $60, you can find small suitcase-style portable record players that have built-in speakers. Their size and price make them a good choice if you have limited space or you’re new to using a record player.
You can find suitcase-style portable turntables or models that are small enough to fit easily on a bookshelf for $60 to $120. Bluetooth connectivity is more common in this range.
High-end portable turntables cost from $120 to $300 and may include extra features like Bluetooth connectivity and built-in speakers, digital conversion via USB, and belt drive motors.
If you’re using Bluetooth or bookcase speakers, put them on a different surface than the one the record player is on. This prevents vibrations from disrupting the record.
A. A level surface is a must, or you risk the record skipping or even getting damaged. Look for surfaces that aren’t prone to vibrations and don’t move easily, such as a table or countertop.
A. Most have built-in preamps for wired use. Manufacturers should list a preamp in the specs if a turntable has RCA or 3.5 mm outputs.
A. A portable model is still useful for listening to music in different parts of your home rather than permanently setting up an audio system in one room. In addition, the low cost of many of these turntables makes one a good option if you’re just getting into vinyl.
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