We have rounded up the best portable record players (a.k.a turntables). Our review focuses on sound quality, usability and features like speakers, Bluetooth, USB, etc., to help you find the best turntable online. After all vinyl is back, BOOM!
Vinyl sounded awesome back then but how does it sound today. Are the current crop of the best portable record players (turntables) able to do justice to vinyl music? Does modern technology add to it’s je ne sais quoi (that indefinable quality) or take from it? We reviewed some of the most popular portable turntables and here’s what we found…
|• 3 Speed|
• Rechargeable Battery
• Bluetooth (stream to this)
• USB (connect to computer)
• Stereo RCA Out
• 3.5mm Headphone Out
• Aux In
|• 2 Speed|
• Fully Automatic
• USB Optional (Connect To Computer)
• Bluetooth Optional (Connect To Speakers & Headphones)
• Stereo RCA Out (Line Level & Phono)
|• 3 Speed Record Player|
• Bluetooth Speeaker
• CD, cassette & tuner
• USB player & recorder (rip)
• Aux Input
• 3.5 mm headphone Jack
• Remote Control
|• 3 Speed|
• Stereo RCA out
• 3.5mm Headphone Out
• Line In/Out
|• 3 Speed|
• SD Card
• Stereo RCA out
• 3.5mm Headphone Out
• Aux In
|• 3 Speed|
• USB (connect to computer)
• 3.5mm Headphone Out
• Stereo RCA Out
• Aux In
The Jorlai portable turntable features a belt-driven design that will allow you to play 78, 45, and 33 1.2 RPM records. It also includes a USB connection to connect it to a computer and rip vinyls to MP3 or WAV files. This process is done using the free included software.
There is a Bluetooth receiver that lets you stream your music from your smartphone, iPad, MP3 player, and other compatible devices. Keep in mind though that the Bluetooth on this is a receiver and not a transmitter (like the Bluetooth on the Audio Technica LP60BT) so you cannot connect it to Bluetooth speakers or headphones wirelessly for that you’d have to add a Bluetooth dongle to enable such functionality.
It also comes with RCA audio outputs so you can connect the record player to your home stereo system and a headphone output for private listening. The built in speakers are clean sounding and full range. They are decently loud for its size though not loud enough for a large space. There is also a rechargeable battery and a suitcase design for off the grid listening sessions. The rechargeable battery works for around three hours after which you need to plug it in to the mains.
There is a simple one touch lever which is used to raise and lower the tone arm when playing vinyl records. This makes operating the record player quite simple especially for newbies.
One thing to note is that when you enable the Bluetooth, the turntable stops spinning. Just so you know this is normal and that there is nothing wrong with the unit. One nice touch is the inclusion of an extra replacement needle.
If you care about how your gear looks this JORLAI portable record player is available in 5 eye catching colors. There is blue white lavender turquoise and wood. The unit I purchased is blue but in hindsight I would have preferred the white.
The wooden suitcase design has a retro look that has the added benefit of easy transportation and storage. Storing it away will keep it dust free thus extending the life of the stylus and ensuring smooth operation.
The ability to transform vinyl tracks into an MP3 or WAV format is a huge selling point for consumers.
When I first got the unit there was a noticeable smell of PU leather which is used for effect in this turntable. I just don’t like that smell so mentioning it here. Though the smell was progressively reducing everyday. Maybe this won’t bother you, either wau it seems that with time it should go away.
The unit comes with full range front facing speakers which sound pretty good and are reasonably loud. Reasonably loud but not loud enough to fill a large sized room, for that you’ll have to hook it up into another system through the RCA line out.
Keeping with the trend, Jorlai has definitely packed this model with all the features that you’d possibly need. But bucking the trend, Jorlai has actually delivered a good quality product. While it’s quite underplayed, this player is truly portable with with a rechargeable battery. This makes it a great option for those fun nostalgic picnics and barbeques. As far as I know this is the only portable record player to offer this ability. Thus if for real cord free playback this is seems to be the only option.
This player offers some real bang for your buck. You get a battery operated turntable which doubles as a Bluetooth speaker, is easy to store and sounds good. It’s definitely not loud enough to rock your neighbourhood, for that you can plug it into something that will.
High-End Portable Record Player- Audio Technica AT-LP60 Fully Automatic Stereo 2-Speed Turntable System Review
The Audio Technica brand is highly reputed in audio circles, known for its execellent sound quality and audio engineering. All this across the spectrum for both professional and consumer audio products. So you definitly get what you pay for here.
Audio Technica’s AT-LP60 is a compact and easy to transport record player. It comes in black, white, silver and navy. All color variants looks very sleek, though black stands out for me. There is a breakout cable with RCA plugs to get the audio signal out. Get a RCA to 3.5mm adapter if you’d like to hook it into portable speaker or boombox. The unit comes with an adapter that fits over the spindle to aid in the playing of 45s as they can have a slightly larger center hole.
The turntable is a two-speed belt driven model that comes with a pre-installed dual magnet phono cartridge that promises four hundred hours of play time. It has a built-in switchable pre-amp and RCA outputs. The turntable can play 45 and 33 1/3 RPM records. So no support for 78 RPM records here. As there are no built in speakers, this unit needs to be connected to an amplifier or powered speakers.
Curiously, there is no headphone output. You could hookup headphones to the AT-LP60 using a RCA to 3.5mm female adapter and switch the unit to line level (preamp) out. Though this isn’t recommended as there is no way to control the volume which would be moderate at best anyway.
To use headphones you would need to connect a headphone amplifier to the RCA out of this turntable. Alternatively you can purchase the Bluetooth variant (AT-LP60BK-BT). This would enable connecting Bluetooth headphones or even Bluetooth speakers for listening.
The Audio Technica AT-LP60 comes in three variants. The BK in the model number refers to the black variant.
1. Audio Technica AT-LP60BK – This is the regular version which lacks USB and Bluetooth. It comes with stereo RCA outputs which are switchable between line level and phono (phono preamp bypassed).
2. Audio Technica AT-LP60BK-BT – This version is adds Bluetooth transmission in addition to the RCA outputs mentioned above. The Bluetooth connectivity enables you to wirelessly strream to Bluetooth headphones or speakers. This functionality is very useful providing you with freedom to keep the AT-LP60BK-BT at a distance.
3. Audio Technica AT-LP60BK-USB – This version has a USB output in addition to the RCA output. You can use the USB output to rip vinyl to computer or connect to a DAC (Digital Audio Converter). Ripping vinyl means making digital copies of the vinyl record which is a great way to preserve and archive your vinyl collection.
Strangely, there is no variant with both Bluetooth and USB. If you need both, I’d recommend getting the Bluetooth variant and then connecting to the computer in many ways as mentioned here.
In actual use this player is perfect for beginners. This player is fully automatic which means that once the vinyl is placed on the turntable, all you need to do is push buttons to operate it. How cool is that, right? Also, when the side of the record gets over the tonearm lifts and returns, automatically.
Since this player has no built-in speakers there are various packages available with speaker bundles but that increases the cost a fair bit. One very popular and affordable way to setup the LP60 is to hook it up to some powered speakers. Powered speakers have come a long way, they offer BLuetooth connectivity so you can wirelessly connect the two (even your smartphone). In this regard the Edifier 1700BT powered speakers even has a headphone output alongside the fact that it sounds really good as attested by customers on Amazon.
Everything said and done the real reason for getting this player over others, is the superb sound it produces and the price it achieves this at is truly unbeatable. The audio is clear, balanced with good bass and not thin and shrill like many others. Is this best sounding record player out there? Un-apologetically no but on this list it definitely is and at its price point sounds better than many players costing many times more. Better sounding record players will cost you hundreds more but you will experience the law of diminishing returns.
– Excellent sound quality with full balanced sound with good bass.
– The built-in preamp allows you to hook the record player’s line-level outputs up to an integrated stereo amp, Bluetooth speaker, PC, stereo system, AV receiver, or laptop.
– This model is perfect for people who are just starting to get into vinyl because it’s very user-friendly and versatile. The four push-button functionality allows you to easily control the turntable’s operation without worrying about scratching your vinyl.
– The issue with this model is the phono cartridge, which can’t be replaced or upgraded since it’s permanently installed. However, the stylus is replaceable and the overall quality of the cartridge is excellent so there’s really no need for an upgrade here.
– There is no headphone jack
– There is no variant with both USB and Bluetooth.
– Cannot play 78 rpm records
This Audio Technica model is a great choice for the new audiophile. The fully automatic operation allows you to control the turntable with just a push of a button so you can start, stop or pause a record, making it very beginner-friendly. It comes with more features than competing models in this price range and its functionality will satisfy anyone looking for an alternative to a manual turntable. Just to reiterate, get this player to hear how beautiful vinyls sound!
Best All In One Record Player – Victrola Nostalgic Aviator Wood 8-in-1 Bluetooth Turntable Entertainment Center Review
The Victrola 8-in-1 music center is a really popular beast of an entertainment system. There is no other way to describe it. I thought a lot about putting this Victrola amongst portable turntables for the purpose of this review (especially considering its heft). I decided to go with it as it’s a single box combining all your entertainment, including speakers. So though it is cumbersomely portable, it still is and you get a lot for that.
The unit uses real wood in its construction which give it a really nostalgic look. The desing aims to make it look more vintage with the a round dial in the center for that aviator themed look. This looks stricking in our modern homes as the contrast makes it stand out.
There are a few colors to choose from (black, white, espresso, oak and mahogany). I got the Mahogany which was the cheapest at the time. Ccheck pricing as it varies from color to color.
First let’s get the Victrola’s 8-in-1 out of the way.
4. AM-FM Tuner
5. USB Player
6. Bluetooth Speakers
7. Line In
8. USB Recorder
The record player itself is a 3 speed turntable. It comes with a stylus pre-installed and also includes 3 extra spares. There is also a handy remote control. It can play songs from a USB thumb drive connected to the USB input. The USB drive doubles as a recorder and you can rip from all of the sources to a thumb drive. Yes it will even rip vinyls to digital which is very useful. It rips in MP3 128 kb/s format so the resulting audio files should play fine in most places like your car’s MP3 player.
The CD player and the cassette deck combination works as it is supposed to and if you have a lot of cassettes or CDs then this great as you can rip them without the need for a computer. You need to connect a little wired antenna (provided) for the radio to work but that’s not to big or intrusive.
There is an RCA Aux input to connect other devices so you could hear them through the Victrola’s built in speakers. The Victrola 8-in-1 also comes equipped with Bluetooth connectivity so it is possible to connect a smartphone or tablet to stream audio wirelessly through the Victrola’s speakers. Keep in mind that this unit has a Bluetooth receiver and not a transmitter which means you cannot connect it via Bluetooth to an external speaker. (f this really something you want, consider getting a Bluetooth dongle to add this functionality. This brings us to something really silly by Victrola in the design of this entertainment system.
This unit has no RCA output jacks to connect it to external amplifiers and speakers. This seems to be such a strange omission from a product that is literally trying to do it all. You can always use the headphone jack which is located in the front for this purpose but an output on the back would have been musch appreciated. Incidentally, this is also where you’d connret a Bluetooth transmitter to conncect the Nostalgia wirelessly to other Bluetooth speakers or systems.
Sound quality wise this player sounds pretty good. It is resonably loud though like most in this category it won’t fill a very large room. The sound is full and playswell with all genres. There is better sounding stuff out there but then it costs many times more.
– 3 speed belt drive turntable that comes with 4 needles (3 spares and 1 pre-installed)
– Has a CD player, cassette deck and AM-FM radio
– USB player to play music from a thumb or pen drive.
– The ability to record from all the sources to the USB drive in MP3 format which should play in most car players and other MP3 music players.
– Bluetooth connectivity to connect your smartphone, tablet or other device making this into Wireless Bluetooth speaker.
– Headphone Jack for private listening
– 3.5 mm audio line in to connect external devices.
– Rip music without a computer
– Remote control is really useful
No line out at the back which can be remedied by using the headphone jack on the front panel but one on the rear would be much better.
It is physically much larger than the others on this list. So, if that matters to you and you don’t need the other features then others on this list will suit you better.
This unit packs a lot in at an amazing price. If you need the ability to play so many different formats and sourcces (and even record them onto a USB drive without a computer) then this is great. But if you don’t have CDs and cassettes then something like the JORLAI will do the trick at a cheaper price and it comes with a rechargeable battery too!
This 1byone record player features a well-balanced, dynamic tonearm with damping control, built-in front-facing speakers, headphone jack, and a line-in port. Despite its vintage look, this is a record player that features all of the modern updates you could want in a highly portable model that’s equipped with excellent sound quality.
This turntable offers a three-speed damping feature and two built-in speakers. The RCA and AUX ports will allow you to connect the record player to external speakers so you can enjoy a more personalized setup and louder sound. On the flipside, the headphone jack will allow you to listen to your favorite music any time of the day or night without the worry of waking other members in the home.
The turntable is housed in a thick, sturdy PU leather case and equipped with a built-in carry handle which makes this model safe for travel and highly portable.
The record player is available in two color options: black or turquoise.
We found that this record player isn’t able to play thicker records with proper sound. The three speed options can’t be adjusted accurately in order to handle newer records. Most consumers found that the turntable worked the best with 45RPM records.
This 1byone turntable is not only eye-catching, it’s very versatile and packed with features as well. you’ll love how highly portable this model is, not to mention the fact that it comes with an RCA and AUX inputs so you can hook up your MP3 player or plug in some headphones and enjoy your favorite music wherever you go.
This CMC turntable is Bluetooth compatible and offers both USB and SD play functions. It also features a headphone and RCA jack, so you can plug in your headphones or connect your record player to your home stereo for improved sound.
This is a suitcase Victrola-style record player that’s very versatile, portable, and easy to use. The model’s Bluetooth capabilities will allow you to wirelessly stream your favorite music from your Bluetooth enabled device.
It also features three speed settings, and built-in speakers so you can enjoy great sound quality whenever you travel.
Weighing in at just six pounds, the built-in handle, and lightweight design makes this one of the most compact and portable models on the market.
There were some reports that the turntable’s speakers didn’t work, right out of the box. If you run into this issue, contact the manufacturer right away for a replacement. Additionally, some consumers had issues with Bluetooth connectivity. Fortunately, the customer service team is very responsive and knowledgeable and can help you troubleshoot any issues.
Downright adorable and portable, this turntable offers great sound quality and the ability to stream music. We love that this lightweight record player not only travels well, but it comes with a ton of features that will allow you to enjoy the comforts of home while you’re on the road. We recommend this model to anyone who’s looking for the perfect travel companion.
This Crosley belt-drive record player features three speeds, so you can play 45, 33 1/3, and 78 RPM records. It’s also USB enabled so you can connect the turntable to your MAC, PC, or laptop and stream away. This package includes a software suite for editing and ripping audio content so you can create your own MP3s.
Equipped with a headphone jack, AUX input and RCA output, you can plug in your headphones, or hook the record player up to your home stereo and crank the volume up when you’re playing your favorite vinyl.
With a black and turquoise color scheme and a classic design, this retro model features a unique fold out speaker design that offers big sound. Traditionally, portable record players feature built-in speakers or must be plugged into external speakers, but these fold-out speakers allow you to enjoy your favorite music without having to deal with speaker wire or connecting them to your home stereo system in order to listen to your music at a higher volume.
The turntable is also able to play three speeds of vinyl and comes equipped with an AUX input and a USB port that allows you to connect your turntable to your laptop or MAC so you can stream music, rip, or edit tracks using the free software.
Many buyers felt that while the speaker design is unique, fully detachable speakers would have been a better option.
This Crosley turntable is unique, portable, and comes with some nice features that will allow you to create your own MP3s and stream your favorite tunes, in addition to playing your vinyl. It’s a great package. The software is easy to use, and the speakers offer decent sound quality. For louder sound, you can simply plug it into your home stereo system. All in all, this model is a great buy for the audiophile searching for a record player that features PC connectivity and more playing options.
Portable Record Player Buying Guide
If you’re not much of a vinyl collector, or you’ve just decided to start collecting, there are certain specs and features you’ll want to pay close attention to. The first thing you should understand is that a portable record player isn’t going to come equipped with as many sound-related features or the type of power as a home deck model. Because these record players are designed with portability in mind, their design tends to sacrifice a lot when it comes to sound quality and extra features.
But that doesn’t mean they won’t offer great sound. You’ll still be able to get close to what a full system record player has to offer if you do your research.
If you’re a collector searching for a portable turntable because you don’t have the room to set up a large sound system, then you won’t need much speaker power since the majority of the time you’ll be listening to your music in small spaces. In cases such as these, it’ll be better to have a belt-driven model because it reduces the shock from the movement of the disc.
However, if you’re looking for a portable turntable for scratching, then you’ll need to look for a model equipped with the best speakers possible, and a longer battery life.
In terms of extra features, another thing to consider is USB, MP3 and Bluetooth compatibility, so you can connect your music using newer formats.
Some models will even have cassette or CD players, which can be a big deal if you have a large collection and you’re looking for an all-in-one player.
Before you hit that buy now button, we’ll take a closer look at some of these specs and features which will help you to narrow down your choice.
Turntable Or Record Player – What’s The Difference
Before all else lets just clear something that seems to confuse many people. What is the difference between a turntable and a record player? The word turntable refers to the spinning platter of a record player on which the vinyl record is placed. As such people use the term interchangeably to refer to the same device i.e. a device with a spinning turntable that suspends a stylus over a vinyl discs to read analog audio stored on it.
In colloquial usage people such as DJs tend to call their record players turntables. Also, the word turntable is generally used to refer to more high end players and record players to the more budget variety. Having said that modern marketers have muddied the water enough so even the colloquial differentiation has blended.
Portable Record Player Basics
A portable record player may seem like a simple device, but they’re designed to spin a record at a constant rate of speed, thereby transforming the data that’s pressed into their grooves into a signal.
How precisely a record player performs that type of task will determine how well and reliably it’s able to reproduce the music.
Most models will consist of a stylus, phono cartridge, tonearm, motor, feet, platter, bearing assembly, and plinth.
Needle: The record player’s needle, or stylus, is the needle tipped component that traces the grooves when it’s pressed into a record.
Phono cartridge: The needle is supported by the phono cartridge, which is a mini electrical generator that produces a music signal when the needle moves.
Tonearm: This component holds the needle and cartridge steady as the record spins underneath it.
Platter: This is what the record rests on while playing. A platter is usually covered by a type of mat that works to minimize vibration and prevents scratches.
Motor: For belt-driven record players, the motor is what turns the platter using an elastic belt and pulley. Direct drive models feature a platter that’s placed directly on top of a motor.
Bearing Assembly: This is what the platter will spin on if you have a belt-driven model. The more precise the bearings, the quieter, and smoother the rotation.
Plinth: The record player’s plinth or base will hold all of the components that play records and it helps to prevent unwanted vibrations.
Feet: Feet that are well designed will work to further minimize vibration. Adjustable feet allow you to keep your record player level.
Outputs: Most models will come equipped with RCA outputs that will allow you to connect to powered speakers or a receiver. Some models also come with USB ports so you can hook the record player up to your laptop or PC.
All About Sound Quality
There are plenty of good sounding, basic models to choose from under four hundred dollars. Automatic models that stop and start with just a push of a button will be the easiest to use, but many vinyl enthusiasts prefer manual models because some feel that the extra hardware needed for automatic play can detract from the record player’s sound quality.
If your home sound system is missing a dedicated turntable input, then you’ll want a model that features the built-in phono preamp. Record players that have a USB port will allow you to connect to a computer to digitize your music collection for playback on your car stereo or smartphone.
Record players in the eight-hundred-dollar price range will offer better sound quality, which is mostly due to their higher quality components and more precise construction. In this price range, look for a tonearm with adjustments that will accommodate a wider range of phono cartridges, and a more precisely balanced, heavier platter with better bearings. Also check out the quality of the needle and cartridge, which can treat your records more gently while pulling more music from your records’ grooves.
Another big plus for models in this price range is the ability to upgrade. Make sure you check for detachable signal cords that you can swap out for a better quality cable. Some record players will also allow you to upgrade the platter with a beefier one for more dynamic sound. With a higher quality tonearm, your portable record player will be able to handle a higher-end cartridge and your player will enjoy huge sonic improvement from this small upgrade alone.
Models priced at over eight hundred dollars will be geared toward the seasoned collector. For record players in this price range, check for adjustable feet and vibration-absorbing plinth designs.
Other features to look for include a motor that’s physically separated from the plinth and the addition of a top-notch cartridge which can totally eliminate vibration.
When it comes to the specs, while they may not be able to tell you exactly how a record player will sound, they will provide you with a point of reference when you’re comparing models. Here are some basic specs to check out:
Speed variation: Flutter and wow can determine spinning accuracy. Any type of deviation in speed will affect sound quality by altering the pitch or causing a wavering effect that can detract from the sound quality. Ideally, a low number below 0.25 percent is what you should look for.
S and N ratio: Also referred to as signal to noise, this spec will give buyers a better idea of how much background noise they can expect from their record player at every music signal level. The higher the number the better because you’ll want a lot more music signal than noise. Search for a model that offers something about sixty-five decibels.
Playback speed: Make sure you look for a record player that offers the proper rotation speed for the type of vinyl you normally play. Most models will provide 45RPM capability. However, if you own a collection of 78RPM vinyl, then you’ll want to pay extra attention to this spec since some models lack this speed. Also, if you purchase a record player for 78s, be sure that you buy a special needle or cartridge that’s able to handle the wider grooves for this type of record.
Just like any other type of record player, you’ll need to replace the stylus every once in a while. Be sure to purchase a portable model that’s compatible with universal needles. We recommend diamond needles because they have a known lifespan of over twelve thousand hours, which is pretty impressive.
Aside from basic maintenance, taking your record player and records on the road can mean extra cleaning and care, so make sure you take special precautions when you travel. Some models will come with a built-in handle, which makes them even more travel-friendly, allowing you to check them in as carry-on baggage. But if you’re planning on storing your record player in your checked baggage you may need to purchase a travel case, which can provide extra padding and protection to ensure your turntable doesn’t get damaged during your journey.
We hope our best portable record player reviews have helped you narrow down your choices for a model that meets your sound quality needs and works with your budget. Our guide was designed to give you a little more insight into the types of features we feel are the most important and the ones that can affect the sound quality and overall playability the most. Of course, your budget will have a major impact on the record player you choose and the type of sound quality you can expect, however, we feel that each of our models is not only reasonably priced, but they also offer the type of sound quality you would normally expect from higher-end models.