So, you want to take your records on the road, do ya? Or perhaps you simply want to listen to your favorites and spin them at the local area of greenery with a friend or loved one? Whatever the circumstance, the world of the portable turntable is decidedly a little different to purchasing a home stereo system and ought to be treated as such.
Follow us today as we attempt to elucidate for you the pro’s and con’s of a few of the best examples of the portable turntable on the market today, to help you assess whether or not they are right for you.
Points for Consideration
Before we get into the main attraction, that being an exploration of the best options for a portable turntable on the market today, it seems only right that we should explore in a little more detail a few of the things you will want to be taking into consideration when choosing one for yourself. Here you can read the main differences between turntable vs record player.
Everyone will be approaching the world of the portable turntable from different places and different contexts, so it is thus important to ask yourself a few key questions while you wade in to the waters, that might seem murky and ineffable (especially if you have not much idea about the territory beforehand).
Technicalities of Portable Record Player
It is more than likely that the main reason you are choosing to opt for a portable turntable is so that you can own a portable record player setup that can offer a passable listening experience but that can also offer this listening experience just about anywhere you can imagine. The clue is in the name of course, being a portable turntable.
It is certainly a nostalgic image, to imagine knee length skirted and varsity jacketed teens spinning 7 inch records on the football field over a long and heat expanded summer afternoon bunking off school – it is no wonder that so many teens of the present day are opting to chase this fantasy down and pin it to the wall of an ever more complex and changing reality, from teenage years to adulthood.
The main point to take away from an exploration of technical capabilities is the fact that a portable turntable – like those under our microscope today – is not going to be able to offer anywhere near the amount of options and practical capacity that a home bound turntable and / or record player of a higher cost is going to be able to.
Any options relating to expanding the capabilities of the turntable from just spinning discs to being more of a multimedia home entertainment system will have to be put on ice.
Some might be Bluetooth capable, though this will need to be something you check out for yourself, at least if it is of importance to you and your music listening experience. You will also want to do some investigating into whether the portable turntable will need electricity, for some might still need a plug socket in order to function properly, while some can do just as well functioning on batteries.
Another point of consideration when weighing up the pro’s and con’s of certain examples of portable turntable will be the sound, which many would argue is in fact the most important aspect of all, for what else are we here to do with a portable turntable if not to listen to records.
I suppose the main point to consider would be that of speakers, with the central query being whether they are inbuilt or not. Certainly, you would not necessarily be wrong to assume that, in being a portable turntable, any example of such ought to come with speakers else it would not be portable, though you would be surprised. In these cases you can, of course, attach a pair of external speakers of your own choosing, though this does seem to negate the need for a portable turntable in the first place, with an external set of speakers being more of an encumbrance. You can find our best powered speakers for turntable in this post
If, indeed, the portable turntable you are looking into purchasing does come with speakers of its own built within, then it would also be best for you to do some testing and listening for yourself before laying down any cash, for you could easily be disappointed with what the turntable has to offer.
However, this does come with the territory, for it would only be with the exchange of considerable sums of money that you would have in your hands a portable turntable able to offer a taste of what a home stereo system could.
Also of importance here is the Bluetooth functionality. Many more modern examples of the portable turntable will offer Bluetooth within, meaning that the inbuilt speakers can double up as speakers for external devices, either via Bluetooth or an AUX cable or an RCA to 3.5mm attachment cable, and so if this is something that you are going to be wanting from your portable turntable you will need to do some adequate research around it before investing your hard earned bucks.
Hardware: Best Portable Turntables
Closely linked to aforementioned sonic properties of any portable turntable in question will be the hardware, so there will inevitably be some overlap.
Wherever the portable turntable as a concept comes in helpful, there is likely to be a mirror aspect that is just as bad for the listening experience of the user. In the case of the portable turntable, a lot of these mirror aspects will have to do with a central dichotomy of the format: namely, the juxtaposition and tension between portability and audio fidelity.
Any audiophiles among us will, thus, want to avert their gaze and attention, for a portable turntable simply is not going to provide anywhere near all of the features that can be found on a more adept and specialised home listening turntable setup.
One of the main example that springs to mind is that of the specialist speed adjustment function that can be found on more expansive home units, those which grapple primarily with the speed at which the turntable platter upon which the record is laid is spun. For an audiophile, this might be a feature that they simply cannot do without, in which case a portable turntable of any sort is likely not going to do them any favors.
If called upon to suggest what feature a portable turntable has that a home setup does not, I would instantly think of the former’s main feature, its robustness and portability, able as it is to be taken just about anywhere that will have it. Even the sound quality of some portable turntables can be adjusted by replacing the stylus cartridge that comes from the factory with one better suited to the job.
Victrola Vintage Suitcase Portable Record Player
Victrola should need no introduction, having been in the record player game almost as long as record players have existed in the first place. In fact, they were integral players in the advent of the gramophone at the turn of the 20th century. Thus, they are likely to be a brand which you can trust to deliver the goods.
In their original form, the Victor Talking Machine Company was the largest and most prestigious company of its kind in the world at the time, operating on the cutting edge of gramophonic and phonographic technology. Nowadays, however, they are probably best known for their use of the iconic ‘His Master’s Voice’ trademark, and latterly with the production, marketing and design of the popular ‘Victrola’ line of phonographs.
Victor rapidly became the dominant recording company in America for over six decades, retaining their status even after merging with the Radio Corporation of America in 1929 to become RCA Victor. Through this, the original side of the company continued with the manufacture of phonographs, records, radios and other products.
Despite being at a much more affordable price than a more expansive Victrola can fetch, the brand is surely one upon which you can trust to deliver the goods, to spin discs accurately and with integrity. The heritage of the company is here, though with a modern twist which renders it much more affordable and aligned with current trends in record player and turntable technology. The aesthetic is intentionally meant to mimic a suitcase when closed, sending off a very clear signal that this is a portable turntable, much like a suitcase can and is taken just about anywhere.
PROs of Victrola Vintage Suitcase
- Immense value for money means this is likely to be a perfect choice for the record collector on a budget who still wants to take their records wherever they go.
- Controls are easy and straight forward to navigate, meaning even the most novice of collectors will be able to find their way around this piece with no problems.
- Bluetooth capabilities are offered and are particularly strong when compared with similarly priced competitors.
- The stylus and needle that come with this turntable from the factory are not up to the job and so should be replaced pronto, unless you want to do some serious damage to your records.
Popsky Vintage Style Portable Turntable
In comparison to the esteemed Victrola company, Popsky certainly have far less clout and authority in the realm of turntables, be they portable or otherwise. A quick Google search of the brand, however, will bring about a panoply of positive reviews and a whole host of endorsements from external websites who have seen the light.
And this piece certainly has a lot going for it, even if it does not necessarily have a wealth of real world experience as a manufacturer. In terms of being a portable turntable, there are scarcely better examples. The Popsky turntable when weighed comes in at under seven pounds, meaning that it can be taken just about anywhere you can imagine and by just about whoever you can imagine.
Alongside a robustness that sets it apart from a whole host of other examples of the portable turntable form, the Popsky is also manufactured and designed to mimic some of the best vintage record players from years of yore, with a faux wooden panelling that means its could fit in just about anywhere it is placed and alongside anything it is placed near.
Furthermore, unlike several other examples of the portable turntable, the Popsky also offers several capabilities other than that of the turntable platter, such as a USB port, an RCA hookup, as well as Bluetooth functionality, meaning that wherever you do decide to take it, the Popsky will be able to operate as more than just a mere portable turntable and, instead, as a holistic home entertainment system, connecting several disparate pieces of audio equipment by one means, making your life a whole lot easier while simultaneously making it a whole lot less static!
- Extra connectivity, such as those enabled by Bluetooth, a USB port or two, as well as an RCA hookup, mean that this is more than just any other portable turntable, and can in fact operate as more of a home entertainment system through which other pieces of audio equipment are fed and transmitted.
- Visual aesthetic is spot on and aligns very much with current trends for nostalgia and suchlike. And hits the string on the times of when were record players popular
- The inbuilt speakers, like many examples of the portable turntable form, are simply not up to scratch, especially if you are more of an audiophile than most.
If you are a record collector more inclined towards spinning discs professionally, someone who typically spins discs before a rampant crowd of sweaty and enthused dancers and ravers, then this Numark PT01 is definitely going to be one for the books and is certainly worth your esteemed consideration.
Numark are without doubt a company upon whom you can hang your trust. In their own words:
‘For more than 40 years, Numark has combined an understanding of DJs’ needs with cutting-edge technologies to create products that continually lead the way. Numark has quite literally innovated its way to the top, engineering performance tools for the entire spectrum of the DJ world, from hobbyists to professionals.
‘One of a handful of original DJ brands, Numark was founded in Edison, New Jersey by Harry and Robert Kotovsky in 1971. At the time, Numark developed a significant following for its mixers, turntables, and speaker enclosures and was considered to be one of the leading manufacturers in the DJ industry during the age of Disco.’
Their expertise in the field of vinyl technology stretches also to the portable turntable market where they excel at providing a more than solid piece of kit for the budding disc jockey who is looking to take their work on the road, or perhaps for a producer who is off to exotic lands in the ever widening search of copyright free samples in bargain bins around the globe.
- Despite the whole host of extra features this turntable is packing, it is relatively lightweight, rendering it a perfect example of a portable turntable that still includes all of the features you might expect from a home stereo system.
- A solid build quality to boot means this portable turntable can truly be portable and taken anywhere you can conceive.
- Three speed turntable platter, for all eventualities.
- The design, though there has certainly been a lot of love and effort put in, is not going to be for everyone, a fact that ought to be properly thought through before putting down any of your hard earned bucks.
So, there you have it! Hopefully this brief study through some of the best examples of the portable turntable have been of some use to you, whether that be in working out whether or not you have actually want one for yourself (and whether it would be wholly necessary for you to buy one, if indeed you are on a bit of a budget), or perhaps you were already convinced and are now doubly convinced, even so far as to have chosen one of those here listed!
FAQs Portable Turntable
While there is no holistic example of the smallest turntable, there are a number of products which seek to drastically reduce the amount of real estate that a turntable can normally take up within one’s home. Some are simply a strip which you insert the disc into and which reads it as it stood, either on its side or upright, much in the same way that a Walkman CD player might have done towards at the turn of the 21st century.
Most certainly they can, and even without mentioning their names specifically we can already conjure up a list of conglomerate culprits whose audiophilic negligence we have either heard of through rumour or have otherwise experienced first hand. This is, however, easily avoided, even if you do choose to invest in a cheaper turntable. Many audiophiles would suggest, in the case of purchasing a cheaper turntable, that you purchase a separate cartridge and needle to fit into the mechanism, for it is common knowledge among such record collectors that those which cheaper turntables are fitted with from the factory are simply not adequate.
This is an impossible question to answer objectively, for each person’s situation and context will be different and varied and, thus, the worth of their getting a turntable will exist in parallel. Purchasing a turntable at a reasonable cost will, of course, be more than worth it for some, especially those who can actually afford to buy and maintain an antiquated medium and the discs that are played upon it. However, there will just as certainly be an opposite camp for whom the purchase of a turntable will not at all be worth it, whether owing to the inherently expensive nature of the hobby or otherwise. This is something that each and every person weighing it up will have to decide for themselves.