The growing popularity of portable players appeared not only due to the uniqueness of vintage. They produce “surround” analog sound with a dynamic range of a wide spectrum in comparison with the digital sound, which is subjected to compression. That’s why we can help find only the best portable record player for your needs and make sure, that the device’s popularity isn’t an accident. Here are a few reasons for it.
- The turntable brings clear transmission of the true sound that was recorded in the pre-digital era.
- You get an aesthetic satisfaction from vinyl records collecting.
- In addition to its direct purpose, the vinyl player performs a decorative function.
- Almost all the significant releases are presented on vinyl.
- The record cannot be switched by the frequency of playing the song. It must be listened to completely, which makes it possible to fully and more deeply perceive music.
The following record players being portable can be chosen according to personal preferences. There are models with a full automatic adjusting system (auto-start tonearm), which also do not require special settings and are suitable for beginners. There are options with a wide range of possibilities of improvement and customization, and vinyl lovers with experience will appreciate it. Check out each presented below portable record player review, the specifications, and peculiarities.
Portable Record Player Reviews
This Victrola portable record player looks like a vintage device (15 x 13 x 7 inches), which is made of solid plastic. This model is presented in 4 colors (red, black, blue, teal). The volume and tuning knobs, play, stop, and skip buttons are greatly visible and located on the front panel. The device plays 78, 33/3, and 45 RPM that make it a versatile unit for different speed levels. The inbuilt speakers are really loud and make it easy to listen to the music without the need to additionally purchase the amplifier. It plays CDs and is complemented with the integrated USB ADC, which allows me to convert analog to digital files. The AM/FM radio works just fine, no hindrances and sound problems are found. The turntable can be connected to the smartphone via Bluetooth, but there’s a problem with the signal, which gets lost time from time for no reason (even being at a 33ft-distance). The whole construction has a self-damping effect, which ensures effective damping of any resonances and vibrations. The bass is deep and high notes are clear even at high volume.
- The AUX and the headphone jack work seamlessly.
- The screen on the front side shows FM/AM settings and the current operating mode.
- There’s some clicking noise when the device is turned on.
- Sometimes, when a CD inserting, there appears an error message on the screen (“NO”) and I have to restart the player in order to fix it.
Video Victrola V50-200
The vintage-looking Victrola VTA-600B-MAH doesn’t have compact dimensions (18.2 x 13.2 x 10 inches), but its body frame is made of real wood. This portable Bluetooth turntable supports wireless music streaming from any Bluetooth-enabled device. The volume, tunings knobs, power, eject, and other click buttons for input select are located on the front side of the unit’s case. It’s a 3-speed (33 1/3, 45, and 78 RPM) belt-driven player with an additional 3.5mm jack for music playing. Such a unit is able to work without any hindrances at a 33ft distance. The device allows converting albums/cassette/CD to digital formats via USB and listening to them in a car. A cassette player is a pleasant bonus and performs its main task seamlessly. The model might be probably called the best portable record player but there are some noisy vibrations that come from the platter. It appears not on an ongoing basis but periodically.
- AM and FM work seamlessly and even small single wire antenna catches the signal without hindrances.
- The unit’s pairing with the smartphone takes nearly 60 seconds, that’s really fast.
- The On/Off button on the remote controller is absent by default. I have to come to the turntable and perform these operations manually.
- The player isn’t loud enough, so it’s better to complement it with additional speakers.
Video Victrola VTA-600B-MAH
The Victrola VSC-550BT is regarded as a good choice for first-time collectors as the device has a retro design and is simple in operating. It has a transportable size (13.9 x 10.1 x 5 inches). The input select knob, power/volume knob, and an auto stop switch are located inside the case. The inbuilt speakers are not really loud, but they are enough to enjoy the music in an average-sized room. However, there’s an AUX jack output that makes it possible to connect the external speakers. It proposes to play vinyl records at 3 basic speed levels: 33 1/3, 45, and 78 RPM, so it’s easy to enjoy old and modern records. The sound quality isn’t bad, but the low tone contains some rattling strains and high ones are not clear enough. So it’s better to choose this unit as the device for exploring vinyl portable turntables because the music fans won’t find the sound quality sufficient for them.
- The body frame is made of resin plastic (it’s scratch resistant) and is presented in 33 colors.
- It has an automatic tonearm lift function that allows me to place the stylus on a rotating vinyl record without risk of needle damage.
- There’s a reliable and solid carry carrying handle on the case. I can easily take this portable vinyl player out.
- There are a lot of plastic parts in the body case, so it’s easy to leave some scratches on it.
- The speed stability is inconstant and it seems that to me that it can be fixed by replacing the belt.
Video Victrola VSC-550BT-TQ
The Crosley portable record player is a classic belt-drive model, which demonstrates a retro chic due to a vintage faux leather suitcase (10.5 x 14 x 4.63 inches). The body frame has 4 rubbed legs for increased stability. A Bluetooth module runs faultlessly. The model’s rear panel has standard RCA jacks for the analog output, so the music lover can choose any suitable connecting cables to his/her taste. There’s only 1 button (Bluetooth on/off) and 2 pitch and volume knobs. Pay attention that the inbuilt speakers sound quiet and dull and if you want more power – connect additional speakers via the RCA port, or individually enjoy the music by connecting headphones. The Crosley Cruiser 3-speed portable turntable (33 1/3, 45, and 78 RPM) is complemented with inner elements of which prevent transmission of vibrations to the support platter. The disc itself ensures reliable placement of records. The specified device allows listening to all the sounds, tones, and notes as evenly as possible; the rhythm is heard perfectly. The speed and accuracy of notes do not depend on the range at all: this is optimally realized at both high and low frequencies.
- It has high speed stability (speed deviation of no more than 2%).
- The needle lowering is as smooth as possible.
- The unit comes with a small rubber mat for additional fixation.
- When you, by chance, easily push the device, all the settings become disrupted and you have to adjust them again.
- The needle that comes with the player is flimsy and thin, you need to buy a good one.
Video Crosley CR8005DTU
This portable turntable with speakers has a robust construction and a classic design (13.9 x 10.1 x 4.3 inches) that allows it to become a part of any audio system. It has a 3.5mm AUX jack for smartphone successful connection and is equipped with a pair of RCA connectors for additional speakers hooking up. The turntable has an auto, stop, on/off switch next to the platter. It’s suitable for 33 1/3, 45, and 78 RPM that makes it a versatile unit. Two inbuilt stereo speakers don’t need additional speakers as the sound is loud, clear, and pleasant-to-ear even for audiophiles. There’s no background noise during the operation. I really like that the turntable is able to play 7/10/12 inches vinyl record, so the construction can be easily adapted to them. The belt-drive system guarantees a smooth start and soft work without jerking. Due to the soft adjustment of speed within +/- 10 percent, this allows you to fine-tune the rotation of the disc for the harmonious reproduction of various music recordings. I note the clarity of the vocal line. The sound of melodies is clear, regardless of the music genre.
- The portable turntable case is designed to protect the tonearm and record as much as possible from external vibrations that could lead to sound distortion.
- A standard cartridge and a special head bring deep bass and stereo clarity.
- The arm doesn’t stay in the track and skips around.
- The assembly quality isn’t at a high level because the side protective elements do not fit tightly to the case itself.
The Wockoder KD-3010BL portable record player has fully automatic operation and is designed primarily for beginners. The device has a retro turquoise case (13.8 x 10 x 4.4 inches) that looks unusual for such players and protects the inner components from damage. There’s Bluetooth connectivity that runs without any problems and turns on automatically when the power is on. The manufacturer reduced unwanted vibrations that can distort the sound (the support disc is equipped with a damping rubber mat). This model is designed to play 7/10/12 inches records at speeds of 33 1/3, 45, and 78 RPM that brings the versatility to the device. The AUX jack (suitable for other multimedia units hooking up), RCA output (for speakers connection), and the power adapter port are located on the case itself. The turntable has a mode and play/pause/tone buttons. There’s a LED-lights that signalize about turned on function or mode: white light means the LP function, blue – Bluetooth mode, and powder-blue – USB mode.
- There’s a slot for an SD card. It’s played automatically after inserting.
- The inbuilt stereo speakers are loud and bring clear sound, so the additional ones only audiophiles may need.
- Turntable hums after connecting to external speakers.
- Limited color options don’t allow choosing another case’s design.
If you are looking for well-working Numark portable turntables and have a desire to find a good model among battery-powered record players, keep an eye on the Numark PT01. It has a hard protective case (11.9 x 11.9 x 4 inches), which is complemented with red decorative elements. This player is positioned as the unit with an adjustable scratch switch. It has a special anti-skid system that allows the needle to remain in contact with the platter, even if the player is installed at an angle or is subject to vibration. All this gives DJs the opportunity to practice scratching anywhere, even on the street. There are 2 RCA linear stereo outputs and 2 parallel headphone outputs that work just fine. The AUX input with adjustable volume is suitable for connecting a smartphone or other portable sound sources. Here you can find the gain control knob and the controller to select from 3 basic speed settings (33 1/3, 45, and 78 RPM).
- The cartridge, slipmat, and protective cover come with the player itself. All these elements have good quality, so there’s no need to substitute them.
- This is a battery-powered record player that runs on 6 D-Cell batteries and allows you to use the device without recharging.
- An integrated USB port makes it easy to digitize your vinyl (using free downloadable software).
- Sometimes it appears the background noise that distorts from the scratching.
- It has a wobbly tonearm and belt that barely holds on the platter.
Video Numark PT01
This portable turntable is belt-driven and has a vintage MDF case (14.17 x 10.24 x 6.3 inches) with a solid handle and secure lock catch. It isn’t easy to scratch its superior leatherette, so it’s hard to spoil the unit’s appearance. Four rubber legs protect the device from vibration hindrances. It’s able to play the 33 1/3, 45, or 78 RPM records, so there’s no need to purchase additional elements to play old records. Dual speakers sound really loud and their loudness is enough to fill with analog music a small room. The VMO-002 has an RCA audio output and the headphone jack. You can also find the on/off button and the volume knob on the case itself. Probably, this unit isn’t the best portable turntable, but it sounds relatively clean and is a good choice for beginners (due to the absence of necessity to do independent tuning, good sound, and simplicity of construction itself). Pay attention that the device can’t be hooked up to the PC by default as it’s suitable for playing vinyl records directly.
- It plays without skipping as the case is solid and the 4 rubbed legs encourage stability.
- The speakers are located on the left and right side of the case, so such positioning brings the resemblance to surround sound (some models have speakers on the rear or front side).
- It’s hard to adjust the needle position, moreover, it wasn’t installed out of the box.
- It has an irregular speed while playing.
What do You Need to Know about Quality of Portable Record Player?
A good portable record player differs from a bad one with the qualitatively made mechanical components. They strongly affect the reproduction of analog sound recordings; a cheap player with a low-grade mechanical part won’t bring you the pleasure of listening to music and might spoil your records. One more thing that signifies the quality record player is the base material resistance to vibrations and the absence of its resonances. Remember, this quality directly depends on the weight: the heavier the support table, the better it dampens the vibrations that are transmitted to the player. When a good turntable using, the owner gets an opportunity to tune the tonearm for different phono cartridges accommodation. The weight also greatly influences the platter quality, as heavy one performs quiet rotation and treats the vinyl collection more sensitively. Moreover, medium-quality devices can be easily upgraded into improved units.
A decent model should also have a USB output to digitalize the vinyl collection. Such a solution will help play the songs on other devices. The automatic feature is also a pleasant bonus as it allows controlling the performance (start or stop playing) via one button. You should know that the audio signal that is removed by the needle of the pickup head is weak in itself. Therefore, it needs amplification and correction, for which the phono stage is used. Professionals prefer models with removable phono stages – they can be replaced with better and more advanced ones (such a possibility also signalizes about the quality of the turntable). Before the player purchasing, check portable turntable reviews, and make sure the cartridge has a standard mount. Firstly, the head is easier to replace in the case of malfunction. Secondly, if you decide to upgrade, it will be easier to find a replacement. One more thing: when choosing the base material, its decorative qualities should be also taken into account. The mid-level models have plinth design, which damps out the vibration and 4 feet that trample undesirable resonance.
Main Features you have to Consider Choosing a Portable Record Player
A record player sound doesn’t completely depend on technical characteristics, but they indicate the strengths and weaknesses of the system and allow the buyer to draw conclusions by comparing the features of other models. You have to pay attention to vibration dampeners, connectivity means, speed variation, background noise ratio, etc. Highlight key points, equalize them, and the choosing process will become much easier.
Platter Rotation and Playback Speed
When talking about the playback speed, most portable record players have 33/3 RPM and 45 RPM according to the new standard. Almost all the modern units are also designed for a rotation speed of 78 RPM with a short duration of the sound. However, since the 78 RPM records are complemented with wider grooves (comparing with modern units), it’s better to buy a special cartridge and stylus for its use.
Concerning the platter rotation, this feature greatly affects the speed variation. Its deviations reduce sound quality and make the music full of audible interferences that greatly disturb the listener. It’s better to look for a device with a low-speed variation (below 0.25% is an excellent exponent).
Background Noise Ratio
One of the most important things when playing vinyl is damping, that is, how well the portable record player dampens mechanical vibrations. Some manufacturers increase the weight of the table or platter, while others believe that the table should weigh as little as possible in order to prevent the transmission of unwanted noise. If you don’t want to hear the background noise, you should choose the model with an S/N ratio above 65 dB. Such an exponent will demonstrate that the number of music signals is much higher than the noise.
Hi everyone! I’m Thomas Moody, also known as Guitarzan.
All my life, the guitar has always been my real love. I played as a featured guitarist in several bands over the years.
My extensive experience of teaching lessons and blogging taught me to write useful texts. I tried to keep as many notes about musical instruments as possible. So stay tuned—new articles are coming.