There is just something special about a needle landing on a classic vinyl album that sparks a nostalgic feeling in all of us. Whether you are a seasoned veteran that harkens back to the good old days or a young hipster with an old soul, the magic of the turntable holds a special place in your heart.
With so many manufacturers flooding the market with new record players it can be a difficult task choosing the right one. To help you navigate your way to musical bliss, we’ve compiled a list of the 5 best record players with speakers and the most important factors to consider when purchasing one.
How To Choose the Right Record Player (That Won’t Ruin Your Records)
If you grew up listening to vinyl albums on a vintage turntable then you may have some idea of what to look for in a new record player. However, times have changed and so has the technology. On the other hand, if your idea of ancient technology is the old cellular flip phone then you may need some clues on how to search for that ideal turntable.
Before we get too deep into the specifics, let’s have a refresher on turntables and how they work.
Interestingly enough, the basics of the turntable have really not changed. It still comes down to putting the needle on the record. The primary components of the record player are still the plinth, tonearm, and stylus.
More simply put the plinth is the round platter that the vinyl record sits upon. It spins the record through the use of a motor that moves the plinth at 3 different speeds, depending on the size of the record.
The tonearm is the long bar that hovers over the record. The stylus, or needle, is held in a cartridge attached to the end of the tonearm. The motor turns the record on the platter, the tonearm then moves along the grooves in the vinyl record, and the vibrations of the needle are electronically amplified and turned into audible songs.
Now that we are in synch on how turntables work we can explore the key factors to consider when purchasing one. So let’s get started.
How To Protect Yourself From Major Future Headaches
Seems rather obvious but price is a factor is often overlooked with most purchases these days. Sure it’s important to make sure you can afford your new record player but you also want to be sure to get the most sound for your buck.
Another consideration around price is the desire to purchase a new record player versus purchasing an older, vintage model. Unless you are technically savvy and comfortable with tuning and repairing that vintage model, you may be better off going with a new record player.
There is a strong desire by many vinyl owners to get that true “old school” experience by going that used vintage model. You need to keep in mind that you may be getting a lot of mechanical headaches that go along with the nostalgia.
The Secret To Making Ziggy Stardust Sing Clear As A Bell
This might seem obvious since you are buying the record player to hear your albums being played. When you are buying a record player with built-in speakers though, it becomes a factor that requires your attention.
The Beatles Revolver album and Ziggy Stardust from David Bowie have often been heralded as some of the best sounding records on vinyl.
If you want to be able to experience these or other classics from the vinyl era in their purest musical form, then you will want to pay close attention to the sound quality from any built-in speakers.
This may also mean that you will want to consider the quality of the amplifier and the preamp as well. The preamplifier will convert weak or low-level signals and prepares them for a stronger signal for the power amplifier which then provides the gain to drive the speakers. Without the preamp, your music would sound noisy or distorted.
Record Players Are Old School - Here’s One Thing You Need To Be Aware Of
Let’s face it. We live in a plug and play world. Record players are a throwback to an era that required the owner to have a little bit of responsibility for keeping it working. Today’s music listeners are used to sliding a finger across a screen and the magic of digital music just happens. For some, just looking at a turntable can be intimidating.
While there are a few moving parts you do need to occasionally replace the needle (to save yourself from ruining your records). Record players are not that difficult to maintain. However, some do it better than others so if you are new to record players then you may need to consider this factor before purchasing.
How To Figure Out What You Need Without Overspending
Here is where we get into some key differences in record players. The types of features you need really depend on how you plan to use the record player. Some may just want it to play their old records and that’s it. Others may want to be able to duplicate these records onto digital media.
Now that everything in our homes is getting "smarter" you may be looking for a record player that can be integrated into your sonos home automation system.
Other considerations such as headphone jacks, USB ports, and portability should also factor in to make sure you are getting the most from your turntable purchase. You might also want to connect external bluetooth speakers to the table so make sure it’s capable of that function.
Now that we have an idea of how record players work and the best factors to consider when purchasing one, let’s take a look at our review of the 5 best record players with speakers.
It only seems appropriate that we start off our list with a record player that truly has that vintage look and feel. The Electrohome Wellington Record Player Retro Vinyl Turntable with speakers comes in a wooden casing with a classic flip lid which gives it that classic radio look and feel.
In addition to the turntable for playing your vinyl records, it features a built-in CD player as well. You can also connect your smartphone directly to it with a convenient auxiliary jack. It even has an AM/FM radio.
If you are looking for a record player that can also record, you might want to consider the Wellington. It has a USB port for connecting an MP3 device. You can use this to facilitate vinyl to MP3 recording.[/expand]
The Jensen turntable has that late 70s to early 80s visual appeal with its sleek black design and smoky grey dust cover. In addition to looking good, this turntable comes with a number of handy features including the ability to perform vinyl to MP3 recording.
The Jensen JTA-230 3 Speed Stereo Turntable can work as a standalone unit with its built-in speakers. It can be integrated into a full stereo component system through the use of the included RCA jacks.
The large round control knobs are stylish and easy to use. You can use them to adjust volume and tone control in addition to controlling the 3 record speeds that are handled by the belt-driven motor. This cheap record player offers a number of useful features all for a very reasonable price.[/expand]
If you are looking to get a retro look and feel with a modern design twist, then you may want to give this turntable from Pyle some serious consideration. It uses a vertical turntable platter that rests on a vintage looking wooden casing.
The dual speakers are housed inside that casing that is adorned with retro looking round knobs for volume controls.
This turntable is also Bluetooth enabled allowing you to par it with other bluetooth devices. You can connect your MP3 player to the USB port to play songs but this unit does not support Vinyl to MP3 recording.[/expand]
Nothing says vintage like the word Studebaker and vintage is truly what you get with this record player. In addition to the turntable that plays all 3 speeds of records, it includes a throwback AM/FM radio with an Analog tuner. If you really want to get the old school experience, then you may want to strongly consider the Spectra Studebaker.
While you will be able to enjoy a vintage experience, you will not be able to enjoy some of the modern conveniences that other turntables offer. The Spectra Studebaker does not come with USB ports or auxiliary jacks.
It also does not support Vinyl to MP3 recording. However, if you simply want to be able to buy a record player, plug it in and listen to your vinyl records with quality sound then the Spectra Studebaker may be worth strong consideration as your next turntable.[/expand]
If your primary goal with your new record player is to rip and edit songs from your vinyl albums then you may need to give the Crosley CR6232A-BR Nomad some serious consideration. This unit comes with a software suite that is specifically designed to help you get your favorite vinyl classics copied into the digital age.
This turntable is also designed to go where you go. It offers portability through the use of its convenient carrying case. Featuring a sturdy handle, this cabinet is vinyl wrapped with wood styling that seals tight with sharp looking chrome snaps.
The Nomad has quality built-in speakers that allow it to play records right out of the box. It has multiple ports and jacks that allow you to connect it to other external sources such as speakers and other audio components.
As its name suggests, the Nomad is designed for the vinyl music aficionado that prefers to take their music with them, whether they are headed to a friend's house to jam or taking their music on the road for vacation. If you want the ability to take your vinyl records wherever you go, then the Nomad is definitely worth your consideration.[/expand]
And the Winner Is…
Selecting the right record tuner is about as tricky as selecting the perfect song. Every music lover has unique musical tastes. In the same way, every vinyl record enthusiast has different needs for their record player. You really can’t go wrong with any of the record players in our list.
However, the record player that gives you the best of vintage look and feel along with all the modern conveniences you deserve is the Electrohome Wellington Record Player Retro Vinyl Turntable. While this might be one of the pricier options on our list, it has more than enough features to justify the cost.
You will get good sound quality whether you are playing your vinyl albums, your old CDs or streaming music through an MP3 or smartphone. Add in its ability to support vinyl to MP3 recording and you have just about everything you could ever want in a record player with speakers.