That moment when everyone is watching a classic movie, and you’re trying to figure out precisely what vinyl set up the main character has in the living room, you know. You’re a vinyl fan.
We’ve compiled a list of our favorite portable turntables to get you started on your journey. Let’s take a look.
Features to Consider
Before you make a decision, there are a few things you should consider.
Do You Really Want to be Portable?
Consider carefully if you want your vinyl collection to be mobile. Vinyl isn’t very durable against elements such as humidity or heat. It’s not easy to protect your vinyl if you take it out of your climate controlled house.
Another element of the portable system is that you don’t have the room for full-scale operation. A mobile system can give you the vinyl sound you prefer with very little space.
Many portable systems come with their own speakers. If you don’t have a lot of space, this can be an excellent way to get the type of sound you need within the constraints of your space.
Included speakers should have a rich sound. If it’s possible, you should test out the speakers before you buy to make sure that it has the sound range you want.
You have to be able to protect the components of your portable turntable, but you also want to carry it around easily. Some have a suitcase style case, for example, that allows you to fold the entire thing up and take it with you, some even small enough to fit into a bag.
If you’re looking for that portable system, you’ll want a suitcase style with a handle to prevent as much damage as possible to the system during transport. If you want a portable system for space saving purposes, you can fudge a little on this hard shell case.
The best type of portable turntable will be able to play all three speeds of vinyl, so there are no limits to your record collecting.
Platter for One
The quality of critical parts of your turntable should be excellent. The platter needs to be well balanced and preferably covered by a mat so that it doesn’t scratch your records as they’re playing.
All in the Arm
The arm can be straight or curved, but it should come down on the record straight to prevent scratching the vinyl. Automatic tonearms do the work for you to lift and lower the stylus for you. This option is useful if you aren’t confident with your vinyl skills yet. Unfortunately, these are also more expensive.
Manual tone arms give you a lot more control over the vinyl experience. They’re less likely to break because there are fewer mechanical parts. The downside is that you have to be very confident manipulating the arm.
The Needle Channels Joy
The cartridge at the end of the arm holds the needle, or stylus, responsible for reading the vinyl. The needle itself can be different shapes. The most common form is the spherical needle. It’s the most affordable option. If you want a sound closer to the original sound carved into the grooves, some users report that elliptical needles provide a more vibrant sound.
Other stylus shapes, such as the Shibata, attempt to solve the problem of stressing the record’s grooves through previous play. The Shibata is an offset shape that doesn’t hit the grooves in the same way during each rotation.
Belt vs Direct Drive
The drive is the motor that turns the platter. With direct drive motors, the platter sits directly on top of the motor. These experience fewer distortions in speed but have unwanted vibrations that bleed into the sound.
The belt drive produces fewer vibrations because the platter doesn’t sit directly on the motor. However, it is known for tonal inconsistencies because the belt isn’t as reliable as the direct drive model.
This isn’t the 1970s, and turntables have a lot more to offer. You can be a purist, and rightfully so, and invest in only a turntable. However, if you’ve got music collections on media other than vinyl, you might want to look at some other features of modern turntables.
Some turntables now have USB ports for music media and ripping music from the turntable. Some can play AM/FM radio.
Other turntables have automatic speed selectors or adjustable pitch control.
Best Portable Turntable with Built-in Speakers
1byone’s portable turntable is a suitcase-style portable player with front-facing speakers. It plays all three record speeds and includes the adaptor for 45s. It includes an RCA output and headphone jacks for other listening options. It’s belt driven for low vibrations during music play.
It’s a retro throwback to turntables of a bygone era. It’s small enough to move around, has built-in speakers, but still has enough inputs and outputs so that you can alter the sonic profile of the music through headphones or other stereo equipment.
Sound is decent but you won’t get hi-fi sounds. However, it’s a good entry level turntable that doesn’t take up a lot of space.
-balanced tonearm with damping control
-briefcase-style carrying case with handle
-the stylus has a removable protective cover for transport purposes
-includes both inputs and outputs
-the cabinet is accented with PU leather wrappings
-sound doesn’t have too much depth
-the record isn’t fully enclosed with the cabinet
-some platters aren’t quite level.
D&L Belt-Drive 3 Speed Turntable Portable Wooden Suitcase Record Player with Built-in Stereo Speakers
D&L’s Belt driven turntable is a classic wooden style suitcase with built-in speakers. It has PU leather wrappings and a comfortable carry handle. It includes PC encoding so that you can rip your music directly from the player to any PC in mp3 form.
It also includes RCA outputs so you can listen through other speakers. It’s crafted from audio grade wood so that the sound is transmitted better to the stylus. The platter’s rubber slip mat further prevents external vibrations from interfering with the music.
The turntable is fully automatic. It adjusts to play all three speeds of record and comes with the proper adaptor to play 45s.
It’s small enough to transport easily, and the quality of the case helps protect the delicate components of the player. Unfortunately, the lid doesn’t cover the record as it’s playing, so there’s no way for you to protect it. However, the quality of the materials produces an excellent sound.
-player is crafted from audio grade wood
-fully automatic tone arm for a better placement if you aren’t confident about vinyl
-rubber slip mat on the platter prevents outside vibrations
-PC compatible to convert vinyl to mp3
-record sticks out further than the lid
-the automatic arm might not be convenient if you want more control
Musitrend’s turntable is a compact system with integrated speakers and an attractive wooden plinth. It has a pleasantly vintage feel. It plays the three different speeds of record and includes the adaptor for 45s.
It has a good sound for such a small system. The wooden plinth transmits sound well, and the belt-driven motor provides minimal outside vibrations (though some are present as with all belt driven motors). It has a ceramic cartridge with a stylus that’s replaceable.
It’s compatible with PC. It connects to rip vinyl to mp3 format. It has both input and outputs but no headphone jack. It has a dynamically balanced tone arm with an auto stop feature.
The removable dust cover completely encases the record, but it’s not suitable for carrying from place to place on a regular basis. It has a clean look that takes up very little space, however, so you should be able to fit it into even the tightest spots.
-high style but compact
-removable dust cover completely protects the record
-PC compatible to convert vinyl to mp3
-the wooden plinth is stylish and suitable for sound
-not long-term portable
-the stylus can be tricky to unlatch to replace.
Goodnew’s three-speed record player is a suitcase-style turntable with external speakers. It has RCA line out and a Bluetooth option. It includes an AM/FM option.
The case is thick and ultra sturdy. It has a handle for easy carrying. The lid fits over the record as it’s playing, and the base is sturdy. It has average sound for these kinds of speakers, reliable enough to enjoy your music without having to invest in extra equipment.
One interesting feature about this turntable is that you can connect your device to the turntable via Bluetooth and play music through the speakers.
It has an auto stop, and arm raise feature. The AM/FM radio is a bit muffled sometimes, but since the unit doesn’t have an external antenna, it’s to be expected. Overall the player is well built, easily portable, and it supports external speakers.
-the record doesn’t hang over the lip when playing
-your smart device connects via Bluetooth
-the case is sturdy and well built
-only has a three-hour battery life
Victrola’s three-speed turntable is a suitcase-style that comes in a lot of different designs. It includes built-in Bluetooth so you can play vinyl and your smart device’s music. It’s a portable design with a comfortable carry handle.
It uses built-in stereo speakers with no battery. It also uses RCA line out devices. It’s a sturdy and well-made device, but the record hangs over the edge while it’s playing.
It includes replacement needles, but no slip mat so there’s a bit of vibration that bleeds through the stylus. It still produces a solid sound whether through the included speakers or the line out. It also comes with a 45 adaptor.
It’s a durable turntable that makes it easy for you to carry it with you where you go, and with the option to connect via Bluetooth, it should be a good beginner’s turntable.
-comes in a lot of different suitcase styles
-easy Bluetooth connection
-durable and easy to carry
-no slip mat means more motor vibrations bleed through to the stylus
-record hangs over the lip of the body
Innovative Technology VSC-550BT-UK Victrola
We think that when you’re getting started with turntables or you just want something portable, this one has everything you need for an excellent price point. It offers you Bluetooth connects, a really durable suitcase body in a lot of different styles that express your personality.
It has line outs for bigger or louder speakers if you need them. Although it doesn’t have a slip mat, the platter is well balanced, and if you find too much vibration bleeding through, replacement mats aren’t difficult to get.
It hits all our basic needs with a price that’s easy on your wallet. Quit thinking and get to listening.
What’s the first record you’ll play on your new turntable? Let us know in the comments below.