Portable Turntables That You Can Take Anywhere
Vinyl records offer superior sound quality and an immersive listening experience, and they’re an absolute blast to collect. What do you do, though, when you want to take your records on the go? You get a portable turntable!
The average record player needs to be plugged into the wall, which can be a bit restrictive when you need portable music. After all, you won’t find electricity everywhere, but you do need your favorite albums anywhere you go. Luckily, portable turntables typically run on rechargeable or one-use batteries, which makes them ideal for travel.
In this post, we’ll walk you through the ins and outs of portable turntables, how they work, and whether they’re the right choice for you and your records.
Portable Turntables: A Few Key Features
In addition to running on battery power, portable turntables often come equipped with a few other handy features. We’ll briefly discuss them in the paragraphs below.
Bluetooth Connectivity? You Bet.
One of the biggest obstacles that stands in the way of making your record player portable is the need for a wired speaker setup.
Most turntables are paired with a pair of active or passive speakers, which are attached to the record player by auxiliary cables. While this type of speaker setup is ideal for at-home listening, it’s not the best when you’re headed to the beach, the mountains, or anywhere else where you won’t have access to electricity.
Instead of forcing you to rely on wired speakers, some portable turntables come with built-in Bluetooth connectivity. That means you can sync up your turntable with any Bluetooth-equipped speaker, allowing you to wirelessly transmit the sound of your favorite records anywhere you go.
Of course, in order to use a Bluetooth-equipped turntable, you’ll need a portable Bluetooth speaker as well. Wireless speakers can vary in price and quality, so it’s best to read reviews and do some research before buying one to pair with your turntable.
In addition, Bluetooth speakers typically get their power from batteries or need to be plugged into the wall to recharge. In many cases, you can recharge these speakers via the 12V ports in your car, which allows you to replenish their batteries on the go.
A Built-In Carrying Case Makes Your Portable Turntable Sturdy and Stylish
Many portable turntables come enclosed in a carrying case that serves multiple purposes. The case makes a turntable as easy as possible to transport, provides stability and protection for the electronics, and adds to the aesthetic value of the record player as a whole. In terms of the look of a portable turntable, the design of the carrying case typically makes the biggest difference.
If you’re looking for a portable turntable with superior style, the suitcase-style build is probably the best choice for you. Portable suitcase turntables are often relatively inexpensive, and many of them, like Victrola’s Journey, have Bluetooth connectivity.
The Pros and Cons of Getting a Portable Turntable
If you’re not sold on the idea of a portable turntable yet, we get it. However, it still might be worth considering a travel-ready record player, even if it’s just so you have more information.
Here are some of the biggest positives and negatives that come with owning a portable record player.
Pro: You Can Take Your Records Anywhere
It’s hard to deny that the most significant selling point of a portable turntable is the chance to take the warm analog sound of your records anywhere you go. Before turntables went wireless, you could only listen to your favorite LPs in the comfort of your home. Now, thanks to portables, it’s possible to listen to records just about anywhere. All you need is a wireless speaker, charging capability, and some albums.
Con: They’re a Bit Gimmicky
With that said, it’s hard to imagine many times when you’d need to listen to your records while away from home. After all, the record-listening experience is meant to be about slowing down, appreciating what you’re hearing, and getting the most out of your favorite albums.
Taking a Bluetooth-enabled turntable with you on the go might be fun, but it isn't really necessary. However, if you enjoy the experience, go for it.
Pro: Portable Turntables Are Usually Affordable
As far as record players go, portable turntables are some of the cheapest on the market. They can range anywhere from $50 to several hundred, with the cheapest ones coming from companies like Crosley and Victrola.
That means these turntables make excellent gifts for young music lovers who are just getting into vinyl, as well as an easy investment to make for longtime record collectors.
Con: The Quality Gap
At the moment, the portable turntable trend is still gaining traction, so it’s difficult to say what might enter the market in the future. However, as of right now, there aren’t any wireless turntables available that meet the standard of quality that you’d find with conventional record players.
Portable record players are often made with cheap, low-quality components that won’t offer you the best possible sound, which is enough to make many audiophiles pass on these gadgets entirely.
In addition to being on the cheap side, the stylus, cartridge, and other components that are included in most portable turntables aren’t the best for your records. After long-term use, low-quality turntables have the potential to damage your records, making it all the more worthwhile to invest in a reliable setup.
What’s the Bottom Line on Portable Turntables?
If you’re thinking about getting a wireless record player, more power to you. These gizmos offer record collectors something new – the ability to listen to LPs virtually anywhere – which is worth celebrating. No matter where you stand on the portable turntable debate, there’s no denying that a Bluetooth-equipped, cordless record player is pretty neat.
However, it bears repeating that there are no portable turntables on the market at the moment that could be labeled “high-quality.” Instead, what you’ll find are cheaply made gadgets with low-quality cartridges that can end up damaging records in the long run. For many audiophiles, the potential to hurt records and the lack of build quality make a sufficient case against the portable turntable.
Pro Tip: Start Out With a Conventional Record Player
If you’re looking for an excellent starter turntable, we don’t recommend going portable. While they’re cool and convenient, portable turntables won’t give you the ideal introduction to record collecting – but a high-quality entry-level record player will. We have an entire blog post devoted to getting started with record collecting, and we recommend beginning your journey there.
In addition to our in-depth guide on getting started with vinyl collecting, we also made a list of our picks for the best starter turntables, which we highly recommend checking out. That list includes budget-friendly record players that will give you better sound than a portable turntable, albeit for a bit higher price.