Best Portable Turntables Review & Buying Guide 2018

Although it remains a niche, 6% of all music sales are vinyl records. In some markets, the numbers even surpass digital sales. And because they are making a comeback in a huge way, more people are on the market for turntables or record players.

What makes vinyl so appealing is the superior sound, the crackle of the needle, and the fact that you own a different kind of musical piece that has stood the test of time. CDs may come and go, but vinyl is here to stay.

Because not many have a space for a full turntable, a lot of people are turning towards a new wave of the best portable turntables.

The best kinds are not the only ones that DJs, music producers, and other music professionals seek after but also those that any music enthusiast would love to use.

The right portable turntable should be a balancing act between portability and sound quality and not just something you use to listen to music from. It has to have an excellent audio output without necessarily taking up a lot of space and having too much weight.

With turntables running from small to medium-sized, size is just one of the deciding factors.

In this guide, you’ll know which features to look for in the best portable record players.

It is important to note, however, that we’ve excluded turntables that took portability to the next level. That is, they don’t come with the usual base that provides ample support the platter or the attaché case that comes with some of the best portable turntables.

The Ion IT34 Duo Deck Ultra-Portable USB Turntable, for example, is a fully portable unit that resembles an old Walkman, complete with a cassette player and analog dials. It has an extended rear where the vinyl record is mounted and played.

It is so portable that it operates on 4 AA batteries that let you play around 6 LPs.

Unfortunately, it lacks a proper handle and cover and a tonearm counterbalance.

The Sylvania Turntable Record Player, on the other hand, resembles a stapler without the vinyl record in place. It is so far removed from a full-sized turntable’s tabletop form factor that it can be mistaken for something else.

When it comes to portability, there is no question that you can carry it around with ease. It is small and AA battery-powered. But you can also plug this into a USB port for dozens of hours of unplugged listening.

For its portability, this turntable surprisingly puts out a clear sound.

Then, there’s the Rega RP8 that features a skeleton plinth where the platter and tonearm sit on different ends. It does come with a removable dust cover and is designed to be extremely stiff and lightweight, which more than makes up for its unfinished feel.

These portable turntables would have been a good choice if not for the fact that they do not offer full support and leave the vinyl record sitting precariously on the platter. One false move and the entire thing could be damaged.

Best Portable Turntables Buying Guide

1. Basic features

If you want it simple and practical, buying a portable record player based on the basic features is the quickest and simplest way to go. Keep in mind the factors that make the best basic portable record player.

  • Base and platter
    Check that the bass and platter are both straight, with the latter rotating smoothly. Any damage, skips or unevenness can damage your vinyl record because the record player’s needle would be digging into it.What small scratch it creates will deepen over time as you keep playing the record.
  • Stylus
    Also known as the needle, the stylus should be sharp and with a diamond tip. Because this is the part of the turntable that physical touches the vinyl record, make sure it meets high standards.You should also make sure that a replacement is available since a stylus gradually wears down over time. A replacement stylus is a lot cheaper than a replacement turntable.
  • Tonearm
    The choice of portable turntables with automatic tonearms are few, so what you need to ensure is how straight the arm is while playing records.There should not be any bouncing or warping, and that it balances lightly on top of a vinyl record. Otherwise, it will drop heavily on a record, resulting in more wear and tear.
  • Speeds
    The best should have 3 speeds—78 rpm, 45 rpm, and 33 rpm. But one that has the minimum 78 rpm is enough if all you want to play are 12-inch vinyl albums.Besides, singles that require the other two speeds are less common in today’s market. It is best to go with a portable record player with 78 rpm when not all three are available.

2. Extra features

Some portable turntables come with extra features, such as a built-in AM/FM radio, adjustable pitch control, computer compatibility, automatic speed selectors, and other extra features.

If you want to get more from your portable record player, you can pay extra for the extra features.

3. Portability

How portable you judge a record player is will depend on how you define “portable”. Do you want one with a briefcase? How about a turntable that fits in a bag?

Do you like the one with a built-in handle and cover or with a removable version?
The choice is up to you.

4. Connectivity

If you want to convert vinyl records into digital files, you will need a portable turntable that can be connected to your computer via USB or Bluetooth.

Connectivity can also mean you can connect the record player to an external speaker or use the turntable as a speaker when playing digital music from another source.

5. Durability

Light and high quality are the combinations you should be looking for not light and cheap. So make sure that the portable turntable you buy can withstand mishandling while transporting or the occasional drops.

It should be made with high-quality materials as well.

6. Power Source

The best portable turntable can get power from a computer via a USB port, built-in rechargeable batteries or replaceable batteries, and a wall power outlet.

The latter means you can enjoy non-stop music listening but with the hassle of cables. The same is true with the use of a USB port. But while batteries are for the most portable setup, their life/juice could limit the hours you can use the record player.

7. Built-in speakers

A record player with built-in speakers is more convenient than if you were to connect the equipment with external speakers. Sound quality, however, will depend on the make and model.

If you choose a turntable with built-in speakers, make sure it comes with audio in/out jacks for more listening and output options.

8. Price

Portable turntables are priced less than $50 to thousands. Expensive isn’t exactly synonymous with high quality, but you are sure to get more when you pay more.

It is important to get a balance of price, construction, and sound quality.

How we chose portable turntables to include on the list

With all the portable record players on the market, choosing the top 10 was a real challenge. So we narrowed them down to turntables that offer all the best features in one equipment, based on quality and speeds, and those with built-in speakers.

The goal is to help limit your options into just a few factors while providing you with the pros and cons of each.

10 Best Portable Turntables

Audio Technica AT-LP60USB Fully Automatic Belt Driven Turntable with USB Port

Operating fully automatic, you can play the same vinyl records repeatedly without the risk of leaving a scratch than if you were to lift and position the stylus manually.

It features a USB output, a built-in pre-amplifier that comes with a stereo phono/line level switch, 33 1/3 and 45 RPM speeds, dual magnet phono cartridge, replaceable diamond stylus, and the following extra features:

  • 45 RPM adapter
  • Dual RCA (female) to 3.5 mm (1/8 inch) mini-plug (male) stereo adapter cable
  • Dual RCA (female) to 3.5 mm (1/8 inch) mini-plug (female) stereo adapter cable
  • USB cable and recording software

With an anti-resonance, die-cast aluminum platter, expect high-quality sound output that has been praised by critics, DJs, and music enthusiasts.

What makes the Audio Technica AT-LP60USB even better is that it connects to either a Mac or Windows computer without the need to install a driver. Simply plug it in and start playing records.

It costs less than $100 as well, so you’re definitely getting an amazing deal from this portable record player. Easily one of the best portable turntables to buy.

Pros

  • A wide variety of options for connectivity
  • Supplied with necessary accessories
  • Comes with a removable dust protection
  • Excellent sound quality with minimum vibrations

Cons

  • Can’t play 78 RPM records
  • Less solid and sturdy build
  • Lacks built-in speakers
  • Button for speed selection tends to get stuck
  • Lacks speed consistency


Jensen JTA-230 Stereo Turntable


Built as a stereo system and portable turntable in one, the Jensen JTA-230 Stereo Turntable sports the look of a stereo with the platter and tonearm sit on top. This gives the audio equipment that ultra-modern look.

Offering 3 speeds, you can play just about any vinyl you own.

It has built-in speakers set on either side, resulting in a higher quality sound output. With both aux and RCA ports, you can connect the record player to other audio devices and external speakers, respectively.

The USB port also comes with the software that allows digital format conversion of vinyl records.

There are two issues with this turntable, however. Fairly small scratches on a vinyl will cause it to skip because of its sensitive needle.

The built-in speakers don’t deactivate when the turntable is connected to external speakers, resulting in double sound output.

Pros

  • High-quality sound output
  • Operates on 3 speeds
  • Offers several connectivity options
  • Allows for analog to digital format conversion

Cons

  • Playing scratched records could be a problem
  • Built-in speakers don’t turn off when external speakers are used


Electrohome Archer Vinyl Record Player Classic Turntable Stereo System

For a budget record player, the Electrohome Archer Vinyl Record Player has some standout features, starting with a classic suitcase-designed MDF case, followed by a sturdy handle, belt-driven platter, three-speed motor, built-in speakers, aux and USB input, and a headphone jack.

It also has an automatic return feature that, although you need to position the needle at the starting point manually, will return to the starting point automatically when it reaches the final grove.

But because the distance of the auto return is not adjustable, it can become a problem when the record player starts acting up. The tonearm also lacks a counterbalance so skipping is a possibility.

Pros

  • Quality sound output
  • Play all types of vinyl records, including those with prominent playback formats
  • Has automatic return feature

Cons

  • Lacks counterbalance for the tonearm
  • May skip while playing records
  • The sound output of built-in speakers at max volume could be better


1byone Belt-Drive 3-Speed Portable Stereo Turntable with Built-in Speakers

Set inside a briefcase-designed case, the 1byone Belt-Drive 3-Speed Portable Stereo Turntable can be folded away when not in use. Featuring 3 speeds, complete with a 45 RPM adapter, it is easily one of the best portable turntables.

It comes with built-in speakers that are installed in the front, which has a slight effect on the sound output. There isn’t much bass either, but you can use the RCA ports to connect it to external speakers to get the bass you need.

One redeeming quality of the speakers is that cranking the volume high will not cause any distortion.

Pros

  • Great features for its price point
  • Decent sound output
  • Plays all types of vinyl records
  • Records automatically stop upon reaching the end

Cons

  • Limited connectivity option
  • Can’t convert analog records into digital formats
  • Manual operation, although fewer scratches on vinyl
  • Can’t handle bass-heavy records


Victrola 3-Speed Bluetooth Suitcase Turntable

One of the all-in-one portable turntables, the Victrola 3-Speed Bluetooth Suitcase Turntable or Victrola VSC-550BT-BK is an entry-level record player with speeds that accommodate 33 1/3, 45/ or 78 RPM records.

It comes with a separate stylus for specifically playing 78 RPM records, a CD player, a platter with playback options, built-in speakers, and Bluetooth and RCA ports. See? All in one.

There are concerns with durability, however. Made of aluminum trim, you can only toss it around so much.

Where quality is concerned, it produces a decent output even through its built-in speakers. Of course, if you want something more powerful, you can easily connect it to an external speaker via Bluetooth or RCA out. You can also connect it to headphones.

This makes the portable turntable big on connectivity, price, basic and extra features, speeds, and portability.

Pros

  • Made versatile with the addition of a CD player
  • Allows for more connectivity options
  • Portable and easy to carry around
  • Can play different speeds and records
  • Affordable starter record player

Cons

  • Build quality could be better
  • Lacks a tonearm counterbalance
  • Volume output could be improved
  • Needs to be plugged into a wall outlet


Crosley CR6232A-BR Nomad Portable USB Turntable


Sporting a classic look, this is undoubtedly the classiest of portable turntables on the market. It is encased in what looks like a vintage luggage made of wood, complete with a sturdy handle. And It is also one of the all-in-one portable record players.

It comes with covered speakers on either end of the suitcase that produce full and powerful sound output. They can be used with aux-in or vinyl playback as well.

As for connectivity, it comes with a USB port, RCA output, and headphone jack. The USB output allows analog audio to be ripped.

Featuring three speeds, it can play different records and playback formats. It also comes with an auto stop. But because it tends to cut songs a few seconds before the entire record is supposed to end, it is recommended disabled.

Its motor runs at a consistent speed, minimizing flutter or wow, and an Audio-Technica NP5 moving magnet cartridge. The tonearm is balanced but you may need to make some modifications if you want to adjust tracking force.

Pros

  • Quality build and sound
  • Stylish and durable construction
  • Better reproduction of vinyl sound
  • Quality and loud built-in speakers

Cons

  • Adjust tracking force needs adjustment
  • Auto stop does not work properly
  • Tonearm lacks counterbalance


Audio Technica AT-LP60 Fully Automatic Stereo Turntable System

Built by Audio-Technica, a reliable manufacturer of audio equipment, expect quality and high performance from the Audio Technica AT-LP60. Except for the lack of USB out, it practically has the same features as the Audio Technica AT-LP60USB.

This means you get both the basic features and the extra, including a 45 RPM adapter and an RCA (female) to 3.5 mm (1/8 inch) mini-plug (male) stereo adapter cable.

Where sound quality is concerned, the aluminum platter ensures clarity of the highest degree.

As a fully automatic belt driven turntable, you don’t need to play records manually. Just place the vinyl on the platter and press play. Available with 33 1/3 and 45 RPM speeds, you will be able to play smaller-sized records.

But considering that 78 RPM is the standard, the noticeable lack of this speed will limit your options for vinyl records. Then again, if you choose fidelity and more playback time, this particular issue is minor.

With an RCA out, you can connect the record player to a variety of devices, such as external amplifiers, stereo system, and other audio components.

Pros

  • Clear sound output
  • No scratches on the vinyl records
  • Streamlined and fully automatic system
  • More connectivity options to other audio components
  • Replaceable stylus

Cons

  • Lacks 78 RPM speed
  • Only supports 2 speeds
  • Can’t connect to the computer via USB


Ion Audio iPTUSB Portable USB Turntable with Software and Built-in Speaker

Featuring 33 and 45 RPM speeds, the Ion Audio iPTUSB Portable USB Turntable can play standard-sized vinyl records up to 12 inches.

This is a winning factor for people who own such records but a deal breaker for those who are a big fan of 78 RPM records.

Still, with more features than the normal portable record player, you can overlook the lack of the third speed.

It has +/-10% pitch control, USB compatibility with Windows and Mac computers, built-in speakers, and line output and 1/8 and 1/4-inch outputs.

But what makes this audio equipment more portable than the rest is that is can be powered up by an AC wall outlet or 6 D-sized batteries. You can use it even where a wall outlet is not available.

Pros

  • Uses both AC and battery power
  • Can play up to 12-inch standard-sized records
  • Computer and external audio device connectivity

Cons

  • On the expensive side
  • Operates only on two speeds
  • Can’t play 78 RPM records
  • Lacks Bluetooth


Numark PT-01 Touring Turntable

Portable and versatile, there is no doubt that the Numark PT-01 Touring Turntable belongs in the list of the best portable turntables.

It offers 3 speeds and runs on both AC power and 6 D-batteries. Carry and use it whenever and wherever it pleases you.

With a removable lid, built-in speaker, USB port, and a sapphire-tipped stylus, you can make the most of this record player. Due to the size of the speaker, however, you can’t expect much from it. The stylus is also prone to wear compared to one made of diamond.

USB connectivity, on the other hand, means you can convert analog records to digital formats.

Pros

  • Versatile and portable
  • Plays all types of records
  • Can be used outdoors or where AC power is not available

Cons

  • Output of speaker could be better
  • Stylus can wear quickly
  • Lacks extra accessories


Crosley Cruiser Portable Turntable W/Built-in Speakers


There are good reasons that the Crosley Cruiser Portable Turntable is a bit on the pricey side— a durable briefcase-style case made of wood and covered in leatherette, 3 speeds, 45 RPM adapter, built-in speakers, loud and clear sound output, headphone jack, and output for extra speakers.

Unfortunately, it can’t convert records to digital files. But considering how reliable the needle is when playing records, you won’t want digital formats of your vinyl.

Pros

  • Plays vinyl records of all sizes
  • Loud and high-quality sound output
  • Can be connected to external speakers, iPod, and other devices

Cons

  • Powered only by AC, no battery slot
  • Struggles with bass-heavy music

Wrap Up

What makes the best portable turntables can vary from one person to another. How you choose could be based on what you think is important—sound quality, speeds available, automatic or manual, etc.

The number 1 pick may not have 3 speeds but it is praised for its high-quality output. Think sound quality is a good trade-off for the lack of 78 RPM? If you disagree, you can always go for the portable record player that has all 3 speeds and with a decent audio output.

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