Best Portable Record Players

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Best Portable Record Players

Modern day technology is all about versatility.

We all want the latest smartphone that not only allows you to speak to people, but also doubles as a camera and can also play video games and provide high-quality streaming - you get the picture - all while being a relatively small and lightweight gadget.

Well, the same goes for record players. Turntables/ record players have soared back into fashion in recent years, with the revival of vinyl records.

But, the reason they went away in the first place was due to their lack of versatility, as the way we listened to music changed.

Best Portable Record Players

Fortunately, out of the vinyl revival, came the modern-day portable record player. Vintage, briefcase-style portable record players are one of the most popular options on the market right now, with other lightweight options following closely behind.

These audio systems are the perfect mix of old school and modern-day tech. They can play your favourite vinyl while being able to connect to Bluetooth compatible devices so you can still play your MP3 files and stream music. Plus, you can take it anywhere!

Sifting through the plethora of information available on the internet can be a real turn-off and picking the wrong record player is easily done. So, we’ve done all the hard work for you!

Keep reading to find our pick of the best portable record players on the market right now. We’ve also included a handy buyer’s guide!

Top 4 Best Portable Record Players

MY TOP PICK

Crosley CR8005D-TQ Cruiser Deluxe Vintage 3-Speed Bluetooth Suitcase Turntable, Turquoise

Crosley is one of the biggest brands in the record player market and is by far the best-selling in terms of portable record players.

Their products are perfect for compact spaces and music on the go. Weighing just 5.5 pounds, the Cruiser model is lightweight and compact, complete with a super smooth briefcase design with a handy carry handle for extra portability.

This record player has a built-in speaker system in stereo to provide a full-bodied surround sound. They can comfortably play any record in three different speeds: 33 ⅓, 45 and 78 RPM.

Not only does it play vinyl great, you can also listen to MP3 files with this model, via the 3.5 mm AUX port. So, you can listen to literally anything you can get your hands on by connecting your mobile or other devices.

Additionally, this record player is also Bluetooth compatible for faster pairing.

This super affordable record player is also incredibly stylish and will look the part in any room. It is available in a wide range of colors, designs and fabrics to suit anyone!

The only thing to consider when looking at this product is, although the quality of the speakers are great considering the Cruiser’s smaller size and budget-friendly price, the Crosley Cruiser can’t compete with larger, more expensive models available on the market.

So, depending on your desired sound, that would be something to think about. Nevertheless, this portable record player is perfect for everyday use and it’s gorgeous range of designs will make a great addition to any home.

Pros

  • Lightweight - when looking for a portable device weight is one of the most important factors. This record players weighs only 5.5 pounds and is one of the lightest on the market
  • 3 speeds - can play any record at speeds: 33 1/3, 45 and 78 RPM
  • Speakers - comes with built-in stereo speakers for a full-bodied sound 
  • Durable material - wooden briefcase design bound in either velvet or leatherette materials and available in 22 different color and unique designs
  • Connectivity - can connect to any device including smartphones via an AUX input to play MP3 files as well as Bluetooth compatible. Can also be connected to higher-quality speakers if desired

Cons

  • Speakers - not the best quality speakers on the market but great considering the products smaller size and lower price
  • Additional features - no AM/FM radio option

EDITORS CHOICE

Victrola Vintage 3-Speed Bluetooth Portable Suitcase Record Player with Built-in Speakers | Upgraded Turntable Audio Sound| Includes Extra Stylus | Black, Model Number: VSC-550BT-BK

Another gorgeous briefcase design, the Victrola ITVS-550BT is a modern record player influenced by the now-vintage players that came before it.

At first glance, it looks almost exactly the same, but on the inside it’s super modern and stylish, with a much-needed upgrade in terms of the sound quality.

It can play all vinyl sizes and plays at three different speeds: 33 1/3, 45, 78 RPM.

Its neat briefcase design means it's not only compact but super secure and durable. To make it perfect for carrying from place to place, this record player easily folds to a close with snaps to keep it tightly closed and comes complete with a carry handle.

So, you can take this wherever you go. It’s light enough to store in a suitcase for air travel without taking up your weight limit. It’s also small enough to fit in any vehicle so you can take it on holidays, road trips, camping, the list goes on!

You can also use this record player as a speaker for other devices. Complete with a 3.5 mm AUX input, you can also hook up any device such as a mobile phone and listen to MP3 files! The input will also enable you to connect to external speakers and CD players etc.

Additionally, you can connect this record player to any Bluetooth compatible device - your playback options are virtually limitless!

Like most portable record players, the Victrola ITVS is limited in terms of volume. It includes a dual speaker set up that gets loud enough for use in a normal-sized room but, they don't have the capacity to compete with external, higher quality speakers or other record players with higher quality speakers.

But, given their main purpose is portability and multi-use, this record player does exactly what it promises to.

Its basic design makes it super user-friendly while remaining stylish. Choose from a whopping 23 colors and designs to suit your style.

Pros

  • Connectivity - can connect to any device including smartphones via an AUX input to play MP3 files as well as Bluetooth compatible. Can also be connected to higher-quality speakers if desired
  • 3 speeds - can play any record at speeds of 33 1/3, 45 and 78 RPM
  • Personalization - choose from 23 different colors and designs. Plus, most components are upgradeable
  • User-friendly - basic, modern design makes it easy to use and looks clean and crisp
  • Portability - snaps and carry handle, briefcase design folds with ease and can be taken anywhere

Cons

  • Volume - speaker quality is loud enough for normal sized rooms but can’t compete with high quality external speakers
  • Tonearm - the metal tonearm is a little flimsy due to it being so thin, you could look at upgrading this for better results

BEST VALUE

Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT-BK Fully Automatic Wireless Belt-Drive Turntable (Black) (ATLP60XBTBK)

Audio Technica have been in the business for over 50 years and have been trusted to deliver quality audio products. The Audio Technica AT-LP60BK is no exception. 

This record player is extremely compact and lightweight, although not as lightweight as the Crosley Cruiser, weighing just 6.6 pounds.

Instead of the popular briefcase design of the other record players in this article, the AT-LP60BK utilises a clear plastic dust cover to project the vinyl as it plays.

Despite its basic appearance, this player is fully automatic - so you won't have to struggle with placing the stylus properly - with a built-in phono preamp, as well as a pre-mounted phono cartridge and metal platter. 

The sound quality is great thanks to the belt drive system that absorbs vibrations better than other motor designs.

Plus, the phono preamp makes it perfect for being connected to other devices such as external speakers for an even stronger sound.

Being fully automatic, it’s the perfect player for beginners or those less confident working the intricacies of the stylus and tonearm.

Once the last song on your record finishes, the tonearm will automatically lift to return to its resting position and turn off the motor. This also increases the product’s longevity as it's less likely to be scratched or left on for too long.

Additionally, this player features digitization software so you can back-up your vinyl to your computer - a great option if you require storing your records digitally.

The only real downside with this record player is that it only plays 33 ⅓  and 45 RPM vinyl, so you wouldn't be able to play larger records on this model.

Pros

  • User-friendly - fully automatic system makes it super user-friendly
  • Sound - balanced and smooth, absorbs vibrations better for an uninterrupted sound
  • Connectivity - connects wirelessly to speakers and other devices that are Bluetooth compatible. Alternatively, connect it to wired audio systems and powered speakers using the RCA output cable
  • Features - built-in phono preamp, aluminium platter, pre-mounted phono cartridge, drive belt system
  • Lightweight - weighs just 6.6 pounds, super portable

Cons

  • Speed - only two speeds: 33 ⅓ and 45 RPM, can’t play larger records

RUNNER UP

Numark PT01USB | Portable Vinyl-Archiving Turntable for 33 1/3, 45, & 78 RPM Records

The Numark PTO1 has the most basic design of any other record player reviewed in this article.

That doesn’t mean it’s lacking though, this battery-operated record player has a number of excellent features that make it great for someone who’s looking for a nice, simple record player to take with them wherever they go and listen to all their favourite vinyl.

The Numark is super portable and lightweight, weighing just over four pounds and complete with a carry handle, you can carry it anywhere with ease.

It also comes with a built-in speaker so you won’t need to worry about carrying another piece of equipment on your journeys. Plus, you won’t have to worry about finding a socket to plug in because it’s battery-operated.

While other portable record players do provide a stereo system, the Numark only plays in mono which does knock the quality of the sound slightly, but the speakers are loud enough for small gatherings in normal sized rooms or small outdoor spaces.

The player can play all vinyl sizes at three different speeds: 33 ⅓, 45, and 78 RPM. It includes a 7 inch platter with a felt mat for protection, as well as felt padding in the corners to protect even 12 inch vinyl.

Using the adjuster knobs you can control the volume as well as the pitch and tone, and the RPM.

The tonearm is delicate but features an automatic start/ stop option for those less confident finding the exact start of the record. Plus, the stylus is fully replaceable improving its longevity and customization options.

You can even back-up your records as this player allows you to convert your vinyl into digital files on your PC.

Pros

  • User-friendly - automatic tonearm
  • Battery operated - you don’t have to worry about finding an electric source
  • 3 speeds - can play any record at speeds of 33 ⅓, 45 and 78 RPM
  • Features - built-in phono preamp, protective felt on the platter, conversion software to digitize your records
  • Portable - weighs just over four pounds and can be locked down in transport

Cons

  • Sound - this record player does not come with a stereo system but it does have a built-in speaker that will play any vinyl, the sound will just be a little flatter

Best Portable Record Players Buying Guide

When it comes to finding the right portable record player for you, it can feel overwhelming if you’re not particularly tech-savvy.

So, we’ve compiled a handy buyer’s guide to talk you through it step by step.

Playback speed

A good rotation speed is one of the most important things to look for. The best portable records players will allow you to play any sized vinyl at any of the possible speeds.

Most record players will come with the option to play at least 33 ⅓ and 45 RPM records because these are the most common.

However, while 78 RPM records are relatively rare, it would be nice to know that if you were to come across one, you’d be able to play it.

The Arm

On portable record players ‘the arm’ refers to the tonearm, phono cartridge and the needle/ stylus.

A good tonearm is crucial to the sound produced. There are two main types of tonearm: S-shaped and straight. 

It’s highly recommended to avoid plastic tonearms, most good quality record players will have an aluminum tonearm. It should be pretty light and rigid. The weight of the tonearm will also affect how strong the bass is.

Power source

Most portable record players will be powered by corded electric which is fine but it limits where you will be able to use it.

Battery operated record players are great because they allow you to play them literally anywhere - ultimate portability!

Manual or automatic

This really depends on how involved you want to be. Vinyl enthusiasts will often opt for a manual turntable because they require you to do all the work.

You will have to lower the tonearm onto the vinyl to begin playing. This can be tricky to get right, which is why some people are put off by it because they often end up missing the first 30 seconds of their favourite songs.

This is where automatic turntables come in. They will place the tonearm for you in the precise position required so you won’t miss a second of the song you want to play. Additionally, this prevents it being done wrong and scratching the record, increasing longevity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does a turntable need a preamp?

The only time a turntable needs a preamp is if you want to connect it to external speakers or audio systems. 

Lots of turntables actually already feature a built-in preamp, check for an input labelled ‘phono’ to see if your turntable contains an internal preamp.

Will a preamp make my turntable sound better?

A preamp is designed to amplify the sound of your turntable. It works by amplifying the signal from a turntable to an external audio source like a speaker. 

It also ensures that the ‘equalization curve’ remains the same after amplification as it did before, thereby not changing the actual sound of the turntable at all, rather simply making it louder.

What is a built-in preamp on a turntable?

A built-in preamp on a turntable is essentially an audio component that boosts the signal to a much higher level enabling it to be received by an external audio system like a speaker to boost the volume.

Similarly to a CD player’s audio being received by speakers.

Why do you need a preamp?

A preamp, also referred to as a phono preamp, will allow you to connect your record player to another audio source, like a speaker. 

People will either need this because their record player doesn’t come with a built-in speaker so they need to hook it up to an external speaker to play music, or they will want to create a better, higher quality sound.

So, they want to hook their record player up to better speakers.

Should I get a phono preamp?

You only need to get a phono preamp if your turntable doesn’t come with a built-in preamp.

Most portable record players will come with an internal preamp nowadays. To check if your turntable has a phono preamp, it will have an output labelled ‘phono’.

Does a preamp affect sound quality?

A preamp works to keep the ‘equalization curve’ the same as it was before being hooked up to an external audio source.

This means it will not alter the sound in any way, rather it is designed to amplify the sound of your turntable by amplifying the signal from a turntable to an external audio source like a speaker. 

Does a preamp boost volume?

Yes. a preamp is designed to amplify the sound of your turntable.

It works by amplifying the signal from a turntable to an external audio source like a speaker. 

Do you need an amp with a preamp?

You can use an amp with a preamp if you desire a more powerful sound than the built-in amp in the receiver.

Additionally, using an amp as well as a preamp will take some of the pressure off of the receiver as a preamp will only boost the volume and will not increase the power.

Do I need a preamp if my receiver has a phono input?

No. You already have a phono preamp if your receiver or amp has an input labeled ‘phono’.

Simply connect your turntable directly to it.

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