If your birth year starts with a “2”, then, upon seeing pictures of a quality vintage record player, you might wonder “What is wrong with this iPod?” or “How can I fit this thing in my pocket, so I could listen to music wherever I go?”
The story of the record player, or turntable, or as it was originally named “Phonograph,” begins a long, long time ago, in the year 1877, and is written by a man with a very familiar name – Thomas Edison.
If the name rings a bell, but you can’t quite place him, Thomas Edison was an American inventor and businessman, responsible for the inventions of the phonograph, the motion picture camera and the light bulb, along with a huge number of international patents for products that we use in our daily lives today.
He came up with a device that could use mechanics, in order to record and reproduce sound.
The sound waveforms were mechanically engraved, incised, impressed i.e. physically imprinted on the surface of a rotating cylinder or a disc, which was called a record.
If you thought that was complicated, wait until we explain how the sound was reproduced… So, to recreate the sound, a stylus is used to follow the mechanical imperfections on the surface of the record.
In the early editions of the phonograph, the stylus transferred these vibrations on a diaphragm, which produced sound waves, which were then heard through a horn, or through stethoscope like earphones. In later editions, dating from the middle of the last century, the stylus’s vibrations were converted into an analogous electrical signal, which was then converted back to sound through a loudspeaker.
As time passed by, the record player was upgraded through improvements of the drive system, the stylus, the needle, etc.
Even though the record player almost went out of everyday use due to the advancement of the technology and the change in the medium, by introducing the cassette tape, the compact disc and most recently the digital recording formats, it still holds a special place in the hearts of the audiophiles, DJs or simply nostalgic people.
- 10 Best Vintage Record Players Reviews
- Last Five Vintage Record Player Reviews
10 Best Vintage Record Players Reviews
So, in order to satisfy the needs of the ordinary people that feel nostalgic, or just appreciate “the good old days”, here we have the 10 best vintage record players for 2017, that will nurture their preferences, without permanently damaging their bank accounts.
1. Jensen JTA-230
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This is the JTA-230 vintage record player from Jensen, which is currently a bestseller on Amazon. To be honest, it is easy to see why. It features a three-speed belt drive, which can spin at 33, 45 or 78 RPM, so every type of vinyl record can be played.
One should pay attention to the amount of free space available to the player, because of the big i.e. Long Play records, which spin at 33 RPM, are a bit bigger than the player itself, so they occupy a bit of space around the player.
The stereo speaker system does not excel in quality but is more than sufficient for the everyday, common user.
Now, here is where the vintage record player meets the modern times. The Jensen JTA-230 has the possibility of connecting to a PC, using a USB port.
The vinyl records can be transformed into digital media, with the help of the included software for recording, editing and converting audio content. Moreover, there is an input jack so that you could plug in your iPod or any other digital audio player. Additional controls are provided with the pitch control slider, and tone and volume control knobs.
You probably think that, since this device packs so much technology in it, the price is somewhere beyond the stratosphere.
Luckily, you couldn’t be more wrong. The Jensen JTA-230 vintage record player has a price tag of just under $50. This device can easily be the new synonym for “value for money.”
2. Audio Technica AT-LP60BK
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Representative, stylish, sub-zero cool. These adverbs come into mind when you take a look at this vintage record player.
The first representative from Audio Technica on our list looks dashing. The housing is big enough so that the LPs don’t peek out of it, making it more susceptible to dust or damage.
Like the Jensen JTA-230 we mentioned previously, this player also utilizes a belt drive motor, but unlike the Jensen JTA-230, it offers only two speeds – 33 and 45 RPM. There are no built-in speakers, and no USB connectivity also.
But, where the AT-LP60BK lacks to impress with specs, it impresses with quality. The built-in pre-amplifier provides the possibility of connecting the player directly to a home audio system, or active i.e. powered speakers, and producing high-quality playback. The player also comes with an Integral Dual Magnet phono cartridge with replaceable diamond stylus.
This vintage record player from Audio Technica comes at a price just shy of $100.
Add about $30 to that, if you prefer the version that offers USB connectivity. Not exactly cheap, but far from expensive. If you value high-quality build and sound, though, the price is almost ridiculous.
3. Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB
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This is where we get a bit more serious.
The AT-LP120-USB vintage record player from Audio Technica is a very capable and powerful device, used by the professional producers, studios, DJs, etc. It uses a direct drive motor, as opposed to a belt driven one, which means that the platter is much more responsive, thus decreasing the startup and wind down times.
The powerful torque, high-quality build, and sound, make this vintage record player a favorite among the people that want something more than just a record player and is often used by professionals.
It also has a forward and reverse play capability, and spins at 33, 45 or 78 RPM.
Sticking with the professional note, this player has a high-accuracy quartz-controlled pitch lock and pitch slider control.
The built-in pre-amplifier eradicates the need of an amplifier between the player and the speakers, so it’s pretty much ready to go in a blink of an eye. USB connectivity allows the user to digitize their records by using the software included in the package.
Make no mistake, all of this professionalism does come at a price, which hovers around $300.
4. Electrohome EANOS502 Record Player
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So, if you are one of those people that want to emphasize the “vintage” part of the vintage record player, Electrohome has some ideas to share with you. First, we are going to have a look at the EANOS502 player.
It’s vintage, it’s retro, and it’s wooden with a metal plate on the front, rotary dial for the radio and an FM scale that looks like a pressure gauge in a submarine.
All it needs is a monocle and a tobacco pipe to go “beyond retro.” It’s fabulous. It’s an ornament, a decorative piece in an old house, and at the same time, a highly capable audio system.
This player can spin the records at 33, 45 or 78 RPM, can play your favorite radio, or compact disc, and even though the look doesn’t quite suggest that, play the music from your iPod or any other digital media player, with an above average quality through the built-in speakers.
You are also given the opportunity of transferring your vinyl or CD collection to a USB flash drive.
The Electrohome EANOS502 vintage record player is conveniently priced at around $150. The version without the USB Recording capability (EANOS501) is $50 cheaper, but would you really go for that one? Didn’t think so.
5. Jensen JTA-222
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Here we have the second representative from the Jensen family, the model JTA-222. Just like the JTA-230, it facilitates a three speed belt driven motor, sports a dust cover with openings on the sides, so that the LPs would spin freely, and has built-in speakers that will satisfy the common users’ needs.
The differences with the JTA-230 include the lack of USB connectivity, but the presence of an AM/FM stereo receiver.
The controls on this unit are pretty basic too. The front panel has three knobs: a mode selector, AM/FM radio tuner and volume control. The player is neatly packed in a good antique looking housing. The price is in the similar ballpark as the JTA-230, so it is just under $50.
Last Five Vintage Record Player Reviews
6. Electrohome Signature Vinyl Record Player EANOS700
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If you prefer the utmost vintage look, but for some reason don’t really fancy the Electrohome EANOS502 model, here is the solution.
Yet another brilliantly designed, retro, beautiful, full-on vintage record player, that packs quite a punch – the EANOS700 Signature Vinyl Record Player from Electrohome.
With its boxy looks, wooden walnut housing, old-school speaker cover, two rotary knobs at each side of the horizontal AM/FM scale, this vintage record player ticks all the boxes in the appearance department.
All those good looks are backed up by a three speed belt driven motor that spins the records at 33, 45 or 78 RPM, a CD player, AM/FM radio receiver, USB interface so that you could digitize your vinyl and CD collection, and a 3.5 mm auxiliary input that enables you to connect your iPod, smartphone, or other digital media player.
With a price tag of around $200, this is a remarkable package that offers everything from the world of vintage record players, at a very reasonable price.
7. Crosley CR704C-PA Musician
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Here we have another member of the boxy-retro-wooden gang of vintage record players. The Crosley Musician surely looks nice, especially with the “Paprika” finish, the metal plate on the front panel, the speedometer looking radio scale, airplane knobs and the stylish speaker design. The LED panel looks a bit out of place, though.
The Crosley Musician has a three-speed belt driven motor, a CD player, AM/FM radio receiver, auxiliary input for digital media players and, unlike any other vintage record player we’ve seen on this list so far, a cassette tape player.
The lack of other audio outputs and no USB connectivity casts a dark shadow over the pretty music box. With these cons, the price of around $125 is a bit tough to justify, especially with the Electrohome EANOS502 peeking behind the corner.
8. 1byone Belt-Drive Briefcase Turntable
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Stylish? Check! Retro? Check! Portable? Check!
This is a vintage record player that brags about his looks.
Neatly packed in the form of a briefcase with PU leather wrapping, this device checks the boxes in the design section. The three-speed belt driven motor, front-facing built-in stereo speakers, RCA and headphone jack outputs and support for multiple music playback modes, this device successfully defy the “all show, but no go” premise.
Conveniently priced at around $75, it will spark interest in the eyes of the ones that prefer portability, along with the tech specs and good looks. If the turquoise is a bit too much for your taste, don’t despair, it comes in black too.
9. 1byone 3-Speed Stereo Turntable
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Form and function at a discount price! If this is not the slogan for this particular vintage record player, then it probably should be. The looks are an interesting blend of retro and modern, even though the control panel looks a bit cluttered.
Like its briefcase looking sibling, the specs list of this device includes a three-speed belt driven motor, front-facing built-in stereo speakers, RCA and headphone jack outputs, and also vinyl to MP3 recording, making it easy to transfer your vinyl audio collection to a USB drive that fits nicely in your pocket.
And if you prefer to take your vinyl records with you, the complimentary Record Case would come in handy.
With a price of around $60, this is one of the best choices on the market for vintage record players.
10. ION Audio Max LP
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The Audio Max LP from ION is another vintage record player that offers much bang for a few bucks. It looks good, especially with the wood finish (it’s also available in piano black), the dust cover protects the entire upper surface from dust and accidental damage, and the little circular speakers look nothing less than awesome.
It has a three-speed belt driven motor, so it covers the 33, 45 and 78 RPM modes, auxiliary input for other music players, RCA outputs and the ability to connect it to your PC or Mac via USB and convert your vinyl records into digital music files, using the provided software.
The prices of around $66 for the natural wood, and $61 for the piano black finish are more than attractive, thus making this vintage record player a reasonable choice for home usage.