Now that vinyl records have become trendy, there's a wide variety of record players on the market. One hugely popular type of record player is the suitcase turntable. Major brands include Victrola, Crosley, Byron Statics, and 1byone. And it makes perfect sense. They look really good and come in a variety of colors. But if you want a record player, performance rather than looks is the most important factor in determining what to buy. If you check out these various suitcase turntables on websites like Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart, they look like a very good deal. They generally range in price from about $40 to $60, and they usually come with built-in speakers and Bluetooth capability. That's a lot of features for a low price. But are these suitcase record players any good?
Based on online reviews, the answer to that seems like yes, but how trustworthy are those reviews? Take the Byron Statics Vinyl Record Player 3 Speed Turntable Record Player as an example. As I write this, it is available on Amazon for $41 and has 4.3 stars with 2,385 ratings. That looks promising and can give potential buyers a lot of confidence that they're getting a good product. However, when I checked the rating using reviewmeta.com, it had an adjusted rating of 3.6 stars based on 479 reviews.
"an independent site that helps consumers get a better understanding about the reviews they are reading on various platforms..."
ReviewMeta specifies that it's analyses are only estimates.
My Personal Experience
I purchased two Victrola Bluetooth Stereo turntables in Turquoise and Cobalt Blue for my kids. They looked great, but that's about the only good thing I can say about them. The sound was pretty good, not up to audiophile standards but an audiophile wouldn't purchase cheap equipment to begin with. The problem we had with both players was the records skipping. And that was from the get-go. Some records were worse than others, but they all skipped. And all the vinyl records we used were brand new. We tested seven new albums on both players and every single one skipped multiple times. I tried replacing the needles. That didn't fix the issue. I tried placing them on sturdy surfaces, and still they skipped.
I bought these Victrolas from bestbuy.com. Currently, this record player has 4.4 stars with 478 five-star reviews and only 51 one-star reviews. That's why I felt so confident in my purchases. I also watched YouTube reviews and records played just fine. Several negative reviewers on the Best Buy website complained about skipping issues, but there were enough glowing reviews that I took the chance of buying two. And neither one played properly.
Records can skip for many reasons and having a low-quality record player is one.
"...some of the super affordable all-in-one turntables that often can be bought for way under $100 are frankly just to cheap and poorly designed to be able to track records well. These all-in-one sub $100 turntables are definitely cool and cute. But unfortunately also notoriously known to track poorly, sound poorly and to put much more tear and wear on you records than necessary because they often run way too high tracking force."
Another problem with these suitcase turntables is that they have to be played with the lid open, which means dust gets all over records as they play.
Maybe I was unlucky with my purchases and I just happened to get two turntables that were defective. Many people seem to have good experiences with their suitcase players. If you decide to take a chance and buy one, make sure you test it thoroughly during the return window. If it's a gift, give a gift receipt to the recipient. That way, if there are issues, the record player can be returned. If you don't want to take a chance on a cheap record player, be prepared to pay quite a bit more.
The Audio-Technica brand is frequently recommended as a good beginner turntable. The Audio-Technica AT-LP60X-GM retails for $99, but it doesn't come with speakers, so it's true cost is higher. If you want Bluetooth capability, the Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT-WH Fully Automatic Bluetooth Belt-Drive Stereo Turntable retails for $149. Again, it doesn't come with speakers, but since it has Bluetooth capabilities, there is a wide range of speakers to choose from. I bought two of these record players with Bluetooth speakers and all the records we have that skipped on the suitcase players work perfectly.
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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2020 LT Wright