12 Best Portable Turntables in 2018
The best part about spinning some records is doing it with friends, and if you want to take those tunes with you wherever you go, you need to find out which is the best portable turntable for your money.
The portable turntable market has exploded over the last few years, and now there are a thousand different models from dozens of manufacturers vying for your business.
We’ve done a lot of the legwork, and now you can find out which on-the-go system is going to give you the sound you want with the lightweight design and features that you expect.
Top 12 Portable Turntables Comparison Chart
How to Choose the Perfect Portable Turntable
When you’re looking for the best portable turntable, you can go in a number of different directions. Some models offer a single speaker, while some include the ability for stereo sound. You can even choose a turntable with a rechargeable battery so you can listen to records while you’re camping. Before you make a selection, we’ve got a few ideas that may help you get the best listening experience for your money.
- To USB or Not to USB – One of the really neat advances in turntables is the ability to send the signal directly into a computer via a USB connection. Certain portable turntables will offer this advantage, allowing you to rip a vinyl album to create a digital copy. It can be a bit time-consuming to convert your whole collection, but if preserving your music is a big deal to you, this might be right up your alley.
In addition to the USB connection, some turntable manufacturers will include the necessary digital conversion software with their turntable; this might be a CD-ROM or a voucher for a digital download. If you have ever wanted to venture into the world of analog-to-digital conversion, a low-cost portable turntable may be an easy entry point.
- Longevity – Portable turntables are often built to be cost-effective alternatives to expensive, larger turntables; this isn’t necessarily bad, but you should be prepared to do a bit of regular maintenance if you plan on using this turntable for an extended period of time. You should be ready to buy extra needles and LP cleaning tools so you’re always ready when your turntable gets dusty.
Everything from Private Listening to House Parties
One of the neat features that you’ll find on many portable turntables is a variety of output options. An integrated speaker or two is usually part of the deal, but having more output options lets you choose the level of sound you want.
- Headphone Ports – Make it easy to listen privately without disturbing anyone, and like we mentioned above, USB ports can let you send the signal to a standard computer.
- Bluetooth Connectivity – Is a fantastic option that allows you to add speakers without the need for cumbersome cables and lots of AV know-how. Once you’ve paired a Bluetooth speaker, you can get levels of volume and bass that would rival a standard home stereo.
Many portable turntables allow you to connect to a standard home stereo system via RCA connections; this allows you to have a turntable running through your speakers, and when it’s time to hit the road you close the lid, pull out the plugs, and you’re on the move.
Don’t Forget the Accessories
A portable turntable is a simple way to enjoy your records, but any good analog setup is going to need a few accessories.
First, make sure you have a 45 adapter. These are the little plastic gizmos that fit inside the hole of a 45-rpm record. It will cost you less than a dollar, but not having it is a huge headache if you are listening to singles.
Spend about $10 on a dust brush. The best ones will just be a handle with a padded microfiber cloth that removes dust from your vinyl. Don’t bother with the ones that have special cleaning solutions unless your records are filthy. For daily use, a quick swipe with a dust brush will improve the sound and keep lint from building up on your needle.
If you’re going to be listening to records while you’re out and about, invest in a record box, or at least get a sturdy milk crate. Records tend to slide around, so you’ll want them to be secure so you don’t scratch the vinyl or bend the corners on your LP sleeves.
Top 5 Best Portable Turntable Reviews
It has to be pink because there is nothing prettier than the CMC Portable Briefcase Turntable. This versatile unit has everything you need to take your analog enjoyment on the road. The design fits in a convenient briefcase that includes a full-sized turntable with integrated stereo speakers.
You can play 45s, 78s, and LPs, and the USB connection allows you to hook up to your computer to convert your vinyl into digital files. A standard RCA outlets you make this into the permanent vinyl station on your home entertainment center.
Not only is the unit perfect for vinyl, but you can also play your music through the SD card slot, auxiliary jack, or voice-activated Bluetooth connection. The belt-drive platter provides, smooth, noise-free movement, and an integrated 45 adapter means that you’re never without the tools that you need for music.
This turntable is a happy mixture of modern and vintage style. The hardwood case features a vinyl, two-tone exterior with chrome latches and a matching handle and the three-speed turntable sits on top of a high-fidelity stereo speaker, but you also have an integrated CD player and AM/FM radio for a complete media experience.
A standard USB output gives you the ability to connect to a laptop or PC to convert your analog files into more convenient digital media. Bluetooth connectivity also gives you the ability to use the speaker to play streaming media from your phone or tablet. Of course, the real focus of this piece is the vintage-style radio dial on the front of the unit.
This turntable would look fantastic on your shelf, and it can easily be connected to a home stereo for use through standard speakers.
Classic styling and a hardwood cabinet make this a great choice for a turntable at home or on the road. A pair of full-spectrum, high-quality speakers let you fill a room with sound, and you can listen to 45s, LPs, 78s, or digital media through the handy USB input.
The sleek dust cover helps keep everything tidy, but this is one portable player that doesn’t come with a completely closed design, so you’ll want to transport it with care.
It is a modern unit that will provide you with rich audio and while it isn’t the most high-end option on our list, it is a pretty good deal for the price.
The Numark PT01 matches function with portability. This three-speed player (33, 45, and 78 RPM) is housed in a durable suitcase with a brass latch and thick handle. Integrated into the case is a pair of stereo speakers and a rechargeable battery that can give you up to four hours of play time on a full charge.
The battery charges with a USB connection and that same connection allows you to connect to your computer to convert your analog albums into digital files with the included EZ/Tape conversion software.
If you’d like to enjoy this quietly, you can use the standard-sized headphone jack, but it also includes a 1/8th-inch auxiliary input plug so you can play streaming audio through your phone or tablet. A built-in phono pre-amp boosts the signal in you’d like to use the RCA connections to integrate this turntable into your home stereo system.
You may not believe it, but the TechPlay CTA99 is a portable player that is going to look fabulous no matter where it goes. The hardwood body of this cabinet is covered in vintage-inspired, two-tone cloth. The unique feature is the tapered hardwood legs that give it a real Mid-Century style. These legs simply screw into the base, so they can be easily removed if you’d like to go on the road.
The belt-drive platter plays at 33, 45, and 78 RPMs through stereo speakers behind classic grill cloth. A front-mounted control knob allows you to switch between the turntable and the auxiliary input so you can enjoy music from an MP3 player or stream through your phone or tablet.
This turntable is an excellent choice for a home stereo as well, with that table-height design and a pair of simple RCA outputs that let you hook up to a standard amplifier.
We’ve given you our thoughts on the best portable turntable, but what do you think?
Obviously, we can’t get enough of the TechPlay CTA99. The way it stands on those Mid-Century legs make this a stunning addition to any home, but legs don’t exactly make it portable.
That’s why our #1 was the CMC portable turntable. It’s the most likely candidate for an on-the-go record player, and the low cost and high-fashion style means that you won’t be embarrassed to pull it out at parties, and you’ll still have enough money left over for new records.
Our honorable mention, however, goes to the Numark PT01. A rechargeable battery makes a lot of sense, and we don’t know why more companies don’t use them. Either way, whichever turntable you pick, you’re going to have a rocking good time.