Long before the cassette player, the CD player, and the MP3 player, there were vinyl record players.
Most people consider a record player as something that big, bulky and can only be setup at home, however, there are a number of great options that are light, inexpensive and designed to go with you on all your adventures.
Read on as we take you through what we believe are the best portable record players to suit all needs and budget for 2021.
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Key Features to Look for in Portable Record Players
Before making your decision, we recommend being familiar with the key features you need to look for in portable record players. That way, you can be sure that all your expectations will be met.
Its important to note that no portable record player will provide you the sound quality and performance of a dedicated Hi-Fi sound system – you are sacrificing quality for convenience, portability and a much lower cost.
Below is a list of the most important features
you need to consider before buying a portable record player:
Design aesthetics – decide whether you will go for a retro or vintage styling or go for a more modern design
Robustness and durability of the manufacturing
Built-in speakers or decide whether you will link the record player to your external audio sound system (this makes it essentially non-portable and defeats the purpose of a portable record player)
Size and weight
Belt drive or direct drive
Extra features like Bluetooth and USB connectivity
Do you want to convert your vinyl to MP3?
Rocks Off Magazines 8 Best Portable Record Players in 2021
With an overwhelming number of portable record players on the market today, we’ve narrowed down your choice to what we think are 8 of the very best in this category.
Despite considered as a newcomer to the portable record player market, the 1byone Suit Case Style Turntable will give you a decent set of features at a relatively low price.
This portable record player comes with a handle so that you can enjoy your favorite music on-the-go. It is designed to be fully automatic, which means you can utilize an automatic stop function. It offers 3-speed rates of 33 1/3, 45, and 78 RPM so you won’t be limited by vinyl size.
On top of the built-in speakers, you can use the RCA jack in connecting the portable record player to your home stereo system. As well as the Bluetooth connectivity and aux-in option. Since it has an MP3 recording capability, you can transform vinyl records into MP3 format at relative ease.
The record player is built with dual front-facing speakers, with the overall sound reproduction giving excellent results.
Robust leather suitcase
Records vinyl to MP3 format
Offers various output like Bluetooth, aux, and RCA
Dual front-facing speakers
Larger and heavier than other portable record player options
This portable record player has a distinct belt drive design, which leads to superior audio and increased sound clarity. Its phono cartridge features a replaceable diamond stylus. You can also find a dust protection hinged cover.
Converting vinyl records to MP3 format is easy with this portable record player through PC and Mac compatible audacity software. You can use the built-in phono preamp with RCA output cables to connect the record player to a powered speaker or an audio system.
However, there are some downsides in using this portable record player such as limited to dual speed and lack of Bluetooth connectivity and carry case. Also, there are no built-in speakers.
Although not a true portable record player (lacks built-in speakers, carry case, etc.), if you want a fair priced record player which is more portable than others and produces superior sound quality, this option is for you.
If you are looking for a budget-friendly portable record player, then the Numark PT01USB is an excellent option for you. The built-in speakers deliver a clear and quality sound that can be enjoyed anywhere.
This portable record player comes with a USB port that you can use to connect to a computer. With the free EZ Vinyl Converter software, it makes it easy to convert your precious vinyl collection into a digital format. Don’t be fooled by its basic design, as it’s built tough and durable.
The built-in loudspeaker has a pitch control feature, making your listening experience more personalized. In addition to the built-in speaker, you can send your music to powered speakers via the RCA line-level outputs, and you can also enjoy private listening with your headphones via the 1/8” headphone jack.
The long battery life is especially handy for those that want to use it on the go. Its 3-speed rates allow you to enjoy a variety of vinyl record sizes. Thanks to its portable handle and hard dust cover, you will not worry about carrying it from one location to another.
Among the most significant advantages of having a portable record player like the Ion Audio Vinyl Motion is that it has a long battery life, up to four hours. To complement the digital age, this portable record player can quickly convert old vinyl records into digital format. This means that you can store them as MP3 files (all the important software you need to make it happen is included).
The portable record player’s convenient carrying handle and built-in speakers make it possible for you to experience your vinyl collection anywhere you want. Besides, it comes with generous accessories such as Vinyl converting software, power adapter, audio cables, USB cable, cartridge with a pre-assembled stylus, dust cover, slipmat, 45 RPM adapter, and a quick start guide.
The Musitrend Vinyl Records Player Portable Suitcase comes with a unique vintage design that most old-school vinyl lovers enjoy. We find the design among the most pleasing to look at, with the solid wood interior built with retro PU leather wrapping adds to its timeless nature.
Being very compact and lightweight, the fashion-styled turntable with a dustproof cover provides users with convenient, easy-to-use controls to listen to their music wherever they go. To minimize the vibration, this portable record player is designed with a rubber base.
It is equipped with a 2100mAh rechargeable battery, meaning you can enjoy music for up to 3 to 4 hours. It allows various listening options with the built-in stereo speakers, RCA output, headphone jack for private listening and auxiliary input for smartphone and home stereo use.
When it comes to sound reproduction, this portable record player lets you record high-quality MP3 audio from a vinyl record to an SD card or via USB for later playback on your computer and mobile devices.
Vintage leather exterior and wooden interior design
Rubber base for minimizing vibration
3-4 hour battery life
Plug and play speaker option
Bass sound is lacking when using the built-in speaker
With the Crosley Cruiser Deluxe by your side, you can mobilize music in awesome style. Elegant design, pitch control, and Bluetooth connectivity are some of its highlights. The Cruiser Deluxe allows you to stream your favorite music from your Bluetooth-enabled device wirelessly to the turntable’s dynamic full-range speakers and customize your listening experience.
Additionally, its wood construction and vinyl leatherette material make it the most stylish option. If you are particular about color, this portable record player comes with over 10 options including rare colors like lime green, fuchsia, and powder blue.
Like most portable record players on the market, this one also comes with the usual three-speed options. The rear RCA output can be easily used to hook it up with external speaker systems. Although it does not come with a USB port, it is equipped with Bluetooth functionality and a built-in headphone jack.
Being part of the Crosley record player series, it produces a rich and warm sound, thanks to its full range and dynamic stereo speaker.
This record player allows you to play different types of vinyl records, including 7”, 10”, and 12” sizes and the usual three-speed options. Its fully automated operation is one of the highlights, having an automatic stop on/off switch built inside the turntable.
It comes with a strong output connection with options of an aux jack including RCA out and lines out, USB and Bluetooth connectivity.
As for the sound quality, having built-in dual stereo speakers and a diamond ruby stylus helps in producing powerful music. This record player also comes with a built-in FM radio.
With its appealing vintage aesthetic, the Crosley CR6019D0-BR Executive model definitely stands out. Other than its attractive design, it has a number of features making it an overall great option.
This portable record player can play vinyl records in three various speeds, including 33 1/3, 45, and 78 RPM. The built-in Bluetooth receiver lets you stream your music wirelessly to the Executive’s dynamic full-range speakers. As well as listening options through the full-range stereo speakers with auxiliary input and RCA audio output.
It is equipped with easy to adjust pitch control, allowing for a personalized listening experience. It’s belt drive and ceramic cartridge makes for a smooth listening experience, anywhere you desire. Also, you can use the USB port in turning your vinyl records into a digital format using the recommended software.
At first glance, a portable record player might look simple, but they are not.
To spin records at a constant speed and reproduce the data from grooves into the electrical signal, efficient, functional design is essential. Below are some of the major components in a portable record player:
Turntable: The turntable refers to the part where the record sits. This part is commonly made of aluminum, plastic, or metal. However, aluminum is the most preferred due to its stability and ability to reduce vibration.
Stylus: The stylus, better known as the needle, is the part that rests on the actual record. It is the part you see running in the grooves while the record plays.
Tonearm: The tonearm is responsible for holding the needle and connecting it to the record player housing. It works together with the cartridge.
Cartridge: The cartridge translates the record’s groove that the needle is reading into actual sound. The vibrations produced by the needle riding the grooves will travel through the wires in the tonearm, ensuring that it will reach the cartridge.
Bearing: The bearing is the reason why a turntable produces a friction-free rotation. It also promotes quiet and smooth rotations.
Plinth: The plinth is also known as the base of the record player. It is responsible for holding other components necessary for playing the records. It also helps in preventing the vibration that may affect the sound quality.
Specifications on a Portable Record Player
Knowing the specifications of a portable record player will help you compare the different models. Apart from methods of connectivity and vibration dampeners, you also need to be familiar with the following specs.
Playback Speed: Most portable record players have 3-speed rates (33 1/3, 45, 78 RPM). But be aware that not all record players can play 78 RPM records properly. Due to wider grooves, the 78 RPM records will require you to use a special stylus and cartridge.
Speed Variation: This spec refers to the platter rotation accuracy on the turntable. The sound quality can be lowered when there are deviations in the record speed. That is because it can change the pitch or even deliver an audible interface while you are listening to music. To prevent such scenarios, it is best for you to seek for a speed variation with a lower number. Ideally, you can opt for 0.25%.
Frequently Asked Questions
Choosing the best portable record player for your needs requires time and thought to ensure that you will get the right one. To help you be more familiar with record players, consider the following frequently asked questions:
Is it possible to connect my external speakers
to the portable record player?
Depending on the model you have, you can connect the external speakers to a portable record player. In fact, most options equipped with built-in speakers can be connected to an external audio system to achieve a better listening experience.
Do I need to use a preamp with my portable
No, there’s no need for you to use a preamp with most portable record players.
Does a vinyl record wear out?
Eventually, vinyl records will wear out. To enjoy your favorite vinyl records for years to come, you can convert and save them into digital format.
Will I need to purchase a speaker for my
portable record player?
The answer will depend on the model you have purchased. But, most of the modern portable options are equipped with built-in stereo speakers already.
What is the best way to clean my portable
Make sure to gently dust your record turntable on a regular basis using a soft duster or a lint-free cloth, and give a deeper clean on a less frequent basis. Read our article on how to clean a record the right way, this will maximize the shelf life of your vinyl record collection and turntable.
Do all portable
record players come with cartridges?
All of the above portable record players come with cartridges.
Can I upgrade my portable record player?
Although most of the portable record players today can be upgraded, some models cannot be upgraded at all. Most models that can be upgraded come with an expensive price tag because they tend to produce better sound quality.
To get the most out of your music listening experience on the go, a portable record player is a great option. If it’s your first time buying a portable record player, we hope this comprehensive buying guide has helped you out.