Wallpaper* wants… seven new turntables to take for a spin
Like all forms of audio tech, turntables span a massive range of abilities and prices. These seven new releases run from picnic-ready portables to audiophile-quality set-ups for the obsessive
For casual listeners, the new breed of connectable turntables should be sufficient for scraping through the world’s dwindling supply of thrift-shop vinyl. Portability probably has no place in the lofty world of the audiophile, for whom the ultimate goal is a bespoke listening room, acoustically shaped and structured to ensure nothing gets in the way of the sonic experience.
The current vinyl revival (sales are at their highest for over 30 years) won’t necessarily find its target with low-end devices; that limited-edition yellow vinyl copy of Harry’s House feels too precious to be subjected to a lightweight record player you can haul around.
For those who find that large stereo cabinets and consoles take up too much space, we’ve served up seven standalone platters to help put the needle on the record.
Seven new turntables to take for a spin
1. Victrola Revolution GO
The ubiquitous combo of a smartphone and Bluetooth speaker has all but conquered the outdoor audio market. Victrola wants you to take a step back in time with its new Revolution GO, a portable turntable for the Bluetooth generation. Incorporating an Audio Technica cartridge and clever packaging, the GO can be slung over your shoulder and hauled to a campsite or picnic spot. The GO is disconcertingly light – if you’ve ever moved a pro-quality turntable, you’ll know that heft and solidity are the foundations of smooth, vibration-free performance. Providing you don’t jump around too much, the onboard battery provides 12 hours of listening time, either streamed or through headphones.
2. Victrola V1
For most vinyl fans, playing records is almost always an indoor pursuit. Victrola caters for this market too with its new V1. The V1 prioritises convenience and space-saving over the more elaborate offers on this page, with an inbuilt two-way stereo speaker system. Operated by remote control, with the ability to stream to additional Bluetooth speakers, the V1 is a minimal, modest solution for the casual listener.
3. TEAC TN-280BT-A3/B
This is another example of how contemporary turntables blend convenience and pared-back simplicity with the analogue delights of handling vinyl. TEAC’s newest model comes with a built-in amp and Bluetooth output as standard, minimising electric spaghetti so you can keep your collection focused on the records themselves (we recommend a run of Toneoptic rpm record cabinets). The belt-driven TN-280BT-A3/B is available in classic walnut or muted black, and the manual tonearm is equipped with a quality Audio-Technica cartridge.
4. Pro-Ject Audio Systems Metallica Edition
Austrian manufacturer Pro-Ject Audio Systems has ventured into the world of musical tie-ins with this Metallica-branded turntable. With the casing shaped into a suitably metal-style jagged slash, the turntable offers both bragging rights for the fashion-conscious and satisfying completism for the true fan.
5. Pro-Ject Audio X2 B
Pro-Ject Audio’s X2 B sounds a more conventional note. Designed to be paired with one of the firm’s dedicated handmade Phono boxes for a balanced audio connection, it takes the same approach to high fidelity as you’ll find in a modern recording studio. This is a heavyweight machine, weighing in at 10kg, of which 2kg is the solid acrylic platter for complete stability. The tonearm is made from carbon and aluminium and the manufacturer recommends an Ortofon Quintet Red cartridge, which can be supplied. The hefty MDF plinth comes in polished walnut veneer or with eight layers of hand-polished paint.
6. VPI Avenger Direct
As one ascends the musical scale, turntables become even more highly engineered and elaborate, aspiring to art as well as acoustic fidelity. VPI’s latest model, the Avenger Direct, is squarely set in audiophile territory, with features like ‘pneumatic air suspension feet’, and direct drive technology to spin the solid aluminium platter. At 27kg, the hefty American-made Avenger Direct sits on its three finely machined feet like a tripod, with all the electronics concealed within the base.
7. Esoteric Grandioso T1
It’s 35 years since Japanese audio brand Esoteric came into being. Now the niche high-end audio sub-brand of TEAC, the company is celebrating this anniversary with its very first turntable, the Grandioso T1. The T1 is a technological showcase of a device, akin to a multi-complication mechanical watch and with a price to match. The deck’s drive mechanism is powered by magnets, which keep the 19kg platter at precisely the right smooth rotation speed, while every aspect of playback can be finely tuned to the minutest degree – the kind of endless tweaking that goes with the territory in this part of the market.