Best portable record players: Portable turntables that’ll fit even the smallest space

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Best portable record players

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1. Product guide
2. Buying advice
3. How we test record players

With sales of vinyl continuing to impress, many people are looking to get their hands on something new to play their records on. But for many, space can be a premium and that can lead to issues when it comes to installing a full hi-fi system with deck, amp, speakers, metres of cabling and more.

That's when looking through a selection of best portable record players comes in handy as not only will these take up less space than some turntables on the market, but they are easy to set up too. Perfect if you live in a small flat and just want to plug it in and get playing.

Of course, many vinyl lovers will want to equip themselves with a quality Hi-Fi system, but if space in your home is limited or you simply want some flexibility when it comes to where you listen to your music, then an all-in-one system is most definitely an option worth exploring.

In this guide, you'll find our pick of the best portable turntables around – perfect for simplicity and convenience. There are some great deals to be found too, with our widgets displaying the best prices online right now.

Paul Dimery author photo
Paul Dimmery

Paul has spent the last eight years testing and writing about record players and audio technology for Louder, T3 and TechRadar. As an avid music fan Paul puts turntables through their paces by playing some of his favourite vinyl by artists including Weyes Blood and Nirvana on the kit to see how they hold up. If it's got a good melody, he's on board with it.

Best portable record players: Product guide

Best portable record players: Buying advice

Best portable record players: Victrola Revolution Go

(Image credit: Victrola)

When you’re looking for a portable record player, you’ll notice how most models opt for a traditional ‘suitcase’ design, meaning they can be packed up and moved around simply by closing the lid. While this does enhance their portability credentials, in reality, most will find a specific location and leave the player in place. So, in addition to portability, you’re looking at the record player’s aesthetics. How will it look on your side table? 

There are plenty of variations on the theme, from players designed to look like they’ve been removed from a 1930’s time capsule, to more retro 70s-styled models. You’ll know which look will suit you best so it’s worth shopping around. 

Thankfully, while we freely admit there are some pretty garish models on offer, there are also some which retain an element of class and understated style.

Can I connect a portable turntable to speakers?

Each of the systems I've highlighted above offer speakers built into the unit itself but, realistically, they’re not the best sounding. I certainly wouldn’t trust them with anything where you want to hear a bass line, for example. Instead, check if the players have outputs for connecting external speakers or headphones.

Most portable record players will also offer Bluetooth functionality but be aware that this can sometimes be a one-way street, meaning they’ll play music back from your phone but won’t allow you to send your vinyl sound to an external Bluetooth speaker. If you want proper Bluetooth experience, we’d recommend checking out our guide to the best Bluetooth turntables.

Do I need a cartridge and stylus?

Realistically, you’re not going to be getting elite audiophile levels of sound from any of these portable turntables, so you may need to adjust your expectations slightly. 

That said, there's still joy to be had from the lo-fi stylings of vinyl audio quality. If pristine audio was your goal you arguably wouldn’t be looking at portable players. Take them for what they are; quick, easy ways to enjoy your vinyl records and the perfect way to get newcomers into the world of vinyl.

How we test record players

We’re music fans first and foremost here at Louder so, while we are certainly interested in the spec sheet of any record player we test, we’re less focused on the nitty gritty detail of a deck that will deliver marginal gains. For us, we’re all about how the turntable sounds. 

We listen to music around the clock - it's part of our job - so we know how albums are meant to sound. For our tests, we hook each turntable up to our home systems and spin an eclectic variety of genres, and albums from classic to modern, to really put the gear through its paces. That means we can test if the deck delivers the fullness of modern metal, the low-end of hip-hop, the richness of classical, the lo-fi grit of punk etc. We’ll often call on the ears of a colleague or family member to give us a second opinion, too. 

To cap it all off, we also test how easy the record player is to set up and operate. Anything that makes it harder to get on with listening to our favourite albums gets marked down. 

Finally, we take a look under the hood of any other features a turntable offers, such as computer-connectivity for digitising our records, an automatic tonearm or built-in preamp.

You can trust Louder Our experienced team has worked for some of the biggest brands in music. From testing headphones to reviewing albums, our experts aim to create reviews you can trust. Find out more about how we review.

Paul Dimery

Paul has spent the past eight years testing and writing about gadgets and technology for the likes of Louder, T3 and TechRadar. He might not have the wealth or the looks of Tony Stark, but when it comes to knowing about the latest cool kit, Paul would surely give Iron-Man a run for his money. As for his musical leanings, Paul likes everything from Weyes Blood to Nirvana. If it's got a good melody, he's on board with it.