One of the more curious growth areas in music in recent years has been the emergence, or rather re-emergence, of collecting vinyl records. But what's the best option for you if you're looking for something to spin your discs on that won't take up much space and is easy to set up? That's where choosing the best portable record players comes in.
Of course, many vinyl lovers will 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 looking at.
In our list below, you'll find our pick of the best portable turntables around – perfect for simplicity and convenience.
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Best portable record players: The Louder Choice
For us, two portable record players stood out above the rest. First up is the Pyle Suitcase, which packs in everything you’ll need for playing your vinyl anywhere, and has the added benefit of fold-out stereo speakers which produce highly respectable results.
We also really like the Crosley Discovery, purely from a design perspective, with its curved edges and leatherette case giving it an air of style and sophistication where others on the list have opted for pure retro designs.
Realistically, however, any of the portable record players we show here will have you up and running in no time at all, and mean you can start scouring the internet for those hard-to-find vinyl masterpieces with something ready and able to play them when they arrive.
Best portable record players: Product guide
It’s no secret that the speakers included on most suitcase style portable record players aren’t the best, both in terms of audio quality and volume. That doesn’t matter hugely; if audio quality were your primary driver, you’d be looking at separate amplifiers, turntables and speakers.
That doesn’t mean they have to sound bad though. The Pyle Suitcase has the best solution we found, which is to make the two stereo speakers fold out from the main housing of the unit, making them more directional to create that stereo effect.
We liked the overall design, with the front control panel looking like it’s been lifted from an old guitar amplifier, but we’d have liked a couple more colour options to choose from. Overall, however, this is a great option for anyone looking for a decent sounding all-in-one system.
The Victrola Vintage is one of the highest rated portable record players on a certain global shopping website, with over 32,000 reviews averaging out just under five stars. For good reason too. For your money you get a three-speed suitcase-style record player with Bluetooth playback capability, and around 30 different colour variations to choose from.
We liked the fact it can play records of any size – not a given at this price point – and it comes with an extra stylus too. As for volume, the Victrola Vintage copes perfectly well, but the RCA stereo outs offer extra flexibility for connecting to external speakers.
If you’re going for a cool 1970s vibe with your portable record player, then the Crosley Discovery is well worth a look. We loved the curved leatherette casing – more briefcase than suitcase – and found it performed perfectly well across a range of different musical styles.
There is a slight design issue around using larger 12-inch records, where the lid needs to be as far back as it can to allow playback, but providing you have a suitable space to locate the player this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
Owners of large vinyl collections will have possibly pondered the nightmare scenario of losing their treasured records at some point. The Popsky Record Player offers a great solution by allowing you to hook up to a computer via USB, meaning you can both play and record your vinyl for safe keeping at the same time.
We felt the vintage wooden casing offered a nice alternative to the alternative models, without appearing too much like it had been found at the back of a thrift store cupboard.
While some may be vinyl veterans, with huge collections ready to work their way through, others may be starting their journey on the vinyl frontier. The Byron Statics record player offers an inexpensive way to get up and running, and is ideally suited to younger listeners thanks to its simple operation and compact build.
There’s no Bluetooth on offer here, so it’s a pure record player in that respect, but if you plan on treating a record player as exactly that, rather than an all-in-one music hub, then this could be a good bet.
It’s not just music listeners that would have need for a portable way of playing vinyl records. The Numark PT01 is designed for DJs and turntablists who need a way of taking their vinyl out and about with them, be that to clubs, venues, or rehearsal spaces. The PT01 features everything you need to listen, record or scratch (yep, scratch) on the go.
It doesn’t have the same vintage aesthetic as most other portable record players, but what it lacks in retro patina it more than makes up for in versatility, backed up by the included USB connectivity and the fact it can run on battery power.
Best portable record players: Buying advice
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, rather than 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 there are some pretty garish models on offer, there are also some which retain an element of class and understated style.
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You’ll want to look out for connectivity; each of the systems we highlight offer speakers built in to the unit itself but, realistically, they’re not the best. We 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 external speakers or headphones.
Most will also offer Bluetooth but be aware 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.
Vinyl buffs will know the importance of cartridges, stylus’ and drive systems. Being realistic, you’re not going to be getting elite audiophile levels of sound from any of these systems so you may need to adjust your expectations slightly.
That said, there is 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.