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Record players vs Bluetooth turntables: do you need the extra tech?

Record players vs Bluetooth turntables
(Image credit: Neil Godwin/Future - Getty)

If you’re a vinyl head, there’s a decent chance you’re always on the lookout for the latest tech to enhance your listening experience, and this is where the record players vs Bluetooth turntables battle begins. 

As you’d expect, Bluetooth turntables offer wireless connectivity options that most standard record players can only dream of. However, Bluetooth models have a lot more needs, and can be expensive compared to the best budget turntables.

When it comes to turntables, Bluetooth technology has brought with it the chance for you to listen to your vinyl in multiple rooms in your home. It enables you to wirelessly pair your record player to your Bluetooth speakers or headphones for vinyl, as long as they are within range (around 30 feet), and operate your entire system remotely.

Record players vs Bluetooth turntables: Sound quality and set up

One of the most important considerations when choosing between these two types of record player is the sound quality. Transmitting your records via Bluetooth in a lossless manner would require a level of bandwidth that’s simply beyond the technology at present. So unfortunately you’re going to get some deterioration due to compression, and potentially some spotty connections too. 

Fortunately, these drawbacks won’t greatly affect your enjoyment – any loss in quality will be negligible to the casual listener, and balanced out by the greater freedoms of a wireless record player setup. Also, the reality is that most Bluetooth decks contain phono stages, so if you want to switch later and connect using cables, you can.

Another pro with a Bluetooth equipped turntable is how easy they are to set up. As mentioned, there are no signal cables involved so the process is simple. Essentially, it boils down to pairing your turntable with your speakers or wireless headphones, which generally involves holding down a button until each unit understands the other (usually a light will flash or change colour). Once that’s done, you’re ready to go.

Bluetooth turntables: Audio Technica

(Image credit: Audio Technica)

Record players vs Bluetooth turntables: Pros and cons

While all this extra digital tech makes your entire vinyl setup more versatile and simple to use, aren’t we taking away from the analogue, decades-old tradition that the vinyl revival is supposed to be preserving? A vital part of that scene is the escapism offered by the ritual of decamping to your stereo, plucking a favourite record off the shelf, and forgetting all other intrusions. And, while we’re at it, is it not convenient enough for you to stream to a Bluetooth speaker from your service of choice while making breakfast? 

This is a debate that could rage on, but we’re here to help you decide whether what better suits your needs as a vinyl fan. Here are our four go-to models to (hopefully) help you decide, whichever side of the record players vs Bluetooth turntables you land on.

Record players vs Bluetooth turntables: The Louder Choice

Sony PS-LX310BT

(Image credit: Sony)

1. Sony PS-LX310BT

Simple, effective and packed with convenient tech

Price: £199 | Bluetooth: Yes | Finish: Black | Dimensions: 11 x 43 x 37cm | Phono preamp: Yes | USB: No | Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45

Very easy to use
Slick looks
Sound lacks bite

This is a turntable that sets out to do it all, and largely succeeds in that goal. The Sony PS-LX310BT comes with a built in phono stage and Bluetooth connectivity, meaning that you can be up and running in the time it takes to pair your headphones with the deck. Up to eight devices can be synced to the system, while the sound is precise enough to keep you coming back, if not entirely captivating.

Read our Sony PS-LX310BT review

Cambridge Audio Alva TT

(Image credit: Cambridge Audio)

2. Cambridge Audio Alva TT

Taking Bluetooth to the next level

Price: £1,500 | Bluetooth: Yes | Finish: Graphite | Dimensions: 13.9 x 43.5 x 36.8cm | Phono preamp: Yes | USB: No | Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45

Sharp sound
Similarly sharp tech advances
Expensive compared to others

Cambridge Audio’s impressive Alva TT model is a flashy piece of gear that’s capable of getting the job done in style. As well as boasting a built in phono stage and Bluetooth capability it’s also able to offer aptX HD functionality, allowing you to stream records to your headphones or speakers in 24-bit hi res. Given that it already offers clean, expressive sound and solid build quality, it’s a great package.

Best turntables 2019: Rega Planar 1

(Image credit: Rega)

3. Rega Planar 1

Superb entry level setup

Price: £249 | Bluetooth: No | Finish: Black, white | Dimensions: 11.7 x 44.7 x 36cm | Phono preamp: No | USB: No | Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45

Crystal clear sound
Good brand pedigree
You’ll need to invest in a preamp

There’s a reason that the Rega Planar 1 has been among the top reasonably priced turntables for a long time: it’s just a great all rounder. It looks fantastic, prioritising sharp lines and an uncluttered design, and sounds even better. It’s also easy to set up and navigate. It doesn’t come with a built in phono stage, though, so you will need to dip into your funds for a separate preamp.

Read our Rega Planar 1 review

Best turntables 2019: Technics SL-1500C

(Image credit: Technics)

4. Technics SL-1500C

Easy, reliable deck that’s perfect for the next step

Price: £899 | Bluetooth: No | Finish: Black, silver | Dimensions: 23 x 16 x 12cm | Phono preamp: Yes | USB: No | Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45

Excellent sound
Maximum convenience
Boxy design

Coming in at a little under £900, the Technics SL-1500C is a big hitter in the realm of intermediate turntables. Quick on its feet with bass to spare, it sounds great and is very straightforward to set up and operate. It has a built-in phono stage, and prioritises the simple pleasures by taking away any fiddly bits so that you can quickly crack on with spinning your record collection.