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Windows 7: shopping for a cheap record player- anyone here knowledgable?

17 Jun 2015   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
shopping for a cheap record player- anyone here knowledgable?

I'm getting into vinyl in a limited capacity as it seems there are more than a few things that were never available on anything but, and oftentimes MP3 recordings of any of that stuff tends to be iffy. HOWEVER, to play any records I buy, I need a player.

Now to get the disclaimer stuff out of the way- my budget is about $60 maximum. I know the audiophiles suggest $400 minimum to "enjoy vinyl" I don't have $400 to spend on that, I don't have $400 to blow on much anything luxury right now. I am not an audiophile, I'd probably convert everything to Ogg Vorbis format if only every portable MP3 player out there didn't shun the format and I'm hard pressed to hear the difference in the format. I don't bother with FLAC because any "enhancement" is barely, if at all, distinguishable. I don't own $100 and up headphones endorsed by celebrities, I use a $6 Panasonic pair from Amazon that sounds just fine to my ears.

So that said, just so I don't get the "spend $400 minimum" suggestions... I've narrowed my choices down to a few, though none are 100% solid should anyone have a suggestion beyond these.

I've ruled out the $32 Vibe brand player. It lacks a proper headphone out and reviews are a bit less than favorable. I'll probably avoid anything that lacks a headphone out. Many of these have an FM radio built in, not a big deal to me but it'd save a separate purchase(needing to run an antenna wire outside though- reception inside with radios in this house has always been awful). 78 RPM probably isn't a huge deal to me since that's often really old record territory but having the feature would be a bonus- although many of these players are 3 speed, I'd need a proper needle for that.

My first option is $42, a Jensen basic model with FM radio. A Youtube review of this suggested it was at least an okay player for being cheap. Jensen 3-Speed Stereo Turntable with AM/FM Stereo Radio (Silver): Electronics

Second is a $60 Jensen. Lacks the radio but has tone and pitch controls. Watched a Youtube review, seems to be a good player for the money even if it's not up to par to an expensive model. Jensen JTA-230 3 Speed Stereo Turntable with Built in Speakers: Electronics

Third is a Techplay for $55. Loaded with buttons and features. Favorable reviews but fewer overall reviews than Jensen. Has an MP3 player built in with encoder to record MP3s directly to flash stick. TechPlay ODC18-BS 3-Speed Turntable W/SD USB, MP3 Encoding System and AM/FM Stereo Radio & built-in speakers: Electronics

Fourth possibility is this $60 Boytone model, similar features to the Techplay with an added cassette deck. Would surely be worth it in features alone, but it seems this company's still is quite new and barely has reviews on any of their stuff. 6 reviews isn't telling me much despite a 4.5 star rating. Boytone BT-17DJ 3-Speed Stereo Turntable with Built in Speakers Digital LCD Display AM/FM Radio + Supports USB/SD/AUX+ Cassette/MP3 & WMA Playback /Recorder & Headphone Jack + Remote Control: Electronics
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Jun 2015   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Win 7 Home Premium 64bit Ver 6.1.7600 Build 7601 - SP1

Hi Diosoth,

From your choices I would say the last one, the Boytone model would be the one I'd go with. I have an ITUT-201SVR, It does okay, but I had to route it through a pioneer amp with RCA jacks, and from that to my machine because of a lack of fidelity and volume problems, it came with three extra needles but they weren't marked if they could play 78's, so I didn't take the chance of using them because I didn't want to damage the shellac.

The member to really help you in your decision would be Fireberd, He may have something for you from your choices or from out of left field, but he knows his stuff. Let me drop him a VM to see if he could stop by and help.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Jun 2015   #3

Windows 10 64 bit

I have a couple of turntables. A high end one and a relatively inexpensive Numark PTO1USB that will even play 78RPM records. I've been using this model for most of my vinyl to PC conversions.

Here is the listing on Amazon Numark PT01USB Turntable: Musical Instruments
My System SpecsSystem Spec

25 Jun 2015   #4

Windows 7 Home Premium x64

For now I went with a Boytone, albeit the BT-19DJ model. I'm not real sure what the difference is from the 17 beyond cosmetic though as the Boytone specs don't really clarify. However, it was $50 and free shipping for a manufacturer refurbished model. If I don't like the speakers I can get a set of cheap Cyber Acoustics for $10-$15.

If I get into Vinyl enough and have the cash later I may go up to either fireberd's recommendation or a similar cost Audio Technica model. For now I'm on too much of a budget for even those.

I was put off Crosley for the overwhelming bad reviews, and while Jensen gets good reviews, they also get enough bad reviews to be wary. Techplay was promising but I was put off because the FM radio is one of those cruddy digital scanners that never picks up good stations here, I'd prefer a proper tuner dial if I want to use the radio. Plus it was $5 more than the Boytone. While Boytone is still new, it seems the people who have bought their electronics have been generally pleased with the quality.

Though for now I'm not sure I'm worried about the 78 speed option as I have nothing that requires it. I have a single 45 and I've purchased a few 33s. Since 78s are often older albums, I'll worry about buying a proper needle if the time comes. Unfortunately there seems to be almost no vinyl sources locally- there are 2 cruddy thrift shops which may or may have nothing, if it's not all scratched up and unplayable. Goodwill and such are too far away to justify the gas costs. I'm mainly browsing eBay for cheap stuff- while the Russian import stuff can get costly I have found a few decent $1-$3 albums lately.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Jun 2015   #5

Windows 7 Home Premium x64

Some initial thoughts on the BT-19DJ Boytone BT-19DJB, 3-Speed Stereo Turntable - 33/45/78 RPM with AM , FM Stereo Receiver w/2 built-in speakers /Cassette/Aux-In/USB/SD/MP3 and Vinyl to MP3 Encoding and remote control(Black color): Electronics

Packaging- it's adequate and typical of something that would sit in a store but the Amazon seller apparently thought that wrapping it in plastic was suitable for mailing. Box is a bit dinged up as a result, but the player arrived undamaged. Still, not too pleased with how they sent it, the box isn't an adequate mailing carton, and this isn't the first I've heard of Amazon or 3rd party Amazon sellers doing this, often with worse results. 2 styrofoam ends hold it in place, player is wrapped in a large baggie and the cord is bundled in a small baggie. I will give Jensen credit- they at least tape parts down. Boytone didn't. The tone arm is held down by a wire tie but the needle protector and 45 adapter were in the baggie on top. The needle protector really should've been on the tone arm, at the very least. Only other thing is a baggie with instructions, warranty card and tiny generic remote.

Build quality- not bad. Turntable snobs would go with "cheap Chinese junk" as a description, but I've seen and even owned stereos from big name companies that had build quality about this level- I'd say the last big mega stereo I owned was actually worse. Plastic turntable with 3 rubber nubs, wood sides, etc.

Speakers- Meh. They're basically okay. They aren't terrible, but I've owned a cheapo China unbranded FM radio that had a single speaker which had better sound output, and my Vizio TV has far better. But there is a headphone jack which is suitable and the RCA outputs have a built-in preamp and it sounds decent even with a Cyber Acoustics CA-2014 speaker set, which is a low-end speaker. Though plugging in the RCA speakers doesn't disable the onboard speakers by default, but the volume output is independent of the onboard volume knob, so turning the volume down shuts them off

FM playback- okay, this is a standard dial that goes in 0.05 increments on the FM band, and if you turn it fast enough it will try to "auto seek" to whatever station it can pick up. I really only listen to one local station and it did pick it up, though radio reception indoors isn't so great and I'll need to run an antenna wire outside. There is a memory option for up to 30 stations. I had poor luck with the AM, indoor reception is too bad.

MP3 playback- it works. Read files off an 8 GB USB flash drive just fine. The remote only seems to work for this function. The instructions say it can only take up to an 8 GB card or flash drive size and files no more than 256 kb/s in bitrate.

MP3 recording- I haven't tested this and probably won't bother with it. The instructions say it only rips to 128 kb/s anyway and it records as one long audio file with no breaks so I'd have to manually edit anything. Unlike most of these cheap players it doesn't seem to support PC hookup via USB out.

Tape deck- I have some old cassettes of my father's on hand. Plays them okay though the only button you get is a dual fast forward/eject button. Meh, it's a bonus feature that works well but is a bit thin in function. Mind you, I haven't even owned a tape player in 10 years(the one in my car doesn't count since it doesn't work properly) and haven't even seen a new one for sale in stores in almost as long, even the dollar stores haven't stocked them in some time around here.

Aux In- not tried it, don't need to, if I wanted external speakers for anything I could do better than routing it through this.

Remote- it's 1/4" thick and uses a CR2025 battery. It has buttons for the MP3 function, minus volume since that's handled by the knob. The skip buttons will also work the AM/FM tuning but it's very slow to cycle through with it. Not a big deal, it's there, it's cheap quality, it's a generic remote. you can ignore it. Though the remote that came with my expensive Frigidaire air conditioner isn't much better quality.

Record- the main meat of this thing... the turntable is one of those smaller 45 sized things you see on so many cheaper-priced players. The tone arm has a lift lever but you need to manually move it to the record. It drops softly when lowered. 3 speeds and an auto-off switch(which can be turned off should your record go past the usual cutoff point). The lid has cutouts to close down over a 33. And for a basic featured player that lacks tone or pitch controls.... sounds pretty good. I was going to wait for one of the cheaper albums I purchased to arrive but I went ahead and test played my import copy of Russian heavy metal Black Coffee - Step Over The Threshold. No speed issues, clear sound, VERY few pops and such which may be from minor dust on the record. I compared it to playback on Youtube and it sounds the same. I had no skipping.

Just to test further I put on the one 45 I own- an import UK copy of Catherine Warwick - Marine Boy. Despite being a 45 this has a standard hole in the center so I couldn't try out the 45 adapter. Plays okay but I have some skipping in the same spots on multiple listens so this record may need a cleaning. However the "penny trick" seemed to work to counter that skipping though I'll likely clean this one anyway, although if the cartridge is ceramic it might not hurt to get something a bit better, as they seem more prone to skipping. Could even be a combo of reasons causing the skipping. This one also runs a bit past the auto stop point so I had to shut the switch off.

Overall verdict- Packaging is a bit flimsy but the actual player is not bad, at least for the $50 shipped I paid. All the functions work well. You will definitely do better with more expensive devices, sure, but it seems okay for a cheap all-in-one option. It's probably better than the poorly-regarded Crosley players, although if you are a vinyl enthusiast you'll likely go with something more dedicated anyway than something that costs this little. Just get a better set of speakers for it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Jun 2015   #6

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Win 7 Home Premium 64bit Ver 6.1.7600 Build 7601 - SP1

Myself and others appreciate the feedback, thank you for taking the time.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Jun 2015   #7

Windows 7 Home Premium x64

Whoever wrote the instructions was either cautious or didn't know the specs of the MP3 player- it plays 320 KB files just fine. I thought it was a bit odd it said it didn't support them when any player made in the past 10 years probably should by default.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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