9 Of The Worst Record Players To Avoid


Everyone will try to tell you which are the best record players to buy. And they are likely based on a mixture of real-life reviews and the amount of money the blog is making from convincing you to purchase. But, whoever warns you NOT to buy something?

Wasting money on products with poor reviews is something I try to avoid. So, I’ve compiled a list of the worst record players (in my opinion) that you should avoid purchasing at all costs.

Top X lists are enormous. I say let’s take a look at what to avoid for once, rather than just show what’s hot and selling. After all, some of the best gear is just off the main playing field. Let’s just try to avoid the lousy gear while we navigate the turntable market, shall we?

My Top 9 Worst Record Players To Avoid At All Costs

In the following table, I’ve collected data from Google on the worst-rated turntables being offered currently. These were all the way at the end of page 16, and Google was not offering a page 17, so I’m assuming these are the worst that Google is willing to show.

These models are assumed to be the worst available, based on the reviews of actual buyers. If you do your research in the forums, you’ll find a correlation between what people say is not good and the brands listed in the table below. Or at least, I found a correlation at the time of researching this information.

Record Player

Rating On Google

Price On Google

RPM

Crosley T200A

3.3

$ 129.00

33.3, 45

Crosley Turntable McQueen

3.2

$ 109.99

33.3, 45, 78

Crosley C3

3.1

$ 69.25

33.3, 45

Jensen JTA 470 Professional

3.0

$ 74.55

33.3, 45, 78

Victrola Hawthorne 7 in 1

3.0

$ 149.99

33.3, 45, 78

Victrola Acrylic Bluetooth Turntable

2.9

$ 149.99

33.3, 45

Crosley Journey Turntable

2.7

$ 49.99

33.3, 45, 78

Victrola 3-in-1 Bluetooth Suitcase Turntable

2.6

$ 49.99

33.3, 45, 78

Victrola Brighton Turntable

2.4

$ 99.99

33.3, 45, 78

As you can see in the table above, the worst record players are dominated by Crosley and Victrola, with only a Jensen also making the list.

Assuming that user ratings and reviews correlate to the worst record players for sale, it’s safe to say that Victrola is the worst, having all four positions within the bottom half of the ratings. Crosley comes in as the second-worst brand of the turntable, with a review rating correlation showing the four Crosleys all reside in the top half of the worst nine.

Jensen sneaks its way into the list with an underperforming JTA 470 Professional turntable. Far from what I call professional, this record player is not on my wish list, that’s for sure.

My advice is to buy yourself something decent. If you’re buying for a five-year-old, then maybe one of these. Nah, even a five-year-old deserves better, in my opinion.

Are Cheap Turntables Any Good

The bottom line is that any turntable will play a record as long as the RPM of the turntable coincides with that of the record. However, this says nothing about the quality of the audio. Not to mention, really cheap cartridges with cheap needles might harm your records. So, if you like your records, you should use a half-decent cartridge and needle at the bare minimum.

There are two primary considerations when looking at purchasing a cheap turntable. Answering these two questions before spending any money can help save you from making a wrong purchase.

  1. What is the purpose of this turntable?
  2. What is a good quality sound worth to me?

What is the purpose of this turntable?

When you’re on a tight budget, determining the purpose of a turntable purchase is an excellent way to figure out what you should buy.

For example, if you are buying a turntable for a kid, and it’s likely they won’t respect it, or perhaps it’s just a fad, then a cheap turntable might be the best solution.

If you are heading off to college and there is a high likelihood that your record player will get borrowed a lot, then perhaps a cheaper one is a better idea.

However, if you intend to guard your turntable along with your valued vinyl collection, then a cheap turntable is not for you.

If you enjoy listening to music, you might want to reconsider and get a better turntable.

That leads me right into the second point:

What Is Good Quality Sound Worth To Me?

When you consider the stereo system, that is something that plays music either out loud or through headphones or other speakers; there are many links in the chain. I am referring to these links: the amplifier, the record, the record player, the speakers, the wiring or cables, and so forth. You get the idea.

Each of these components creates a chain that outputs music in your chosen way (speakers, headphones, etc.). That chain is only as good as the weakest link. I’m sure you’ve heard that expression before.

The rule I always use is never to purchase a “link” of equal or lesser value. Or rather, in this case, never purchase a turntable of equal or lesser value. Now keep in mind here that I say the word value. I did not use the word cost. My definition of value is a quality manufactured product intended to last. Sometimes you find a used Technics 1200 at a garage sale for $20, and it works perfectly. That’s value.

Now that we’ve established value let’s consider the quality of sound for a moment. If we only look for value, quality manufacture intended to last, then we consider quality sound over mediocre sound. What are you willing to pay to upgrade from mediocrity to a pleasurable existence? That is while listening to vinyl records, of course.

Other Brands To Avoid

I find that there are altogether too many brands of turntable now. Call me old-fashioned, but in my experience, it’s best to go with the tried, tested, and authentic brands. So, if it’s a weirdly named brand you’ve never heard of, your best bet is to carry on not knowing it and leave it behind.

However, you can’t judge a record player by whether or not you’ve heard of the name. For example, many people have heard of Crosley and Victrola. But I wouldn’t touch these brands with a ten-foot pole.

Perhaps I am just old-fashioned, but I’m still a Technics guy. Don’t get me wrong; there are some other great brands out there like Audio Technica, for example.

Sometimes It’s The Model, Not The Brand

I’ve found that out of the name brands that don’t catch my eye, I have one rule for turntables: Never buy a portable or ‘suitcase-style record player. They never seem to be any good, and many models have shown to prematurely wear records from cheap needles, improper tracking pressure, and similar issues. Not to mention the atrocious sound quality you get from the small and inadequate built-in speakers in many of these models.

Sometimes I also notice that a brand might have a flawed model, but some other great ones. For example, you can debate which Technics record player is the best and which is the worst. It’s a matter of perspective, but who is to say the worst Technic model is not equivalent to the best model of another brand?

Either way, the cheap portable types of record players are usually the bad ones. Turntables intended for single location use are the ones you want to look at if you want any kind of quality at all.

And if budget is an issue, take a look at hock shops and used electronics stores. You can often find a great deal on a great record player worth much more than a suitcase-style in terms of quality, but often for less money. I once found a Technic 1200 at a garage sale for only $20. I still have that turntable twenty years later. What does that tell you about the value of the $20 I spent?

Do yourself a favor and buy a decent turntable right from the start; it doesn’t have to be expensive if you shop for a bargain or a used unit. You’ll be glad you did.

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