Trends come around in circles. Styles and fads from eras gone by make their comeback year after year (think bucket hats and platform trainers), but clothing isn’t the only thing subject to a semi-regular renaissance. Once thought to be outdated, old-fashioned, and something you could only find in charity stores, the nostalgic sound of an old vinyl record has come roaring back into fashion. There is something truly wonderful about the vintage snap, crackle, and pop that an old record offers and, with many artists releasing new albums on vinyl, the demand for retro record players has soared - oh, how the tables have turned (see what we did there?).
Whether you’re a die-hard vinyl fan or this is your first time taking them for a spin, one of the most important choices you will make in your musical journey is which record player to choose. If you’re looking for something to turn your records into MP3 tracks or want to know all about the best retro record players available on the market, OnBuy has you covered.
How do record players work?
The technology behind your favourite vinyl is both simple and complicated at the same time. First, you need to wrap your head around how sound works. In the simplest terms, sound is nothing more than a series of vibrations and pressure waves which pass through a medium (like air or water) and are picked up by our ears. But how are these waves turned into the music we hear from our record players?
Thomas Edison, an American inventor, took his understanding of how sound works and used that knowledge to create the first phonograph. This machine was able to record sound by directing soundwaves onto a thin membrane called a diaphragm, which then travelled through a needle and onto a piece of foil wound around a cylinder where it would leave grooves and markings. To play the sound back, the needle was set into the grooves it had made and, when the cylinder was turned, it translated the markings back into soundwaves which were able to be played through an amplifier. Simple… right?
Although technology has come a long way since then, vinyl players still typically use this traditional concept to play your favourite music. Thankfully though, you don’t need to be a 19th century inventor to enjoy modern music on vinyl!
Viva la vintage: Our top retro record players
Now that you’ve got the science behind sound down, you can start the search for the perfect old-school piece of kit for you. To help make your shopping experience easier, our tune-loving team has selected a line-up of some of the best retro record players on the market right now, all packed with a variety of tempting features and functions that are sure to get you into the groove. So, dive right in and let the music play!
Pros: Supports three speeds, connects to devices via Bluetooth, FM radio function
Cons: Won’t give as great of a sound as using external speakers, no support arm on the lid
The DIGITNOW! Retro Bluetooth Record Player is a fantastic multifunctional turntable. It features built-in speakers so you don’t have to connect it to any external equipment and will play all of your favourite records perfectly every time. Not only that, it’s portable and contains an internal battery so you can listen to your favourite tunes anywhere you’d like.
It sports some impressive extra specs, such as Bluetooth connectivity, so you can use it as a speaker for your other gadgets, a built-in radio, a record and delete function, combining the retro vibes with modern functionality. Not to mention, the vintage suitcase design looks great on your shelf or coffee table.
One of the most impressive parts of this vintage record player is the fact that it can be connected to your PC and used to turn your records into MP3 format for you to put onto any MP3 player to listen to on the go! A truly brilliant all-rounder.
Pros: Three-speed function, built-in speakers but comes with cables to connect to external ones
Cons: Needs to be plugged in for use, the internal batteries won’t offer the best sound quality
Those of you on a budget will love the mersoco Bluetooth Record Player. This compact, affordable, retro record player looks as good as it sounds, boasting built-in stereo speakers and the ability to play 7”, 10”, and 12” vinyl records. The unit can be moved anywhere in your home (as long as there is a plug nearby) and can be connected to via Bluetooth to play all of your favourite tracks.
When you’re not listening to music, the compact unit lid folds down and can be placed on a shelf, the unassuming design blending in with the rest of your home decor. If you do want to connect your turntable to a set of external speakers, this record player comes with the cables needed to do so!
Pros: Sleek minimalistic design, two speeds, PC recording capabilities
Cons: No built-in speakers here - you’ll need to connect it to a pair of external speakers, a little on the pricey side
Perfect for those looking for a high-end vinyl player with superior performance, the Roberts rt200 Record Player is the ideal option. You won’t find any in-built speakers on this turntable. Instead, it offers you the opportunity to plug it into your own powerful speakers to get the most out of every drumbeat, low bass note, and scratch of guitar strings. If you love to surround yourself with sound, the two speeds of this vintage record player can do just that. With a carbon fibre arm to swing over the record and minimalistic design, this vinyl player will feel right at home in any bedroom, den, or living room.
The unit comes with all the wires needed to hook it up to a speaker and supports PC recording, allowing you to turn your records into MP3s to take with you on the go. What’s more, it also comes with a dust cover so you don’t have to worry about dusty records.
Pros: Arm hinge on the lid stops it from closing on your vinyl, Jet Black colour is sleek and stylish
Cons: No jack port to connect headphones to it, limited sound range
If you’re the kind of person who loves to rock out to music at all times, this retro record player is for you. The GPO Attaché Retro Record Player can be used anywhere with a power source, and offers you the flexibility of listening using the internal speakers or through external ones. The unit is fully compatible with any speakers you choose to use for even better sound. It even comes with a USB stick to download your favourite albums onto in MP3 format - ideal for immortalising your favourite LPs in digital form!
The hinged arm holds up the lid so you can place it on your bed, coffee table, or sofa without worrying that the lid will suddenly close, potentially damaging your records if it’s knocked. The lightweight design lends itself to being moved as often as you do, while the suitcase-style makes transport a breeze.
This unit will easily play any record using one of its three play speeds and, when your record has finished playing, the auto-stop function prevents scratches. This is a fantastic choice for someone whose taste in music varies from pop music to rock and beyond.
Pros: Fully self-contained unit, allows you to play great music anywhere
Cons: No arm hinge on the lid for support, limited colour range
It’s pretty well-known that built-in speakers often don’t offer the same sound quality as external ones, whose sole purpose is to produce the most incredible sound possible. But as far as built-in speaker quality is concerned, the Victrola 3-Speed Bluetooth Record Player sits pretty high up on the list. This suitcase-style, portable, vintage vinyl player offers you excellent quality for an incredibly generous price. Listen to all of your favourite music using the easy-to-use controls and three-speed settings - perfect for all sizes of vinyl.
Like the other models that we have mentioned in this guide, you can connect to its speakers via Bluetooth and play whatever music you like from your other devices. The feet of the Victrola record player are sound-isolating, which means it won’t vibrate on the surface it’s placed, making it perfect for your living room, office, or anywhere else in your home!
Time for the encore!
So there you have it - OnBuy’s recommendations for the best retro record players. We have loads more options to choose from within our record player and turntables category, so if none of these has quite tickled your fancy, why not check out the full range? You’re bound to find exactly what you’re looking for!
Of course, what use is a retro record player if you don’t have anything to play on it? Take a browse through OnBuy’s range of records and vinyl and pick up an album you’ll absolutely love. From brand new records to incredible vintage tunes, enjoy the retro sound of music on vinyl combined with all the benefits of modern tech. Looking for more vintage and retro technology? Check out our range of cassette players for even more nostalgia!
What are you waiting for? Don’t you think it’s time to take your new record player for a spin and see what all the fuss is about?