I love spinning records on my turntable, but my setup doesn’t leave me much time to actually use it. My system and records currently sit in my living room next to the TV, but I’m often in my office working in front of the computer. After work, my partner and I will head over and watch something (we just wrapped Andor!). These habits don’t offer a lot of time for me to sit back and enjoy some music. It’s usually why I end up using my record player on weekend mornings when I’m cleaning or enjoying a hot cup of coffee.
One solution is to move my turntable setup, but it’s become such a staple when we have guests over that I don’t want to do that. The other fix? Get a second record player. But then I need to fuss with another speaker system and make room for it all in my already cramped office, all of which also sounds expensive. Turns out, the answer all along is a suitcase record player.
Victrola’s new Re-Spin turntable is affordable at $100, lightweight, and easy to put away when I don’t need it. It has a built-in speaker so I don’t need to hook anything else up, and I can even tote it around to a friend’s house, truly channeling my inner Brooklyn hipster.
The Re-Spin is a suitcase record player, meaning it literally looks like a mini suitcase, handle and all. It’s pretty plasticky—it’s made from 25 percent recycled plastic, with 100 percent recyclable packaging—but that’s what makes it fairly lightweight at just 5 pounds. Victrola offers it in four colors: gray, red, blue, and green.
Open it up and you’ll see a spot to place your record and the tonearm (yes, the record will spill over the edge when it’s playing, don’t worry about it). Pieces like the tonearm have latches to keep them in place so you don’t have to worry about them falling off when you’re walking around, and there’s a plastic cover to protect the stylus. Still, I’d exercise caution. Try to avoid dinging it on the turnstile when you try to catch the subway.
You can take off the cover and use it as a display case of sorts (it can fit five records), which is nice and all, but there’s no all-in-one solution to carry a few records with the Re-Spin. I have to carry a separate tote bag for my vinyl, but I would’ve loved it if I could carry two to three records and the Re-Spin in one carrying bag.
There’s no battery, so you need to plug it in to play some tunes (though Victrola does have a battery-powered turntable). You can choose between three modes by flipping a switch on the right side. The first plays the record through the built-in speaker, the second lets you wirelessly stream your record to another device, and the third lets you connect your own device to use the Re-Spin as a Bluetooth speaker, which works pretty well. Victrola also includes a 3.5-mm-to-RCA cable so you can connect it to speakers of your choice. There’s also a switch to cycle between 33, 45, and 78 speeds—I mostly stuck to the first.
As soon as you move the tonearm over the record, the vinyl will automatically start spinning, which is a nifty perk. Moving the tonearm back also makes it stop (there’s an autostart switch to turn this off if you don’t like it). Just flip the counterweight when you’re ready and the tonearm will slowly settle down on the record, and you’ll hear that warm tone come through the speakers.
I brought the Re-Spin over to a friend’s apartment when I helped him build some furniture, and after we went through a record, he connected his phone to it via Bluetooth to play more tunes. The speaker is honestly the highlight—it’s all for naught if the music doesn’t sound good—and the Re-Spin surprised me with how it sounds. It’s not mind-blowingly good, but the bass response has some oomph, the mids are not muddy, and the highs are clear. It also easily gets loud enough to fill a large living room and can totally service a little shindig.
Most records sound pretty great, too. However, I’ve noticed some of my cheaper records skip here and there, whereas they don’t on my Pro-Ject T1. This can be due to a variety of factors, like how the surface might not be as level or how the tonearm might not be perfectly balanced.
I do have a few caveats, though. My colleague and WIRED’s resident audio wiz, Parker Hall, warned me that cheaper turntables tend to have a stylus that may damage your records in the long run. The Re-Spin’s manual says you need to replace the stylus every 50 hours of music played, which is much shorter than pricier turntables. Victrola sells spares for cheap, though you may want to find something better to replace it with.
All this to say, you probably don’t want to spin your nicest records on this thing. I’d stick to bargain bin finds or other cheap records you have, which for me has been a free Ray Charles album I got and various other jazz music.
But I like that I can now continue spinning my records in my office, or even when I’m not home, with the Re-Spin. All of this could be solved with a Bluetooth speaker, but this has now grown into a full-on hobby for me. I like physically handling music again; it makes me feel more connected with an artist and their songs. I know exactly who I’m listening to, instead of guessing who comes on when I hit shuffle.
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