Bluetooth turntables are just the ticket for tech-minded vinyl lovers, and this month two popular models slug it out in our head-to-head
Audio Technica AT-LP60BT $299, audio-technica. DESIGN
The LP60’s compact, modern look will suit smaller spaces. However, the belt-driven turntable is let down by a lacklustre plastic chassis, spindly tone arm and cheap white button controls.
The turntable features auto-start and auto-return, plus a button to move the needle. Two additional switches toggle between 33- and 45rpm speeds and 7- and 10-inch records. Bluetooth connectivity is handled via a deck-mounted LED button.
Out-of-the-box setup is a cinch. Phono and line outputs are available if you prefer a physical connection, or hit the Bluetooth button to pair a wireless device. It’s not the most refined, but once connected you’re ready to cue your first record.
The anti-resonance aluminium platter is a firm platform for your wax, and the Dual Moving Magnet phono cartridge, while cheap and cheerful, is reasonably balanced and tracks well. The LP60 does the job well for a small-scale vinyl solution.
WE’RE IMPRESSED They might be old school, but auto controls definitely make playback easier. WE’D IMPROVE Bluetooth connectivity isn’t super refined; we’d gladly pay more to see less hideous plastic.
Pro-Ject Essential III BT $629, project-audio.com DESIGN
There’s a tasteful, vintage air to the Essential III, courtesy of the high-gloss red base, black platter, exposed motor and chunky tonearm. Modern trappings like the Bluetooth output unit are tucked out of view beneath the base.
The high-grade Ortofon OM10 cartridge is the star of the show, working in harmony with the aluminium tonearm (which sits on slick sapphire bearings) and belt-driven MDF platter to extract the best sound from every groove.
Fitting the drive belt, vertical tracking force and the turntable’s anti-skating weight takes concentration, but pays dividends. Cables and Bluetooth are quicker, but there’s no auto-play, so you’ll need to master dropping the needle manually.
A vibration-reducing motor control and shockproof feet help keep the cartridge tracking smoothly. Whether you’re listening to Brahms or Bowie, wirelessly or through a separate system, the Essential III has bags of audio punch and clarity.
WE’RE IMPRESSED Bluetooth connectivity is the icing on a stylish, killer-sounding cake. WE’D IMPROVE Installing the drive belt is mildly tortuous – we wish Pro-Ject had added a groove around the platter.