best record player

5 Candidates for the Best Record Player Under $100

Finding the best record player under $100 depends upon what you are looking for. That sounds like a tautology or a self-proving statement (a no-brainer, in other words). In this case, it isn’t quite so simple…and it’s a good place to begin.

Click here to skip to capsules of  products from Victrola, uDreamer, Crosley, Wockoder, Victrola and Wrcibo

Shopping for a such a piece of equipment means that you are aiming for an all-inclusive system that plays vinyl records (and usually radio and content from CDs, phones and other sources).  It’s all you need. Buy it, unwrap it, plug it in and crank up the AC/DC or Count Basie. The caveat is that the cranking won’t be too high and in general the best sound to hope for is pretty good, not great. A turntable of course is part of that system.

This is a distinct category from portable players that are lighter and literally are built into suitcases. We cover that category here.

It is important to remember that a turntable alone without the amplification and built in speakers is just a really fast Lazy Susan (“Damn, I missed the peas again.”). The two terms — “turntable” and “record player” — are not synonymous, though they often are treated that way. A car moves you from place to place. The most important part of a car is the engine. But people don’t say, “I’ll give you a ride in my engine.” (If they do, take an Uber.) 

Finding the best record player under $100 is different than finding the best turntable under $100. The latter will involve investment in speakers, amplifiers and possibly a preamp. The best affordable record player will have costs that are straight forward.

But the terms “turntable” and “record player” often are used interchangeably. That’s wrong, and it’s interesting that it’s done by a lot of people who should know better. They actually do know what’s right. Just saying “record player” in every case is easier than saying “component system consisting of A, B and C.”

Consumer audio is a world in which definitions of complex things — the specs of a speaker or amp, for instance — often are presented imprecisely. That’s more or less unavoidable for technical and marketing reasons. However, that makes it more important to get the simple things right and make an honest effort to not confuse people.

Why We Need Great Gear: Dr. John
Dr. John

Dr. John (actually, Malcolm John Rebennack) was a brilliant pianist who melded the music of many cultures. Two recommended songs that aren’t heard too often are “Talk that Talk” (with Ronnie Barron) and the better known “Mama Roux.” Click here for more on Dr. John

So keep in mind that a turntable is an element of a component system. A record player is a complete system, which includes a turntable, speakers and the necessary internal electronics. A tuner (radio) often is included as well. The better models have the ability to interact with your digital entertainment platform in a number of ways, such as vinyl to mp3 transfer or using a different set of speakers. So looking for the best turntable under $100 is a very different than than the best record player under $100. The former is one piece of the sound producing pie. The latter is the entire pie.
A component system offers upgrade paths and better sound. Record players are cheaper, smaller and simpler to use. Since they are low cost items, even the best platform under $100 — as well as those above — let you avoid the pain of spending $1,500 on a turntable and then watching the tonearm bounce around your 1975 copy of “Thick as a Brick.”

My mini-rant about the evils of misidentifying equipment is more than a pet peeve. Understanding the difference will make shopping simpler and increase the chances that you end up with what you want.

<strong>5 Tips on Finding the Best Record Players Under $100</strong>
– Portability is provided by suitcase style record players, not these. Check out suitcase design record players here
– A record player is one unit (perhaps with detachable stereo speakers). It’s not the same as buying a record player under $100. In that case, you’ll still need other components
– There are lots of really cool designs
– Will it be your primary platform, an extra — perhaps for digitizing LPs — or a gift? Will it play new records or just old?
– Bluetooth and USB ports enable integration into a digital platform
A component system offers better sound and upgrade paths for those who want them. Record players are cheaper and simpler. Since they are low cost, record players let you avoid the pain of spending $1,500 on a turntable and then watching the tonearm bounce around your 1975 copy of “Thick as a Brick.” 

Put more simply, somebody trying to find the best record player for under $100 is looking for a simple way to listen to music. This is a big category: Some folks just want to hear the melody and the harmony. They are not connoisseurs. This person is not concerned with high fidelity, at least as far as this purchase goes. He or she is aiming for an inexpensive record player…and must realize that $100 just isn’t a whole lot of money today. Of course, there is nothing at all wrong with this. It’s a matter of priorities.

So the search for the best record players in the lower prices ranges in reality is asking a different set of questions than when tha person is shopping for higher priced equipment: Is the record player for a beginner? Is it for a senior more comfortable with an easier to use device reminiscent of what they owned 50 years ago? Is the what eventually bought likely to stay in one place or is portability important? If the primary use is to play old albums that are in poor condition or digitizing vinyl to mp3? How big is the space that the unit will fit into? How important are looks? Must it have Bluetooth to enable it to stream from phones, CD players and other devices? Are there inputs to support different stereo speakers than the ones that come with the unit?

There are other questions in finding the best record players at the lower end of the price scale. The place to start, however, is to understand that record players and turntables are two very different things.



Best Record Players Under $100 from Victrola, Wockoder, uDreamer, Crosley and Wrcibo

Note: All images are courtesy of the manufacturer. Hover over images for a closer view (in most cases). Vendors looking to have the best record player under $100 have unique short hands for specifications when it refers to the best record player under $100 or any other piece of technology. I’ve more or less left these unchanged, so the capsules are a bit inconsistent.  The paraphrased comments are subjective (and, indeed, sometimes contradictory). Folks sometimes use equipment incorrectly and then complain. Problems mentioned may have been addressed by the manufacturer. Amazon has a tremendous amount of information and feedback on the what it sells and is a recommended element of your shopping research. If you do shop and potentially buy from Amazon, please link to there from HiFi and Vinyl Now. If you are kind enough to do so we’ll get a small commission. The price you pay will remain the same. (Thanks!)

 

The Wrcibo XR-636DP-89

best record player under 100The Wrcibo XR-636DP-89 is the first record player under $100 we will look at. It plays content from outside sources by a 3.5mm aux-in jack. The  belt driven turntable runs at 16, 33.3 and 45 RPMs.

The system, which makes a break from other record players with a modernistic and decidedly non-retro look, features built in speakers. The XR-636DP-89 weights 8.23 lbs. A 45 adapter is included. The dimensions for the unit are 16.5″ (W) x 16.5″ (D) x 6.5″ (H).

What People are Saying about the Wrcibo XR-636DP-89
Pros
+ Easily set up
+ First rate Bluetooth
+ Very loud
Cons
– Speaker impedance only controlled for one channel
– Low end clamp down speaker connection
– Poor sound quality

The Victrola 6-in-1 Bluetooth

best record player under 100

Another record player under $100 is The Victrola 6-in-1 Bluetooth record player streams music and can accommodate CD, cassettes and vinyl records. It is a three speed unit that is belt driven. It is Bluetooth enabled as far as 33 feet away. The FM radio offers a vintage rotary dial mechanism. It has 3.5mm Aux-In and headphone jack for non-Bluetooth devices. The cable is included The 6-in-1 measures Measures 18.1″ x 13.4″ x 9.5″ and weighs 17.60 lbs.

What People are Saying about The Victrola 6-in-1 Bluetooth
Pros
+ Very versatile
+ Bigger than expected, but not too heavy or bulky
+ Bluetooth paired easily to iPad
Cons
– Lots of quality complaints
– Poor sound quality
– Wobbly turntable

The Wockoder KD 2008

best record player under 100The Wireless Portable, the third record player under $100 that we are looking at, has built in stereo speakers, a 3-speed belt driven turntable includes a spring to absorb shock. The unit weighs 5.28 lbs. and measures 12.3″ x 10″ 4.1″. A 45 RPM adapter is included.

What People are Saying about the The Wockoder KD 2008
Pros
+ Loud, has Bluetooth, and very portable
+ Fun retro look
+ Sound quality great value for the money
Cons
– Scratched albums
– Poor sound
– Lots of complaints about units not working or breaking

The Crosley CR8017A-DU

best record player under 100

The Crosley CR8017A-DU is a belt-driven 3-speed record player with a Bluetooth receiver, built-in full-range built in stereo speakers, a head phone jack, RCA output and cueing lever. The basic player comes in a variety of colors at slightly different prices. The unit weighs 5.50 lbs. and measures 14″ x 10.5″ x 4.63″ inches. It has a ceramic cartridge.

What People are Saying about The Crosley CR8017A-DU 9
Pros
+ Looked great, worked well
+ Good entry level no frills unit
+ Good entry level no frills unit
Cons
– Bad audio
– Legs damaged table
– Skipped on record

The uDreamer UD001

The uDreamer UD001 is available in brown and claret.

The final record player under $100 we will look is the uDream UD001. It is vintage-styled record player that features built-in speakers that face forward, Bluetooth (input only) enables digitized content from phones and other devices to be played.

The unit offers USB ports, RCA, aux and headphone jacks, a 45 adapter and a tone arm lifter. The 3 speed turntable is belt driven with a spring system to absorb shocks. The unit weighs 4.9 lbs. and has dimensions of 12.8″ (W) x 9.8″ (D) x 4.7″ (H).

What People are Saying about the uDreamer UD001
Pros
+ Denon “analog mode” useful
+ Bluetooth high quality
+ No excess bass or treble
Cons
– Remote volume control imprecise
– Insufficient amplification
– Bluetooth input good, not great[/GDC_column]

 

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