Best Portable Record Players – Buying Guide and Reviews

There’s only one thing that digital music has over vinyl - you can take it with you just about anywhere.

But what if you could have both?

Yes, you can listen to your vinyl records anywhere.

Alright, so you obviously can’t have a 12” vinyl in your pocket whilst you’re walking to work. But you can have a turntable that you can bring with you on to a friend’s house or for DJ’ing.

In fact, the best portable record players are just as good as other turntables.

But how can you tell a good one from a great one?

As we are on the topic of vinyl why not check our recommendations for the best progressive rock albums and punk ​albums to own on vinyl!

At a Glance: Our Choice Of The 5 Best Portable Record Players On The Market

Note: The links above take you to more information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon. If you do purchase something we get a small commission, which has absolutely no effect on the eventual price that you pay.

Buyer's Tips: What to look for when buying the best portable record players 

  • Built-in speakers make your turntable more portable as you won’t need to worry about bringing your preamp, speakers, phono cables and the rest of the gear that you typically need for a record player
  • You can usually forego the option to play 78 rpm, as you’re unlikely to need that functionality. By going for a two speed record player you can keep it more portable
  • Ideally you should have a number of power supply options. Battery power is one that you’ll definitely be looking for, but you should also consider whether USB power would be useful
  • You’ll need to make a trade between durability, weight and price. Thanks to advances in materials, you can have a lot of resilience without also needing to be an olympic weight lifter - but this will cost you more. Finding the right balance can be tricky, but there are lots of options to suit all needs.

For everything else, use the same criteria that you would for any record player. High quality components are extremely important to ensure that you get the best sound quality and don’t damage your precious vinyls, and features that reduce resonance and vibration should always be at the top of your list. After all, there’s no point in buying a record player that’s highly portable but sounds like junk, right?

Ok let's look at each product in more detail. To make things easier for you, we've added pros and cons for each one, as well as a video demonstration so you can see them in action. So without further ado, let’s take a look...

5 Best Portable Record Players 

1. 1byone Suit-case Style Turntable

1byone Suit-case Style Turntable

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Portability is the focus of the design strategy behind this record player, and it has several ways of connecting with more recent audio technology innovations that other turntables lack.

  • The suitcase design makes it easy to pack up and carry from place to place without needing to worry about finding a secure carrying case, and weighs just 10lbs
  • Has integrated speakers, but also has RCA output, bluetooth connectivity and AUX in to make it easy to hook up with external speakers
  • Can play all three speeds
  • Although it can digitize songs, the quality of the output is quite low
  • Has a problem with skipping songs
  • Customer service from the manufacturer in case of damage or shipping problems is difficult to get a hold of

Let's take a look at this product...

2. Victrola Nostalgic

Victrola Nostalgic

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In many ways similar to the 1byone. It also features a briefcase design and slightly better sound quality.

  • One of the lightest portable record players you can find at only 5lbs
  • Extremely cheap, usually running under $50 on amazon
  • Has integrated speakers and can connect to bluetooth enabled devices to allow them to use the speakers as well
  • Can’t use the bluetooth function to connect with external speakers
  • Low quality tonearm and needle can degrade your vinyls faster than higher end models
  • Can’t be battery powered

Let's take a look at this product...

3. ION Audio Vinyl Motion Air

ION Audio Vinyl Motion Air

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One of the most popular portable record players, the Motion Air is a stylish looking turntable that also uses the briefcase design for added ease when taking it from place to place.

  • Can be powered either through mains supply or by the rechargeable battery
  • Can stream to external speakers via bluetooth
  • Capable of playing three speeds but needs a 45 rpm adaptor
  • The speakers cause enough vibration to distort the sound quality as the casing is unable to nullify the effects
  • It will not connect to all bluetooth enabled speakers
  • Sound volume is quite low

Let's take a look at this product...

4. Pro-Ject Elemental Turntable

Pro-Ject Elemental Turntable

Click to learn more / buy from Amazon

Although not the kind of turntable that’s usually categorized as ‘portable’, it’s extremely light weight and minimalist design makes it extremely easy for taking from one venue or home to another. It has a very attractive appearance thanks to its unique design, and is available in three colour choices. You can also get it with an optional USB output for digitizing vinyls.

  • High quality tonearm and included Ortofon OM5E MM cartridge
  • Smooth belt drive and plinth loaded with artificial stone contribute to lower resonance
  • Small profile and non-rectangular shape make it easier to transport and set up anywhere
  • You will need a phono preamp and external speakers
  • Doesn’t come with a carrying case, so you’ll need to purchase your own
  • Doesn’t have bluetooth connectivity

Let's take a look at this product...



Click to learn more / buy from Amazon

One of the best portable record players for those on a budget that still want a good level of audio quality - but not without some drawbacks that could be fixed in a future model.

  • Can be powered by AC or battery
  • Built-in speakers
  • Can play 45s, 78s and 33 ⅓ and digitize them
  • Batteries are not rechargeable and it requires six (!) D batteries
  • The included cartridge is fairly low quality
  • When using headphones the speakers are not silent

So what are the best portable record players?

One of the most difficult aspects of deciding on a portable record player is finding one that’s able to balance being travel friendly with a level of quality suitable for an audiophile.

Unfortunately, the high end of audio quality is not often found in a portable turntable. However, with a few aftermarket upgrades such as better cartridges, even an average record player can become much more attractive in terms of sound quality.

With that in mind, the Pro-Ject Elemental Turntable is one of the best portable record players. It lacks a few features such as battery power and integrated speakers, but if you only need something that’s easy to take from one place to another, then it’s low weight and small size will have you covered. The excellent sound quality is also a big plus, as there’s no reason to have a turntable that’s easy to bring with you if the output is rubbish.

However, if you need something that’s more of an all-in-one deal, the NUMARK PT01 is a decent turntable to go for thanks to its speakers, headphone outputs and battery power options.​

Image Credits

Featured image by ​Bradley Stemke / CC By-2.0​​​​

Ged is Founder and Editor-in-chief at Zing Instruments. He’s a guitarist for London based gypsy jazz band ‘Django Mango’ and a lover of all things music. When he’s not ripping up and down the fretboard, he’s tinkering with his ’79 Campervan.

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