The Pros and Cons of a Bluetooth Turntable

The Pros and Cons of a Bluetooth Turntable

Bluetooth rules — in the right circumstances. On the go, it makes life so much better. But when it comes to vinyl, we have to weigh the added convenience against the trade-off in sound quality. When is it worth it? Let's dive in.

When you stream digital music files, you're already playing music that's been heavily compressed to reduce its file size. Bluetooth's compression won't dramatically alter the sound quality of the original file. But records have a ton of detail written into the vinyl. When played over Bluetooth, a record will essentially be compressed into the equivalent of a Spotify sound file.  It's like pushing a river through a drain pipe; you're gonna lose a lot!

Now, sound quality isn't the only reason to play a record! We're not precious audiophiles here at Latchkey (most of the time, anyway lol). Sometimes, it's more about the physical experience of interacting with the album. Sometimes, it's about admiring the beauty of the pressing. There's plenty of joy to be had from vinyl irrespective of the sound quality. 

There are three circumstances in which I think a Bluetooth turntable makes sense:

1) When you want to listen to vinyl in headphones. Vinyl's actually a great companion to house-cleaning. Use a side of a record as a timer for how long to spend cleaning a counter or a closet or a corner and the time will fly. Or maybe you listen to music at times that drives your partner/roommate bonkers. In that case, put on those Bluetooth headphones.

2) When you want an auxiliary speaker in a tough place. Maybe you wanna hear records outdoors or in another room but don't want to deal with wires. A Bluetooth turntable works wonders for that add-on speaker. Just remember you're going to have to go change the record so don't put it too far away!

3) When you're not ready for fancy speakers. Maybe you already have a high-quality Bluetooth speaker and aren't ready to spend another $100-200 on wired bookshelf speakers for a new turntable. In that case, Bluetooth turntables can bridge that gap. Do your research and take your time to find the right wired speakers that'll get the most out of your vinyl. 

One warning: avoid turntables that have a small platter (that's the spinning surface the records sit on). We have a whole post about why here, but TLDR: your vinyl will wobble and songs will skip. Most suitcase turntables have small platters, and most of the turntables we sell are to people who've given up on their Crosley. Why not just skip the one you'll immediately want to upgrade and grab something like the Audio Technica 60XBT or LP120XBT? You won't regret it. 

We'll always recommend wired speakers because the upgrade in sound quality is shocking — especially if you've only been listening to digital music over Bluetooth for years. Come into our shop and hear the difference for yourself! But don't let anyone tell you that Bluetooth is never okay for a turntable. It's all about what's right for you in this moment.

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