A portable record player, or suitcase record player, is a vinyl turntable with built-in speakers and often other bells and whistles. The sound quality of these players tends to be less than high fidelity but still decent enough for casual listening. They are typically small and lightweight making them easy to transport. Some come with carrying cases or padded carrying bags.
Suitcase record players serve as both a great learning tool and a nice pastime for those who enjoy old-fashioned music formats. Beginner collectors with small spaces can easily store these players and keep them hidden away when not in use. Others may be interested in suitcase record players as a gift for a friend or family member.
In this article, you will learn about the best suitcase record players on the market today. We have reviewed the most popular models and identified three of our favorites as well as two runners-up.
What is the best portable record player to buy?
Picking the right portable record player is a personal choice. There are many factors to consider when picking out the right player for you such as price, size, potential uses, and quality.
Crosley CR8005D-WS Cruiser Deluxe Vintage 3-Speed Bluetooth Suitcase Turntable
- 3 speeds: 33, 45, 78 RPM
- Built-in stereo speakers
- Adjustable pitch control
- Tons of color options
- Built-in Bluetooth receiver
Surprising sound quality: I was surprised by the sound quality this turntable has to offer. It boasts dynamic full-range stereo speakers that do a pretty good job handling the frequency spectrum, even if it isn’t too detailed.
Great volume: Even with its small size, the turntable can get pretty loud, and it shouldn’t have any issue filling a home with clear audio. This is a standout feature as many people like to hear their music from anywhere in their homes.
Ease of use: With the fairly simple design the turntable offers, it’s a great choice for beginners and those who don’t have too much experience with turntable equipment. From kids to adults, it’s a decent starting point for anyone looking to explore vinyl records.
Cover clearance: The cover may come into contact with your records. You can make adjustments to provide your records a little more clearance, but this is a nuisance, to say the least.
Flimsy needle: The needle isn’t the most durable. Without any kind of excessive force, the needle on this turntable tends to break after repeated use. Luckily replacement needles are fairly inexpensive.
Poor Bluetooth quality: When trying to stream music through the turntable, there seems to be a sharp downturn in the audio quality. It’s possible to encounter a lacking dynamic range and poor connection with the Bluetooth feature.
Without a doubt, one of the best-value portable record players on the market right now is the Crosley CR8005D-WS. The exterior is vinyl-wrapped and comes in a variety of colors. Like other portable players in its price range, it has built-in speakers, Bluetooth, 3 speeds, and RCA and headphone jacks. Additionally, Amazon at times offers these players second-hand for even cheaper.
There’s a reason why the Crosley CR8005D-WS is one of the best portable record players. The features available for the money can not be beaten!
Victrola 550BT-BK Vintage Portable Suitcase Record Player
- Three-speed belt-driven system
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Built-in speakers
- Headphone jack and RCA inputs
- Pitch and volume controls
- Extremely compact and lightweight: (2.69 pounds)
- Comes in a variety of color choices
All-inclusive setup: Built for portability and features that have everything you need for your vinyl records, this turntable allows you to take your music anywhere. It comes in a vintage suitcase with an easy carry handle, expanded connection options, and all-inclusive controls.
No extra equipment required: It only takes a few minutes to set up, and it takes a compact approach with modern technology that vinyl lovers are looking for. This is an excellent choice for beginner vinyl enthusiasts.
Cost-efficiency: The price is hard to beat as it sits a little under $50. Many turntables are well over $100 and don’t come with as near as many features as this one does. Between the portability, connection options, and all-inclusive controls, you get much more than what you pay for.
Wiring issues: The wiring in this portable record player can be rather unreliable. There are a few units that have experienced manufacturing defects.
Flimsy material: Considering the asking price, there are going to be some limitations with the material quality. It looks good but doesn’t carry any substantial durability, so keep that in mind when transporting it.
The Victrola VSC-550BT-BK is a solid portable record player. Not only does this suitcase-style record player typically costs under $60, but it also comes with a plethora of additional features to enhance your listening experience.
Play a variety of records at speeds of 33, 45, and 78 RPM. Connect headphones or external speakers through the various audio jacks, and also have the ability to stream music from your phone via Bluetooth connectivity.
Long story short, it’s definitely worth considering before making your final purchase.
Crosley CR6253B-BK Anthology Suitcase Turntable
Best Sound Quality
- Pre-mounted moving magnet cartridge: Audio-Technica AT-3600 stylus
- Tonearm counterweight
- Two built-in Stereo Speakers
- Three-speed drive system
- Bluetooth receiver
- Pitch and volume controls
- RCA and headphone jack outputs
- Adjustable pitch control
Moving magnet cartridge: With the help of the AT-3600 stylus, functional counterweight, and a pre-mounted moving magnet cartridge, you can get stellar sound quality with every record. The counterweight does wonders for tracking different grooves of each record.
Bluetooth compatibility: Stream music wirelessly with ease using the turntable Bluetooth features. Switch from playing your favorite vinyl records to your preferred streaming service and listen to any song you want.
Heavy tonearm: Although a little weight in the needle can be a good thing, the tonearm adds too much weight, but this can be mitigated with some minor adjustments.
Distortion: The volume can bring some unwanted distortion. This primary happens at a higher volume but can be jarring nonetheless.
When it comes to portable record players, none beat the Crosley CR6253B-BK. This record player has everything you could want out of a standard portable player, but also includes an improved AT-3600 stylus, counterweight, and larger speakers.
This system, while still “portable” is definitely intended for more traditional use in a living room or studio. The weight is a little higher than some other portable record players combining in at 10.69 pounds.
While you will pay more for this portable record player than others, the extra expense is made up for with the improvements in sound quality. Many of these features you won’t find until you start moving into some entry-level turntables.
ByronStatics Vinyl Record Player
- 3 speeds of playback available: 33, 45, 78
- 2 built-in speakers
- RCA and headphone jack outputs
- Volume controls
- Short circuit safety shutoff
- Compact and lightweight: 5.46 pounds
Stylish: You can’t ignore the stylish design of this turntable and the surrounding case. Offered in a teal or jet black color, you can go for something bright or a neutral color that’ll blend in with any decor.
Great price: Regardless of the pros and cons, you’re definitely getting a great price out of this turntable. It also makes all the included features all the more beneficial, from the portability to the overall efficiency of its features.
Decent sound quality: Based on the price, I’m quite happy with the turntable’s sound quality. It may not offer high-fidelity audio, but it’s pretty satisfactory for those who are new to vinyl records or don’t consider themselves an audiophile.
Cheap build: The turntable’s quality isn’t the greatest, so you want to put it in a safe place, and it may not hold up well to any damage. Even though the case is pretty decent in itself, the rest of the components are somewhat flimsy.
No auto-return: Most of the features on this turntable are manual, so you’ll have to set the needle yourself between every record. It’s advisable to place this turntable in an easy-to-reach area for this reason alone.
Skips: I encountered a few skips with this record player despite using higher quality vinyl.
The ByronStatics is one of the best portable record players simply because of its price. Often, you’ll find this player under the $50 mark. Though the feature-set is a little stripped-down, if your only concern is playing your vinyl records for as little investment as possible, this is the player for you.
The ByronStatics comes standard without Bluetooth, so you will need to purchase the upgraded model for a couple of dollars more if you wish to have that feature.
Numark PT01USB Portable Vinyl-Archiving Turntable
Best for Digitizing Vinyl
- Plays at 33, 45, and 78 RPM
- ±10% pitch control
- RCA and headphone jack outputs
- AC and battery powered
- USB output with gain adjustment for digitizing vinyl records
Great for DJs: With features such as pitch control, class-compliant USB connection, and perfect for vinyl archiving, DJs and audiophiles alike have plenty to enjoy. It’s a turntable that comes with more than one use case and is great for vinyl enthusiasts.
Portability: Considering its size alone, the turntable is sought after by many as it’s extremely portable. This makes it efficient for many different areas of your home and stays fairly incognito with its neutral design.
Fairly quiet: It may come with some unique features, but its output quality isn’t the strongest. If you’re looking for a substantial volume range, this isn’t exactly what this turntable is known for.
Rotation speed fluctuates: I encountered minor fluctuations in the turntable’s rotation speed, which can affected the listening experience.
Poor fidelity: While the turntable’s variety of features can be rather beneficial, the fidelity of the audio it produces doesn’t really hit the mark. It’s clear that it’s great for digitizing audio but not so much for an outright listening experience.
The Numark PT01USB is a unique device. While we wouldn’t consider it one of the best portable record players, it almost exists in its own category of players.
The Numark doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles the other portable players have, but it does have a few unique features:
Firstly, you can convert your vinyl records straight to your computer via USB. Create MP3 files of your favorite records to have on all your devices!
Second, the Numark PT01USB actually comes equipped with battery power capability, meaning you can literally take this portable record player anywhere and still listen to your record collection.
While the Numark PT01USB is a very niche-use portable record player, it could be very valuable for someone who enjoys its unique features.
What to consider when buying a portable record player
So you’ve gone through our list of best portable record players and are hopefully ready to make the decision. However, there are a few things to consider before making your purchase.
You’ll want to consider:
Many portable record players get a bad reputation for damaging records due to sometimes poorly designed cartridges. It’s important to consider the build quality of the record players so that this is less likely to happen.
While having a full range of features at an affordable price is great, you want to be sure you’re not going to be paying for the money you saved elsewhere.
Sometimes the word “portable” can be deceiving. While most portable record players have handles and are relatively light and easy to move, that doesn’t always mean that you can play records without being plugged in.
Some manufacturers have caught onto this and installed batteries into their devices, but many have not. If this is something important to you, make sure you check before clicking the purchase button.
While portable record players often look like retro turntables, the features they include are far from vintage. We suggest taking a look at many of the options available on the market today to decide which features are most important to you.
Are you someone that likes to plug in an external aux device? Or maybe you want precise control over the speeds and pitch your records are playing at? These are all things to consider before buying a portable record player. All-in-one record player systems include many of these features and more.
While portable record players aren’t nearly as upgradable as turntables, they still provide you a way to enjoy listening to your record collection. Because of this, there are always upgrade paths you can take with a record player to make the listening experience more enjoyable.
Plugging in external speakers, upgrading the cartridge, or even switching out cables are all ways of improving the quality of your portable record player. If this is an avenue you want to explore, you need to be sure the stock player has the ability to support your modifications.
Picking the best portable record player – final thoughts
Finding the best record player is all about personal preference. We hope this guide was useful and helps you make an informed decision.
If after reading this you feel like you’d like something more in the realm of a turntable, we do have an entry-level turntable buyer’s guide you can take a look at.
Consider your existing collection and where you want to take your vinyl hobby in the future. Let your aspirations and budget decide you you get a record player or a more sophisticated turntable. Ultimately, it’s about the music you’re listening to. We hope you found this guide helpful!
Lead Editor / Owner
After beginning his career in the video and audio recording industry, Andrew started HiFi Hippo to share his knowledge and passion for vinyl and vintage audio with other readers.