One of the earliest articles on this site listed the best record players on the market.
I wrote the original version of that almost 8 years ago.
In all that time, I never thought to write one listing the worst record players.
The truth is: it’s hard to write.
There are so many terrible turntables that rarely get sold and few even know about.
I decided to ignore those and only consider models that actually get a lot of sales.
Keep reading for my list of the worst turntables that are actually popular. A lot of people end up buying these stinkers. Of course, they do leave reviews and those are full of buyer’s remorse!
Worst Record Players
The turntables below are all pretty bad. That said, you will see some of them listed as recommendations in other articles on this site. What gives?
There are certain types of turntables that are just never good. Like suitcase players. But they do serve a specific purpose. If a suitcase player is what you want, then I can recommend some of the below models.
They are some of the best, when compared to other suitcase players (those others are not listed here, because they are not popular, while the ones below are). But when compared to record players in general, they just don’t stack up.
Victrola 3-in-1 Bluetooth Suitcase Turntable
The Victrola 3-in-1 Bluetooth Suitcase Turntable is a popular record player with a stylish design, but many online reviews suggest that it is not the best choice. And it’s not just reviews online.
I have never seen a suitcase style player that is any good. There is a reason no one who values their vinyl records would ever play them on a suitcase player. Let’s take a look at some of the most common complaints about this specific suitcase turntable.
- Poor sound quality: The built-in speakers on the Victrola 3-in-1 are low-quality, and the sound is tinny and distorted. This is especially true at higher volumes.
- Cheap construction: The Victrola 3-in-1 is made from lightweight plastic, which feels flimsy and cheap. This lack of durability can lead to problems with the turntable skipping, or even breaking down completely, and people have also complained about the finish peeling off almost immediately.
- Damage to records: Many users have reported that the Victrola 3-in-1 has damaged their records. This is likely due to the fact that the turntable has a high tracking force, which can cause the needle to dig into the grooves of the record and cause damage to it. Plus, the needle is cheap.
- Lack of features: The Victrola 3-in-1 has a very basic set of features. It does not have a counterweight or anti-skate adjustment, and it also does not have a built-in preamp, so you will need to use an external one if you want to connect the turntable to your speakers.
On a more positive note, people did mention that the Victrola 3-in-1 is relatively affordable and easy to set up and use. It also features Bluetooth connectivity, so you can stream music from your smartphone or other Bluetooth-enabled device.
However, you can not connect to Bluetooth speakers. The Bluetooth is incoming only, not outgoing. Another plus for many is that this model is available in a range of colors.
Crosley Cruiser Turntable
The Crosley Cruiser Turntable is another popular offering that has not been very well received by online reviewers or by myself. I tried one when writing my article on the best portable players.
The Cruiser ranks high against other suitcase models, but is bad when compared to real record players. Online reviews often mention similar problems to those encountered with the Victrola 3-in-1 and that was my experience, too.
- Poor sound quality: The Crosley Cruiser Turntable’s poor sound quality is often mentioned, and this is due to the cheap built-in speakers, the high tracking force, and the lack of an adjustable tonearm.
- Cheap construction: The Crosley Cruiser Turntable is made from inexpensive materials, such as plastic, which makes it feel flimsy and cheap. The lower-quality build has not been praised for its durability.
- Damage to records: Similar to the previous entry, the Crosley Cruiser Turntable also has with a tracking force that is too high for delicate vinyl and a dirt cheap stylus. Over time, this can lead to permanent damage to your records.
The Crosley Cruiser Turntable’s lack of features was also mentioned a few times, but people did note that they are affordable, portable, and look good.
Victrola Brighton Turntable
The Victrola Brighton features a sleek, classic design, yet it has attracted similar reviews to the company’s 3-in-1 Bluetooth Suitcase Turntable.
Both the Victrola Brighton Turntable and the 3-in-1 Bluetooth Suitcase Turntable are budget-friendly turntables, but they have been slated for their poor sound quality and cheap construction.
Of the two, the Victrola Brighton Turntable is generally considered to be even worse than the suitcase record player, for the following reasons:
- The Victrola Brighton Turntable has a higher tracking force, which means that the needle is even more likely to dig into the grooves of your records, which can cause even more damage over time.
- The Brighton Turntable also does not have built-in speakers. This means that you will need to purchase and connect external speakers, which will add to the overall cost of your sound system.
Victrola Acrylic Bluetooth Turntable
Online reviews for the Victrola Acrylic Bluetooth Turntable are littered with similar phrases to reviews of the company’s two aforementioned models: its poor sound quality and cheap build are often mentioned.
Reviewers have complained that the sound is tinny, distorted, and lacks bass, and have also noted the cheap-feeling, lightweight build. The Victrola Acrylic Turntable is built from similar low-quality materials, which some have noted seems to contribute to the turntable skipping occasionally.
The Victrola Acrylic Bluetooth Turntable also has a very basic set of features. It does not have a built-in preamp, so you will need to use an external one if you want to connect the turntable to your speakers.
Compared to the Victrola 3-in-1 Bluetooth Suitcase Turntable, the Acrylic Bluetooth Turntable has similar sound quality, but it is made from cheaper materials and has fewer features.
Compared to the Victrola Brighton Turntable, the Acrylic Bluetooth Turntable has slightly better sound quality, but its cheaper construction lets it down.
Jensen JTA 470 Professional
The Jensen JTA 470 Professional is another budget-friendly turntable, but it also attracts its fair share of negative reviews. It has poor sound quality, a cheap-feeling construction, and is also prone to damaging records over time.
The most commonly reported problems that people have had with the Jensen JTA 470 Professional include cheap and tinny built-in speakers and that it feels flimsy and poorly constructed. Some people have even reported that their turntable arrived with defective parts, such as a warped tonearm or a damaged cartridge.
The tracking force on the Jensen JTA 470 Professional is too high, similar to other models in this category, which will cause the needle to dig into the grooves of your records and damage them as time goes by.
Crosley C3 Turntable
The Crosley C3 turntable is a popular entry-level turntable, but it has been described as a trap for beginner vinyl junkies. It is affordable and easy to use, but it also has a poor sound quality, the construction is cheap, and it can also damage your records in a similar way to the others.
While the price and ease of use were mentioned as positives, negative comments outweigh the positive ones. A quick glance at online reviews reveals negative comments about its sound quality and construction quality, and there are also reviews claiming the product didn’t work when it arrived.
However, the Crosely C3 still does a good job at being a basic, entry-level turntable due to a couple of positives. First, it is belt-driven with a stable motor, and the speed settings are right on the mark.
It also garnered positive comments for the inclusion of a built-in preamp and the ability to connect to your amp via RCA cables for older stereo equipment.
Turntables To Avoid: Final Thoughts
There you have it: the worst record players. Do you have experience with models that are even worse? I believe it. I even have experience with worse ones myself. But those weren’t popular.
As mentioned, I decided to limit myself to the worst turntables that actually get a lot of sales. I figured that way, I would have a much better chance of actually helping some people with this article.