Connecting a turntable to a wireless speaker is a thing. I’m not entirely certain why it’s a thing—to me, converting that analog signal to digital then compressing it kind of defeats the whole warmth of vinyl audio argument—but then again, there are a lot of people these days that never bothered buying a stereo system with a pre-amp and phono input. Wireless speakers are the default option now, and many of those lack the necessary connectivity to plug in a turntable.
With the resurgent popularity of vinyl, I suppose it’s only natural that the two would meet. And getting a turntable to connect wirelessly to a portable speaker that you can move around can be surprisingly complicated. For an example of the lengths sometimes required to get everything working, check out the project GeekDad publisher Ken Denmead undertook a few years back.
808 Audio sent me their new TT100BK Wireless Streaming Turntable to try out. It not only makes wireless connectivity a piece of cake, it also offers another feature that’s huge these days: an integrated LED light show.
The TT100BK has a built-in pre-amp, and includes both RCA cables and a 3.5mm AUX cable. So you can connect it to a stereo system using old-school cables. But it also incorporates built-in Bluetooth that should work with any Bluetooth speaker. The process is relatively simple: power on the turntable, hit the Bluetooth button, bring your speaker close (first making sure it isn’t currently connected to another device), and wait for the indicator light to turn blue. After that first connection, the turntable automatically pairs with the last speaker it connected to.
I tried it with several speakers (UE Megaboom and Libratone ZIPP) and the connectivity is solid, although it’s limited to Bluetooth range (30 feet or less), so your streaming options may be limited depending on where the turntable is physically located. I was able to wander several rooms away from the turntable before the audio dropped. And of course, you’ll still need to run back to the room the turntable is in every 20 minutes or so to flip the record.
As a turntable, the TT100BK is a basic entry-level system. There are no adjustments to tracking force or anti-skate for the cartridge (which arrives pre-mounted). The stylus is replaceable, but I don’t believe you can upgrade it or the cartridge—at least not easily. The belt-drive motor offers three-speed support, and there’s a silicon platter to reduce resonance. There’s an auto-stop at the end of a record and an included 45 adapter. Instead of a cueing lever, there’s a tonearm button, and on my review unit, it seemed spring-loaded. It took a careful hand and a little practice to drop the needle without a bounce.
Played through a decent Bluetooth speaker, the audio was actually surprisingly good. All things considered, the setup should be fine for casual use, but I would probably think twice about playing my collectible vinyl on it.
In many ways, the star of the show was the LED light show. 808 Audio has developed considerable expertise in LED lighting (the Hex Light speaker from 808 Audio I reviewed last summer was my initial introduction), and I think the TT100BK Wireless Streaming Turntable is its crowning achievement.
There are multi-color LEDs embedded in the platter and beneath the turntable, with 10 different modes to choose from. And this can get pretty spectacular, especially in a dimly-lit room. Figuring out that the Bluetooth speaker I was holding up was actually playing a record was a “cool” moment for many visitors. But the light show put on by that 808 turntable was what really drew attention.
There are lots of entry-level turntables to choose from that are great for casually listening to records. But not many that include built-in Bluetooth. And none that I know of that turn a record listening session into a rave the way the 808’s new turntable does.
The TT100BK Wireless Streaming Turntable is priced at $149.99 and is coming soon from 808 Audio.
Note: Unlike some turntables with an integrated pre-amp, you can’t switch the TT100BK’s on or off. It’s always on. That means you can’t connect this turntable to a receiver with a labeled PHONO input–that would be double amplifying the signal and would likely not end well for your receiver, speakers, or ears…
Disclosure: 808 Audio provided a sample turntable but had no editorial input into this review.