There is something inherently nostalgic about listening to records rather than streaming digital tracks. And when it comes to playing those vinyl records, the nostalgic factor gets dialed up to 11 when you use a record player built into a wooden cabinet. No stereo components, no speakers, no wires—just a single, relatively compact unit. The problem with this form factor (especially in modern offerings) is quality. The wood is likely pressboard, the record player an inexpensive unit with a stylus that risks damaging your vinyl collection, and speakers that sound tinny at best. Enter the +RECORD PLAYER from +AUDIO.
One of the key selling points of the +RECORD PLAYER is its use of premium components throughout.
The heart of the system is a Pro-Ject Debut III, a two-speed turntable with electronic speed selection. +AUDIO equips it with an Ortofon OM10 cartridge, which is an excellent choice and a cartridge I’ve found to also be very forgiving with used vinyl. The turntable’s signal passes through a low noise two-stage RIAA preamplifier that uses passive equalization for superior audio quality.
The turntable sits atop a base concealing an enclosure that’s been carefully engineered to prevent acoustic feedback from the speakers from impacting record playback. This prevents vibration from being picked up by the stylus, even with the volume cranked up. The enclosure houses a four-speaker array composed of custom drivers: two high-excursion 3.5-inch aluminum cone woofers and a pair of 1-inch soft-dome tweeters. They’re driven by Class D amplifiers that put out a total of 100W of power. Advanced DSPs contour the sound and support multiple listening modes: mono, stereo, and a room-filling wide mode.
Also on tap are a wide range of inputs and outputs, including Line input, Line pre-output, USB, AUX input, and Optical input. This opens up many options. For example, you can connect your TV to the +RECORD PLAYER or bypass the internal speakers to output to a pair of powered external speakers.
The +RECORD PLAYER doesn’t look anything like a typical cabinet-style, all-in-one record player. It’s much sleeker and more modern. The base is primarily wraparound cloth covering the drivers. There is a wide band of real walnut veneer with aluminum accents. On the front are a small display panel with a few physical buttons for power, volume, sound mode, and source. Red LEDs show the volume level when adjusted. +AUDIO also includes a remote control so you can adjust volume and sources from across the room.
At 17.6 x 13.9 inches, the footprint of the +RECORD PLAYER is roughly the same as a turntable. That compact size (compared to a turntable, speakers, and amplifier) and all-in-one form factor make it ideal for use in small spaces.
It’s also worth noting that instead of the industry-standard 12-month coverage, the +RECORD PLAYER is covered by a two-year warranty.
You simply can’t have a stereo system these days that doesn’t offer support for streaming music, even one built around a turntable. The +RECORD PLAYER offers Bluetooth for easy streaming from mobile devices. It sounds okay. It would be great compared to most portable wireless speakers, but in comparison to the sound quality when playing records, it’s just not as good.
There’s no integrated Wi-Fi streaming, however, +AUDIO made it easy to add this capability with the service of your choice thanks to Line In and USB. That makes it easy to connect (and power) a Google Chromecast or Amazon Echo Dot. I plugged in an Apple Airport Express for high-quality Apple AirPLay streaming audio, and it sounds great—far superior to the integrated Bluetooth output.
I tested the +RECORD PLAYER on the main floor of our house. It’s an open concept space encompassing a dining area, living room, and kitchen. Setting up a turntable here has always been a challenge because of limited cabinet room, the visibility of wires, and the difficulty in adjusting speaker placement so music sounds its best no matter where you are in the space.
The sound the system produced by playing records was fantastic, especially in Wide mode, which does a great job of simulating a setup with multiple speakers spaced far apart. It gets plenty loud enough to fill that floor with no distortion. There is no adjustment for bass or treble, but I didn’t miss that at all, despite a diverse range of genres being played: classic rock, folk, new wave, and even Christmas music. Outside of ensuring there was some space on either side of the unit to prevent blocking the speakers, there was no worry about optimizing placement for ideal sound.
Even setup was easy. The turntable is plugged into the base, then nests in a housing made to accept its feet. The belt and platter are installed next. The cartridge is pre-mounted and factory adjusted, leaving tonearm balancing and anti-skate levels to be set. Then, slip the clear plastic cover into the pre-mounted hinges. Assembly does not require tools or technical expertise, clear instructions are provided, and it should take maybe 20 to 30 minutes.
In terms of no-fuss, premium-quality sound from a record player, it doesn’t get much better.
At current exchange rates, the +RECORD PLAYER goes for nearly $1,340. That sounds expensive, and it’s definitely not something you buy on impulse. However, if you enjoy records and want a high-quality listening setup that doesn’t require assembling a complementary collection of stereo components along with a new turntable, the +RECORD PLAYER is a great option. The cost of a new amplifier (and possibly a pre-amp as well), speakers, and a turntable with a high-quality cartridge could easily set you back more, which puts that price in some perspective.
In addition, the +RECORD PLAYER saves considerably on space compared to a component system, and its modern design with premium wood and aluminum finish makes it something you’ll want to have on display. And the +RECORD PLAYER doesn’t require any technical expertise or audio optimization to set up. No hiding cables, and no fussing with speaker placement to get the best sound—just plug it in, cue a record, and enjoy.
Disclosure: +AUDIO provided a +RECORD PLAYER for evaluation but had no input into this review.
This post was last modified on December 27, 2019 4:30 pm
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