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A turntable without a spinning platter, is this necessary?

The $300 Love turntable does away with the platter and tonearm, and it has Bluetooth. What could go wrong?

Steve Guttenberg
Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Stereophile.
Steve Guttenberg
2 min read
Love turntable

There's a buzz surrounding the Love turntable -- I suppose high-tech novelty is its big draw -- so I watched the video and laughed my evil laugh.

The copy proudly proclaims, "Love completely redefines the record player by keeping the record stationary while preserving the classic sound we've grown accustomed to," but platterless, even turntable-free LP playback isn't new.

Way back in 2009 I made a CNET video (below) demonstrating the Vinyl Killer, aka the Soundwagon, a toy that played LPs. The Soundwagon literally rode the grooves of a stationary LP and played music over its built-in speaker. It sounded pretty terrible, but it looked cool running circles around my LPs. Soundwagons are no longer made, but they're easy enough to find on eBay.

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The Love turntable

Love turntable

The Soundwagon was a toy, but the Love aims higher at $299 on Kickstarter. I have to admit it looks slick as it spins counterclockwise on a still record. It can transmit sound via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, and be controlled by your smartphone to to play records, skip and repeat tracks, change the volume and even select different speeds.

I haven't heard the Love, so I can't comment on its sound, but I have doubts about it. For one thing it converts your LP sound to digital, and especially via Bluetooth that can really hurt the sound quality compared with a real analog output.

The Love weighs 1 pound, way more than a typical stylus with a tracking force of 1 gram. I'm not sure how much of Love's weight actually bears down on the record, but I'm still concerned about having something that heavy moving across its delicate surfaces.

I say let vinyl be vinyl, and enjoy it in a pure analog form, on a real turntable. The Audio-Technica AT LP60 turntable sells for $99, and I'd bet it would blow away the Love turntable's sound. Granted, it doesn't look nearly as cool as the Love, and the AT LP60 doesn't have Bluetooth, but that's not what vinyl is here for. Enjoy it in all of its analog glory, and if you want to stream your tunes, sure, do that with digital music.

My biggest gripe, however, is that the Love seems expensive for what it is: a novelty turntable.

Watch this: How to play an LP without a turntable

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