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This crazy Bluetooth speaker turntable system actually works

The +Audio’s The+Record Player manages to combine a record player and Bluetooth speaker in a single box, and the Audiophiliac even liked the sound.

The+Record Player 

I first heard about The+Record Player when it was a Kickstarter project, and thought this one-piece Bluetooth speaker and turntable was a silly idea. Think about it: Turntables have to be isolated from external vibration to sound their best, and speakers make sound with vibrating woofers and dome tweeters. So how could you mate a speaker with a turntable? 

Answer: +Audio's engineer Bob Hazelwood is a clever guy and he made it work with extensive internal cabinet bracing and anti-vibration techniques. Hazelwood has been in the audio business for 35 years and previously worked at JBL and Cambridge SoundWorks.

Hearing is believing

I auditioned The+Record Player at the New York Audio Show last weekend at the Park Lane Hotel, and as they say the proof is in the listening. Hazelwood explained that his single-speaker system's side-mounted 3.5-inch woofers don't just cancel a lot of the cabinet's internal vibration. They also project sound laterally so it bounces off the room's side walls to produce stereo sound. The+Record Player also has a pair of front-mounted 1-inch dome tweeters. The system's left and right channels are internally bi-amplified with 35-watt amps for the woofers, and 15-watt amps for the tweeters.

The+Record Player at the New York Audio Show

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The+Record Player's sound was warm and inviting, and the stereo spread was convincing enough I didn't at first notice all the sound was coming from The+Record Player cabinet. Nice!

System connectivity runs to Bluetooth, one optical and one USB digital input, and one USB digital output. There's also a set of stereo RCA analog inputs, and stereo outputs that can be used to drive separate stereo speakers or a subwoofer.  

The belt-drive turntable is built by Pro-Ject, a well-known supplier of audiophile-grade products. The+Record Player is being offered with two different Pro-Ject turntables, one with an aluminum tonearm fitted with an Ortofon OM10 phono cartridge, and an upgraded The+Record Player Carbon Edition with a carbon fiber tonearm and an Ortofon 2M Red cartridge. Both models have built-in phono preamplifiers, and both The+Record Players are available with Maple or Walnut trim. Measurements run 8.5x17.6x13.9 inches.

I like The+Record Player for what it is: A compact all-in-one system. But you can buy a much better sounding component system for a lot less money. For example I'd go for the $250 Fluance RT81 turntable, $149 Yamaha R-S202 stereo receiver, and ELAC Debut B6 speakers for $280 per pair. Sure, that system would take up more space and have more wires, but if you're itching to spin LPs and space is limited The+Record Player is a viable option.

The+Record Player will start shipping in January 2018, and there's now an introductory price of $999 for the model with the standard aluminum tonearm. That price will jump to $1,199 next year. The+Record Player Carbon Edition price is $1,399.

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