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What Is a Portable Turntable?

By Alex Newth
Updated May 17, 2024
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Modern portable turntable units are used to play vinyl records on a much smaller platform and can typically record the audio to a computer or MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 (MP3) player. For the purpose of being portable, these units are much smaller than full-size turntables and, while the audio may be weaker, can still play vinyl records effectively. Most portable turntable units use batteries to allow users to go anywhere with the unit, but some have a wall-charger or connect exclusively to a computer. Most portable turntables connect to a computer or MP3 player, so a universal serial bus (USB) port is included with these units.

As the name implies, a portable turntable is made to be small and easily moved. This means both the entire unit, and the speaker, are much smaller than a full-size turntable. A smaller speaker means the turntable will not be able to play very loudly but can still be used for a small room or party. To increase the sound, most portable turntables can be connected to a larger speaker. Most portable turntables are able to use any size vinyl.

Being portable and mobile, these turntables often use battery power. This allows users to go anywhere with the unit without having to worry about plugging the portable turntable into a wall. Some units also offer a wall-charger for when one is available, and others connect to — and are powered by — a computer. Most units come with a dust cover to protect the record and to keep dust from getting into the turntable, and have a handle to easily carry the portable turntable.

The setup time with a smaller turntable is much less than that of a full-size turntable. Full-size turntables need to be connected to a speaker, need a power source and require many other steps to get the turntable functioning. A portable turntable just needs to be turned on to work.

Portable turntables often offer a feature that allows users to record songs from a vinyl record onto an MP3 player or a computer’s hard drive. To do this, a USB port is included on the portable turntable. The computer or MP3 player is then connected to the turntable, the vinyl plays and the device picks up a recording. Some portable turntables also allow music from the computer or MP3 player to be played through the turntable.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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