According to the company's own literature, the Roberts RT200 turntable is an “intuitive set-up for easy listening”; really, we couldn’t have put it better ourselves.
If that sounds a little scathing, it isn’t meant to be. The three-star rating reflects a sonic performance that is quite far from par for hi-fi at this price, but as an easy-listening, plug-in-and-play deck, the RT200 could be a lot worse.
For a start, the RT200 has everything you could ask from a first-time turntable, including a built-in phono stage that means you could even plug it straight into one of Roberts’s Award-winning radios. Though that isn't something we could recommend, being hi-fi purists, it is a reality that could suit this deck quite well.
The RT200 is direct drive, so no need to worry about fiddling with belts or manual speed changes – in fact, it is semi-automatic, so there’s no need to worry about much at all – and its carbon-fibre tonearm, with upgraded bearings from the company’s last deck, is a nod to Roberts’s intention to make this turntable both high quality and reasonably unintimidating.
That blend of quality and simplicity is evident too in the budget Audio-Technica cartridge (pre-mounted on a headshell), the plug-and-screw application of which is one of the few things you will need to do in order to get the RT200 running. After that, it is really just the platter and counterweight that need to be added.
The RT200 certainly looks the part. Its brushed metal front and wood veneer elevate it aesthetically beyond the audio-only focus of many of its competitors at this price; consider how much you’ll be interacting with your turntable and its looks become only more important.
That’s backed by decent build quality, too. You won’t be fooled into thinking you’ve spent twice as much as you actually have on this deck, but it’s unlikely many will be disappointed by it either.
And whether you’ll be disappointed by how the RT200 sounds depends really on where you set your expectations. By creating a deck in this area of the market, Roberts is going up against some serious competition from highly-established turntable manufacturers.
The performance is confused, to the point that, through a class-leading mid-range system, you might end up trying to find the records that will sound most coherent rather than finding out how the Roberts treats your favourites.
Poor dynamic expression can leave your music sounding disinterested, lacking any sign of impetus, and without the human qualities that you’d often expect having spent a few hundred quid on a turntable.
It’s not quite a complete mess, but even before pitting it against direct competition, we quickly come to realise that the RT200 is not operating at the levels it would need to for us to recommend you buy it.
That doesn’t mean it is completely devoid of talent, nor is it without a place in the market. Despite its flaws, the RT200 is actually an easy listen as long as you temper your expectations.
The balance is good, with no hard or sharp edges, and there’s decent weight to the sound that gives a pleasant roundness to the midrange. In a word, it’s smooth – not without detail, but smooth all the same.
Not assaulting our ears is not enough to gain the RT200 four stars, but it may be enough for those who simply want a good looking, easy to use first deck. Combine this fuss-free presentation with the easy set-up and built-in phono stage, and it could be an ideal proposition for those who just want to plug it into a wireless speaker, too.
Of course, you can get the Audio-Technica AT-LP5x deck with built-in phono stage for the same price and with hugely improved sound quality. But it’d be wilful of us to suggest the AT-LP5x matches this Roberts as a piece of lifestyle tech as much as it is an audio component.
Essentially, if your heart was already set on taking home this Roberts turntable, you probably still will. And that is something we could completely understand. If you’re looking for a hi-fi turntable, however, this is definitely not it.
- Sound 3
- Features 5
- Build 4
Read our Rega Planar 1 review
Read our Audio-Technica AT-LP5x review