Gearbox Records' new MkII record player: cutting-edge tech with vintage sound?

New Gearbox Records MKII record player
(Image credit: Gearbox Records)

Someone wise once said, "We don't run out of second chances – we only run out of time". Deep. Constructed in partnership with Austrian turntable specialist, Pro-Ject Audio, Gearbox Records has today released the Automatic MkII hi-fi turntable – the firm's second shot at a Bluetooth-meets-analogue, retro-chic record player.

Citing Dieter Rams’ iconic 1955 Braun PC 3 SV record player as its chief design influence (which also inspired Jonny Ive’s first Apple iPod), the compact and transparent aesthetic was a feature of the original Gearbox Automatic deck. While that particular model didn't move us sonically, in the spirit of second chances, there are a few updates onboard here which may well improve things. 

A new belt drive promises improved stability and uprated electronics should permit greater audio fidelity. There's also a new app for a slicker user experience. Gearbox Records says the Automatic MkII hi-fi turntable is the perfect plug-and-play deck for both vinyl novices and advanced-level disc-spinners.

There's still that tempting Bluetooth transmitter for streaming your vinyl wirelessly plus the integrated music-recognition tech to add tracks from your record collection to your Spotify playlist with the swipe of a finger. Smart.

The built-in valve phono stage means you can plug the MkII turntable straight into any line input and enjoy it right from the box, because it also comes with the Ortofon OM10 moving magnet cartridge pre-fitted to Pro-Ject's ultra-low-mass tonearm.

The Gearbox Automatic MkII will cost £549 from Amazon or London’s Spiritland Headphone Bar when it goes on sale in October. And here's a novel idea for UK readers: the Spiritand shop at 3 New Burlington Street (W1S 2JF) is giving music lovers the opportunity to test-drive the turntable, with Gearbox reimbursing up to £50 of the travel expenses for anyone who purchases an MkII. Contact Spiritland for more details and to book your spot.


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Becky has been a full-time staff writer at What Hi-Fi? since March 2019. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, she freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 20-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance is of course tethered to a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo, This is Cabaret and The Stage. When not writing, she dances, spins in the air, drinks coffee, watches football or surfs in Cornwall with her other half – a football writer whose talent knows no bounds.