Collectively, turntables managed to be heard above the noise of giant, 8K, rollable TVs and inevitable mass of audio smart home (the most ludicrous being a $7000 Alexa toilet) at CES.
Household hi-fi favourites Technics, Audio Technica and Cambridge Audio came armed with new and highly-anticipated record spinners at the show, clocking glances with wooden designs, ‘world’s first’ features and automatic cult status, while Sony expanded its budget line and Crosley made show attendees go "aww" with a mini (3in) turntable.
Cambridge Audio Alva TT
We’ll alleviate your anticipation of the ‘world’s first’ we are referring to. Cambridge’s Alva TT (£1500, due in April) is by no means the first deck to offer Bluetooth for streaming vinyl to headphones or speakers (it's a popular inclusion these days), but it is the first to support the aptX HD Bluetooth codec, which allows for streaming up to 24-bit/48kHz wirelessly to compatible devices.
Designed and built in-house, and with a solid aluminium aesthetic that matches the brand’s flagship hi-fi Edge components, its easy-to-set-up direct drive design is complemented by a built-in phono stage, single piece tonearm and Cambridge-designed moving coil cartridge.
Sony's all-new PS-LX310BT also supports Bluetooth streaming (see, we told you it was a popular feature), but we can expect more modest results from the €200 deck.
A wired option is available, of course, and a built-in phono stage means owners can hook it up straight into an amplifier or pair of active speakers. Sony has impressed us of late with its budget offering, so we've high hopes this new addition will fit that form and be worthy of 'My First Turntable' status.
Technics SL-1200/SL-1210 MK7
Aside from the two model numbers (the former is for the US and Japan, the other for UK and EU), there’s nothing confusing about Technics’ upcoming turntable. The SL-1210 MK7 – the company’s first DJ deck in nine years – has heritage Technics design and engineering through and through.
The best news? It will go on sale in the summer for £899, making it markedly more affordable than the turntables Technics has released in the three years since its revival. For the full down low, read our hands-on review.
Audio Technica AT-LP120XUSB
It’d be unfair to call this Audio Technica a knock-off of the Technics ‘look’, but it does bare an obvious resemblance. Which is great news for those after an iconic-looking DJ deck but can’t shell out almost a grand for one.
The AT-LP120XUSB is only £245 and has had quite the makeover from its predecessor (the established AT-120USB). In addition to DJ features (stylus-type target LED and reverse playback), there’s a special feature (and the clue is in the name) a USB output for recording vinyl to digital files.
Audio Technica AT-LPW40WN (and the rest)
Those whose tactile ambitions on a turntable extend to simply laying a vinyl and lowering the stylus may want to consider another of the Japanese brand’s all-new decks, of which an impressive total of seven were announced at CES. Kudos to Audio Technica’s design team.
The AT-LPW40WN (£299) is in our books the most desirable of the lot, with a gorgeous dark walnut wood design, built-in phono preamplifier, carbon fibre tonearm and Audio Technica’s VM95E moving magnet cartridge.
The SL-1210 MK7 may have stolen the headlines for its DJ design and bold pricing, but Technics fans after a more traditional turntable may be more interested in another updated classic deck, the SL-1500C. Again, it’s very Technics, with a familiar single-rotor, coreless direct drive motor, S-shape tonearm and a two-layer structure combining deadened rubber and aluminium.
A built-in phono stage and Ortofon 2M Red cartridge complete the spec sheet, and while pricing is yet to be confirmed, Technics says it’ll be more affordable than its previously launched decks.
In past years, Crosley – famed for its budget, suitcase-style turntables – has celebrated Record Store Day with the launch of a special turntable. For the annual April event we’ve had Disney and Star Wars designs in 2017 and 2018 respectively. And for 2019 the unofficial inspiration appears to have been The Borrowers.
Crosley has announced a mini, 3in turntable (naw) that can be powered with batteries or via USB. It almost looks like a miniaturised version of the DJ decks above with its silver base and pitch control slider (sorry Technics and Audio Technica), but needless to say it’s a lot cheaper at $70.