Xenta Briefcase Vinyl Turntable

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The resurgence of support for vinyl records has been rather a surprise in recent years. Physical sales of music were on a rapid decline and it looked like mp3s and streaming were the future. Thank God for hipsters, eh?

All these new vinyl purchasers (and yes, that includes this writer) mean a renewed interest in record players. The Xenta Briefcase vinyl turntable is one such offering - the description on Ebuyer making light of the fact that ‘anything retro is popular these days’. That’s all well and good but the other point of buying vinyl is that it sounds better than music played digitally - at least, that’s what many claim. What better way to test the Xenta Briefcase turntable with some choice game soundtracks - this is the Gaming section after all.

Initial impressions are mixed. The player is very convenient in size - compact and light enough that it is certainly portable, being about as big as an average briefcase. It’s so compact that playing a 33RPM record sees it splay over the edges. It’s remarkable that it all fits into the space, yes, but it does raise the question as to why you’d need it to be portable in the first place. Records aren’t the easiest thing to transport in bulk and if you need to take a player somewhere then more questions are raised as to why the place has records but no player. It’s all a little bizarre.

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Nevermind. How does it sound and feel? Build quality is to be expected given the budget price of under £50. The deck itself is flimsy, bending at the touch. There isn’t a protective layer on the turntable itself, your records slightly raised by three small rubber pads. There’s a switch that sets it between 33, 45 and 78RPM records and one to enable auto-off. Both are simple, budget affairs as is the power/volume knob - a little resistance with that on the first few uses but otherwise serviceable.

The unit has stereo inbuilt speakers clocking out at 2.5w per speaker - not really the audio quality you’d want if you’re looking for the depth of vinyl. A far better option is the 3.5mm headphone jack (plug it into a decent set of speakers) or the phono output at the reverse of the machine, where the power adapter is connected. The power adapter and relevant cables are included in the set, so at least you don’t need to search for these.

As for the sound quality - once beyond the thrill of playing from the grandaddy of physical media it soon loses the sheen. Having played the same albums on a rebuilt transcriptor turntable this is a serious downgrade. Records sound fine to begin with but the sound distorts as the needle approaches the centre. There’s a horrible thing with records - if the needle and arm isn’t great quality you run the serious risk of damaging the record itself. Unfortunately, after playing a few on the turntable it felt it might possibly be doing that - one 45 even stopped before the end of the track as the arm reached its limit.

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That’s not to say that it doesn’t do the job. For the price this is perfect for younger listeners getting into vinyl - something that can only be encouraged.There is a fascination to the ritual of placing the disc on the deck, lowering the needle and hearing it come to life. With a decent set of auxiliary speakers this is more than worth it if records are a curiosity or you’re new to collecting. Audiophiles will need to steer clear but that was probably evident given the affordable price.

So, it’s not a great player at all but that doesn’t mean it’s a definite no. This would make for a fantastic present for a son or daughter just getting into music - throw in some all time classic records too and it could well start them on a lifelong appreciation of music. Just don’t go putting that limited run, mint album on there - save that for something a bit more special.

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