Deezer and Spotify give us access to millions of tracks, within easy reach and in high quality. But the charm of objects sometimes takes over. This is how vinyl never really left the musical universe. And we can even consider that they are coming back into fashion. Between the aesthetics of the turntable in a pretty interior, and the charm of the sound, you want to have one at home.
Yes, except that good quality equipment starts around 300 euros. Added to this is the fairly high price of vinyl (20 euros grand minimum in nine). To get started, we can therefore be tempted by turntables that take the form of suitcases, at least those with integrated speakers. These are the cheapest on the market, systematically at less than 100 euros and from little-known brands.
We started testing one of them: the Swingson OnStage BT+, sold at Fnac for €70. It exists today in four colors: black, grey, blue, red. As we quite like the chic of the blue one, our hearts swayed towards her. But when you buy a turntable, it’s not just the looks that count… far from it. So, is it really worth it at this low price?
The characteristics of the Swingson turntable
The Swingstone comes with these features:
- Records: 33 rpm, 45 rpm, 78 rpm (adapter supplied for 78).
- Sorties : jack, RCA ou Bluetooth
- Incoming and outgoing Bluetooth connection
- Prise jack
- Encoding of vinyls in MP3 on USB key
- Dimensions : 35 x 25,5 x 11,8 cm
- Built-in speaker (2 outputs)
Operation is simple
The use is truly turnkey, and even if you have never had vinyl before, you will know how to use this product without any problem. Remember to use the lever to raise the arm then lower it on the record: this method is safer for vinyl, especially with low-cost products, which can more easily damage the records. It is also necessary to select the corresponding size (most vinyls on the contemporary market are 33 rpm).
- The type of vinyl (33, 45, 78)
- Hitchhiking or not (recommended ON)
- Lever to raise the arm then lower it on the disc
- Output or mode (Bluetooth, AUX, USB…)
Aesthetics and manufacturing
The Swingstone OnStage BT+ perfectly renders the desired decorative effect in terms of its aesthetics. However, it is much more beautiful open than closed. But when open, it collects dust, which is best avoided, which is why most turntables have a transparent cover. With the suitcase format, you can’t leave it open without risk, and closed, you can’t see the inside — which is the best part. But hey, we quibble: even closed, it’s pretty.
The leatherette is of good quality. When you look closer, however, the finishes are weak – three pieces of nailed metal – but that corresponds to the very low price of 70 euros, you can’t really ask for more. It’s still well done.
In use, we feel that the plate is fragile, especially the arm. We would tend to advise you to use the lever well, so that the cell lands gently on the vinyl. Also, avoid pressing down on the stand at all costs, which didn’t really inspire confidence in us in terms of sturdiness due to a, say, “plastoc” effect. The connectors and the various buttons are however not lacking, it is functional.
At this price, the built-in speakers do not work miracles. The sound is mediocre (although better than expected).
The problem comes first from the speakers themselves. They have almost no bass and do not have much sharpness. They sizzle slightly. It’s basic audio technology, which will remind you of the sound of your PC or smartphone. A small $200 TV will sound better, for example.
Next, it’s the very construction of the product that makes vinyl playback less good than with a turntable in the higher range. In question, the integration of the loudspeakers in the turntable – the vibrations disturb the good reading of the disc -, and a cell (the small “reading needle”) of poor quality, just like the maintenance of the vinyl. Clearly, you have to understand that the reading of your discs will not be optimal, since it’s cheap.
Nevertheless, we do not completely ignore the pleasure of listening: at this price, it is relatively correct, and the sound occupies the space by letting us appreciate our vinyls. Comfort varies according to the volume: the higher it is, the more complicated it is, but at an average level, listening is passable.
The turntable has the advantage of coming with an incoming and outgoing Bluetooth connection, which is still normal in 2022.
The incoming connection, let’s be honest, is of no interest: given the low quality of the speakers, we don’t want to connect our smartphone to them to listen to our music on it. Might as well do it to a portable speaker.
As for the outgoing connection, it is already more logical, since it improves the sound. You will then probably want to stay in the same price range. An entry-level speaker like the JBL Go 3 will add a little bass and accentuate the sharpness, without providing much better listening comfort. We gladly recommend the Marshall Emerton (often under-rated even though it is of very good quality for its low price). It is accessible, its vintage aesthetic corresponds to the atmosphere we are looking for alongside a vinyl turntable and the sound quality has a more “analog” effect than the competition (a JBL at the same price will have a more ” digital” coupled with a very modern aesthetic, this is not necessarily what we are looking for here).
But beware, this is also where a manufacturing defect. Once the Bluetooth speaker is plugged in (which is certainly quick and easy), the sound is better… except that the music continues to be audible directly from the turntable, in duplicate. The level is very low, like a residue. So if the sound from the speaker is relatively loud and you are far away, you will not hear this “ghost” sound. But this is nonetheless a significant defect, which can disturb in several listening configurations. Remember once again that normally a turntable does not have built-in speakers.
Note that among the outgoing audio connections, you can also connect headphones via the jack, or speakers via AUX.
In conclusion, what is this Swingson turntable worth?
You have to be aware that you are buying a product that is quite similar to the gadget: it is not good quality sound equipment. On the other hand, for a usage d’appointand very small budgetor the discovery of the world of vinyl, the Swingstone OnStage BT+ does the job. Not to mention that, yes, it looks very good in an interior – cozy effect guaranteed. And the rather average sound does not prevent totally to take advantage of the musical charm that vinyl brings.
It is an alternative, but keep in mind that, if you really want quality equipment, allowing you to listen to vinyl as comfortably as possible, the minimum budget is 300 euros, from a brand like Audio-Technica or Pro-Ject, to which must be added the price of external speakers (200 to 300 euros).
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