Retro turntable meets modern technology.

Growing up, I never truly understood or appreciated the traditions that my parents maintained. I do not remember when I learned to read, but I remember my parents teaching me. I remember golden books, I remember the little records that chimed and told me when to turn the pages. I do not remember any details of any specific Christmas. However, I do remember every year the tradition around putting up our Christmas Tree. Most years we would go to a farm and cut one down and then wrap it in the mesh, attach it to the roof of our car and then drive it home. We would bring it into our home, my dad would attach it to the base, wrap the tree skirt around it and the festivities would begin. My dad would open up his stereo case, lift the arm of the record player and gently lay the needle down onto the same records we played every year, the Disney Christmas Records. These were our Christmas Tree decorating songs and we kept the tradition until I moved away to college. A few years ago, my wife and I talked about this and we decided to get the kids a little record player from EBay. At the same time, we ordered numerous record books as well. These were a huge success with our then 5 and 3-year-olds (now 7 and 4). This player did not hold up, we had it evaluated by a local repair shop, three times, and they could not get it to work. Luckily, just about everything that was once old will one day become trendy or “retro” again. Records have great sound. There are some that say this sound cannot be matched.

Musitrend Turntable Stereo System REVIEW

I have been given a Musitrend T316 suitcase turntable player. The product was shipped in a plain cardboard box. The packaging could use some improvement as this a device like this could be given as a gift. Opening the box, there is a small cardboard cutout with a 60″ USB A to USB B cable (to attach to your computer), a 48″ USB A to AC cable and a wall plug type-A adaptor, a CD-ROM for your computer and an instruction manual. The product itself measures at 13 7/8″ long X 10″ wide by 4 1/2 inches tall. There is a layer of protective plastic around the device, which comes well packaged/protected. The product is quite well done. The edges of the suitcase style case are protected with metal, which provides a visual sense of quality. It reminds me of a musical instrument case. The case is devoid of markings. The handle is strong and has the same metallic accents at the base, as you see on the corners of the case.

The front of the case has 2 rectangular cutouts, the speakers are 2 5/8″ wide by 1 1/2″ tall. The are covered by a black metallic mesh. The back of the case has 5 input ports. Unfortunately, these ports are not covered nor protected. These ports are the AC input, Line Out (R/W), Aux IN, USB B (PC IN). There is no storage outside of the box for the cords/AC adaptor. There is a single buckle style latch on the front of the suitcase. This is very secure, while closed, yet easy enough to open. Inside of the lid is lined with red felt which really makes the record player pop. I was not ready for the visual quality of this device when I opened it. The black on red “Musitrend” was quite stunning. The components of the player are relatively easy to understand. You have the turntable to the left ready to fit your 12″ 33 1/3 RPM records. However, some of you may not know that there are different types of vinyl records, the 45 RPM, and 78 RPM. Typically the 33 1/3 RPM records have small holes along the center of the 12″ disc and the 45 RPM have a large hole. This, according to many sources is due to media wars, similar the Blu-Ray vs HD battle or the VHS and Beta battles. To help to play both styles of records, many players provided a turntable adaptor. This device is no different, including a 1.5″ disk that fits overtop the turntable and adapts the player to fit the cutout center.

To the right of the adaptor is the tone arm. There is a twist tie that holds this down, gently lift this up and then slide the white protective cover off of the needle. There is a power knob, which also works as the sound volume control. There is an earphone jack, a speed control, auto stop lever and near the back, a tone arm lift. Unfortunately, there is no compartment for the cables within the box either.

Musitrend Turntable Stereo System REVIEW

Testing:
The paper manual has a nice cover with black and white ink. The first part of the packaging details a visual and written description of the product. It then walks you through the initial setup of the device. This really was quite straightforward. I do not have an amplifier, but the instruction manual details how to hook this up through the connector Red out into R/H input and White out into L/H input. You have 2 cables as mentioned above, one to connect to your computer (if desired) and one to connect to wall power. The record player AC adaptor serves to convert the power to 9V DC output. To use the device, place a record onto the turntable (add the adaptor if the center of the record is a large cutout), use the speed select lever to pick the appropriate speed (33 1/3, 45, 78) and then turn the power/volume knob. Release the arm lock, the little lever that holds the arm down. If you simply pull upwards on the arm, you will break the lock and your tone arm will flop inside the case. I almost broke this as I forgot to release the lock first. The manual does not tell you to remove the small white cover over the end of the tone arm. If you do not do this, no sound will be produced. Slide the needle protector off of the tone arm and then place the stylus slowly on the record to play and then enjoy.

At the end of the record, the turntable will stop. That is, it will stop if you have the auto-stop in the “ON” position. Lift up the tone arm, place it into the cradle, replace the cap on the stylus and then recluse the tone lock. Either turn the record over or remove it and replace it into the protective sleeve. Close up the player and slide the latch. It really is that easy to use this device to listen to records. It is not currently Christmas, but I did play my Christmas albums and I utilized the record/books. The sound output is quite good, better than I expected. Now that I have a functional record player again, I will need to get my records back from my parents.

Musitrend Turntable Stereo System REVIEW

Advanced:
The product is shipped with a CD, with audacity software. The manual recommends that you place the CD into you computer drive and then follow the installation wizard. You must agree to the licensing agreement and then complete the setup by choosing locations, desktop icon and click next/install through the remainder of the pages. This should place an audacity icon on your desktop. I already had this application on my computer, prior to the record. Remember that the device comes with a USB A to USB B cable. Plug the USB B end into the device and the USB A into your computer. This is not specifically mentioned in the manual but you need to use the power cable also. The manual recommends a few steps to edit preferences. I would utilize this advice as it will save you some time in the end. Select USB PnP (plug-and-play) Audio Device and select “Software Play Through.” Select the stereo option, 2 channels.

Start playing the record and press the record button at the top of the audacity page. How to use the audacity software is not the point of this review. You can record your records in this manner and save them as .WAV or MP3 to add to your personal collection. The way I utilized this was to generate a CD of the audio books, to be able to listen on-the-go. There is also a way to export MP3, but apparently, audacity does not support this. You will need to copy a file from the installation CD lame_enc.dll and paste it into the audacity folder. If you forget this step, when you try to export the MP3 it will tell you to do that step. A newer version of audacity is available as of this review, version 2.1.2.

Summary:
I personally feel that this record player is very stylish and plays the records well. They do make vinyl cleaner for records, but I do not think I have ever used any chemical. Simply brush lint off of the vinyl with anti-static cloths. The stylus will wear out eventually. Clean it with a soft bristle brush soaked in alcohol. Some of the records were staticky, which is worsened by dust/debris on records. These are quite old records to be fair. There are instructions on how to replace the needle in the manual. I have not played enough with this to warrant replacing the stylus. There was not an included stylus in the packaging. If you are looking for a portable, classy turntable, this will serve you well. I rate the device at 5/5 stars. It did everything I expected it to do and more with the ability to record. I wish that there was a storage bin/drawer for the cables, but that is not a big deal. My family is really pleased with this device.
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