This Turntable Was Amazon's Xmas Season Best Selling Home Audio Product!

Amazon recently announced its top-selling home audio product of this past year. It was this Jensen JTA-230 3-speed stereo turntable with built-in speakers that includes an A/D converter and USB port plus an aux input for connecting a digital media player. All for around $50.00.

Amazon's second best seller was Yamaha's RX-V677 7.2 channel Wi-Fi network AV Receiver with built in support for Apple's wireless AirPlay feature.

In other words, vinyl beat Apple. This is both good news and bad news. At least people buying the Yamaha receiver will not be chewing up their files with each play. The same can't be said for the turntable. If buyers are truly using it to archive their vinyl and never again playing the record, well that's somewhat better, though they will not exactly obtain an "archive quality" transfer but at least they won't continue the chewing.

The problem here is that buyers may be using the Jensen to play records—even new ones—and those people will soon discover that "vinyl records quickly wear out". So it will be a short term good thing and a long term very bad thing.

My advice always is to save up for something that will take good care of your records rather than buying "on the cheap". There's something very wrong with buying a $50 turntable to play a $30.00 copy of DSOTM.

COMMENTS
teachscience's picture

when I saw that. I said a quick prayer for all the destroyed vinyl that beast will make. People are always shocked at how quiet records are on my TT, I'm guessing they won't have that problem with this thing.

BillK's picture

Every time I see people purchasing a Crosley and some albums I dread the fact that they are going to think that that is how vinyl sounds, and that is how long vinyl lasts.

It's sort of like gifting someone vinyl and a 1981 BSR record changer. :(

maquiline's picture

These cheapy turntables are terrible for keeping vinyl relevant in the long run. A couple months ago in class I overheard kids talking about how they enjoy the concept of listening to music via vinyl, but that it sounded worse compared to their phones... I had to turn around and ask them what they were playing them on and what do you know - Crosley cruiser. I told them a crosley is nothing but trouble for the grooves and their own ears. I told them that they should at least start with a audio technica at-lp60 at the bare minimum. One of the many problems of vinyl's popularity increasing is companies dumping out shitty TTs to meet the hipsters demands

PeterPani's picture

this garbage for free. Such pieces of crap could drive the vinyl euphoria into sudden death.

Auric G's picture

compliment to low res digital vinyl.

gMRfk6LMHn's picture

I remember well my first record player, it was a Philips record player, the speakers acted as the lid. You just unclipped the speakers from the base and each speaker had a cable extension of about 2 feet. I loved that record player it really got me into vinyl in a big way. So don't knock it (too much!).

James, Dublin, Ireland

Michael Fremer's picture
Still play those records?
Daniel Emerson's picture

I had one of those too! I used to lie on the floor with a speaker about a foot from each ear. Happy times, even if the 'fi' wasn't very 'hi'.

If my parents were out, though, I was allowed to use my dad's Leak TT/Amp/Speakers system, which was much better. He still has the speakers, some 40 years on.

Jack Gilvey's picture

...when my brother informed me that what my tween-age nieces and nephew really wanted for Xmas was a turntable. Steering him away from horrors like that above, I was intrigued enough by the design and truly plug-n-play nature of the Pro-ject Elemental to take a shot on one after it dropped to $219 in my Amazon cart. Cool table! Very simple, and the minimalist design looks great in red. I felt very old and very cool as they watched a record being put on for the first time. Put on the 2011 reissue of Quadrophenia (my brother's gift) and couldn't find anything to complain about aside from a bit of motor hum which is only noticeable on empty grooves. Low surface noise, open, nice bass, easy to use and, presumably, easy on the records.
New vinyl certainly isn't cheap these days and a garbage table like that Jensen is...stupid.

Tom Miars's picture

Just for fun, check out the nearly 1600 reviews of this product on Amazon. Overall it gets a surprising 4-star rating. One user even described how he got great sound connecting this toy to a real receiver and a pair of Bose speakers. But I think Amazon (and Mr. Fremer) do an injustice by referring to it as a turntable; I would call it a record player.

OldschoolE's picture

Keep in mind that the reviews on Amazon (and many other places) are consumer reviews. While those are of value in certain aspects, also remember that many are false.

Tom Miars's picture

I know that these reviews in general should be taken with a grain of salt, but I was very amused by some of them. One person complemented the pitch control, which he said would be helpful if you listen to rock music. (Huh?) Another person explains how he figured out what the tone control does. It can be quite entertaining.

Ortofan's picture

... while still in high school, cost the equivalent of about $800, adjusted for inflation, today. That amount would currently buy a decent entry level Rega, Pro-Ject or the new Pioneer direct-drive unit.
But how many people, now, would be willing to spend that much for their first turntable - or believe that such an expenditure was even necessary?

fetuso's picture

I would suspect that this thing is being gifted by unaware adults to unaware kids.

Vinylghost's picture

Simple and to the point. If Mr. Fremer would recommend his Top 10.
No, not the normal list. Real world. Wouldn't even have to describe why, just name the turntables like this.

1. $100
2. $200
3. $300
4. $400
5. $500
6. $600
7. $700
8. $800
9. $900
10.$1000

Just the names and model numbers at these prices. And if Michael
wants (are you reading this?) he can add the cartridges he would use
with those particular priced turntables.

Don't let us down Mr. F.

AnalogJ's picture

...aside from the Orbit Audio U-Turn table. Forget about $100.

OldschoolE's picture

Believe it or not, Mr. Fremer would have no difficulty filling that list. He suggests all kinds of affordable yet very nice analog gear for those of us who do not have big dollars. He's one of very few who do so and I for one greatly appreciate it because it advances the cause and gets good sound into more folks hands.

Michael Fremer's picture
But I'll try when I arrive!
Vinylghost's picture

Can't wait to look at your list. Now don't you go cheating and
recommend some used turntable at the $100 price point!

I'm as curious about the $100 dollar one as the $1000 dollar one.

stretch35's picture

Thought that was a typo. Hopefully owners get interested enough to seek out sites such as this quickly. Otherwise expect worn out records, including today's reissues, to flood the used record stores.

Rudy's picture

Those who buy these $50 turntables won't dump worn records at the used record stores. They'll just chuck 'em into the trashbin.

Plantboy's picture

We might need to pass an extra-skeptical eye over used records in the future due to these cheap groove-grinding machines. And, I have yet to go to a local record shop (of which there are several in my area) where they do not sell or play on a crosley or jensen. I think one stopped selling them after complaints that the records would skip.

At least one of the dealers I have in mind is also a u-turn audio dealer (so that's a good thing!). I make a point to tell them they should not sell crosley. Now I know about Jensen as well.

The fact that this was amazon's #1 seller was so disturbing to me, I just went out and gave it a 1-star review and recommended people look at u-turn, audio technica, or pioneer if they want their records to last.

Yes there will be some who try vinyl and don't like it because of this record player, but others will wise up and get something better. Keep in mind: some of the amazon reviews are about wanting to convert their vinyl to MP3. If that's what they want, that's what they will get out of it! Ugh!

BillK's picture

They sell vinyl and sell these cheap record players so they can sell records and "something to play them on."

If you think the players are bad enough, check out the replacement styli sold in the same stores.

avrcguy's picture

Just totally sickening. Some people are completely incapable of learning from past mistakes.

OldschoolE's picture

I cringe every time I see tables like this. Almost anyone can come up with $150 and get a table such as a U-turn which, according to Mr. Fremer, is a great table, especially for the money. Certainly far and away better than grinders like Jensen, Crosley, etc.
What really bothers me is thinking about all those lovely records being destroyed by uninformed folks (not entirely their fault) playing with these machines of torture.

BillK's picture

It's going to be a dark day combing through the used record bins soon when all these Crosley-destroyed albums start being dumped. :-(

VirginVinyl's picture

Like every thing man manufactures, there's the low end (entry level) and the flag ship models. We have all started somewhere and sometime, like my 1960 Zenith record player suitcase box, that came with a L-shape needle that flipped left or right on the tonearm depending the collection of dirt. Did I care whether I was damaging the vinyl, I've must have worn out Elvis's "lonesome star." All I cared was the music coming out of that single built in speaker. Fast forward and the system I have now can easily distinguish poor quality recordings. Which accounts for 80% of my soul collection.

gMRfk6LMHn's picture

Eh! No! But what the heck, I got great enjoyment! I would be afraid if we started telling 'younger' people they would have to spend 'some' money to get the best out of vinyl would put them off! I certainly realised that I should improve my 'record player' to get the best out of them which led me down the slippery of hi-fi and all the upgrading it led to (ha!ha!).

James, Dublin, Ireland

gMRfk6LMHn's picture

I certainly realised that I should improve my 'record player' to get the best out of them which led me down the slippery road of hi-fi and all the upgrading it led to (ha!ha!).

James, Dublin, Ireland

tames's picture

So I started with cheap as a kid too. It gradually grew to where as a young teen I was able to talk my parents into equipment that is more worthy. I would not dismiss this even though at first glance it looks bad.

EmasesNepo's picture

It's far too easy to be snooty about record players like this. Like other posters above I started with a cheap player and as my love of music and my record collection grew so did my desire for something better to play it on. So what if some of my older LPs are a little worn, that's just part of their history.

Rayman's picture

We audiophiles have to do some self checking here!
My sons friends appreciate my high falutin' setup with its fancy sound. But they are just as happy playing their crackly records from the used bin on their cheapo players. And they are not saying "oh records wear out" so I'm not going to listen anymore. They know better gear is better for vinyl. I talk to them at work and most believe its a better medium than digital.
They would rather listen to crackly vinyl on a cheapo player because its still better than MP3s!!!!!!!!
Perhaps they will upgrade later when they have more disposable money.

charliex's picture

Instead of turning up our collective noses, we should be a little pleased at this news. We(as music listeners/audiophiles) have to start somewhere on that path. Hopefully, those who buy this thing will learn their music can get a lot better when moving up to better players and electronics. A rising tide lift all boats.

Eskisi's picture

Reading these reviews and several sites on the internet, I still cannot tell if this player sports an old fashioned "crystal" or "ceramic" cartridge aka a vinyl eater or something magnetic? If it is the latter, damage to records should be small. Well, typically.

punkzter's picture

Found a review: http://musehelix.com/jensen-jta-230-turntable-review/

It looks like it's a ceramic cart

Toptip's picture

The captioned review (http://musehelix.com/jensen-jta-230-turntable-review/) says, "As is the case with most inexpensive, compact record players, this unit comes with a ceramic cartridge..." Wow, that is like saying, "As is the case with most inexpensive, compact cars, this unit comes without seat belts or safety bumpers..." May be so in 1971 but today no record should be exposed to the concrete-slab-with-a-nail that a ceramic cartridge is, any more than car passengers should die in a 25 mph accident.

BTW, having said all that, in the 80s there was one brand of ceramic / piezzo cartridge that was actually as OK on records as its magnetic brethren, the Micro-Acoustics 2002e. Interestingly, even though ceramic cartridges do not require RIAA equalization (well, for the most part), the 2002e had a "reverse-RIAA" filter in it so that it could be used with regular phono amps. I had one, it was like the then popular Shure M75Es, no better, no worse.

LyndonSoulGroove's picture

I think some of us had to find out how good a 100 pound 2nd hand turntable set up well with a decent cartridge could sound 10 years ago before the internet became more informative. youngsters are buying those cheep things for when they could get a better sound for 30 pounds more !

labjr's picture

I was with a friend at a local flea market a few years ago and we heard Johnny Cash playing across the room. I could tell it wasn't a CD because it sounded full. So we walked over to see it was an old Johnny Cash album playing on one of those 70's cheapo Soundesign all-in-one stereo system with the phono/AM/FM etc. It was like a breath of fresh air compared to all the digital music.

To me, cheap analog sounds far more pleasant than cheap digital.

Rudy's picture

First impression: this can't be a good thing.

I've been promoting vinyl wherever I can. I can't deny anyone their pleasure, but these sickeningly poor record shredders will just give back the bad name vinyl had among the masses when CDs came out. I realize we are not the target market for this imported waste of plastic and electronic parts but still, even if we casually tell friends and demonstrate good vinyl to them, a few will get these shredders and be disappointed all over again like 1979, the era of recycled, noisy vinyl.

Even for someone that wants to play their old scratchy records from a box in the basement, or enjoy the near-dumpster quality of 50 cent thrift store records, I can't recommend it. Then again, it's a single dumpster trip to chuck this plastic contraption and the trashed records, when the lousy thing breaks after a few months.

What's funny is that the cheap green plastic GE stereo I bought for $69 in the early 70s, paid for with my saved up allowance, has a far more sturdy turntable. The cartridge sucks, but that thing was indestructible. I still own it, stored away in a box. And even though I spent a sick amount on my current rig, I still miss that old thing...so many good memories!

Ben Nordine's picture

What do you look for on a used record to tell if the grooves have been chewed up by one of these turntables? Or can you only tell by listening?

762rob's picture

I was at my local HiFi tech shop hanging out, and a box arrived for the receptionist. It was one of these Jensen things! A gift from her dad. We all opened it up and had a good laugh, funny thing was, it didn't sound that bad, or at least not as bad as we expected!

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