Vinyl is big again, with many bands now releasing their music to vinyl and digital instead of CD and digital. Because of this, tons of people are looking for the perfect beginner record player, and as people with a sizable record collection, we don't blame them. Today, we're here to show you a nice portable turntable, Electrohome's Archer Vinyl Classic Turntable, which might just meet all your needs.
On the Surface
Let's start at the top and work our way down, shall we? Aesthetically, this record player is awesome. It's made of all wood, which gives it some serious bulk and keeps it from feeling cheap. It's covered in black faux-leather that gives it a cool, timeless look. It's a portable, as well, with a sturdy handle and the ability to lock the tonearm in place so it doesn't bounce around and ruin the needle.
Construction is solid, a fully automatic turntable with a small lever that can be used to lift the ceramic, diamond-tipped needle on and off the record without fear of scratching your records. Like most record player, it plays three speeds: 33, 45, and 78 RPMs, and also includes a 45 record adapter in the case.
Portable in Theory
It's a looker, for sure, though not nearly as portable as the Crosley Cruiser we'd reviewed before. It's large, heavy, and requires a substantially sized flat surface for you to set it down on. We would like to point out, however, that the Archer is big enough place a 10-inch record and close the lid, if that's something you're interested in. And again, like the Crosley, it's only portable to a location that has an outlet, as there's no internal battery or method of playing it without AC power, so again, it's more like it's "portable" because it's a self-contained record player, and less portable in the concept that it could be taken anywhere.
The speakers in the Archer are a good quality, far better than that of the Cruiser. It's warm, full, and rich, with great midtone coverage and a crystal clear high end. The volume is capable of getting much louder than what we'd feel was needed for most cases, though if you were looking to entertain a large crowd twenty or more people, we would suggest getting exterior speakers that allow for much louder volumes. Beyond that, this is a great speaker for solo listening, family listening, or even small parties where the crowd noise isn't going to be too much.
Not Just for Records
One of the things about a lot of record players is that they're one trick ponies that only play records, unless you're going to dish out the money for one that's got a cassette tape and radio built into it - which again, is fine, but the market for people who need both of those things are fairly slim. The Archer features both an AUX-in port which allows you to play music from tablets and smartphones as well as a USB drive, which allows you to play music from a USB flash drive as well, which is especially great for those of us who back up their music to Flash drives as well as the cloud. If you're playing music from USB, there's a handy little control panel near the port that allows you to skip songs and play and pause as well. We thought this was a smart choice, especially if you're going to be using this in a garage, bedroom, or somewhere you may not have another set of speakers for all your digital music.
A Common Issue
Our biggest problem with the Archer isn't a unique problem to this specific record player. Far from it, in fact, and those who grew up listening to their music collection on vinyl are sure to sympathize. Again, like a lot of record players - there's just not enough weight to the tonearm to keep it from skipping on records that seem to be pressed rather shallow. If you find that this is a problem, you can always balance a few quarters on the tonearm in order to provide enough weight to keep the needle bouncing out of the grooves.
A Quick Warning
Because of the USB port on the front of this record player, a lot of people are quick to believe that this record player is capable of recording from USB to computer to rip songs from vinyl to digital. This isn't the case. The record player does, however, have an AUX out, which can be plugged into a computers microphone or all-in-one audio port, and the used with a program like Garage Band or Audacity to rip the music to your computer.
For the price, we think that the Archer is a great starter or secondary turntable to keep around the house or garage when you want to listen to your music. It's large, sure, but having the ability to close the lid to protect your spinning records from curious children or prying pets is a big benefit in our eyes. If you want, you can get your own Archer from the Electrohome website for just under $100.
Who the Archer is aimed at: Beginner listeners or those who are looking for a more portable or secondary system should find this to suit their needs quite nicely.
Who the Archer isn't for: If you're looking for a high-end, full home system experience, there's a good chance that you're not going to need this turntable.