If you’re looking to buy your first turntable, you’ve probably come across the name Jensen. The Jensen JTA-230 was the best selling turntable on Amazon back in 2016, and big box stores carry them in-house, along with other extremely affordable record players made by brands such as Crosley or 1byone.
But are portable record players made by brands like Jensen really worth your money? Well, like many things in the audio equipment world, there’s pros and cons, which we’ll dive into later in this article.
That being said, in this article, we’re going take a look at Jensen turntables, and rank 5 of them on a scale of 1-5 stars to help you decide what’s best for your new record player purchase.
And, to better help you, please check out the interactive guide below, which allows you to directly compare Jensen record players to other popular brands.
|Audio Technica AT-LP60X-BT|
|Victrola Eastwood Signature|
|Victrola Stream Carbon|
Here are just a few things we’ll be looking at during the reviews of each turntable:
- Speakers (Built-in or external)
- Radio/MP3 function
Jensen and its Affordability
Jensen is often scoffed at by seasoned vinyl fans for being a budget brand that does more harm for your records than good. Sure, they can play your records, but they also pose a threat to the grooves, and their cheap parts are prone to easy breakdowns.
But shockingly enough, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t buy a Jensen record player. Yes, Jensen is not going to provide the same quality as a $1,000 turntable, but rest assured, Jensen is a very solid brand for starters in the vinyl world—especially if you’re on a budget.
For many, Jensen is used as a introductory gateway into vinyl, very much like the Crosley brand. With less of a bad rep than Crosley, Jensen has emerged recently as a popular company for sub-$100 turntables that feature built-in speakers and easy plug-and-play features.
Despite a surge in popularity, Jensen dates back to Peter Jensen’s 1915 invention of the loudspeaker. Jensen became well known in the 1980s and 90s as the makers of premiere sound systems in Jeep vehicles. For a long time, they were thought of as a sound system company rather than sound equipment brand, and a big change would help reinvent the company.
After Audiovox acquired Jensen in 2003 or 2004, the brand began to reemerge as a leader in mass-produced audio technologies. Overall, Jensen’s name is used for recognition, and in the turntable industry, Jensen is a name many come across when starting a vinyl collection.
The five turntables we’ll talk about in this article are all considered great tables for beginners, but they’re also tried-and-true options for those looking to buy a table that’s reliable and positively reviewed.
The 5 Best Jensen Record Players
Let’s begin with the Jensen JTA 222.
Jensen JTA 222 – ★★
One of the most popular options for beginners the 222 is a 3 speed turntable, meaning that you can play all records. 33, 45, and 78 RPM are supported in this table, with an adapter included for 45s. The table, like many entry level turntables, includes a radio as well for AM and FM playback.
The stereo sound you hear when spinning records is the same you’ll hear when tuning into a radio station. The built-in speakers are enjoyable, but nothing special. In fact, if you’re buying this turntable for any room larger than a small bedroom or nook, look to the other options in this list. There is an ability to hook up external speakers, but if you’re looking for a one-and-done experience, these speakers are very limited.
Power indicators let you know if its on or not, meaning you won’t accidentally leave your turntable on. If you decide to listen privately, a headphone output is available, which is a wonderful option if you share your space with another person.
A dust cover and antique-style wooden case design make this turntable look like any popular rig from the 1970s, which is a wonderful aesthetic if you’re into vinyl for the retro feelings. For anyone looking to go for a look with their turntable, the 222 allows you to play current music in a retro way with all the looks of a classic turntable.
The JTA 222 is a wonderful starter table, but for larger spaces, the speakers aren’t anything to write home about. To be honest, if you’re short on cash, this is a wonderful option. If you can throw a few more bucks in the ring, there are options that will do much more for you.
Jensen JTA 230 – ★★★
The 230 is a more modern take on the entry level turntable. Even in its design, the 230 looks and feels more modern. Belt-driven and again available for 33, 45, and 78 rpm playback, the all-in-one features of the 230 are a huge plus if you’re just starting out with vinyl records.
Pitch control is a great way to get used to the ways in which records can each play and feel different from one another, and you can utilize the pitch control to find your perfect sound. Volume and tone control also help master your listening experience.
A headphone jack and the built-in speakers are in stereo sound, meaning full, as-intended volume from your favorite artists, but you can also listen to your phone with an aux-input jack that allows you to encode your records into mp3s for external use.
Software for encoding as well as USB cable are included with the turntable. A dust cover allows for maximum protection against, well, life and its little mishaps, and an auto stop switch allows for the record player to come to a halt without you lifting a finger.
For the small price increase the 230 is light years ahead of the 222. With mp3 capability and aux inputs, you’re only missing a radio feature in this turntable. If that’s a deal breaker, go with the 222. If you’re more interested in the modern methods of listening, however, the 230 is a great way to go.
- You can check out my review the Jensen JTA-230 here.
Jensen JTA 300 – ★★★
If you can’t decide between the radio functions of the 222, and the digital encoding of the 230, you probably wondered where you could get both. Look no further. The 300 is a bulkier version of the Jensen plug-and-play turntables we’ve discussed so far, but this one’s extra size comes with more features, combining the best of the 222 and the 230.
The belt driven 300 is available to spin at 33, 45, and 78 rpms, so anything is up for grabs. The AM/FM stereo readio is illuminated at the dial in order to maximize visual appeal and help you see those tiny numbers when you’re tuning in to you favorite station.
A headphone jack and power indicator are two featured favorites of the last two entries in our list, and they’re included in the 300. Also included is a pitch control knob, 2 built-in stereo speakers, that because of the larger size, pack a bigger punch than the other options, and RCA outputs if you have speakers you’d rather plug in for extra power.
The wooden cabinet looks great in black, and matches the best of both words when it comes to the 222’s retro style, and the 230’s modern sleek look. For those looking to hear the radio as well as copy their records digitally, it’s a wonderful collection of features. The bulkier body can be a turn off, especially if you’re tight on space, but if you can fit it in your room or nook, it’s a wonderful piece of affordable audio playback.
With an included cable for digital copying and a radio that illuminates upon power-up, the 300 is a wonderful turntable for its price. Jensen does a great job of keeping the cost affordable without skimping on the features, and the JTA 300 is a perfect example of that. Bulkier than others, the 300 is worth the extra space it may take up.
Jensen JTA-325 – ★★★★
The built-in speaker feature can throw many people off, so for an option from Jensen that is equally affordable as our other entries but also incorporates more traditional speaker set-ups, the 325 looks like a step above the all-in-one models.
The JTA 325 features many of the same abilities as the other models. 3 speed playback at 33, 45, and 78 is available, as is a dust cover that protects your records while they’re spinning and allows you peace of mind when your favorite album is out of its sleeve.
The thing that sets the 325 apart is the external speaker set that comes with the turntable. Yes, the Jensen line is budget-friendly, and no, it’s not terrible to use built-in speakers. But there are a few pros to using external speakers as well.
For starters, the power external speakers allow for is greater than the built-in feature, meaning you’ll get more sound. Also, it’s more visually appealing to have a full vinyl set-up for many vinylheads. In short, speakers make the set-up look fuller and more legitimate. That’s not everyone’s opinion, but it does look great to have speakers on either side of your turntable.
The 325 is in many ways just the other Jensen tables with speakers included. There’s no radio functionality but you can still listen to your records the old fashioned way with this great, affordable turntable. For many, this is the closest way you can get to a traditional set-up without spending more than $100.
Jensen JTA-460 – ★★★★
Of all included turntables from Jensen in this article, the 460 is the most intricate and full-featured. A lot of the favorite features of Jensen tables are included in the 460. An MP3 Encoding System and AM/FM stereo radio allow you the option to listen to things other than your vinyl records.
MP3 encoding is also included, and this time you can save to a USB drive or a memory card thanks to an extra card slot. With both options, you can quickly and easily backup your record collection right onto your phone or iPod for quick playback.
The 460 spins at 33, 45, and 78 RPM, and features a blue backlit LCD display that looks like any expensive stereo system you may covet at a local electronics store. The 460 also comes with a remote that allows you the ability to skip forward and rewind with the push of a button, as well as start and stop your records at will. The belt-drive allows for quick start and stop times.
Power indicators allow you to see when things on so you don’t accidentally leave your turntable on, and programmable memory allows your volume settings to stay attached to your settings from record to record. Bass boost allows for some extra power, while a repeat function can restart the side of an album at will.
These features are amazing, especially for the sub-$100 price tag. If you can find a 460 for the right price, this should be your choice. Jensen isn’t going to blow your mind away, but the features on this turntable are great for the price, and the sound is good too.
All the turntables included in this list are wonderful, and depending on what you need, a Jensen might be the answer. When searching to buy a Jensen turntable, start with this list and find what is best for you. All things considered, Jensen finds a nice balance between price and product quality, so anything you get from them will be a great way to start a new hobby, or continue an old love.
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