When I was a kid and in the initial throes of music obsession, my entire days were planned around listening to records, including chores. Even outdoor chores.
Raking leaves was no big deal: I just propped speakers in the windows and got to work. But mowing the lawn was a tough one. No matter how loud I cranked Every Picture Tells A Story,” it was drowned out by the mower — or by neighbors shouting at me to turn it down.
I daydreamed about headphones that didn’t need wires so I could listen to Ronnie Wood saw through that opening riff of ‘(I Know) I’m Losing You.’ If the technology existed then I hadn’t heard of it and couldn’t afford it, anyway.
And now we have products like the Sony PS-LX310BT, a compact entry-level turntable for $199.99 that offers Bluetooth connectivity. Will Sony finally make my teenage dreams a reality?
The PS-LX310BT turntable is not a fancy piece of gear. It’s a niche product that serves a fairly big niche: high schoolers, students stuffed into college dorm rooms, anyone with a low-paying first job and cramped apartment but who still loves collecting records.
As far as its design and build, the fully automatic PS-LX310BT is somewhere between the ubiquitous suitcase record players and an Audio-Technica LP120. With very little in the way of setup or adjustments, it’s plug-and-play all the way.
Weighing in at fewer than eight pounds and being only 17 inches wide, the PS-LX310BT turntable is very portable and can squeeze into tight spots. It is built with Bluetooth, which means you can tuck the turntable into any corner of your space and connect it to powered Bluetooth speakers, a soundbar, or headphones.
A Sony-branded Audio-Technica AT3600 cartridge comes permanently installed. The unusually shaped one-piece aluminum tonearm has no cartridge mounting options, nor does it have an adjustable counterweight or anti-skate, so everything is specifically designed for this cartridge.
The review sample arrived with its vertical tracking force set at 3.4 grams, which is within the recommended range for the 3600 and half the VTF common to suitcase players. The 3600 has a conical stylus, which means less upper-frequency information and a shorter stylus life, but you can easily upgrade to an elliptical stylus if you feel the need.
There is virtually no setup required, which should be appealing to newcomers. You place the platter on the spindle and attach the belt to the pulley, which is made easy by a handy piece of attached plastic. Pop on the dustcover, attach the power supply and you’re done.
The PS-LX310BT has multiple options for connection. There’s a built-in phono preamp so you can plug it directly into a line input on a receiver. You can disable the built-in preamp with the flick of a switch and use your own phono preamp. There’s a USB output for digital archiving of your collection. Or you can use the built-in Bluetooth, which in a perfect world, is pretty simple. I used it with my Audio-Technica ATH-m50x headphones and only had to hold down the Bluetooth button on the turntable until the units paired. It didn’t always work on the first attempt, but it always worked.
From there, you do have one more choice to make: There’s a switch on the back of the Sony that lets you choose between low, medium and high output, which could come in handy to better match levels with your headphones, soundbar or powered speakers. For example, when used with my headphones, I had better luck with the high output, but when used with my main system, medium was perfect.
Did my teen dreams come true? Sort of. The PS-LX310BT’s Bluetooth range will keep you on roughly a 25-foot leash and even one step further leads to an extremely unstable and annoying connection. So there will be no Miles Davis while mowing the lawn, but I did several chores in the basement while listening to a Sabbath’s first album, which was a lot of fun.
Sound Quality of the PS-LX310BT
And how did it sound and perform? Exactly how you might expect from Sony: solid, no-frills sound with few hiccups. When playing one of my go-to test records, the Bill Evans Trio’s Waltz For Debby, a 1985 OJC pressing, the Sony got the essential sound of the recording right. The ambience of the Village Vanguard was still there and the players all occupied there customary spots in the soundstage, but there was also less of everything compared to a serious turntable — less detail, air, refinement and, especially, that magic suspension of disbelief.
For whatever reason, the Sony had trouble tracking one record, Playboys,” by Art Pepper and Chet Baker on the Boplicity label. The recording has a very full bottom end, which may have contributed, but so does “Waltz For Debby” and the Sony sailed through it with no issues.
Given its size, weight, simplicity, and multiple ways of delivering music, the Sony is a solid value for those in the market for an entry-level turntable.
In Partnership With Sony