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 Post subject: "Best" battery-operated phonograph?
PostPosted: Jun Tue 12, 2012 8:20 am 
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We have a "portable" acoustic phonograph (if you really want to call a VV 2-55 portable, with its 20+ lbs of stamped steel construction) for use with 78s, but lately I've been thinking about how it might be nice to have a portable player that can handle LPs and 45s. Ideally I'd like a three-speed unit, but I'd be willing to sacrifice the 78rpm speed if it means a significantly better machine.

However, I don't really know much about what models exist or what's out there. What would you consider a worthwhile, relatively inexpensive portable that won't tear up our (mostly stereo, mix of 60s, 70s, and 2000s) records? These are the four main criteria that seem to make the most sense in evaluating:

1. Sound quality for its size. Doesn't need to get *too* loud, but it should be a self-contained unit that can be used on a patio or at a picnic, and carried easily.

2. Battery life. This probably disqualifies anything with a tube amp. Preferably something that takes standard AA or C cells.

3. Record wear. We've spent a lot of time and money building up our collection, and--especially given the price of new records these days--I don't want something that's going to shred them after a few plays

4. Longevity. This means a few things. I want something that's built to last, something I'll be able to find cartridges/stylii for in the future, and which won't be the world's biggest pain to repair if something does break or wear out.


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 Post subject: Re: "Best" battery-operated phonograph?
PostPosted: Jun Tue 12, 2012 1:07 pm 
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I don't know if this is the "best" but I recently had this Panasonic SG-610 up for sale in the Classifieds for several weeks. Even after dropping the price to $20 there were no takers. After playing with it while awaiting a buyer, I started to like it so I decided to keep it. It runs at 33 and 45, uses 6 D-cells (or AC), has decent sound, and includes an AM/FM radio. The arm's tracking force is relatively light with it's ceramic cartridge and common, easily replaceable stylus. But I would refrain from playing records on it that are special favorites. (Be very careful using records outside in the sun as they can warp easily.) I would imagine things like this turn up on ebay from time to time.

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Dave


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 Post subject: Re: "Best" battery-operated phonograph?
PostPosted: Jun Tue 12, 2012 4:12 pm 
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I owned that same Panasonic unit back in the 70's (purchased new) and if I'm correct, that tonearm tracks at a record-wearing 8+ grams.
I ditched it decades ago because I like my records.

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 Post subject: Re: "Best" battery-operated phonograph?
PostPosted: Jun Tue 12, 2012 4:31 pm 
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That some weight, nearly to the point of digging a groove in the vinyl, sounds like it should be playing 78s never mind 33 or 45.

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 Post subject: Re: "Best" battery-operated phonograph?
PostPosted: Jun Tue 12, 2012 4:33 pm 
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RT is right.

The original Audio Technica Mr. Disc or Soundburger with a magnetic cartridge is the best one I know of.


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 Post subject: Re: "Best" battery-operated phonograph?
PostPosted: Jun Tue 12, 2012 5:28 pm 
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In the late 1960s, Westinghouse had a 3(or maybe 4) speed stereo unit with a drop down full-size BSR changer (a UA15, I think) with a dc motor. the whole thing worked off D cells or the AC supply. It had a kind of olive-gray vinyl covered case. IIRC it used a standard (at the time) BSR turnover cartridge.

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 Post subject: Re: "Best" battery-operated phonograph?
PostPosted: Jun Tue 12, 2012 6:13 pm 
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I would look for a Sylvania Exponent portable, coupled with an inexpensive small battery/inverter "power-station" from Home Depot, etc.

-David


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 Post subject: Re: "Best" battery-operated phonograph?
PostPosted: Jun Tue 12, 2012 6:51 pm 
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RepairTech wrote:
I owned that same Panasonic unit back in the 70's (purchased new) and if I'm correct, that tonearm tracks at a record-wearing 8+ grams.
I ditched it decades ago because I like my records.


Yikes! I just measured 9.9 grams! When I said "relatively light" I was just comparing it's "feel" with the arm on a VM 3-speed changer with a ceramic cartridge. I just measured that and it was 10.5 grams. Neither players seem to be digging into the vinyl and, when I play the same records on a Technics turntable with a Stanton cartridge, they sound fine.

What is the average tracking force required by ceramic cartridges? I usually deal with magnetic cartridges in the 1-3 gram range.

Here is a link to Mr. Disc and Soundburger: http://t-contrapunctus.blogspot.com/200 ... layer.html

Dave


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 Post subject: Re: "Best" battery-operated phonograph?
PostPosted: Jun Tue 12, 2012 7:23 pm 
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The Crosley Spinnerette could probably be modified to run on batteries, since I'm pretty sure that it uses a 12v wall wart for power. It plays all 3 speeds and uses an Audio Technica AT3600 magnetic cartridge, which has 78 needles available pretty cheap.


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 Post subject: Re: "Best" battery-operated phonograph?
PostPosted: Jun Tue 12, 2012 7:27 pm 
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I have one of these by numark. It works good does 3 speed and is light weight. The built in speaker is mono but the unit is stereo if you use usb or headphones. Sound not bad at all gets the job done. It is belt drive and the 45 dinker is in a holder on top. Also comes or mine did with a ac wall wart.

http://www.ionaudio.com/products/details/ipt-usb


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 Post subject: Re: "Best" battery-operated phonograph?
PostPosted: Jun Tue 12, 2012 7:39 pm 
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Dave Doughty wrote:
RepairTech wrote:
I owned that same Panasonic unit back in the 70's (purchased new) and if I'm correct, that tonearm tracks at a record-wearing 8+ grams.
I ditched it decades ago because I like my records.


Yikes! I just measured 9.9 grams! When I said "relatively light" I was just comparing it's "feel" with the arm on a VM 3-speed changer with a ceramic cartridge. I just measured that and it was 10.5 grams. Neither players seem to be digging into the vinyl and, when I play the same records on a Technics turntable with a Stanton cartridge, they sound fine.

What is the average tracking force required by ceramic cartridges? I usually deal with magnetic cartridges in the 1-3 gram range.

Here is a link to Mr. Disc and Soundburger: http://t-contrapunctus.blogspot.com/200 ... layer.html

Dave


Ceramics can track as light as 1.5 grams (the Sonotone 9TAFHC series audiophile cartridge) and up to 10+ grams.
It all depends on design of the cartridge.

More compliant yokes and longer stylus cantilevers mean a lighter "touch", but at the expense of output level.
These cartridges produced only 75 to 250 mv, tracked at 2-4 grams, and were used in consoles, etc. that had the extra gain stages to compensate.
The Zenith 2G floating cartridges are of this class.

The average line of ceramics produce around .4 to .7 volts, and usually track around 3-7 grams - good general purpose cartridges for all-around use.

My personal favorite is the Electrovoice 149D - .45 v @ 2-4 grams.
Hard to find but worth it - Gary Stork had a Phanstiehl version that sounded great - now out of stock.

The narrow-bodied Tetrads were decent too, able to fit in just about any arm, even the pencil-thin styles.
They were adaptable to almost any mounting style, and any voltage by changing the length of the cantilever (and output).
Gary still has those.

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 Post subject: Re: "Best" battery-operated phonograph?
PostPosted: Jun Wed 13, 2012 6:08 am 
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Dave, I'll like these Panasonics and have several from that period. I would give your $20 asking for that Panasonic as long as there is no damage or parts missing.


Attachments:
wis2011 030.jpg
wis2011 030.jpg [ 112.97 KiB | Viewed 3633 times ]

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 Post subject: Re: "Best" battery-operated phonograph?
PostPosted: Jun Wed 13, 2012 12:02 pm 
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bastardbus wrote:
Dave, I'll like these Panasonics and have several from that period. I would give your $20 asking for that Panasonic as long as there is no damage or parts missing.

Appreciate the offer. It's missing the rod antenna and cover for the AC cord storage compartment but I've grown to like it despite the bad press about the high tracking force. I have a modest collection of battery operated phonos including this stereo model with AM/SW radio but none sound nearly as good as my Panasonic.

Image

I have seen that Ion model mentioned by troydog and was curious about what kind of cartridge it has since all on-line descriptions and specs just say "cartridge". His link lists a replacement cartridge which shows this picture. Looks like it's ceramic.
Attachment:
Ion phono cartridge.JPG
Ion phono cartridge.JPG [ 13.4 KiB | Viewed 3626 times ]

But the website doesn't list a replacement stylus to play 78's since it is a 3-speed player. Wondering if they are available.

Dave


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 Post subject: Re: "Best" battery-operated phonograph?
PostPosted: Jun Wed 13, 2012 12:34 pm 
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Dave Doughty wrote:
Appreciate the offer. It's missing the rod antenna and cover for the AC cord storage compartment but I've grown to like it despite the bad press about the high tracking force. ..
Dave


That works out fine, I would not have been interested in it with those broken and missing parts anyway.

Don't fret that tracking weight...this player is what it is. Besides, who would play a record of any value on something like this anyhow? This thing is a novelty and I can't see anyone using it on a daily basis and wear their records out. My only suggestion with any player that has heavy, nonadjustable tracking is use sapphire needles it will greatly reduce the risk of any premature record wear.

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 Post subject: Re: "Best" battery-operated phonograph?
PostPosted: Jun Wed 13, 2012 11:48 pm 
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78 needles are available for those record players with Chuo Denshi cartridges like that Ion. I got one for about $12 shipped from Ebay, and Gary at Voice of Music carries them too.


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 Post subject: Re: "Best" battery-operated phonograph?
PostPosted: Jun Thu 14, 2012 5:02 am 
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orthophonic wrote:
RT is right.

The original Audio Technica Mr. Disc or Soundburger with a magnetic cartridge is the best one I know of.


I looked those up--people certainly seem to want a premium for them. My one real concern with a machine like that is that it doesn't have speakers. I guess I could use Walkman speakers, but unpowered portable speakers tend to be pretty awful, particularly in the lower range.

I've been doing some other looking around as well, but it's not easy to find information on performance or tracking weight, and information on battery life seems virtually nonexistent.


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 Post subject: Re: "Best" battery-operated phonograph?
PostPosted: Jun Thu 14, 2012 12:48 pm 
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Here are the specs on Mr. Disc. For an amp with speakers, perhaps there are battery operated iPod docking stations available with an auxiliary input.
Attachment:
Mr. Disc Specs.JPG
Mr. Disc Specs.JPG [ 37.26 KiB | Viewed 3574 times ]


Dave


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 Post subject: Re: "Best" battery-operated phonograph?
PostPosted: Jun Thu 14, 2012 12:52 pm 
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Location: Toledo, Ohio
Fiddler, if you want a good little battery portable any of the little ones like I have pictured here would be great. There is tons of these on eBay etc for sale. The ones I have here are a Juliette (top) and 3 different models or Panasonic first is a AM-FM and record player for 33-45-78 the second has an AM radio and record player 33-45 and the last just plays records 33-45.
Image

The tracking on all of the ones I have is around 5 grams which is not bad for what these are. Sound quality is what you would expect...not great. Battery life has not been an issue for me, and longevity...well not an issue either but I don't play these 8 hours a day. They get used at car shows, camping etc they don't see a lot of wear and tear, I take care of them. For what they are, you get what one would expect. They are made decent and work well. They are very popular with the record collector crowd so prices can creep up at times but still deals are found. If you have a valuable record collection these are NOT the machine for you. Why someone would even want to play a valuable record on a portable is beyond me. As I tell folks, I am not a record collector I only buy them because I like record players. I buy what I enjoy and 99.9% of the records I purchase you can find for a $1 or less at any Record Show. I play them on any player I have and have never worn anything out yet but if I do, I can just find another copy for $1. If you are interested in playing beetles test pressing on these I would probably advise against it...LOL

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