First off, let’s be clear I’m very much a beginner audiophile so I’m not to start wading into the tech weeds when reviewing the Lenco LBT-225WA Bluetooth turntable because, really, I wouldn’t know what I was going on about it. I’m very much coming at it from the average music fan who wants to dabble in the wide world of records.
My own relationship with vinyl is also somewhat limited. When I first started to really listen to music the CD craze had just started. But, despite several house moves, I do have a couple of dozen LPs and 12”s that have always found their way into the bottom right-hand shelf in my home office. I no longer had a way of playing them but didn’t feel like I wanted to get rid.
The collection is like a frozen moment in time so don’t judge me too harshly. Let’s say it’s eclectic. And I know at least one of the records I got in a swap for a ticket to see The Wonder Stuff that I couldn’t make.
Just to offer a little insight I have several Cocteau Twins albums which do make my 16-year-old self sound far cooler than he was as also in the collection are two Was Not Was singles and Track X 12” by Sheep on Drugs (it was a different time). I do think Poppiecock by Pop Will Eat Itself and Children by The Mission so that might have clawed a little coolness back.
Anyways, onto the Lenco. It’s a sturdy, quality beast (currently available from HMV for £349.99) that is really well-designed with a walnut finish and glass turntable. Set up might not be trouble-free if you’re a beginner. I literally came unstuck on step four of the instructions when it referenced something that was not on the diagram. Luckily, I easily found a YouTube video for starters which gave me all the clues I needed.
So it’s not plug-and-play and some assembly is required but once you get over that little hump you’re up and running and the operation couldn’t be simpler. You can easily switch between 33 and 45 rpm, and a pull/push of a lever does everything else.
It comes complete with a high-quality AT-VM95E cartridge, carbon fibre tonearm, counterweight, anti-skating weight (which is the bit I needed help with), and RCA connectors. One of the big attractions is the inbuilt Bluetooth that proved to be very easy and reliable to connect with external speakers or your headphones. Now be aware when it comes to speakers things aren’t going to sound great if they’re not up to the job, and you might get a better experience with headphones depending on your set-up.
So why has vinyl made such a comeback over the last decade? Well, first off there’s the tactile feel you just don’t get with digital, while there’s the obvious cool of the sleeve artwork, and there’s also the tingle of nostalgia you get when you hear the crackle and pop before a track starts. It’s well worth remembering that despite the millions of songs available through streaming it’s not a comprehensive list. There is stuff missing. For instance, one 12” I own – Post Post-Modern Man by Devo – you can’t find anywhere other than on import CD and that’s quite pricey.
This is where one of the LBT-225’s main features comes in as you can hook the turntable to your computer via USB and capture the audio to convert it to an MP3. There’s a range wide of free software for both Mac and PC that you can use, and it’s an easy way to digitise your vinyl collection.
The Lenco is a high-end device that’s also accessible for a beginner, and you get what you pay for, looking and feeling premium all the way through while also being versatile and flexible for it to fit seamlessly into your otherwise digital life. Has it worked its spell on me? Well, I just bought an old copy of OMD’s seminal (if a little bit madcap) album Dazzle Ships on eBay. So I think that’s a safe yes.