There's been something of a return to vinyl music listening of late, with the Recording Industry Association of America figures showing album revenues for last year of $416 million – a high that hasn't been seen since the end of the 1980s. Digital music, particularly streaming, still rules the roost of course, so it's no surprise that audio equipment manufacturers like Sony and Akai are catering to the modern enthusiast with digital and analog hybrids. Vowel-hating, US-based vinyl record subscription service Vnyl is taking a step further with a trntbl that ditches physical output connections for wireless audio streaming, while also catering for music-related social networking.
The trntbl is described as an Internet of Things record player and is designed to work with wireless audio setups only, so you won't find any of the physical connections common to other turntables on the market (such as RCA, optical or USB). The current version has a built-in DAC and support for Bluetooth and AirPlay, in addition to Wi-Fi streaming to the whole range of Sonos speakers at up to 1,411 Mbps as uncompressed 16-bit/44.1 kHz audio. Nick Alt, Vnyl's founder, told us that the "trntbl sounds amazing (just shy of CD quality) and light years ahead of MP3."
The turntable is also able to determine which song is being played on the platter in real-time and then share that information on pre-selected social media. This means that friends and followers could get a Facebook feed update or Tweet proudly announcing that you've just started listening to Barry Manilow's Tryin' to Get the Feeling or Close to the Edge from Yes. And if you like what your buddy is listening to, you can tune-in via Spotify and groove along.
"trntbl identifies the song (similar to Shazam) directly from the needle and uses that information to connect to Spotify, and other digital services to scrobble and enable our tune-in features," explained Alt.
Few details on the turntable's record-playing prowess have been revealed, but we can tell you that the trntbl is belt-driven, that it sports a snazzy gold-colored S-shaped tonearm that ends in either an AT95E or OM5e cartridge (though the buyer is able to upgrade the cartridge before shipping for an additional fee) and the platter is made of acrylic. Cartridge weight and anti-skate adjustments are supported via the tonearm mounting.
We also know that the base is constructed using MDF, aluminum and plastic and the unit feet support reverberation dampening. The two knobs up top are used for powering the trntbl on or off (bottom) and for switching between 33 1/3 and 45 RPM speeds (top). Playback is cued manually, though there is support for auto-return when the stylus hits the end grooves.
The trntbl "Internet of Things" turntable will be available later this year in a choice of two color options for a suggested retail price of US$420, but is currently up for pre-order at $351.
Product page: trntbl by Vnyl
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