All-in-one products are not always the perfect solution. I’m thinking of those dental hygiene kits where the electric toothbrush is okay but everything else is suspect. Or maybe those car kits where you know the jumper cables work and everything else in the kit is not as useful. (By the way, that is not the case with an emergency kit I tested recently.)
Back in the early days of audio gear, if you bought speakers, a receiver, and a turntable as a kit at the consumer electronics store, you had to compromise on quality. It was more about the convenience of buying everything all at once. A true audiophile would not do that.
With the Victrola Premiere T1 product, the entire package means you can listen to vinyl records right away without having to buy any cables, receivers, or speakers. It’s all included, and for those looking to get into vintage music, it means there is no barrier to entry.
Before I get into the overall quality, I can’t say enough about how easy it is to use this all-in-one kit. It comes in one box with a large placard that explains how to configure everything. In about 15 minutes, I had attached the needle cartridge, plugged in all of the devices, and had an album spinning. It wasn’t like this back in the early days when turntables were common, and it wasn’t even like this a few years ago when vintage turntables became popular.
I liked how I could use the speakers to play music from my phone over Bluetooth as well. The turntable has some cool features as well. For one, I had no trouble adjusting the weight of the needle for smooth playback, using a small allen wrench. There’s plenty of ways to adjust the turntable and prevent slippage or other common vinyl problems.
The Victrola Premiere T1 also looks vintage. It reminds me of something we might have used back when the only way to play music was on a turntable or with a tape. It’s also not “cute” like some of the vintage models you see that are designed for teens. There’s a ton of flexibility in how you can use the turntable, either connected to the included speakers using a wired cable or by sending the signal to Bluetooth speakers across the room.
At $400, the kit is priced about right, considering you can use the bookshelf speakers for music playback from any device. The speakers also have a subwoofer output, plus they have an aux input if you want to connect another audio device such as a vintage cassette deck or a phone. Overall, the entire kit is well-designed, flexible, vintage, and easy to use.
You may have wondered if this was all leading up to a criticism, and that’s only partially true. We’re not talking audiophile quality here, because for that you really need to use higher-end amplifiers, receivers, and speakers. For $400, this kit is a great gift and meets the need to jump on the vintage audio bandwagon, and to really experience high-fidelity vintage audio, the cost is more than I would even recommend. To reach audiophile quality it will cost north of $2,000 for the turntable, plus adding audiophile-quality speakers and an amp or receiver. I don’t recommend doing any of that (for pristine audio, it’s better to use something like the Rose Audio set-top box and the Tidal app). I did put the turntable through some tests out of curiosity.
To prepare for this test, I requested a few recent vinyl releases and bought a few of my own. (It helps that I have reviewed music for over 15 years, so my contacts were happy to help by sending a sample vinyl or two.) I compared the sound quality of the Premiere T1 using the included speakers to the quality of a speaker set from a company called Kali Audio.
The Kali MM-6 speakers I used cost $400 but are about the same six, but the price of the speakers is as much as the entire Premiere T1 kit. I also used my own Sony audio receiver which has more like 100 watts of power (compared to the T1 speakers at 60 watts).
First, the Premiere T1 and included speakers do have a warm, inviting sound quality. You can hear the warmth on every track. I wasn’t as impressed by the loudness, and some tracks sounded a bit mushy and mixed together. Clarity was not outstanding, but still good. It’s convenience that is the big selling point with this kit.
With the Kali set, the turntable sounded clearer and all tracks had more warmth, bass, and pure loudness. My own receiver helped. This told me the turntable is doing a fine job reproducing the sound, and the needle is able to keep up. We’re still not in the audiophile category here, but I noticed a big increase in clarity without the mixed sound of the included speakers.
I’m a big fan of the kit. I know it’s possible to use my own speakers and receivers, so if I upgraded to even better audio gear, the turntable would be a good pick. It’s a great gift idea, and helped me get back into vinyl (for the second time in the last few years).