REVIEW – Over the past few years, my younger son has developed an interest in jazz, both as a musician and as an enthusiast. He has been collecting vinyl records and has been, in his words, “slumming it” with my vintage turntable and a dedicated phonographic amp and Bluetooth transmitter (I keep trying to explain that my vintage turntable was an upper-end consumer model, but it’s old so…). I also have a number of albums on vinyl that are either unavailable digitally (CD or download) or that I have been loathe to purchase again. The Electrohome Kingston 7-in-1 record player, which also includes a CD player, radio, Bluetooth / USB playback, and recording, looks like a solution to many of our problems.
What is it?
The Electrohome Kingston 7-in-1 record player (Model RR75) is a retro-styled multi-function device. The Kingston 7-in-1 features the following functions:
- CD player
- AM / FM radio
- Bluetooth receiver
- USB playback
- auxiliary input
- Recording onto USB thumb drive from phonograph, CD, radio, Bluetooth, or auxiliary input
In addition to the four integrated speakers, the Kingston sports a headphone jack and stereo RCA outputs.
What’s in the box?
The Kingston 7-in-1 Record Player comes packed in a relatively plain cardboard box. It is shipped surrounded by expanded polystyrene and is wrapped in a protective plastic envelope with an obligatory desiccant pack.
The power cord, remote (with batteries–nice to see), and user guide are packed in the bottom of the box in a separate bag. The quick-start guide is placed on the record spindle.
The pertinent hardware specifications include (quoting from the Electrohome website):
|inish||Real Wood Veneer|
|Construction Material||MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard)|
|Cartridge||Ceramic, Sapphire Tipped Stylus|
|Record Speeds||33 1/3, 45, 78 RPM|
|45 Adapter Included||Yes|
|Radio – AM / FM||Yes|
|Speaker Size||2 x 2″, 10 W, 8 Ohms; 2 x 3.5″, 30 W, 6 Ohms|
|Dimensions||12.25 x 17.3 x 13.5 inches / 31.2 x 43.9 x 34.3 cm (HxWxD)|
|Unit Weight||23.75 lbs (10.77 kg)|
|Amplifier Power||35 Watts|
This particular unit is finished in cherry wood veneer.
Design and features
Setting up the Kingston 7-in-1 involved removing various molded pieces of expanded polystyrene, removing the protective film over the front display panel, installing the batteries in the remote, uncapping the stylus (somewhat problematic, see below), lowering the shipping screw (this is the first time I had to lower a screw to unlock a turntable, most of the ones that I have owned, raise a screw to unlock) located next to the tone arm, and plugging in the unit.
When I followed the directions for uncapping the stylus, I found that the actual needle and it’s carrier arm had folded backward and didn’t allow for proper operation of the phonograph. It took about 10 minutes of investigation to find the cause and move the needle back into position. There was no apparent damage to the stylus or to my test record and records have played well.
My jazz-enthusiast son and I put the Kingston 7-in-1 through its paces during the last few weeks. His primary interest was being able to play his expanding collection of small-press LPs with headphones so he could riff with the recordings. I was more interested in being able to transcode some of my rare LPs and promotional 45s into MP3s so I could listen to them without worrying about damaging the original vinyl records.
We are happy to report that the Kingston lived up to its billing. The sound quality from all sources is better than what I was expecting from an all-in-one unit.
Playback from the auxiliary input (1/8″ jack) was more than acceptable. I think part of our problem was that we used an old cable to connect my laptop to the Kingston. The sound was comparable to the vintage bookshelf speakers that we used for comparison.
Bluetooth playback was very good. The sound was clear and at a good volume.
The CD player is a main-stream unit without any bells and whistles, just play/pause, stop, skip forward / backward, and eject.
We initially had some problems with radio reception, but we re-positioned the built-in antenna and eventually moved the unit away from some potential sources of interference and the problem was solved. We were able to set and retrieve multiple station presets.
The record player function is what my son and I were most interested in. The Kingston sports a basic turntable without a lot of the automation that those of us of a certain age remember from our younger days. To use the player, you place a record on the turntable, unlock the tone arm, raise the tone arm using the tone arm lever and then manually move the arm over the record and manually lower it. At the end of playback (when the arm reaches the center of the record) the turntable shuts off, but the arm does not automatically return.
I would have liked to see at least automatic starting / cuing of records and automatic return of the tone arm at the end of playback, but this would add weight, complexity, and cost. For many these additional features are not worth the risk of failure, additional cost, or weight.
Like most of the other functions of the Kingston, the USB playback quite good (limited of course by the source files). The functions are limited to play/pause, skip forward/back, folder navigation, and special playback: repeat track, repeat folder, repeat all, or shuffle.
The USB recording feature has a few qualifications. The USB drive must be formatted as FAT32 and have a maximum capacity of 32 GB. Files are transcoded as 128 kbps quality. The Kingston supports recording from records, CDs, auxiliary input, or Bluetooth (which is a nice bonus).
The recording process starts by selecting the source and inserting a compatible USB drive into the USB-A port on the front of the unit. From there the exact process differs depending on the source.
Recording from a record / aux / Bluetooth, playback is started manually and then the RECORD button on the front of the unit is pressed (I usually reversed these because I split tracks on my computer). Tracks can be manually split during playback by pressing the track skip button on the front panel or on the remote. Recording may also be paused using the play/pause button on either the remote or front panel. Pressing the record button again stops the recording.
Recording from a CD is more automated. Once the CD is loaded and the USB drive is inserted, pressing record begins the recording process. The skip forward / back buttons are used to cycle through RECORD ONE, RECORD FOLDER, RECORD ALL (I’m not sure what recording a folder on a commercially produced CD means). Again press RECORD to stop recording early.
The recorded files are stored in sub-directories on the USB drive: /RECORD/EXREC for non-CD sources and /RECORD/COPY for files sourced from CDs.
Connecting to an external amplifier
The only external amplifier that we had to test this feature with was a dedicated headphone amplifier. This feature works, but I can’t really comment on the quality of the output because of the test environment.
I found the headphone performance to be a bit of a mixed bag. This may have been due to the headphones that I used and the lack of personalized settings (I’m used to using tuning programs on my computer to compensate for the nuances of my headphones and my age-related hearing loss). My son thought the music sounded fine (we tested using his headphones).
What I like
- All-in-one unit
- Can record from a variety of sources
- Includes a remote (with batteries)
- Easy-to-read, helpful manual
What could be improved
- Slightly larger cabinet, so that standard-size LPs don’t stick out the back of the cabinet
- Use of a traditional-style stylus
- Recording from non-CD sources is clumsy — I just recorded whole LPs and then split out the tracks using other software (it reminds me of my days trying to record the top 40 countdown from the radio without also recording the commercials).
- Automatic cuing of LPs and return of the tone arm.
The Electrohome Kingston 7-in-1 Record Player is a very nice unit that can fill most of your small-space entertainment needs. It is certainly going to find a place in our home for many years. The Kingston comes with an easy-to-read and comprehensive manual that answered every question that came up during evaluation, which is a nice change from most consumer electronics these days.