The Kingston 7-in-1 Record Player Puts My Smart Speakers to Shame

You can’t beat vinyl

Key Takeaways

  • Listening to vinyl on the $199 Electrohome Kingston 7-in-1 record player was a welcome change of pace from a constant audio diet of smart speakers. 
  • I loved the look of the Kingston, with its real walnut design and bronze knobs. 
  • The Kingston contains a phonograph, CD player, AM/FM radio, Bluetooth receiver, and more.
The Electrohome record player sitting on top of a trunk.

Electrohome

Using the Electrohome Kingston 7-in-1 record player made me realize how much I’ve been missing out on with digital music.

I’ve been listening to music from iTunes and other services for so long that it’s been decades since I put a needle on vinyl. When I began playing a Billie Holiday record with the Kingston, I was overwhelmed by the deep, rich sound.  I felt like I was at a live concert. Suddenly, my Apple HomePod sounded tinny by comparison. 

The Kingston is also a marvelous-looking, retro machine that makes a nice change from the minimalist smart speaker designs of recent years. It features a real wood walnut casing, accented with bronze knobs and buttons on the face of the record player. 

"To my ears, even the best smart speakers (like the Apple HomePod) don’t sound nearly as good as music once did on real stereo systems."

You Can’t Beat Vinyl

I’m no audiophile, but I’m old enough to remember the days before most music was compressed with various schemes like the MP3 format. I was happy to trade higher-quality sound for the convenience of being able to stream or download nearly any song available with no fuss. 

However, to my ears, even the best smart speakers (like the Apple HomePod) don’t sound nearly as good as music once did on real stereo systems. Serious sound nerds can spend thousands of dollars on high-end audio equipment and arrays of speakers.

I wasn’t ready to jump into a full hi-fi setup, because I love smart speakers’ simplicity and compact design. The Kingston seemed like the perfect compromise, as it’s an all-in-one unit that plays all kinds of music formats.

The Kingston is enormous compared to most smart speakers at 12.25 x 17.3 x 13.5 inches. But it’s modestly sized compared to an old-school hi-fi setup. Also, unlike modern electronics design that seems to hide ugliness by blending in as much as possible with the background, the Kingston’s handsome walnut casing was meant to be admired. 

Choose Your Format

You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to input options for the Kingston. It’s got a phonograph, CD player, AM/FM radio, Bluetooth receiver, USB playback, and auxiliary input. It allows recording onto a USB thumb drive from the phonograph, CD, radio, and Bluetooth. 

Unlike smart speakers equipped with Alexa, you can’t just tell the Kingston which song to play. You’ll have to fiddle with the controls yourself. There are two knobs on the left and right of the face, one for volume controls and one for source tuning. The CD tray is also on the faceplate next to buttons for playback control, EQ settings, Bluetooth pairing, and recording functions.

The setup was simple, and I had no problem connecting the Kingston to my iPhone via Bluetooth. Putting on a record, I was immediately impressed with the sound quality. The audio filled my living room with sound in a way that no smart device had. Electrohome claims that the wood case of the Kingston improves its sound quality. 

"I’m no audiophile, but I’m old enough to remember the days before most music was compressed with various schemes like the MP3 format."

After many years of listening to digital music, I also was struck by the warmth of the sound coming from a record. The tiny imperfections as the needle traces the grooves of the vinyl make each listening session sound unique. 

The sound from the Kingston wasn’t quite as impressive when I was streaming to the unit via Bluetooth. However, it was handy to have that option, especially as building a record collection can be expensive and consume a lot of space. The music coming from my local FM station sounded downright horrible, but I blame that more on the transmission than any fault of the Kingston. 

At $199, the Kingston is pricier than many smart speakers like the Apple HomePod mini. But it’s a welcome upgrade in sound quality from smart speakers and a perfect purchase for those who want to dabble with vinyl recordings and still have the option to play streaming music.

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