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Jensen JTA-230 Review

A tempting low price, but sounds inferior to listening to mp3's on cheap speakers
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Price:   $50 List | $49 at Amazon
Pros:  Inexpensive
Cons:  Poor sound, difficult to use, flimsy construction
Manufacturer:   Jensen
By Max Mutter and Steven Tata  ⋅  Dec 5, 2017
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28
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 9
  • Sound Quality - 40% 3
  • Component Quality - 25% 2
  • User Friendliness - 25% 3
  • Vibration Resistance - 10% 3

The Skinny

Once we finished testing the Jensen JTA-230, we concluded that it really wasn't worth spending less than $100 on a record player. Sure the Jensen looks kind of nice, but the music it produces sounds quite bad. We've listened to Pandora through $40 Bluetooth speakers and had a better listening experience than we did using the Jensen with a set of $100 speakers. If you happen to have some old records lying around and just what to see what's on them, the Jensen is an inexpensive way to do that. However, your experience would be vastly improved by getting the $100 Audio Technica AT-LP60BK. Its sound is far superior and is much more worthy of those high quality vinyl records.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Jensen JTA-230 was quite underwhelming in our testing as it was difficult to use and didn't sound very good. We would strongly suggest spending a bit more on the Audio Technica AT-LP60BK if you're looking for a budget record player.


Performance Comparison


The Jensen JTA-230 was one of the worst overall performers in our testing. Below we detail all of the testing results that led to that low score.

Sound Quality


The Jensen JTA-230 was close to the bottom of our sound quality scoreboard, earning a 3 out of 10. This bested only the other sub $100 model we tested, the Victrola Vintage 3-Speed. Almost everything we listened to on this turntable sounded somewhat muffled. It also had a very narrow dynamic range, making the music sound thin, weak, and tinny. Overall we much preferred listening to mp3's than listening to records played on this machine. Spending a bit more on the Audio Technica AT-LP60BK brings much sharper clarity and an impressive dynamic range. We feel this upgrade is well worthwhile.

The Jensen displayed very poor sound quality in our testing.
The Jensen displayed very poor sound quality in our testing.

Component Quality


The Jensen JTA-230 only lists for $50, and it shows. It received the lowest component quality score of any of the models we tested, a 2 out of 10. It uses a flimsy plastic platter with no soft material to insulate the record from vibrations. The tonearm is also flimsy plastic, as is the majority of the player body. For comparison, the Audio Technica AT-LP60BK has a solid aluminum platter with a felt mat, and a metal tonearm.

The Jensen is somewhat flimsily constructed.
The Jensen is somewhat flimsily constructed.

User Friendliness


The Jensen also fared poorly in our user friendliness testing, sharing the bottom score of 3 out of 10. It does automatically identify what type of record you're playing and adjusts its speed to 33, 45, or 78 rpm as needed, but unfortunately that is where the convenience stops. It has no tracking force adjustment and no cue lever. This means you have to move the tonearm and set the needle to the record yourself. In general this isn't a difficult skill to master, but in the case of the Jensen the tonearm is a bit sticky when it moves around, making things a bit difficult. It also means you can't adjust the tracking force if things aren't sounding right. It does offer digital conversion, which is nice. Unfortunately the resulting mp3 files sound like the Jensen does, which isn't so good.

You must hand cue the Jensen  which may take a bit of getting used to for beginners.
You must hand cue the Jensen, which may take a bit of getting used to for beginners.

Vibration Resistance


The Jensen was again at the bottom of the leaderboard in our vibration resistance testing, earning a score of 3 out of 10. In our testing it skipped if we even grazed against the table that it was sitting on, while all the other models were able to withstand at least moderate bumps without skipping,

Value


Although the Jensen's list price of $50 is very low, its performance is correspondingly poor. This makes it a bad value. If you want a budget record player and can handle spending another $50, the Audio Technica AT-LP60BK is an infinitely better value.


Conclusion


The Jensen JTA-230 offers a shoestring price point but fails to provide solid enough performance to be worth even that low price.


Max Mutter and Steven Tata