The Jensen JTA-230 turntable is very popular at the moment. In fact, it’s one of the best selling record players on Amazon. From talking to various people though, a lot of folks don’t realize exactly what they’re getting when they buy it. So I decided to write this review to cover the pros and cons of this particular turntable.
The bottom line is that this is a low budget record player, and you need to keep your expectations in line with that. It’s priced to be an entry level contender, designed to get your feet wet in the wonderful world of vinyl. It’s easy on the budget, by you will not be getting great hi-fi sound performance, and it does skip fairly easily.
Where this product shines is the fact that it is portable and self contained, easy to use, and can be used to transfer vinyl records to a digital format on your computer via USB.
If this short description sounds exactly like what you want, then click here to buy it from Amazon.
If not, read on for my full review.
Cartridge and Stylus
The Jensen JTA 230 comes with a low end ceramic cartridge just like most of the budget turntables on the market. Ceramic cartridges are designed to be more durable and less sensitive to bumps and vibrations. This is important because cheaper tables, like this unit, tend to be less study and stable due to the base (or plinth) being lighter and not isolating the platter from outside vibrations. The less sensitive ceramic cartridges reduce the amount of unwanted noise in the music playback.
The downside of the ceramic cartridges being less sensitive is that it does not play the high or low frequencies very well.
On the low end the needles tend to jump out of the vinyls grooves during heavy bass or quick changes in volume, like with music that has heavy bass or drums. You can minimize this skipping by taping a small weight to the top of the cartridge (like a penny). If you do this though, you will cause your stylus and record to wear faster.
On the high end the cartridge tends to not respond at all. This may be less noticeable though because the high frequencies are near the uppper limit that humans can hear.
Another note is that the included stylus can only play 33⅓ and 45 rpm records. If you want to play 78 RPM records, then you will need to buy a separate stylus with a 3 Mil tip. You can buy one directly with the distributor or from Amazon for about $10. Do not try to use the included stylus to play you 78s. This will cause damage to both your stylus and your records.
These stylus’ normally last for about 250 hours of use.
Tonearm, Platter and Motor
There is no automatic placing or returning of the tonearm on this model. You will have to manually pick up and place the tonearm to start playback, and then move it back when playback is finished. If you do not have a steady hand, this may cause some frustration.
The tonearm itself is made of plastic. There is no lever to help you lift the tonearm, and there is no counter weight to help balance it. This is common and expected on cheap turntables, but is less than ideal.
The platter is belt driven by the motor. This simply means that there is a belt between the motor and platter (the part that spins), instead of the motor being directly connected to the platter (called direct driven). The belts help to reduce motor noise from being picked up by the stylus.
The belt driven type of turntables are made for listening to music, while the direct driven ones are made more for DJ’s. I do not recommend this table for DJing or scratching records.
The motor can be easily made to switch between 33⅓ , 45 and 78 RPM playing speeds. Though remember that you will need a different stylus for the 78 RPM
Inexpensive record players have inexpensive motors. This means that the motor are not very good at always keeping the RPMs completely constant. Luckily to help combat this, a pitch control is provided. This lets you fine tune the motor speed if you find that it is spinning too slow or too fast.
You will notice from the picture that the platter is actually smaller than a normal record, and that the record sticks out over the player. The dust cover’s sides have been cut out to allow you to close it during playback.
A spindle adapter is provided if you wish to play 7 inch 45 RPM records.
Inputs and Outputs
You do not need any additional equipment in order to start playing music with the Jensen JTA 230. This player is completely self-contained. It comes with 2 internal speakers, place on either side of the base, and its own internal preamp.
On the back there are left and right RCA output jack (the red and white plugs), a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a USB port. The RCA outs produce a line level signal, not a phone signal. If you decide to connect this to a receiver, make sure you plug into the correct input or the sound will be distorted.
The 3.5mm jack is not amplified so if you use it to connect to external speakers, make sure they are self powered or you run the signal through an amplifier.
You can use the USB port to connect to you computer and then convert your vinyl into digital music files. You simply plug it in and your computer should automatically recognize it. No additional drivers need to be installed. You can use the included software to record your music is if you want, but it’s poorly designed and a little clunky. I use the free software Audacity for all my audio recording. A USB cable is included.
There is also an auxiliary input jack that can be used to connect your iPod or other MP3 player. You can then play your music through the turntables internal speakers. Be aware that if you have anything plugged into the aux jack, then you can’t play a record. Disconnect all cables from the aux jack before starting vinyl playback.
Jensen JTA-230 Sound Quality
The internal speakers are passable, but don’t have a lot of volume. This is pretty typical of players that have internal speakers. If the speakers could be turned up, then the vibrations would cause a nasty feedback loop and horrible skipping. This same reason is why the low end frequencies (bass) is pretty lacking.
If you want to play the music louder, then you will need to use the output jacks to connect to an amp and better speakers. Just as with the internal speakers, the low end is lacking on any output.
Sound quality is hard to objectively judge when you consider the price vs performance and individual expectations. This is a cheap turntable with cheap speakers. You will not get a Hi-Fi sound out of this, but you will be able to enjoy listening to your music. A $300 turntable connected to $200 speakers will sound much better, but that may not be what you want or need. And that’s ok.
Keep your expectations grounded, and you shouldn’t be disappointed.
JTA 230 Turntable Controls
- Power On/Off Switch – Turns it on or off.
- Power Indicator – Red light lets you know when it’s on
- Auto Stop Switch – This switch causes the platter to stop spinning once the tonearm reaches the end of the record. It does not automatically return the tonearm.
- Tone Control – Allows minor adjustments to the treble levels.
- Volume Control – Makes it louder or quieter.
- Pitch Control – Allows for find adjustments in how fast the motorplatter spins. Not usually seen on lower end models.
- Speed Selector – Found next to the tonearm. Switches between 33⅓ , 45 and 78 RPM.
Adjustments and Upgrades
The only adjustment or upgrade that you can make with the Jensen JTA230 is replacing the stylus for 78 RPM records. Everything else is permanent. If you want a better turntable with better components, you will need to buy a more expensive one.
The positive side of this is that it is ready to play music right out of the box. No assembly required.
Body and Look
The Jensen JTA230 is mostly made of plastic. It is light and feels flimsy. There are rubber feet attached to the bottom to help with skipping, but I recommend that you use some felt pads or additional feet to prevent damage to your wood furniture and help further isolate from vibrations.
Jensen JTA-230 Review Video
Check out this cool video I found of the Jensen JTA-230 in use:
Jensen JTA-230 Consumer Reviews
The biggest complaint that I’ve seen about the Jensen JTA-230 turntable is that the sound is “tinny”, has no bass, and isn’t loud enough. As I mentioned above, this is by design to prevent skipping from the internal speaker vibrations. A lot of people have also commented that they actually enjoy this type of sound, and that it closely mimics the original sound before the digital era. For the most part, people who keep the price of this turntable in mind agree that the sound quality meets or exceeds their expectations.
A lot of people like this players small size and light weight because it makes it easy to transport and store. People find it very easy to setup, and have no problems using it to transfer music to their computer. The biggest complaint is the included software, but there are plenty of free better alternatives you can easily use.
There have been some reports of defective units. The problems include inconsistent motor speeds, humming, excessive skipping, blown speakers, and it stopping after only a few weeks. Most cases were easily resolved by contacting Jensen’s customer service and getting either a refund or a replacement.
I’m not sure how many of the above problems were actual defects, and not just misplaced expectations. Either way can be frustrating, but Jensen does offer a 90 warranty and will honor return or replacement requests. You may be responsible for the shipping though.
Overall customer reviews tend to be very positive.
Jensen JTA 230 User Manual Download
You can download the User Manual here.
Hopefully I covered all of the important points in my Jenses JTA 230 review. This is an entry level turntable designed to get people into listening to vinyl records, or long time vinyl lovers that can’t afford a better player. It is lightweight and can be easily transported to a friends apartment or wherever. You can use it to easily transfer your old records to your computer.
Keep your expectations based in reality and this player should meet or exceed them. If you have any questions or comments please let me know in the comment section below.