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The Jensen JTA-230 - An Inexpensive Beginner's Turntable

Updated on October 25, 2015
My Jensen JTA-230 turntable with a copy of "A Kind of Hush" by The Carpenters.
My Jensen JTA-230 turntable with a copy of "A Kind of Hush" by The Carpenters. | Source

A Budget Record Turntable That Anyone Can Afford & Operate

Vinyl records are making a comeback. Some might be buying them out of nostalgia, others may have collections that have been stowed away in a closet, garage or basement, or handed down to them from a family member. Brand new turntables can be very expensive for some models and used vintage or older turntables that are sold online advertised as fixer uppers might cost a lot to fix up, but for someone who simply wants to be able to play their records back for personal listening, or to give as a gift for younger children or teens, you can find new, very inexpensive turntables for less than $100. One such turntable is the Jensen JTA-230, which can be had for less than $50 on Amazon.

Features of the Jensen JTA-230 Turntable

The Jensen JTA-230 turntable is a very nice and model for its price and plays records with an acceptable amount of volume for personal listening through the built-in left and right hand side speakers, along with the option of plugging it into a stereo system, headphones or speakers using the RCA Line-out jacks on the rear, or the headphone jack on the front of the unit. It also comes with an Auxiliary input jack on the rear so that other devices like CD players, phones, iPods and other MP3 players can be connected to use the turntable's speakers.

And for those that are looking to rip their vinyl records to MP3 for archival or backup purposes, it also has a USB port on the rear so that you can connect it with the included cable to a PC and use the included Audacity software to record your records as the turntable plays them, and then separate the songs into their own tracks to save as individual MP3s.

Some other notable features, the Jensen JTA-230 includes an Auto Stop feature that can be turned on or off. If on, when a record finishes the last song or reaches the end of the track, moving the needle towards the center of the record, the turntable will automatically stop spinning so that you won't get that constant click, pop, hissing until someone turns it off manually. Note however, that the manual advises that with that feature on, some records may actually stop playing early. With my own small collection, I haven't come across this, but some albums actually haven't triggered the Auto Stop function, which isn't a problem per se and it may have been due to some difference in how an individual record was recorded and the length or width of the end of its track.

There are also adjustments for pitch and tone control. The pitch adjustment allows you to slightly speed up or slow down the playback speed however I haven't had to use this yet and leave it set to dead center to playback at normal speed. The tone control I keep turned all the way up and I get the clearest sound, if turned down low, the recording sounds as if the treble has been greatly reduced.

What Records Can The Jensen JTA-230 Play?

The Jensen JTA-230 can play 33 (otherwise known as 33 1/3), 45 and 78 RPM vinyl records and includes an adapter to play 45 RPM records. LP or Long Play albums up to 12 inches in diameter fit comfortably, with the still attached and lifted up or lowered over the turntable. Note that with the dust cover closed, the edge of the record won't make contact with the dust cover itself but will extend underneath it in the front, left and back sides of the turntable and can continue to play freely.

Sound Quality Of The Jensen JTA-230 Turntable

The sound quality can vary greatly depending on the record you are playing and can depend on how clean or dirty the record itself is as dust, dirt and grime can distort the sound produced, so you may want to clean your records occasionally, and especially any records you acquire from thrift stores and the like. In terms of sound quality from this particular model, there is some light background hissing however it is on the fainter side and only greatly noticeable during quieter tracks or periods of no audio in a track. For those who are converting their vinyl records to MP3 files, you can use the included Audacity sound recording software that's included.

This isn't covered in the manual included with the turntable, however there are numerous instructional videos on YouTube that detail the process step by step to producing cleaner recordings for playback from your PC or any other device that can play back MP3s. Personally I'm not bothered by the slight hissing and actually prefer it for some reason, however I do not claim to be an audiophile and to each their own.

Some of the albums I've acquired.  Christmas albums seem to be plentiful in Goodwill stores, but are mostly the exact same albums.
Some of the albums I've acquired. Christmas albums seem to be plentiful in Goodwill stores, but are mostly the exact same albums. | Source

Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Diana Ross & The Supremes Join The Temptations

Where Can You Find Vinyl Records For Your Jensen JTA-230?

Vinyl records are surprisingly making a comeback with modern artists, and Amazon and Barnes & Noble are also carrying more new vinyl records. If you're so inclined to put yourself through even more torture, or want enable a the children in your family to torture your relatives, little ones can even get their hands on the vinyl copy of “Frozen: The Songs”. Before you ask...yes, yes it does include “Let It Go.”

Other places that you can find vinyl records, especially if you're looking for vintage recordings that haven't been reproduced for new sale or might never be, you can try rummaging through thrift stores, consignment shops and places like Goodwill. Depending where you go, the selections may be small, but you can always get lucky and find something you like or remember from years past. Goodwill in particular, if there is a Goodwill Outlet store in your area, you might come across a larger selection of records to sift through. When buying used records however, you always want to pull the record out of its sleeve, firstly to make sure its even there, or that both records are included if you're buying a two album set. I learned both of these the hard way, but was only out $0.50 for my mistake.

Secondly, you want to inspect the record itself, looking for any warping that might cause it to not sit flat or as close to flat as possible on the turntable. Warped records can cause the needle to skip across the track as it rotates, jump back into the same portion of the track and repeating the same portion of a song, making it...sound like a broken record, if you'll excuse the bad pun. The same can be said for scratched records, you run the risk of it playing poorly and or skipping or repeating often depending on the severity of the scratches.

Warped records can be restored if done carefully, however I only recommend doing this if you REALLY have to and can't find another copy to replace the warped one. That being said, restoring a warped record involves the use of your oven and some glass panes or flat tiles that are large enough to completely cover the record on both sides and allow you to bake it in the oven, and I will refer anyone who is seeking to restore a record this way to YouTube as there are several videos that show how to do this but just in case someone decides to try this, I will say that you do so at your own risk and I in no way guarantee that it will perfectly restore every warped record.

Third, cleanliness can be a factor, you'll want to make sure that if the record is heavily soiled, especially with anything sticky that might require harsh cleaning chemicals or solvents, or that may not be cleaned easily without too much effort should be passed over. Records that appear to have an accumulation of dust can be cleaned fairly easily using something like the Discwasher brush and solution that Amazon carries.

With all that being said, I've come across some very nice finds at consignment shop in our area which was actually selling off a local radio station's collection of vinyl records. A lot of them were country music or gospel, which I have no interest in, however I did find some excellent copies of Minnie Riperton's “Perfect Angel” and her posthumously released “Love Lives Forever” album, “A Kind of Hush” by The Carpenters, “Diana Ross & The Supremes Join The Temptations”, “Live And More” by Donna Summer (which both records are slightly warped and I may try to restore them so that they don't skip. Often records like these can be had for VERY low prices. For example, the average price between Goodwill retail stores is $0.50, while the Goodwill Outlet store I visited priced them at $0.25 each, and my local consignment shop priced the records from the radio station at $10.00 for 3 albums. Record collecting doesn't have to be an expensive hobby and you can find amazing treasures if you only look.

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