What We Like
- An elegant and simplistic design, mixing both metal and wood.
- Wireless Bluetooth streaming is a fantastic feature.
- Simple enough for anyone to quickly set up out of the box.
What We Don’t Like
- With all the focus on design, performance suffers a bit.
When shopping for music equipment, you’ll sometimes come across a piece that makes you stop in your tracks – the BT500 turntable from Akai is certainly one of these! Its elegant look will catch your attention, but how does it perform?
Without a doubt, this is a beautiful turntable that would be pride of place in any home music set-up. It is as elegant and minimalist as it gets, with a sleek walnut finish and brushed aluminum controls, which are kept to a minimum to avoid clutter. However this simple layout does mean you are a little limited when it comes to controls, with just a speed dial and start/stop switch available up top, while volume and Bluetooth controls are discreetly hidden on the front.
Clearly the BT500 is not meant for the performing or creative musician. Instead, Akai have taken their time in putting together a stunning record player for the casual listener. At 16lbs it’s not overly heavy but the strong adjustable rubber feet will be more than enough to keep it steady and in place.
It’s now pretty clear that the BT500 is not going to be the top performer in its class when it comes to versatility, but it makes up for this with some interesting features – mainly its wireless capabilities. Akai offers wireless Bluetooth streaming for playback through your favorite wireless speaker or Hi-Fi system, which is a fantastic feature we’re beginning to see more and more of. Set up on the BT500 is simple and going from unboxing to listening couldn’t be easier.
Round the back of the turntable you’ll find a USB port for connecting to your PC or Mac, allowing for easy conversion of your favorite records to MP3 files, with Akai including a copy of EZ Vinyl/Tape converter software to aid with this. They’ve also included a replacement cartridge and stylus to make life a little easier.
With such a simple design and so much focus on aesthetics and features, the performance of the BT500 does suffer a bit. This turntable features a belt-driven motor, which is fine and will work nicely for casual listening, but at this price it would have been nice to see direct drive instead. You are also limited to just two speeds – 33 and 45 RPM – which should be fine for the casual user. The tonearm is nicely made, with a light aluminum build and is fully adjustable, with an on-board leveling bubble for increased accuracy.
Whether you’re going wireless or running this through the RCA output around back, out of the box there should be very little set up needed. For a turntable at under $500, the sound isn’t bad at all, although there are better systems around if sound is your main priority.
With that stunning minimalist design, the BT500 is a beautiful piece of musical equipment, and with wireless Bluetooth streaming it’s a dream for any casual listener. It does suffer a little in performance, but for the price it’s still a winner.