What just happened? Harman has announced a new wireless turntable that will be part of its CES showcase in Las Vegas this week. Unfortunately, you'll have to wait several months for the opportunity to take it home.
The JBL Spinner BT plays records at 33 1/3 rpm for LPs and 45 rpm for EPs and singles, and speeds are locked with a sensor to guarantee perfect pitch from its belt-driven aluminum platter. As the name suggests, the turntable will allow listeners to enjoy their vinyl wirelessly over Bluetooth 5.2 "without sacrificing audio quality." It can easily pair with headphones, portable speakers or soundbars and supports aptX HD encoding.
Analog output over a wired connection is also possible for those wishing to use the turntable with traditional component or active loudspeaker systems.
Other highlights include an aluminum tonearm, black MDF plinth with JBL orange accents, a hinged dust cover and a contemporary front panel. The tonearm comes pre-loaded with an Audio Technica moving magnet cartridge on a removable head shell for easy replacement and upgrading. Furthermore, the turntable's feet are dampened to reduce vibration ingress.
According to Luminate Data (formerly Nielsen SoundScan), vinyl sales in the US hit a modern-era high in the week ending December 22, 2022, with sales topping out at 2.232 million copies - an increase of 46.7 percent week-over-week. That is the largest single week of sales since Luminate started tracking sales in 1991, and only the second time since then that weekly vinyl sales in the US have exceeded two million units.
The last time it happened was in the week leading up to Christmas last year, as sales peaked at 2.115 million units.
Heightened vinyl sales during the holidays don't necessarily mean more people are listening to records. I suspect that a sizable portion of purchases were nostalgia-fueled gifts as album covers are an excellent canvas to show off cover art.
The JBL Spinner BT is set to arrive in the third quarter of 2023 at an MSRP of $399.