The Andover SpinDeck 2 (buy at Amazon) is a belt-drive turntable that uses a jazzy AT-3600 phono cartridge from Audio-Technica. With a price tag of just $299, this product is aimed at entry-level listeners, and Andover has added some thoughtful features that will make it much less daunting to spin vinyl for the first time. That by no means suggests that the SpinDeck 2 is something burgeoning audiophiles should automatically dismiss. Let’s take a closer look at this turntable to see if it’s worth your consideration.
What Makes the Andover SpinDeck 2 Turntable Special?
- This turntable is as easy to use as any you’ll find. The platter starts to spin as soon as you move the tonearm over it, and when the side of the record ends, the tonearm will lift itself up and return to the base—which saves you the effort of having to walk over right away to take the record off and either put it away or change sides.
- You can use the built-in phono preamp or bypass it. This is really an ideal feature to have at this price point. Depending on the age of your stereo preamp, it might not have a phono stage built in, which makes the SpinDeck 2’s included phono preamp quite convenient. And if your stereo preamp does have one built in, and you decide you like the sound of it better, you have the option to use it instead, thanks to a bypass switch on the back panel.
- The SpinDeck 2 comes in black or white. The option for a white finish may seem like an odd feature to get excited about, but to me aesthetics matter—and being able to get products in a color that doesn’t show every spec of dust in the house is ideal.
Why Should You Care About the Andover SpinDeck 2 Turntable?
If you’re curious to see what the modern vinyl revolution is all about but you don’t want to spend a fortune, this $299 turntable provides an affordable way to do so. It seems like everything about the SpinDeck 2 was designed with this user in mind. Ease of use and convenience are key. In addition to the built-in phono stage, the SpinDeck 2 comes with the phono cartridge installed as well. And to top it off, Andover has added a video on YouTube to show you how to put the turntable together—so you can assemble it quickly and feel confident that it’s configured properly.
Some Things You Might Not Like About the Andover SpinDeck 2 Turntable
- The SpinDeck 2 uses an aluminum tonearm instead of the carbon fiber ones you often find in higher-end turntables. That’s standard for this price range. The difference is subtle, and if you’re new to vinyl, you likely won’t be bothered by it. But a more seasoned listener might.
- If you have older records in your collection, this turntable might not be for you, since it does not play 78 rpm records. That’s very common these days. Most new records that you might purchase are played at 33 rpm, but some records made before 1950 spin at 78 rpm.
Listening to the Andover SpinDeck 2 Turntable…
“I Am a River” is a track off of Foo Fighters’ 2014 album Sonic Highways (buy on vinyl at Amazon). For me this is one of the best records in the band’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame career, and also one of the most interesting—since they recorded each track at a different studio around the US. “I Am a River” was recorded at Magic Shop in New York, which is maybe most famous for being the studio where David Bowie recorded his final two albums before tragically passing from cancer. The studio sadly closed in 2016. While modern music doesn’t always highlight what makes vinyl so sought after, this track really stood out to me. The song opens with a distortion that was beautifully mixed in from the end of the previous track, which provides the warmth that makes analog famous. When the seven-minute track kicks into full gear at around the four-minute mark, I was able to hear each instrument clearly, and the dynamics were handled well throughout Dave Grohl’s guitar solos and the string section that appears at the end.
Another song I used was “Hey Gyp (Dig the Slowness)” by The Raconteurs from their 2019 release Help Us Stranger. This is a Donovan cover that was originally released in 1965, and was also covered by The Animals on their 1966 record Animalism. It features a strong groove that will have you tapping your toes almost instantly, before Jack White and Brendan Benson’s guitars and vocals come in. The Andover SpinDeck 2 was able to reproduce everything that this track threw at it, and the music sounded clear even at higher volumes, even when the distortion and feedback from the guitars becomes more prominent as the song approaches its peak.
Does the Andover SpinDeck 2 Have Any Resale Value?
At this price point, you’re more likely to give this turntable away than try to sell it. That said, given the popularity of vinyl right now and the great features that the Andover SpinDeck 2 has built in, you could likely get $100 to $150 for it. The original SpinDeck sold recently for close to $100 on eBay. Not bad, but c’mon…hook a kid up instead. Hook a school up instead. Do something cool with this component if you get the chance.
Who Is the Competition for the Andover SpinDeck 2 Turntable?
The value of the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB (buy at Amazon) ($349) is tough to match. You typically don’t find direct-drive turntables at this price point—especially not ones with a USB output for digitizing your vinyl. Personally, I think recording your vinyl to your PC is kind of silly, as you are digitizing an analog source, but that’s a conversation for a different day.
I recently got the Music Hall MMF-1.3 (buy at Amazon) ($349) in for review, and by spec it is a very similar to the Andover SpinDeck 2. It uses a belt-drive motor and the same cartridge, and this one does play 78 rpm records. You can expect to see that review soon.
In many ways, Sony is the king of entry-level electronics. It’s a brand that everyone knows, and its products are typically a good value at their price. The Sony PS-LX310BT (buy at Amazon) ($248)is a fully automatic turntable, which means you press a button to start listening and it moves the tonearm, drops the needle, and returns the tonearm when the side of the LP is completed. This turntable also features USB output and Bluetooth if you’re looking for those features, and it comes with a beyond-reasonable $248 price tag.
Final Thoughts on the Andover SpinDeck 2 Turntable
I wouldn’t expect the Andover SpinDeck 2 (buy at Amazon) to be your final landing spot in turntables, as there are certainly sonic and design improvements to be had as you move up in price. As an entry-level piece, though, I think Andover delivers everything that a budding audiophile might want from a turntable. It’s not terribly difficult to put together, it’s easy to use, and it has a good sound.
One of important things that this turntable offers at this price is the built-in phono preamp. It’s entirely possible that your integrated amplifier, preamplifier, or powered speakers don’t have a phono stage built in—and for some people that omission can be a barrier to entry into the vinyl world. By building the phono preamp into the SpinDeck 2, Andover has removed that barrier—and you still have the option of using your own phono preamp if you want. Options are always a great thing to have.
At the end of the day, I would have no qualms recommending this turntable to anyone who is interested in getting started with vinyl or is looking to dust off their old record collection and enjoy the warm sound that vinyl records bring.