Hands-on review: Lenco LS-410WA Bluetooth turntable with built-in speakers
Image credit: Lenco
A turntable for all spaces.
Vinyl's resurgence continues, with sales booming and turntables aplenty on which to play those LPs covering all bases. Wired turntables that are part of a bigger separates system; Bluetooth turnables that transmit vinyl playback over the air to connected speakers, or all-in-one, standalone Dansette-style turntables with built-in speakers.
Lenco, the long-standing hi-fi company with Dutch/Swiss roots, and which recently celebrated its 75th anniversary, has a number of turntable options in all these spaces.
Its LS-410WA belt-driven Bluetooth turntable with four built-in speakers, reviewed here, is a hybrid turntable covering aspects of all the types described above, to more or less some degree.
There are four speakers, arranged in a line array, projecting sound from behind the grille in the front underneath the aluminium platter. There are no side speakers, so the sound from the two 15-watt speakers and two 10-watt speakers is coming directly at you.
Used in this way, there's nothing more you need to start playing records. A switch on the back selects between 'Phono' or 'Line Out': select 'Phono' to start grooving.
The sound from the four speakers is pretty good. Not mindblowing, and there's not a lot of really low end, but it's quite a fun and exciting sound to listen to, especially for records cut for this type of turntable. Many older records (e.g. '50s and '60s 7" singles, even some from the '70s and '80s) were mixed and cut with this type of playback machine in mind.
It goes loud, too, and can get a bit 'toppy' at times, but the mid-range is well-represented, with vocals seemingly pushed more to the fore. There's decent layer separation, so individual elements can be picked out from the mini wall of sound being created.
With all four speakers so close together, it's practically a mono experience, so yes, dedicated mono records do come across very well. Flipping through The Beatles' remastered 7" vinyl box set, for example, is a lot of sonic fun.
Using the RCA jacks on the back, you can also connect the LS-410WA to any hi-fi amplifier or powered speakers. This elevates the turntable's sound. It's easier, and fairer, to compare the sound of this turntable against others in the same price bracket when it's wired directly to speakers. We were able to switch between three different turntables – all around the £200 mark – with each one having its own pros and cons. All sounded subjectively "good".
One unusual trait with this Lenco is that the built-in speakers are still active even when you have it wired to an external source and you've flicked the output switch to 'Line Out'.
Now, you can either dial down the internal speakers to zero using the volume knob onboard, and let your bigger external speakers feed your soul, or you can find a sweet spot where the Lenco acts like a 'third' speaker to blend with and complement your stereo pair. We liked this approach to add a bit of the Lenco's 'sparkle' to the overall sound. This definitely works best when the Lenco is centred between two speakers, so you don't cause the sound to become lopsided.
Returning to standalone mode, there is also a 3.5mm 'Aux in' jack on the rear, where you can connect any stereo sound source to play through the internal speakers, as well as a Bluetooth 5.0 option. Bluetooth is one way only: in. You can stream your smartphone/tablet/laptop sound to the Lenco and it will pipe it out of its four speakers. You can't Bluetooth the turntable's playback to other Bluetooth speakers, though, which is mildly disappointing.
With this wistful reflection in mind, setting one's realistic expectations for the LS-410WA would be a sensible approach for minimal regret, maximum pleasure.
If you're coming from a more premium turntable – one of Lenco's own higher-end models, for example, like the fine L-92WA anniversary model – the LS-410WA does have more of a 'flimsy' plastic feel, with its spindly tone arm and lever.
You might also miss certain higher-end features such as auto-stop/return, pitch adjustment control and a strobe light, which are all nice to have, no question. The LS-410WA is more about simply playing records, with the least amount of fuss or finesse.
Its turntable is also sprung, so you can physically 'bounce' it. This actually translates to more stability when you're moving around in the room or dancing. We did some light jogging next to the turntable, by way of experiment, and it didn't affect playback.
The controls of the LS-410WA are somewhat cryptic. There's a volume dial, an On/Off/Mode button, a Play/Pause button, and separate buttons for 33rpm and 45rpm. However, there's no indication as to which speed is actually selected – the buttons have no downward travel at all, nor any illuminating lights – so your best bet is to look at the turntable as it rotates and guess by eye. Or ear, as you'll soon know if the record is playing at the wrong speed!
The On/Off/Mode button cycles through the various output options, which is more straightforward. Play/Pause controls the rotation of the turntable platter, which is essentially start and stop. Lenco suggests that you may wish to 'pause' a record halfway through, leaving the needle in place in the groove, but honestly we've never done this, or wanted to do it, in all our years of vinyl listening. Something about the needle dragging in the groove as the turntable gradually builds up speed again from zero to 45rpm seems wrong, to us.
Questionable functionality aside, the LS-410WA is a solid turntable offering to suit a specific niche. This particular model is styled as 'Walnut' (hence the WA in the product name), although that's not solid wood you're seeing. It's actually a walnut-themed vinyl covering – and not all that expertly applied on our review model. It does look nice from a distance, at least, and would slot stylishly into any modern space.
Arguably, the next model up the Lenco tree – the LS-440BUBG – might turn a few heads, partly for its good-looking, two-tone, retro fabric finish, partly for the addition of Tone and Pitch controls and a headphone socket. All of which will cost you £40 more. Both models come with the same lightly smoked perspex lids and decent-quality Audio-Technica moving magnetic cartridge (MMC).
The LS-410WA is a turntable designed to slot into any location. While it might not become the centrepiece of a room, or the key component in your hi-fi separates system, as a turntable for a spare room, or the bedroom, or den, man cave, workshop, shed of dreams etc, it's ideal. It delivers an enjoyable sound with no other equipment required, whether you're dusting off your old records or streaming from your brand-new iPhone, and can also easily be hooked up to bigger, better and louder audio equipment. If you're into vinyl, but not wedded solely to listening to music on that format, it could be worth giving this player a spin.
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