Let’s face it, high quality turntables are quite expensive and not everyone can afford them. This time I’m reviewing one of the most inexpensive self-contained turntables on the market for those who want to get into vinyl but don’t want to spend hundreds. I’m talking about the Jensen JTA-222 which is a three speed record player with built in speakers and AM/FM radio. It has a wooden case that gives it a nice antique look. This vintage looking turntable, along with its brothers the JTA-220 and JTA-230, is one of the lowest priced record players with built in speakers you can find at the time of writing this review.
If you want a simple, easy to use and quick to setup record player, this is a good option for you. I recommend this turntable to people looking for a low cost, nice looking, vintage style turntable that doesn’t require you to buy extra stuff to make it work as this one comes with built in speakers. If you need a self contained, plug and play record player, this product may be right for you. It’s small size makes it perfect for people with space constraints. Great for small rooms and dorms.
This turntable is also a great way to introduce kids to the vinyl record world. Kids have a lot of fun with phonographs and they very much enjoy the experience of listening to music the old way. This product makes a nice present for almost anybody at a very decent price.
If you are not an audiophile but you just want to hear those records you got from garage sales or second hand stores, then the JTA-222 is a good choice. Used records generally have some wear and they don’t require a high end player. This phonograph will give you a decent sound for that purpose. This is a good product for casual listening.
I don’t recommend this player to people wanting to transfer their LPs to a digital format. It’s possible, but you won’t get a good sound quality recording. This is not the right unit to buy if you are looking to experience the “vinyl superior sound quality” or if you are an audiophile in search for a high fidelity turntable.
This is not an elaborate record player, if you need advanced features like counterweight, anti-skate, and height adjustments, you’ll need to get a better record player like the Audio Technica AT-LP120, obviously you’ll spend a lot more. The Jensen 222 is not a good choice for somebody wanting a fully automatic turntable. If that is your case, go for the Audio Technica AT-LP60 which is more expensive but it’s worth the price.
Do you think that the Jensen JTA-222 is a good choice for you? Keep on reading, because I’ll give you lots of useful information. Let’s start our detailed review.
Cartridge and Stylus
The Jensen JTA-222 has a ceramic cartridge. The ceramic material inside the cartridge produces an electric signal in response to the bending of the stylus. When the needle tracks the record grooves, the stylus movement causes the ceramic rod to bend. Different electric charges are produced depending on how much the ceramic rod inside the cartridge bends. The electric signal produced by a ceramic cartridge is high enough that it doesn’t need to be amplified to a line level. Ceramic cartridges attenuate high frequencies and boost low frequencies. This eliminates the need for an equalizer. Manufacturers take advantage of this to greatly reduce their costs.
Other advantages of ceramic cartridges is that they are less sensitive to external noises and vibrations. This is perfect for lightweight turntables with built in speakers that tend to easily transmit external vibrations to the stylus.
The problem with ceramic cartridges is that they are more prone to skipping with low frequencies and fast paced music with drums. They also have a narrower frequency response. As a result they generally have a lower sound fidelity. I prefer turntables with magnetic cartridge, but they are obviously more expensive.
The cartridge on this unit cannot be replaced or upgraded as it is fixed to the tone arm. This makes sense because the turntable does not have a counterweight. Upgrading a cartridge requires to change the tracking force with a counterweight. That’s why you won’t see fixed cartridges and counterweights coexisting.
Like other cheap record players, the JTA 222 has a heavy tracking. This helps prevent the needle from skipping but at the cost of wearing out or damaging your records. So, I really don’t recommend a low end player like the JTA-222 for playing your fine vinyl collection. I would probably use this unit to listen to used records that I don’t care to get damaged or worn out.
Why would I want to play worn out vinyl records? You may ask. Well, a lot of people, including me, like to go hunting for old records at garage sales, second hand and old vinyl record stores. It’s very entertaining and you get good music for pennies. You may also have an old vinyl collection in your attic that is not in mint condition and you just want to bring back good memories. I wouldn’t play those albums on a good turntable because vinyl records in bad condition can also damage and wear out an expensive needle.
The stylus on this turntable is replaceable and it would last about 300 to 400 hours of playtime. There is one stylus included with this product, but you can get a replacement from the manufacturer. You can also find replacement needles on eBay and Amazon. Search for 793-D7 or 793-D7M on eBay or Amazon.
This turntable is capable of playing 78 rpm records but you’ll need a special stylus that is not included. LPs have narrower grooves than 78 rpm records, therefore a stylus with a wider tip is needed to track the record properly. The appropriate stylus for 78 rpm playback is a diamond stylus with a tip radius of 3 Mil (0.003 in). Search for 793-D3 on eBay or Amazon to get the right stylus for 78 rmp playback.
You can also find replacement needles at www.lpgear.com. They have them listed by model number. Here are the links:
At LP Gear they also have the “Cerapreme blue stylus” and the “Cerapreme 78 stylus” which are better quality styli, they are more expensive though. But, as I always say, if you are going to spend money upgrading this turntable, why not spend a little more right from the start to get a better record player?
Tonearm and Adjustments
The tonearm is straight and is made of plastic. As it’s the case with most low end turntables, this unit does not have advanced adjustment features like counterweight, anti-skate and height adjustment and none of its parts can be upgraded.
The operation of this unit is pretty much manual. It has an auto-stop feature but doesn’t have an automatic arm-return. This means that the platter will automatically stop when the needle gets to the end of the record but you have to manually lift the tonearm to return it to its rest. There is a switch that lets you disable the auto-stop feature. This is helpful with some records that have music beyond the auto-stop trigger point, in which case the record would stop playing before the music ends. This may be the case with some 78 rpm records and some new records with hidden tracks.
This turntable doesn’t have a tonearm lift or cueing lever which is very inconvenient if you have a shaky hand. I really think that every turntable should have a tonearm lift. Anyway, just be careful and gentle when putting the stylus down.
Platter, Motor and Power
This turntable is belt driven, meaning that the motor drives the platter by means of an elastic belt. The belt helps isolate some of the noises coming from the motor. The disadvantage is that you may need to change the belt in the future.
The platter is made of plastic and the turntable supports the three standard speeds: 33⅓, 45 and 78 rpm. A 45 rmp adapter is included for playing 7 inch records with the large hole in the middle.
This turntable supports a 110V, 60Hz power source. If you live in a Country where 220V, 50Hz is the norm, make sure you get a voltage converter or you could damage your record player. You also have to be aware that power transformers don’t change the frequency of electricity, so your player may play at a different speed.
Some consumers have complained about the speed inaccuracy of this turntable making the sound be slightly off pitch. One way to check this is by paying the same record on two different turntables and comparing the sound. But the only objective way to check the speed accuracy is by using a test record. But I wouldn’t bother to do that with any low end turntables. Speed inaccuracies may be annoying depending on each individual’s ability to discriminate pitch. You may probably notice it if you are a musician an try to play along with the recording.
Jensen JTA-222 Connections
The Jensen JTA-222 turntable has two internal front facing speakers. These speakers are appropriate for a small room, don’t expect the sound to fill up a large area. These speakers are for home listening, they may not perform as well for a party.
Alternatively, you can connect external speakers. It has an internal speaker shut-off switch so that you can turn off the internal speakers when using external speakers. The type of speakers that you can connect to this unit are unpowered bookshelf or home theater speakers. They are the kind of speakers that have bare wires without any special terminals.
This phonograph has an stereo headphone 3.5 mm jack input. Be aware that there are no RCA outputs on this turntable so you won’t be able to directly hook it up to a receiver or amplifier. You can, however use the headphone output and a 3.5 mm to RCA adapter if you need to connect your player to any RCA audio inputs. You can also connect this player to a pair of computer speakers via a cable with two 3.5 mm jack ends.
This turntable does not have a USB port, therefore a connection to your computer via USB is not possible. You can transfer your vinyl records by connecting the turntable to your computer using a cable with two 3.5 mm mini jack male ends. One end would go to the turntable’s headphone jack and the other end to your computer’s mic or aux input. You can use your favorite recording software, I use Audacity. However, you won’t get a very good quality. I would buy a higher quality turntable for digitizing my collection like the Audio Technica LP60 USB.
This product also has a nice AM/FM stereo radio receiver and includes an FM antenna. Although, this product has built in speakers, it does not have an auxiliary input to connect other audio devices like your iPod or MP3 player.
Here are some possible audio setups for this turntable:
Setup with built in speakers
This is a self-contained record player, so you don’t need anything else to make it work. However, external speakers may sound better.
Record player with external speakers
You can connect this turntable to a pair of bookshelf speakers. Notice the bare wires. These speakers are not powered. If you use this setup, remember to set the internal speaker shut-off switch to the off position.
Turntable with headphones
This record player has a 3.5 mm headphone jack. If you use this setup, remember to set the internal speaker shut-off switch to the off position.
JTA-222 conected to a receiver
It is posible to connect this unit to a receiver but you can’t use the speaker terminals, instead use the earphone jack with a 3.5 mm mini jack to RCA adapter. If you use this setup, turn off the internal speakers.
No USB port is provided but you can connect your Jesnsen record player using the earphone input jack as shown on the diagram.
Connection to a PHONO input
It is not possible to connect this record player to a PHONO input because it produces a line level.
Jensen JTA-222 Sound Quality
The sound of this turntable is loud enough for a small room. Many consumer reviews have comments about the sound being louder than expected, considering the size of this turntable. This player has a decent sound for the price. It’s by no means a high fidelity sound. This turntable produces a better sound when connected to external speakers. The built in speakers are not loud enough for parties. Remember that if you turn the volume too loud, the player may skip with records with strong bass and drums.
Body and Look
The Jensen JTA-222 has an antique look. The case looks very nice but it’s made of composite wood, similar to the cheap furniture found at Walmart. This make me doubt its durability. So, you need to handle it with care because it’s fragile.
This player is very light and small, a 12 inch record hangs over the edges. It has a removable dust cover with cuts on the sides so that you can close it while operating. The radio and volume controls are made of plastic but they have a silver color that makes the unit look elegant.
- Dial pointer
- Tuning knob
- Function selector
- FM stereo indicator
- Power on/off and volume control knob
- Power led indicator
- Earphone jack input
- 45 rpm adapter
- Speed selector 33 1/3, 45 and 78
- Auto stop switch
- External speaker terminals
- FM antenna
- Internal speaker shut-off switch
- AC power cord
- Size: 6.5 x 13.4 x 14.3 inches
- Weight: About 6 pounds
Jensen JTA-222 Consumer Reviews
The Jensen JTA-222 record player has accumulated many good reviews and ratings. Most consumers have been satisfied with this product considering its low price. They appreciate its size, look and ease of use. Most customers find the sound quality decent for what they paid for.
The number one complaint about this product is skipping. Many users have reported that the record player skips a lot. Especially with newer recordings. I have to say that this is not the only turntable that skips with new releases. Other brands and models are having the same issue. Audio technology and mastering techniques have greatly improved over the years. Newer records may contain louder sounds, wider dynamic ranges and higher levels of low frequencies. This makes the vinyl records more prone to skipping. Turntables with fixed cartridges and without tracking force adjustment are more likely to skip.
If you buy this product, my advice is to place your turntable on a leveled surface and make sure the needle and your records are always in good condition. Try lowering the volume or using external speakers to reduce vibrations. Many people have solved their skipping problems by taping a coin to the head. I recommend this solution only as your last resource, because high tracking forces will damage your records or wear them out faster.
The second common complaint is the speed inaccuracy resulting in music being a little off pitch. Some people have reported a noticeable warped sound.
Few defective units have been reported, the problems being: units not turning on, speakers blown out after some weeks, speakers not working, dust cover cracked, disassembled front panel, slow speed playback after few months. Jensen offers you a 90 day limited warranty for U.S. users only. Be aware that you would have to pay shipping costs to sent the unit to them. The manufacturer would be responsible for return charges.
Pros, Cons and Manual
- Self contained
- Built in speakers
- Three speeds
- AM/FM radio is a plus
- Lack of RCA outputs
- Flimsy construction
- No arm lift lever
- No automatic arm return
- No inputs for portable devices
- Heavy tracking force
Jensen JTA-222 User Manual
Click the link to download the manual.
The Jensen JTA-222 turntable is one of the lowest priced self-contained record players at the time of writing this review. It’s recommended as an entry level turntable for people on a budget. Sound quality is OK for the price but definitely not recommended for serious vinyl collectors or for digitizing your LPs. Great turntable for kids and for playing old records that you don’t care being worn out. Not recommended for playing your fine, expensive collection. In general, this product has good consumer ratings.
I hope you enjoyed this review, feel free to leave a comment. I’ll do my best to reply promptly. Have a wonderful day.