With so many colored vinyl and picture vinyl releases these days, there are few things cooler than a vertical turntable to fully showcase these splashes in all their glory. Fuse Audio’s Fuse REC aims to fill that void with a smart vertical turntable that works well, hits a surprisingly affordable price and simply looks great.
Fuse REC is a single-player turntable housed in a retro-styled wooden case with a pair of 3 ”5-watt speakers on the front. Instead of a horizontal dish, the plate sits up vertically at a small angle, held in place by a magnetic center for stabilization. The cartridge is also a solid piece of hardware in the middle, with an Audio Technica AT3600L attached to a balanced and weighted tonearm set for a tracking power of 4g.
The player is belt driven and can switch between 45 and 33 RPM speeds with a switch on the front. The device is also equipped with Bluetooth in addition to a line out connection to external speakers. Probably the best part? It’s selling for $ 229, which is comparable to the price of a standard mid-level turntable, and the Fuse REC looks much cooler than a standard turntable.
If you’re looking for a turntable that provides quality playback – and can serve as a unique aesthetic piece to show off your sharpest records – Fuse REC checks most of the boxes with a few perks that make it even better. After testing a Fuse REC device regularly for more than a month, I have not encountered any issues with playback or ease of use. The Audio Technica cartridge provides quality playback. Even on records that are not completely flat (ie albums with a slight curve or skew), it adapts nicely and plays smoothly. The 45 to 33 RPM speed adjustment also works well without noticeable problems when you change the belt speed for playback.
Having Bluetooth 4.1 built-in is also a great feature, especially if you plan to use the Fuse REC more as a functional piece of furniture in your room. The built-in speakers are small but more than capable, and the unit automatically loads in Bluetooth mode until you switch over the tone lever, then it automatically switches to playback recordings. Do not want to record a record? Just use the speakers and stream your favorite podcast or favorite album from Spotify.
The design also makes some smart choices in the small details, including a slot on the back of the wooden base to drop into your cover for a “Now Playing” section. A small thing, but useful, and leans on the clever aesthetic choices of mid-century modern styling. The centerpiece of the magnet to hold the record in place is also a smart touch with a satisfying pop that is still easy to access when you want to change albums.
But to be clear, the Fuse REC is not entirely perfect – though the trade-offs make sense for the price and niche it seeks to fill. Parts of the tonearm mechanism feel plastic-like and delicate, even though they have held up well in normal use. But it’s still a component you’ll probably want to be extra gentle with in general. The sound is also about what you would expect from a device of this size and price. It’s not going to blow an audiophile away, but it’s very suitable for casual use. There is also a basic line out connector if you want to connect external speakers. A little basic, but helpful if needed. Admittedly, these are small grips and they make sense given the affordable price of $ 229. In essence, if you have to make a few concessions to hit this price range, the right trade-offs were made.
The price puts the Fuse REC completely in line with what you would pay for a mid-range Audio-Technica turntable or a good Sony or House of Marley turntable. Of course more than the cheap Victrola or Crosley all-in-one, but the Fuse REC is head and shoulders above the quality of these sets.
Aside from minor quarrels, Fuse REC is still an excellent option for music lovers looking for something small and skillful that can serve as a showpiece to showcase your records in a dynamic way. With the “Now Playing” cradle on the back, it makes this device a great choice for a record corner or music room – or just a very cool piece to line up on a table to play a few of your favorite records – all with minimal fuss or setup.
Fuse REC has been backordered for a while, and after using one for a month or so, there seems to be good reason why it is sold out. For all the features, you can easily see this device selling for $ 300 plus and still be worth it. But for a $ 229 buy-in? You simply will not find a cooler turntable.