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Vestax Handytrax Portable Deck
Reviewer: Gizmo • Date: July 2006 • Price: £85/$129 • Link: Vestax


Vestax Handytrax reviewWithin the pages of skratchworx, you'd usually find us pouring over the latest and hottest widget-laden next level lump of hardware. But sometimes, it's back to basics and things don't get more ghetto than the Vestax Handytrax.

We all know the story - hauling our vinyl craving arses around charity shops, car boot sales and Grandma's record collection, looking for anything and everything to make our collection unnecessarily large - hoping that someone maybe, just maybe dropped off original doubles of "Apache" off at Oxfam. But how many times have you got something home from a record fair only to find it's got more bumps, scratches and static than the very first 78? I know I have and would have loved to be able to play them on the spot. This is why the Handytrax exists - for crate diggers and vinyl hunters everywhere, the Handytrax is a portable insurance policy so that you can try before you buy. This could be to check the integrity of the wax or simply to make sure that the blacksmithing looking cover isn't actually a load of elevator music masquerading as cool

First Impressions

Vestax Handytrax reviewVestax Handytrax Review

Coming in a plastic case, and being small enough to fit into a regular sized backpack, the Handytrax is nice and light and perfect for dragging round on your digging expedition, leaving enough space for your bargain purchases. But lets be honest here - this is a sub £100 portable deck. It's no Technics so you will have to be careful with it. While I expect the Handytrax to take a fair amount of abuse, it's still likely to get scratched, chipped - even cracked unless you look after it.

Vestax Handytrax reviewI'm surprised at the lack of carrying strap. I'm sure such a thing can be added DIY style though.

Firmly held in place with 2 stout catches, opening up the lid (no hinges so a full 12" fits) presents you with everything you need to spin wax of all sizes. It's a fairly low tech affair so don't expect dynamic balance tonearms or ultra-pitch - it's functional and does exactly what it needs to do.

The tiny platter is amazingly sturdy. It's belt driven and unlike any belt drive I've used before, it has more torque than a pile of TTXs. But I guess when you've only got a small contact area with the vinyl, it needs to be. It's probably a good idea to fashion up a small slipmat as the platter won't do your vinyl any favours, especially if you're playing an ultra-rare 7" single.

Vestax Handytrax Review

The tonearm is plastic. The headshell is plastic. Except for the nail like needle, everything about the entire tonearm assembly is plastic. Not really a problem and is overall pretty sturdy. When in transit, the tonearm clips into an extremely solid recess so you'll have no fear of it coming undone and clattering around. With the needles coming in at £18, their no
wallet breaker either. But unless you're using a Handytrax as your main deck, I see no reason why the stylus shouldn't last for years.

Vestax Handytrax ReviewDespite being a very basic turntable, the Handytrax comes kitted out with everything you'll need to testdrive vinyl. Speed selection between 33 (why did they feel the need to print 1/3?), 45 and 78. A really simple pitch knob gives you +/- 10% range and there's even a tone control. Not that you're going to be able to get too much of an idea of audio fidelity with the Handytrax but for people using it as a cheap turntable, it's better than nothing.

And yes! A Vestax fader knob! The volume control isn't quite up to VCA standards though. Nor am I about to tear this apart and find out if you can fit a Pro X Fade either. For a small unit however, it does knock out quite a bit of noise from the built in speaker.

I think if anything, I'd like to have seen rubber feet for that extra bit of stability. However, there's nothing to stop you buying some. It really would benefit from them.

Vestax Handytrax Review But there are other options. The Handytrax has a good set of outputs and inputs. Yes inputs. I don't know why it has a line in but it's there if you really need it. but to get the best audio quality from the Handytrax out on the roads, take a set of headphones with you. The quality is just a lightyear away from the built-in speaker and if you really want to hear the detail of the vinyl (albeit not as good as a regular deck) use cans. And to finish off the ins and outs, there's RCA line outs as well - perfect for adding into a mixer or straight out to your home hifi. Don't bother about thinking of using the Handytrax for vinyl conversion either - it's just not good enough.

But how does it run? Well if you're out and about, the best way is to run it from batteries. It takes 6 x D-types - not cheap on the pocket but according to the manual they should last 65 hours but I'm taking that with a pinch of salt. But should you not have deep pockets, the Handytrax comes with a power supply so you be cheeky and "borrow" power from the charity shop.

Summing Up

Vestax Handytrax ReviewThe Handytrax does exactly what it sets out to do - portable record playing on a budget. It's light enough to carry around yet fully featured enough to do everything you would need to do on a vinyl buying expedition.

But you also have the added flexibility of using it as home as well if you so choose. While not having the very best audio fidelity in the world, you can use it just for regular spinning of old vinyl. But from a skratchworx perspective, the Handytrax's real use is for stocking up on vinyl from all the usual obscure and often ultra cheap sources. The Handytrax will ensure that you don't come home with a bagful of duff, damaged or just plain lame wax.


Build Quality - 8/10
It's plastic but feels strong enough to take trips out to the car boot sale in your ruck sack.

Sound Quality - 7/10
The built-in speaker is pants. Headphone output however is a whole lot better

Features and implementation - 9/10
Has everything a portable deck needs and it all works well.

Value for money - 8.5/10
For the price, it's likely to save hardcore diggers a heap of cash in vinyl that perhaps doesn't live up to expectations

• Lightweight
• Compact

• Not as small as its competitors

The Bottom Line

While not being the greatest turntable in the world, the Vestax Handytrax is perfect for any serious crate digger.


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