Wheel: The Record Player Requiring Zero Needle Drops
We're big fans of minimalism at Waxy, which is why we had to write-up this Kickstarter. Wheel is a new record player concept that appears to have no needle attached, so you're presented with the simple spinning platter.
In actuality, the needle is built-in underneath the record, which (I'm guessing) means you have to place whichever side you want to play face-down instead of up. That might take a little getting use to, but there's a lot more to love about this project.
A little stick in the center, for instance, not only centers the record but controls all the functions of the player, including on/off, play/pause, and even skipping songs (!). I'm not sure how the skipping tracks function works, as it's not presented in the video above, but I'd love a demonstration.
Wheel is the product of a small, family-run company in the Netherlands called Miniot, which appears to have mostly been focusing on selling wooden iPhone and iPad cases before this. That may make you wonder about the overall quality of the product, but the makers assure us it's comparable to any player in its price range.
In terms of sound, Wheel is equipped with a modified AudioTechnica AT95E cartridge, which is known for balancing performance with affordability nicely. The interesting thing about that, though, is that the cartridge is being custom-made for each player, and can't be replaced by the owner. The needle, itself, can be replaced, however, but it makes you wonder what would happen if your cartridge gives up one day.
On the inside of Wheel, there are outlets for headphones and different channels, and the player can be placed flat or upright, depending on your setup.
You can pre-order Wheel from its Kickstarter page for around $600 (plus shipping), and that's 30% off what the player will eventually sell for on Miniot's website, apparently. That's pretty damn pricey for a record player, but then again this isn't an ordinary record player. It's almost an art piece. As of now, the Kickstarter delivery date for Wheel is November.
If you do pre-order from Kickstarter, you can also choose which type of wood you'd like, depending on how much you want to pay. For $600 (we already missed out on the $500 early-bird special), the standard edition is available in walnut, cherry, or mahogany, but, as noted on the page, the actual wood type will be selected via a backer survey at the end of the campaign. Hopefully, the users have good taste and go with mahogany or cherry, but let's face it they'd all look pretty good and plus you're getting Wheel at a discounted rate.
There's also a special edition in "indian rosewood-champagne" for around $100 more, which is a darker wood with a kind of rose-gold-colored wheel. If the type of wood is super-important to you, might want to wait until Wheel is on sale at Minioit.com and you can just select your specific wood type.
All that said, if you can afford a discounted Wheel via Kickstarter, and you're interested, don't delay. The campaign has just over a couple weeks to go and we bet they'll sell out of that $600 version well before it's over.