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The Andover Audio SpinBase Max turntable speaker is a substantial upgrade from the original SpinBase we reviewed in 2020, keeping all the features that made that model such a fantastic value and adding a few that make the new version your best option for stress-free vinyl listening.
Andover Audio’s basic concept here goes against everything that hardcore audiophiles believe. The SpinBase Max is a speaker unit that sits underneath your turntable and recreates the kind of all-in-one record player experience that Boomers and some Gen X listeners had in the 1960s and 70s.
The engineers have designed a unit that creates zero vibration problems with any turntable I tried with it, a truly impressive feat that stands as the single greatest feature of the SpinBase line. When you stack your turntable on top of this speaker, you’ve got a great-sounding stereo experience with a remarkably small footprint. Anyone living in a small space should consider this speaker as their audio solution.
The SpinBase Max works with practically any turntable you’d want to use; plus, it doubles as an excellent Bluetooth speaker. You can also stream vinyl to a pair of Bluetooth headphones and even connect an external cassette deck or CD player if you choose to use the speaker’s built-in phono preamp.
How does the SpinBase Max work?
The SpinBase Max measures 4.25 x 18 x 13.5 inches (HxWxD) and weighs 21 pounds. The unit is available in black or white and the sides are wrapped in a heathered fabric that gives the Max a more polished look than the metal grilles on the original SpinBase. The top of the SpinBase Max is large enough to accommodate any turntable that you’d want to use with this speaker.
The front of the unit has a large switch that turns on the unit when you turn it clockwise and then raises the volume as you continue to turn. There are also two Bluetooth pairing buttons on the top of the Max. The left one controls the receiver and pairs the speaker with a phone or other source, while the right one controls the Bluetooth broadcast signal that pairs with headphones or another speaker.
The back of the unit has a line-level output that can be used with a powered subwoofer, such as Andover’s own SpinSub. There’s a headphone jack that will shut off the main speakers when you have a pair of cans plugged in. That jack is difficult to reach, however, once have a turntable hooked up. Users can tweak bass and treble with knobs. These are also difficult to reach, but I enjoyed the sound of the SpinBase Max so much that I never thought to use them.
The SpinBase Max has its own excellent phono preamp, so it has two different sets of inputs for a turntable. Use the pair of RCA jacks for Magnetic Phono Input to access that preamp if you have a turntable that doesn’t have its own, or if you can bypass your turntable’s built-in preamp. If you’re pairing the Max with an entry-level turntable, you will want to compare the preamps and see which you prefer. If you’re using a turntable’s built-in preamp, you’ll want to connect to the speaker’s Line In RCA inputs. There’s also a ground screw for turntables with ground wires.
If you do use the Magnetic Phono Input, that will free up the Line In jacks to connect another analog source, such as a cassette deck or CD player (using the player’s line-level output). Since the SpinBase Max is designed to work as seamlessly as possible, there’s no switch to isolate the two inputs. That means that both are active at all times, so you could find yourself playing a CD and an LP at the same time, with the speaker reproducing both signals simultaneously.
There’s also a High-Pass Filter Switch that should be turned on if you’ve connected a subwoofer to the Max. There’s a power input, and the box includes a power adapter (US Plug, 110v-220v) and an RCA Cable with ground wire.
Andover Audio credits its own IsoGroove Technology with minimizing the feedback and resonances usually generated when a turntable is placed next to speakers. The vibrations from both units can create a distortion loop that degrades the sound, but the SpinBase Max offers what I’d consider a flawless playback experience for this price range.
Andover Audio has increased the overall power output to 60 watts (up from 36W on the original SpinBase) driving 3.5-inch diameter round woofers that have increased the frequency range to 48Hz–20kHz.
Andover Audio will sell you a complete system. If you want a great-sounding fully automatic turntable, they’ve got the SpinDeck Max ($599). The new SpinDeck 2 semi-automatic turntable ($299) will return the tonearm to its rest and shut off, which makes it a great value at $299. Andover has a custom-designed Spinstand record stand ($249) that will hold two shelves of LPs if you don’t add the SpinSub subwoofer ($349) to the bottom shelf. I never wished I had a subwoofer while testing the SpinBase Max, but the SpinSub shares the same fabric covering that comes on the Max and they’d match up nicely in a stack.
What It’s like to play vinyl with the SpinBase Max?
Playback is a joy. Turn the knob clockwise. When it clicks, the unit is turned on. Keep turning until you reach your preferred volume level, which you’ll know after you’ve used it once or twice, and then drop the needle on your LP. That’s it. I’ve owned at least a dozen ways to play records over the years, and I’m far more likely to listen to an LP when my system doesn’t require elaborate steps to set up playback.
I tested the SpinBase Max with Andover Audio’s fully automatic SpinDeck Max turntable, which means I put vinyl on the platter, turned the SpinBase knob, and flicked the Start switch on the SpinDeck. After the record plays, the turntable automatically returns the tonearm to its rest and the platter stops spinning. It’s the easiest playback experience I’ve had since the GE Wildcat portable, my first-ever record player.
I set up the SpinBase Max next to my desk, as I’m working on an archival music project where I’m playing a few hundred records, listening for hidden gems I can use for a compilation of 80s underground rock. No disrespect to my primary audio system, but the SpinBase Max has made it incredibly easy to play records as I’m working on other things.
Can you use other Bluetooth sources with the SpinBase Max?
Bluetooth with the SpinBase Max is equally simple. Pair your device with the speaker via the button on the top of the unit and it will remember that pairing with zero issues. You can only pair one device at a time with the speaker.
If you’re playing an LP on a turntable attached to the SpinBase Max and have a phone or tablet paired with the speaker, anything you inadvertently play on that Bluetooth source will simultaneously play from the speaker alongside the LP. There’s a tradeoff here: The SpinBase Max is incredibly easy to use and always ready for whatever audio you want to throw at it, but that also means there aren’t any switches to give each audio source its own discrete path. I thought this was a minor annoyance, one that disappeared after a brief learning curve, and far outweighed by the overall ease of use.
Can you use the SpinBase Max with Bluetooth headphones?
The biggest upgrade for the SpinBase Max is the ability to pair the speaker with Bluetooth headphones or another speaker. Press the pairing button on the top of the unit and place an otherwise unpaired headphone or speaker near the unit. The unpaired part is important because there’s no screen involved in the process.
Once the LED stops flashing, you have a pair and the internal speakers on the SpinBase Max are muted. This is a fantastic way to enjoy vinyl with headphones, and you can use a Bluetooth speaker to listen to LPs in another room without moving the SpinBase Max unit.
Should you buy the Andover Audio SpinBase Max?
The SpinBase Max speaker offers the easiest vinyl listening experience imaginable. Turn the knob, drop the needle, and the music kicks in. It’s easier than queueing up a song on Spotify and connecting your earbuds.
The unit sounds great at low volumes and the spacing of the speakers around three sides of the SpinBase Max delivers remarkable stereo imaging, much more pronounced separation than you’d expect from a single unit.
While the original SpinBase is an outstanding speaker system, the SpinBase Max is worth the upgrade for the design and audio upgrades, and the ability to pair with Bluetooth headphones and speakers is a killer feature that’s the best experience I’ve had listening to vinyl through headphones.
While you might want to choose one of Andover Audio’s excellent turntables for a visual match, the SpinBase Max will work equally well with any turntable you’ve got on hand. Whether you’re looking for a primary audio system with the smallest possible footprint or a secondary setup for a bedroom or office, the SpinBase Max is an all-in-one playback option that deserves your attention.