C O L U M N S

Tales from the Jugular

The Vestax Handy Trax

By: Eric Compton
Published: Tuesday, August 9, 2005
Tales From The Jugular - The Handy Trax

Well it is birthday time for your favorite metal scribe. That's right, the big EC has turned 29, one more step closer to that big milestone, the big three-o, the middle of the road, the.....well that is enough of that. I'm almost 30 and it really is frustrating. I guess Maximum Metal's very own Frank Hill could understand, he is on the verge of hitting 50 this October [Frank Hill Note: wrong!]. But the birthday bit gets me to this issue of Tales From The Jugular. This year's birthday gift from my wife was the Vestax Handy Trax. Yeah, you heard me, I am the proud owner of the Vestax Handy Trax. Uhhh......

Vinyl spinners in attendance will know what Vestax is, they are a maker and retailer of vinyl goods, mainly turn tables (known as record players....follow me here). I had read in a discussion forum about a portable record player that ran on batteries and could connect to headphones or a stereo or tape recorder. Being the avid vinyl spinner, I thought this was a novel idea! After a few nods and winks to my wife that THIS will be this year's gift to me (trust me folks, I get what I want!), I pulled into the drive Tuesday night to find a large package from Needle Doctor sitting on my sidewalk.

The Vestax Handy Trax is a portable turn table, a small little unit that is perfect for household listening. Granted I own two turn table machines in my home, both of which are hooked into speaker systems in the house, and this is probably just another household toy, nevertheless this is just damn fun. Basically this unit can be taken anywhere. It runs on 6 "D" batteries, with a playing time of 65 hours or 41 and a half spins of "Highway To Hell". The Handy Trax also has inputs for a power supply (adapter included), headphones (my main reason for wanting this...more on that later), and auxilary (for a tape recorder or plug for stereo). Along with that comes a variety of funny knobs, one for pitch and another for tone, very useful in slowing down those high speed Tankard LPs. The device also has volume control and a power switch.

The replacement needle for this is a 793-D7, which gives a pretty solid wallop of sound. This is nothing that is on par with a home system or anything like that, but it is perfect for the casual home spins. I enjoy the speaker set into this unit, which is a fairly low sound but okay for quick sampling. The really nice aspect of this whole thing is the ability to just plug in a set of headphones, and have volume, tone, and pitch controls within easy grasp.

With the Vestax Handy Trax I can easily carry this unit from room to room, which brings me to another feature that doesn't quite live up to the advertisements. According to Vestax this device has the ability to play LPs at almost any angle. This is NOT true. I can lift this machine up and get just past a 45 degree angle before I start getting some slipping from the arm. Granted, this is a nice feature, but it doesn't play at a 90 degree angle or upside down. There is nothing to hold the record in place. However the Handy Trax weighs 5 pounds and is only 14 x 10". Perfect for easy storage and mobility. This whole thing is actually housed in a small plastic "briefcase"with a handle. Two latches slide back and the top of the case slides off, revealing the player. I can carry this thing downstairs or upstairs into my metal dungeon. From there I can sit it down in front of my LP collection, easily sampling each one through headphones when I have a quiet household. With the record still playing I can carry this (holding it flat) to anywhere else in the room. Very handy indeed!

So for a very reasonable $130 the Vestax Handy Trax makes the perfect tool for the average vinyl spinner. Keep in mind that you aren't getting a huge amount of power out of this, but for the most part it is plenty enough to keep you headbangin' for hours.

Note - Needle Doctor (www.needledoctor.com) has these in stock as of August, 2005. You can read more about this item and get a flash video at http://www.vestax.com/products/HandyTrax.htm .




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