Electrohome Montrose Record Player with McKinley Bluetooth-Powered Bookshelf Speakers Review
Today I review the Electrohome Montrose record player with McKinley Bluetooth-powered bookshelf speakers (whew! What a mouthful!). Priced at $199, it won’t break the bank. Plus, it will get you into vinyl with an all-in-one package. Is it worth your cash? Let’s discuss.
Editors Note: Andrew uses Record Player and Turntable interchangeably. Electrohome uses the term Record Player in their materials, so we use it here.
In The Box
So Electrohome was nice enough to send me this set for review about two months back. It came shipped in a large box with the record player and speakers boxed separately. Both were well-boxed and didn’t suffer any damage!
The McKinley Bluetooth speakers came with a pair of speakers, a power cord, an 8’ speaker wire (to run between the two speakers), a 4’ RCA to aux cable, and a remote. The Montrose record player comes with a power cable, a 4’ RCA cable, a dust cover, a 45 RPM adapter, a felt turntable mat, and the tonearm counterweight. I appreciate any setup that comes with everything you need to get it up and running right away. Seeing as this is an “all-in-one” affair, I am not surprised at all the accessories.
So I always say this, but looks are wholly subjective. I have moved away from wood or wood grain finishes in favor of gloss black. That said, I really dig the retro aesthetic that Electrohome is going for here. Both the McKinley speakers and the record player are MDF enclosures with a teak wood veneer. That is a direct call-back to ‘70s and ‘80s AV components and players that had wood panels.
And honestly, I LOVE it. It reminds me of my parent’s Electrohome stereo cabinet we had in the ‘80s. Pure nostalgia for me. But neither is offered in other finishes, so if this is not your jam, you are out of luck.
The record player does feel light, as you’d expect of an offering in this price point. The switches and buttons look like entry-level turntables and lack the fit and finish of a higher-end table. The tonearm is fairly light, but it gets the job done. Don’t get me wrong, it is only supporting a light cartridge, so it doesn’t need to be a monster. But again, keeping in mind that it’s $199 for speakers AND turntable, it’s much better than anything else in this price bracket that I’ve seen.
The McKinley Bluetooth-powered speakers are a 2-way, rear-ported, bass-reflex design. They have a 1” silk dome tweeter and a 4” polypropylene woofer with a butyl rubber surround. They are powered by a class D amplifier that puts 2×15 watts into each speaker. Not crazy power, but in a small room it’s adequate. They are rated from 65Hz to 20KHz and crossover at 3500Hz. A quick sweep shows that 65Hz is fairly accurate. There is no sub-pre-out on these, so you can’t add a subwoofer to augment the bass.
The Electrohome Montrose record player comes with an Audio Technica AT3600 MM stylus. The AT3600 is a budget cartridge that is found on a lot of entry-level turntables. The stylus is conical, meaning it generally is not as detailed as an elliptical stylus, but it will also last a lot longer. Longevity is probably a lot more important to someone looking at this kit.
The Montrose will spin 33 1/3 and 45RPM records, has Bluetooth 5.1 output, RCA out, and a switchable built-in phono pre-amp. Throw in an auto-stop feature and you have a great little setup. I won’t get deep into the specs around the tonearm. It’s a fairly standard aluminum tonearm with very little in the way of adjustability and doesn’t have anti-skate. The Montrose is not meant to allow you to upgrade to heavier or more robust cartridges. I am impressed with the motor. It features an optically monitored DC motor that scans motor speed 60 times a second. That’s pretty impressive for a $199 all-in-one setup!
Setting up the system is straightforward. The right speaker has all the controls and connections. Plug it in, connect the speaker wire, and then your source (the record player), and you are done. The volume knob acts as a volume and source selector. An amber LED is aux, green is RCA and Blue is Bluetooth. Connecting Bluetooth is as simple as expected. Hit the pair button, look for “Electrohome EB30” in devices and hit connect.
Setting up the Electrohome Montrose record player is just as easy. Put the player on a level surface (there are no adjustable leveling feet), plug in the RCA cable, plug in the turntable, make sure the pre-amp is on, and you are ready to spin. But wait…did someone say wireless? I did! Both the Montrose RR36 and McKinley speakers are Bluetooth. Press the pair button on both and let them do their magic. You will hear a small tone to let you know the connection was successful, and you are done! Easy peasy.
Oh, and setting up the tonearm counterweight? That was fairly straightforward. Because the cartridge is pre-mounted, it’s as simple as clicking on the weight and dialing it to the right weight. There is no anti-skate to set, so that’s the end of that!
I was very pleasantly surprised by the sound quality of the McKinley speakers. First, the speakers are very neutral, meaning there is no exaggerated treble or bass. Doing some sweeps revealed a very smooth transition through the range of frequencies with no huge noticeable dips. As I said earlier, these are rated down to 65Hz, which is accurate. You will not get thunderous bass from them. And they are quite particular about placement. Being rear-ported you need to keep them at least 4-6″ from the wall or you get some muddied bass.
If you like deafeningly loud music, these are not the speakers for you. But if you want a speaker that can fill a room with a moderate volume that won’t distort, you will like the McKinley’s. And don’t get me wrong, they are not a mouse in the corner. They would be adequate for providing background music for a party. My wife has been using them for living room duty for a couple of months now and loves them. They especially shine with jazz. They are detailed enough to hear all the taps of the high hats and low enough for the bass guitar to be heard clearly.
And trust me when I say that these speakers have gotten some use. We have them mainly in the living room and they get used daily by my wife, my kids, and myself. My single HEOS speaker is comparatively priced to this set, and the McKinley’s trounce it! I am particularly sensitive to harsh treble, and these things are buttery smooth. Not a hint of listening fatigue to be had.
Performance Of The Montrose Record Player
Ok, despite my misgivings about the quality of the record player earlier, the Montrose record player is an adequate little turntable. The motor is up to the task of getting records up and spinning smoothly. A quick check of the RPM app shows me that the motor and platter have some wow and flutter, but nothing outside its specs. That said, in my experience, there needs to be a tremendous amount of speed variation for someone to pick up on it by ear.
The gimbal on the tonearm is noticeably less smooth than on my other tables. But the tone arm dropped gently enough not to damage the vinyl and it tracked smoothly across the record.
If there is a weak point for this record player, it’s the stylus. In my tests, I found that the AT3600 performed very well with new, and well-maintained vinyl. If there was any damage to the vinyl, the AT3600 picked it up immediately. This does not bode well for the thrift shopper who wants to pick up well-loved records.
And I bet you are wondering if I hooked up the Montrose to my Onkyo and Paradigm speakers. You’re darn right I did, and guess what? It was decent. The Montrose did not match my main turntable or the Monolith by Monoprice Belt Drive Turntable in terms of quality, but it still sounded great. Since both of those cost much more, that’s to be expected. The conical stylus doesn’t sound (to my ear) as good as my 2M Red, but I didn’t hate it. And I could have easily listened to it all night.
Who I Would Recommend This To
I don’t think that the Electrohome McKinley/Montrose setup will appeal to someone who wants to upgrade and tinker with their turntable setup. It was never designed to swap out platters, cartridges, or tonearms to “dial in” the perfect sound. But for someone who wants to dip their toes into vinyl, and wants a lot of bang for their buck, this is your setup. Simple is the name of the game here.
This Electrohome kit really the Jack-of-all-trades. It does everything reasonably well, and I don’t have anything exceptionally negative to point out. At $199 you would be hard-pressed to find a good turntable. But a decent turntable and speaker combo at $199? No brainer.
So I did mention the lack of adjustable feet. But for a few bucks, you can add some spikes and add adjustability. Easy peasy!
If I had to point out any real flaw it would be the lack of finish options. While I enjoy the teak finish and “old-school” aesthetic that Electrohome is going for, it’s not for everyone. This will not appeal to the crowd who wants all-black, or funky color options.
From a price-to-performance ratio, the Electrohome Montrose record player with McKinley Bluetooth-powered bookshelf speakers is a great value. As I said before, it’s a Jack-of-all-trades. It doesn’t take the lead in any one particular area, but it does lots of things well. And at $199, I think that’s a great value. It’s really hard to be critical of this set because it’s not claiming to be audiophile quality. It’s set as a (quality) budget kit, and it’s marketed as such.
This set will not appeal to someone who has a severe case of upgraditis. Aside from the cartridge, nothing on the turntable is designed to be upgraded. Sure, you can throw on a new phono preamp if you want, but that’s it. But for someone like my dad who has a collection of records he hung on to, but no player, it’s perfect. It’s simple and affordable.
This set will appeal to the novice vinyl enthusiast who has a limited budget and wants to get started. It will also appeal to those who want a compact setup that sounds good, and isn’t complicated. I can think of a half dozen people from my circle that this would be perfect for. And I think that is why the Electrohome Montrose record player with McKinley Bluetooth-powered bookshelf speakers will have lot of appeal. It does so many things right!