Physical media has had something of a resurgence over the past few years, at least when it comes to music. Artists have begun relying on CDs, vinyl records, and even cassettes to drive album sales and give fans a reason to hand them money instead of just streaming their content for mere pennies. Of course, with measurable growth in both the CD and vinyl markets comes an obvious question: where do you play it?
There are plenty of vinyl record players on the market, and a recent addition has been the return of Victor. An iconic name in the world of entertainment systems, Victor has found its way back on record players thanks to a new licensing agreement with NAXA Electronics out of Vernon, California. Together, the companies developed a new line of music centers that couple Victor’s classic design language with 21st century technology.
One of their flagship centers is the Monument, a $199 record player that includes seven additional functions – like a CD player, FM radio, a cassette player, and Bluetooth input/output – in a design ripped right out of the history books. Its broad list of capabilities, good looks, and modern technologies make this a great option if you need a new record player and don’t want to spend a fortune. It’s not perfect, but it’s earned a permanent spot in my home despite that.
Design: Simple and timeless
The Victor brand is synonymous with design that feels natural and timeless, which is what the Monument is able to capture. The wooden construction and metallic accents predate the looks of most modern record players on the market, yet to this day remain eye-catching and sophisticated in the case of the Monument. Yes, you can tell this is a modern music center with all the knobs and analog screen on the front, but it’s easy to see where the Monument’s aesthetic stems from.
My review unit came in Graphite, which has a dark gray finish on the wood and silver aluminum everywhere else. It adds a modern flair to the retro aesthetic of the player, and I dig it. The color way won’t be for everyone, and if you find that it’s not really your vibe, it’s also available in Mahogany and Espresso.
Everything is well crafted and feels premium, from the locking mechanism for the lid to the mode switcher on the front. The player has a good amount of weight to it which helps with stability, and its size is a bit bigger than you might expect. You’ll definitely want some extra room on the table you plan to set it on before setting it up.
You’ll find the CD drive on the front along with the FM/AM radio, volume controls, and mode switcher. On the right side is the cassette player, while the back houses power and auxiliary ports. There’s also an antenna that uncoils to extend its reach for better radio reception.
The platter is made out of plastic, while the tone arm uses a cheap-feeling metal. It’s obviously not as nice as what you’d get with a dedicated turntable, but it’s serviceable given the price and target demographic.
Overall, the Monument is a great looking record player. The only thing I’d advise you to keep in mind is the where you wind up placing it, since you won’t want anything blocking the right side and restricting access to the cassette player.
Setup: A breeze
After taking it out of the box and plugging it in, all you have to do to get up and running is remove the plastic cap from the record needle and untwist a fastener to move it. It was incredibly simple and straightforward. Of course, I followed the instructions anyway to ensure I didn’t screw anything up, but it’s next to impossible given the simplicity of it.
Playback: Extremely versatile
Victor designed the Monument to be the center of your home’s music system, and with all the different ways you can play your music, it does a great job at achieving just that.
Here’s the full list of music formats it supports.
- Vinyl records
- FM/AM radio
- Auxiliary input
- Bluetooth input
- USB input
Victor says the Monument is supposed to be an “8-in-1” music center, but that language is a bit misleading since it oddly counts the built-in speakers.
Still, all of this functionality makes the Monument incredibly versatile, enough that it can act as your primary entertainment system. You can plug whatever device you want into the aux port to play music, and even connect wirelessly thanks to the inclusion of Bluetooth 5.0. This also works when you want to output music from the Monument, so you can pair wired or wireless speakers and enjoy your vinyls or CDs on them.
I’ve tested all of this, and it works as you’d expect. I primarily played vinyls on it since I’ve had a few I kept in shrink wrap waiting for the day I bought a new record player. The Monument has three playback speeds: 33, 45, and 78 RPM. There’s an adapter in the box if you plan on playing 45s, while everything else works immediately after you set it up.
I didn’t experience any skipping or speed issues with my unit, although sometimes it was tricky positioning the Monument in a way that the needle wouldn’t float too far off the top of the record I was playing. I eventually got it just right and haven’t experienced any quality issues since.
The vinyls I played during my testing were Morgan Wallen’s Dangerous, Michael Bublé’s Christmas, Jason Aldean’s 9, and Logic’s Vinyl Days. These were all brand-new pressings so I expected them to sound great, and they did. I had a blast listening to the crackling of the vinyl with the terrific tracks on each of these LPs. I get why record collectors prefer vinyl over other music formats – it’s a truly delightful experience.
Playing CDs and cassettes was also simple and issue-free. There are a suite of buttons on the front of the Monument for controlling playback, skipping songs, and adjusting the volume, all of which were easy to figure out.
They also work for music you play over Bluetooth 5.1, which is one of the Monument’s flagship features. Once paired to your phone or laptop, playing music was as straightforward as you’d expect. You can use some of the physical buttons to play, pause, or flick between tracks which is nice, and the pairing process was easy.
Listening to FM and AM radio stations was also simple, although it felt a bit lackluster. You can easily sift through the available stations in your area, but there’s no way to set favorites, forcing you to surf the airwaves every time you want to tune into your favorite station.
In addition, I found the controls for navigating a USB drive pretty tedious, if only because of the tiny screen on the front. It can’t show you a ton of information, which might force you to spend a lot of time finding the track you want to play if your drive is full of content.
Sound quality: Lacking in bass and clarity
The Monument supports various ways of outputting audio that travels through its systems, and thank God, because the integrated speakers are everything but good.
I’ll admit, they can get really loud and fill a room fairly easily, but there’s not a lot of definition in them, and they have a noticeable lack of bass that makes them sound tinnier than they are. Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t terrible, but any pair of external drivers will serve you better.
To pair external speakers, you’ll find Line Out ports on the back as well as Bluetooth output. There’s no option for auxiliary output, unfortunately, so wired headphones won’t work with the Monument. However, with a little work, Bluetooth headphones work fine.
Should you buy a Victor Monument?
For $199, the Victor Monument provides a solid music listening experience, with enough versatility that it can easily fit into anyone’s setup.
With its classic design, support for your entire physical music collection, and modern technologies like Bluetooth, it’s as complete an experience you could ask for at this price point. Its biggest drawback are the disappointing integrated speakers, but swap those for some external drivers and you’ve got yourself a stellar music center.
I’ll be recommending the Monument to anyone looking for a record player under $200. It’s that good.
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