With so many colored vinyl and picture vinyl releases these days, there are few things cooler than a vertical record player to fully display those splatters in all their glory. Fuse Audio’s Fuse REC is aiming to fill that void with a clever vertical record player that works well, hits a surprisingly affordable price point and simply looks great.
The Fuse REC is a single-unit record player housed in a retro-styled wooden case with a pair of 3” 5-watt speakers on the front. Instead of a horizontal platter, the record sits up vertically at a slight angle, held in place by a magnetic centerpiece for stabilization. The cartridge is also a solid mid-tier piece of hardware, with an Audio Technica AT3600L attached to a balanced and weighted tonearm set at a tracking force of 4g.
The player is belt-driven and can switch between 45 and 33 RPM speed with a switch on the front. The unit is also equipped with Bluetooth in addition to a line out connection for external speakers. Arguably the best part? It retails for $229, which is comparable to the price point of a standard mid-level record player, and the Fuse REC looks a whole lot cooler than a standard turntable.
If you’re in the market for a record player that provides quality playback — and can serve as a unique aesthetic piece to show off your sharpest records — the Fuse REC checks most of the boxes, with a few perks that make it even better. After testing a Fuse REC unit regularly for more than a month, I’ve run into no problems with playback or usability. The Audio Technica cartridge makes for quality playback. Even on records that aren’t perfectly flat (i.e. albums with a slight bit of curve or warp), it adjusts nicely and plays out smooth. The 45 to 33 RPM speed adjustment also works well, with no noticeable issues when shifting the belt speed for playback.
Having Bluetooth 4.1 built-in is also a great feature, especially if you plan to use the Fuse REC more as a functional piece of furniture in your space. The built-in speakers are small but more than capable, and the unit automatically loads into Bluetooth mode until you shift over the tonearm, then it automatically switches over for record playback. Don’t want to put on a record? Just use the speakers and stream your favorite podcast or album off Spotify.
The design also makes some clever choices in the small details, including a slit in the back of the wood base to drop in your cover art for a “Now Playing” section. A small thing, but useful, and leans into the wise aesthetic choices of the mid-century modern styling. The magnet centerpiece to hold the record in place is also a clever touch, with a satisfying pop that is still easy to access when you want to change albums.
But to be clear, the Fuse REC isn’t entirely perfect — though the tradeoffs make sense for the price and niche it’s looking to fill. Parts of the tonearm mechanism feel plastic-y and delicate, though they’ve held up fine with general use. But it’s still a component you probably want to be extra-gentle with in general. The audio is also about what you’d expect from a unit of this size and price. It’s not going to blow away an audiophile, but it’s very capable for casual use. There’s also a basic line out connector if you want to connect exterior speakers. A bit basic, but useful if needed. These are admittedly small gripes, and they make sense considering the affordable $229 price point. Essentially, if you must make a few concessions to hit this price category, the right tradeoffs were made.
The price puts the Fuse REC right in line with what you’d pay for a mid-tier Audio-Technica turntable or a good Sony or House of Marley record player. Obviously more than those cheap Victrola or Crosley all-in-ones, but the Fuse REC is head and shoulders above the quality of those kits.
Minor quibbles aside, the Fuse REC remains an excellent option for music lovers looking for something small and capable that can serve as a showpiece to display your records in a dynamic way. With the “Now Playing” cradle in the back, it makes this unit a fantastic choice for a record corner or music room — or just a very cool piece to set up on a table to play a few of your favorite records — all with minimal fuss or set-up.
The Fuse REC has been on backorder for a while, and after using one for a month or so, there seems to be good reason for it to sell out. For all the features, you could easily see this unit retail at $300-plus and still be worth it. But for a buy-in of $229? You simply won’t find a cooler record player.