Lenco L-3810 review: striking the perfect chord between analog and digital

 The Lenco L-3180 playing a record .
The Lenco L-3180 playing a record .

Lenco L-3810: Two-minute review

The Lenco L-3810 proves that lightning can indeed strike twice. After all, this isn't the first time Lenco has delivered a product with the sort of specification and functionality that makes a bit of a mockery of its asking price. The L-3810 may not be the answer to an audiophile vinyl-fancier’s prayers, but if you’re thinking of dipping a toe into the vinyl water without a) chucking money at it or b) forgoing a nicety or two, it’s a solid option.

It’s not, strictly speaking, a plug-and-play device – but it’s not far off. The headshell must be fitted, but it already has its Audio Technica 3600 cartridge fitted and adjusted. You have to put the platter onto the spindle and the slip mat onto the platter, and set the counterweight and anti-skate controls. But really, apart from connecting it to the mains and to your amplifier or wireless speaker, that’s about it.

Specification is very impressive at the money, too. The L-3810 is a direct drive turntable, which will please any budding superstar DJs. It’s got pitch control, a target light and a stroboscope too – so it looks the part. And thanks to an integrated phono stage, it can be connected to pretty much any system with an analogue input. It even has an analogue-to-digital converter behind its USB-B socket, so archiving your vinyl as digital audio files can be done too.

When it comes to the actual business of playing records, there’s plenty to like about the L-3810 that's comparable to the best turntables. It’s decently punchy and rapid, ties every element of a recording together confidently, extracts a fair amount of detail and summons a good amount of drive. It’s adept with rhythms and tempos, too. A lack of high-frequency extension and attack makes it sound rather duller than it otherwise would, though.

Lenco L-3810 review: Price and release date

The Lenco L-3180 playing a record
The Lenco L-3180 playing a record
  • Released in March 2024

  • Priced at $499 / £279 / AU$499

The Lenco L-3810 turntable was announced as a super affordable option for vinyl and mixing beginners in late February and went on sale in March 2024. In the US, you should expect to pay $499, while in the UK, it goes for £279 and in Australia it will cost you AU$499.

As far as functionality is concerned, there’s quite a lot here by turntable standards, and it demonstrably doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. So well done Lenco, you have already piqued everyone’s interest.

Lenco L-3810 review: Features

the back of the Lenco L-3810 turntable with its ports visible
the back of the Lenco L-3810 turntable with its ports visible
  • USB-B output

  • Switchable phono stage

  • Audio Technica 3600 moving magnet cartridge

It’s fair to say that the Lenco L-3810 is more fully featured than your average turntable. In fact, it makes your average belt-driven, one-function turntable look a bit remedial.

First of all, this is a direct-drive turntable, meaning the platter is connected directly to the motor that turns it. It’s an arrangement more commonly seen in pro/DJ equipment, because it offers both superior rotational stability and the ability to reach the correct rotational speed very quickly indeed.

Lenco has taken a lot of other cues, where features are concerned, from the established ‘DJ deck’ specification. The L-3810 has a stroboscope to confirm its platter is turning at precisely 33.3 or 45rpm. It has a target light, to help when cueing up vinyl in dimmer conditions. And it has a pitch control slider (+/= 10%) in case you would prefer the platter to turn at a speed other than 33.3 or 45rpm.

The ‘J’-shaped tonearm has a bayonet fitting for the headshell, which is in turn supplied with a very acceptable Audio Technica 3600 moving magnet cartridge pre-fitted and -adjusted.

At the rear of the chassis, along with the more usual input for power and stereo RCA outputs for connection to an amplifier, one of the best wireless speakers or what-have-you, there are two further features that serve to set the Lenco further apart from the mainstream turntable herd. One is a switch marked ‘phono/line’ – this switches the integrated pre-amplification on or off, depending on the type of system you’re connecting the Lenco to. The other is a USB-B output. Using this to connect to a PC loaded with the appropriate software (I like Audacity, but others are available) allows you to make digital copies of your vinyl in real time.

Features score: 5/5

Lenco L-3810 review: Sound quality

The Lenco L-3180 on a table with speakers on either side of it
The Lenco L-3180 on a table with speakers on either side of it
  • Good sense of rhythm

  • Punchy, quite driving presentation

  • Needs greater treble presence

First things first: if your current system doesn’t include any phono amplification, you’ll be very glad Lenco included some here. If it does, however, it’s well worth conducting an ‘A/B’ comparison between it and the L-3810’s phono stage – the amplification Lenco has fitted here is functional, certainly, but it’s nothing special.

Equally, if it’s the DJ-centric features that have caught your eye then you may need to temper your expectations a little. Yes, the direct drive arrangement here means the L-3810 comes up to speed nice and quickly when compared to a belt-driven alternative - but it’s not the instantaneous ‘go!’ of a true DJ design, and it can take a revolution or two before the platter is spinning at a stable and consistent speed. And that Audio Technica 3600 may be a very capable cartridge, but it won’t thank you for trying out a bit of scratching…

As a straight-ahead record player, though, the L-3810 has a fair bit to recommend it. It’s very ‘together’ in terms of its presentation, for starters – the sense of unity and singular it can create is impressive, and it makes a recording like The The’s I’ve Been Waiting For Tomorrow (All of My Life) sound like a performance, rather than a collection of individual events. This is one of the characteristics that the vinyl format is prized for, and the Lenco makes good on the promise.

It integrates the frequency range well too, and from the lowest frequencies to the top of the midrange it’s an even, quite detailed listen that strikes a nicely naturalistic balance. There’s a definite shortage of top-end extension and energy, though, a lack of treble sparkle or attack that can make the overall presentation sound just slightly dull and blunt. What treble presence there is integrates properly with the rest of the frequency information, mind you.

As far as dynamic headroom is concerned, the L-3810 plays things slightly safe – which, in the context of the system it’s likely to find itself part of, is probably sensible. It alludes to changes in intensity or sheer volume rather than pouncing on them, which makes for an easy listen that’s not quite as visceral with a recording like FKA twigs’ Two Weeks as it really should be. Harmonic variations are quite readily identified, though – as long as they don’t occur up at the top of the frequency range.

Low frequency grip and control of the FKA twigs album is good, though – bass sounds are straight-edged at the moment of attack, which means momentum is decent and rhythmic expression is straightforwardly good. There’s a reasonable amount of punch to the Lenco’s sound, and a fair amount of impetus as a result.

All of this applies, to a lesser or greater extent, to the digital copies the Lenco is capable of creating. Obviously the analogue-to-digital conversion process takes some of the heat (and some of the detail) out of the vinyl sound, and the lack of top-end confidence is always apparent – but if you’re after some digital versions of your favourite vinyl for use when you’re not sitting in front of your L-3810, you could definitely do worse.

Sound quality score: 3.5/5 

Lenco L-3810 review: Design

The Lenco L-3180 playing a record
The Lenco L-3180 playing a record
  • Pastic chassis

  • Clear dust cover

  • Looks just like a record player

When it comes to the design of a turntable, every manufacturer has to make a binary choice: it either goes with the basic ‘rectangle with a circle on it, plus tonearm’ or ‘control-heavy alternative a la Technics’. There’s no shame in either. Lenco has gone for the second option – it’s decided its L-3810 should look like a junior SL-1200.

Without its clear plastic dust-cover, the L-3810 measures an unremarkable 151 x 450 x 365mm (HxWxD). The chassis (which is available in white or grey finishes) is made of plastic, the platter that supports your vinyl is made of aluminium, and the slipmat that sits between them is felt. The ‘J’-shaped tonearm is made of aluminium, too.

The main body of the turntable stands on four big, rubber-bushed plastic feet that have a degree of articulation.Which is handy both for helping the deck stay level, and also to isolate it a little from external vibrations.

There’s nothing luxurious about the way the Lenco L-3810 looks or feels, and its all-in weight of just over 4kg lets you know it’s not the last word in solidity. But then when you consider the asking price, compare it to the feature set, and then bear in mind the competence with which this record player is built and finished, ‘nothing luxurious’ seems absolutely fair enough.

Design score: 4.5/5 

Lenco L-3810 review: Usability and setup

A closeup of the stop/start button on the Lenco L-3810
A closeup of the stop/start button on the Lenco L-3810
  • Cartridge is pre-fitted and pre-adjusted

  • Controls are reliable and responsive

  • Phono stage is defeatable 

All you need to do to get the L-3810 ready to play is put the aluminium platter on the spindle and put the felt slipmat on top of it, attach the headshell, fit and adjust the counterweight, and finesse the anti-skate control. Or, at least, that’s all you have to do to get it ready to play a record - if you want to actually hear it, you’ll need to connect the stereo RCA outputs on the rear to your amplifier, speaker or whatever, and then establish whether or not the Lenco’s integrated phono stage needs to be switched on or off.

Setup, then, is pretty simple. And usability is simple, too – the ‘power on/off’ dial, the ‘stop/start’ button, the pitch control and the speed selector all operate smoothly, and the manual tonearm lift feels robust, too. There’s really nothing here that’s going to create even a moment’s confusion. About the trickiest part of operating the Lenco is getting to grips with the third-party software that’s required if you’re going to make digital copies via its USB-B output.

Usability and setup score: 5/5

Lenco L-3810 review: Value

The Lenco L-3180 playing a record
The Lenco L-3180 playing a record
  • Great performance for the price

  • Not suitable for amateur DJs

There’s certainly no arguing with the functionality Lenco provides at the asking price, and it’s difficult to take meaningful issue with the way the L-3810 is built and finished either.

It’s not a realistic proposition for anyone who takes DJing even half-seriously, of course – but when it comes to system compatibility, very acceptable digital versions of your vinyl and a politely forceful overall sound, the L-3810 offers pretty decent value for money.

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Lenco L-3810 review: Also consider

How I tested the Lenco L-3810

The Lenco L-3180 playing a record
The Lenco L-3180 playing a record
  • Tested for over a week

  • Listened by itself and with a reference pre-amp 

  • Made digital copies of vinyl on my MacBook Pro 

The Lenco L-3810 replaced my reference turntable on the top shelf of my home system, and it stayed there for well over a week while I listened to (and occasionally copied) records.

It played via its internal phono amplification and via my reference pre-amp, and it was connected via its USB-B output to my MacBook Pro in order to see what sort of digital copies it makes.