In honor of its 60th anniversary, Audio-Technica is rereleasing the AT-727, its iconic portable record player better known as the Sound Burger. This time, it arrives with a few hardware updates for the modern era of music listening for $199.
The Sound Burger, also once branded as Mister Disc, was Audio-Technica’s answer to the Sony Walkman for vinyl records — a battery-powered turntable you can plug your headphones into, portable enough to easily move from room to room and take with you on the go.
The 2022 limited-edition version of the Sound Burger is almost identical to the original design, keeping the same slim clamshell that harbors only the center of the record, exposing the record grooves and the tone arm. It has a 3.5mm output for direct analog listening, includes a replaceable ATN3600L cartridge stylus, and is able to play both 33 1/3 and 45rpm records. The big change with this anniversary edition is it is now powered via USB-C and has added Bluetooth capability, which makes it a little easier to use in today’s technology environment.
Turntables that are this portable, as well as Bluetooth-enabled, are still hard to come by. I was easily able to bring the device to the park, pair it to my UE Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker, and play multiple records for a couple of hours, as long as it sat on a flat, steady surface. (Sadly, you cannot just carry it around and listen to records while walking.) Audio-Technica claims the Sound Burger has a 12-hour battery life, which was plenty for me to use it casually throughout the weekend without having to recharge.
In the early ’80s, the cassette and Walkman was a more obvious choice for portability due to its size and durability (you can walk with it!), which quickly made the Sound Burger more of a novelty than a practical option. But how about in 2022? In a post-iPod, cloud streaming world, using a turntable is all about embracing the novelty and enjoying the quality of sound it provides. I am delighted by the idea of bringing a portable turntable with me to an outdoor event to play some albums from my record collection, and that’s where the Sound Burger still shines. Pairing with a wireless speaker or headphones adds even more to that portability. But like with the Sound Burger’s ’80s counterpart, the design has the entire record exposed to the elements, which may make you think twice about taking your favorite records with you to an outdoor listening party.
This run is limited to 7,000 units
In all its quirkiness, the newly reintroduced Sound Burger is a great nod to the evolution of portable sound. It also gives hope for more compact turntable designs like this to be embraced, especially since vinyl record sales have been consistently rising over the past decade. Unfortunately, this run of Sound Burgers is very limited, with a lot of only 7,000 (and only in the red color); Audio-Technica has no plans to bring it into its lineup full time. Still, it’s a reminder that gadget design choices made decades ago can still offer something special for the present-day music listening experience.
Photography by Andrew Marino / The Verge