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RokBlok 2024 Review: Shark Tank Portable Vinyl Player

You may remember seeing RokBlok on Shark Tank back in Season 9 in 2017. It is a compact, portable device for vinyl enthusiasts. 

Designed by Logan Riley, RokBlok allows you to play vinyl records by placing the device on top of the record itself, rather than inserting the record into a traditional player. It’s a simple and unique solution that caters to the resurgence of vinyl records in a modern twist, offering music lovers the ability to enjoy their favorite albums in a fresh way.

Since its appearance on the show, RokBlok has evolved. Now it’s not just a novelty; it has improved in terms of audio quality and function. It can play 33 ⅓ and 45 RPM records, with pure analog sound reminiscent of classic record players. Thanks to RokBlok’s built-in speaker and  wireless nature, you can enjoy your favorite records anywhere you go.

RokBlok’s journey post Shark Tank includes selling out after its episode aired, then going on to better the product, addressing initial audio quality concerns, and eventually receiving a patent. With a valuation calculated to be at around $5 million, RokBlok is reflective of an innovative spirit and a love for the timeless tradition of vinyl music.

The Genesis of RokBlok

RokBlok is an innovative product from the mind of Logan Riley, revolutionizing the way you enjoy vinyl records through its portability and wireless technology. This section walks you through the journey from its conception to the pitch on the stage of Shark Tank.

Logan Riley and Pink Donut

Logan Riley is the creator of RokBlok, a compact, wireless record player that you can easily carry around. Armed with a passion for music and a keen interest in electrical engineering, Riley taught himself the necessary skills to bring RokBlok to life. Riley also founded Pink Donut, an umbrella concept that focuses on unconventional ideas for the modern market. 

Kickstarter Launch

Riley launched RokBlok on Kickstarter in 2016. It was here that audiophiles and gadget lovers supported the project, ultimately surpassing its funding goal. While the Kickstarter campaign was a success, the project lacked of substantial market sales.

RokBlok Negotiations with the Sharks

The most critical of the sharks, Kevin O’Leary, started by flagging potential issues with sound quality due to noise compression. Nevertheless, he noted that many users may not prioritize perfect sound over portability.

Barbara Corcoran was also hesitant, considering the business too premature for investment. Mark Cuban worried about Riley’s commitment to the project long-term. 

On the other hand, Robert Herjavec saw an opportunity and made a unique offer to purchase the entire company outright for $500,000, providing Riley a two-year contract with a generous salary plus a royalty of $5 per unit sold. This proposition, despite its unconventional nature, sealed the deal with Riley.

Before committing, Kevin O’Leary suggested an alternative deal of $350,000 for a 50% stake in the company, but his offer did not beat Herjavec’s. 

Utility Patent and Design

Behind the scenes, at the time of RokBlok Shark Tank appearance, Riley already filed a utility patent. However, at the time of writing this article (January 2024), we found two patents, both with an anticipated expiration date set for 2037-07-24.

From Google Patents:

A system including a phonograph record implement having a phonograph record with a plurality of grooves operable for recording audio data. A record player device is configured to read the audio data contents of said phonograph record implement. A wheel appliance moves or rotates on said phonograph record implement to produce an audio signal and a needle appliance reads or translates a plurality of grooves to an audio signal as the record player device moves around the stationary phonograph record. A speed control switch is operable for selecting at least one preset speed from a plurality of varying preset speeds for said record player device to operate. A wireless transmitter, which transmits the audio signal to an external receiver, which receives the audio signal produced from said stationary phonograph record for listening remotely.

US20190027166A1: System, device, and method for wireless audio transmission

Systems and methods discussed herein are related to read data stored on phonographic records. In various examples, systems and methods may describe a needle assembly able to pivot with respect to a record player body, and include a gate able to block light transmitted from a light emitter. The record player may include a motor and a set of wheels such that it can travel around a stationary phonographic record, and a microcontroller capable of determining a target linear travel speed of the record player and receive and transmit data from the phonographic record.

US10553246B2: Systems and methods for reading phonographic record data

In this summary straight from the patents, you can see that Riley wisely broke down two of RokBlok main functionalities. One is Rokblok’s ability to read vinyls, the second one is the ability to broadcast the music wirelessly. This is a brilliant move that allows Riley to protect his invention and preserve revenues from potential copycats.

RokBlok Overview

With RokBlok, you have the world’s smallest wireless record player, designed to bring your vinyl collection to life anywhere you want. RokBlok seems like a very simple block of wood, but there is a lot of technology in it.

From the outside, it is a brick-shaped amplifier made of bamboo wood. The side holes broadcast the music and the bottom is open to reveal the wheels, the pin, and the ON/OFF switch that also helps you select the record speed (33 ⅓ RPM, or 45 RPM).

On the outside you will also notice a black lever that looks like an antenna. That has to be placed on the inside of the record. When you switch it up, the magic happens and RokBlok will start rotating on the record, and playing music. Happy listening!

RokBlok Shark Tank size

RokBlok Features

  • Portability: You can enjoy vinyl records anywhere without bulky equipment.
  • Built-in Speaker: Analog speaker integrated in the design.
  • Bluetooth Functionality: Pair with any Bluetooth-enabled device.
  • Battery:Rechargeable lithium battery grants 4 hours of playback on a single charge.

Technical Specifications

  • Dimensions: D: 2 inch x H: 2 inch x L: 4.25 inch
  • Bluetooth Range: Reliable connection up to 30 feet away from your device.
  • Battery Life: Up to 4 hours of continuous playtime.
  • Preamp: Included preamp allows for volume control and enhances sound quality.
  • Cartridge: Diamond-tipped cartridge for unbeatable quality

The Vinyl Experience

  • Needle: Crucial for authenticity, the needle delicately interacts with vinyl records.
  • Wheels: Vinyl-Safe Rubber Wheels for long durability
  • Sound Quality: Prioritizes clarity and warmth, aiming to do justice to classic vinyl tones.
  • Vinyl Compatibility: Works with both 33 ⅓ and 45 RPM Records

Logan Riley and his team listened to the feedback from customers and investors, and addressed main issues with two releases. He released RokBlok 1.5, with enhanced original’s audio performance and improved refined stylus, Bluetooth connectivity, and speaker function. This was followed by RokBlok 2.0, available now on the company’s official website for $99. 

While negative reviews are quite common for new products that still troubleshoot the details, RokBlok’s customer issues were only a small fraction of users, amounting to roughly 5% of the total customers. 

How to Use RokBlok to Play Vinyl Records

RokBlok is very simple to use. All the controls you need to get started are on the bottom part of the box.

How to Start your RokBlok Portable Record Player

Using RokBlok requires four super simple steps:

  1. Select the record’s speed with the ON/OFF switch. A large 12 inch record, will generally need 33 ⅓ RPMs. Smaller sized records will typically be 45 RPMs. A blue light will turn on, and RokBlok is on.
  2. Unlock your needle. The needle has to on the right, then on the left:
    • Push the plastic part of your needle to the right, until it clicks. That’s unlocked.
    • Gently slide the needle all the way to the left side. Don’t push too hard, or the needle will lock again.
  3. Put RokBlok on the record, keep the rubber wheels aligned with the grooves. Always keep the black lever facing the inside of the record, where the label is.
  4. Pull the black lever up to begin playing.

How to Stop RokBlok

To stop RokBlok after you played your favorite records, you only need to hold your hand above it, and let the black lever run into your hand.

This will lower the lever, and RokBlok will stop.

How to Connect RokBlok to Your Bluetooth Device

To connect RokBlok with a Bluetooth speaker just follow these simple steps:

  1. Set your Bluetooth speaker to discoverable mode.
  2. Turn RokBlok upside down and find the Bluetooth button, right above the label.
  3. Press it for three seconds until the blue light starts blinking. RokBlok is now in discoverable mode.
    • it can take up to a minute, so be patient
  4. RokBlok will automatically link to your Bluetooth speaker. 
  5. Once light turns solid, they successfully paired, and you are ready to go.

RokBlok remembers devices, so the next time you need to pair it just push the Bluetooth button, and it will connect much faster.

Also, you don’t need to use a speaker, you can use wireless headphones too.

Tips and Care Guide

While this is a very nice and seemingly sturdy piece of technology, yet, you can break it.

  • Handle with Care: Gently place the player to protect both the rubber wheels and your records.
  • Volume Adjustment: To avoid a tinny sound, ensure that the volume is not too high. This also depends on from the quality of your speakers, so test it out first.
  • Keeping it clean: Regularly clean the RokBlok’s wheels for crisp audio and to preserve the quality of the vinyls.

RokBlok Competitors

RokBlok is quite unique, but there are options if you are looking for an alternative vinyl player. The closest competitors are:

  1. Crosley Cruiser Deluxe: This portable all-in-one turntable is priced at around $100.
  2. Victrola Vintage 3-Speed Bluetooth Portable Record Player: This portable record player with built-in speakers is priced at around $50.
  3. Jensen JTA-230: This 3-speed stereo turntable with built-in speakers is priced at around $50.
  4. Audio-Technica Consumer Sound Burger: It is like a clamp that locks the vinyl in between two clamps, just like two burger buns hold a burger! It costs around $200.
  5. Record Runner Stokyo Portable VW Record Player: This is most likely the first real knockoff of RokBlok. Made in Japan, it is for sale between $50 and $150.

Beside the last one, none of them are as portable, as small, or as cool as RokBlok. But they can still be options to consider if you are looking for a RokBlok alternative.

Sales Channels

RokBlok is for sale online on the RokBlok website. But you cannot buy it on Amazon or Walmart. In recent years, the vinyl market has seen a large come back, and it capitalized on this trend by offering its product both online and in physical stores. 

The decision to diversify sales channels aims to meet you, the consumer, wherever you prefer to shop.

RokBlok vs Traditional Turntables

When you compare it to traditional turntables, several distinctions emerge. It is a small, portable player that allows you to play vinyl records anywhere. While it can handle both LPs and 45s, it sheds the weight and size of traditional, analog turntables. This portability means you don’t sacrifice mobility for the classic sound of vinyl, which could be a significant deciding factor if your living space is limited or you’re always on the go.

Consumer Critiques

There were many initial kickbacks once RokBlok became famous thanks to Shark Tank.

Reddit critics pointed out the potential damage to the records due to the stylus. Users also critiqued the poor PCB layout, lack of speed control, and low-quality audio output, noticing unstable speeds and inconsistent playback. Other complaints were about the placement of the needle, and the usage of a friction drive.

There was also a lot of positive feedback, where vinyl enthusiasts are intrigued by its ease of use.

Technical Challenges and Considerations

In developing the RokBlok, engineers faced several technical challenges and had to make critical considerations regarding its design and functionality.

Sound Engineering

Unlike traditional players, it utilizes a unique mechanism where a tiny, built-in needle reads vinyl grooves while the device itself moves over the record. The challenge is achieving high-quality audio output without harming the surface of the vinyl record. Riley had to calibrate the needle’s weight to get minimal friction. That’s where his electrical engineering expertise helped him find the right acoustics within the unit’s compact design. And that’s also where his patent on reading phonographic records come in.

Material Choices

Bamboo is the main material used for the outside of RokBlok. Bamboo makes it lightweight, portability and helps with a nice sturdy structure integrity. It is also eco-friendly and some users love the environmental considerations.

On the other hand, bamboo is not the strongest wood. It gives a retro look, but it also makes it more fragile. Something like a nice plastic, or vinyl, polymer would have been a sturdier choice. 

​RokBlok on Social Media

RokBlok Shark Tank Facebook page

The company has both Instagram and Facebook social media profiles. However, they have not been active, with the last Instagram post going live on June 11, 2019. 

Their posts were well received by the public and had a lot of likes and comments. A more lively social media campaign, especially due to RokBlok Shark Tank appearance, can be a great way to bring more traffic and sales to their home page. 

RokBlok Net Worth

RokBlok has an estimated net worth of $5 million mark, at the time of writing this article (January 2024). RokBlok Shark Tank episode was key in pushing its sales and valuation. RokBlok sold roughly 10-15 items per day, but after the show went live, it increased to over 100 per day. This helped RokBlok sell almost $1M items as total revenue.

However, the deal with Robert happened years ago. The valuation could me much higher if there were updated versions, with improved audio quality and durability, paired with a more consistent social media presence.

Seb is a PhD scientist by training, and an entrepreneur by heart. He started his first business while in elementary school, and he got in trouble for it! He then moved onto various online ventures, including consulting and e-commerce. Seb loved Shark Tank since he saw the first episode of Season one on TV. The rest is history.

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