Many turntables offer a number of features, and one of the most dynamic abilities a new turntable may have is the ability to copy an album to MP3 files via USB connectivity. USB turntables as they are commonly known as have become more and more popular, and many turntables manufactured today are expected to have the ability to perform this ripping task.
In this article, we’ll take a look at a list of the best USB turntable available, and critique them using the following criteria:
- Ease of Use
- USB rip quality
- Overall impression
Below, please take a moment to view some of the best USB turntables on the market and use the interactive guide to compare them against one another.
|Pro-Ject Debut III RecordMaster USB (Walnut)||$$$||USB Output; Built-in Phono Preamp (Walnut version)|
|Pro-Ject Debut III RecordMaster USB (White)||$$$||USB Output; Built-in Phono Preamp (White version)|
|Pro-Ject Debut III RecordMaster USB (Red)||$$$||USB Output; Built-in Phono Preamp (Red version)|
|Pioneer PLX-500||$$||Digital Recording Possible Via USB Output|
|Pioneer PLX-1000||$$||DJ Turntable Similar to Technics 1200|
|Pioneer PLX-1000 (TTL Upgrade)||$$$||Includes TTL x Dr. Suzuki 1972 Slipmat, Black Carbon Fiber Brush|
|Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC (Blue)||$$||Blue Gloss Finish; No USB Output|
|Clearaudio Concept (MC)||$$$||Silver Trim; No USB Output|
|Music Hall MMF 5.3||$$$||Premium 9” Alloy Tonearm; No USB Output|
The Need for USB Turntables
The wonderful thing about the vinyl resurgence is that the culture and experience of listening to music in a physical format is bringing back to life a time honored practice. That being said, there’s no denying that music and entertainment are expected to have some sort of digital approach to their delivery nowadays. Even most records that you buy new as 2018 pressings have some sort of MP3 download code included in the sleeve of your favorite vinyl record. Older records cannot include an MP3 code, seeing as MP3 files weren’t a thing back then, so ripping is your best option for getting your older records onto your phone or iPod.
That’s a wonderful thing; the more ways you can access your music, the better. It’s great to have your expensive, extensive record collection in your pocket wherever you go. It’s not even difficult to transfer the records. In fact, it’s as easy as listening to a vinyl record with just a few extra steps. In doing so, you are able to transform your physical record into a digital recording. Most turntables that are fairly affordable today have USB connectivity and ripping capabilities, which means you don’t have to shell out $500+ to get your music digitized. But in terms of USB turntables, what’s the best route to go?
Well, you’re in the right place. Let’s start with a common one you may already have come across online or in stores; it’s just that popular.
The AT-LP120 USB model is a great turntable, that like the Sony, is popular with newcomers to vinyl and veterans alike. The cartridge included with the AT-LP120 USB is one of the best at this price point, and to be honest is even considerably above it. It is a 3-speed turntable. It’ll play standard 33, 45s and, if you’re the kind of enthusiast who has hand-me-down records from the olden days, it will spin 78s as well. It is a direct-drive model. Instead of using a belt, the usual operating method in this price range, the included die-cast aluminum platter is connected directly to the motor, a method that many see as superior and more trustworthy than a belt-drive. Many who are supposedly in the know say they prefer direct-drive, but I consider the table to be more important than the motor function.
The AT-LP120 USB has a built-in preamp and easily hooks up to a computer via USB. The included Audacity software, an amazing software that is accessible even for those with no audio editing software, allows for vinyl tracks to be converted for burning to CD or loading onto music-playing devices. The AT-LP120 USB is a fully manual table, meaning the listener must lift the tonearm and place the stylus onto the record, then lift it again when the record side is finished playing. Like the belt/direct drive debate, some think that this is a more personable experience, but again, it’s up to your personal preference.
The plinth is made of metal, which is quite remarkable for the price point. The controls are metallic as well. The turntable is relatively heavy, weighing in at more than 23 pounds. It’s a well-made product, and great way to experience the USB turntable experience.
The ION Max LP is a great option for those with a bit of a tighter budget. The table is capable of handling records in the three different playback speeds of 33, 45, and 78 RPM, meaning you can run the gambit of recording history. It comes with a 45 RPM record adapter as well, which is something you’ll want to pick up if you are going to spin 45s. The tick marks around the edge of the turntable can be used in conjunction with a strobe light for testing the speed of the turntable if required.
Another notable feature of the ION is the raise/lower tone arm lever which facilitates the easy placement of needles in required positions with no fear of scratching the record. The motor is started automatically by moving the tone arm into position while moving it back to its resting position automatically stops the play. No other on-off switch is provided, meaning that the table does the work for you. It’s quite a pleasure not having to do the manual labor to hear your favorite records. The speed is changed, manually, by a in and out toggle switch. A stop button is providing which produces the same result like the tone arm coming back to resting position. Because of it, you will need to be careful while cleaning or when the unit is not in use that the tone arm is not jarred from its resting position or the unit may keep playing even for says without you realizing it. Other than that, it’s a total revelation to have this kind of automatic features included in a budget turntable. The quality of the ION is not limited by its price point, and is a great option for newcomers.
The Numark is what you would consider a portable turntable; something you’re expected to be able to pick up and move for remote listening quite easily. It’s easy, and the features are promising on this affordable table. Don’t let the portability fool you, the Numark PT 01 is a great option, especially if you want to bring your table back and forth the homes of friends or loved ones.
The player can spin at 33, 45, and 78 and includes an adapter for 45s. The tone arm is delicate and requires no manual participating, meaning it features auto start/stop and a replaceable stylus. When you’re moving it from one place to another, you can also lock it down during transport. The small 7-inch platter includes a felt mat and can accommodate 12-inch records; felt “buttons” in four corners away from the platter protect larger records from distortion or damage. The platter is, despite its portability, stable–you can even scratch on it–but the 12-inch record protrudes a few inches past the unit’s footprint. You’re not drowning in free space with the Numark, so keep that in mind if DJing is what you’re planning on doing with your new table. You’ll find the controller knobs in the lower-right corner, and it is here you can adjust volume, tone, and RPM choices which are a plenty, as well as alter pitch by plus or minus 10 percent. If you purchase a mixer and some battery powered speakers you’ll have yourself a DJ rig, which is great considering how little it would all cost.
The Numark is a wonderful option for vinyl fans on the go. If you’re looking to save some pennies while also getting a bang for your buck, it’s a wonderful way to go.
The Music Hall USB 1 is a convenient, easy to use, and accessible turntable that works well for newcomers and seasoned vinyl fans alike. It’s easy to set-up for listening, and comes with everything you need to start spinning your favorite records. Whether you’re specifically looking for the USB functionality, a chance to embrace your inner DJ, or simply discover the joy of spinning physical albums, the USB-1 is a great way to go. The built-in phono preamp, cartridge, dust cover, and includes all necessary cables and software required for simple plug and play operation.
The Music Hall comes with an Audio Technica AT3600L moving-magnet cartridge and a static balanced S-shaped tonearm with detachable headshell. The shaped tonearm is somthing you’ll enjoy considering its visual look and easy to use design. That being said, the moving magnet cartridge is something some may say needs upgrading, but for the price, this turntable includes a solid cartridge you can rely on. The anti-skating control allows increased stereo balance, as well as security from damage to your expensive collection. The Music Hall offers 33 and 45 rpm playback speeds with a plus or minus 10 percent pitch control for fine-tuning. That means you won’t have access to older 78s, but if that’s not a huge deal for you, it is no sweat.
If you need a USB table for a solid price, it’s likely you’ll come across the Music Hall USB 1, and it is likely that you will be happy with what this turntable has to offer.
The Sony PSLX300USB is honestly what many would consider to be the more popular USB turntables on the market. The belt driven system is a favorite for its low price point, and great functionality. Sony is known for a lot of electronic equipment, and turntables are just another strong point in their lineup. The Sony table supports records spun at 33 and 45 rpms, which means you can play just about everything minus older records. Sony included a belt drive with this table, and a major benefit of a belt driven turntable is the security and promise that the vinyl and tonearm are protected from vibration, meaning you’re less likely to witness the record skip. This minimizes scratches over time, and keeps your records safe.
The straight tonearm has a pull lever and provides a lift meant for your fingers on the side for easy handling. Upon contact with the record,l the needle pressure is considered low pressue.
This means your favorite record is better protected from scratches and skipping, again, ensuring longevity for your collection. This turntable is a fully automatic unit and upon hitting the start button, it’s ready to play your favorite records. When the record is finished, the tonearm returns to the rest position immediately. Although this turntable is not meant for aspiring emcees looking to practice scratching or music production, you can easily use mixing software to replace missing features needed for mixing, and works great if you’re a budding DJ still learning the ropes.
With every option in this article, you get a great new USB turntable with all the functionality you could desire to digitize your library of records, as well as play them. It’s likely one of more of these will appeal to your needs, so read over the options again, and choose what’s best for you. Happy spinning!
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