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Buying Guide

USB Turntable Comparison Guide

Hear Actual Recrodings from USB Turntables

Visit the virtual USB turntable showroom floor. Listen to popular music played through popular USB turntables and compare to CD.

Compare USB Turntable Features and Specs

Four charts compare vinyl ripping turntables side-by-side. Connections, prices construction, specs and features on over 60 turntables.

Browse Over 60 LP Digitizing Turntables

High resolution photos, flyers, links to the manuafactuerer's site and reviews of all the USB turntables featured here.

Hide Turntables You're Not Interested In

Don't get overwhelmed by all the turntable choices. Use the checkboxes to specify which ones you want to see.

"There are no good USB turntables," most audiophiles claim. Sure, it's easy to write off the assessment of people who spend up to $10,000 on a "good" turntable. Listen closely, though, and you can avoid what offends them most with your more modest budget.

Ceramic cartridges are "a crime against music," says member Axon of Hydrogen Audio. Avoid these USB record players without spending more using our comparison charts.

Anti-skate adjustment is "important for minimum distortion" and prolonging the life of your records, says Clive Backham, an audio software developer. Filter out USB turntables without anti-skate but only if you're willing to learn the fine art of balancing your tonearm.

"Don't buy a USB turntable at all. Turn a good analog turntable digital," a nearly unanimous sentiment among vinyl lovers. We cover that extensively here.

Whether you're looking for a convenient, low-cost way to digitize your record collection or you're creating a digital archive of your vinyl to last an eternity, this guide shows you the best way to achieve your goal.

Our guide compares 66 vinyl ripping turntables from 22 manufacturers and over a dozen software packages. Four sortable charts compare 37 aspects of each turntable. Narrow down your turntable choices by specifying your preferences. Pages of practical advice bring you up to speed on modern turntables and digitizing your record collection.

Get the best USB turntable for your money in Knowzy's USB and Vinyl Ripping Turntable Comparison Guide.

 

Contents

 

 

Vinyl Ripping Turntable Categories

Turntable Categories
Small icon depicting a LP record with an arrow pointing to a CD.
Copy vinyl direct to CD or flash drive. Computer not required.
Small icon depicting a LP record with an arrow pointing to the official USB logo.
Use computer and helpful software to digitize records.
Small icon depciting a robot DJ scratching on his turntable.
Solid, better fidelity and fun USB or S/PDIF turntable.
Small icon depicting a LP record with an arrow pointing to the term 'S/PDIF.'
An alternative digital output. USB has competition!
Small icon depicting a LP record with an arrow pointing to a an alalog VU volume meter.
Traditional turntables become USB turntables easily.

USB turntables may be the most recognized way to digitize a record collection but they are hardly the only tool available. In this guide, we break vinyl ripping turntables down into five categories. We'll help you determine which fits you best.

Standalone systems are the easiest to use. The recording process is much like recording a cassette tape. Since a computer isn't involved, though, standalones aren't suitable for transferring music to your iPod.

USB turntables are ideal for creating an MP3 collection for your iPod or computer. Your computer also gives you much more control over the recording process. However, all USB turntables except one are inexpensive with sound quality to match.

The remaining three categories are for people pursuing good sounding, or at least nostalgic sounding, recordings. Well-built DJ turntables exceed consumer USB turntable specifications. Excellent analog turntables become USB turntables with a simple box. S/PDIF turntables, found on some DJ turntables, offer a digital output alternative to USB.

Deciding upon a category depends on how important the following factors are to you:

Priority Categories
Ease of Use Standalone
Best Sound Quality Analog, DJ
Music on iPod or Computer USB, S/PDIF, DJ, Analog
Handle Skips and Scratches DJ
Friendly Software USB, DJ
Compact Stereo System with Turntable Standalone
Digitally Connect to Receiver S/PDIF

 

Learn more about each of these turntable categories below.

 

 

Narrow Your Choices
Show Standalone Systems? Yes No
A Turntable and CD Burner in One Unit

Digitizing your vinyl collection doesn't get any easier but you can do it better.

A LP record with an arrow pointing to a CD.

Standalone Systems

Copy direct. No computer required.

Standalone systems record albums directly to CD (or iPod or flash memory, depending on the system). This is the easiest way to digitize your LPs and 45's. It's also the crudest.

If you prefer ease-of-use to pursuing perfection in archiving your record collection, a standalone system is a good choice.

If you want to create an organized collection of MP3s from your record collection, a USB turntable is likely the better choice. With few exceptions, standalone vinyl rippers don't connect to your computer, a requirement for naming and categorizing your music files.

Only four standalones meet the "sound quality" requirements for decent turntable fidelity. Look to DJ and analog turntables if sound quality is your top priority.

 

Vinyl ripping process on a standalone system

Recording vinyl to a CD using a standalone system is akin to recording to a cassette tape in days past:

  1. Set the recording volume level
  2. Hit record on the CD burner
  3. Drop the needle on your LP
  4. Press pause when the record ends
  • Optional Press "Split Track" button between songs to create separate tracks on CD.
LP to Flash Memory

Prefer ripping vinyl to a USB thumb drive or a memory card? Several manufacturers have a solution.

If your plans don't go beyond turning your LPs into CDs, this scenario is ideal.

However, without some extra effort, your iPod shows the LP as "Unknown Album" by "Unknown Artist" with tracks named "Track 1," "Track 2," etc.

If you're going to put in that extra effort, a USB turntable likely makes more sense. It gives you more control over the recording process and can save some steps.

 

Some standalones rip to flash memory, not CD

Many models in the standalone category don't burn discs at all. Instead, they write out to USB flash drives and/or SD and MMC memory cards.

The former are the little memory sticks with a USB connection at the end. The latter are the types of cards you might find in your digital camera.

A few things to watch out for:

  1. Many cannot handle a USB flash drive or memory card larger than 2GB.
  2. No flash memory systems feature a CD burner, though some have a CD player.
  3. Don't be misled by the term "USB" on these systems: Most do not connect to your computer. In this context, USB means you can connect a USB storage device (such as a thumb drive) to the turntable.

 

Compact stereo systems with vinyl ripping capabilities

A Full Stereo System with Vinyl Burner

You're next stereo can turn your records into CDs. Some compact, all-in-one systems include both a CD burner and a turntable.

Many systems in this class aren't designed primarily for ripping. Often, they are compact, all-in-one stereo systems that include, among its components, a turntable and a cd recorder.

If you're looking for a stereo system for your office, garage or bedroom, one of these compact stereos may be your machine.

If you are looking for a turntable to rip vinyl and you don't need an AM/FM radio, cassette deck and speakers, keep looking. You'll overpay and get fewer vinyl ripping features in these all-in-one systems.

 

A standout standalone system

The LP 2 CD model offered by Numark and Ion Audio (same parent company) is a shining example of what other standalone LP/CD systems should strive for: Built-in memory allows you to get the recording just right before you burn it to disc.

All other standalone models burn to disc as the record plays. If something goes wrong, you've just wasted a disc!

 

Hybrid standalone/USB vinyl rippers cross categories

Numark and Ion Audio offer hybrid standalone/USB turntables, giving you the best of both worlds. With these units, you can choose between recording directly to CD, iPod or flash memory and connecting to your computer via the USB port.

Read more about USB turntables in the next category.

 

 

Narrow Your Choices
Show USB Turntables? Yes No
A Traditional Turntable plus USB Connectivity

Recording and processing records on your computer has important advantages.

A LP record with an arrow pointing to the official USB logo.

USB Turntables

Built for vinyl ripping to your computer.

USB turntables depend on your computer to convert your analog records to digital computer files. While it's a more tedious process than ripping with a standalone system, the result is more satisfying and useful.

 

USB Turntable vs. Standalone

Getting your computer involved has several advantages over standalone systems:

  • "Tagging" audio files

    Tagging is the process of embedding the artist name, song titles and even the album cover artwork in your audio files. This step is crucial for an organized MP3 collection and enjoying music on your iPod, computer or other digital music player. The software bundled with USB turntables assists you in tagging your MP3s.

  • Removing clicks and pops

    Software such as Audacity (a free download included with most USB turntables) can clean up your recordings, removing those crackles, clicks, pops and hissing.

  • Achieving perfect track splits

    On a standalone system, creating a new track requires pressing a button at the end of each song while the record plays. As you can imagine, this is an error-prone process. Your computer can split your album into tracks automatically or you can do it by hand. If you mess up on your computer, you get a second chance. On most standalones, you don't.

  • Convert music to various formats

    Your computer can encode your music in nearly any format you need. Create a CD for your CD player. MP3s for you iPod. The "lossless" FLAC format for the ultimate in sound quality.

  • Normalizing

    Today's popular music on CD is loud. Unnaturally loud. Using a process called "compression," sound engineers clip the loudest sounds, making the softest parts of the music even louder. One reason behind the resurgence of vinyl among music lovers is the lack of compression on LPs. "Normalizing" your recording helps you compete with your louder digital music by raising the volume to the maximum level without clipping it. Your computer provides this opportunity. A standalone does not.

  • Better value/lower cost

    You're only paying for what you need when buying a USB turntable. Your computer has a CD burner. You don't need a cassette deck, a radio or speakers. Why pay for them by buying a standalone unit? USB turntables start at $80. If you pay more, the money is going toward enhancing your primary goal: Vinyl ripping.

 

Software: Find the Best Tools for the Job

Nearly all USB turntables come bundled with software to assist you in ripping your records. Some packages do a better job than others. You can purchase your own vinyl ripping software if your USB turntable software is inadequate.

Comparison chart #1 shows what software comes with a particular turntable. Find more information about the software in our Vinyl Ripping Software section.

When connected to your computer, a USB turntable simply looks like a new sound card. This leaves you free to use nearly any audio processing software. All programs in the software section are compatible with USB turntables.

Some USB turntables only include a program called Audacity. The manufacturer isn't doing you any favors. Audacity is difficult to learn and is missing several key features that make vinyl ripping easier, such as CD burning and including looking up album information on the Internet. And anyone can download Audacity for free.

If you're a Mac user, look carefully at the "PC / Mac" column in the first chart. Often the user-friendly program is only for the PC. Mac users are often stuck with the not particularly user-friendly Audacity software.

 

Line-In Jack: Digitize Cassettes, 8-Tracks and Reel-to-Reels

Some USB Turntables Record Tapes Too!

You provide the cassette player. The USB turntable makes it digital.

A number of USB turntables include RCA inputs. This lets you record other analog sources on your computer. Most desktop computers have this ability already. Most laptops do not.

Do you have other analog recordings to digitize? Maybe a cassette or 8-track tape collection? Some old reels? The "line-in" column in chart #2 shows whether the USB turntable allows you to record from tape players.

Most desktop computers allow you to plug in an analog player. Unless you find your sound card is particularly bad, you are not likely to see an improvement in sound quality by connecting your tape player to your USB turntable.

Laptop computers, on the other hand, might benefit from this line-level input jack: Most only feature a mono microphone input.

Ion also makes a USB cassette player* and USB VHS VCR* to easily digitize these formats.

 

 

The "Best" USB Turntable

Sounds Best but Takes Some Work.

The only audiophile USB turntable. Sound quality comes before convenience.

Judging it by its specs, the Pro-Ject Debut III is the best USB turntable. However, it's not for everyone.

Pro-Ject's turntable line-up squarely targets the audiophile market. The Debut III USB is their entry-level model at $499 ($350 for the non-USB version*). Their top-end turntable, the RPM 10, sells for $3,000.

Some of the very things that make the Debut appealing to audiophiles may well be turnoffs to the average record listener.

Turntable aficionados are purists. They despise things like tonearm return at the end of play- the parts that move the tonearm may rattle their way into the record play. Some don't like knobs for anti-skate adjustment because it requires springs that may bleed minute vibrations into the playback.

In the case of the Debut III USB, you need to move the drive belt to a different spindle to play a 45 RPM record.

It comes down to this: You will find few conveniences in an audiophile turntable. In addition, you must acquire skills you wouldn't need on a friendlier turntable. And that might make the Pro-Ject Debut III USB more turntable than you're willing to deal with.

If you do decide to take on the Debut USB, congratulations- You have taken your first step into an exclusive, expensive and time-consuming club: The turntable audiophile club.

And, while you're there, you really should upgrade your Debut's 5E stylus to a 10 or a 20...

 

Pro-Ject USB: The Good
  • Best specs of any vinyl ripping turntable:  See for yourself. Of particular note is the low Wow and Flutter rating of 0.12%.
  • Decent, name brand cartridge:  "Consumer" USB turntable cartridges are never mentioned by name. The Debut III USB comes with the Ortofon OM 5E cartridge. You can buy one separately for around $50 (nearly the price of many consumer USB turntables).
  • The best construction:  From the medium density fiber plinth with shock absorbing feet to the three pound sandwiched hub sheet steel platter to a decoupled motor with a two-step metal pulley, reading the product information sheet assures you that great attention to detail went in to building this turntable- even if you don't exactly understand what they're saying.
Pro-Ject USB: The Bad
  • Price:  The $500 price tag is the first test of your determination to get good sound quality. If that price seems shocking, you still have "better-than-consumer USB" choices in analog and DJ turntables.
  • Playing 45s requires a belt adjustment:  This is not an exaggeration. You literally have to take off the platter and move the belt onto a different spindle to switch between 33 and 45. If you want push button speed shifting, you can always add Pro-ject's Speed Box II at $159.
  • No automatic features:  The tonearm doesn't return at the end of the record play nor does it automatically position itself at the beginning of the album with the press of a button. The proposition of all those extraneous parts jiggling around during playback is a deal breaker for the aforementioned turntable audiophile.
  • No friendly software:  Like many of its USB turntable cousins, the Debut USB only comes with Audacity- a program with an arduous learning curve even for experienced computer users. Plus it doesn't burn CDs or cope well with MP3s.
  • Awkward anti-skate adjustment:  Most turntables have a simple "anti-skate" knob. The Pro-Ject Debut has a thread and weight system. This poor guy reached out for help after setting up his new Debut to find "the needle just skates across the record."
  • Cheaper and friendlier analog turntables with better specs:  Our Superior Analog Turntables section features friendly, approachable turntables using the specs of the Pro-Ject Debut USB III as the standard to beat for around the same price or lower. You just add the digitizing capability with either a capable computer or an all-in-one box.

 

 

Narrow Your Choices
Show DJ Turntables? Yes No
Better Sound. Use Correctly for Best Results.

Better built than consumer-grade USB turntables. Plus features to bring out the inner DJ in you.

DJ Turntables

Scratch and shift!

You may not be a DJ but there's a good chance you care about sound quality. You'll find the best built and best sounding turntables with a digital output in the DJ category. Only the Pro-Ject Debut III USB audiophile turntable sounds better than a DJ USB turntable.

Keep this in mind: A DJ turntable is a musical instrument first and a record player second. Unless properly outfitted, a DJ turntable will be hard on your records and you won't get the best sound.

Many analog turntables in the same price range have better specs. However, they won't "plug and play" into your computer the way a DJ USB turntable will.

There are several things to know when buying a DJ turntable for vinyl archiving:

  1. Get the right type of cartridge. Many DJ USB turntables don't come with a cartridge. Even if the one you're considering does, you probably want a more suitable cartridge for better sound and decreased record wear.
  2. Make sure you get an "offset" tonearm. Straight tonearms, found on some DJ turntables, are very hard on your records and do not sound as good.
  3. You may need software. Only three DJ USB turntables are bundled with software. Check the "Software" column in chart #1 to see if you need to supply your own.
  4. You're paying for "fun" features that you may not need. DJ turntables play records backwards, change pitch, speed and more. Part of your turntable dollars go toward these features, whether you want them or not.

 

Better than "consumer" USB turntables

In terms of sound quality, DJ turntables rank above "consumer" USB turntables and below good analog turntables.

DJ USB turntables are better than ordinary USB turntables primarily because they are more expensive. This allows the manufacturer to use better parts and sturdier construction, which lead to better sound.

Most consumer USB and standalone turntables have at least one of the following deficiencies: Lightweight, plastic platter and body; cheap ceramic cartridge; no anti-skate adjustment. As you can see in the comparison charts, no DJ turntables suffer from these deficiencies.

The "audiophile" Pro-Ject Debut III USB turntable stands out as a big exception to low-cost USB record players with inferior sound. Like a DJ turntable, it is also expensive. Unlike a DJ turntable, the Debut's primary design goal is excellent fidelity through delicate and sensitive equipment.

Many analog turntables in the same price range beat the Pro-Ject Debut in terms of their specs. These superior analog turntables are also more user-friendly. As you might have guessed, though, you must find the right hardware and software to turn an analog turntable digital.

 

Some DJ USB turntables don't include software

Only three DJ USB turntables come with software to assist you in vinyl ripping: Numark's TTXUSB and Stanton's T90.USB and T.92 USB. It's up to you to get hold of vinyl ripping software if you choose one of the other DJ turntables.

The free Audacity software has several important record digitizing features. It records your LPs, automatically splits songs into tracks at silent moments and creates MP3s, among other things.

It doesn't burn CDs and it won't look up album information on the Internet to save you from typing in the track information.

The worst thing about Audacity is how difficult it is to learn.

There are much more user-friendly and feature-filled vinyl ripping software packages in the $30 - $50 price range. Just consider software part of the cost of the DJ turntable, if it's not included.

 

You'll need a "hi-fi" cartridge

Marketing photo of the Denon DL-110 phonograph cartridge.
Featured: Denon DL-110
Buying a DJ Turntable? You Need This.

Most don't come with a cartridge. Don't choose a "DJ" cartridge or your vinyl will suffer the consequences.

For many DJ turntables, the cartridge (the needle and the unit that holds it) is not included. This means two things: You need to pick an appropriate cartridge and adjust your turntable to its specifications.

Stanton and Gem Sound turntables are the exception: They do come with a cartridge.

However, they include a "DJ" cartridge, which isn't the best choice for vinyl archiving or listening to records at home.

Stanton's T.92 USB turntable, for example, comes with their 500.V3 cartridge. It specs say it requires 2 – 5 grams of tracking force.

Experts say record wear begins at 1 – 2 grams. Experts also say you should set your tracking force near the higher end of the cartridge's tracking force range, or around 4 grams for the 500.V3. This is a perfect recipe for record wear.

 

Choosing a cartridge

Cartridges come in two broad categories: DJ and "hi-fi." Unless you are a DJ, pick a hi-fi cartridge. Not only will a DJ cartridge will wear down your records much faster, it will not sound as good as a similarly priced hi-fi cartridge.

Several hi-fi cartridges frequently came up in conversation while surveying the local hangouts of turntable aficionados, such as Hydrogen Audio, the Vinyl Engine and Audiokarma.

These are new cartridges that are still produced by the manufacturer. At one of these hangouts someone is just as likely to recommend going on eBay or craigslist to find a certain cartridge that was last produced in the last millenium!

Here are some favorites:

The Denon DL-110 is a favorite of WmAx at Hydrogen Audio. He declares it very accurate at tracing the groove and offers a "very flat response." And he has created his own measurements to prove it.

"Flatness" is important for staying true to the original recording. Think of flatness as all of your equalizer levels set to the same volume. While you may prefer a particular EQ arrangement for listening, you probably do not want to forever color your recordings with those EQ levels.

 

The Cartridge Installation Process
Mechanical diagram of a headshell and a cartridge. A line between the stylus tip and the tonearm end of the headshell reads 54mm.
Courtesy: Denon
The Steps: Attach, balance and anti-skate.

Installing a cartridge: A fairly easy skill to acquire. Aligning the stylus: For the determined and brave.

Installing a new cartridge requires some skill. One is attaching it to the head shell while minding the "overhang distance." Setting anti-skate along with the tracking force is the other. Your owner's manual will guide you through it.

Hydrogen Audio's Axon suggests setting the correct tangential alignment of your stylus to eek out an extra bit of fidelity. This tricky and tedious process goes beyond what cartridge and turntable manufacturers usually recommend. Axon concedes there's "very little reward" awaiting those who go through the alignment process.

One online guide to setting up your cartridge ends the alignment section this way:

At some point into this process, it might seem that aligning what has now become known as "that freaking cartridge" with "those freaking lines and points" of "that freaking gauge" is virtually impossible, take solace in the fact that you're only a dozen or so hours away from playing a freaking record.

 

Straight Tonearms are for DJ's, Not Vinyl Archivists

"Offset" Tonearms for Best Sound

Offset tonearms work naturally with the record's geometry. Straight tonearms fight it.

Another thing that sets some DJ turntables apart from traditional turntables is the "straight" tonearm. Only consider these turntables if you're a DJ first and a vinyl digitizer second.

Straight tonearms are great at keeping the needle in the record groove while scratching the record back and forth. The tradeoff for this stability is increased distortion and record wear.

Avoid straight tonearms by referring to the "Offset" column in comparison chart #3.

Traditional and even most DJ turntables use an "offset" tonearm defined by a headshell angled toward the center of the record. You can see this angled headshell yourself on various turntables by browsing through the turntable photos: All but three DJ turntables feature tonearms angled at the end.

Angling the headshell keeps what's called "tracking error" to a minimum. As the tonearm follows the grooves to the center of the record, it arcs to varying degrees along the way.

Like the skating force, the tracking error affects the positioning of the needle in the record groove. The more the needle rides the groove wall, the more distortion it creates.

The tracking error in straight tonearms is drastically worse than offset tonearms. Up to 8.5 times worse, according to Kab Electro Acoustics, who says a typical offset tonearm has a maximum tracking error of 2 degrees, whereas a straight tonearm's tracking error is up to 17 degrees.

On many models, the length of the tonearm is straight but that doesn't necessarily make it a straight tonearm in the sense we're discussing here. The lack of an angled stylus/cartridge assembly at the end makes it straight. For example, the Ion TTUSB05's tonearm is straight all the way up to the headshell, where it makes an inward turn.

 

DJ-Only Features

Like standalone systems, vinyl digitizing capabilities aren't the only features you're paying for when you buy a DJ turntable.

A DJ turntable is a musical instrument and the following features let you make new music from old:

  • "Scratching" allowed!

    In the 80's, many fathers blew a fuse when he caught his children moving the record player platter back and forth on the family home stereo system. A DJ turntable doesn't spoil the fun: It's designed for scratching. Remember, though, your irreplaceable vinyl LPs are not! Scratching also quickly wears down the needle in your delicate hi-fi cartridge.

  • Pitch shifting

    This audio effect adjusts the pitch or tone of the sound without adjusting the speed or tempo. Make Barry White sound like the Chipmunks without changing the length of the song. Pitch control is not the exclusive domain of DJ turntables- several regular USB turntables feature it as well.

  • Key locking

    This effect is the opposite of pitch shifting: Hold the same pitch while speeding up or slowing down the record. Keep Barry White's deep voice but finish "Can't Get Enough of Your Love" a minute sooner.

  • Electronic brakes

    Braking systems are not uncommon on direct drive turntables. However, DJ turntables offer adjustable stop times- smoothly slowing and stopping the record for effect. The motor brings the record back up to speed for the opposite effect. Brakes are also used to quickly slow from a faster speed (78 to 33, for example).

  • Play records backwards

    Finally, decipher those backwards messages in Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and the Beatles without destroying your turntable. DJ turntables play in forward and reverse. Of course, these days software can reverse your songs as well.

  • Direct Drive

    DJ turntables are the only models featuring direct drive motors. All other vinyl ripping turntables in the comparison use a belt drive. A well-built direct drive turntable offers superior speed stability compared to similarly priced belt drive turntables. However, poorly built direct drive turntables can introduce motor noise into the playback, a phenomena to which belt driven turntables are naturally more immune. There's a healthy debate over which is better in turntables under $2,000. Above that price, there is no debate: Belt-drives win hands down.

 

 

Narrow Your Choices
Show S/PDIF Turntables? Yes No
USB Isn't the Only Digital Output

Your home stereo may have an S/PDIF input. Your computer probably doesn't but you can add it.

An illustration of a DJ scratching a record with an arrow pointing to the official USB logo.

S/PDIF Turntables

A modern digital audio output.

An alternative to USB output. Think of an S/PDIF connection as the modern, digital version of left and right RCA cables. They both transmit audio from one component to another. They both allow for surround sound. The S/PDIF interface does it digitally with no loss of data. Analog audio transmissions through RCA cables suffer from signal degradation.

S/PDIF (which stands for Sony/Phillips Digital Interface, in case you're wondering) became popular with DVD players and the Dolby Digital surround sound receivers they plug into.

These interfaces have found their way to a handful of DJ turntables from Stanton and one from Gemini.

Many newer sound cards have S/PDIF connections but look closely: Most are outputs. Very few sound cards feature a S/PDIF input. Further, the sound cards with digital inputs are typically on the expensive side. Knowzy only found two under $100.

S/PDIF connections come in two types: Coaxial (which, despite its name, looks like an RCA cable, not a cable you connect to a TV) and optical (also called Toslink). The turntables with S/PDIF outputs are all coaxial. Adapters are available to convert between coax and optical if needed.

Several standalone CD recorders accept S/PDIF inputs. In effect, you can build your own standalone system by combining a S/PDIF turntable and a CD recorder*.

 

 

Narrow Your Choices
Show Analog Turntables? Yes No
Analogs Turn Digital Very Easily

Sometimes the best USB turntable is the one you make yourself.

An record with an arrow pointing to an analog volume meter (VU).

Analog Turntables

For the best in sound quality, turn to analog.

Analog turntables may seem out of place in a buying guide to turntables with digital outputs. However, analog turntables play a vital role in the world of vinyl digitizing.

First, any self-respecting audiophile would be embarrassed to admit using a USB turntable, as there are no high-end models. The specs of the one "introductory-level" audiophile turntable- the Pro-Ject Debut III USB- are no comparison to the similarly priced, analog Technics SL-1200 series turntables.

Second, if you already own a record player, buying a USB turntable may be unnecessary. A simple box turns your analog turntable digital. You may even be able to run it directly into your sound card.

To sum up, consider using an analog turntable for digitizing your records in two situations:

  • Own a cherished turntable: Unlike so many technologies, hi-fi turntables haven't advanced much since the 80's. As long as you replace the needle or even the entire cartridge, the turntable that's been collecting dust all of these years is probably suitable for digitizing those similarly dusty LPs.

    The only hurdle is how to turn that turntable digital. We can help.

     

  • Only the best sound quality will do: In the digital world, there's little difference between a $50 CD player and a $500 CD player from a sound quality standpoint. In the analog world of turntables, the difference is night and day. Analog turntables that outperform USB turntables start at around $250.

    If you can afford to spend that kind of money (or can't afford not to), turn a good analog turntable digital. Three analog turntables featured here perform much better than comparably priced USB turntables.

     

Our upcoming section goes into more detail on using an analog turntable to digitize your records, including:

 

 

Sound Quality in USB Turntables

Knowzy's conversation with Hydrogen Audio turntable enthusiasts produced two "must-haves" for a reasonably good sounding USB turntable: Avoid ceramic cartridges and find a turntable with anti-skate adjustment.

The good news is that you can meet these requirements without spending any more money if you shop carefully. This guide makes it easy: Simply check both "Sound Quality" checkboxes in the first comparison chart. Doing so eliminates all turntables with a ceramic cartridge or without anti-skate.

 

 

Avoid Ceramic Cartridges

Little difference in cost, huge difference in sound quality
Narrow Your Choices
Hide Ceramic Cart. Turntables? Yes No
You wouldn't play cherished LPs with this

It's not a ceramic cartridge but has several things in common: It's heavy, stiff and an outdated design.

"Portable grinding wheel"

Wikipedia on portable record players with ceramic cartridges

"I can't understand why the damn things are still being manufactured!"

Member Axon, Hydrogen Audio

"Low cost and popular 40 – 50 years ago"

Member RonS, SMR Forums

USB turntable makers use ceramic cartridges for one reason only: To avoid including a pre-amp unit, thereby reducing the manufacturing cost slightly.

The savings comes at a price: Lower sound quality and possibly shortening the life of the records you play on the turntable.

The savings might be passed on to you. The Rosewill RME-ULP01R sometimes sells for $30 at NewEgg. The Rosewill is cheapest USB turntable on the market (in every sense of the word).

Then again, you could pay more for a turntable with a ceramic cartridge.

The firstStreet LP Saver USB sells for $99. It has a ceramic cartridge.

Ion Audio and Audio-Technica sell similar models for as little as $75 featuring a better moving magnet cartridge and built-in pre-amp.

Avoiding a ceramic cartridge is the most important decision you can make in choosing a USB turntable in terms of sound quality.

Any USB turntable in this guide with a ceramic cartridge has a warning. If you see it, think twice about buying the turntable.

 

What is a ceramic cartridge?

A cartridge is the part that holds the stylus (needle) on one end and mounts to the tonearm's headshell on the other end. The cartridge's job is to convert the movement of the stylus into an electrical signal.

A ceramic cartridge accomplishes this using a "piezo-electric pickup." The pressure created by the vibration of the stylus against the ceramic crystal creates an electrical signal.

The ceramic cartridge is very effective at creating electricity. Its output is so strong that it doesn't need amplification to play through your stereo or connect to your computer.

 

Moving magnet mecahnics compared to ceramic cartridge mechanics

The better "moving magnet" cartridge generates electricity in a more indirect fashion.

The inside of a moving magnet cartridge contains two wire coils. As the stylus tip passes through the record grooves, a magnet attached to the back end of the stylus vibrates between the coils. This movement creates a small electrical signal.

This signal is weak enough that it requires a separate phono pre-amplifier unit to raise the output to the standard "line-level."

Despite its lack of strength, the audio signal created by the moving magnet cartridge is more accurate than a ceramic cartridge's signal.

The stylus in a ceramic cartridge is stiffer because it needs to create physical pressure against the cartridge. A stiffer stylus is less able to trace record grooves accurately.

Inside a moving magnet cartridge, the stylus floats freely between two electrical coils. The vibrations generate an electrical signal without the stylus physically touching the cartridge.

This allows for a lighter and more flexible stylus that is better able to move in concert with the constantly changing course of the record grooves.

 

What is wrong with ceramic cartridges?

Cheap ceramic cartridges, like those found in some USB turntables, have three basic problems: Increased distortion, poor equalization and accelerated record wear.

 

  • Muffled low and high frequency response  There are serious disadvantages to the high mass of the cartridge and the stiff coupling of the needle to the cartridge.

    Bass record grooves require the needle to make relatively large back and forth swings. The momentum built up tracing the groove in one direction must be overcome and reversed to trace the groove in the other direction. Lighter cartridges are better at "overcoming inertia" than heavier, ceramic cartridge designs.

    On the other end of the spectrum higher frequencies are encoded in smaller, more subtle record grooves. The stiffness of the stylus-to-cartridge coupling makes it difficult to react to such nuance. In the highest frequencies, the stylus may not wiggle at all in response to the minute variations in the record groove.

     

  • Wears out records quicker  Ceramic cartridges press the needle against the vinyl with greater force, eating away at your records faster than their gentler magnetic counterparts.

    "Vertical tracking force" (VTF) is the term used to describe the amount of pressure the stylus places on the record. The consensus is that measurable record wear starts around 1 to 2 grams of VTF.

    Good hi-fi moving magnet cartridges are in the 1 to 2 gram range. The Ion Audio TTUSB05, a USB turntable under $100 with a moving magnet cartridge, comes in at 3.08 grams. The Crosley CR249 USB turntable with a ceramic cartridge has 4.62 grams of VTF.

    Improperly set anti-skate compensation compounds the damage done by a cartridge with high VTF. It's unlikely to find an anti-skate adjustment on a turntable with a ceramic cartridge, leaving you with no control over how much damage your cartridge can do.

    High VTF is inescapable in ceramic cartridges. However, even some moving magnet cartridges press down hard on your vinyl.

    DJ cartridges have a high vertical tracking force by design- it helps keep the needle in the groove despite extreme back and forth movements. DJ turntables almost always feature adjustable anti-skate, which can mitigate the record wear problem significantly.

    Cheaper turntables with moving magnet cartridges can also have high VTF. The Audio-Technica AT-LP2D-USB's cartridge has 4.54 grams.

    It's difficult to know what VTF you are getting in a turntable $150 or less. Manufacturers rarely publish this figure, whether the cartridge is ceramic or moving magnet.

     

  • Ceramic Cartridges Crudely Decode the Curve

    A moving magnet cartridge and pre-amp equalizes more accurately than a ceramic cartridge alone.

    Equalization problems  In 1954, US record companies agreed to produce records according to the "RIAA Equalization Curve" thereby allowing longer record play and better fidelity.

    Essentially, the RIAA standard is this: Record makers reduce the volume of the lowest frequencies and progressively add more amplification all the way up the frequency scale. The record player does the opposite: It amplifies the low frequencies and lowers the high frequencies, as seen in the graph.

    Moving magnet cartridges rely on a pre-amplifier unit designed to shape the audio signal in accordance to the RIAA curve. In decades past, phonograph pre-amplifiers were relatively expensive components.

    Ceramic cartridges do not require a pre-amplifier for RIAA equalization because they respond to record grooves differently. Ceramic cartridges are less sensitive to higher frequencies and progressively reduce their amplitude. The result is a rather imperfect approximation of the RIAA curve.

    The graph of the RIAA curve reveals perhaps the most serious flaw with how ceramic cartridges implement it: A bend in the mid-range. This bend starts roughly in the 5th octave and extends to C in the 7th octave (500hz to 2100hz). Ceramic cartridges can't account for this bend and your music suffers.

    In the ceramic's heyday, the 1960's, there were ceramic cartridges with decent performance because not everyone could afford a pre-amplifier. A market existed for a high fidelity ceramic cartridge.

    Transistor technology eventually changed that and, in today's integrated circuit word, a reasonable pre-amp sells for $20 or less as a standalone unit. This leaves little reason to use inferior ceramic cartridge technology over moving magnet in the 21st century.

    Today USB turntable manufacturers that use ceramic cartridges are only trying to save literally a few bucks by not including a pre-amplifier. Your sound quality pays a big price for this penny-pinching.

 

 

Insist on Adjustable Anti-skate

Records sound best with the needle centered in the groove
Narrow Your Choices
Show Only Anti-skate Players? Yes No
An Essential Knob for Better Sound

Dial your needle into the center of the record groove for minimum distortion and record wear.

Among the many benefits of anti-skate adjustment, two stand out: Reducing distortion while playing your records and keeping record wear to a minimum. However, anti-skate is something you must understand to use properly.

If you're serious about good sound quality, you need a turntable with anti-skate compensation.

 

What is anti-skate adjustment?

The inward angle at the end of the tonearm disturbs the natural flow of the needle gliding through the spinning record groove. This "skating" force pushes the needle up against the inside of the record groove, increasing distortion and wear.

Anti-skate compensation pushes back- forcing the needle to the center of the record groove where it belongs.

Some turntables lack an adjustable anti-skate. Such record players may compensate for the skating force. Then again, they may not.

"A deck without this adjustment is either pre-set correctly (or otherwise)," says Hydrogen Audio member 2Bdecided, "or [is] so bad that this little detail is the least of its worries."

Getting the stylus in the absolute center of the record groove is the goal and proper anti-skate compensation is your only hope of achieving it.

Anti-skate adjustment requires some skill: You need to know how to balance your tonearm. It's not difficult to learn but do it incorrectly and your turntable will likely sound worse than one without anti-skate adjustment. The Turntable Factory offers a useful tutorial on balancing your tonearm.

 

What are the benefits of anti-skate adjustment?

You'll find that most of the following benefits come from one thing: Anti-skate compensation keeps needle firmly in the center of the record groove.

The middle of the groove is where music sounds the best. It is also where the stylus does the least damage to the record and itself.

Here's what you can expect from a record player with anti-skating adjustment:

  • Minimize distortion  When the needle rides one side of the record groove, distortion occurs.
  • Resistance to skipping  If the needle is pushing up against the wall of the record groove, scratches and debris more easily push it over the edge of the groove wall, causing a skip.
  • Upgradable cartridges  No USB turntable, with the exception of the Pro-Ject Debut III USB, comes with a better-than-average cartridge. If your turntable has adjustable anti-skate, you can replace the cartridge with something better. If it doesn't, you are forever stuck with whatever cartridge your USB turntable comes with.
  • Decreased record wear  The more pressure the stylus puts on a record groove's wall, the quicker the record wears out. Should the needle cross over the record groove all together, the damage is many times worse.
  • Longer stylus life  Excessive pressure on the groove wall is not just bad for the record, it's bad for the needle. Relieving pressure on the stylus makes it last longer.
  • Perfect left/right balance  On stereo records, the inside of the groove is the left channel and the outside the right channel. If your needle slightly rides one groove wall, one speaker will sound louder. Excessive groove wall pressure leads to distortion in one speaker.
  • Work through stubborn skips  Axon, a Hydrogen Audio member and proprietor of Audiamorous, offers some unique, though slightly unorthodox advice on using anti-skate to overcome stubborn, repetitive record skips: "Slowly lower the antiskate until the skipping stops [and] then quickly raise it back up again to reduce the risk of skipping forward."

 

 

Using an Analog Turntable

Whether you own a cherished turntable or just don't like your choices in turntables with digital outputs, it's quite feasible to bring an analog signal into your computer.

You may encounter complications such as annoying background noise. You may need additional equipment, like a pre-amp or a sound card. You certainly need software to assist in the process.

This section helps you make sure you have the right stuff to do the job right.

 

Is This What You Really Want?

Analog turntables convert easily to digital. All USB turntables pale in comparison to modern, higher-end analog turntables, like the legendary, analog Technics SL-1200 series turntable shown above.

 

 

Turn Any Analog Turntable into a USB Turntable

With a simple box, you can convert any analog turntable into a USB turntable. A combination of a phono pre-amp and USB sound card, connecting your analog turntable to your computers doesn't get any easier.

These boxes bypass complications you might encounter connecting your turntable to your computer's sound card.

Only the Ion Audio U Record includes software to assist you in ripping your vinyl. For the other two boxes, our list of free and commercial software can help you find the right software.

There are only a few of these specialized devices on the market. The following three feature everything you need to make bring your turntable into the digital age: An RIAA-equalized phono pre-amp, RCA inputs, a grounding screw and USB output. Some have additional useful features.

 

Photo of the ARTcessories USBPhonoPlus.
Image courtesy of ARTcessories

ARTcessories USBPhonoPlus

Retail Price:   $129.00
Notable
  • USB sound card and pre-amp in one
  • Turns an analog turntable into a USB turntable

ARTcessories USBPhonoPlus v2: This third generation device does what you need at an affordable price. This feature-packed box offers some surprising bonuses:

  • Monitor input and output in your headphones
  • Adjustable gain
  • Clipping indicator light
  • Switch between phono and line level inputs
  • S/PDIF input (coax or optical Toslink) lets you convert digital output to USB
  • S/PDIF optical output- connect your computer digitally to your home stereo (doesn't convert line-in to S/PDIF output)
  • Analog RCA pre-amp line out- connect your turntable to your home stereo or computer
  • Powered by USB port or AC adapter
  • Rumble filter
  • USB cable not included. Belkin's $5, 10 foot USB cable* works well.
  • Mac, Windows and Linux compatible

 

 

Photo of the Ion Audio Vinyl Forever.
Image courtesy of Ion Audio

Ion Audio Vinyl Forever

Retail Price:   $49.99
Notable
  • USB sound card and pre-amp in one
  • Turns an analog turntable into a USB turntable

Ion Audio U Record: Ion Audio is the leader in USB turntables. They also make an inexpensive phono pre-amp/USB sound card combo.

Compared to the other two units, the U Record is pretty bare. On the plus side, it is the only unit to include software, includes a USB cable and is the cheapest.

The U Record has RCA inputs, USB output, adjustable gain and that's it. Unlike the ART PhonoPlus v2, there are no S/PDIF connections, no input monitoring, no rumble filter, no line out and no clipping indicator.

It does include the same Ion software for Mac and PC that ships with their turntables: Easy Vinyl Converter and EZ Audio Converter, along with the free Audacity software.

If you are budget-minded or really appreciate the software, the Ion U Record may be your USB sound card/phono pre-amp. Be sure to consider what $30 more buys you in the ARTcessories PhonoPlus v2 before making a decision.

  • Adjustable gain
  • Switch between phono and line level inputs
  • USB cable included
  • Powered by USB port
  • Mac, Windows and Linux compatible (no special Linux software)

 

 

Photo of the Rolls/Bellari VP530.
Image courtesy of Rolls/Bellari

Rolls/Bellari VP530

Retail Price:   $400.00
Notable
  • USB sound card and pre-amp in one
  • Turns an analog turntable into a USB turntable

Rolls/Bellari VP530: This unit is three times more expensive and has fewer features and connections than ART's USBPhonoPlus v2. So why even consider this unit?

Bellari is a respected audiophile equipment maker specializing in vacuum tube technology. Many ears prefer the sound of tube amplifiers to modern, solid-state amplifiers.

With the VP530, you can digitally capture the warmth of music amplified through vacuum tube circuitry, if that's what you prefer.

  • Upgradeable vacuum tube
  • Burr-Brown Analog to Digital converter- a respected ADC
  • Switch between RIAA equalization and flat
  • Rumble filter
  • Mute button
  • Adjustable gain
  • Monitor output via headphones or line-out
  • USB cable not included. Belkin's $5, 10 foot USB cable* works well.
  • Mac, Windows and Linux compatible

 

 

What's Wrong with USB Turntables?

It's Not Easy Making Music from This

Tracing record grooves with precision requires extremely sensitive equipment. You won't find it in a $100 turntable.

Today's "consumer" USB record players typically sell for $150 or less. That is expensive for a CD player. For a turntable, it is the bottom-of-the-barrel.

If you are serious about sound quality, you need to find a good analog turntable and turn it digital.

Pure digital devices like a CD player read audio information with precision, even on a $50 player. If the CD isn't rotating at an exactly consistent speed, the audio will never sound "wobbly". The laser reading the CD is inexpensive and still captures every nuance of the audio data.

Audio fidelity in a turntable, on the other hand, is completely at the mercy of the mechanical parts that make it up. If the platter isn't rotating at a consistent speed, long-held musical notes may sound wobbly. An inferior needle and cartridge assembly can drastically affect the sound quality- the frequency response and equalization in particular. If the stylus doesn't track the groove properly, distortion occurs.

In short, while a $100 CD player sounds great, a $100 turntable does not.

DJ USB and S/PDIF turntables, which cost anywhere between $250 and $500, are the top of the line for sound quality in turntables with digital outputs. But for that kind of money, there are much better sounding analog turntables.

The Technics SL-1200 series turntable is legendary for its construction and sound quality. It starts around $500 and blows all USB turntables out of the water.

The specifications speak for themselves: The Wow and Flutter rating for the Pro-Ject Debut III USB, the most expensive USB turntable at $500, is 0.12%. The SL-1200: 0.025%. The analog Denon DP-300F sells for $250 less and has a wow and flutter rating of 0.10%.

Why choose an analog turntable over a USB turntable? The convenience of the USB connection and accompanying software may come at a price: Inferior sound quality.

 

 

Superior Analog Turntables

The following analog turntables represent the next step up from the best USB turntables. All have better specifications than the best rated USB turntable- the Pro-Ject Debut III USB. These are all solidly built turntables.

Keep in mind that you'll need to supply your own software. You can use the free Audacity program or buy a more specialized program. Take a tour of our vinyl ripping software list for your choices.

All of these turntables except for the Denon DP-300F require a phono pre-amp. You may have one already in your home stereo. If not, consider a combo USB sound card/pre-amp or a standalone pre-amp.

Turntable and vinyl enthusiasts praise the Technics SL-1200 so often, you might think there is a conspiracy against the other manufacturers. Indeed, you won't go wrong with this excellent turntable. There are, however, others to consider in the same price range or cheaper.

Photo of the Technics SL-1200MK5.
Photo of the Denon DP-300F.
Image courtesy of Technics
Image courtesy of Denon

Technics SL-1200MK5

Retail Price:   Not Available

Denon DP-300F

Retail Price:   $329.00
DJ system icon analog system icon
analog system icon
Photo of the Thorens TD 190-2.
Photo of the Numark TT500.
Image courtesy of Thorens
Image courtesy of Numark

Thorens TD 190-2

Retail Price:   Not Available

Numark TT500

Retail Price:   $429.00
Notable
  • Discontinued model. Get it while you can!
analog system icon
DJ system icon analog system icon

 

 

Is Your Computer Ready for an Analog Turntable?

Never Connect Turntable to Mic Jack

The "line-in" jack is the proper input. Your laptop probably doesn't have a line-in.

Are you considering hooking up analog turntable to your computer? This section covers a few things you should know before attempting it.

For more tips and in-depth advice on digitizing your records with the equipment you already have, see Clive Backham's collection of tips.

Finally, if all of this seems overwhelming, remember: Specialized solutions for under $100 overcome all of the following issues.

 

Line-in only, never microphone (Listen up laptop owners!)

Desktop computers typically feature a "Line-in" or "Auxiliary" input jack. Laptops typically do not. If you computer does not have a line-in, you need a separate sound card.

Never hook your analog turntable to your microphone jack! It doesn't have the right sensitivity and is typically mono.

 

Pre-amp: Bring your audio signal up to "line level"

Photo of the TCC TC-750LC.
Image courtesy of TCC

TCC TC-750LC

Retail Price:   $48.50
Notable
  • Phono pre-amp with >85dB S/N
  • Use to connect your turntable directly to computer

Most turntables do not have a strong enough signal to power your line-level auxiliary input. Usually, you need a "pre-amplifier" to raise the signal up to the level your sound card expects.

Some newer turntables feature a built-in pre-amp. Turntables with a ceramic cartridge don't require a pre-amp (in fact, they may be over amplified). Expensive turntables (over $1,000) never include a pre-amp.

Make sure you know whether your turntable requires it. Read your manual if in doubt. If you've lost your manual, the Vinyl Engine may have a copy.

If you need pre-amplification, here are a few ways to get it:

  • Home stereo systems often feature a "phono" input that leads to a pre-amplifier. In this scenario, hook the turntable to the stereo. Then connect the stereo to your sound card via the "Tape Out."
  • Separate pre-amp units are available for a reasonable price. Just pass your turntables's output through one of these on the way to the sound card.
  • External sound cards featuring a pre-amp kill two birds with one stone: If your sound card is inadequate and you need a pre-amp, a few units offer both in one. See three such units in the previous section: "Turn Any Analog Turntable into a USB Turntable."

 

Is your sound card noisy?

Photo Courtesy of Dell Computers.
Integrated Sound Cards: Cheap and Noisy

You may hear humming and buzzing if your audio inputs are built in to your motherboard.

Sometimes your computer picks up unwanted noise, hum and buzzing when recording analog sound. The following two scenarios increase this likelihood of unacceptable background noise.

Don't get discouraged if your computer fits into one or both of these categories, it's not a guarantee that it will suffer from noise and hum. It just means it's more susceptible. You'll never know for sure until your try recording something yourself.

  • Older computers: The earliest PCs gave little-to-no consideration to isolating the electrical signals might bleed into a sound card's analog to digital conversion process. Since then, computer component makers have worked together to help alleviate the problem. Just be aware that the longer your computer has been around, the more likely it might suffer from unwanted noise.

     

  • Built-in sound cards: When the audio is built directly in to the motherboard, two factors working against it. First, the sound card is often inexpensive to help keep the overall cost of the motherboard down. Second, the sound card is more susceptible to interference since it's resides in the heart of the motherboard. "PCI" and USB sound cards typically offer better protection against unwanted noise.

 

 

Upgrading Your Sound Card

If your sound card is noisy, you're using a laptop or just want the best equipment for the job, it's time to upgrade your sound card. In this section, we highlight five sound cards, including two with a built-in phono pre-amp.

 

Convenience: Sound Cards with Built-in Phono Input

They are rare to find but they do exist: A few sound cards let you plug your turntable into your sound card directly. A modern, RIAA-equalized phono pre-amp built right into your sound card is a great alternative to using an old stereo receiver as your pre-amp.

The convenience of phono input costs a little extra but the results may be well worth the price.

 

Quiet Sound Cards are Built Well

The sound cards below all feature a high "Signal to Noise" ratio (S/N), typically over 100dB. This is extremely quiet.

In reality, you can get away with a sound card with 85dB S/N, as even the best turntables don't get out of the 70's. However, if a sound card doesn't reach 100, it may be missing other important things, like good electrical shielding to keep interference at bay.

At $400, the well-built E-MU 1616M PCIe reaches 120db on its standard analog inputs, though its phono input only reaches 96dB. This is likely due to noise introduced by the pre-amp.

The X-Fi Elite Pro doesn't break out the signal to noise figure for its phono input, nor for the standard, line-level analog input. It only lists the S/N for its analog output: 109dB.

 

Sound Card Interfaces

Sound cards connect to your computer in one of three ways: USB, PCI and PCI Express. It's important to determine which one is best for you.

Unless you understand the different interfaces, you may end up with an incompatible sound card. This is especially true if you are a Mac or a laptop user.

  • PCI sound cards are for desktop PCs only; they won't fit in a laptop.

    PCI and PCI Express sound cards require you to open your computer case to install the card.

    Finally, you need to determine what type of PCI slot you have available in your computer, if any.

    Does that sound overwhelming? If so, get a USB sound card.

    PCI sound cards come in PCI and PCI Express. Make your decision based on what type of slot you have available. All PCI Express sound cards are the most common type: x1.

    The vast majority of PCI sound cards are for the PC only. Mac users need a USB sound card.

     

  • USB sound cards are compatible with laptops and desktops alike. This is the easy way to add a new sound card- there's no need to open the case.

    In addition to the USB sound card below, you might consider the combo USB sound card/phono pre-amp boxes described in the previous section.

 

With Built-In Phono Pre-amp

Photo of the Creative Labs X-Fi Elite Pro.
Photo of the E-MU 1616M PCIe.
Image courtesy of Creative Labs
Image courtesy of E-MU

Creative Labs X-Fi Elite Pro

Retail Price:   $378.86
Notable
  • PCI Sound Card
  • Phono pre-amp built-in
  • Signal To Noise Ratio: 109dB (DAC, ADC not available)

E-MU 1616M PCIe

Retail Price:   $599.00
Notable
  • PCI Express Sound Card
  • Phono pre-amp built-in
  • Signal To Noise Ratio: 96dB (Phono input)

 

One of Each Interface

Photo of the E-MU 0404.
Photo of the M-Audio Fast Track Pro.
Image courtesy of E-MU
Image courtesy of M-Audio

E-MU 0404

Retail Price:   $149.99
Notable
  • PCI Sound Card
  • Signal To Noise Ratio: 111dB
  • Windows XP and Vista only

M-Audio Fast Track Pro

Retail Price:   $249.95
Notable
  • USB Sound Card
  • Signal To Noise Ratio: 101dB
  • XP, Vista and Mac compatible
Photo of the Asus Xonar D2X.
Image courtesy of Asus

Asus Xonar D2X

Retail Price:   $256.45
Notable
  • PCI Express x1 Sound Card
  • Signal To Noise Ratio: 118dB
  • Windows XP and Vista only

 

 

 

Comparison Charts

The following four charts compare the features of all vinyl ripping turntables, helping you make the most informed choice.

Don't be overwhelmed by the number of turntables. Two tools make finding your ideal turntable easy:

  • Hide turntables that don't interest you  The "Chart Filtering Options" just before the first chart allow you to hide categories of turntables and hide those that don't meet the sound quality requirements.
  • Click chart columns to sort  Do you want a turntable with a 78 speed? Do you want to see lowest price turntables? Click the column headings to sort the turntables in the order of your choosing. Note: This feature is still a little buggy!

 

Here's what you'll find in each chart:

Chart Filtering Options

Categories

Sound Quality

Region

Country/Currency:
United States Flag
United States
Other countries:
See them all:
Every turntable in the world
  1. The Basics  An overview of the turntables. Includes the turntable categories, the bundled software (if any), built-in speakers and more.
  2. Connections and Features  Shows input and output jacks, 78 speed, pre-amp and more.
  3. Turntable Construction  See whether the turntable you're considering has anti-skate or a ceramic cartridge. See if the platter is plastic or aluminum. See if it has a dust cover (you may be surprised how many do not).
  4. Specifications  See the numbers. How noisy or unstable is the turntable you're considering? Often, the manufacturers who say nothing about their specs speak volumes about their turntable's performance.

 

Don't forget to browse the photos and reviews that follow the charts. Click on the model name in the charts to jump directly its review.

 

Vinyl Ripping and USB Turntable Comparison
Part 1: The Basics
Model Category Win / Mac CD Burner Flash, iPod Speakers Radio, Tape R/C Software Retail Price Buy
Audio Technica
AT-LP240-USB USB Y / Y2 N N N N N Audacity $4999.00 $349.00*
AT-LP2D-USB USB Y / Y1 N N N N N Cakewalk pyro Audio Creator LE, Audacity $229.00 $0*
AT-LP60-USB USB Y / Y2 N N N N N Audacity $119.00 $79.99*
AT-LP120-USB USB, DJ Y / Y2 N N N N N Audacity $299.00 $249.00*
Brookstone
iConvert (Version 2) USB Y / Y N N N N N EZ Vinyl, EZ Audio, Audacity $129.00 $129.00
Crosley
Oval (CR6004A) Coming Soon USB Y / ?6 N N N N N Not yet known6 $199.95 $93.00*
Revolution (CR6002A) USB Y / ?6 N N N N N Not yet known6 $149.96 $0*
Echo (CR6003A) Coming Soon USB, Stand Y / ?6 N iPod, SD Stereo Digital AM/FM Y Not yet known6 $179.95 See site
Archiver (CR6001A) USB Y / Y2 N N 5W @ 8ohm X2 Analog AM/FM, Tape Player N Audacity $199.95 $0*
CR245-PA Stand N / N Y N 5W @ 4ohm X2 Analog AM/FM Y None $299.95 $0*
CR246-PA Stand N / N Y N 5W @ 4ohm X2 Analog AM/FM Y None $299.95 See site*
CR247-OA Stand N / N Y N 10W @ 8ohm X2 AM/FM, Tape Player Y None $399.95 $0*
CR248-PA Stand N / N Y N 10W @ 8ohm X2 AM/FM, Tape Player Y None $399.95 $0*
Keepsake Turntable (CR249) USB Y / Y2 N N Stereo N N Audacity $149.95 $129.95*
Denon
DP-300F Analog N / N N N N N N None $699.00 $329.00*
DP-200USB Stand Y / N N N N N N Trans Music Manager $329.00 $249.00*
firstStreet
LP Saver USB USB N / N N N N N N None $149.95 $99.95
Gem Sound
GT-USB USB, DJ Y / Y1 N N N N N Bias Soundsoap SE, Audacity $179.95 See site*
DJ-USB USB, DJ Y / Y1 N N N N N Bias Soundsoap SE, Audacity $199.95 See site*
Gemini
TT-1100 USB USB, DJ Y / Y2 N N N N N Audacity $209.95 $139.95*
CDT-05 DJ, S/PDIF N / N N N N N N None $576.99 See site*
Grace Digital Audio
Vinylwriter (AVPUSB01S) USB Y / Y2 N N N N N Audacity $99.00 See site*
Vinylwriter Boca Stand Y / Y2 N N 3W X2 N N Audacity $149.99 $80.00*
Vinylwriter Pico USB Y / Y2 N N N N N Audacity $99.99 $0*
Victoria Classic (Discontinued) Stand N / N N SD, MMC, USB Drive3 Stereo AM/FM, CD Player N None $149.99 $0*
Victoria Retrowriter USB N / N Y N Stereo Analog AM/FM, Tape Player Y None $249.99 $0*
Victoria Tunewriter III USB N / N Y N Stereo Analog AM/FM, Tape Player Y None $191.99 $133.33*
Innovative Technology
ITUT-201 USB Y / Y2 N N N N N Audacity $99.99 $0*
Ion Audio
Profile Flash USB, Stand Y / Y N SD / USB Drive N N N EZ Vinyl, EZ Audio, Audacity $199.00 See site*
iProfile USB, Stand Y / Y N iPod N N N EZ Vinyl, EZ Audio, Audacity $249.95 $0*
Profile Pro USB Y / Y N N N N N EZ Vinyl, EZ Audio, Audacity $149.95 $76.00*
Profile LP USB Y / Y N N N N N EZ Vinyl, EZ Audio, Audacity $149.95 $0*
TTUSB05 USB Y / Y N N N N N EZ Vinyl, EZ Audio, Audacity $149.95 $0*
Power Play LP USB Y / Y N N N N N EZ Vinyl, EZ Audio, Audacity $65.98 $59.95*
Quick Play LP USB Y / Y N N N N N EZ Vinyl, EZ Audio, Audacity $49.99 $37.75*
Quick Play Flash USB, Stand Y / Y N USB Drive N N N EZ Vinyl, EZ Audio, Audacity $89.99 See site*
iPTUSB USB Y / Y N N Mono N N EZ Vinyl, EZ Audio, Audacity $149.99 $89.95*
TTUSB10 USB Y / Y N N N N N EZ Vinyl, EZ Audio, Audacity $249.00 $129.99*
LP 2 FLASH USB Y / Y N SD4, USB Drive N N N EZ Vinyl, EZ Audio, Audacity $249.95 See site*
TTUSB USB Y / Y N N N N N EZ Vinyl, EZ Audio, Audacity $199.00 $0*
LP 2 CD USB, Stand Y / Y Y N N N N EZ Vinyl, EZ Audio, Audacity $399.95 $319.95*
LP DOCK USB, Stand Y / Y N iPod N N N EZ Vinyl, EZ Audio, Audacity $299.95 $99.95*
Jensen
JTA-380 Stand Y / Y2 N N Stereo N N Audacity N.A. See site
JTA-450 USB, Stand N / N N SD, MMC, USB Drive5 1.2W X2 AM/FM Y None $99.95 $0*
Kam
DDX4500 USB USB Y / Y2 N N N N N Audacity GBP£299.95 See site*
BDX900 USB USB Y / Y2 N N N N N Audacity GBP£129.95 See site*
Lenco
L-3866 USB USB Y / Y2 N N N N N Audacity N.A. See site*
L-3867 USB USB Y / Y2 N N N N N Audacity N.A. See site
L-78 USB USB Y / Y2 N N N N N Audacity N.A. See site*
L-80 USB Stand Y / Y2 N N N N N Audacity N.A. See site*
Marathon
TT-101USB USB, DJ Y / Y2 N N N N N Audacity $115.79 $104.79*
Memorex
2650mmo USB Y / Y2 N N N N N Audacity $100.00 $67.99*
Music Hall
usb-1 USB, DJ Y / Y2 N N N N N Audacity $249.00 $249.00*
Numark
TTUSB USB, DJ Y / Y N N N N N EZ Vinyl, EZ Audio, Audacity $299.00 $99.00*
TTXUSB USB, DJ Y / Y N N N N N EZ Vinyl, EZ Audio, Audacity $629.00 $399.99*
PT-01USB USB Y / Y N N Mono N N EZ Vinyl, EZ Audio, Audacity $149.00 $84.99*
LP 2 CD USB, Stand Y / Y Y N N N N EZ Vinyl, EZ Audio, Audacity $599.00 $349.95*
TTi USB, Stand Y / Y N N N N N EZ Vinyl, EZ Audio, Audacity $499.00 $195.00*
TT500 DJ, Analog N / N N N N N N None $429.00 See site*
Pro-Ject Audio
Debut III USB USB Y / Y2 N N N N N None $499.00 $499.00
Rosewill
RME-ULP01R USB Y / N N N Mono N N RecordMateLP $99.95 $39.99*
Sony
PS-LX300USB USB Y / N N N N N N Sound Forge Audio Studio $149.00 $0*
Staton
T.55 USB USB, DJ Y / Y1 N N N N N Cakewalk pyro Audio Creator LE, Audacity $299.00 $199.00*
T.80 (Discontinued) DJ, S/PDIF N / N3 N N N N N None $379.00 See site*
T.90 USB (Discontinued) USB, DJ, S/PDIF Y / Y1 N N N N N Cakewalk pyro 5, Audacity $455.00 See site*
T.92 USB USB, DJ, S/PDIF Y / Y1 N N N N N Cakewalk pyro 5, Audacity $455.00 $299.00*
ST.150 DJ, S/PDIF N / N N N N N N None $999.99 $599.00*
STR8.150 DJ, S/PDIF N / N N N N N N None $999.99 See site*
Teac
LP-U200 Stand N / N N SD4, USB Drive 3.5W @ 4ohms X2 Analog AM/FM Radio Y None $349.00 $259.88*
LP-R400 Stand N / N Y N 3.5W @ 4ohms X2 AM/FM Radio Y None $449.00 $299.99*
GF-450K7 Stand N / N Y N 3.5W @ 4ohms X2 Analog AM/FM Radio Y None $449.00 $0*
GF-350 Stand N / N Y N 3.5W @ 4ohms X2 Analog AM/FM Radio Y None $399.00 $249.99*
GF-650 Stand N / N Y N 3.5W @ 4ohms X2 Analog AM/FM Radio Y None $649.00 $399.99*
Thorens
TD 190-2 Analog N / N N N N N N None N.A. See site*
Technical Pro
TR2-USB USB Y / Y2 N N N N N Audacity $159.00 See site
Technics
SL-1200MK5 DJ, Analog N / N N N N N N None N.A. $0*

Legend

Category  Vinyl ripping turntable categories to which the model belongs. Categories include Standalone, USB, DJ, S/PDIF and Analog.

Win / Mac "Y" indicates the software included with the USB turntable is compatible with Windows and/or Mac. Some USB turntables include better software for Windows than for Mac- see footnotes for more details. All USB turntables are compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux, though you must find your own software if your OS has an "N". Only USB turntables come with software. Analog and standalone turntables do not connect to your computer.

CD Burner "Y" indicates the turntable has a built-in CD burner, allowing you to record LPs directly to disc. By definition, this qualifies the turntable as a Standalone. Some record players feature a CD player rather than a CD burner. An "N" appears in this column CD drive is a player, not a burner.

Flash, iPod Indicates the turntable can record directly to an iPod, USB flash drive or a memory card, if other than "N." Read about this in detail in the Standalone section. "iPod," "SD," "MMC" and "USB drive" are possible values. Check the footnotes for size limitations: Often USB drives or memory cards cannot exceed 2GB.

Speakers Speakers are built-in to turntable, if specified. Includes wattage and ohms are listed (if published by manufacturer). "X2" indicates two speakers (stereo).

Radio, Tape Many standalones include a cassette tape player (never a cassette recorder) and/or a radio. Several models feature an analog, dial-type radio tuner. Analog radios are indicated by "Analog," otherwise the AM/FM radio is digitally tuned.

R/C "Y" indicates the unit comes with a remote control.

Software Lists the programs included with the turntable to assist in recording on your computer, if any. Some turntables don't include software. Standalones don't require software to digitize records. Click the program name to learn more about the software included with the turntable. Find additional software in the "Vinyl Ripping Software Library."

Retail Price Also called "List Price," this is the price set by the manufacturer as a guideline for stores. Typically, a turntable sells for less than its list price (see "Buy Price"). It is extremely rare for it to sell for more. N.A. ("Not available") means that manufacturer doesn't publish a retail price or it has not been set for the country in which you are browsing.

Buy Price Click the link to purchase the turntable from a reputable online retailer at a competitive price. Prices are in the currency of the country you are browsing, unless preceded by a currency abbreviation, such as "GBP" for Great Britain Pound, "CDN" for Canadian Dollar, "JPY" for Japanese Yen, "EUR" for Euro and "USD" for US Dollar. A "?" means a retailer could not be located to purchase the item. An * following the price indicates Knowzy receives a commission when you make a purchase. Read more about this in the "Disclosure" section. Knowzy appreciates your support.

 

Footnotes

1  Free Audacity software only for Mac users. PC users get additional, possibly more suitable vinyl ripping software.

2  Audacity only

3  Cannot handle a USB flash drive larger than 2GB.

4  Cannot handle a SD card larger than 2GB. 1GB is the max for the Teac LP-U200.

5  Manufactuer doesn't specify the maximum memory card or USB drive size. 2GB is often the limit.

6  Crosley hasn't announced what software will go with the turntable. Gizmodo editor Dan Nosowitz says the software will probably come from "a veeeery interesting partner that I'm not at liberty to name." Nosowitz asserts the software will automatically recognize and tag the music, much like Ion Audio's EZ Vinyl.

 

 

Vinyl Ripping and USB Turntable Comparison
Part 2: Connections and Features
Model Automatic? 78 Line in Pre-amp Line out Phono out Ground Headphone out Adj. Gain Pitch Retail Price Buy
Audio Technica
AT-LP240-USB Manual Y N Y Y Y Y N ? N $4999.00 $349.00*
AT-LP2D-USB Fully N N Y Y1 Y N N N N $229.00 $0*
AT-LP60-USB Fully N N Y Y1 Y N N N N $119.00 $79.99*
AT-LP120-USB Manual Y N Y Y Y N N N ± 20% $299.00 $249.00*
Brookstone
iConvert (Version 2) Semi N N Y Y N N N N N $129.00 $129.00
Crosley
Oval (CR6004A) Coming Soon Semi N N Y Y ? N ? N N $199.95 $93.00*
Revolution (CR6002A) Semi N N ? N N N Y N N $149.96 $0*
Echo (CR6003A) Coming Soon Semi Y 1/8" N Y N N Y N N $179.95 See site
Archiver (CR6001A) Semi Y 1/8" N Y N N Y N N $199.95 $0*
CR245-PA Semi Y RCA, 1/8" N Y N N Y Y N $299.95 $0*
CR246-PA Semi Y RCA, 1/8" N Y N N Y Y N $299.95 See site*
CR247-OA Semi Y RCA, 1/8" N Y N N Y Y N $399.95 $0*
CR248-PA Semi Y RCA, 1/8" N Y N N Y Y N $399.95 $0*
Keepsake Turntable (CR249) Semi Y RCA N N N N Y N N $149.95 $129.95*
Denon
DP-300F Fully N N Y Y1 Y N N N N $699.00 $329.00*
DP-200USB Fully N N Y Y1 Y N N N N $329.00 $249.00*
firstStreet
LP Saver USB Semi Y N N Y N N N N N $149.95 $99.95
Gem Sound
GT-USB ? Y N Y Y Y N N N N $179.95 See site*
DJ-USB Manual Y N Y Y Y N N N Y $199.95 See site*
Gemini
TT-1100 USB Manual Y N Y Y Y Y N N ± 10% $209.95 $139.95*
CDT-05 Manual Y N Y N Y N N N ± 50% $576.99 See site*
Grace Digital Audio
Vinylwriter (AVPUSB01S) Semi N N N Y1 N N N N N $99.00 See site*
Vinylwriter Boca Manual Y N N Y N N N N N $149.99 $80.00*
Vinylwriter Pico Manual Y N N Y N N N N N $99.99 $0*
Victoria Classic (Discontinued) Semi Y RCA N Y N N Y Y N $149.99 $0*
Victoria Retrowriter ? Y RCA N Y N N Y Y N $249.99 $0*
Victoria Tunewriter III Semi Y RCA, 1/8" N N N N Y Y N $191.99 $133.33*
Innovative Technology
ITUT-201 Semi N N N Y1 N N N N N $99.99 $0*
Ion Audio
Profile Flash Manual N 1/8" Y Y1 N N N Y N $199.00 See site*
iProfile Manual N 1/8" Y Y1 N N N Y N $249.95 $0*
Profile Pro Manual N 1/8" Y Y1 N N N N N $149.95 $76.00*
Profile LP Manual N N Y Y1 N N N N N $149.95 $0*
TTUSB05 Manual N 1/8" Y Y1 N N N N N $149.95 $0*
Power Play LP Manual Y N N N N N N N N $65.98 $59.95*
Quick Play LP Manual Y N N Y N N N N N $49.99 $37.75*
Quick Play Flash Manual Y N N Y N N 1/8" N N $89.99 See site*
iPTUSB Manual Y 1/8" N Y N N Y2 Y ± 10% $149.99 $89.95*
TTUSB10 Manual N 1/8" Y Y Y N N Y N $249.00 $129.99*
LP 2 FLASH Manual N 1/8" Y N N N N Y N $249.95 See site*
TTUSB Manual N 1/8" Y Y Y N N Y N $199.00 $0*
LP 2 CD Manual Y RCA Y Y Y N Y Y N $399.95 $319.95*
LP DOCK Manual N 1/8" Y Y Y N N Y N $299.95 $99.95*
Jensen
JTA-380 Manual Y N N Y N N Y N N N.A. See site
JTA-450 Semi Y N N Y N N Y N N $99.95 $0*
Kam
DDX4500 USB Manual Y N Y Y Y N N N Y GBP£299.95 See site*
BDX900 USB Manual Y N Y Y Y N N N Y GBP£129.95 See site*
Lenco
L-3866 USB Semi N N Y Y N N N N N N.A. See site*
L-3867 USB Semi N Y Y N N N N N N N.A. See site
L-78 USB Semi N N Y Y N N N N N N.A. See site*
L-80 USB Manual N N Y Y Y N N N ± 10% N.A. See site*
Marathon
TT-101USB Manual Y N Y Y Y Y N N ± 10% $115.79 $104.79*
Memorex
2650mmo Semi N N N Y1 N N N N N $100.00 $67.99*
Music Hall
usb-1 Manual N N Y Y Y N N N ± 10% $249.00 $249.00*
Numark
TTUSB Manual N 1/8" Y Y Y N N Y ± 10% $299.00 $99.00*
TTXUSB Manual Y N Y Y Y N N Y ± 50% $629.00 $399.99*
PT-01USB Manual Y RCA N Y N N Y2 Y ± 10% $149.00 $84.99*
LP 2 CD Manual Y RCA Y Y Y N Y Y N $599.00 $349.95*
TTi Manual N 1/8" Y Y Y N N Y ± 10% $499.00 $195.00*
TT500 Manual Y N N N Y Y N N ± 50% $429.00 See site*
Pro-Ject Audio
Debut III USB Manual Y3 N Y Y N Y N N N $499.00 $499.00
Rosewill
RME-ULP01R Manual Y N N Y N N N N N $99.95 $39.99*
Sony
PS-LX300USB Fully N N Y Y1 Y N N N N $149.00 $0*
Staton
T.55 USB Manual N N Y Y Y N N N ± 10% $299.00 $199.00*
T.80 (Discontinued) Manual Y N Y Y Y N N N ± 12% $379.00 See site*
T.90 USB (Discontinued) Manual Y N Y Y Y N N N ± 12% $455.00 See site*
T.92 USB Manual Y N Y Y Y N N N ± 12% $455.00 $299.00*
ST.150 Manual Y N Y Y Y N N N ± 50% $999.99 $599.00*
STR8.150 Manual Y N Y Y Y N N N ± 50% $999.99 See site*
Teac
LP-U200 Semi Y RCA N N N N Y Y N $349.00 $259.88*
LP-R400 Semi Y RCA N N N N Y Y N $449.00 $299.99*
GF-450K7 Semi Y RCA N N N N Y Y N $449.00 $0*
GF-350 Semi Y RCA N N N N Y Y N $399.00 $249.99*
GF-650 Fully N RCA Y Y N N Y Y N $649.00 $399.99*
Technical Pro
TR2-USB Semi N N N Y1 N N N N N $159.00 See site
Technics
SL-1200MK5 Manual N N N N Y Y N N ± 8% N.A. $0*
Thorens
TD 190-2 Fully Y N N N Y Y N N N N.A. See site*

Legend

Automatic?  Fully means the record play is initiated with the press of a button and the tonearm automatically returns at the end of record play. Semi is just the automatic tonearm return. Manual means moving the tonearm at the beginning and ending of the album is dependent on the turntable user. Automatic platter rotation start and stop aren't considered "automatic" features.

78  If "Y," the turntable features a 78 speed, in addition to 33 and 1/3 and 45 RPM. No turntable featured here has a 16 RPM speed. Never play 78 records with a regular needle. It will sound terrible and damage the needle, in turn, damaging your vinyl records. Learn more about archiving 78 records on the Audio Feedback page.

Line In  Also called an "auxiliary" input. If available, allows you to digitize music from a tape player or other audio device. Indicates input jacks as 1/8" and/or RCA.

Pre-amp  "Y" indicates the turntable has a built-in preamp. If the turntable has a magnetic cartridge, this means it can connect to a standard line-in jack. Without a pre-amplifier, a magnetic cartridge turntable connects to the "phono" input of a receiver. Turntables with ceramics cartridges do not require a pre-amplifier.

Line out  "Y" indicates the turntable features an RCA output. This is a standard "line-level" output, as opposed to a "phono" output. A line-level output is a much stronger signal and should never be connected to a phono jack.

Phono out  "Y" means the turntable can connect to a "phono" input jack of a home stereo. If both Line out and Phono out are "Y," the turntable contains a pre-amp that can be switched on and off. No turntable features a separate phono out and line out- both share the same jack.

Ground  "Y" indicates the turntable requires grounding to mitigate background noise and hum. Your receiver or pre-amp needs to have a grounding screw to accommodate the turntable's ground wire. Only found on more expensive turntables.

Headphone out  "Y" indicates the turntable has a headphone jack. It is 1/8" unless otherwise noted.

Adjustable Gain  "Y" means you can adjust the plaback volume before it digitized. "N" means the gain is fixed at one level, offering less flexibility in accommodating quiet or loud records.

Pitch  If available, indicates the range, in percentage, that you can raise or lower the overall pitch of the playback. If middle C doesn't quite sound like middle C, pitch adjustment can tune your turntable higher or lower. DJ turntables can often raise or lower pitch dramatically for effect.

Retail Price Also called "List Price," this is the price set by the manufacturer as a guideline for stores. Typically, a turntable sells for less than its list price (see "Buy Price"). It is extremely rare for it to sell for more. N.A. ("Not available") means that manufacturer doesn't publish a retail price or it has not been set for the country in which you are browsing.

Buy Price Click the link to purchase the turntable from a reputable online retailer at a competitive price. Prices are in the currency of the country you are browsing, unless preceded by a currency abbreviation, such as "GBP" for Great Britain Pound, "CDN" for Canadian Dollar, "JPY" for Japanese Yen, "EUR" for Euro and "USD" for US Dollar. A "?" means a retailer could not be located to purchase the item. An * following the price indicates Knowzy receives a commission when you make a purchase. Read more about this in the "Disclosure" section. Knowzy appreciates your support.

 

Definitions

1/8" Jack  The same size jack you might find on a MP3 player headphone jack or the back of your computer.

RCA Jack  RCA connections use the red and white wire pairs often seen running between audio and video components.

 

Footnotes

1  RCA cables permanently attached- no RCA jacks.

2  Includes both an 1/8" headphone jack and an 1/4" headphone jack.

3  Requires a pulley kit from Pro-Ject.

 

 

Vinyl Ripping and USB Turntable Comparison
Part 3: Turntable Construction
Model Anti-skate Cartridge Cart. Mount Platter Drive Offset Tonearm? Dustcover Tonearm Cue Adj. Feet Strobe Light Retail Price Buy
Audio Technica
AT-LP240-USB Y None 1/2" Diecast Aluminum Direct Y Plastic Y Y Y $4999.00 $349.00*
AT-LP2D-USB N MM Prop. Diecast Aluminum Belt Y Plastic Y N N $229.00 $0*
AT-LP60-USB N MM Prop. Diecast Aluminum Belt Y Plastic Y N N $119.00 $79.99*
AT-LP120-USB Y MM 1/2" Diecast Aluminum Direct Y Plastic Y N Y $299.00 $249.00*
Brookstone
iConvert (Version 2) N MM Prop. Plastic Belt Y Plastic Y N N $129.00 $129.00
Crosley
Oval (CR6004A) Coming Soon N MM Prop. Diecast Aluminum Belt Y Plastic Y N N $199.95 $93.00*
Revolution (CR6002A) N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y None Y N N $149.96 $0*
Echo (CR6003A) Coming Soon N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y Vinyl Y N N $179.95 See site
Archiver (CR6001A) N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y Wood Y N N $199.95 $0*
CR245-PA N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y Wood Y N N $299.95 $0*
CR246-PA N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y Wood Y N N $299.95 See site*
CR247-OA N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y Wood Y N N $399.95 $0*
CR248-PA N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y Wood Y N N $399.95 $0*
Keepsake Turntable (CR249) N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y Vinyl Y N N $149.95 $129.95*
Denon
DP-300F Y MM 1/2" Diecast Aluminum Belt Y Plastic Y N N $699.00 $329.00*
DP-200USB Y MM Prop. Diecast Aluminum Belt Y Plastic Y N N $329.00 $249.00*
firstStreet
LP Saver USB N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y Plastic Y N N $149.95 $99.95
Gem Sound
GT-USB Y MM 1/2" Diecast Aluminum Belt Y None Y ? Y $179.95 See site*
DJ-USB Y MM4 1/2" Diecast Aluminum Belt Y None Y ? ? $199.95 See site*
Gemini
TT-1100 USB Y MM 1/2" Diecast Aluminum Belt Y None Y Y N $209.95 $139.95*
CDT-05 N None 1/2" Diecast Aluminum Direct N None Y N N $576.99 See site*
Grace Digital Audio
Vinylwriter (AVPUSB01S) N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y Plastic Y N N $99.00 See site*
Vinylwriter Boca N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y Plastic Y N N $149.99 $80.00*
Vinylwriter Pico N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y Plastic Y N N $99.99 $0*
Victoria Classic (Discontinued) N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y Plastic ? N N $149.99 $0*
Victoria Retrowriter N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y Plastic N N N $249.99 $0*
Victoria Tunewriter III N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y Plastic Y N N $191.99 $133.33*
Innovative Technology
ITUT-201 N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y Plastic Y N N $99.99 $0*
Ion Audio
Profile Flash N MM Prop. Plastic Belt Y Plastic Y N N $199.00 See site*
iProfile N MM 1/2" Plastic Belt Y Plastic Y N N $249.95 $0*
Profile Pro N MM Prop. Plastic Belt Y Plastic Y N N $149.95 $76.00*
Profile LP N MM Prop. Plastic Belt Y Plastic Y N N $149.95 $0*
TTUSB05 N MM Prop. Plastic Belt Y Plastic Y1 N N $149.95 $0*
Power Play LP N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y Plastic Y N N $65.98 $59.95*
Quick Play LP N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y Plastic N N N $49.99 $37.75*
Quick Play Flash N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y Plastic N N N $89.99 See site*
iPTUSB N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y Plastic N N N $149.99 $89.95*
TTUSB10 Y MM 1/2" Plastic Belt Y Plastic N N N $249.00 $129.99*
LP 2 FLASH N MM Prop. Plastic Belt Y Plastic Y N N $249.95 See site*
TTUSB Y MM 1/2" Plastic Belt Y None N N N $199.00 $0*
LP 2 CD Y MM 1/2" Diecast Aluminum Belt Y Plastic Y N N $399.95 $319.95*
LP DOCK Y MM 1/2" Plastic Belt Y None N N N $299.95 $99.95*
Jensen
JTA-380 N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y Plastic N N N N.A. See site
JTA-450 N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y Plastic Y N N $99.95 $0*
Kam
DDX4500 USB Y MM 1/2" Plastic Direct Y None Y N N GBP£299.95 See site*
BDX900 USB Y MM 1/2" Plastic Belt Y None Y N N GBP£129.95 See site*
Lenco
L-3866 USB N MM Prop. Plastic Direct Y Plastic Y1 N N N.A. See site*
L-3867 USB N MM Prop. Plastic Direct Y Plastic Y1 N N N.A. See site
L-78 USB N MM Prop. Aluminum Diecast Direct Y Plastic Y1 N N N.A. See site*
L-80 USB N MM 1/2" Aluminum Diecast Direct Y None Y N N N.A. See site*
Marathon
TT-101USB Y MM 1/2" Diecast Aluminum Belt Y None Y Y N $115.79 $104.79*
Memorex
2650mmo N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y Plastic Y N N $100.00 $67.99*
Music Hall
usb-1 Y MM 1/2" Diecast Aluminum Belt Y Plastic Y N Y $249.00 $249.00*
Numark
TTUSB Y MM 1/2" Diecast Aluminum Belt Y None N N N $299.00 $99.00*
TTXUSB Y None 1/2" Diecast Aluminum Direct Y/N3 None Y Y Y $629.00 $399.99*
PT-01USB N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y Plastic N N N $149.00 $84.99*
LP 2 CD Y MM 1/2" Diecast Aluminum Belt Y Plastic Y N N $599.00 $349.95*
TTi Y MM 1/2" Diecast Aluminum Belt Y None N N N $499.00 $195.00*
TT500 Y MM 1/2" Diecast Aluminum Direct Y/N3 None Y N Y $429.00 See site*
Pro-Ject Audio
Debut III USB Y2 MM 1/2" Sheet Steel Belt Y Y Y N N $499.00 $499.00
Rosewill
RME-ULP01R N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y Plastic N N N $99.95 $39.99*
Sony
PS-LX300USB N MM Prop. Diecast Aluminum Belt Y Plastic Y N N $149.00 $0*
Staton
T.55 USB Y MM4 1/2" Diecast Aluminum Belt N Cloth N N Y $299.00 $199.00*
T.80 (Discontinued) N MM4 1/2" Diecast Aluminum Direct N Cloth N N Y $379.00 See site*
T.90 USB (Discontinued) Y MM4 1/2" Diecast Aluminum Direct Y Cloth N N Y $455.00 See site*
T.92 USB Y MM4 1/2" Diecast Aluminum Direct Y Cloth N N Y $455.00 $299.00*
ST.150 Y MM4 1/2" Diecast Aluminum Direct Y None Y Y Y $999.99 $599.00*
STR8.150 N MM4 1/2" Diecast Aluminum Direct N None Y Y Y $999.99 See site*
Teac
LP-U200 N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y Plastic Y N N $349.00 $259.88*
LP-R400 N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y Plastic Y N N $449.00 $299.99*
GF-450K7 N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y Wood Y N N $449.00 $0*
GF-350 N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y Wood Y N N $399.00 $249.99*
GF-650 N MM Prop. Plastic Belt Y Wood Y N N $649.00 $399.99*
Technical Pro
TR2-USB N Ceramic Prop. Plastic Belt Y Plastic Y N N $159.00 See site
Technics
SL-1200MK5 Y None 1/2" Diecast Aluminum Direct Y Plastic Y N Y N.A. $0*
Thorens
TD 190-2 Y MM 1/2" Diecast Aluminum Belt Y Plastic Y N N N.A. See site*

Legend

Anti-skate  "Y" indicates the presence of adjustable anti-skate compensation. This control (usually a knob) counters the needle's tendency to fight sitting in the center of the record groove, where it sounds best and does the least damage. "N" means the manufacturer sets anti-skate compensation (perhaps crudely). "N" also means the cartridge is not upgradable.

Cartridge  Made up of the needle and the unit holding it. The cartridge itself comes in one of three predominant types: Ceramic, moving magnet (MM in chart) and moving coil (MC). "None" means the cartridge is not included.

Cartridge mount  Important if you are planning to upgrade your cartridge. Prop. (Proprietary) means the cartridge is not replaceable. 1/2", also called a "standard" mount, is the most common mount and the cartridge easily upgrades.

Dustcover  This is the lid covering the turntable. Strangely, a many units don't include dustcovers or they are sold separately. Of course, dust is the enemy of records and needles. Don't take this omission lightly!

Platter  The disc on which the record rests. An "aluminum platter" does a better job at keeping out unwanted vibrations and maintaining a steady rotation than a "plastic platter."

Drive  Indicates the type of mechanism used to spin the platter. The two predominant types are: "Belt drive" and "direct drive." In a belt drive system, the platter attaches to the motor by a belt. In a direct drive system, the motor spin the platter directly. There are advantages and disadvantages to each system.

Offset tonearm  Only a DJ would want a tonearm that's not offset. "Y" indicates an offset tonearm- one that angles the cartridge toward the center of the record. "N" indicates a straight tonearm- one that is only useful to DJs who wish to spin the record both forward and backward.

Tonearm cue  "Y" indicates the turntable features a lever that gently lifts and lowers the tonearm. "N" means you must grab the end of the tonearm and, with a steady hand, lower the needle to the record.

Adjustable feet  "Y" indicates the turntable features adjustable feet. Allows you to raise or lower each foot individually to ensure the turntable sits perfectly level.

Strobe light  "Y" indicates the turntable has a strobe light for visually verifying the turntable is rotating at the correct speed.

Retail Price Also called "List Price," this is the price set by the manufacturer as a guideline for stores. Typically, a turntable sells for less than its list price (see "Buy Price"). It is extremely rare for it to sell for more. N.A. ("Not available") means that manufacturer doesn't publish a retail price or it has not been set for the country in which you are browsing.

Buy Price Click the link to purchase the turntable from a reputable online retailer at a competitive price. Prices are in the currency of the country you are browsing, unless preceded by a currency abbreviation, such as "GBP" for Great Britain Pound, "CDN" for Canadian Dollar, "JPY" for Japanese Yen, "EUR" for Euro and "USD" for US Dollar. A "?" means a retailer could not be located to purchase the item. An * following the price indicates Knowzy receives a commission when you make a purchase. Read more about this in the "Disclosure" section. Knowzy appreciates your support.

 

Footnotes

1  Button to raise/lower tonearm. Not a lever like most turntables.

2  "Thread and weight-type" anti-skate adjustment. More complicated to use than a simple anti-skate dial. Preferred by turntable purists because it doesn't rely on a metal spring (which introduces subtle vibrations into the tonearm) to fight the skating force.

3  Includes both an offset and straight tonearm.

4  Includes a cartridge designed for "DJ'ing." For the best sound quality and keeping your records in pristine condition, replace the DJ cartridge with a "hi-fi" cartridge.

 

 

Vinyl Ripping and USB Turntable Comparison
Part 4: Specifications
Model Speed Variance Wow & Flutter (WRMS) Tracking Error Track. Force S/N Counterweight Range Acceptable Cart. Weight Dimensions (W x D x H) Weight Retail Price Buy
Audio Technica
AT-LP240-USB NP < .1% < 3 ° N/A > 55dB NP 3.5 - 8.5g 17.72" x 13.90" x 6.56" 26.9lbs $4999.00 $349.00*
AT-LP2D-USB NP < .25%1 NP 4.54g3 50dB N/A N/A 14.17" x 3.82" x 14.06" 6.6lbs $229.00 $0*
AT-LP60-USB NP < .25%1 NP NP > 50dB N/A N/A 14.17" x 3.84" x 14.02" 6.6lbs $119.00 $79.99*
AT-LP120-USB NP < .2% NP 3.5g > 50dB NP NP 17.72" x 13.86" x 6.1" 23.5lbs $299.00 $249.00*
Brookstone
iConvert (Version 2) NP < .2% NP NP NP N/A N/A 16.5" x 4.25" x 14.25" 7lbs $129.00 $129.00
Crosley
Oval (CR6004A) Coming Soon NP NP NP NP NP N/A N/A NP NP $199.95 $93.00*
Revolution (CR6002A) NP NP NP NP NP N/A N/A NP NP $149.96 $0*
Echo (CR6003A) Coming Soon NP NP NP NP NP N/A N/A NP NP $179.95 See site
Archiver (CR6001A) NP NP NP NP NP N/A N/A NP NP $199.95 $0*
CR245-PA NP NP NP NP NP N/A N/A NP NP $299.95 $0*
CR246-PA NP NP NP NP NP N/A N/A NP NP $299.95 See site*
CR247-OA NP NP NP NP NP N/A N/A NP NP $399.95 $0*
CR248-PA NP NP NP NP NP N/A N/A NP NP $399.95 $0*
Keepsake Turntable (CR249) NP NP NP 4.62g3 NP N/A N/A NP NP $149.95 $129.95*
Denon
DP-300F NP <.1% NP 2g 60dB 0 - 4g 4.5 - 9.5g 17-3/32" x 4-51/64" x 15" 12lbs, 2oz $699.00 $329.00*
DP-200USB NP .15% NP 3.5g NP N/A N/A 14-11/64" x 3-55/64" x 14-3/32" 7lbs, .9oz $329.00 $249.00*
firstStreet
LP Saver USB NP NP NP NP NP N/A N/A NP NP $149.95 $99.95
Gem Sound
GT-USB ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? $179.95 See site*
DJ-USB ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? $199.95 See site*
Gemini
TT-1100 USB NP <.25% NP NP NP NP NP 17.67" x 14.56" x 5.7" 8.1lbs $209.95 $139.95*
CDT-05 NP <.25% NP NP NP NP NP 17.75" x 14.65" x 6.3" 20.2lbs $576.99 See site*
Grace Digital Audio
Vinylwriter (AVPUSB01S) NP NP NP NP >50dB N/A N/A 37" x 16.5" x 33" 4.96kg $99.00 See site*
Vinylwriter Boca NP NP NP NP >35dB N/A N/A 10.9" x 12.2" x 5.8" 5.1lbs $149.99 $80.00*
Vinylwriter Pico NP NP NP NP >35dB N/A N/A 10.7" x 13.1" x 4.0" 4.5lbs $99.99 $0*
Victoria Classic (Discontinued) NP NP NP NP >35dB N/A N/A 10.7" x 13.1" x 4.0" 4.5lbs $149.99 $0*
Victoria Retrowriter NP <.35% NP NP >50dB N/A N/A 35" x 16" x 34" 29.1lbs $249.99 $0*
Victoria Tunewriter III NP <.35% NP NP >50dB N/A N/A 20" x 12" x 13.6" 29.1lbs $191.99 $133.33*
Innovative Technology
ITUT-201 NP NP NP NP >50dB N/A N/A 37" x 16.5" x 33" 4.96kg $99.99 $0*
Ion Audio
Profile Flash NP NP NP NP NP N/A N/A NP NP $199.00 See site*
iProfile NP NP NP NP NP N/A N/A NP NP $249.95 $0*
Profile Pro NP NP NP NP NP N/A N/A NP NP $149.95 $76.00*
Profile LP NP NP NP NP NP N/A N/A NP NP $149.95 $0*
TTUSB05 NP NP NP 3.08g3 NP N/A N/A NP NP $149.95 $0*
Power Play LP NP NP NP NP NP N/A N/A NP NP $65.98 $59.95*
Quick Play LP NP NP NP NP NP N/A N/A NP NP $49.99 $37.75*
Quick Play Flash NP NP NP NP NP N/A N/A NP NP $89.99 See site*
iPTUSB NP NP NP NP NP N/A N/A NP NP $149.99 $89.95*
TTUSB10 NP NP NP 3 - 5g4 NP NP NP NP NP $249.00 $129.99*
LP 2 FLASH NP NP NP NP NP N/A N/A NP NP $249.95 See site*
TTUSB NP NP NP 3 - 5g4 NP NP NP NP NP $199.00 $0*
LP 2 CD NP NP NP 3 - 5g4 NP NP NP NP NP $399.95 $319.95*
LP DOCK NP NP NP 3 - 5g4 NP NP NP NP NP $299.95 $99.95*
Jensen
JTA-380 NP NP NP NP NP N/A N/A 5 x 12 x 11.875" NP N.A. See site
JTA-450 NP NP NP NP NP N/A N/A 4.75 x 13.75 x 11.875" NP $99.95 $0*
Kam
DDX4500 USB NP NP NP NP NP N/A N/A 449 x 145 x 370mm 9.8kg GBP£299.95 See site*
BDX900 USB NP <.2% <3° NP NP NP 13 - 18g 449 x 145 x 370mm 4kg GBP£129.95 See site*
Lenco
L-3866 USB NP NP NP NP NP NP NP 420 x 330 x 94 mm 2.4kg N.A. See site*
L-3867 USB NP NP NP NP NP NP NP 420 x 330 x 94 mm 2.4kg N.A. See site
L-78 USB NP NP NP NP NP NP NP 460 x 390 x 120 mm 4kg N.A. See site*
L-80 USB NP <.2% NP NP >55dB NP NP 449 x 370 x 145 mm 3.8kg N.A. See site*
Marathon
TT-101USB NP <.25% NP NP NP NP NP 44.9cm x 37cm x 14.5cm 8.82bs $115.79 $104.79*
Memorex
2650mmo NP NP NP NP >50dB N/A N/A 37" x 16.5" x 33" 4.96kg $100.00 $67.99*
Music Hall
usb-1 NP < .25% < 3° 3g >50dB NP 6 - 10g 450 x 350 x 145mm 4.4kg $249.00 $249.00*
Numark
TTUSB NP NP NP 3 - 5g4 NP NP NP 20.27" x 17.16" x 6.85" 7.7lbs $299.00 $99.00*
TTXUSB NP <.15% NP N/A 58dB / 79dB 0 - 3.5g NP 370mm x 460mm x 135mm 27.7lbs $629.00 $399.99*
PT-01USB NP NP NP NP NP N/A N/A NP NP $149.00 $84.99*
LP 2 CD NP NP NP 3.5g NP NP NP NP NP $599.00 $349.95*
TTi NP NP NP 3 - 5g4 NP NP NP NP NP $499.00 $195.00*
TT500 NP <.15% (max), <.10% (typical)2 NP N/A NP 0 - 3.5g NP 370mm x 460mmx 135mm 19lbs $429.00 See site*
Pro-Ject Audio
Debut III USB ± .8% < .12% NP 1.75g 65dB NP NP 415mm x 115mm x 320mm 5.5kg $499.00 $499.00
Rosewill
RME-ULP01R NP NP NP NP >40dB N/A N/A 310mm x 270mm x 90mm NP $99.95 $39.99*
Sony
PS-LX300USB NP <.25% NP NP >50dB N/A N/A 420 x 95 x 360mm 3.3kg $149.00 $0*
Staton
T.55 USB NP < .2% NP 2 - 5g4 >65dB NP 6 - 10g 452 x 370 x 87mm 5.4kg $299.00 $199.00*
T.80 (Discontinued) NP NP NP 2 - 5g4 NP NP NP 452 x 370 x 86mm 8.6kg $379.00 See site*
T.90 USB (Discontinued) NP <.15% <3° 2 - 5g4 >50dB 2 - 5g 5.5g 452 x 370 x 143mm 8.6kg $455.00 See site*
T.92 USB NP <.15% <3° 2 - 5g4 >65dB ? 3 - 4g 452 x 370 x 143mm 8.6kg $455.00 $299.00*
ST.150 NP <.1% NP 2 - 5g4 >60dB 2 - 5g 13 - 18g 450 x 353 x 146mm 16.4kg $999.99 $599.00*
STR8.150 NP <.1% NP 2 - 5g4 >60dB 2 - 5g 13 - 18g 450 x 353 x 146mm 16.4kg $999.99 See site*
Teac
LP-U200 NP <.25% NP NP NP N/A N/A 470 x 230 x 390mm 10kg $349.00 $259.88*
LP-R400 NP <.25% NP NP NP N/A N/A 470 x 230 x 390mm 10kg $449.00 $299.99*
GF-450K7 NP <.35% NP NP NP N/A N/A 480 x 230 x 380mm 11kg $449.00 $0*
GF-350 NP <.35% NP NP NP N/A N/A 480 x 230 x 380mm 10.5kg $399.00 $249.99*
GF-650 NP <.25% NP NP NP N/A N/A 480 x 260 x 370mm 10.5kg $649.00 $399.99*
Technical Pro
TR2-USB NP NP NP NP >50dB N/A N/A 37" x 16.5" x 33" 4.96kg $159.00 See site
Technics
SL-1200MK5 NP < .025% <2° N/A 56db / 78db 0 - 4g 3.5 - 13g NP NP N.A. $0*
Thorens
TD 190-2 NP < .04% <.15° 1.5g 72dB NP NP 440 x 119 x 360mm NP N.A. See site*

Legend

NP  Not Published

 

Speed Variance  Also called "speed accuracy." The margin of error in hitting exactly 33 and a third or 45 RPM. 3.3% alters a musical note a half step, according to KAB Acoustics. Only the best seem to publish this figure.

Recommended vertical tracking force (VTF)  How hard the needle presses on the record. A lower value means less record wear. Under two grams is ideal. N/A means the turntable doesn't come with a cartridge. NP means the manufacturer doesn't publish this figure, often because they are ashamed.

 

Footnotes

1  WTD. WRMS figure not published.

2  Numark challenges competitors to get real with wow and flutter specs. The TT500 manual states:

Other manufacturers may claim lower wow/flutter specs by using different testing methods. We've tested the competitors and found that our wow/flutter performance is equal to or superior to theirs.

3  Measured by Knowzy using this tracking force scale*. Figure not from manufacturer.

4  Manufacturer doesn't publish a recommended stylus pressure. Often the case with DJ moving magnet cartridge where VTF is sometimes a personal preference. The typical advice for hi-fi/vinyl archiving use is to set the tracking force near the end of this range.

 

 

 

Turntable Reviews and Pictures

 

 

Audio Technica

 

Photo of the Audio-Technica AT-LP60-USB.
Marketing photo shows the Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB against a white background.
Image courtesy of Audio-Technica

Audio-Technica AT-LP60-USB

Retail Price:   $119.00

Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB

Retail Price:   $299.00
Notable
USB system icon
USB system icon DJ system icon
Photo of the Audio-Technica AT-LP240-USB.
Marketing photo shows a top, left angle view of the Audio-Technica AT-LP2D-USB turntable.
Image courtesy of Audio-Technica

Audio-Technica AT-LP240-USB

Retail Price:   $4999.00

Audio-Technica AT-LP2D-USB

Retail Price:   $229.00
Notable
  • Advanced Windows software, suitable for power-users. MP3s are a $10 upgrade.
  • Aluminum platter (good), serious needle pressure (bad)
USB system icon
USB system icon

 

 

Brookstone

 

Photo of the Brookstone iConvert (Version 2).
Image courtesy of Brookstone

Brookstone iConvert (Version 2)

Retail Price:   $129.00
USB system icon

 

 

Crosley

 

Photo of the Crosley Oval (CR6004A).
Photo of the Crosley Revolution (CR6002A).
Image courtesy of Crosley
Image courtesy of Crosley

Crosley Oval (CR6004A)

Retail Price:   $199.95

Crosley Revolution (CR6002A)

Retail Price:   $149.96
USB system icon
USB system icon
Photo of the Crosley Echo (CR6003A).
Photo of the Crosley Archiver (CR6001A).
Image courtesy of Crosley
Image courtesy of Crosley

Crosley Echo (CR6003A)

Retail Price:   $179.95

Crosley Archiver (CR6001A)

Retail Price:   $199.95
standalone system icon USB system icon
USB system icon
Photo of the Crosley CR245-PA.
Photo of the Crosley CR246-PA.
Image courtesy of Crosley
Image courtesy of Crosley

Crosley CR245-PA

Retail Price:   $299.95

Crosley CR246-PA

Retail Price:   $299.95
standalone system icon
standalone system icon
Photo of the Crosley CR247-OA.
Photo of the Crosley CR248-PA.
Image courtesy of Crosley
Image courtesy of Crosley

Crosley CR247-OA

Retail Price:   $399.95

Crosley CR248-PA

Retail Price:   $399.95
standalone system icon
standalone system icon

Crosley Keepsake Turntable (CR249)

Retail Price:   $149.95
Notable
  • Portable with built-in speakers. Comes in black and tan.
  • Plays 78 records, though you should change the needle.
USB system icon

 

 

Gem Sound

 

Photo of the Gem Sound DJ-USB.
Photo of the Gem Sound GT-USB.
Image courtesy of Gem Sound
Image courtesy of Gem Sound

Gem Sound DJ-USB

Retail Price:   $199.95

Gem Sound GT-USB

Retail Price:   $179.95
USB system icon DJ system icon
USB system icon DJ system icon

 

 

Grace Digital Audio

 

Marketing photo shows the Grace Digital Audio Vinylwriter (AVPUSB01S) USB Turntable from above connected to a laptop via a USB cable.
Photo of the Grace Digital Audio Vinylwriter Boca.
Image courtesy of Grace Digital Audio

Grace Digital Audio Vinylwriter (AVPUSB01S)

Retail Price:   $99.00

Grace Digital Audio Vinylwriter Boca

Retail Price:   $149.99
USB system icon
standalone system icon
Photo of the Grace Digital Audio Vinylwriter Pico.
Photo of the Grace Digital Audio Victoria Tunewriter III.
Image courtesy of Grace Digital Audio
Image courtesy of Grace Digital Audio

Grace Digital Audio Vinylwriter Pico

Retail Price:   $99.99

Grace Digital Audio Victoria Tunewriter III

Retail Price:   $191.99
USB system icon
USB system icon
Photo of the Grace Digital Audio Victoria Retrowriter.
Photo of the Grace Digital Audio Victoria Classic (Discontinued).
Image courtesy of Grace Digital Audio
Image courtesy of Grace Digital Audio

Grace Digital Audio Victoria Retrowriter

Retail Price:   $249.99

Grace Digital Audio Victoria Classic (Discontinued)

Retail Price:   $149.99
Notable
  • Discontinued model
standalone system icon
standalone system icon

 

 

Innovative Technology

 

Photo of the Innovative Technology Digitize-it (ITDJ-105).
Image courtesy of Innovative Technology

Innovative Technology Digitize-it (ITDJ-105)

Retail Price:   Not Available
standalone system icon USB system icon

 

 

Ion Audio

 

Photo of the Ion Audio Quick Play Flash.
Photo of the Ion Audio Quick Play LP.
Image courtesy of Ion Audio
Image courtesy of Ion Audio

Ion Audio Quick Play Flash

Retail Price:   $89.99

Ion Audio Quick Play LP

Retail Price:   $49.99
standalone system icon USB system icon
USB system icon
Photo of the Ion Audio Power Play LP.
Photo of the Ion Audio Profile LP.
Image courtesy of Ion Audio
Image courtesy of Ion Audio

Ion Audio Power Play LP

Retail Price:   $65.98

Ion Audio Profile LP

Retail Price:   $149.95
USB system icon
USB system icon
Photo of the Ion Audio Profile Flash.
Photo of the Ion Audio Profile Pro.
Image courtesy of Ion Audio
Image courtesy of Ion Audio

Ion Audio Profile Flash

Retail Price:   $199.00

Ion Audio Profile Pro

Retail Price:   $149.95
standalone system icon USB system icon
USB system icon
Photo of the Ion Audio LP 2 CD.
Photo of the Ion Audio LP DOCK.
Image courtesy of Ion Audio
Image courtesy of Ion Audio

Ion Audio LP 2 CD

Retail Price:   $399.95
Notable
  • Burn directly to CD or connect to your computer via USB.
  • 700MB internal memory. Perfect recording before commiting to CD.

Ion Audio LP DOCK

Retail Price:   $299.95
standalone system icon USB system icon
standalone system icon USB system icon
Photo of the Ion Audio iPTUSB.
Photo of the Ion Audio LP 2 FLASH.
Image courtesy of Ion Audio
Image courtesy of Ion Audio

Ion Audio iPTUSB

Retail Price:   $149.99
Notable
  • Portable. Hard cover with handle. Runs on 6 "D" batteries or AC outlet.
  • Pitch control. Change pitch between ± 10%.

Ion Audio LP 2 FLASH

Retail Price:   $249.95
USB system icon
USB system icon
Photo of the Ion Audio TTUSB.
Photo of the Ion Audio TTUSB10.
Image courtesy of Ion Audio
Image courtesy of Ion Audio

Ion Audio TTUSB

Retail Price:   $199.00

Ion Audio TTUSB10

Retail Price:   $249.00
USB system icon
USB system icon
Photo shows a view of the Ion Audio TTUSB05  turntable from above. The cartridge/needle assembly is detached from the tonearm and resting on the body of the record player.

Ion Audio TTUSB05

Retail Price:   $149.95
Notable
  • Software is easy-to-use, though exteremely limited.
  • Reasonable sound quality for a cheap, plastic turntable.
USB system icon

 

 

Lenco

 

Photo of the Lenco L-3866 USB.
Photo of the Lenco L-3867 USB.
Image courtesy of Lenco
Image courtesy of Lenco

Lenco L-3866 USB

Retail Price:   Not Available

Lenco L-3867 USB

Retail Price:   Not Available
USB system icon
USB system icon
Photo of the Lenco L-78 USB.
Photo of the Lenco L-80 USB.
Image courtesy of Lenco
Image courtesy of Lenco

Lenco L-78 USB

Retail Price:   Not Available

Lenco L-80 USB

Retail Price:   Not Available
USB system icon
standalone system icon

 

 

Pro-Ject Audio Systems

 

Photo of the Pro-Ject Debut III USB.
Image courtesy of Pro-Ject

Pro-Ject Debut III USB

Retail Price:   $499.00
Notable
USB system icon

 

 

Rosewill

 

Photo of the Rosewill RME-ULP01R.
Image courtesy of Rosewill

Rosewill RME-ULP01R

Retail Price:   $99.95
Notable
  • The cheapest USB turntable on the market!
  • Read the reviews at NewEgg before buying!
USB system icon

 

 

Stanton

 

Marketing photo shows the Stanton T.92 USB Turntable from above.
Photo of the Stanton T.55 USB.
Image courtesy of Stanton

Stanton T.92 USB

Retail Price:   $455.00
Notable
  • Heavy, all metal construction. Decent specifications.
  • Upgrade cartridge for best sound quality.

Stanton T.55 USB

Retail Price:   $299.00
USB system icon DJ system icon S/PDIF system icon
USB system icon DJ system icon
Photo of the Stanton ST.150.
Photo of the Stanton STR8.150.
Image courtesy of Stanton
Image courtesy of Stanton

Stanton ST.150

Retail Price:   $999.99

Stanton STR8.150

Retail Price:   $999.99
DJ system icon S/PDIF system icon
DJ system icon S/PDIF system icon
Photo of the Stanton T.90 USB (Discontinued).
Photo of the Stanton T.80 (Discontinued).
Image courtesy of Stanton
Image courtesy of Stanton

Stanton T.90 USB (Discontinued)

Retail Price:   $455.00
Notable
  • Discontinued. Get it while you can.

Stanton T.80 (Discontinued)

Retail Price:   $379.00
Notable
  • Discontinued. Get it while you can.
USB system icon DJ system icon S/PDIF system icon
DJ system icon S/PDIF system icon

 

 

Teac

 

Photo of the Teac GF-650.
Photo of the Teac LP-R400.
Image courtesy of Teac
Image courtesy of Teac

Teac GF-650

Retail Price:   $649.00
Notable
  • Home stereo system with turntable and CD recorder. Also record radio and aux input.
  • Auto track detection requires full 2 seconds of silence.

Teac LP-R400

Retail Price:   $449.00
Notable
  • Home stereo system with turntable and CD recorder. Also record radio and aux input.
  • Differences between GF-350: Digital AM/FM tuner.
standalone system icon
standalone system icon
Photo of the Teac GF-350.
Photo of the Teac GF-450K7.
Image courtesy of Teac
Image courtesy of Teac

Teac GF-350

Retail Price:   $399.00
Notable
  • Home stereo system with turntable and CD recorder. Also record radio and aux input.
  • Differences between GF-650: Cheap ceraminc cartridge, no line-out, 350 has 78 speed.

Teac GF-450K7

Retail Price:   $449.00
standalone system icon
standalone system icon
Photo of the Teac LP-U200.
Image courtesy of Teac

Teac LP-U200

Retail Price:   $349.00
Notable
  • Home stereo system with turntable and CD recorder. Also record radio and aux input.
  • Differences between GF-350: Digital AM/FM tuner.
standalone system icon

 

 

Vinyl Ripping Software

Using a computer to record your LP collection requires software. It records the music and creates audio files. It embeds the song titles and cover art into your MP3s. It creates CDs and transfers music to your iPod.

The following software packages do one or more of these vinyl ripping tasks.

The software is ordered by how many tasks it accomplishes. Each software title contains a checklist of tasks, for easy reference.

You'll also find reviews of the software bundled with USB turntables. See if the turntable you're considering comes with software to do what you need.

Not all vinyl ripping software is easy to use and some are specialized programs targeting a specific task. Fortunately, most are "try-before-you-buy" and a few are even free.

 

Benefits and Suitability

USB and other computer-connected vinyl ripping turntables couldn't do their job without software. Finding the right software can help you in many ways:

  • Save time
    • Automatically split album sides into individual tracks
    • Look up song titles over Internet so you don't have to type them in
  • Enhance your recordings
    • Clean up pops, crackles, scratches and eliminate hiss
    • Maximize volume level
    • Embed the album cover into your MP3s
  • Do more with your collection
    • Make CDs
    • Transfer to iPod
    • Create ringtones

All USB turntables are compatible with the software below. In fact, USB turntables are compatible with virtually any audio software. To your PC or Mac, the turntable is simply an additional sound card on your system.

The checklist says nothing about how easy the software to use. Audacity is only three checks away from a perfect score. Novice computer users have a very difficult time using it, though.

 

Specialty Programs

Some programs do one thing very well. Often you'll only see one or two checks in the list for such programs. Don't consider it a low score; they may do those tasks very well.

Volume Balancer is a one-of-a-kind program that, with minimal effort, makes your vinyl recordings sound as loud as your highly compressed digital music. But that's all it does.

ClickRepair applies serious science to removing clicks and crackles from your recordings. "ClickRepair is not a noise filter; it searches for, and repairs, localized damage" its manual declares, leaving "99.5% or more of the audio" unchanged.

Both software packages do their job very well. However, neither will burn a CD, nor record your LP. Neither deal in MP3s.

These programs are an intermediary step in a larger process of recording vinyl.

Specialty programs are for the perfectionist, for the curious, for audio engineer, for those with a specific need that general software can't fill. No one else will see the value in all of the extra learning and effort that goes into using these tools.

 

 

Spin It Again icon

Spin It Again

by

Acoustica

Try

Limits:  Record up to 3 albums. No trial time limit.
Size:  9MB
Retail Price:  $45.95
Buy from Amazon:  See site*
Retail Price:  $34.95
Buy from eSellerate:  $34.95*
Vinyl Ripping Features
Feature Support?
General
Record audio Yes
Burn Audio CDs Yes
Automatically split tracks Yes
Tagging
Auto tag from Internet Yes
Text Fields Yes
Album Art No
Volume Adjustment
Normalization Yes
Compression Yes
Equalizer Yes
Audio Processing
Eliminate clicks, pops Yes
Remove hiss, hum, rumble Yes
Convert 33, 45 to 78 Yes
Pitch/Time Features Yes

Compatibility

  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7

License

  • Shareware/Boxed Software

Supported Encoding Formats

MP3, WAV, OGG Vorbis, WMA

 

 

 

VinylStudio icon

VinylStudio

by

AlpineSoft

Limits:  5 albums, no time limit.
Size:  2.5MB
Retail Price:  $29.95
Size:  2.5MB
Buy From RegNow:  $29.95*
Limits:  5 albums, no time limit.
Size:  5MB
Retail Price:  $29.95
Size:  5MB
Buy From RegNow:  $29.95*
Vinyl Ripping Features
Feature Support?
General
Record audio Yes
Burn Audio CDs Yes
Automatically split tracks Yes
Tagging
Auto tag from Internet Yes
Text Fields Yes
Album Art Yes
Volume Adjustment
Normalization Yes
Compression No
Equalizer Yes
Audio Processing
Eliminate clicks, pops Yes
Remove hiss, hum, rumble Yes
Convert 33, 45 to 78 Yes
Pitch/Time Features No

Compatibility

  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7
  • Mac OS

License

  • Shareware

Supported Encoding Formats

MP3, WAV, FLAC, OGG Vorbis, AIFF7, AAC (M4A)7

 

 

 

Sound Forge Audio Creator LE icon

Sound Forge Audio Creator LE

by

Sony Creative Software

Bundled with Turntables

Comes with:   Sony PS-LX300USB
Note:  Not sold separately. Available with listed turntables.
Vinyl Ripping Features
Feature Support?
General
Record audio Yes
Burn Audio CDs Yes
Automatically split tracks Yes
Tagging
Auto tag from Internet No
Text Fields Yes
Album Art No
Volume Adjustment
Normalization Yes
Compression Yes
Equalizer Yes
Audio Processing
Eliminate clicks, pops Yes
Remove hiss, hum, rumble Yes
Convert 33, 45 to 78 No
Pitch/Time Features Yes

Compatibility

  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7

License

  • OEM

Supported Encoding Formats

MP3, WAV, OGG Vorbis, AIFF, AU, Real Audio (RM), WMA

 

 

 

Sound Forge Audio Creator icon

Sound Forge Audio Creator

by

Sony Creative Software

Try

Limits:  Fully functional. 30 day time limit.
Size:  50MB
Retail Price:  $54.95
Buy from Amazon:  See site*
Retail Price:  $54.95
Buy from Sony:  $54.95*
Vinyl Ripping Features
Feature Support?
General
Record audio Yes
Burn Audio CDs Yes
Automatically split tracks Yes
Tagging
Auto tag from Internet No
Text Fields Yes
Album Art No
Volume Adjustment
Normalization Yes
Compression Yes
Equalizer Yes
Audio Processing
Eliminate clicks, pops Yes
Remove hiss, hum, rumble Yes
Convert 33, 45 to 78 No
Pitch/Time Features Yes

Compatibility

  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7

License

  • Commercial

Supported Encoding Formats

MP3, WAV, OGG Vorbis, AIFF, AU, Real Audio (RM), WMA

 

 

 

Limits:  None
Size:  2 - 4MB
Source Code:  Download

Bundled with Turntables

Comes with:   Nearly all USB turntables. Also available as a free download.
Vinyl Ripping Features
Feature Support?
General
Record audio Yes
Burn Audio CDs No
Automatically split tracks Yes
Tagging
Auto tag from Internet No
Text Fields Yes
Album Art No
Volume Adjustment
Normalization Yes
Compression Yes
Equalizer Yes
Audio Processing
Eliminate clicks, pops Yes
Remove hiss, hum, rumble Yes
Convert 33, 45 to 78 Yes
Pitch/Time Features Yes

Compatibility

  • Windows 98
  • Windows ME
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7
  • Mac OS

License

  • Freeware, Open Source

Supported Encoding Formats

MP31, WAV, FLAC, OGG Vorbis, RAW, AIFF, AU

 

 

 

pyro Audio Creator icon

pyro Audio Creator

by

Cakewalk

Retail Price:  $39.99
Buy from Amazon:  $39.00*
Retail Price:  $39.99
Buy from Cakewalk:  $39.99
Vinyl Ripping Features
Feature Support?
General
Record audio Yes
Burn Audio CDs Yes
Automatically split tracks ?
Tagging
Auto tag from Internet No
Text Fields Yes
Album Art Yes
Volume Adjustment
Normalization Yes
Compression Yes
Equalizer Yes
Audio Processing
Eliminate clicks, pops Yes
Remove hiss, hum, rumble Yes
Convert 33, 45 to 78 ?
Pitch/Time Features Yes

Useful Links

Compatibility

  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7

License

  • Retail

Supported Encoding Formats

MP3, WAV, FLAC, AIFF, AU, WMA

 

 

 

pyro Audio Creator LE icon

pyro Audio Creator LE

by

Cakewalk

Bundled with Turntables

Vinyl Ripping Features
Feature Support?
General
Record audio Yes
Burn Audio CDs Yes
Automatically split tracks No
Tagging
Auto tag from Internet No
Text Fields Yes
Album Art Yes
Volume Adjustment
Normalization Yes
Compression No
Equalizer Yes
Audio Processing
Eliminate clicks, pops Yes
Remove hiss, hum, rumble Yes
Convert 33, 45 to 78 No
Pitch/Time Features Yes

Useful Links

Compatibility

  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7

License

  • OEM

Supported Encoding Formats

MP36, WAV, WMA

 

Review

Cakewalk software is a fixture in home and small music studios across the world. Their pyro Audio Creator is chock full of advanced features to keep the demanding vinyl ripper busy and productive. However, Cakewalk didn't design it specifically for vinyl ripping and several crucial tasks are awkward to perform as a result. Perhaps its biggest fault: Creating MP3s will cost you an extra $10.

The LE in pyro Audio Creator LE stands for "Limited Edition." The name is a bit modest. As you can see by the checklist, it almost does it all: Recording, editing, removing clicks and burning CDs. It even does a number of things unrelated to digitizing LPs, such as CD ripping and creating fun audio effects.

Moreover, the LE version includes most of the features found in the full-blown retail version. The only things missing are: File type conversion, web publishing, possibly some audio effects and a few audio file formats.

 

MP3s? That'll Cost You.

One of the features missing in the Limited Edition is a big deal: It doesn't create MP3s.

That's right, if you want to create MP3 files, you need to cough up $10 for the "Encoder" module or buy the full version of pyro. They are kind enough to let you encode MP3s for the first 30 days.

Without MP3 capabilities, the tagging feature is useless, as it only works on MP3 files. This means you cannot add song titles and album art to your music files, even if you save them in WMA, which also supports tags.

The Audio-Technica manual suggests that you can get around this limitation by downloading the free LAME encoder. This is simply not the case. pyro does use LAME but replacing it with the free one causes the pyro to crash on startup.

 

No Album Lookup (But So Close!)

Another key vinyl ripping feature pyro lacks is the ability to look up album information on the Internet (song titles, album art, etc). You must type all of this information by hand, track-by-track.

What's unfortunate is the CD ripping module does do Internet album lookups but Cakewalk didn't make it available to vinyl rippers. This is just one more indication that Cakewalk wasn't targeting LP recording specifically when designing this software.

 

Almost Automatic Track Splitting

Knowzy agonized for some time about whether to put a check or an X next to "Automatically Split Tracks." pyro can do this, though only in an indirect and destructive way.

The "Insert Silence" feature seeks out nearly silent parts of your recording and replaces them with absolute silence. Part of this feature allows for splitting the recording at these silent points. There are a couple of problems with this.

First, when your source is an LP, you must upwardly adjust the volume level it considers silence to compensate for the background click and pops. At that level, it cuts off song fadeouts prematurely.

Second, pyro saves tracks only at "markers." A split is not a marker. You can convert split points into markers with a single operation, though.

Ultimate Knowzy decided this isn't a true auto-track split feature since it actually alters the recording rather than just chopping it up.

 

Conclusion

pyro Audio Creator LE does have many redeeming qualities, especially if you plan on tweaking and processing your recordings.

It features a denoiser, declicker and DC offset removal with many adjustments. The Pro-Q feature takes an interesting approach to equalization. The tagging module is efficient and easy-to-use (provided you buy the MP3 capability).

It has many advanced features but is easier to learn than Audacity. It gives you a great deal more control and flexibility than Ion Audio's EZ Vinyl Converter.

With the MP3 upgrade, pyro Audio Creator LE has nearly everything you need in your vinyl ripping software from a feature standpoint. However, it could be a great deal more useful to vinyl rippers if Cakewalk spent more time considering their needs.

 

 

pyro 5 icon

pyro 5

by

Cakewalk

Retail Price:  $57.00
Buy from Amazon:  See site*
Notes:  Old version. Current version is called "pyro Audio Creator"

Bundled with Turntables

Vinyl Ripping Features
Feature Support?
General
Record audio Yes
Burn Audio CDs Yes
Automatically split tracks No
Tagging
Auto tag from Internet No
Text Fields Yes
Album Art Yes
Volume Adjustment
Normalization Yes
Compression No
Equalizer Yes
Audio Processing
Eliminate clicks, pops Yes
Remove hiss, hum, rumble Yes
Convert 33, 45 to 78 No
Pitch/Time Features Yes

Useful Links

Compatibility

  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7

License

  • Retail, OEM

Supported Encoding Formats

MP36, WAV, WMA

 

 

 

Goldwave Digital Audio Editor icon

Goldwave Digital Audio Editor

by

Goldwave

Try

Limits:  150 commands/session, 2,000 commands total. Command counter display keeps track. No time limit.
Size:  2.5MB
Retail Price:  $45.00
Buy from GoldWave:  $45.00
Vinyl Ripping Features
Feature Support?
General
Record audio Yes
Burn Audio CDs No
Automatically split tracks Yes
Tagging
Auto tag from Internet No
Text Fields No
Album Art No
Volume Adjustment
Normalization Yes
Compression Yes
Equalizer Yes
Audio Processing
Eliminate clicks, pops Yes
Remove hiss, hum, rumble Yes
Convert 33, 45 to 78 No
Pitch/Time Features Yes

Compatibility

  • Windows ME
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7

License

  • Shareware

Supported Encoding Formats

MP31, WAV, FLAC, APE2, OGG Vorbis, AIFF, AU, WMA2, AAC (M4A)

 

 

 

Golden Records icon

Golden Records

by

NCH Software

Try

Limits:  Record up to 3 albums. No trial time limit.
Size:  1MB
Retail Price:  $52.00
Buy from RegNow:  $36.20*
Vinyl Ripping Features
Feature Support?
General
Record audio Yes
Burn Audio CDs Yes
Automatically split tracks Yes
Tagging
Auto tag from Internet No
Text Fields No
Album Art No
Volume Adjustment
Normalization Yes
Compression No
Equalizer No
Audio Processing
Eliminate clicks, pops Yes
Remove hiss, hum, rumble Yes
Convert 33, 45 to 78 Yes
Pitch/Time Features No

Compatibility

  • Windows 98
  • Windows ME
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7

License

  • Shareware

Supported Encoding Formats

MP34, WAV4

 

 

 

Wave Repair icon

Wave Repair

by

Clive Backham

Try

Limits:  Fully functional for 30 days. Audio recording and track splitting after 30 days.
Size:  3MB
Retail Price:  $30.00
Buy from Clive Backham:  $30.00
Vinyl Ripping Features
Feature Support?
General
Record audio Yes
Burn Audio CDs No
Automatically split tracks Yes
Tagging
Auto tag from Internet No
Text Fields No
Album Art No
Volume Adjustment
Normalization Yes
Compression Yes
Equalizer Yes
Audio Processing
Eliminate clicks, pops Yes
Remove hiss, hum, rumble Yes
Convert 33, 45 to 78 No
Pitch/Time Features No

Compatibility

  • Windows 98
  • Windows ME
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7

License

  • Shareware, Freeware

Supported Encoding Formats

WAV

 

 

 

EZ Vinyl Converter (PC), EZ Audio Converter (Mac) icon

EZ Vinyl Converter (PC), EZ Audio Converter (Mac)

by

Ion Audio

Vinyl Ripping Features
Feature Support?
General
Record audio Yes
Burn Audio CDs Yes
Automatically split tracks No
Tagging
Auto tag from Internet Yes
Text Fields Yes
Album Art Yes
Volume Adjustment
Normalization No
Compression No
Equalizer No
Audio Processing
Eliminate clicks, pops No
Remove hiss, hum, rumble No
Convert 33, 45 to 78 No
Pitch/Time Features No

Compatibility

  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7
  • Mac OS

License

  • OEM

Supported Encoding Formats

MP35

 

Review

Ion Audio's EZ Vinyl Converter is extremely easy to use. Really, really easy. The downside: It just doesn't do very much and is inflexible in what it does do. It is also not very forgiving when you mess up.

 

Simple LP Recording Process

The wizard-style interface walks you through the vinyl ripping process, step-by-step, until you end up with MP3 files.

It tells you when to drop the needle on the record. It gives you the opportunity to create a new track as the song ends. When the record ends, EZ Vinyl identifies it over the Internet and fills in the song titles, album name and more. Finally, it imports the songs into iTunes where you can put them on your iPod or burn CDs.

When the process is complete, it asks you, "Would you like to record something else?" You say, "Yes" confidently and without hesitation.

 

Sloppy Track Splitting

The biggest problem with EZ Vinyl Converter is how it expects you to create new tracks: Press the "New Track" button while the LP is playing. As you can imagine, this is very error prone and the software doesn't let you go back and fix your mistakes.

Even if you're paying attention, you often mark a new track too late or too early. This means your MP3s either miss the beginning of the song or begin with the end of the last song.

Moreover, it's easy to get distracted from your "New Track" duty. Maybe you're enjoying the music too much. Maybe you're multitasking between songs. Whatever the case, it's easy to forget to press New Track at the end of the song or stop recording at the end of the album.

When you botch track splitting in EZ Vinyl, the only practical recourse is to start over. In most other software, you chop your LP side into songs at your own pace, after recording is finished.

 

Song Identification: Innovative but Inefficient

EZ Vinyl Converter has a feature not found in any other vinyl ripping software. It "listens" to your music and automatically fills in the song titles, artist name and other album information using Gracenote's MusicID service.

Music identification is something people copying CDs take for granted- pop in a music CD and the album information appears in seconds. Identifying a song from an analog source is much more challenging. Unlike a CD, each LP recording of the same song looks dramatically different from a "one's and zero's" standpoint.

EZ Vinyl is remarkably accurate, correctly identifying the album about 90% of the time. It is often confused about the exact song on the album but it offers several alternative songs.

While the MusicID service saves you from typing and making spelling errors, the process is a bit tedious. It takes around 10 seconds to identify each song. The reason: EZ Vinyl uploads a chunk of your song to Gracenote to identify it.

This is 10 seconds on a fairly fast cable Internet connection: 2.5 Mbps download and 450 Kbps upload according to Speakeasy's Speed Test. You may find it more efficient to type in the information yourself, especially if your Internet connection isn't quite as fast.

If you have a dial-up connection, forget about using this feature. Knowzy tested on a 2G cell phone Internet connection (somewhat faster than dial-up at 89 Kbps download and 17 Kbps upload). It took an average of 2 minutes to retrieve a song title. The first song took four minutes and 15 seconds.

By disconnecting your computer from the Internet, you can type in the album info yourself. However, EZ Vinyl doesn't offer a setting to disable the Internet look up.

 

iTunes Dependent; Doesn't Work Without It

In addition to EZ Vinyl Converter, you must install iTunes. Don't worry, it's free, included on the CD-ROM and doesn't require an iPod.

The last part of the recording process uses iTunes to create MP3s and then imports the songs into your iTunes library. From there, you can use iTunes to listen to your music, burn a CD, download album covers, transfer the music to your iPod and more.

Technically, two of the check marks in the checklist belong to iTunes, since EZ Vinyl itself doesn't burn CDs or download album art. And downloading cover art requires an iTunes Store account with a credit card on file.

Here's an iTunes trick not found in the EZ Vinyl manual. You can increase the sound quality of your MP3 files. Just select "Preferences" from the "Edit" menu. Then click the "Import Settings" button next to the "When you insert a CD" label. Now choose "MP3" from "Import Using." The iTunes default is 160 kbps. Select 192 kbps. You can go higher through the "Custom Settings" but for an LP, anything higher than 192 kbps is overkill.

 

No Noise Removal, Volume Adjustment, Editing

EZ Vinyl Converter lives up to its name: It is very easy to use and walks you through the process. This handholding is great for people who are not computer savvy. However, EZ Vinyl leaves a lot to be desired for the serious vinyl ripper. Ion Audio freely acknowledges this in their manual.

You can't remove clicks, pops and hiss from your recordings. You can't adjust the volume level so that it doesn't sound soft in comparison to your digital music. Your only choice in audio format is MP3. You have little control over splitting tracks. You can't even trim the silence from the beginning of the album during the needle drop and play-in.

If you want to do more than EZ Vinyl offers, Ion Audio recommends you use Audacity, a free program also included on the CD-ROM.

Audacity is the polar opposite of EZ Vinyl Converter: It performs a great number of vinyl ripping tasks and allows you to make mistakes and experiment. It is difficult to learn, even for experienced computer users; don't expect to fire it up and record. And you're on your own for creating CDs- Audacity doesn't do it.

 

Conclusion

EZ Vinyl Converter is perfect for people who value a simple, easy-to-use program. It is very straightforward and guides you through every step of digitizing your LPs. It will disappoint you if you are a perfectionist or need one of the many vinyl ripping features that EZ Vinyl doesn't offer.

 

 

LP Sound Recorder and Editor icon

LP Sound Recorder and Editor

by

PolderbitS Software

Try

Limits:  7 day trial. No features limited.
Size:  1.5MB
Retail Price:  $29.50
Buy from PolderbitS:  $29.50
Vinyl Ripping Features
Feature Support?
General
Record audio Yes
Burn Audio CDs No
Automatically split tracks Yes
Tagging
Auto tag from Internet No
Text Fields No
Album Art No
Volume Adjustment
Normalization No
Compression No
Equalizer Yes
Audio Processing
Eliminate clicks, pops Yes
Remove hiss, hum, rumble Yes
Convert 33, 45 to 78 No
Pitch/Time Features No

Useful Links

Compatibility

  • Windows 98
  • Windows ME
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7

License

  • Shareware

Supported Encoding Formats

MP3, WAV

 

 

 

Groove Mechanic icon

Groove Mechanic

by

Coyote Electronics

Try

Limits:  Fully functional for 15 days. Two minutes of processing per file thereafter.
Size:  1.2MB
Retail Price:  $39.00
Buy from Groove Mechanic:  $39.00
Vinyl Ripping Features
Feature Support?
General
Record audio Yes
Burn Audio CDs No
Automatically split tracks No
Tagging
Auto tag from Internet No
Text Fields No
Album Art No
Volume Adjustment
Normalization Yes
Compression No
Equalizer No
Audio Processing
Eliminate clicks, pops Yes
Remove hiss, hum, rumble Yes
Convert 33, 45 to 78 No
Pitch/Time Features No

Compatibility

  • Windows 95
  • Windows 98
  • Windows ME
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7

License

  • Shareware

Supported Encoding Formats

WAV

 

 

 

RIP Vinyl icon

RIP Vinyl

by

Wieser Software Ltd

Try

Limits:  Inserts 1 second tone in each file. No trial time limit.
Size:  600KB
Retail Price:  $12.95
Buy from Wieser Software Ltd:  $12.95
Vinyl Ripping Features
Feature Support?
General
Record audio Yes
Burn Audio CDs No
Automatically split tracks Yes
Tagging
Auto tag from Internet No
Text Fields No
Album Art No
Volume Adjustment
Normalization No
Compression No
Equalizer No
Audio Processing
Eliminate clicks, pops No
Remove hiss, hum, rumble No
Convert 33, 45 to 78 Yes
Pitch/Time Features No

Useful Links

Compatibility

  • Windows 95
  • Windows 98
  • Windows ME
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7

License

  • Shareware

Supported Encoding Formats

MP33, WAV

 

 

 

Volume Balancer icon

Volume Balancer

by

Clive Backham

Try

Limits:  Process only first half of audio file. No trial time limit.
Size:  1MB
Retail Price:  $15.00
Buy from Clive Backham:  $15.00
Vinyl Ripping Features
Feature Support?
General
Record audio No
Burn Audio CDs No
Automatically split tracks No
Tagging
Auto tag from Internet No
Text Fields No
Album Art No
Volume Adjustment
Normalization Yes
Compression Yes
Equalizer No
Audio Processing
Eliminate clicks, pops No
Remove hiss, hum, rumble No
Convert 33, 45 to 78 No
Pitch/Time Features No

Useful Links

Compatibility

  • Windows 95
  • Windows 98
  • Windows ME
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7

License

  • Shareware

Supported Encoding Formats

WAV

 

 

 

CD Wave icon

CD Wave

by

MiLo Software

Try

Limits:  Nag screen, guilty conscience. No features limited or disabled.
Size:  3MB
Retail Price:  $15.00
Buy from RegNow:  $15.00*
Vinyl Ripping Features
Feature Support?
General
Record audio Yes
Burn Audio CDs No
Automatically split tracks Yes
Tagging
Auto tag from Internet No
Text Fields No
Album Art No
Volume Adjustment
Normalization No
Compression No
Equalizer No
Audio Processing
Eliminate clicks, pops No
Remove hiss, hum, rumble No
Convert 33, 45 to 78 No
Pitch/Time Features No

Useful Links

Compatibility

  • Windows 95
  • Windows 98
  • Windows ME
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7

License

  • Shareware

Supported Encoding Formats

MP31, WAV, FLAC, APE, OGG Vorbis

 

 

 

LP Ripper icon

LP Ripper

by

CFB Software

Try

Limits:  Only first 2 tracks can be saved. No trial time limit.
Size:  1.5MB
Retail Price:  $39.95
Buy from CFB Software:  $39.95
Vinyl Ripping Features
Feature Support?
General
Record audio No
Burn Audio CDs No
Automatically split tracks Yes
Tagging
Auto tag from Internet No
Text Fields Yes
Album Art No
Volume Adjustment
Normalization No
Compression No
Equalizer No
Audio Processing
Eliminate clicks, pops No
Remove hiss, hum, rumble No
Convert 33, 45 to 78 No
Pitch/Time Features No

Useful Links

Compatibility

  • Windows 98
  • Windows ME
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7

License

  • Shareware

Supported Encoding Formats

MP32, WMA2

 

 

 

LP Recorder icon

LP Recorder

by

CFB Software

Try

Limits:  Recordings limited to 4 minutes. No trial time limit.
Size:  1.5MB
Retail Price:  $39.95
Buy from CFB Software:  $39.95
Vinyl Ripping Features
Feature Support?
General
Record audio Yes
Burn Audio CDs No
Automatically split tracks No
Tagging
Auto tag from Internet No
Text Fields No
Album Art No
Volume Adjustment
Normalization No
Compression No
Equalizer No
Audio Processing
Eliminate clicks, pops No
Remove hiss, hum, rumble No
Convert 33, 45 to 78 No
Pitch/Time Features No

Useful Links

Compatibility

  • Windows 98
  • Windows ME
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7

License

  • Shareware

Supported Encoding Formats

WAV

 

 

 

ClickRepair icon

ClickRepair

by

Brian Davies

Limits:  21 day trial period. No functions limited.
Size:  9.6MB
Retail Price:  $40
Size:  9.6MB
Buy From Brian Davies:  $40
Limits:  21 day trial period. No functions limited.
Size:  1.9MB
Retail Price:  $40
Size:  1.9MB
Buy From Brian Davies:  $40
Vinyl Ripping Features
Feature Support?
General
Record audio No
Burn Audio CDs No
Automatically split tracks No
Tagging
Auto tag from Internet No
Text Fields No
Album Art No
Volume Adjustment
Normalization No
Compression No
Equalizer No
Audio Processing
Eliminate clicks, pops Yes
Remove hiss, hum, rumble No
Convert 33, 45 to 78 No
Pitch/Time Features No

Compatibility

  • Windows 98
  • Windows ME
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7
  • Mac OS

License

  • Shareware

Supported Encoding Formats

WAV, AIFF

 

 

 

Equalizer icon

Equalizer

by

Brian Davies

Size:  700KB
Size:  600KB
Vinyl Ripping Features
Feature Support?
General
Record audio No
Burn Audio CDs No
Automatically split tracks No
Tagging
Auto tag from Internet No
Text Fields No
Album Art No
Volume Adjustment
Normalization No
Compression No
Equalizer Yes
Audio Processing
Eliminate clicks, pops No
Remove hiss, hum, rumble No
Convert 33, 45 to 78 No
Pitch/Time Features No

Compatibility

  • Windows 98
  • Windows ME
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7
  • Mac OS

License

  • Freeware

Supported Encoding Formats

WAV, AIFF

 

 

 

DeNoise icon

DeNoise

by

Brian Davies

Limits:  21 day trial period. No functions limited.
Size:  1.7MB
Limits:  21 day trial period. No functions limited.
Size:  1.7MB
Limits:  21 day trial period. No functions limited.
Size:  1.7MB

Buy

Retail Price:  $40
Size:  1.9MB
Buy From Brian Davies:  $40
Vinyl Ripping Features
Feature Support?
General
Record audio No
Burn Audio CDs No
Automatically split tracks No
Tagging
Auto tag from Internet No
Text Fields No
Album Art No
Volume Adjustment
Normalization No
Compression No
Equalizer No
Audio Processing
Eliminate clicks, pops No
Remove hiss, hum, rumble Yes
Convert 33, 45 to 78 No
Pitch/Time Features No

Compatibility

  • Windows 98
  • Windows ME
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7
  • Mac OS

License

  • Shareware

Supported Encoding Formats

WAV, AIFF

 

 

 

 

 

Software Footnotes

1 Requires free LAME MP3 encoder. The file "lame_enc.dll" must be manually copied to program folder. Be prepared for this!

2 Requires an external encoder. See software instruction for details on obtaining and integrating the encoder.

3 Requires Windows Media Player 10 or higher.

4 Cannot encode MP3 directly to hard drive, only to a MP3 CD.

5 MP3 only using the parameters configured for "CD Import Settings" in the iTunes.

6 Create MP3s for 30 days only. After that, you must purchase the Encoder Module for $9.99.

7 AAC encoding on Mac version only.

 

 

Who Did We Miss?

We're up to 44 vinyl ripping turntables from 14 manufacturers in 6 countries. But there's always room for more!

If you know of another one, let us know.

We're open to suggestions for USB and other vinyl ripping turntables, software, cartridges, pre-amps, sound cards and exceptional analog turntables.

Before you write, here are a few guidelines:

  • Current models only  This is a buying guide. If it can no longer be bought, it doesn't belong here.
  • Where to buy it  In general, we only list items that can be purchased from a reputable retailer that ships to one or more of the countries Knowzy covers.
  • These six countries only, please  US, Canada, UK, Japan, France and Germany. As much as we'd like to cover every vinyl ripping turntable in the world, we're not quite ready to do it.
  • Brand new   eBay and craigslist do a great job of selling used stuff. Use their excellent facilities for used turntables and gear.
  • Analog turntables  This is a guide to turntables that convert records to a digital form. However, there are some excellent analog turntables at prices comparable to USB turntables. Knowzy intends to highlight one or two analog turntable from each manufacturer that meets the following conditions:
    • Better specs than the best digital-output turntable  Right now the Pro-Ject Debut III USB comes out on top in terms specs for USB turntables. The analog turntable needs to do better.
    • Same price range, preferably cheaper   There are some very expensive analog turntables. However, there are no really expensive turntables with digital outputs. Please, no analog turntables over $750, with cartridge.
    • User friendly  Dial anti-skate, switch speeds without switching out a belt, maybe even one or both automatic features.

 

 

Thanks to Hydrogen Audio

I extend my gratitude to the members of Hydrogen Audio who helped orient me to the terminology, trends and technology of turntables over two conversations. In particular thanks to Axon, WmAx, cliveb, 2Bdecided, Arnold B. Krueger, uart, Soap, botface, honestguy and Paul Sanders.

Thanks for talking to Knowzy.

 

 

 

Talk About It

Did we answer all your questions about USB turntables? Are there any inaccuracies in our coverage? Can you offer a personal experience with a turntable mentioned here? Do you have any advice you'd like to share with those about to rip vinyl?

We would love to hear from you. Talk about it on our Audio Feedback page.

 

 

Disclosure

* Knowzy earns a commission on items marked with a *. We strive to find you the lowest price from reputable retailers but you may find a better deal elsewhere.

Learn how Knowzy puts your best interests before our selfish desire to turn a profit.

We appreciate your support.

 

Originally Published:  Monday, December 1, 2008, 12:00 AM PT

Last Updated:  Saturday, May 3, 2014, 9:40 AM PT

 


 

 

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