I want to buy a USB turntable to convert some vinyl record albums to MP3 format. Are there any specific turntables you can recommend?
USB Turntable Reviews
It seems the death of vinyl has been greatly exaggerated. There are lots of USB turntables available now, and they are perfect for the task of converting those classic vinyls to digital format. I've compiled a list of my top USB turntables, along with reviews. From professionals to those on a budget, there is a turntable out there to help you convert your old LPs to digital music via your PC. (For related help, see Converting Vinyl Records to CD.)
• Probably the most trusted company in this arena is ION. Their ION TTUSB Turntable allows transference of music from 33 1/3, 45 or 78 records to your computer. Once there, you have the option of recording your old tunes to CD, send it to your MP3 player or just listen. Because it needs no preamp, you can hook the TTUSB up to your stereo system as well. One of its best features is an input jack so you can also turn your old audio cassettes into CDs.
ION offers a free EZ Vinyl Converter with Gracenote MusicID technology (helps identify the song titles) to simplify the process. Expect a basic turntable here, without the bells and whistles, at an affordable $149 price point. ION's site features other turntables to fit every need, including an LP Dock that transfers your tunes to your iPod. I should also mention that ION has other USB turntables that convert vinyl records directly to CD (see the ION LP2CD pictured above right), USB stick, USB external hard drive and even SD cards -- no computer required.
• The Stanton T.90 USB Turntable was made for pros and those who are aspiring DJs, although if you do not know your stuff, most of the features will only confuse you. This turntable has a direct drive motor and an s-shaped arm for better tracking and lower distortion. It has 3 playback speeds and the unique Master Tempo Key Lock.
The T.90 is so precise it has a pitch control slider, 2 start/stop switches for mixing, and S/PDIF output as well as the USB. Stanton has included Cakewalk Pyro 5 software for you to edit your tunes. You will pay more for this one though as it lists from $299.00 to $450.00, depending on where you shop.
• You may already know that I tend to favor Sony, as most of their products are reliable and built to last. Their PS-LX300 USB Turntable is no exception. This one has only been around about a year, but its simplicity makes it easy to convert your music to digital. While it cannot handle 78s, it does have the feature of auto-operation.
It also has a belt drive system and built-in preamp as well as RCA output jacks. Once you have transferred your tunes with their Audio Studio software, you can store it on your PC and transfer it to your MP3 Player. The PS-LX300 USB can play back and carries a $149.99 price tag.
• Audio-Technica's AT-LP2D-USB LP-to-Digital Recording System is also noteworthy. While the company has been making audio products for years, it may not be top of the line, but has the distinction of being able to be used on a Mac with Audacity software. Cakewalk is available for those with PCs.
Features include a built-in switchable stereo phono/line level pre-amplifier. The system is fully automatic but will only work with speeds of 33 1/3 rpm and 45 rpm. There are a couple of other advantages to this turntable. One is that it can make WAV and WMA files, among others, while DeClicker removes pops and cracks and DeNoiser eliminates hiss. The AT-LP2D-USB retails for $229.00, less if you shop around.
As you can see, all of these USB turntables have their plusses and minuses, but I suggest before you buy one sight unseen, you head to your nearest electronics store to "hear" the difference. You wouldn't even think of buying a new TV without seeing it, would you? Do you have a question or comment about USB turntables? Post your thoughts below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 6 Jan 2009
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Most recent comments on "USB Turntables"
06 Jan 2009
I bought the Sony PS-LX300 USB turntable and I am very satisfied! As soon as I loaded the Sony software that came with it, it notified me that there was an upgrade to the software that was for free. I paid less than $120 because it was an open box that someone did not know how to use. The belt drive comes with a red sticker tape that you lift up and place over the motor shaft. Apparently, whoever purchased it did not know how to make it work and probably assumed it was broken.
I have recorded about eight vinyl records and the software is simply fantastic! It takes out the hiss and popping without harming the quality of the audio. I just wonder how long the needle will last.
Thanks for featuring it in your article and nothing could be easier than hooking up the turntable via a USB jack. I have mine hooked up to an amplifier and to my computer so I can listen over speakers what the actual sound is going to be.
07 Jan 2009
If you have old 78's, it's not vital to have a turntable that plays them at that speed, as Audacity has a speed conversion as one of its many facilities. Very useful free software. I use it extensively. Not sure what the stylus position is, though, as I imagine a standard stylus (being the wrong radius for a 78 groove) could get wrecked.
15 Jan 2009
Simplistic question: My turntable/receiver setup is about 10-12 feet from the computer. Is the distance going to be a problem for quality? I know there has to be some limit to the cable length before increased S/N, etc. deterioration. After all, the digital conversion doesn't happen until the signal makes the trip to the computer.
EDITOR'S NOTE: I don't think 12 feet of good quality audio cable is too far -- don't worry about it.
15 Jan 2009
The S shaped arm is only one of 2 ways to lower distortion. A properly designed straight arm with the proper head offset will accomplish the same thing.
15 Jan 2009
I saw some of the USB turntables in the store. It appeared that they only converted to MP3. That sucks! Sure MP3 is ok for devices that have limited storage space,but you need something that converts to a better format for maximum listening enjoyment.
BTW I hooked up my old Technics turntable to phono pre-amp and then connected it to the sound card on my computer.Total expense was $20 for the pre-amp at Fry's The pre-amp ran on 110 volts ac,and had an option to run on a 9 V DC for cleaner operation.
Dave in Indy
15 Jan 2009
In a reply from David (great name) above, he mentions Audacity having a speed conversion utility. Hmmm, I wonder if you could use that like High Speed Dubbing on old dual cassette decks? Put a 33 1/3, set the speed at 45 (or 78 if possible) and dub the LP about 40 percent faster at 45 RPM or about 140 percent faster at 78.... Quality might suffer. :)
15 Jan 2009
Comment to borgward: I have the ION turntable. The supplied software will save in .wav format, in addition to mp3, which can then be converted to anything you want in another program. That also allows for directly saving to audio CDs without conversion from a compressed format. I imagine (but do not know for sure) that this option is available with most of these turntables.
15 Jan 2009
i got the audacity over a year ago from amazon for $99.99, no tax, and no shipping! within 5 minutes out of the box i had my first mp3... i love the audacity software. best buy i've made in a long time.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Ummmm, actually not. Audacity is free software. See http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/
16 Jan 2009
Picked up an Innovative Technology (iT) USB turntable at JC Penney before Christmas for $89 after rebate. Comes with Audacity freeware, and both USB and analog twin pair. Does 33, 45 and 78. Seems like the right and left channel are the same, on the captured audio, but I specified stereo. Anybody know where to tweak the inputs on either the hardware or Audacity?
17 Jan 2009
Another option is to use the DAK.com (http://www.dak.com/Reviews/2020Story.cfm) mixer for $69.90 and the included software if you already have a turntable (as I do). They also sell a turntable/mixer package for $219.00 if you do not have a turntable.
The software if flexible allowing for burning to a CD or saving to file on the PC. The instructions are very good and the customer support is first rate with almost instant response to emails. I have had the unit for a month and have converted 67 albums without a problem.
19 Jan 2009
Just curious, have you tested any of the units which play/convert both vinyl and cassettes? I've seen them, but they look cheaply built. I've got a number of cassettes which I want to convert to digital but no longer have a cassette deck on which to play and hook up.
Also, I'm no expert in using Audacity, since my (VERY) old collection of vinyl albums will have scratches perhaps some warp from being stored so long, is it difficult to "clean up" the sound?
EDITOR'S NOTE: I have not tested any of the units that do both vunyl and cassette. But as far as software to clean up the sound, look into the offering from DAK.
22 Jan 2009
Answer to Dave in Indy.
High-speed dubbing is/was never very successful, even in so-called high-speed dubbing cassette decks (now, thankfully, virtually obsolete). Quality usually took a dive because when the source is speeded up you are asking the play-back heads and electronics to handle higher frequencies that they weren't really designed for. For instance - you have an original recording which ranges (for the sake of argument) from 30 Hz to 17Khz.
If you double the speed, you are asking the kit to reproduce frequencies from 60Hz to 34Khz. Bass end is no problem, but just look at the top end. Way outside the range of most tape heads or even high quality record deck cartridges, which is why most high-speed cassette dubs sounded a bit wooly. Just a gimmick, really. I wish there WAS a way of getting vinyl to mp3 without having to play the stuff in real time! Very laborious!
17 Feb 2009
Does any of the readers know of any current "box" that does it all. By that I mean a unit that contains transference and conversion hardware whereby you can use that one source to ultimately convert your vinyl to CD, and your cassette to CD, and your 8-Trac to CD, and your reel-to-reel tape deck tapes to CD... all under one roof, and maybe that completely bypasses your pc altogether?
Same principle would be a great feature for transferring all your old video units to DVD. To be able to have one little 'box' to attach your VHS', or your old 8 mm films, or Super 8 mm films, or 35 mm negatives, etc., to a DVD.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The ION LP2CD pictured in the article does exactly that!
10 Aug 2009
Please help me,
I bought a USB Turntable Model ITUT-201 at JC Penney. I bought the unit last August but have never opened it until today (8/17/09). I opened the box and the software disc was not in the box. The JC Penney store does not have anymore of these units. Is there any way I can get the free software that will allow me to use this unit.
EDITOR'S NOTE: I would contact the manufacturer, maybe the software is on their website.
01 Sep 2009
Mike, download the drivers and the manual here:
Audacity, as stated above, is a free download. Good luck!
28 Nov 2009
I bought an Innovative Technology turntable Model ittut-201svr. I thought I could record cd's from my pc. Is there anyway after it's in my pc can I record it on cd's? thank you R Laurich
20 Dec 2009
If you haven't already committed to buying your hardware, let me present a contrary opinion. Most low end USB turntables come with a ceramic stylus, which is like playing your record with a jackhammer. The ceramic stylus will damage your records' grooves after relatively few playings. If you're digitizing and discarding your records you may not care about that, but the cheap stylus also won't give you good sound fidelity compared to something you download from iTunes, Amazon etc., no matter what bit rate you digitize at. If you own or can borrow or can acquire from Craig's List an analog turntable, it will almost certainly have a diamond elliptical stylus and produce a much better quality signal. You can run the analog turntable's output through an external phono preamp, either a line-out on an existing stereo preamp or amp (DO NOT USE AN AMP'S SPEAKER OUTPUTS!!!) or buy a good quality phono preamp such as the $29.50 TC-400G/L available at phonopreamps.com. A little extra work will get you a digitization setup that's worlds better than any USB turntable setup you can get at a department or chain store.
Software-wise please take the time to check out Acoustica's Spin-It-Again. It makes things simple enough for the most casual user, it saves tons of time for the expert with a huge vinyl library to convert, and for the geek it's extensible to use any of the thousands of VST plug-ins to equalize and shape audio signals. SIA retails for $34.95.
16 Dec 2010
i bought a usb turntable from heartland america..it has no usb cable(takes differrent type i cant find) and theres no cd to put on comp..no manufactor and where i bought it they dont even know who makes it..if anyone has a TR-W155 usb turntable from heartland america can u give me some info...never buy from heartland america..nothings labeled and ne ver a guarenty,,if u can help woulkd apprerc.
15 Jan 2011
I just hooked my USB Turntable Model ITUT-201 purchased from JC Penney. This was to be a replacement for my 25 year old turntable that was hooked up to the same receiver. The sound is terrible, has everyone else found this to be the case? I even replaced the needle with another one that came with the turntable, same sound. Is this just a case of you get what you pay for?
16 Jan 2013
i purchased an ION USBTT05 turntable in 2008 but never really used it. i am now in the process of converting my vinyl collection but the turntable doesnt play one channel correctly. For example the album Wishbone Ash it doesnt play the right channel properly so you cant hear the vocals and some guitars
Ion say it is the tone arm
anyone else got any ideas on how to fix it