Digitize those old vinyl records. Easily.


Ionttusb05_turntable Look around you. How many people seem to be over the age of 30? I guarantee that each and every one of them either has – or has had – a vinyl collection of their favourite music from years ago. The ones who were truly into their music went out and bought those albums on CD to stay with the times. But a lot of us trashed our turntables ages ago in favour of a CD player and ended up stuck with a bunch of records, no way to play them back, and consequently no way to convert them to MP3 or other digital format. And while there are long and painful techniques to deal with this situation, you may prefer to get yourself a USB turntable…

It’s odd that it’s taken this long for someone to come up with a turntable that can output a digital signal, but then again maybe it’s taken this long for market demand to reach a point where it was worth manufacturing/marketing etc. Either way, I’ve unconvered 3 companies that produce turntables specifically designed to help you digitize your vinyl. The first three models have actual USB connections allowing you to plug them in to your computer. All three come with software (Audacity) that allows you to easily record, edit and "clean up" your tracks in case your 45’s and 33’s haven’t weathered the decades of storage as well as you’d hoped. The fourth takes a different approach.

Ittusb2ION ITTUSB | retail
As some have pointed out, this turntable bears a striking resemblance to Numark’s USB spinner the TTUSB, leading some to speculate that they may be produced at the same facilities. It’s certainly got that high-tech DJ appeal for those who want to showcase their audio gear. In addition to anti-skate, switchable phono/line-level outputs and a cool curved tone-arm, this unit comes with a 1/8" stereo line input which is handy for digitizing other analog sources like audio tapes. Priced at $123.95 at amazon.com.

Ttusb_overview Numark TTUSB | retail
See the resemblance? Even the product name is nearly identical. The specs on Numark’s site don’t help differentiate the two products much. However for those who care as much about brand as they do about functionality, Numark is the way to go. $235.36 CDN at axemusic.com.

Ittusb05ION ITTUSB05 | retail
This unit seems to be the base model, giving you all the benefits of an analog to digital turntable, but without some of the bells a whistles of the pricier units e.g. it doesn’t have anti-skate control, phono output or the cool 1/8" stereo input. On the plus side, it comes with its own integrated dust cover, something the pricier models don’t have, presumably because of their DJ DNA. $99 USD at ThinkGeek.com

Atpl50_2Audio-Technica AT-LP2Da | retail
This unit is billed by Audio-Technica as being a LP-to-Digital Recording system. Yet the lack of a USB interface makes me wonder if this is no more than a standard turntable with a built-in pre-amp so that you can plug it right into your PC’s audio card. It comes bundled with software, but beyond that it doesn’t appear to offer anything over hooking up your computer to an old stereo system. Am I missing something? $98.48 USD at Amazon.com.

Has anyone had any experience with any of these products? Do they deliver on the promise of hassle free digitization of dusty LP’s?  Do you even care enough about that old music collection to bother? Let us know.

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13 comments

  1. Bill Messacar

    No, I don't have any of the products in your writeup, but I have the software and my old Pioneer PL-120 turntable, Yamaha Tuner/amp, nikko equalizer, a Reel-to-Reel tape recorder and a lot of GOOD OLD ROCK 'N ROLL MUSIC. All I need these days is to find the time to put all of it on disc. Anyone who ditched their turntable had to have a screw loose.

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  2. Ted Thompson

    Is there anything special about these turntables or are they just regular models with USB connections?

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  3. Alex Simpson

    I just use my BSR linear tracking turntable plugged into my old Fisher amplifier and plug that into my Yamaha surround sound system. I have a cd read write RCA component to the system similar to the old days of having a cassette component. I just record the music on cd then convert it on the computer. I might be nice to go directly to the computer but since you can only go as fast as the turntable spins I dont see the above as anything I will buy considering my set up now

    but it definately is interesting

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  4. Robert D Norman

    I agree with the fact that the time element is the problem, not the equipment. I still have my old Kenwood KD 2055 with the marble (or granite) body. I was able to purchase a replacement drive belt off the net easily. What I would like to find is a software program that is simple to use, even if it doesn't have all the bells and whistles….just to convert to digital so that it will play back at whatever track you chose.
    I have priceless jazz recordings going back to the 20's and need to preserve them.

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  5. Richard Hebert

    The artical says that none of the turntables retail in Canada, but the Numark TTUSB model you show in the artical looks remarkably like the one sold at Sears,LP-to-MP3 Converter. They dont give the name just a catalogue # 44322 LP Player/Converter $249.95, or $49.99 per month for 5 months[S&H $29.99] for faster ordering call 1-888-288-7595. Discription of its features says, Belt driven turntable, Vinyl recording software,USB cable, Cartridge with stylus,45rpm adapter,CD with PC/Mac recording software,High speed vinyl recording, Line level RCA outputs. Requirements; PC running Windows 98, 2000, or XP, Mac running OS9 or greater,one available USB 1.1 port. FYI Rich.

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  6. Simon Cohen

    Good point Richard, for some reason the post got published with that line still in, even though I had edited it out earlier! The Numark is definitely available at at least 1 cdn retailer. I couldn't find the one you refer to at Sears.ca

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  7. Simon Cohen

    Hey Ted,
    as far as I know the USB connection is the only thing that makes these models special. However that in itself is a big feature since you won't have to mess around with balancing audio levels going into your soundcard from a standard audio setup. Could be a big timesaver.
    Simon

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  8. Dan

    Hi; I purchased alittle gadget a couple of years that I plug into the usb port on my pc and the other end plugs into the Aux-out port on my receiver via RCA connectors. This set up allows me to bypass my sound card altogether and record directly to a folder on my harddive. The accompanying software allows me to record a complete side of an album and/or split the album into individual songs. The setup works beautifully and it costs a lot less than 249.00 CDN. By the way I also use an tape drive attached to the receiver to convert my old cassettes to digital format.

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  9. Simon Cohen

    That sounds like a handy gadget Dan. Care to share where you found it? Perhaps a link to a store that caries it? Or maybe just the name of the product?
    Thanks!

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  10. Larry Zoakipny

    I also have an old component stereo thru which I run my VCR and CD/DVD. Recently acquired a burner and have downloaded some music from P2P but generally feel that service is inadequate,obscure (read OLD) tunes are unavailable. I have been wondering for a couple of months how to get my vinyl to CD and hadn't heard of a USB turntable. However seeing as I still have my spinner, this item that Dan mentioned sounds like the answer. I'm keeping my vinyl so I don't want to replace my turntable anyway so if Dan would pass along some info, I would REALLY APPRECIATE it. Thanks.

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  11. Ray

    This might be able to help out Alex S. Although I know there are many software programs out there that would do the job you would like to do with your Jazz albums, one that I would recommend that is very easy to use and could also clean up hisses and pops would be Microsoft's PLUS Analog recorder.

    The program comes bundled in the Microsoft Plus! Digital Media Edition. As I said this puppy is easy to use and comes in a package that has all sorts of fun things that you could tinker with. The price is about $20 sum bucks and once you've installed go for it, I've been using it for years and have not had a problem.

    I must say though as with the other posters you have to set yourself the time aside to do this as there is no two ways about it. How it spins is how it records and once that is done the program will clean up and convert the files to your choice wmn or mp3 and send it to your choice again.

    I have been converting my collection over a fair bit of time and tend to do it when I feel like listening to some vinyl. I take that time to convert as all is permanently hooked up and ready to go at the flip of the switch on my old tuner and amp. Just think how that Jazz will sound in your ride. See Ya, Ray.

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  12. Ray

    Hey, alex and others who might have similar questions check out Marc Saltzmans's piece, Turn your PC into a jukebox 01/06/2007 11:35:00 am, has pretty much everything I mentioned earlier and then some. Good piece Marc.

    See Ya,Ray

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