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.
ION 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.
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.
ION 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
Audio-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.