Plug-And-Play Turntables Drop The Needle On Even More Nerdiness

Jan 24th, 2007 // 7 Comments

turntables.jpgEarlier this week, the New York Times had a piece on USB turntables, which hook right into a computer’s USB port to start the process of vinyl-to-MP3 conversion. It was a pretty straightforward product review, but it got us wondering if we shouldn’t plunk down the $200 to start moving our vinyl library onto our hard drives (you wouldn’t believe the number of freestyle maxi-singles that we have yet to own in digital form). If you have one of these devices, let us know in the comments whether they’re worth the trouble–and the manual-reading, because sometimes tech writing can be damn-near impenetrable.

Somewhat related: Plus Deck Cassette Converter, which we’d probably think about picking up if we didn’t already have an MP3 of “Oh Sheila.”

The Turntables That Transform Vinyl [NYT]


  1. mike a

    I have an Ion MP3 turntable and LOVE it. Easy to use and high-quality transfers. (M, I recorded “Alien Space Song” on it.)

  2. Fresh

    Its probably overkill for what you’re trying to do, but I use the Numark CDX and its very easy to rip vinyl onto your hard drive.

    If your computer’s sound card has a “line in” jack, then you can just use a regular turntable (or a regular cassette player) to record the audio. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to do it:

  3. chaircrusher

    A USB turntable is a turntable, a phono preamp, an AtoD chip and the USB glue chip. On Windows (and probably MacOSX) it will install as a generic usb sound device, and you can go ahead and record until your guts explode.

    I haven’t actually used such a thing but it would be a hard thing technically to fuck up.

    If you already own a turntable, you’re probably better off getting a decent audio interface and record off the tape out on your stereo. Or get something like this:
    And the ultimate — will set you back $800:

  4. noamjamski

    My PC with a Soundblaster Audigy2 card as my main sound out is the best playback device in my apartment. I run my Turntable through the line-in on it full time and it sounds amazing. If I want to make a recording I fire up Audacity (free open source easy to use recording software) and record away. You can easily record a whole side and break it into individual tracks uses cut and paste as well. Very easy to do, even if you aren’t techie, and it sounds great.

  5. chocomel

    I got a numark one at the end of last year; I had seen it and coveted it immediately. The scary part? It was in the Restoration Hardware catalog (“I dunno, maybe we’ll hit Bed & Bath, but I don’t know if we’ll have enough time”). For the record, that’s not where I purchased it from.

    Anyway, I have a Mac. It was pretty easy to plug in and install the software. Of course, it must be meant for a PC, because the instructions for the mac folk ran something like “drink a mixture of goat hair and bong water under a full moon at midnight, turn around 3 times, and sing “Surfin Bird”; you will now be able to use your USB turntable sucessfully.”

    Well, I did all that, and still no dice. It took me about two days (would have been quicker, but the bong water slowed me down) to figure out that the audio output level on the software came preset at 0. Helpful. Very helpful.

    With that out of the way, I finally sat down to use it. You would think I had never used a recording device, the way I sat there repeating “This is great!” over and over again. It does record very nicely, I give it high marks for that.

    However…..go ahead, record a full album. What do you do? Record one song at a time? That’s kind of a pain. So, I record a full side, then use to software to go back and break songs out into individual tracks. This too is a big pain, especially if it’s a live record or the record doesn’t list the time for each track. So, no matter how you do it, transfering a full album is time intensive. 45′s are pretty easy to bang out, so that’s nice.

    Of course, if I were a rich man, I would just go out and rebuy my record collection on cd, it would be much easier. Then I would just spend my time converting all our 45s. Oh yeah, supposedly it also does 78s (I think you record at 45 rpm, then use the software to speed it up to 78 rpm), so I’ll be able to convert all of our old shellac too. Heh, speaking of, the first things I converted were a few Shellac 45′s. It’s nice to have “wingwalker” and such pop up on shuffle now.

    My recomendation would be to buy one and have an intern devote all their time to converting your vinyl.

  6. pchc_lx

    a couple things to think about before purchasing this product:

    a) as previously stated, if you’re using an even moderately up-to-date machine, there’s a good chance you can already do this. most sound cards have a stereo 1/8″ line-in jack; all you need is a piece of recording software (which you can download for free) and maybe a $3.50 RCA to 1/8″ converter from RadioShack.

    b) (perhaps more importantly) when you record your album into the audio software, analog to digital conversion is taking place – the continuous sound wave etched into the vinyl is digitally sampled (based on the algorithm the software uses – hopefully this thing gives you options) and encoded into a WAV or MP3 or whatever. meaning that there’s a loss of quality – arguably imperceptible, but to me that’s the whole point of owning vinyl. this applys to the people who run their turntables through their computer’s sound card simply for playback on the machine’s speakers – you’re still digitally sampling and negating the whole point of vinyl.

    personally, if i own the vinyl i don’t feel bad just downloading the album to throw on my mp3 player. i mean, i already bought the thing once, right?

  7. K-Murph

    OK, here’s my rig: Technics 1200 (yeah, I wanted to be a dj, so what?) plugged into XPSound 202 (, which plugs into Mac (eMac, ugh) via FireWire. I used Audio Hijack Pro ( bringing audio in.

    The only problem I seem to face is a drop in gain from record to mp3. Anyone have a clue as to why? The XP Sound external soundcard/preamp does not have gain control on it, so I’m having to adjust digitally, which is probably bad. I may go back to using an old Gemini DJ mixer/preamp. Though I figure a little loss in gain is natural b/c of the compression.

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