need to give my husband best USB turntable I can find
December 12, 2007 8:49 AM   Subscribe

Audiophile/Gift Filter: Please help me figure out what USB turntable I should get.

Mr. Lucinda is one of those "don't get me anything for Christmas, I don't need anything, grumble grumble grumble" types.

HOWEVER, he has expressed interest in getting a turntable that could plug into his computer via a USB port; he has an extensive LP collection that's gone unlistened to since he sold his high-end record player shortly after our son was born.

I want to surprise him with one on December 25, but I just can't buy the first one that appears on a google search; he researches the heck out of everything before he buys it. I've found the Numark TTUSB, which looks fine and seems to have good reviews (on Amazon, anyway) and I like the idea that I could transfer cassette tapes over as well (since I have a large collection of those).

But, I don't want to screw this up.

The nitty gritty: he has a Mac laptop. One of the better, faster ones.

He works with computers for a living, so he probably wouldn't have problems working his way through any software that would come with the turntable.

I'm willing to spend $200 or so.
posted by Lucinda to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I have two Numark turntables and they have served me well for a number of years. I am not a huge fan of the included Audacity software but it's good enough to simply record and save, and it will run on his Mac. You will almost definitely want to purchase a new set of cartridges. Typical stock cartridges are crap and Numark doesn't make good needles in general. Most of the people I have talked to prefer Ortofon Elliptical needles. Maybe he can make that decision for himself, though.

Also, the tape transfer 'feature' is a boondoggle. It's nothing but an extra input that functions the same way as plugging in the tape deck directly to the Mac.
posted by mkb at 9:00 AM on December 12, 2007

I think the Project Debut III is a better turntable than the Numark but I'm not sure of it's US availabilty. It also comes with Audacity and is Mac happy.
posted by oh pollo! at 9:19 AM on December 12, 2007

For quality, I'd consider this package. The turntable is an Audio Technica PL-120, and instead of built-in USB it comes with a separate RCA-to-USB converter. The whole thing is still right at $200. Not speaking from direct experience, but my hunch is this would give a more satisfying sound than the Numark with only a wee bit more fuss.
posted by alb at 9:40 AM on December 12, 2007

I have experience with the Project Debut III mentioned above. My friend has it hooked up to his stereo and it sounds great. I haven't heard it with the USB interface though. This is probably the model I will get if I have any money left after the holidays.

It has good sound and solid design. It is pretty sparse in features. In order to switch between 45 and 33RPM, you have to lift the platter and move the rubber band. This small inconvenience is actually considered a feature by some hard-core audiophiles. Most people aren't that anal about it. I think a speed switch costs a little bit extra. Please check with a seller and see if it is possible to add the switch on yourself later. Your husband might be able to handle that himself if he wants.

Concerning the package recommended by alb above: I would personally not get anything made by Behringer (the USB interface). Many audio people will agree with me and say that it sounds mediocre and breaks soon after.
posted by chillmost at 10:39 AM on December 12, 2007

Best answer: I bought a USB turntable from ION this past summer and I love it. The bundled Audacity software is more than adequate for ripping vinyl to WAV or MP3. The editing software makes trimming the dead air off the beginning and end easy.
If you ever want to hook the TT up to a stereo receiver, I would look for a few specific features: I would recommend a model which has connections for USB *and* RCA cables, but *not* one where the RCA cables are hard-wired into the back of the unit- you want to be able to choose your own cables! Also, make sure the unit has a line level/phono level switch, so you can choose to plug it into any available stereo receiver input.
Unfortunately, most web sites don't let you see the back of their electronics, so you cannot inspect the switches and plugs for yourself, but I am pretty sure this is the model I would recommend.
$119 is a small price to pay to liberate your vinyl library from its hibernation! My records from the 1970s and 80s sound great, and even the occasional hissing and scratches aren't so bad when you hear how bold and dynamic the sound is.
posted by Lord Kinbote at 10:41 AM on December 12, 2007

The fellow who produces Coverville uses a Numark and wrote about it here.
posted by phearlez at 10:49 AM on December 12, 2007

For what it is worth, a little Googling has almost convinced me that the Numark TTUSB and the Ion iTTUSB are one and the same in different packaging.
posted by grabbingsand at 11:08 AM on December 12, 2007

seconding what alb said. "audiophile" and "built-in USB" probably don't go together. And a lot of audio folks have unmitigated contempt for Behringer. However, the standalone converter will be a start, and if he does the research and wants to get another, higher-quality interface, there's a lot of them out there.
posted by dubold at 11:20 AM on December 12, 2007

can I jump in and ask if anyone knows of a setup similar (USB and RCA), that will also handle 78s?
posted by edgeways at 1:26 PM on December 12, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice, everyone....I ended up going with the Ion. We'll see if Mr. Lucinda likes it or not.

As for 78's, edgeways, most of the ones I've seen only handle 33 and 45, but you can achieve 78 by tinkering with the audio file once it's been recorded.
posted by Lucinda at 4:36 PM on December 12, 2007

Response by poster: For what it's worth, my husband really enjoyed the turntable. I let it slip a few days before Christmas that he was going to get one (when he was talking about getting one), but didn't give it to him until today. He's hooked it up to our stereo system (which is also hooked up to a computer) and he's listened to a few songs. It sounds great. :^)
posted by Lucinda at 8:58 AM on December 25, 2007

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