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Future Turntable Owner
_komodo_
post Jul 13 2011, 02:08
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I've been interested in vinyl for some time, but I'm just now looking into buying a record player, being spurred by winning a few records in an online contest. I've only looked around Amazon for a few minutes, and this Audio Technica AT-PL60USB looks interesting to me. I want a turntable with USB connectivity, and this has that option. Also, I was attracted to it because I think AT is a great brand (I own some M30 & M50 headphones).

What do y'all think of this model? Any other suggestions in this price range (<$100)? I really am a noob to any sort of turntable specs, so I have no idea where this likely stands. Any sort of advice in what to look for would help.
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cliveb
post Jul 13 2011, 08:58
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QUOTE (_komodo_ @ Jul 13 2011, 02:08) *
I've been interested in vinyl for some time, but I'm just now looking into buying a record player, being spurred by winning a few records in an online contest.

Buying a turntable because you've acquired a few LPs seems a bit extravagent. It would be cheaper (and get you better sound) to just buy the LPs on CD.

QUOTE (_komodo_ @ Jul 13 2011, 02:08) *
I've only looked around Amazon for a few minutes, and this Audio Technica AT-PL60USB looks interesting to me. I want a turntable with USB connectivity, and this has that option. Also, I was attracted to it because I think AT is a great brand (I own some M30 & M50 headphones).

Most USB turntables are dreck. AT is a reputable brand, so you'd probably expect theirs to be less dreck than others. But looking at the Amazon listing, and considering the very low price, this model appears to be similar to many other very cheap offerings and is possibly rubbish. (Not that I have any direct experience with this model).

The bottom line is that turntables are mechanical devices and it is impossible to build good ones for little money. Cheap USB turntables are a current bandwagon driven by marketing. Insisting on USB connectivity is painting yourself into a corner of mediocrity.

You'd be better off with a secondhand model that was built to a decent standard. Look for brands such as Dual, Project, Music Hall, Moth, Rega, Thorens. An old (1970's) Japanese direct drive from the likes of Technics, Pioneer, JVC, Denon, etc would be a good buy if it's in good working order.
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derty2
post Jul 13 2011, 15:03
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Do some research into the audiophile community of your area; many audiophiles have secondhand/swap meets and such.
Find out if there is a Hi-Fi club in your area; go to a few of their meetings and meet and talk...

The most obvious sign that a turntable was built to exemplary quality is the weight of the platter; a heavy dense platter is a GOOD thing.
It stabilises playback because it has more rotational inertia.

This post has been edited by derty2: Jul 13 2011, 15:03
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Apesbrain
post Jul 13 2011, 15:26
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No disagreement with comments above except to say that it is possible to purchase a "non-dreck" USB turntable if you are willing to increase your budget. It would appear $300 or so is the lower limit.

If you go the route of purchasing an older/used traditional turntable and cartridge you may also need to purchase a phono pre-amp and/or an analog-to-digital converter depending on your current equipment and eventual goals. The first will be needed unless you already have an amplifier or receiver with the necessary "Phono" inputs. The latter may be needed if your aim is to record your LP playback into digital files for portable playback.
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mixminus1
post Jul 13 2011, 15:41
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_komodo_, having been in a situation similar to yours (picking up a turntable after acquiring a few records here and there), I would second cliveb's suggestion to just find the releases on CD/downloads.

Vinyl is a colossal PITA, and a cheap turntable will only make it more so. I ended up with a pretty decent setup by going the used Japanese direct-drive route (a Pioneer PL-4 on eBay for $60) and getting a new Shure cartridge ($80), a little Audio-Technica preamp ($45), and Shure's tracking force gauge ($28). I even ended up springing for a vacuum record cleaner, the KAB EV-1 ($180).

End result? With an excellent pressing (which you, of course, have no control over), the results could be surprisingly good...but the CD or digital download was always better, i.e. completely noise/distortion-free, and just overall cleaner sounding.

With a less-than-excellent pressing, the results could be damned annoying because of all the various surface noises due to flaws in the vinyl itself, and no amount of cleaning can cure those.

A cheap turntable, which you're currently looking at, is simply going to exacerbate all of vinyl's flaws, and possibly cause physical damage to the records themselves depending on the tracking force and overall quality of the cartridge and stylus.

While it's true that vinyl can sound "better" than its digital counterpart if it's mastered differently (no brickwall limiting, for instance), I've found that situation to be fairly rare (and, of course, not a quality of the medium itself), and usually I get much better sound - and far less stress - by just finding a given release on CD or as a download.


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DVDdoug
post Jul 13 2011, 19:36
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One of our members (Knowzy) has a nice website with lots of information about USB turntables.

I agree with everything that's been said.

Dont take my word for it, because I haven't purchased a turntable in a long time and I really don't know what's going-on in the market... but I believe the "sweet spot" for turntables is between $300 and $500 USD. At the low-end there's a lot of junk, and then at some point you can spend thousands for very-little (or no) improvement.

Since most people don't play records anymore, there are lots of good quality used turntables available for good prices... I've given-away a couple of turntables.

You can get Shure's best cartridge for under $100, and I wouldn't spend more than that.

Then, if you don't get a USB turntable or one with a built-in preamp, you need a USB interface and/or preamp, which can be another $50 - $100 or more.

With analog vinyl, you can end-up spending lots of money to make small improvements, and your still won't get "CD-quality" sound. (Even with it's flaws, some audiophiles do prefer the sound of vinyl.)
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_komodo_
post Jul 15 2011, 18:18
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Thanks for all the advice and info everyone, especially about Knowzy's site. It's unfortunate that most of the USB turntables are fairly crappy. I never would have guessed this.

QUOTE (cliveb @ Jul 13 2011, 02:58) *
QUOTE (_komodo_ @ Jul 13 2011, 02:08) *
I've been interested in vinyl for some time, but I'm just now looking into buying a record player, being spurred by winning a few records in an online contest.

Buying a turntable because you've acquired a few LPs seems a bit extravagent. It would be cheaper (and get you better sound) to just buy the LPs on CD.

Like I said, I've been considering buying one for a while now, and this just seemed like the point where I would actually make the investment, but I was ignorant of how much it takes to get a nice one. I'll definitely be looking into used 'tables if at all now.

This post has been edited by _komodo_: Jul 15 2011, 18:19
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