Vinyl Is Alive and Well at CES 2017
For guys like me who have taken their music and audio reproduction very seriously for, dare I say, decades, the resurgence of vinyl in the past couple of years is gratifying. There’s something to an analog recoding that isn’t quite duplicated in any digital format. Digital is always, after all, a numeric representation of the real sound as opposed to the sound itself. That isn’t to say that vinyl is perfect. The clicks and pops that arise with any record eventually remain a down side compared to CDs and lossless audio files.
Not long ago, it was becoming hard to even buy a new turntable. But that’s come full circle as vinyl has made a strong come back. Featured here are some top-notch turntables on display at CES 2017. Models at lower cost with correspondingly small or huge price tags are also available, but these are within reach of most consumers and offer great performance.
We’ve known Audio-Technica turntables for a long time. The company has long been celebrated for its great phono cartridges that can be used to improve the performance of any turntable brand. This year, they offer a wide range of turntables from very affordable belt-drive units that sell for less than $100 to some excellent direct-drive models that go for about $450. And that price is without the aforementioned cartridge.
The excitement is always at the top of the spectrum, so it’s not surprising that I was most taken with the AT-LP1240-USB, shown here. The manufacturer touts it as a DJ turntable, but it’s just right for at home use. It’s handsome and appears to be very durable. The USB suffix in the model number reveals that it is ideal, too, for converting vinyl to digital recordings.
Audio-Technica’s AT-LP3 is a viable alternative for those having to watch the budget more closely. It’s a belt drive turntable that features a straight tone arm and comes with the AT91R moving magnet cartridge. This adds up to very good performance at a moderate price.
For a generation past, a generation that got its news and entertainment from radio, Crosley Radio was a pioneer and a coveted brand. Those days are gone, but Crosley has been reinvented, offering a broad range of affordable turntables and even a new juke box.
While some of the turntable models displayed at CES 2017 are positioned at the lower end of price and quality spectrum, I found the brand new C20 to be a stand out. It features a full-sized platter to support LPs better than lesser models. What’s more, the platter is made of thick and heavy Lucite. The company claims that this is better for noise dampening than other materials, and I’m anxious to test it in our lab.
The C20 includes a USB out connection and so, when paired with the right software and a laptop, it functions as a vinyl converter as well. This quality turntable is a great addition to the field of vinyl converting turntables, many of which work but are cheaply made and generally unimpressive.
Merging the past with the present this year, Crosley also unveiled a juke box which can play as many as 70 45-rpm records. It’s cool and sounds great, making it a perfect addition to your man cave or family room.