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Best USB turntables 2020

Best USB turntables
(Image credit: Audio Technica)

The best USB turntables give you the freedom to spin your favorite records without the need for specialized audio equipment and audio out cables. Instead, these handy devices just plug directly into your home computer or laptop so you can listen to your favorite vinyl records without the fuss, all while letting you make digital copies of the songs too.

We tested a whole host of the best USB turntables across various price ranges, with cheap models that cost under $150 all the way up to premium turntables that will set you back $300 or more. We looked at the build quality, sound performance, and accompanying software to see which USB turntable offers you the most bang for your buck.

In the end, we’ve given the top spot to the Audio-Technica LP120 thanks to its durable design and excellent sound quality. It doesn’t have a headphone jack though, so you’ll have to wire it up to some speakers if you want to listen as well as convert records. If you want a model with built-in sound output, then we’d recommend the Sony PS-HX500 instead.

But there are plenty of options to suit different needs so read on to find the best USB turntable for you.

1. Audio-Technica LP120: Best overall USB turntable

Audio-Technica AT LP120 USB

Audio-Technica LP120

Best overall USB turntable

High-quality conversion
Durable design
Professional cartridge and headshell
Expensive
No Bluetooth connectivity
No headphone output

The Audio-Technica LP120 has all the important playback and design features we recommend you look for if you plan to use your turntable frequently. It also produced the most accurate analog-to-digital conversions in our tests. The price is steep for people shopping for their first turntable, but if you plan on listening to your vinyl collection regularly, the investment is well worth it.

Audio-Technica bundles the LP120 with Audacity, the best conversion software we reviewed. Audacity has all the tools you need to properly record, edit and repair audio files. In our tests, the noise and pop filters did a good job of removing unwanted sound, and the equalizer allowed us to boost the outlying treble and bass frequencies, which can degrade during conversion. It also has volume normalization tools to help boost weak input signals and keep the volume consistent.

The LP120 is missing a few of the newest design features like Bluetooth connectivity and a headphone output with volume control. However, these features are replaced by a built-in phono preamp that lets you connect the turntable to any audio system or speaker that has RCA or 1/8-inch auxiliary inputs. It also comes with a professional-level cartridge (the piece that holds the needle) and removable headshell (which holds the cartridge) that are easy to find replacements for when the time comes.

2. Sony PS-HX500: Best turntable for Hi-Res audio conversion

Sony PS-HX500

(Image credit: Sony)

Sony PS-HX500

Best turntable for Hi-Res audio conversion

Great conversion quality
Hi-Res audio
Minimal look
Not the cheapest
Minimal look

The Sony PS-HX500 is the go-to USB turntable for anyone that wants to keep their analogue to digital conversions at the highest quality. That's because unlike like most of the competition this turntable will convert to Hi-Res audio.

That means you can have both WAV and DSD file types which offer super high resolution playback on your digital device. Despite the complex quality of the files the software itself is relatively easy to use. This simplicity continues in the minimal look of the turntable which may be too basic for some, but enjoyably clean for others – it all depends on what you're going for. What does remain minimal is price, with a decent tag for what you get.

The built-in soundstage means you won't need a preamp but the sounds from this setup does lack a little depth. But since you can go via a preamp if you want, thanks to a phono out, this gives you that option for better sound if you need. The basic cartridge can also be upgraded to allow for even better quality. A great turntable for beginners and those that want to upgrade and improve as they do.

3. Audio-Technica LP60BT: Best Bluetooth turntable

Audio-Technica LP60BT

Audio-Technica LP60BT

Best Bluetooth turntable

Bluetooth connectivity
Great conversion quality
Fully automatic tone arm operation
No adjustable counterweight
No replaceable headshell

The Audio-Technica LP60BT is a super simple to use turntable that rather uniquely packs in Bluetooth connectivity. That means you can connect wireless headphones or speakers for easy listening without the faff of wires.

The tonearm is automatic meaning it drops the needle at the beginning of the record and returns to its resting place when it reaches the end of each side – ideal if you're wirelessly listening from a distance. 

Th LP60BT turntable is bundled with Audacity, which is our favorite conversion software. It’s easy to use and has all the tools you need to clean up noisy recordings, including the crackles and pops associated with older records, as well as edit tracks.

This model has excellent playback and design features, and it produced some of the most accurate conversions. During our tests, the conversions its high-quality Audio-Technica cartridge created consistently sounded good and natural.

4. House of Marley Stir It Up: Best sustainable design turntable

House of Marley Stir It Up

(Image credit: House of Marley)

House of Marley Stir It Up

Best sustainable design turntable

Superb design
Totally eco-friendly
Built-in phono
Feels less high-end

If you want a good looking turntable that's also totally sustainable then the Stir It Up option from the House of Marley is for you. This not only looks great with that bamboo wooden upper, hemp based material covered lower and brushed finish tonearm – but it's also affordable.

Despite the beginner level price this manages to punch sonically well above that. The built-in preamp is another beginner feature which means this can output directly to speakers or headphones. In fact the headphone port is conveniently placed right there at the front for easy access. There is also a Bluetooth equipped variant that will let you listen wirelessly, if you want that and don't mind spending a bit more.

The Audio-Technica cartridge this comes with can be upgraded for an affordable way to enhance audio. This also outputs to a preamp if you want to enhance sound even more that way. That said, the quality is decent especially at this price. The USB output for analogue to digital conversion is just a really impressive bonus at this price.

5. Ion Audio Air LP: Best affordable USB turntable

Ion Audio Air LP

(Image credit: Ion Audio)

Ion Audio Air LP

Best affordable USB turntable

Bluetooth audio
Affordable
EZ Vinyl Converter software
Conversion quality lacking

The Ion Audio Air LP is a super affordable turntable that still offers USB conversion and a top selection of input and output options. Despite that low price this even offers Bluetooth output for wireless connectivity with headphones and speakers.

Bluetooth transmission doesn’t sound as good as a wired connection, but it’s more convenient and allows to you listen at a distance. For conversion work there's the EZ Vinyl Converter software which is easy to use with a step-by-step guide. Although volume normalization would have been a nice addition here.

There are a few durability concerns with this turntable, but that’s normal in the less-than-$100 price range. There are too many plastic parts and the cartridge didn’t perform well in our conversion tests. We suggest upgrading the cartridge if you plan to use this turntable to convert a vinyl collection. Despite its shortcomings, this is the best turntable for less than $100.

Why Trust Us

We used a research and testing process that simulated, as closely as possible, how a typical consumer uses a USB turntable. Our final product recommendations are based on our impressions of the turntables and their accompanying software gathered during hands-on testing. We’ve evaluated and compared USB turntables for seven years, and in that time, we’ve identified the important features that make one model better than another.

Side-by-side comparison is the most important part of our review process, but we also scour the internet for relevant articles and interview industry professionals to stay up to date with the latest trends in the world of USB turntables. For example, we spoke to Jeremy Fillis, a professional DJ and the store manager of Guitar Center in Salt Lake City. We asked him what feature on a USB turntable is most important for creating quality conversion and playback, and he said, “I always tell customers to upgrade to a higher quality needle.” That’s one of the reasons we recommend turntables that have a replaceable headshell and cartridge.

How We Tested

We gathered a handful of records in various states of disrepair so we could test how well the turntables converted under a variety of conditions. We connected each turntable to our test computer using the same cable and used the software bundled with each product.

Once we connected the turntable and the software was ready to record, we played an entire side of a record and converted the songs to MP3. We then compared the converted songs to a digital download and noted discrepancies in stereo imaging and volume. Our final conversion quality grade is based on how accurate the converted file sounded compared to the digital download.

We awarded higher scores to turntables with bundled programs that are easy to use and have tools that improve recording quality. We preferred programs with step-by-step instructions that make the conversion and cleanup processes as simple as possible.

In our last test, we evaluated Bluetooth connectivity on turntables that feature it. We plugged each one into a Bluetooth speaker with an aux input and quickly switched back and forth between the wired and wireless connections to find out how much fidelity was lost in the wireless transmission.

How Much Does a USB Turntable Cost?

The most important factor when deciding how much to spend on a USB turntable is how much you’re using it. If you plan to digitize a vinyl collection and rarely use it again, you could spend between $100 and $200 to get a turntable with a good cartridge and software. If you plan to use the turntable to listen to a vinyl collection on a daily or weekly basis, we recommend spending around $300. For that price you can get features like a direct drive motor, anti-skating and a counterweight to ensure playback is consistent and the turntable doesn’t ruin your records.

Important Features to Consider When Shopping for USB Turntables

Drive Method

The two primary drive methods for turntables are direct drive and belt drive. Direct drive turntables offer more consistent playback speeds and are more durable because the motor is directly connected to the platter.

Belt drive turntables create a bit less noise in the conversion process because of the disconnect between the drive motor and platter. However as belts start to stretch and wear out, they can slip and cause inconsistent playback speeds.

We prefer direct drive turntables since you can remove the extra noise they create with audio repair tools.

Replaceable Headshell & Cartridge

All the turntables we tested have replaceable cartridges. However, they vary in size and connection type, so it can be hard to find the right one, especially if you shop online. When you purchase a turntable with a detachable headshell, you can choose a headshell that accommodates a wide range of cartridges made by multiple brands.

If you are serious about conversion and playback fidelity, upgrading a cartridge and headshell is the fastest and easiest way to get noticeably better results.

Bluetooth Connectivity

Audio transmitted over a Bluetooth connection doesn’t sound as good as audio sent over a wired connection. However, it gives you the freedom to move your speakers without worrying about a cable. As Bluetooth speakers improve in fidelity, so will the transmission of audio from an analog source like a turntable.  

Don’t Need USB?

All the turntables we tested have a USB connection for converting your vinyl collection to MP3, but if you don’t intend to use the conversion feature, you can get a similarly priced turntable with better peripheral components. 

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