Best USB Turntables of 2019 - Vinyl to Digital Turntable Reviews
We spent 30 hours testing the 10 best USB turntables under $300 to find out which models have the best conversion quality. We also evaluated the software included with each turntable to see which one has the best editing capabilities. Based on our testing, the Audio-Technica LP120 is the best vinyl converter turntable overall because of its accurate conversions and high-quality components. It doesn’t have a headphone output or Bluetooth connectivity, but you can wire it to a speaker system if you want to listen to your records while you convert them.
Audio Technica AT LP120 USB
This is the best turntable we tested. It accurately creates digital versions of your records and has a durable design. Plus, the direct drive motor ensures playback is consistent during conversions and casual listening.
Sony PS-LX300 USB
The Sony PS-LX300 USB costs less than $130 and created accurate conversions in our tests. There are some durability concerns, but that’s the trade-off for its low price.
The Audio-Technica LP60BT has the best connectivity options. It connects to wireless headphones or speakers with a Bluetooth or to a phono or aux input on a wired system.
|Product||Price||Overall Rating||Pricing||Recording & Playback||Turntable Design||Software||Price||Conversion Quality||Replaceable Headshell||Adjustable Counter Weight||Drive Method||Bluetooth||Platter Size||Included Software||Software Editing Tools|
|Audio-Technica LP120||View Deal||4/5||5||10||8.3||10||$299||A-||✓||✓||Direct Drive||-||Full||Audacity||A-|
|Stanton T.55 USB||View Deal||4/5||9||8.3||6.8||6.5||$159||B-||✓||✓||Belt Drive||-||Full||iZotope Audio Cleanup and Enhancement Suite||B-|
|Crosley T300A||View Deal||4/5||8||5.8||10||10||$199||B||-||✓||Belt Drive||✓||Full||Audacity||A-|
|Audio-Technica LP60BT||View Deal||4/5||8.5||5||10||10||$179||A-||-||-||Belt Drive||✓||Full||Audacity||A-|
|Numark TT250USB||View Deal||4/5||5||9||8.3||7.8||$299||B+||✓||✓||Direct Drive||-||Full||EZ Vinyl Converter||B-|
|Stanton T.92||View Deal||3.5/5||5||9||8.3||6.3||$299||B+||✓||✓||Direct Drive||-||Full||Deckadance DVS||C|
|Sony PS-LX300 USB||View Deal||3.5/5||10||4.8||6.8||9.3||$129||B||-||-||Belt Drive||-||Full||Sound Forge Audio Studio 9 LE||B+|
|Ion Air LP||View Deal||3.5/5||10||2.8||9.3||7.8||$129||C-||-||-||Belt Drive||✓||Half||EZ Vinyl Converter||B-|
|TEAC TN100||View Deal||3/5||9.8||3.5||6.8||5.3||$135||C+||-||-||Belt Drive||-||Full||Not Available||Not Available|
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 $300 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 noise, 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 removeable headshell (which holds the cartridge) that are easy to find replacements for when the time comes.
The Sony PS-LX300 USB is inexpensive and easy to operate, and it produced some of the best conversions in our test. It’s missing some of the best design and playback features, including an adjustable counter weight, Bluetooth connectivity and a replaceable headshell. However, the fully automatic tone arm is easy to operate and helps protect the stylus and records against damage caused by manually dropping and dragging the needle.
This turntable comes with one of our favorite converter programs: Sony Sound Forge. It isn’t the easiest software to learn, but it has a great toolset for cleaning up noisy recordings and normalizing volume. There is a dedicated vinyl converter and restoration template that walks you through the conversion process and automatically applies a noise removal tool. Editing the tracks and applying volume and equalization tools is a bit tougher than in other programs we tested. However, once you get the hang of it, this software is a valuable tool that makes vinyl-to-MP3 conversions sound great. Unfortunately, it can only be installed via CD – something to keep in mind if your computer doesn’t have a disc drive.
The Sony PS-LX300 USB has a preamp, so you can plug it into any amplified speaker with either an RCA or 1/8-inch aux input. The belt comes detached from the drive motor, which adds to its life by keeping it tight until you start using the turntable. During unboxing, you have to attach the platter and belt to the drive motor.
The Audio-Technica LP60BT is one of the most user-friendly USB turntables we tested. Its fully automatic tone arm drops the needle at the beginning of the record and returns to its resting place when it reaches the end of each side.
This 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.
Bluetooth connectivity is a new feature showing up on vinyl converter turntables. The Audio-Technica LP60BT can store up to eight Bluetooth-capable devices in its memory, so after you connect your wireless headphones or speakers the first time, they automatically pair with the turntable in the future. Bluetooth connectivity, along with the LP60BT’s fully automatic tone arm, gives you the advantage of starting a record in one room and listening to it in another without running cables.
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.
This Numark turntable has a direct-drive motor, aluminum platter and a replaceable headshell, all important features of a durable and long-lasting turntable.
The counterweight and S-shaped tone arm are made of metal instead of plastic. Nothing about this turntable feels flimsy or plastic. Replacement cartridges are readily available online for around $20 and the one that comes mounted in the retail packaging is one of the best-sounding cartridges we tested. The dark grey design is sleek and modern and has adjustable feet to make sure the platter is level.
Numark USB turntables come bundled with EZ Vinyl Converter software, which is our favorite bundled conversion software. It walks you step-by-step through the conversion process and has an easy-to-use and intuitive interface. The TT250USB has all the playback and conversion features we recommend bundled in a sturdy design.
The Ion Air LP is a compact USB turntable with a great selection of input and output options.
This is one of the first turntables on the market with a Bluetooth output for playing your record collection wirelessly to any Bluetooth-enabled speaker. You can also plug an older generation music player into the aux input and send that signal to a Bluetooth speaker. Bluetooth transmission doesn’t sound as good as a wired connection, but it’s more convenient and allows to you listen to records in an adjacent room.
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
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
More on Audio Components
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.
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. Here are some of our favorite sub-$300 turntables without a USB output:
Fluance RT81 - $249
This turntable has a great list of quality components and is an attractive addition to any vinyl enthusiast’s entertainment room. It comes with an Audio-Technica diamond elliptical tipped stylus attached to a replaceable headshell. The aluminum platter sits atop a high-gloss walnut cabinet with adjustable feet. The RT81 has a built-in phono preamp that allows you to plug it into speakers or a home stereo with an RCA input, and in case you plan to upgrade to an audiophile-caliber preamp, the built-in one is switchable.
Audio-Technica AT-LP3 - $249
Our colleagues at What Hi-Fi think this is, “One of the best automatic turntables we’ve ever heard.” It's fully automatic, so you can just place a record on the platter and press the start button, and the AT-LP3 seamlessly and safely places the needle at the beginning of the record. Once the tonearm reaches the end of the side, it automatically returns to its resting place and stops the platter. This turntable has a switchable phono preamp and comes loaded with an Audio-Technica dual moving magnet cartridge and replaceable stylus.
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