The Sony PS-HX500 USB turntable is a very minimal looking option which, despite those less-than-iconic design, actually stands out from the competition. This not only offers a decent quality build and soundstage for the money but also converts to Hi-Res digital audio.
Yup, this will let you enjoy the quality of analogue audio at home but also lets you take out the digital version on your device without the need to pay again to access that.
The design is easy to use from hardware to software and the price is very reasonable for what you get. That's why we think this is one of the best USB turntables on the market.
Sony PS-HX500 review: Design and build
As you can see the Sony PS-HX500 is a very minimally designed turntable, finished in a stealthy black. The MDF plinth has a vinyl coating in that matte black which continues all the way to the tonearm itself. The two speed control dial is to the left and that features both standby and on modes, the later to get the soundstage warmed without firing up the motor – a serious enthusiast feature.
The tonearm has a convenient chunky lift finger and the base features anti-shake to help that built-in arm do its magic. The cartridge itself appears to be an entry level model meaning it's cheap and easy to replace but also that there is room to upgrade this system if you want.
On the back you've got connections which include a power socket, RCA phono connectors, a ground terminal and a USB port. There's also a line/phono output switch so you can use the built-in phono stage for direct speaker plug in, or go via a pre-amp if you want the best quality.
Sony PS-HX500 review: Features
The big feature here is that the Sony PS-HX500 turntable can rip vinyl to digital in high quality audio, as the Hi-Res logo on the front will attest. This means you can convert from analogue to both WAV and, more importantly DSD 5.6 – for the best quality result. These work on all Sony Hi-Res portable music players, as you'd expect.
The built in phono EQ is a great touch which means this can easily work as a stand alone system that simply needs to be plugged into any speakers or, indeed headphones, for instant listening right from the device. It also means easy listen-along functionality while recording using the USB port.
There are two playback speeds of 33 1/3 RPM and 45 RPM and this player comes with a 45 RPM record adapter in the box as standard.
Sony PS-HX500 review: Performance
The Sony PS-HX500 runs a durable direct drive belt system which results in a distinct lack of vibrations. This is combined with a chunky 5mm rubber plate to create a smooth read for that tonearm. The result is a natural sound that carries sound production to your ears in a very pleasing way, with undisturbed sound quality.
While the built-in sound stage does lack some of the depth that higher end systems might offer, this one allows you to run out through a preamp anyway, so quality is always upgradeable. We also think this was down to that basic cartridge which can also be upgraded.
When it comes to recording, this isn't an issue as the software does the legwork. Thankfully that software is very easy to use and once you've got the hang of the Sony layout you'll be ripping vinyl without giving it much thought, yet still get that Hi-Res result.
Should you buy the Sony PS-HX500?
If you want a good looking, decent sounding record player that will also let you record in Hi-Res audio then the Sony PS-HX500 is for you. If you also think you'd benefit from the built-in soundstage then this certainly does offer you a lot for your money.
The poor cartridge can be upgraded and with the option to run this through a preamp it's easy to get even higher quality audio if you want. A simple bit of software makes this easy to rip vinyl making this a very, very compelling USB turntable.