8 Best USB Turntable: The future of the past

best usb turntable

We all love vinyl records for their sweet analog sound. But have you thought about how long your LPs will last? Those old-school records are fragile tokens of the time! It doesn’t take much to damage them.

Luckily, the best USB turntable is here to save the day!

These playback devices do double-duty. Not only do they play your records, but they have the power to preserve the music, too! It’s a win-win and below all, you need to know about it!

What is a USB Turntable?

A USB turntable is exactly what it sounds like: It’s a record player with a built-in USB port! At face value, they look the same as your average record player. Plus, you’re getting all the same playback capabilities.

But of course, things are much more complex underneath the hood!

USB turntables are specially designed to digitize your music. To achieve that feat, these devices are hiding a couple of unique components.

The first is a phono preamp. Preamps are nothing new in record players. They help to amplify the signal to line level so that you can route it to external speakers or your computer. It’s the crucial first step in the digitization process.

The second unique component is an analog-to-digital converter or ADC. Using pulse-code modulation, the converter takes samples and creates a digital signal. We won’t bore you with the technical details here! All you need to know is that the converter creates a digital signal you can route to your computer through the turntable’s USB port.

Why Digitize Analog Sound?

The best USB turntables can bridge the gap between analog sound and digital file-keeping.

Vinyl records have a pretty long shelf life. In the right conditions, they can last 100 years! But let’s face it: You’re not going to keep them in a temperature-controlled environment with top-notch security. You’re going to play them, right?

All it takes is one mistake to ruin your favorite record. Then, it’s lost to the ether forever!

Digitization helps to preserve those songs. It’s always great to have a backup just in case your records start to wear out.

Not only that, but digitization lets you enjoy your collection even when you don’t have access to your turntable. Despite our love for vinyl, there’s no denying the convenience of digital music!

Interestingly enough, USB turntables can pick up all those cool vinyl nuances. It’s recording the signal coming from the cartridge. So, you can capture the magic of your record player in digital form, too.

8 Best USB Turntables

Not sure where to start your search? Don’t sweat it: We have you covered! We’ve rounded up some of the best USB turntable worth trying out. They have all the features you need for solid playback and efficient digitization.

1. Best Overall:
Sony PSHX500 USB Turntable

Sony PSHX500 USB Turntable

The PS-HX500 from Sony is an audiophile’s dream! Not only is it a good standard record player. But, it’s capable of recording high-resolution sound. The built-in ADC supports native conversion at sampling rates as high as 5.6 MHz. It converts to the Direct Stream Digital format, which is revered for its clarity. You can also record in several WAV format sample rates.

The turntable is well-built and can fit right into your music setup. It’s sporting an insulated structure, which helps to dampen vibrations. Pair that with the die-cast aluminum platter and rubber mat, and you can get crystal-clear recordings that pick up on all those finer vinyl details.

Pros:

  • Downloadable software
  • Integrated Phono EQ amp
  • Sleek MDF cabinet
  • Supports high-resolution file formats
  • Adjustable anti-skate feature

Cons:

  • The preamp isn’t the greatest

Key Features:

  • Belt drive system
  • Aluminum platter
  • Two operating speeds
  • USB type B port
  • Manual

2. Best Semi-Automatic:
Denon DP-450USB Turntable

Denon DP-450USB Turntable

Need to record your LPs quickly? This unit from Denon has you covered! You can connect it to your PC and use the included software to get the job done. Or, you can use the one-touch feature. Just plug a high-capacity flash drive into the USB port. Then, select between MP3 or Wav formats. Turn the unit on and digitization occurs automatically.

It’s a quick and easy way to get backups. Even a non-tech-savvy person can do it!

Like other Denon turntables, this one is built with high-quality components all around. It’s a beautifully made unit with tons of great features to improve playback and recording. A speed sensor keeps the rotation steady while anti-skate features keep your records in good shape!

Pros:

  • Speed sensor
  • S-shaped tonearm
  • One-touch digitization
  • Removable dust cover
  • Includes MusiCut software
  • Selectable file formats

Cons:

  • Poorly designed cover

Key Features:

  • Belt drive system
  • Weighted acrylic platter
  • Three operating speeds
  • USB type-A port
  • Semi-Automatic

3. Most Popular:
Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK Turntable

Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK Turntable

Audio Technica has done it again with this USB turntable. The brand is synonymous with high-quality audio gear, and this unit doesn’t disappoint. It’s packed with all kinds of premium features.

From a playback standpoint, you have a lot of options. There’s a variable pitch controller to help you get the right speed. Not only that, but there’s also a quartz-controlled speed lock to prevent fluctuations. An anti-skate feature is thrown into the mix as well to ensure that you’re getting as clear of a recording as possible.

While it doesn’t come with any digitization software, the turntable is compatible with most recording software.

Pros:

  • Quartz speed lock
  • S-shaped tonearm
  • Switchable phono or line output
  • Popup cue light
  • Premium dual-magnet cartridge

Cons:

  • Can be confusing to set up

Key Features:

  • Direct-drive system
  • Weighted acrylic platter
  • Variable operating speeds
  • USB type B port
  • Manual

4. Best Looking:
Audio-Technica ATLP5 AT-LP5 Turntable

Audio-Technica ATLP5 AT-LP5 Turntable

Here’s a turntable that you’ll want to show off. It has a sleek and simple design. Unlike the last record player from Audio Technia, it’s relatively bare on the front. Beyond the basic controls, nothing is muddying up the look of the turntable. All of the ports are on the back, keeping the front-facing facade clean and sophisticated.

In terms of performance, the turntable is impressive. It’s equipped with a direct-drive system that offers higher torque ratings. This results in a smooth and reliable spin. On top of that, you’re getting a high-performance cartridge. It’s specifically designed for this model. While you can upgrade it, you won’t find the cartridge anywhere else!

Pros:

  • High-torque drive motor
  • Premium AT95EX cartridge
  • Simple design
  • Switchable phono and line output
  • Adjustable anti-skate dial

Cons:

  • The motor is on the louder side

Key Features:

  • Direct-drive system
  • Die-cast aluminum platter
  • Two operating speeds
  • USB type B port
  • Manual

5. Great for Beginners:
Audio-Technica AT-LP60XUSB-GM Turntable

Audio-Technica AT-LP60XUSB-GM Turntable

This beginner-friendly model is the best USB turntable for those just getting into vinyl. It doesn’t have all the fancy features as some higher-end models. But, it still has that Audio Technica quality the brand is known for.

On the body of the record player, there are only a handful of controls. Everything is labeled, making it easy for anyone to use. Thanks to the automatic lifter and start/stop buttons, there’s no need to fiddle with the tonearm at all. You can begin the digitization process cleanly without having to worry about damaging your records.

Speaking of which, this turntable makes digitization virtually foolproof. The file conversion happens outside of the main cartridge chassis. With the low-resonance platter, this design helps minimize distortion and artifacts.

Pros:

  • Super simple controls
  • Dual-magnetic cartridge
  • External file conversion
  • Low-resonance platter design
  • Easy to connect and use

Cons:

  • Missing premium playback features

Key Features:

  • Belt drive system
  • Die-cast aluminum platter
  • Two operating speeds
  • USB type B port
  • Automatic

6. Best Quality Playback:
Pro-Ject Elemental USB Turntable

Pro-Ject Elemental USB Turntable

Check out this quirky-looking turntable! Despite its unique design, this is one of the best USB turntable models on the market in terms of sound. Not only does it use an innovative cartridge with an elliptical stylus, but it’s cleverly engineered to reduce vibrations.

The secret is in weight distribution. It has artificial stone underneath the platter that creates a central gravity mass point. This feature keeps the platter spinning evenly. Plus, it absorbs any unwanted vibrations and minimizes wobble. The turntable is so well-designed that it doesn’t need any anti-skate features or counterweighting. Every detail is thought-out to produce some top-notch sound!

The small turntable has limited controls. But, it does have a USB output and gold-plated RCA outputs to add it to a larger setup.

Pros:

  • High-quality Ortofon OM5E cartridge
  • Very small footprint
  • Radical design
  • Low vibration
  • Plug and play

Cons:

  • Must adjust the belt for different speeds

Key Features:

  • Belt drive system
  • MDF platter
  • Single operating speed
  • USB type B port
  • Manual

7. Best Entry-Level:
1byone Belt-Drive Turntable

1byone Belt-Drive Turntable

This 1byone turntable perfectly marries analog technology with modern digital convenience. The USB output lets you connect to your computer for easy digitization. It doesn’t come with any software, but it can convert to MP3 or WAV formats with most recording tools.

One cool feature is wireless connectivity. It uses Bluetooth technology to connect to a wireless speaker system or headphones. You will lose some of that rich vinyl detail with wireless systems, but the convenience is worth considering. Of course, you can also connect it to speakers traditionally. Thanks to the phono and line output, you can use it with both active and passive speakers. Or, you can use it alongside a receiver.

Pros:

  • Anti-skate dial and counterweight
  • Switchable phono and line output
  • Wireless connectivity
  • Produces rich sound
  • Comes with Audio Technia cartridge

Cons:

  • Wireless playback isn’t the best quality

Key Features:

  • Belt drive system
  • Die-cast aluminum platter
  • Two operating speeds
  • USB type B port
  • Manual

8. Best for DJs:
Pioneer PLX-500-K Turntable

Pioneer PLX-500-K Turntable

If you want to record a killer DJ set, this USB turntable may be for you! The turntable has all the features you would need to take control of playback. You’re getting variable speeds, an electronic braking system, and cue lights. It’s a direct-drive system as well, so it can hold up to scratching.

The turntable features a USB port for easy connection. Not only can you connect it to your computer, but it also works with DJ mixers, controllers, and other Pioneer gear. There are many ways to add this to your setup, which is great if you want to experiment! It’s a well-made turntable that offers tons of flexibility at the booth.

Pros:

  • High-torque motor
  • Anti-skate dial
  • Height adjustment and counterweight
  • Dust cover with sleeve stand
  • Flexible setup

Cons:

  • Scratch response is on the weaker side

Key Features:

  • Direct-drive system
  • Die-cast aluminum platter
  • Variable operating speeds
  • USB type B port
  • Manual

What to Look for in the Best USB Turntable

Turntables are just as varied in design and capabilities as a CD player or digital playback device. There are so many options out there to choose from. In addition to all the standard features of an audiophile-quality turntable, here are some things to consider while choosing the right USB model.

USB Outputs

The first, and most important, thing to look for is a USB output. You need a way to connect the turntable to your computer!

The computer software you use is going to most of the grunt work during the digitization process. But, the USB port will make the data transfer possible.

Look for newer USB ports if possible. While older port designs can get the job done, newer variants will provide faster data transfers. This is always better, as higher sample rates usually create a better sound.

Go for USB 3.0 ports if you can find them. They offer transfer rates of up to 5 Gbps.

Components

Next up, you’ll want to pay attention to the various turntable components.

Look for the built-in phono preamp and ADC converter we went over earlier. But don’t forget about the playback components, too!

The more bells and whistles, the better! Choose a unit with multiple playback speeds, a high-quality cartridge, and a reliable drive system. Make sure that your device comes with the appropriate USB cable. It should also have the output options to complement your speaker and sound system setup!

Automatic vs. Manual

Finally, you should decide whether you want an automatic or manual record player. USB models come in both.

With an automatic turntable, starting and stopping your record is as easy as pressing a few buttons. The integrated system starts the spin and drops the needle.

On a manual record player, you have to do all of that yourself.

For digitization, automatic record players are always best. You don’t have to worry about dropping the needle perfectly. It minimizes the risk of creating artifacts on your digital recording.

Over to You

No matter how much you love that rich analog sound, having some digital capabilities in your turntable never hurts! The best USB turntable combines the best of both worlds. It gives you the premium playback capabilities you need to enjoy your records in the present. But, it also preserves your collection for tomorrow.

Whether you have a massive stockpile of rare vintage records or you’re just starting your vinyl journey, these record players ensure that you always have a backup!

Check out one of our recommended picks and see what you think! You won’t regret it!   

         

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Giorgio P
Giorgio P
Music has always led the path and I’ve been following doubtlessly. After many years of recording in studios as a singer of a swing/cabaret band, I decided to create my own home recording studio and built a blog about it. It involves exactly the things I love the most which are writing, creating, and learning. And that’s why I called the blog Sounds Wow. It really does!