By Monte FergusonWhen my old turntable died during a move I was deeply saddened. Not so
much at the loss of the record player but what that meant. It meant that
there was a part of my music library that I was cut off from. It force
me to face the fact of format obsolescence. Without a record player all
of those albums I had acquired were now worthless.
I looked into replacements and was amazed to find that there were models
out there to be had. The prices however were another matter. Then I
happened to hear about an unusual item. It was a turntable that also had
a USB connection, as well as RCA jacks. With this turntable, and some
recording software, I could not only play my albums but I could convert
There are several USB turntables out there. The prices start at &36;100 for
an entry level model. If you choose, you can spend several hundred
dollars more for a higher end model. I chose to go with an entry level
Upon opening the box I found out that the turntable does not come fully
preassembled. I had to stifle my enthusiasm long enough to put the unit
together. The setup instructions were usable but there was no hand
holding. The items that were the most tedious to assemble were the drive
belt, which felt pretty flimsy, and the stylus. Once I had gotten past
those items the unit was fully assembled.
It is pretty much an all plastic affair. It tends to give the unit a
cheap feeling. But it is a solid, if light, unit. Since this is an entry
level unit it is missing some nicer features. It lacks the ability to
stack up more than one album at a time. It also lacks an automatic tone
arm. I was disappointed to see that it did not come with a cover to keep
dust off. Those are not fatal flaws, but if those features are important
to you look at the turntables that cost a bit more.
Putting It Through Its Paces
Using the Ion USB Turntable was a breeze. The only thing you have to do
is make sure that it is selected as the audio input source on your Mac.
(Assuming you are hooking it up using the direct USB cable.) The unit
has performed flawlessly. I have been impressed that it has not been
robust when dealing with vibration. So far I havenít had it skip once.
One of the main benefits of this turntable is the affordable price. I
also liked that it comes with RCA cables, for hooking up directly to a
stereo system, as well as a USB cable, to hook up directly to a
computer. There were a couple of welcome surprises with the hardware.
One of them is that you donít need a preamp if you hook up directly to a
stereo system that lacks one. The other is that you can hook up a tape
deck through the line input jack. That means this unit does double duty.
It also has been a very stable platform during recording. I have yet to
have the needle skip during use.
Do not expect much in the way of a setup instructions, or a user manual
for that manner. I would rate the included instructions as poor to fair.
I found out, via web site, that the line level settings are accessed via
knob under the unit. The included software is either quite basic to a
titch overwhelming, Audacity. This is an all manual unit. You have to be
there to lift the needle and drop it down. Heck, there is not even a
dust cover. Iím not a big fan of belt driven units and this is no
exception. The belt feels flimsy.
If you are like me and looking for a turntable to be used for a specific
project, and then not likely used again, take a look at the Ion USB
Turntable. It is a solid performer, if lacking in any automated
features. The included software can be pretty easily bypassed. You can
choose better, or at least comparable stuff, out there on the Internet.
If you can accept its limitations, the Ion USB Turntable will work quite
well for you.
Posted: Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011