You are here

Log in or register to post comments
gfgoalie28
gfgoalie28's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Nov 4 2007 - 4:00am
Looking for my first system (USB turntables)

Hi, I'm both new to the forum and vinyl, and I'm looking to get my first turntable system. I'm trying to stay under $300-400, and I realize that it won't buy me the nicest system, but I just want something small for personal use in my dorm room. I'm really interested in these USB turntables (I have a number of LPs I would like to turn digital), but my concern is none of them have headphone jacks listed under features. Is it safe to assume they have one? Here are the models I'm looking at:
Numark TTUSB- http://www.amazon.com/Numark-TTUSB-Turnt...8662&sr=1-1
Ion ITTUSB- http://www.amazon.com/Ion-iTTUSB-Turntab...8662&sr=1-2
Gem Sound GT USB- http://www.amazon.com/Gem-Sound-GT-USB-B...8770&sr=1-6

Now, since these all have integrated pre-amps, would any pair of powered monitors work with it? I'm very tight on space in a dorm room, so I'm trying to have as few components as possible. These are the speakers I was looking at:
Edirol MA-7A Powered Monitors- http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/Edirol-MA7A-Stereo-Micro-Monitors?sku=603677

I don't really know much about this stuff, so I'm open to any suggestions as long as they fall in my budget, not too big, and I can easily convert LPs to mp3s. Thanks for your help.

andy19191
andy19191's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Nov 25 2006 - 1:50am
Re: Looking for my first system (USB turntables)

> but my concern is none of them have headphone
> jacks listed under features. Is it safe to assume
> they have one?

Probably not and if they did they are likely to have the same performance problems as headphone sockets on PCs. As a rule of thumb you want to be plugging into a headphone socket of a device with a power supply sufficient to drive speakers and not a line level only device.

The most important part of a turntable for sound quality is the cartridge. Avoid DJ style cartridges which tend to be big and robust with a tendency to plough through the grooves rather than following them. I know the Ion gives you the option to avoid a DJ cartridge but not sure about the others.

A preamplifier with RIAA equalisation costs about $20 (e.g. Behringer PP400) and are physically small. Audiophile brands cost a fair bit more. This would enable you to select a "normal" turntable rather than a USB one which may be the wisest choice. However, I have no knowledge of how good or bad your USB turntables are as turntables.

> Now, since these all have integrated pre-amps, would any pair of powered
> monitors work with it?

Powered monitors are generally good for both space and performance reasons (less bits required) but can be easier with a preamplifier if/when you have mulitiple sources.

> I'm very tight on space in a dorm room, so I'm trying to have as few
> components as possible. These are the speakers I was looking at:
> Edirol MA-7A Powered Monitors

I think I can see what you after: powered speaker with some amplifier functionality. The problem with this Edirol speaker is that it has only one drive unit which will severely compromise the sound. It also has a "bass enhancer" which is also a bad sign.

For the same price you can buy a Behringer MS20 which has the same controls and a headphone socket, a tweeter and woofer and no bass enhancer apart from bass and treble controls. It also has a digital as well as analogue inputs which may or may not be relevant. For $30 more there is a bigger one which will play a bit cleaner and louder. The Edirol equivalent is about $180. I wouldn't be surprised if all the models are made in the same Chinese factory.

> I don't really know much about this stuff, so I'm open to any
> suggestions as long as they fall in my budget, not too big, and I can
> easily convert LPs to mp3s.

I am curious why you are interested in a turntable if you are simply going to convert the records to MP3s?

bobedaone
bobedaone's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 months 1 week ago
Joined: Feb 1 2007 - 12:27am
Re: Looking for my first system (USB turntables)

Hi and welcome to the forum!

I agree with Andy that buying a turntable to convert LPs to MP3s might be a disservice to yourself. We'll run with that criterion, though.

Why not ditch those toys and get yourself a real rig for right around your budget?

Pro-Ject makes a little gadget called the Phono Box II USB ($175 retail, but can be had for ~$150), which is essentially their standard phono preamplifier with a digital converter and USB output. Something like that would allow you to buy a decent turntable that you might actually use in the future when you have more space and maybe start thinking of building your first hi-fi. Pro-Ject's own Debut III ($300 - Music Direct has a demo right now for $265) comes to mind. For somewhere in the neighborhood of $400, you could have a much more substantial setup, and one that would still allow you to play records through your computer and rip to MP3.

I don't know much about powered monitors, but a headphone jack on one of the speakers should fill that need.

I know the gear I mentioned will break your budget, especially when speakers are factored in, but I recommend waiting until you can afford quality stuff. Even if you don't use the turntable for playback at all, your digital files will turn out better with a better turntable/tonearm/cartridge.

Good luck and I feel your pain - I was in the dorms my last two years and just moved into my first apartment. The hi-fi came with me this time.

andy19191
andy19191's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Nov 25 2006 - 1:50am
Re: Looking for my first system (USB turntables)

> I agree with Andy that buying a turntable to convert LPs to MP3s might be
> a disservice to yourself.

I have no problem with the OP wishing to buy a turntable. I was just curious about why he wanted to buy one given his limited room, budget and the apparent primary use being to convert LPs to MP3s. Why not avoid the turntable and simply obtain MP3s directly?

> I know the gear I mentioned will break your budget, especially when
> speakers are factored in, but I recommend waiting until you can afford
> quality stuff.

I also disagree with this advice. The OP wants to listen to music given his constraints and has a modest but adequate budget with which to achieve it.

bobedaone
bobedaone's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 months 1 week ago
Joined: Feb 1 2007 - 12:27am
Re: Looking for my first system (USB turntables)

I seem to have misinterpreted your original intent with the MP3 comment. My apologies.

Honestly, though, I die a little whenever I hear that someone wants a turntable just to make mp3s out of his vinyl. Or, maybe it was a miscommunication on my part and our friend just wants to back up his collection.

OTOH, I've lived in the dorms and I fully understand being on a budget and having extremely limited space, both for gear and for music. Before my freshman year, I ripped all my CDs to my computer so I wouldn't have to worry about where to keep them all. I also made due with a small pair of JBL Duets (actually really outstanding for the $35 I paid for them). Last year, I bought a Griffin RadioShark USB tuner so I could listen to over-the-air radio. For my purposes and my limitations, it was decent; At least I had music.

Also, I know that the subjective chasm between $150 and $400 is very real. Been there, done that. I just feel that a good turntable is a better buy in the long run. If he decides he really likes listening to records, but has spent his stash on a USB turntable, he's out of luck. But, if he invests in quality now, he'll have it to enjoy later.

I see my suggestion as "USB turntable with a nod to hi-fi". I know it's not exactly what he was talking about, but I can't in good conscience recommend one of those decks. First of all, I have no experience with them. Secondly, they're not going to be any good, whether for playing or recording. I'm not suggesting that he save for a P3, just that the setup be at least competent.

The only advice I can give regarding the tables mentioned is to shop features, ease of use, and price. You know, like a consumer. I remember when I used to be rational.

Anyway, I'm glad you have the OP's best interests at heart. It's admirable that you clarified what you meant and called me out on my advice. I stand by my original recommendation, though. A Debut III would take up no more space than a USB table, and the USB phono preamp would give it the same functionality, but more future flexibility. If he has a little more room and money down the road, he could put the Pro-Ject duo with an NAD amplifier and a small pair of bookshelf speakers from eBay and have a really entertaining system.

Okay, so I deviated from the original query. It's my responsibility to recommend what I feel is the best solution. Having lived with an all-computer setup, I can say that there will come a time when that just isn't cutting it. That's when a $100 turntable stops looking like a smart buy.

*sigh* Let's all just enjoy the music.

Regards,

bobedaone
bobedaone's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 months 1 week ago
Joined: Feb 1 2007 - 12:27am
Re: Looking for my first system (USB turntables)

Well, Pro-Ject seems to be further ahead of the game than I thought; They actually make the Debut III USB, which is essentially a Debut III with a Phono Box II USB built right into the table. So, they have something that is "plug and play" simple, and takes up very little space. It sounds like a winner to me. Unfortunately, the price is still high in comparison to the other 'tables.

http://sumikoaudio.net/project/products/debut_usb.htm

gfgoaile, I hope I didn't drive you off with any perceived snobbery. I honestly almost bought a USB turntable last year, not because I thought it was awesome, but because it was cheap and would do what I wanted it to do.

I'm always thinking about what my gear will accomplish now, as well as what I might expect it to do in the future. I guess I see an opportunity here to convince you to invest in whatever hypothetical future system you might throw together when you get an apartment, graduate, etc. Playback quality differences between these two classes of turntable are huge. Also, recordings that you make will be better with better equipment.

Speaking of recording, you should import vinyl rips in lossless quality, or at least high bitrate (at least 192 khz) mp3. Vinyl is true high-resolution music, and you'll be rewarded for sacrificing a little hard drive space.

Let us know how things go! If you come back and say you bought an Ion, there won't be any judging. I've been there.

Good luck and happy listening,

brsanko
brsanko's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Nov 19 2007 - 1:31am
Re: Looking for my first system (USB turntables)

My recomendation at this price range, and I may be alone in this, would be to go to your local Goodwill, Savers, Salvation Army, ect, thrift stores. Get a nice 2 channel receiver from the '70s, and a similar vintage turntable, if this cost you more than $50 your not looking hard enough. Then you have plenty of cash left over to get a good quality phono cartridge and some nice bookshelf speakers. As far as connecting the computer some simple rca to mini headphone cables plugged right into the sound card work great.

  • X
    Enter your Stereophile.com username.
    Enter the password that accompanies your username.
    Loading