The Best USB Turntables (and how to use them)

The record player has been around for more than 150 years! And, while its features have changed a lot the basics of the device have remained the same: it plays records! And to us and a lot of other vinyl enthusiasts, the process of picking a record, placing it carefully on the turntable, putting the needle on the record and eventually hearing that amazing sound, is the best part!

This is also for a large part the reason Vinyl is making a comeback. Millennials and other generations are cravings to have something physical again in their book closet when it comes to music. And while music streaming is super convenient a physical record gives that feeling of ownership and can be a great addition to any interior. Because let’s be honest, I would rather have a real painting on my wall than a digital wallpaper on my computer. Read more about this in our article on the future of vinyl records.

Digitizing Your Records: Does it Make Sense?

However, there is a way in which vinyl and digital come together, and that is by digitizing your records. There are numerous reasons to create a digital copy of a record. For example, you might want to have a backup for eternity, as maybe your records are damaged or starting to wear out. Or for example, you might want to enjoy that true vinyl sound on other devices and moments. For example, playing your favorite album on your smartphone during your commute. Now in order to this, you need a good USB Turntable. And luckily, we have researched a lot of models to find our favorites.

At the bottom of this article, we have added some information on how to use these USB turntables, what software to use and tips when buying a USB turntable. But 

Why You Should Trust Us

Having reviewed dozens of Turntables and other audio gear, from what started as a fun hobby now has become much more than that. We try to be as objective as possible and think of every possible user when writing reviews. Ranging from beginners with a small budget to the Hifi expert that seeks new gear. We hope to guide you through the wonderful world of audio hardware and let you have the best music experience there is!

We think these are the best USB turntables

In this article, we have researched and filtered out the best turntables with a USB function. We have looked at their materials, functionalities and ease of use. Of course, we also reviewed the USB feature in particular. But since these can be. quite similar it is important to also take the overall performance of the record players into account.

Besides our own experiences, we have looked at the track record of these devices. Popular turntables with a proven track record from actual users can tell you more than any product description from the brand itself. We have not looked at all the USB turntables but selected the list below based on brand reputation, user reviews, date of release and of course our own experience.

Making this list we have researched and reviewed the following models:

  • Audio Technica AT-LP120USBC 
  • Audio Technica AT-LP60-USB
  • Teac TN-300 HiFi 
  • Pro-Ject Debut III 
  • Sony PS-HX500
  • Dual DTJ 301.1
  • Reloop RP-4000 MK2 DJ 
  • Pioneer PLX 500 
  • Lenco L-3808 
  • Lenco L85

The list of turntables could be much bigger because even low budget turntables now come with this feature, however, these turntables often feature low-quality components. For example, their needle wears out quickly which could damage your record collection in the long run.

Out of all these devices, we think the Sony PS-HX500 is the best option for almost all users. It is overall a premium turntable that features high-quality components. It also features the highest-quality of audio digitalization we have tested. A great runner-up is the Audio Technica AT-LP120USBC. If you are looking for the best design the Project Debut III might be a good option. Lastly, if you are on a really tight budget the Lenco L85 is the only decent option for you.

So to break it down if you are in a hurry:

  • Sony PS-HX500: The best overall USB turntable
  • Audio Technica AT-LP120USBC: Runner up best USB turntable
  • Pro-ject Debut III: The best looking USB turntable
  • Lenco L85: The best budget USB turntable

 

Looking for something else?

If you are looking for a turntable with a specific feature or within a certain budget you can take look at one of guides below.

Sony PS-HX500

The best overall USB turntable.

We think the Sony PS-HX500 is the best record player to digitize your records. It can turn your vinyl into the high-resolution digital audio. Besides that, the turntable is an allrounder with a lot of features and made from quality materials.

The design of the turntable is rather minimalistic. It only comes in all black with a straight-lined plinth featuring a speed switch, platter and a one-piece tonearm. The platter is sitting quite close to the plinth giving it a modern low-profile look. A nice rubber matt finishes it off that helps against any resonance.

By far, the stand out feature of this turntable is digitizing vinyl. You can simply use the USB output to connect it to your computer. The turntable comes with recording software from Sony which lets you easily record, stop and split individual records. This is rather straightforward but you also have the option to use other recording software such Audacity which we discuss in this article at the end.

You are able to use the analog and digital output at the same time meaning you can listen to your records while you are converting them. For audiophiles, it can record up to DSD 5.6 which basically translates into really high-quality sound. This standard of audio digitalization can hardly be found in turntables, let alone for a reasonable price.

The sound can be best described as transparent and rich. It is balanced with a slight preference to the light side. The sound is really dynamic meaning it won’t struggle with a lot of different genres. For example, it will still perform great at playing heavy music such as house that features a lot of sound layers.

Setting the device up is rather easy as it comes mostly pre-installed, unlike most advanced turntables which give you a headache when setting them up. It has a stylus and moving-magnet cartridge that is already aligned to be used right away. It is also a plastic dust cover that can be flipped down to keep the dust away.

Advantages:

  • The highest quality of audio digitalization. Such DSD 5.6 raw WAV files.
  • Great transparent sound quality that performs well with all genres. 
  • Minimalistic design and premium materials.

Disadvantages:

  • Only comes in black.

Audio Technica AT-LP120USBC

Great runner-up USB Turntable.

The LP120USBC is our top pick because it is made from high-quality materials and offers a great range of features. For example, a USB connection, anti-skating, and a built-in preamp.

Its affordable price also makes this a perfect entry-level turntable. The design is simple but gives off an industrial feel with lots of buttons. The turntable is mostly made from aluminum giving it a solid premium feel, making it an exception for this price point.

The record player features a silent direct-drive motor and a built-in preamp. Together with the pitch adjustment and ability to play records backward making it also a suitable turntable for DJ’ing. It plays 33, 45, and even 78 RPM records. The package also comes with a slip mat, dust cover and easily adjustable arm height and weight.

As for the feature, this article is all about. A USB port makes it a seamless experience to connect the turntable to your computers USB port. You can use any recording software you would like but there are free ones available such as Audacity. The turntable features a physical record button. Recording this way is as easy as recording from a microphone would be. Only now your records will be digitalized will be high-quality audio files, hardly distinguishable from the real deal.

The Audio Technica AT-LP120USBC in our opinion has the best price-performance ratio therefore until now this record player is unbeatable! The overall package is rounded off by the great sound quality and solid construction making the device a challenger for the higher end turntables.

Advantages:

  • Great specs for a very reasonable price.
  • Built-in preamp with a bypass.
  • USB port makes it easy to digitize your vinyl.
  • Clear and transparent sound.

Disadvantages:

  • Hardwired RCA output cables meaning they are hard to replace.

Pro-Ject Debut III

The best looking USB turntable.

Another of our favorite models is the Pro-Ject Debut III. The first thing that makes this turntable unique is its extraordinary design. But don’t assume this turntable only looks good as it also made from quality materials.

The Debut has range has great reputation and this model is no exception. The design is minimalistic and modern, making it suitable for most interiors. With a lot of buttons hidden away nothing compromises its design. If you want one of the best looking turntables but also don’t want to break the bank this is your best option.

In terms of features, this turntable comes with a good quality preinstalled needle and tonearm. It has a very silent belt-drive motor that can play 33, 45 and 78 rpm records. It also comes with a built-in preamp making it suitable to directly plug it into an amplifier.

For its price, the turntable offers great sound quality. The high-quality needle and materials used offer a detailed and warm sound that will also be hearable on your digitized recordings. It is amazing in terms of clarity but on some records, it misses some higher treble frequencies. 

As for the USB connection, it comes with the option to convert your records to mp3 files via a USB port on your computer. Because of the good quality of the materials used this one of the better turntables to digitize your records. 
 
Overall the Pro-Ject Debut III is a great midrange offering high materials and decent sound that blow away all cheaper alternatives. While it is not perfect on every front the option to digitize your vinyl collection and its amazing design make this a standout turntable.

Advantages:

  • Solid build quality and materials used.
  • Perfect for beginners with easy set up an onboard preamp.

Disadvantages:

  • It is a bit older.

Lenco L85

The best budget pick USB turntable

The Lenco L85 is a great option if you would like to digitize your records but don’t want to break your bank. In fact, it is one of the best budget turntables around that is easy to handle making it the perfect beginner record player.

In terms of design, the record player can be best described as modern and minimalistic. The material of the casing is mostly plastic, and while we prefer more premium materials it actually does not seem the affect the use as it feels like a solid device without wobbly bits or buttons. It comes in various colors that can complement any room.

Now, this might not seem relevant to you but the device is belt-driven, semi-automatic and has a built-in preamp. But all these features are an indication this turntable is very easy in its use. With the package also come RCA cables so you can directly connect it to your amplifier or active speakers. Semi-automatic means you will have to move the tonearm but raising or lowering the tonearm is done with the simple press of a button.

Of course, the most important feature is that the L-85 can digitize records to MP3 simply by putting a USB stick into the front of the record player. Now, this is completely different from the previous mentioned models and is much more plug and play. It has a Record button that turns on the recording, creating MP3 files on the USB memory, unfortunately it does not create raw audio files. It also features a split button that you can use to create separate audio files for each individual track for example.

Overall the L-85 is a really good budget option that has a lot of features and slick design. While it is not made from the highest materials it offers good sound quality and ease of use. Especially the option to record directly to a USB stick is great option.

Advantages:

  • Ability to digitize your records via a USB stick.
  • Great for beginners because of the built-in preamp and semi-automatic features.
  • Low price.

Disadvantages:

  • Mostly a plastic build. 

Tips for buying a USB turntable

Now to be honest, an USB connection is often considered an indication that you are dealing with a low-quality record player by audio experts. And while this was and still sometimes is the case, as a low-end brand try to offer as many features as possible to attract a wider customer base, it is no longer a good indication for its overall quality.

But what you should do is be picky about the materials the turntable is made of. Also looking at its track record is a great indicator of the quality. Try reading elaborate reviews on our website or others. A tip is to read the summary at the end to cut down research time. And lastly, read user reviews to make sure the product is high-quality that will also still lasts over time. If want to know more you can read our general guideline on what to keep in mind when buying a record player.

The right software to digitize records

In the case you want to digitize your records there are two options common within turntables. Some record players have a USB port which gives the option to plug in your own USB stick. A physical button turns on the option to digitize your records. This can be plug and play in the sense that an audio file is generated for each individual track on the USB stick.

A more common feature is a port that lets you connect your turntable to a PC via a USB cable. Of course, you will need recording software to utilize this feature. But don’t worry about the cost as one of the best options for this is completely free. Audacity is an audio program that has all the basics needs and is widely used by audio professionals.

By the way, one thing to keep in mind before converting your records to digital audio files is cleaning your records and needle to prevent stuttering and crackling. Follow our simple cleaning guide and you should be good to go!

Now if you want to know more about how to digitize your records the following video explains the process rather well:

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