USB LP Players

I currently use a regular LP player with a headphones jack to digitize my Southern Gospel records, but I’m considering purchasing a USB LP player.

Does anyone here use one? Any tips? Even better, has anyone used both a USB and a traditional record player to digitize records, and what differences did you find?

Also, is it possible to set up a USB player so that the music is heard live as it is being digitized, either over the computer’s speakers or over the USB player’s system?

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  1. Yep. The USB turntable performs like an external sound card, so you can monitor the transfer through your PC speakers by selecting the device as the input. I don’t know that there is any advantage to going straight to digital unless your main sound card is of low resolution. Perhaps the one notable difference is that you are circumventing any need to pass through an external amp, thereby eliminating a marginal loss in quality.

    I always rip to a single wav file and split it into individual tracks (and mp3s, if I choose) while retaining the original wav file (prior to applying noise reduction) as a safety precaution.

    I have used both methods to digitize my music and have always garnered acceptable results with a traditional turntable.

  2. Thanks!

    Actually, my main sound card on this computer is getting some feedback—that’s been the initial spark for looking into USB players.

  3. Is this a sound card that is on-board? That is, is it made into the motherboard? Those are generally noisy. If you plan to rip cassettes as well, or intend to listen back through external speakers afterward, a one-time investment in a quality sound card might even be more economical than the USB turntable. Incidentally, I own an M-Audio card and am very pleased.

  4. Daniel, I have one of the USB turntables, and it has done wonders for me! I got one for Christmas and have done about ten records maybe fewer because I’ve been busy. Mine is *ION. The type I have is sold at RadioShack or similar places. It comes with Audacity which does wonders when editing albums and eventually individual songs. It’s definitely worth the buy!

  5. I also have an ION turntable going into my USB port. It is a great invention. I have recorded about 30 albums and am very well pleased with the results. I also use a program call “Spin It Again” which removes scratches from the albums All in all I recommend that you get one. You’ll be happy that you did.

  6. Yes, I also use Spin it Again, and I’m very happy with it. 🙂

  7. I actually have my computer, turntable, tape deck, and CD changer all connected to my stereo system. They do have CD recorders where you listen tot he whole album and change the tracks manually, or it can automatically change tracks after a 3-second silence.

  8. Bob (#3) – I don’t know. Good question. I don’t think it is, since it has ports on both the front and back of the computer. But I could be wrong.

  9. For those of you who have tried both: Are USB players, with modern technology, any better at avoiding scratches / skipping than a 25-year-old or older player?

  10. They actually have record players that are digital. It’s all one unit. It has a CD player, cassette player, AM/FM, and a turntable. It actually looks like a vintage radio. My grandpa has one. There’s actually one that’s just a flat turntable with a CD deck on the bottom level.

  11. (I’ve only been on the internet once since Monday … I actually took a spring break this year.)

    My folks got me this record player for Christmas: Sorry, I don’t know how to embed the link. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a lot of time to mess with it, but I really liked it as far as I got. One of the albums I did was in mint condition. The second one was an old Statesmen album from Jake Hess’s days with them. I don’t think it was in too bad a shape, but I didn’t have any trouble with it skipping. (Of course, I don’t have anything to compare it too.) We also played another one on it which was pretty old and had some scratches without any problem.

    The volume was way too low on it, but I probably just need to adjust the gain. BTW you are supposed to be able to run a cassette player through it; it has stereo input; so it would maybe solve the sound card problem? Also, I don’t think my folks paid as much as it costs at that link.

    How about this: [EDIT, 11/8/10: The link is broken and has been removed.]

  12. In response to your last comment, I would say that I’ve done both methods and prefer the USB turntables more than the other. It comes with a special mat that keeps the records from sliding or slipping. The crackling and such from old records may be edited out with software like Audacity; but I haven’t tried to edit the crackling sound out of them.

  13. OK, cool! Thanks, Andrew (and everyone else!)

  14. I do know that you can buy new needles at Best Buy… this has saved me from hearing too many scratches!

  15. The Ion is a good USB record player. I’ve only been using it for about a week, but I really like it thus far.
    A couple of years ago I tried to manually transfer my copy of the Kingsmen’s Chattanooga Live from LP to an analog CD burner. The Signal-to-Noise Ratio was horrible. Tracking the LP onto the CD was cumbersome and very inconveinent.
    So once I instaled the software for the Ion onto my computer and got it up and running, this was the first LP I transferred. It sounds fantastic, like a brand new LP or CD. The software is extremley simple to use after you do it once or twice.
    I’ve not yet used the Audacity software yet, as I don’t quite understand it yet, but look forward to working with it when I can get the hang of it.
    The ION requires Itunes to be installed on your computer since that is the format that it saves the LP’s data to. If one doesn’t have that installed in their computer, it’s also included on the software disc that comes with the ION software and Audacity.
    Overall, I’d say that it’s very much worth purchasing.