USB Turntable and Old LP's

I have an interest in compilation LP’s of film and TV themes from the 70’s. I like many of the arrangements from the likes of Geoff Love and Jack Parnell and nothing comparable exists today. (thank God you may well say…!)

Anyway, most of these LP’s are extremely unlikely to see the light of day on CD or as downloads. The LP’s are still available (used of course) from the usual places at cheap prices.

My plan is to buy a cheap USB turntable and convert them to digital files for my Melco. I don’t want to spend more than around £300 on a turntable since we are talking about digitising less than 10 LP’s - initially at least.

There is a Sony USB turnatble that can be had for £300 and it has an excellent review from What Hi-Fi. What I would like to know is if in going down this route am I likely to get reasonably listenable results or will I just be wasting my time and money? Obviously I’m not expecting Rega or Linn or Naim Solstice levels of performance (!) but just something that is good enough to enjoy without sounding truly awful. Just a bit if fun and nostalgia - a bit of an indulgence.

What do people think? Has anyone got any experience here? Will it all just be a complete white elephant?

The other issue is that many of these old LP’s will no doubt require cleaning. A machine is out of the question so are there any manual LP cleaning kits that are any good? Thanks.

The Sony looks to be a reasonable choice but for only a tad more you could get something like a Rega Planar 1 Plus, which combines a Planar 1 with a phono stage and then use the A-D convertor in your computer sound card. You’ll probably want to use Audacity, which you can download for free and is relatively easy to use and it makes editing and chopping into individual tracks easy. What computer(s) do you use?

You’ll definitely need to clean the LPs so something like a Knosti Disco Antistat is about as cheap as you can go and still get reasonable results.

p.s. Also consider the Audio Technica AT LP5 which costs the same as the Sony and may be the better bet.


At the price you don’t really have many other options:

I use a Rega Fono Mini phono amp, which has a USB ADC output, into a laptop running Audacity to do what you want to, with a Rega T/T. That would somewhat blow your budget: the phono amp is around £100, leaving £200 for a turntable - and I’m not sure you can get a Rega or Project at that price, making the Sony look a good buy, from the review comments.

Quality of results is surprising, much better than I expected, so I think you’ll be pleased if the Sony matches up to What HiFi’s comments. I don’t know what Software Sony provide, but if you can’t get on with it, give Audacity a go - it’s easy enough to get your head around (just keep your eyes on the recording levels) and is free. It will let you split the recording into individual tracks. Another hint - keep a notebook with you as you do the conversion - write down, from the laptop/software clock, what time each track starts, and ends, at to make splitting into individual tracks easier.

It’s infuriating to start with, but once you get into the flow it’s easy and the results rewarding. Good luck !!

I see I’ve been beaten to hitting the reply button by Richard :slight_smile:

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Thanks Richard. I really want to keep expense to a minimum, especially as it looks like I’ll have to buy the Knosti Disco Antistat. I know the Rega will definitely give me better results but for only a few LP’s I’m not sure I can justify the extra. I did like the look of the AT LP5 but the review put me off a bit as it mentioned that the transfers emphasised surface noise.

I have a MacBook Air. I’m familiar with Audacity as I’ve tinkered with it in the past. The plug and play solution offered by the Sony appeals to me though.

Thanks TallGuy. As long as I can get listenable results I’ll be happy. What I don’t want is to spend the time and money and find I’ve got something that I never bother listening to as it just sounds so ropey. Granted I’m not spending a fortune but it’s money that could be spent elsewhere so I can’t afford to waste it.

If the Rega option will get me far superior results then maybe I could stetch to it but as long as the Sony sounds good then that will suit me.

I had just been looking at Gumtree before seeing this query, depending where you live, there is a Rega 2 for £150 and a Rega fono for £60.

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Take a look on eBay. There’s a Planar 1 plus, brand new from a dealer for £309 or offers. I’m sure they’d take the round £300.

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Poss factor in a new stylus if you go preloved.

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I bought a TEAC TN-4D direct drive turntable a year ago and it’s built in digital phono stage with USB out was better than expected. The have a range of both direct and belt drive decks and enjoy quite some following… just not in the UK or Australia it seems.

The deck is far better than it has any right to be at the price and the included arm is niiiice.

If you add a better power supply and cartridge, it really lifts the performance but it was good out of the box. I’d strongly recommend checking out their range.


Thanks yes the Teac looks lovely. Unfortunately it’s substantially more than I really was planning to pay. If I was planning to start a large vinyl collection then it would be a different matter and I’d probably be looking at something like an up-market Rega. But really I just have an interest in collecting and digitising a few LP’s that I know I like from the past. This being the case I have to keep my expenditure proportionate or the whiole thing really doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Are you just planning on digitising the few albums you have and then merely consigning the turntable to the attic, or using it to play them occasionally?
If it’s the former could you not just try to borrow a TT for a few days from someone and maybe buy the Fono mini s/h and resell it on?
Just a thought

Is it also worth getting a company to do it for you? A quick search found p-to-cd charging £24 for first LP, then cheaper for more. I bet there are other companies that do something similar.

I don’t have any LP’s at the moment. It’s just that there are a few that I would like that will almost certainly never make it to CD or downloads. Initially we are talking about probably 5 or 6 only! I would really like to have these as files for my Melco but you can see my predicament. The overall cost is going to make them extremely expensive albums. Once I’ve digitised them the turntable will be packed away and probably never used again. Really it’s not a sensible or cost effective endeavour.

I’m now leaning towards that solution as being far more sensible and cost effective for dealing with just a few LP’s. This will not be a long-term project of collecting many old LP’s and digitising them, it is literally just a handful and then that’s it.

Your TEAC is a thing of great beauty and at the price point a thing of great value .

I think they also come with USB outputs these days

Indeed. Just run a cable from almost any TEAC deck including more entry level ones, to a computer and just record straight into something like Audacity. Before I got my standalone ADC recorder, that is how I ripped my first few LPs. Easy peasy.

Here’s a thought. You have a nice system and presumably a good relationship with a dealer with whom you’ve spent significant sums. Why not ask them if you can either take your records into the shop and do it there - but it would be boring and you may feel in the way - or borrow a deck and an A to D converter for the weekend. They’d very likely let you do that for free, or maybe pay them £50 for the hassle.


That’s a good thought. I’ll contact them and make enquiries. I definitely now think that getting them transferred like this is the way to go. Buying any TT just isn’t cost-effective. When I want something I tend to get easily carried away - it’s a weakness of mine. Best to be sensible!

The other advantage of this is that you can use a nicer deck than one you could buy for £300. Whether it makes a sonic difference with these old records I don’t know, but I suspect it would.

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Yes I think it would. Many of these old recordings were surprisingly well done, even though they were on budget labels like MFP. I know because I had the LP’s back when I was in my teens in the 70’s. I think it all came under the EMI banner and they just did things properly in those days. Of course recording artists like Geoff Love and Jack Parnell and their orchestras were then extremely popular and big money-spinners so it wouldn’t pay to cut corners. For some reason there is just nodody equivalent to these guys now - the desire for so-called easy listening music is no longer there. A shame because their arrangements were often tremendous fun to listen to.

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