Today we will be taking a look at the Ion Audio USB Turntable. Several USB turntables have been appearing on the discount and secondary markets recently. How does this inexpensive device measure up against other turntables as well as the vintage ‘real thing’? Let’s find out…
Review Continued Below…
First, let’s look at the stats for the Ion Audio portable iPTUSB turntable. Basically, what we need from a turntable today is that it can easily interface with a computer so that you can record your old vinyl into digital files and that it’s compatible with modern stereo equipment. The turntable has an USB interface that allows recording onto a PC without the need for special drivers. It also has a a line level output that permits you to hook into the AUX port of a home stereo or portable music player just like you would with a MP3 player. This is a portable unit and can operate both on AC with an adaptor as well as six D-cell batteries.
Aesthetically, the Ion Audio Portable USB Turntable reminds me a bit of portable record players I had as a kid (yes, I’m that old). The player is made of plastic and does seem a bit toy like. The plastic tone arm seems flimsy and, like the cheap kid’s record players of yore, it lacks features like counterbalancing and antiskating and doesn’t seem to have much in the way of shock absorption. There’s also no auto-return and you can hear turntable noise on recordings a little too much for my taste. Yes, I’m picky, having owned a high end Sony turntable back in my college days.
Portability is a major feature of the Ion Audio iPTUSB turntable. If you like to scout out vinyl records at garage sales this player is very handy in helping you determine the quality of a 33 1/3 RPM album, 45 RPM or even a 78 RPM single record. The battery life on the 6 D batteries is at least as good as your average MP3 digital music player. The built-in speaker is kind of weak but serviceable for brief demos. Another problem with portability is, once again, the lack of shock absorption and the need for a very level surface to play without skipping.
The other major reason to buy the Ion iPTUSB turntable is to record that aging vinyl into a digital format. Maybe you’re like me and have a few 1000 albums you bought way back when in college or perhaps you’ve inherited your parent’s vinyl collection. Or, maybe you’ve scored some vintage jazz or blues 78’s from the 1930’s. Getting these old recordings that may not be available on CD or digital download into a digital format is the reason most people will buy this turntable. How does it do in this area? First of all, this is a very tedious process and requires that each track is played, recorded and perhaps edited separately. A disturbance can ruin the recording and then you have to do it over. If you’re like me, you’ll only end up moving a few, can’t-live-without-it, tracks over to digital because this is such a time consuming and meticulous process. The EZ Vinyl Converter or Audacity software that can be used with this turntable do work well though.
The bottom line is that the Ion Audio Portable USB Turntable is adequate for the task of ripping, well, recording, tracks from old vinyl and is cheap. However, it doesn’t produce the best of recordings as compared to higher end models of modern turntables. If you’re going to invest the time into recording a lot of vinyl I’d go with a better turntable but the iPTUSB is fine for the casual, non-audiophile, user. I would recommend picking up extra needles for it when you purchase it because these may be difficult to find in the future.