New turntable digitizes vinyl

World's first USB record player, listed at $145, can drag your old LPs into the digital age

Plugged In

December 14, 2006|By Craig Crossman | Craig Crossman,McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Know someone with a terrific record collection? Maybe it's you. If so, I'm sure you're feeling the passage of decades as your vinyl collection becomes more and more obsolete.

Granted, the passing isn't totally linear; there have been improvements in the players that will spin these aging disks. You can even find amplifiers that use a tube or two to capture the missing "warmth" that's supposedly lost in our digital players.

But if one of your New Year's resolutions is to digitize that old record collection, there's something worth checking out.

Ion Audio has created the world's first USB turntable. The iTTUSB turntable sports the traditional stylus arm that you swing out over, and lower onto, the spinning record.

You'll find many of the other traditional features, including a 45 adapter for those smaller single-song records, an adjustable anti-skating control for increased stereo balancing and line level RCA output jacks if you want to connect the turntable to a more traditional setup such as your home stereo system. Place the needle onto the record and you're playing just like you did years ago, but with a twist. The belt drive turntable has the ability to connect directly with your Macintosh or Windows PC via a USB cable.

Included with the iTTUSB are Windows and Mac versions of Audacity, a popular recording application, although you can use the iTTUSB with anything that you might already have that records from an external source. Ion also includes a trial version of SoundSoap 2 from Bias. This lets you remove the clicks and pops you get from scratches and other types of wear that notoriously beset the vinyl formats.

When you're ready to make the conversion, place the record onto the iTTUSB and begin playing. The music from the record is instantly captured and stored onto your computer in a choice of audio formats including MP3.

Once they're transferred, you treat the audio files like any other. Move them onto your MP3 player, copy them into your copy of iTunes, or whatever you use to play, store and organize your music files.

The iTTUSB plays 33 1/3 and 45 RPM records, but the included software enables you to convert 78 RPM records, too. Just play them at the slower speeds; once they're digitized, the software speeds up the digital recording to the faster speed.

The list price is $145.

So there you have it. No more worries about your old record collection. Just make the conversion, and put the records safely away for the next generation.

Craig Crossman writes for the McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

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