Listening to records is in again. But not every system has a corresponding analogue input. And many listeners want to enjoy the music from the black disc in the digital world as well. Record players with digital output open up such contemporary uses of vinyl.
This guide explains the easiest way to digitize the analog music of the LP, store it digitally and prepare it for streaming & Co.
Digitizing simple instead of complicated
Records store music in analogue form. You therefore have to digitize the signals coming out of the turntable if you want to store them and play them through streaming devices, computers or digital stereos. It’s not quite that simple: The low voltages from the cartridge of a normal turntable cannot be processed by a computer or a streaming device with analog input. They therefore need to be strengthened. A phono amplifier can take care of that. However, it is easier to use a record player with one built in.
But digitizing records on the computer is complex and time consuming, you have to deal with recording software and tagging the records. In any case, it is easier to buy a turntable with a built-in A/D converter.
Different digital outputs – what should you look out for?
First of all, you have to answer a crucial question for yourself: Which device should the digitized music streams use to find their way into the network world, and which digital connections does the corresponding device have? Most turntables with digital output, which then necessarily also have a built-in analogue-to-digital converter (ADC), have only a limited selection of outputs. In most cases, this is a USB-B, which in the vast majority of cases requires a full-fledged computer to be connected. In this case, the turntable acts like the analog input of a sound board.
For digital music systems, active speakers and the like, a normal digital output is more common, which provides a data stream according to the S/PDIF standard. This is available with coaxial Cinch connection or with optical Toslink. The latter is
Connecting a ground wire can reduce hum. If both devices have a ground connection, it is recommended to use a special phono cable. This is an RCA cable with an additional ground wire that can also carry normal line level signals. The latter is usually connected to the amplifier via small cable lugs and earthing screws on both the turntable and the speakers.
Digitize directly to USB mass storage device
Some turntables on the market even have a USB-A port that can directly address a mass storage device such as a USB stick or USB hard drive. In principle, the user does nothing else after the connection than putting on the record and pressing start or stop of the recording, after which a digitized sound file of the track (or the entire record side) is found on the connected USB storage. However, naming, tagging and possibly cutting must be done manually by the user.
Market overview: Turntables with digital output (S/PDIF or Toslink)
Argon Audio TT-2 Optical
Pro-Ject Essential III Digital
Market overview: Turntables with USB connection
- Akai BT 500
- Denon DP-200 USB
- Denon DP-450 USB
- Dual DTJ 301.1 USB
- Dual DT-210 USB
- Dual DT 250
- Dual DT-400 USB
- Dual DT-500
- Ellipson Omega 100 RIAA BT
- House of Marley Stir it up
- Ion Audio Air LP
- Lenco LBT-188
- Lenco L-30 WD
- Lenco L-91
- Lenco L-3808
- Lenco L-401 BK
- Lenco LS-50
- Reloop Turn 3
- Roberts RT 200
- Sony PS-LX 300 USB
- Sony PS-HX 500
- Teac TB-3 B A
- Teac TN-400 BT
- Teac TN-570
- Technisat Techniplayer LP 200
- Thorens TD-202
Market overview: Turntables with direct recording function on storage media
Denon DP-450 USB
Market overview: Turntables with Bluetooth transmitter
Akai Professional BT 500
Akai Professional BT 100
Audio Technica AT-LP 60 XBT
Ellipson Omega 100 RIAA BT
Ion Audio Air LP
Pro-Hect VT-E BT R
Pro-Ject Essential III BT
Sony PS-LX 310 BT
Teac TN-180 BT
Teac TN-400 BT
Yamaha MusicCast Vinyl 500
Alternatives: Phono amplifier with digital output or system with phono input
Especially those who want to digitize their LPs in higher quality will quickly reach their limits with the complete turntables with digital output. This may be the case because of the limited digital resolution. However, the bit depth of less than 20 bits is more important than the sampling rate. However, included cartridges and built-in phono amplifiers on the analog side are usually the more difficult bottleneck.
In this case a higher quality cartridge – for example a MC system – and a phono amplifier with A/D conversion and digital output will help.
Buying guide phono amplifier with ADC follows
If you already have a high-quality sound card or digital music playback equipment with an analogue input, a turntable with an analogue high level output is often the best choice: