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Budget USB record player reviews

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Last updated: 09 September 2015

Many modern turntables and record players now come with USB ports so you can connect to a computer and convert your records to digital formats such as MP3, WAV or FLAC. This gives you the option of listening to your music on a computer, smartphone or digital media player without having to buy a new digital copy. This can be particularly useful for preserving the contents of older vinyl albums and vintage music which may not be available in any other formats.

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We looked at a range of budget and entry-level USB turntables to find out if digitising your records is worth the effort, whether their sound quality stacks up, and if models in the lower price range are reliable. 

If you're looking for something a little more high-end, check out our hi-fi turntable test.

While some turntables in our test sell for less than $100, others push $200 or more, and may not seem like such a bargain. If you look at the cost of hi-fi turntables, you'll see that most start around the $350 mark and peak at nearly $1100. This is why all of the turntables in this test are considered budget models.

None of the tested models performed well enough that we could really recommend them. If you've got your heart set on one of these models, though, you can log in to see what our testers had to say about each one, including the three best performers of a not-great bunch.

You can also sort the results by vinyl playback score, if you're just interested in a cheap record player rather than the ease and quality of USB encoding.

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List of brands we tested in this review.

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Price paid in July 2015.

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Tonearm clamp

Remote control

FM radio

AM radio

Cassette deck

Test results

Ease of use score

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Effort required to convert one side of each record to MP3 using PC connection or USB/SD port, initial setup, manual details and controls. Vinyl skip during recording influenced score.

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Encoded MP3 score

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Audio quality of encoded MP3 files. MP3 files encoded at 128kb/s 44.1kHz. Audacity used to record audio for units that exported to PC via USB. Can be cumbersome to set up for the first time, and LAME MP3 encoder must be downloaded and installed separately. MP3 and vinyl playback audio quality assessed by panel of in-house experts, using built-in speakers if available. Units without built-in speakers assessed using Mordaunt Short Aviano 1 bookshelf loudspeakers through a Yamaha RX-A840 receiver.

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Specifications

Vinyl playback score

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We bought brand new pressings of the Pixies’ greatest hits compilation Wave of Mutilation (2011) from The Record Store in Sydney, and allocated a copy to each turntable. Each turntable was assessed by an expert panel in-house, who listened to the same track through each unit’s built-in speakers. Those without built-in speakers were connected to a set of external entry level bookshelf speakers through a mid-range home theatre receiver. Vinyl playback score does not contribute to overall score.

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Features

Can play old LP without skipping

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Can the turntable reliably play an older, worn LP without skipping? Test LP: The Lexicon of Love by ABC

Included in this review

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  • Overall score
  • Status
  • Price
  • Recommended
  • Encoded MP3 score
  • Ease of use score
  • Vinyl playback score
  • Can play old LP without skipping
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  • Brand
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  • Remote control
  • AM radio
  • FM radio
  • Cassette deck
  • SD/MMC support
  • Inbuilt speakers
  • Tonearm clamp
  • Stylus model specified
  • Stylus type
  • Playback
  • Damped cueing
  • 78RPM support
  • Tracking force measured (grams)
  • Encoding (inbuilt or PC)
  • Software supplied
  • Line out (external speakers)
  • Size MM H x W x D
  • Warranty (years)
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