In days of old, music was recorded onto big black discs which people called Vinyls. I know, it’s hard to believe that you couldn’t just download the latest toe tappin’ ditty from iTunes or buy it on CD but I swear I’m not lying.
Ok, maybe vinyl isn’t quite that old a technology, but damn it seems like a donkeys age since I’ve even picked one up, let alone listened to it. When we were sent the Akai USB Turntable to review, it meant having to rummage through old boxes to find the record collection which made me wish I could go back in time and slap myself for my appalling taste in music.
However, if you are content with what you once listened to and really wish you could convert your old records to MP3s, the USB turntable is perfect. Not only can you transfer tracks to your PC but you can also copy music directly to a USB memory stick or SD card. However, keep in mind that you can achieve higher quality MP3s by copying to the PC since the direct rip option only creates 128Kbps MP3 files which is really quite archaic.
The device comes with a copy of Audacity, a free sound engineering software package. Once the turntable is connected to your PC via USB you can press record in Audacity and start a track on the turntable. When the track is finished you press stop in audacity then clean up the song by removing the beginning and end noise as well as using a multitude of filters, if you wish, to improve the sound quality. Audacity can output 320Kbps MP3 but also supports lossless formats like OGG too. Keep in mind though, while there is a new version of Audacity available online, do not upgrade the software as the new version is not compatible with the USB turntable.
Setting up the turntable was extremely easy and it was ready to use in only a couple of minutes. The instruction manual is rather sparse on details but thankfully, the buttons on the device are well labelled and easy to work out.
While Akai isn’t exactly a brand that people associate with superior build quality, I was actually rather impressed with how well designed the turntable was. The platter is solid aluminium and comes with a felt cover. The tone-arm has an adjustable counterweight and anti-skeet knob which can be adjusted to counter centrifugal force and eliminate skipping. For a device that only costs a few hundred dollars, it has heaps of features and will appeal to regular consumers as well musicians as well. However, that being said, we did find that some of the pops and crackles from the record did tend to sound a little too digital at times, so if you are looking for an authentic “vinyl sound”, you may not be satisfied.
If you have vinyl records that simply can’t be found on CD or online, then this device is a must-have addition to your AV set up. It works perfectly, and is able to produce digital music with or without a PC attached. It also works with Macs and the accompanying software is also Mac compatible.
The ATT023U retails at $449.95 but there is also another model that doesnt include the copying to USB option called the ATT022U. It retails for much less at $349.95.