Kind of cute. The $60 Boing Boing Store price seems like a fair price for this piece of kit if it sounds good - reviews are mixed on that. Still, a portable, battery powered, USB and analog out, 3 speed turntable with built in speakers is a fun idea. Keep in mind that is is a classic tone arm, not a modern counter balanced one. So, maybe don’t play your collectable records on it since the tone arm will use more pressure than a the arm on higher end turntable would.
It is not 53% off, however. The full price at ION’s own store is $99.99, not $130. So, it’s 40% off, which seems to be the standard discount for this item at various places on the net, ones that are not “All Sales Final”.
If anything can make audiophiles reconsider their choices, it’s probably having their words echoed on the BoingBoing Store.
I don’t need it… still have a used vintage 1970s stereo system, turntable, and all my old vinyl. With a few patch cables and Audacity, I can copy pieces to mp3/ogg.
Hi. Actual “audiophile” here. As much as this might seem okay to the uninformed, it’s not. Here are some quick reasons:
- Non-replacable parts. This thing is not meant to be something you keep for the rest of your life. If something ever breaks, you’ll just have to buy a new one. Not the worst thing in the world, but it’s still a bummer.
- Cheap. Not the good kind of cheap, either. The cheapest thing you’ll get to a real turntable now is probably the u-turn orbit, and even though it doesn’t have built in speakers or portability (or really any bells and whistles) it’s still $180. For a decent cartridge replacement you’re probably going to be looking at $70, more than this entire turnable. It’s not just a big conspiracy, they’re expensive for a reason. I can guarantee that there is nothing in this turntable is high quality, everything from the speakers to the motor to the case has probably had every corner cut twice. They have to do it to be able to sell them as easily as they’d like to.
- No counter-weight. This ties into point number two. On a good turntable, there’s a counterweight you have to adjust so the needle has as little pressure on the record as possible. This, however, does not have that, and it’s too cheap to have an amplifier inside it. So how does it make the output a listenable volume? By pressing down harder. A lot harder. Normal turntable needles are made of metal, but these are usually made of plastic of some kind. If you wouldn’t let someone scrape a plastic needle against your record, you probably wouldn’t do it with this.
- Record ruiner. Also a part of number 3, these things can ruin records. While they might sound okay for a few playthroughs, it’ll really destroy the fine grooves quickly.
If you really want a cheap turntable, just go with the U-Turn Orbit, but that is kind-of scraping by on too little for most people, I’d refer anyone to this: http://vinylmeplease.com/3-beginner-hifi-vinyl-setups-under-1000/. Yeah, it’s more expensive than most people would like, you might have to save up from 2-3 paychecks instead of just one. Surprise: Vinyl is a bit of a money-sink. It’s not for everyone, if you only really want to spend $60 for your set-up you might as well put it into some headphones to listen to digital music, you’re not missing any sound on vinyl that you can’t find in a digital download and some good headphones/speakers.
tl;dr: Do not expect a $60 all-in-one set up to play your $30 records without ruining it.
I am not an audiophile.
But I totally agree with most of your points- the lack of counterweight/high tracking pressure are deal breakers for me.
That said, I commit the sin of using Technics (direct drive, no less) for listening.
Records are a total money pit- and there’s nothing more expensive than doing it the cheap way. Still: a bit of careful digging you can get a Technics SL-1500 for something like $100- and that’s a damn find turntable that will hold value if you decide to shell it later (to upgrade or rethink the terrible life choices that led you to believe buying records was a good idea).
Add a tiny amp to bring it up to line-level and Robert’s your mother’s brother.
Yeah, one of the great things about vinyl is that you don’t have to buy new. My turntable was $15 used, I replaced a few parts and I love it. But buying new is also great for people who are new to vinyl, as it’s easier to show them new turntables that they can easily get than helping someone through researching everything about a good used turntable and fixing it. If someone is considering a $60 turntable, they probably don’t want to spend a whole lot of time finding and fixing up something old.
There are a few albums I miss from childhood which I can find on vinyl for a reasonable price, but which are obscenely overpriced as import CDs. My turntable needs would basically be to play a record once to digitize it, and then shove it in the closet.
What are the chances something like this would be okay enough for that? Obviously the whole point of going that route would be to save money vs. expensive import CDs, so spending more than a little on a turntable is a non-starter.
ION has been repackaging the same shit circuitry for years now.
Where to even start? This isn’t even wrong…
“Reasonable price” in what quality? Unless it’s still in the wrapper, I tend to assume it’s going to be very worn, as even sellers who say “This is near mint/vg+” have given me stuff that looks like it’s gone through a few wars. Any pops/hisses you’ll find will be extremely apparent, even more-so since you’re not going to be playing them on a good set-up.
It would be like paying $60+the price of the record for a really really low quality mp3 version of your favorite album ripped from youtube. In all likelihood, you could probably find it somewhere cheaper, and in the worst case scenario, you could just find it on the internet somewhere. This simply isn’t worth the hassle.
You make some good points in other parts of your post, however, this all-in-one turntable most certainly does have an amplifier. It is not a gramophone. The built-in speakers would not work without an amplifier.
This would not be the best choice for your purposes. This is a cute all-in-one. You are paying for the briefcase form factor, the built in speakers, the battery powered operation. It uses low end commodity parts to make that all happen. You can get a better USB out turntable that is just a USB turntable and not a hipster boombox for about the same price or just a bit more. You’d certainly want a counterbalanced arm.
Also, digitizing records is a slow, real-time process. You have to really enjoy the process for it to make sense to buy a device to do this, to make inferior digital versions of songs you can already get as mp3s. If you don’t want to spend weeks and weeks digitizing songs, don’t buy a USB turntable - any USB turntable.
Actually much greater than realtime. Using the software from ION realtime gets you a bunch of wav files which may or may not be split correctly to song start/end. Then theres the time to import those files to your music library software, convert to your compressed format of choice, tag them and then do cleanup of leftover files.
Bought this thing last xmas for about 75$ (in Japan) and for showing the next generation (my 11 year old) on what kind of turntable I grew up, the fun of physical media and the plus of a rechargeable battery, this is totally ok. But I was choking at “excellent high fidelity sound and crystal clear audio” … and laughing … no, absolutely not true. Tinny sound at best … I hook it up to external JBL Pebbles … and I would not play any kind of 30$ rare vinyl on it. I love to dive for well used 3-5$ vintage oddities …
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