The best USB turntables allow vinyl collectors to not only hear their favorite records the way many artists and music producers intended, in analog, but can also digitize and store their favorite LPs onto other devices. This includes computers, smartphones, and MP3 players.
Now, we’re not going to lie to you. A turntable setup is a serious investment, and that doesn’t even include what you’re likely to spend on records (yea, those don’t come cheap either). At the same time, a USB turntable is well worth the cost if you want to catalog and preserve these crate gems and enjoy music in its rawest, most uncompressed form.
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But purchasing a USB turntable isn’t as simple as shopping for a CD player or computer speakers. You need to become more familiar with the hardware, which usually requires reading a bunch of technical jargon that makes operating and understanding the machine a bit cumbersome. Don’t sweat it.
The good news is that record players are no more complex than setting up a new sound system. We have taken the liberty of breaking down the vital components required to choose the proper option for you, while offering our top picks for the best USB turntables based on performance, purpose, and, yes, price.
What are the best USB turntables?
Sitting in the No. 1 spot of our best USB turntables list is the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB, thanks to its superb sound, solid range of features, and user-friendly setup. Audio-Technica also implemented a few upgrades, which include a new phone preamp, tonearm, and low-torque motor. It also does a decent job of digitizing your favorite records, depending on the genre. The company’s AT-LP60USB turntable is another solid option that offers similar performance and currently stands as the best cheap turntable.
The Sony PS-HX500 is a strong runner-up with ultramodern features, hi-res vinyl digitization, and sound that is second to none. It allows you to connect both digital and analog outputs simultaneously, that way you can record tracks on a computer and listen to them through your sound system at the same time. If you’re looking for a cheaper version of this, the Sony PS-LX310BT is just as dynamic and feature-heavy.
Then there is the Denon DP-450USB, a chic turntable designed for at-home listening that delivers adequate sound and has an auto sensor that automatically stops the player when reaching the end of a record. We consider it the best semi-automatic USB turntable out there for the price.
Keep in mind we also have several popular releases on our radar that we’re waiting to snag some hands-on time with, including the Plus Audio +Record Player, which is a hybrid record player housing an amplifier, speakers, and Bluetooth connectivity in a handsome wooden cabinet. The Elipson Chroma 400 RIAA is another promising release with plenty of versatility and features to compete with the market’s top performances.
The best USB turntables you can buy today
The Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB is considered one of the best USB turntables by many experts, including us. It’s an awesome beginner turntable that is easy to set up and easier to use; you’ll feel comfortable switching between speeds to achieve the right RPM for records. Audio-wise, the machine produces great sound and the integrated amp does add a bit more warmth to the soundstage.
The AT-LP120XUSB is also kitted with numerous features, from the critically loved AT-VM95E cartridge that offers a wider frequency response to its stereo output terminals for connecting to other audio equipment (e.g. amps, speakers). There’s even analog-to-digital conversion for those who want to archive their rare record collection onto a hard drive, though the bass quality takes a hit, which often results in average-sounding conversions. The physical construction is durable, but the plastic finish and detailing does little for the overall design.
USB turntables have gained a bad rap for sounding horrible, but the Sony PS-HX500 puts that argument to rest. It’s considered one of the best USB turntables available with lots of hi-tech circuitry and features stuffed underneath its minimalist frame. Placing the needle on a record rewards you with full-bodied and detailed sound. The subtle nuances in recordings are distinctive; vocals come through loud and clear, while horn and string instruments sound lively. Bass is impactful as well, complementing the PS-HX500’s well-rounded soundstage.
The turntable’s biggest selling point is its ability to rip, edit, and store tracks from your vinyl collection, which it does exceptionally well. Much of the raw analog-ness and warm sound that you would expect is maintained on these digital copies. We wish Sony’s software was more intuitive with the digitizing process; you have to manually add metadata for each track. The no-frills design might also make you question the high price.
A head-turning design with semi-automatic functionality, the DP-450USB adds a level of practicality to vinyl listening that isn’t available on many turntables. Not only does the tonearm lift up automatically when an album finishes, but the platter will also stop spinning and the turntable will turn off when idle for 20 minutes. Digitizing music is a breeze, plus all recordings are serialized that way you don’t worry about overwriting files. Playback support for three different speeds is also a nice touch not found on most other high-end turntables.
Sonically, you can expect airy, detailed sound, though the lows and highs aren’t well balanced on certain tracks. The hinged, plastic cover does look stylish and was designed to let you close the top and prevent records from accumulating dust when played, but, unfortunately, it works better in theory than it does in reality.
Sony’s turntable options are incredibly scarce, and with the PS-HX500 in such high demand, it’s almost impossible to find an alternative that can offer similar performance at a lower price point. Enter the PS-LX310BT. This low-cost alternative sounds impressive for the price and comes stacked with features. It has automatic operation for seamless playback, along with an integrated preamp that connects to anything with an AUX audio input and lets you choose between different variable gain selections – Low (-4 dB), Mid (0 dB) and High (+6 dB) – to modify output. Bluetooth streaming is also a huge component and operates well when paired with portable and computer speakers.
If you’re one who fancies high-quality sound, know that the PS-HX500 delivers better highs and lows, though the PS-LX310BT still gives you better sound than most other models in its price class. Also, keep in mind that the cartridge isn’t replaceable.
The Teac TN-300 is a gorgeous piece of audio hardware that boasts an elegant, aluminum body and comes available in several enticing colors: Black, Cherry, Red, Natural Wood, and White. Its mature and premium design exudes expert audio equipment vibes, but the setup is seamless for novice audiophiles to pick up. While it offers ways to upgrade sound performance by connecting to a phono preamp or directly to a hi-fi system, the turntable also sounds great right out of the box. Lows and mids have some punch to them and highs are well represented, giving you full-bodied results.
Even though the turntable lets you rip records to create digital copies, not every conversion will be successful; some MP3 files suffer from lack of clarity. Also, a few customers and reviewers have complained about sporadic humming when playing records, however, it’s unclear whether this relates to any defective turntable units.
For the price, the PLX-500 is an awesome DJ turntable for party spinners. Convenience is everything with this machine, boasting notable features that are perfectly laid out on the deck. Pioneer kept its signature +8/-8 pitch fader that is awesome for pitch blending. In addition, there is a three-phase brushless motor with electronic brake that makes transitioning seamless between the three RPM settings, allowing for precise mixing. Sound is also handled well, as the turntable benefits from a warm soundscape with full midrange.
While its older sibling, the PLX-100 has a full metal body, this version uses a combination of high-grade plastic (deck) and metal (platter, tonearm) that still looks durably sleek. Just keep in mind that the machine is a hefty sucker to carry around; get your hype man to bear the load when setting up for birthday gigs. Be careful when blasting music at max volume as well because this can cause some unpleasant bass feedback.
Two grand for a turntable seems excessive. What about a turntable with an integrated loudspeaker system? Well, that still is asking a bit too much, but either way, there’s no denying the level of performance this record-playing music system gets you. The turntable sitting on the top is actually the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Espirit SB, which features an Ortofon OM2 Silver cartridge, carbon fiber tonearm, and acrylic platter to produce steady playback. As for sound quality, the speakers are engineered to dish out 270-degree audio, creating a spatial soundstage ideal for live performance records. The Model One also comes with multiple listening modes, including mono, stereo, and three different levels of panoramic audio. Construction often reflects pricing and this entire product is beautifully assembled with walnut hardwood and brushed aluminum metal plates.
On top of making sure there’s enough room in your bank account to splurge on the Model One, make sure to consider the amount of space available in your living room to house this bad boy.
Want to save some cash on a turntable and do your part to better the environment? That’s where House of Marley’s unique record player comes into play. Beautifully constructed from “mindfully sourced materials” (e.g. bamboo, FSC-certified wood, recycled aluminum), and reasonably priced, the Stir It Up is one of the finer entry-level turntables available, courtesy of its sustainable design and acceptable sound quality. Music won’t blow you away, but bass-heavy tracks are handled well and keep the needle from jumping. The inclusion of a pre-amp and multiple ports allows for customizable sound too.
It’s cool that the belt drive supports automatic pitch control and an auto start feature, but devoted audiophiles may feel turned off by the fact they can’t manually adjust the pitch control. The lack of Bluetooth might also turn off modern vinyl collectors.
If you need something light and versatile that can get the job done at the next family cookout, we highly recommend carrying the Reloop Spin in your arms. It’s a functional turntable with multiple power options for convenient portability. Yes, it’s silly that a power brick doesn’t come bundled, but the Spin is compatible with USB-C power banks, rechargeable batteries, and several other power sources. There are numerous connections set up on the back, including two headphone outputs for two DJs to use at the same time. On top of USB recording, you can pair the turntable to other devices via Bluetooth. An exclusive 7-inch scratch vinyl containing mastered scratch samples and beats is included with the purchase as well. The internal speaker also pumps out louder and cleaner sound than most portable wireless speakers.
The stock crossfader is practically useless, as the cut-in distance is extremely high, and your scratches won’t come in as smoothly as they would with a third-party fader, which you can swap out for.
Plus Audio did a fantastic job assembling this all-in-one sound system, which not only shows in the craftsmanship, but the audio quality as well. Genuine wood veneer, aluminum accents, and other premium materials make up the +Record Player’s entire build. The company spared no expense on components, nor the turntable either, integrating a Pro-Ject model with an aluminum tonearm and Ortofon OM10 cartridge. Any spun records will sound clean and vibrant, giving listeners great instrument separation and tonality.
Make no mistake though, as the +Record Player is a very heavy piece of audio equipment. You’ll want to make sure that whatever platform stabilizes this bad boy isn’t going to collapse. Then again, this isn’t much of a worry if it doesn’t even fall in your budget, which at $1,500, doesn’t make the machine easily attainable for budget vinyl lovers.
How to choose the best turntables for you
Several factors need to be taken into account when shopping for the best USB turntables. Things can get pretty technical, which might cause some confusion, so we’ll make this as painlessly educational as we can.
As the sub-category name implies, you need to make sure the turntable features a USB output. This allows you to connect the machine to a computer and digitize analog records.
Second is selecting the proper drive: belt or direct. Both offer their own set of pros and cons. Direct drives are favored by professionals due to their more accurate speeds and durability, meaning you can expect the belt to last longer. At the same time, their motors tend to produce unwanted noise during playback. Belt drives are preferred by audiophiles because of their consistent speed and great isolation to minimize motor noise for detailed sound. The main issue with them is that their belts stretch, which can affect the speed of records and sound quality in the long run.
Next is the setup process. The extra cables and components that come packaged with a turntable can be intimidating for newbies, though, luckily, most modern vinyl players have decks with plug-and-play setups that are easy to understand. Pick a turntable that is simple to assemble and comes with foolproof instructions.
Speaking of components, your turntables need to support a variety of them to operate at max performance. Start with the cartridge and stylus (aka the needle), which are generally pieced together and come in different shapes. You want something that is well balanced and applies a reasonable amount of pressure on records to not only prevent dragging on the vinyl surface, but also preserve the needle. Look at the tonearm next, the moveable part that keeps the cartridge in a steady position as the records spin. It should be well-constructed (made from aluminum or carbon fiber) and have an adjustable counterweight to independently adjust the tracking force of your needle. Follow up with the platter, which spins the records and should be heavy; the heavier, the better, as it creates less vibration.
Audiophiles who want to get more sound out of their vinyl player may want to seek out a model that can be paired with other audio equipment. This requires having a turntable with a built-in phone preamp or buying one separately. There are also turntables with Bluetooth support, allowing you to connect wirelessly to compatible speakers and home audio systems.
How we test the best turntables
When researching and testing the best USB turntables, Laptop Magazine evaluates several factors: assembly, design, sound, setup, and value just to name a few. Our reviewers also compare these models to similar products in the category in terms of compatibility with other audio products, special features, and pricing.
Turntables are tested over the course of a week for 2 hours at a time. During this period, we assess for audio performance and ease of use. Reviewers listen to sample tracks across popular music genres, including hip-hop, rock, jazz, R&B, and classical just to name a few. At the same time, they analyze clarity, depth, isolation, and volume. Live recorded albums such as comedy and concert specials are also taken into consideration.
Once our testing is completed, every model is rated based on our five-point system (1 = worst, 5 = best). Any product that is truly exemplary is awarded an Editor’s Choice.