Instant Answers

I am addicted to my iPod, but I miss the sound of my vinyl records. What do I need to know about the latest in digital vinyl converters before investing in one?

I am addicted to my iPod, but I miss the sound of my vinyl records. What do I need to know about the latest in digital vinyl converters before investing in one?


Transferring your vinyl will make the music sound as you remembered it -- and that’s the whole idea of transferring it in the first place. These days, audiophiles can convert their classic music using LP-to-digital USB turntables (manufactured by Sony, Stanton, ION and Numark, ranging in price from $70 to $400). All conveniently transfer vinyl records to CD or MP3 formats using a PC or Mac.

Choosing which digital turntable to crank up your collectibles depends on the features you prefer and the size of your budget. Some allow you to transfer your tunes without even connecting your computer. Some come equipped with an iPod dock like ION’s iProfile, $150, (IonAudio.com/iprofile). Others like Numark’s TTUSB let you create custom playlists and include audio editing software to remove the hisses and pops of vinyl ($100, Numark.com/ttusb). The TTUSB also lets you transfer cassettes to help you convert and compile all your older music, no matter what the format.

You can use a digital turntable to listen to your converted records through any stereo system with CD or AUX inputs using your own external speakers. If you want your digital turntable to replace your old-school deck -- or if you haven’t had a turntable in years -- be sure to check that your stereo system has phone input, or that the turntable has a pre-amplifier that is compatible with the inputs you’ll be using. In many cases, you might have to buy an auxiliary pre-amp to get the right level from the turntable to avoid distortion.

Despite all the things you have read, in my experience vinyl doesn’t necessarily sound better than CDs. It’s more about what your ears like and the ability to archive music that might never be available on CD or iTunes. And since it’s all about the music, the more you get, the happier your ears will be.

So, get into the groove with the nostalgic sounds of yesteryear reproduced by these turntables. There’s nothing like hearing “I Want to Hold Your Hand” off the original 45, scratches and all!


About the Expert

Dennis "The Menace" Scheyer is a writer, filmmaker and radio air personality for the last 35 years, currently with two shows on KUSF, San Francisco. On his Friday night "Menace's Attic" program (www.menaceattic.com), which features six decades of rock and roll by theme, he still plays vinyl from his collection of thousands of 45s and LPs on two turntables in the studio, and even brings his own needles to assure the right sound.