AT-LP240-USB Direct-Drive Turntable (USB & Analog)
audio-technica AT-LP240-USB Turntable: Perfect Marriage of Analog and Digital!
First, let me state that vinyl is my music listening passion. Whenever I have the opportunity for attentive, leisurely immersion in sound, it's LPs that fit the bill. Second, CDs and MP3 files are a convenient method of transporting and playing music. Digital media makes it easy to bop around in the car, work out, or drown the cacophony of interactive modern living. I have 3,000 LPs and 1,000 CDs. My CDs are the product of industry hype and, until circa 2008, simple availability of new music. Downloads are not my thing; it's tantamount to kissing your sister.
The introduction is important only to emphasize that my decision to acquire the AT-LP240-USB turntable is that, after a tremendous amount of research, it is the perfect marriage to produce the predominately rock and pop music I love in both analog and digital formats. I already own the last version of the time-tested premier DJ turntable with a customized audiophile integrated cartridge. I could have acquired a quality pre-amp with an USB output. According to reliable sources, it would have been the optimum solution to reasonably faithful reproduction of my vinyl to MP3 files for loading onto my 28 gigabit player. But, I wanted a stand-alone turntable/USB capability to marry with a second complete home sound system.
So, now I have the AT-LP240-USB Direct Drive Turntable. And I am impressed with the design, construction, and performance of the unit. For old dudes like me, it's a little humorous to read modern instruction manuals "introducing" consumers to records and players. The folks at audio-technica have done an excellent job describing set-up and features. After mating the headshell to a vintage A-T PRECEPT PC110 cartridge, the receiver/amplifier and high-end tower speakers purred their approval of the turntable sound output. As a pure turntable, it is immensely enjoyable. Whether kicking out the jams with the MC5, strolling down Abbey Road with The Beatles, or navigating ethereal Mylo Xyloto waters with Coldplay, the AT-LP240 delivers solid, honest musical passages while flawlessly tracking grooves at 1.5 grams.
Is the new turntable as formidable as my pampered 8 year-old aforementioned record player? Well, no; but there is over a $1,000 differential between the two units in today's market place. And, hey, the audiophiled DJ turntable had no premonition or aspiration to be a bridge to the digital world. Do I audibly perceive substantive differences in playback due to USB capability pollution, as some audiophile purists would insist? Well, no; but then I'm into rock and pop, and don't possess the gadgetry to scientifically demonstrate my preconceived hypotheses. All I know is that I really, really like what I hear!
Switching to transferring vinyl to digital electrons, I employed the audio-technica suggestion to use Audacity software -- with a slight catch. I'm a PC operating with Windows 7. Thanks to the admirable content of the Software Guide accompanying the turntable, I opted to forego the CD download and go directly to http://audacity.soundforge.net. This was a smart move, discovering that the Audacity wizards just released v2.0.2 on 25 August 2012. Just as important, I learned that installation of Lame v3.99.3 for Windows was the only conduit for generating MP3 files from Audacity; a key revelation since my sole purpose of acquiring an USB turntable was to make my vinyl "mobile" via my MP3 player.
Conceding my computer literacy quotient is about 7 on a scale of 10, I found the Audacity cockpit display to initially be overwhelming, but ultimately intuitive. Overcoming my predisposition to avoid mistakes #which would have required reading the current on-line user guide, since most YouTube demonstrations are obsolete#, I simply set the turntable to LINE, plugged the USB cable into the designated ports, and played a record. Snow Patrol's Fallen Empires was the chosen test case, and the 45 rpm platter produced the desired horizontal wiggly lines in all the right places on my computer screen. After completing side 1, I saved the project in Audacity and exported it with an MP3 selection click to my computer. I played back the Audacity file on my computer desktop external speakers, just to make sure #as The Holy Barbarians sang# the music was true.
One thing I like about the Audacity/Lame construct is that I do not need to establish an external library account through iTunes or similar hosts. You see, I do not need to catalog or access my converted vinyl grooves on Windows MediaPlayer; once I send the MP3 file from my PC to the Creative Vision player, the computer electrons may be released #or erased# to join the big byte in the sky. Remember that I prefer listening to music on a turntable in my home, and the transferred digital version is of no value once the birthing process has been completed.
As a final note, I have not yet exploited the editing and recording variation capabilities of Audacity. The inner production engineer and DJ in me is to be released. To be truthful, I envision letting the pure vinyl recording take its course, without unnaturally boosting or suppressing the 31 bands displayed on my graphic equalizer or Audacity screen.
Bottom line #FINALLY!#: I strongly recommend the audio-technica AT-LP240-USB Direct Drive Turntable. I confidently endorse its use for novices and experienced vinyl music lovers. Buy it now, before people fully recognize what a wonderful value it truly is!
September 28, 2012