8 digital turntables give old records a modern spin

If you’ve got a pile of vinyl in your basement, these players can make the music live again.

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  • Akai Professional BT500

    $299.00 MSRP $499.99
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    on Amazon
  • Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB Direct-Drive Professional...

    $294.52 MSRP $299.95
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    on Amazon
  • Pro-Ject USB Connectivity Turntable

    $279.00 MSRP $279.00
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    on Amazon
  • ION Audio Superior LP

    $169.98 MSRP $179.99
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    on Amazon
  • 1byone Belt Driven Bluetooth Turntable with Speaker

    MSRP $129.99
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    on Amazon
  • Sylvania Turntable Record Player with USB Encoding

    $24.33 MSRP $72.39
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    on Amazon
blue record
Dust off your records

Wondering what to do about that pile of records that's collecting dust in your attic or basement? With one of these turntables, your records -- from Shostakovich to Black Sabbath -- can live again. This new generation of record players can play 33⅓ rpm (also known as LP), 45 rpm and sometimes even 78 rpm records -- and most can also turn your favorite old vinyl into crisp new digital files.

Each of these eight record players has the usual spinning platter, tonearm and needle to deliver analog audio from the record's grooves. But wait, there's more: An analog-to-digital converter turns the record player's audio signal into a digital file.

Most of these systems let you save the songs locally as .MP3 (or other format) audio files. (Keep in mind, though: Every pop, click and skip on the disk will come through loud and clear.) Others send your music to online services, or can stream the music wirelessly to a set of speakers or headphones.

So get ready to spin those disks!

Akai Professional BT500
Credit: Akai
  • Akai Professional BT500

    $299.00 MSRP $499.99
    View
    on Amazon
Akai Professional BT500

If understated beauty was all that mattered, the Akai Professional BT500 turntable would already be a winner, with its finely finished walnut deck, and silver controls and tonearm. However, its beauty is more than skin deep.

The BT500's isolated belt-driven platter can play LP and 45 rpm (but not 78 rpm) records. It offers a 16-bit analog-to-digital conversion circuit, which tops out at a sampling rate of 48 kHz for slightly-better-than-CD audio quality. The low-mass tonearm allows quick adjustments to tracking force and adjustable feet that let you balance the platter so the sound shines through.

You can stream your music to headphones or speakers via Bluetooth while saving it as a digital file to your computer through the turntable's USB port. Just install the included EZ Converter app on a Windows PC or Mac and plug it into the turntable's USB port. The software can save your music in a variety of formats, including .WAV, .MPS and .AAC.

Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB Direct-Drive Professional Turntable
Credit: Audio Technica
  • Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB Direct-Drive Professional...

    $294.52 MSRP $299.95
    View
    on Amazon
Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB Direct-Drive Professional Turntable

With its high-torque direct-drive motor, anti-resonance design and aluminum platter, Audio Technica's turntable is the professional way to turn records into digital files.

Available in black or silver, it allows you to adjust the tracking force of its S-shaped tonearm, while the included dual-magnet cartridge and needle can pick up subtle notes that others might miss. Inside, the turntable has a 16-bit analog-to-digital conversion chip that can capture audio up to a sampling rate of 48 kilohertz for slightly-better-than-CD quality.

Unlike some of the turntables here, this turntable can't save digital files directly to an external drive. To digitize your vinyl, you need to connect it to a Windows PC or Mac via the turntable's USB port (located in the back) and run the included Audacity software. The program provides control over the turntable's recordings, with the ability to select the audio quality, edit tracks and monitor the process with a pair of sound level meters.

Teac LP-P1000
Credit: Teac
Teac LP-P1000

Teac's LP-P1000 is an all-in-one stereo with a 1970s retro feel. The LP-P1000's turntable can handle LP, 45 rpm and 78 rpm records; the system also includes a pair of two-way speakers, a CD player and an AM-FM radio; all it's missing is a cassette player.

Its 16-bit analog-to-digital converter can handle up to a 44.1-kHz sampling rate for CD-quality audio that can be streamed via Bluetooth to a set of wireless headphones or speakers. You can also use the system's 50-watt amplifier and speakers to play music from your phone, tablet or computer via Bluetooth or using the mini-jack on the front; the system also includes an RCA jack and two auxiliary audio inputs, so you can connect the stereo to your TV.

Finally, an NFC chip under the record player's deck makes it easy to link to an NFC-enabled phone or tablet.

Pro-Ject Elemental Phono USB
Credit: Pro-Ject
  • Pro-Ject USB Connectivity Turntable

    $279.00 MSRP $279.00
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    on Amazon
Pro-Ject Elemental Phono USB

Looking like no other turntable on the planet, the Pro-Ject Elemental Phono USB lets you see exactly how its belt-driven turntable works.

The turntable's belt drive has a DC motor for precise speed control regardless of whether you're playing LP or 45 rpm records (unfortunately, there isn't a 78 rpm speed setting). Rather than flipping a switch to change speeds, you have to move the record player's drive belt between the two different indented pulleys to change its speed.

The Elemental Photo's oval base is made from heavy synthetic stone for a solid and sturdy low center of gravity that doesn't resonate. The record player's straight tonearm has been calibrated at the factory for optimal tracking force; you can adjust it if needed. Its 16-bit analog-to-digital converter sends its digital audio stream to a USB port in the back. After connecting to a Windows PC or Mac, you're ready to rip your records into digital tracks (you'll have to supply your own conversion software).

Ion Audio Superior LP
Credit: Ion Audio
  • ION Audio Superior LP

    $169.98 MSRP $179.99
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    on Amazon
Ion Audio Superior LP

The Ion Audio Superior LP is an all-in-one audio appliance that can play not only your records, but audio CDs and cassette tapes as well; it even has an AM-FM radio.

Styled like an old-fashioned tabletop radio, the entertainment system's belt-driven turntable plays LP, 45 rpm and 78 rpm records that you can groove to through its built-in four-watt speakers. A 16-bit analog-to-digital converter can save records, tapes and even FM radio broadcasts to a USB drive as CD-quality digital audio files in your choice of format, from .AAC and .MP3 to .WAV and .WMA. You can also stream your favorite tracks over a wireless Bluetooth connection to headphones or external speakers.

Crosley Nomad
Credit: Crosley
Crosley Nomad

Looking like something from a cheesy 1960s beach movie, Crosley's Nomad has a hidden modern touch in the back: A USB port that you can use to connect to a Windows PC or Mac and save digital versions of your favorite vinyl tracks.

The Nomad comes with Audacity software that not only lets you rip any audio you're playing on the Nomad, but also edit, control and enhance the recording. Its belt-driven turntable can play LP, 45 rpm and 78 rpm records with the included Audio-Technica moving magnet cartridge and needle; you can listen via the Nomad's side speakers.

The 10-pound Nomad is housed in a tan party-ready suitcase that has both a headphone jack and an auxiliary input for plugging in your phone or tablet. In fact, it requires only an AC outlet to get things going. And if your old LPs are too beaten up to record, Crosley has an assortment of old and new records available.

1byone Belt Driven Bluetooth Turntable with Speaker
Credit: 1byone
  • 1byone Belt Driven Bluetooth Turntable with Speaker

    MSRP $129.99
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    on Amazon
1byone Belt Driven Bluetooth Turntable with Speaker

Looking for a record player that can digitize your dusty vinyl with a minimum of fuss? The 1byone Belt Driven Bluetooth Turntable with Speaker does the trick. Insert a USB drive and you're ready to convert your collection of LP, 45 rpm and 78 rpm records into .MP3 files without needing to use an external computer or fiddle with software.

The 1byone has its own speakers that are enhanced by a two-way crossover circuit, while the turntable has a large volume knob. If you want, you can use those speakers with your phone or tablet by connecting over Bluetooth. You can also play sound files directly from a USB drive.

The 1byone has a midcentury modern vibe going and is available with either black or wood-tone veneer.

Sylvania Turntable Record Player with USB Encoding
Credit: Sylvania
  • Sylvania Turntable Record Player with USB Encoding

    $24.33 MSRP $72.39
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    on Amazon
Sylvania Turntable Record Player with USB Encoding

Sylvania's Turntable Record Player with USB Encoding is closer to a toy than serious audio gear -- but it lets you listen to those old platters for only slightly more than $25. Available in five colors from purple to bright green, the plastic record player runs on four AA batteries for go-anywhere audio.

Open the hinged top and you'll see a mini-platter and traditional tonearm, cartridge and needle. The mono device works with LP and 45 rpm (but not 78 rpm) records, has a single speaker and an analog-to-digital converter that feeds its audio stream to a USB port on the side. The Sylvania player includes Audacity software for both Windows and Mac OS.