By Don Lindich
Week 20, 2021
Q. I am in the market for a new USB turntable to convert vinyl into high resolution sound files. My Sony PS-LX300USB has been perfectly serviceable, but I’d like to upgrade to something better with the same ease of digitizing. Ideally I’d like to stay under $400, but I’d consider spending more if the sound output was worth it. Any recommendations?
-C.D., Minneapolis, MN
A. Your PS-LX300 USB is, as you say, perfectly serviceable, but it is also entry-level and not hard to improve upon. The challenge is the $400 price point. While you can get some great sound between $500 and $1,000, the really big improvements start around $1,000, and that is without a USB connection. I think that is a bit of a stretch given your budget, so I will leave the higher priced options for a future column. I recently tested some exceptional vinyl gear that I am looking forward to telling readers about, so if you are looking for a world-class vinyl playback rig, stay tuned!
The Audio-Technica AT-LP120XBT-USB is the latest version of the AT-LP120-USB that I recommended for years. The newer turntable does not feel quite as rugged as its predecessor and lacks some of the adjustments, particularly the arm height, also called Vertical Tracking Angle (VTA.) In exchange you get a Bluetooth wireless connection to use the turntable directly with Bluetooth speakers and headphones, which most customers in this price range will find to be more than a fair trade. The AT-LP120XBT-USB will be shipping around the first week of June for $299. http://audio-technica.com
The turntable has removable headshells, which makes it easy to change pre-mounted cartridges. Setting up a phono cartridge is a tedious and frustrating affair that involves tiny screws and wires, both manipulated in tight spaces occupied by fragile objects, so I recommend you get a pre-mounted cartridge for your upgrade. The AT-LP120XBT-USB comes with a pretty good starter cartridge, but upgrading it will produce much better sound from your speakers, headphones and your digital files. The Vessel A3SE from LP Gear is what I consider to be the world’s finest $99 cartridge, and I prefer its sound to many cartridges costing up to $300. It comes in a pre-mounted Ultimate Upgrade version for $148, providing you with both convenience and a more rigid platform (the headshell itself) for the cartridge to work its magic. See the Ultimate Upgrade at lpgear.com.
This $447 outfit will be hard to beat for sound quality and ease of digitizing your files, and when you compare it to files from your current turntable the audible difference will be very clear. Enjoy!
Q. I have some vintage Sansui SP2000 speakers I want to sell. They are in good condition and work perfectly. I do not want to useBay because I do not want to ship. What do you recommend?
-G.V., Woodbury, MN
A. Though you may not want to sell on eBay, that is where you need to start because the Completed Listings there will give you a good idea of the item’s value. Once you have an idea of the value you can list them on Craigslist for your city.
Recently completed listings for the SP2000 speakers show a price range from $250 to $500. You will get less on Craigslist because it is a smaller audience, but you do not pay fees, either and you get paid in cash. I’d start by asking $400 and see what happens.