To say that vinyl is making a comeback is not only an understatement, but a belated one at that. Since this blog is relatively new, you’ll have to excuse my tardiness. I realize that for the audiophile among us, vinyl never actually went away. For those of you who have either come back to it through nostalgia or for more aesthetic reasons the options have never been better.
I bought my first turntable at the age of 15. After careful study of all of the choices available to me I chose a BIC 980. If you’re not familiar with BIC, it’s not the same guys who make the lighters. They were a loudspeaker distributor turned manufacturer that got into turntables for a brief period in the 1970’s. The company still sells highend speakers today.
Aside from being an excellent belt drive player, the BIC 980 looked cool with it’s spoked platter mat and tri-color logo. It was the essential driver for my Pioneer AMP and Infinity speakers. I think I paid about $110 for the turntable and that probably didn’t include the Shure Cartridge. If you’re lucky, you can snag one in good condition off eBay for about the same price as they were in the 70’s. I don’t know if that speaks more to the quality of the product or the nostalgic appetite for vinyl.
I don’t have to list the reasons for choosing vinyl, because if you’re an enthusiast you already know. If you’re a detractor, you aren’t going to be convinced. Suffice to say the medium has it’s pluses and minuses like everything else and you either get it or you don’t. I’m certain of one thing and that is the resurgences of vinyl isn’t just about nostalgia. Choosing to play vinyl fits with a number of concurrent trends that include focus on quality, hobbyist participation and mixing of media. A guy who buys a turntable likely already owns a Raspberry Pi, Computer Desk or some other kind of homebrew electronics.
Even if you’re not an enthusiast, many of us still hold sizeable libraries of records. I get sick to my stomach thinking about some of the classic rock albums I sold for a couple of bucks to pay for my college education. Even the ones I kept beyond college gathered dust until they finally ended up at Goodwill sometime in the late 90’s. Fortunately the torch has been kept burning throughout the years and you can still find nearly any album you want in decent condition at a shop, thrift store or flea market.
It would take years to rebuild my collection, but I’m willing to take my time. While I wait patiently the market for turntables is rapidly growing and there are a number of excellent choices for reviving an old collection. Whether you just want to play them, or turn them all into digital media, you have a wealth of alternatives.
I ran across an intriguing choice a couple of weeks ago and I wanted to pass it along. Audio-Technica, the Japanese company that’s been around since the 60’s making phono cartridges, is still at it with low cost and high performance turntables for the digital age. They have a few models ranging from the modest AT-LP60 to the AT-LP1240. If you want something that’s affordable, sounds good and allows you to convert your vinyl to digital check out the AT-LP60-USB. At $129 it’s a very good value.
Audio-Technica Corporation is a Japanese company involved in the design and manufacture of microphones, headphones, phonographic magnetic cartridges, and other audio equipment.
The company was founded in 1962 in Tokyo, Japan by Hideo Matsushita as a phonograph cartridge manufacturer. Their first products were the AT-1 and the AT-3 MM stereo phono cartridges. Over the past half century, Audio-Technica has expanded into a number of consumer electronic markets, including headphones, turntables and audio speakers.
Audio-Technica began selling the AT-LP60 in its current form in the summer of 2014.
- Convert your vinyl records to digital audio files
- Mac- and PC-compatible Audacity software digitizes your records
- Fully automatic belt-drive turntable operation with two speeds: 33 1/3, 45 RPM
- Anti-resonance, die-cast aluminum platter
- Integral Dual Magnet phono cartridge with replaceable diamond stylus
- Built-in switchable phono pre-amplifier with RCA output cables to connect to audio systems and powered speakers
- Available in silver (AT-LP60-USB) and black (AT-LP60BK-USB)
The Audio-Technica AT-LP60-USB is one of the best selling models from one of the leading brands in audio performance.
Some customer reviews
All I can say is wow. Super clean, full sound from the preamp in the unit, very good signal to noise ratio (barely audible hissing and crackling between tracks, not really perceivable when there’s any kind of music going on). Let’s see if it runs this well over time, so far I’m very impressed.
The only thing that could be better is a vintage one in good shape. The problem with vintage is that how does one *really* know it is in good shape without taking it home? The best you can hope for is to discern that it actually works. If you don’t have the time or money to gamble on vintage gear, go for this one.
This is now converting my parent’s old records to sound files so they can listen to them in the car after all these years of collecting dust in the basement. Does it’s job perfectly and we have no complaints. Professional reviews paint this as the best USB turntable for the price, and if you want anything better it will cost you twice as much.