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Ion Turntables Get Your Vinyl In Gear

Ion Turntables Get Your Vinyl In Gear

In the misty dark days before Al Gore invented the Internet and music CDs roamed in great herds across the landscape, there was a quaint-though-popular technology called “records.” Records consisted of vinyl or ceramic discs of varying sizes and capacities (typical were 7- and 12-inch sizes) which features grooved on one or both sides. By spinning the discs at pre-defined rates (typical were 33.3 and 45—occasionally 78—revolutions per minute) and inserting a stylus or “needle” in the groove, it was possible to produce an audio signal and—wow!—listen to music!

We know: it sounds far-fetched. People did wacky things in the old days, like use radiation-emitting computer monitors based on cathode ray guns. What can we say?

For old codgers who built record collections using “records,” the music CD revolution and the advent of portable music players presents a bit of a problem. Without a fair bit of technical knowledge, it’s rather difficult to convert audio into a digital format which can be used on computers or portable music players—and that’s even assuming you can get a find a so-called “record player” and amp which can competently reverse the RIAA equalization curve. Even folks who can manage it get frustrated, because getting things like cover art and ID3 tags handled is time-consuming at best. Sure, in many case, these folks could buy all their music over again in audio CD or digital formats, but people with a large record collection would be looking at spending a mammoth amount of money, and an astonishing number of recordings once available on ceramic and vinyl discs have never been converted to audio CD, and cannot be purchased from digital music stores.

Ion Audio wants to help folks convert their records from vinyl to digital, and is offering two new USB-enabled turntables—a.k.a “record players”—to do the job. The new iTTUSB05 and iTTUSB10. Both turntables include built-in pre-amps which reverse the RIAA EQ curve so users can convert records without a phono-enabled outboard pre-amp, and can handle 33 1/3, 45, and 78 rpm speeds, and come with a dust cover, slip mat, integrated RCA cables, and a 45 adapter. The iTTUSB05 is aimed at folks with a home stereo rack who want to digitize their music collection, but also play their records over their home sound system, and features front-facing controls to make in-cabinet or on-shelf use simpler. The iTTUSB10 offers a round-edged design with a stylish S-shaped tone arm and lift leve, switchable line and phono output, and a 1.8-inch stereo line input for converting audio from another sound source—you know, like Hallowed Cassettes, Exalted 8-Track, or the Sacred Reels. Both turntables ship with EZ Vinyl Converter software from MixMeister—Ion Audio says the turntables work with Mac OS 9 and higher and Windows 98 and up with a USB 1.1 port, platform requirements for EZ Vinyl Converter aren’t offered.

The iTTUSB05 lists for $149.99 and is available from Costco, Urban Outfitters, and other retailers. The iTTUSB10 runs $249.99 and is available from Sharper Image,, Restoration Hardware, and other outlets.

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Geoff Duncan
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Geoff Duncan writes, programs, edits, plays music, and delights in making software misbehave. He's probably the only member…
Ion’s Air LP turntable lets you beam your records via Bluetooth
Ion Bluetooth Turntable 4

Vinyl records are back with a vengeance, enjoying record-setting (sorry) sales figures, the likes of which we've not seen in over 20 years. Naturally, gobs of consumer electronics manufacturers are jumping to capitalize on this opportunity -- you can buy a turntable from Target and Walmart, for crying out loud. But even if you're only looking to dabble in vinyl, you should take a moment to consider what you really want out of a turntable. Do you want to rip your records to digital music files? Do you need a built-in phono pre-amp or even built-in speakers? Better yet, how about Bluetooth?

At CES 2015 in Las Vegas last week, we stumbled upon an unexpected treat: Ion's Air LP Turntable with Bluetooth technology. Now you can take your stacks of wax to the air and stream to any Bluetooth speaker or pair of Bluetooth headphones. Check out the video above to get a load of all the Air LP's other features (of which there are many, including an auto-stop feature we wish our Audio-Technica LP120-USB had on board).

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Plair streams video from your laptop and smartphone to your HDTV for $100

Laptop users who use their gigantic HDTVs as monitors rather than their comparatively tiny laptop screen will be happy to know that cutting that HDMI cord is possible (and easy) with Plair, a $100 video-streaming stick that can easily pass for a slightly larger USB thumb drive.
Plair uses your local wireless network to connect your computer – and even your tablet and smartphone (supports both iOS and Android) – to your television wirelessly, enabling you to "beam" content to the big screen. To start beaming, all you have to do is plug the device into your television via a micro-HDMI socket, plug the dongle's power adapter into a wall outlet, setup your Wi-Fi network connection, as well as install a plug-in for your Chrome Web browser (if you're on a laptop or the Plair app from iTunes or Google Play onto your smartphone or tablet.
Unlike the Roku Streaming Stick, which also plugs into your HDTV but gives you access to a finite number of Web channels like Netflix and Hulu Plus, you can send whatever you're looking at online with your Chrome browser on your laptop to the HDTV. (A small blue icon will appear on top of content that can be beamed to your TV, so just click on it to start beaming.) For example, I'm a fan of the weekly YouTube series Kids React, but it is hardly established enough of a show to have its own Web channel on Roku or SmartTvs. So, rather than make my friends crowd around my laptop or smartphone to catch the latest episode, with Plair, I can just beam the latest video to my HDTV instead.
If you're on your mobile device, you can just search for online content through the Plair app before sending the content to your television. As Plair CEO and President Saad Hussain showed us at a meeting earlier this month, he was able to type in "Kids React" and locate the latest videos with the app before beaming one to the television. Not only that, but the app also doubles as a remote control for your HDTV. This means you can control your content from the couch without having to hold onto both the remote and your mobile device at the same time.
Those of you who have lots of photos on your iPhone or laptop that you'd like to show to your family and friends on a larger screen can do so with Plair, which can also beam photos saved on your device.
While Plair is first and foremost a media streaming stick, it can actually do much more than just send YouTube videos to your television. After all, the device is actually a mini-computer underneath its colorful and shinny shell. As Hussain put it, "Plair is basically a Raspberry Pi on steroids." It has a 1GHz ARM processor that powers most smartphones, 1GB RAM, and even integrated graphics to support 1080p content. Considering that it can already beam content from a Web browser to a television, it can't be that far off for this nifty little device to let you play PC games on your HDTV without being tethered by an HDMI cable.
We can't wait to see how Plair will evolve. It has all the goods to be a flexible gadget to meet many different needs – from watching online content on a bigger screen to possibly gaming – that works across platforms (iOS, Android, Windows, MacOS).
The company is taking pre-orders for the $100 Plair now, but don't expect to receive one until June 4 due to demand.

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Turntables for your keychain: Urbanears Lets you Rock the Party with its Slussen Adapter and App

Are you ruthless on the 1’s and 2’s? A musical magician? A third-degree black-belt in the ancient art of fighting for party rights? If you answered any/all of those questions in the affirmative, modesty is not your forte, but you might just be the perfect candidate for the Urbanears Slussen.
The new keychain-hanging adapter works with iOS devices and features two 3.5mm input jacks and one 3.5mm output. Link up your iOS device, a speaker, and a pair of headphones (Urbanears, of course) and voila: a professionally stewarded party (assuming, of course, you’re on that level).
To control the setup, you’ll need to download the Slusen app. The app displays diminutive digital turntables, allowing you to mix two tracks at a time, operate an equalizer, and preview whatever you’ve got waiting in the wings on your headphones. It looks pretty sweet if you ask us.
A scratch function and the ability to increase BPM (beats per measure) are also cool features, but the coolest of all is the price - $15. Considering that the real thing costs a much prettier penny, this is a neat little option.
The Urbanears Slussen is available now in four colors: pumpkin, grape, tomato, and petrol (aka: orange, purple, red, and blue).

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