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, Frontgate.com, Restoration Hardware, and other outlets.
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