Audio-Technica Direct-Drive Analog & USB Turntable

Last updated date: May 3, 2021

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Audio-Technica Direct-Drive Analog & USB Turntable

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We looked at the top Turntables and dug through the reviews from some of the most popular review sites. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Turntable you should buy.

Update as May 3, 2021:
Checkout The Best Turntables for a detailed review of all the top turntables.

Overall Take

Whether you're just rediscovering vinyl or laying the foundation for a pro DJ rig, this turntable fits the bill. The sound output is first rate, and the near-silent operation of the unit itself ensures a clean listening experience. The USB connection is a great perk for those looking to convert their old records to digital.

In our analysis of 6 expert reviews, the Audio-Technica Direct-Drive Analog & USB Turntable placed 1st when we looked at the top 5 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

From The Manufacturer

Experience the high-fidelity audio of vinyl. Direct-drive, DC servo motor with selectable 33/45/78 RPM speeds. Fully manual operation featuring adjustable dynamic anti-skate control, variable pitch control with quartz speed lock, and balanced S-shaped tonearm with hydraulically damped lift control and lockable rest. Convert your vinyl records to digital audio files by downloading and using the free Mac- and PC-compatible Audacity recording software (or software of your choice). Includes: USB cable, detachable RCA output cable (dual RCA male to dual RCA male), AC adapter, 45 RPM adapter, counterweight, felt mat, and removable hinged dust cover.

Expert Reviews

Expert Summarized Score

1 expert reviews

User Summarized Score

4,326 user reviews

What experts liked

Updated version of one of the best turntables ever made. Includes USB port and software for converting vinyl into digital
- BestReviews

What experts didn't like

Expensive, but well worth the cost for advanced users and disc jockeys
- BestReviews

An Overview On Turntables

So you’ve decided to invest in a record player? If you’ve made up your mind, congratulations: The very fact that you have one in your home will make you just a little bit cooler. Buying a turntable signifies that you care about your music. That a song means more to you to than just background noise while you’re washing the dishes. Let the debates rage on as to whether the sound quality of vinyl can truly trump that of digital files. Every physical record bought puts more money back into the pocket of the artist than pressing play on any app, and that helps keep the music alive in a very real way.

Having said that, you’re going to want that turntable to sound as impressive as possible given your budget — unless you really are just buying it for cool points. That’s where things get tricky.

The good news is that thanks to DJ culture, turntable technology had improved considerably over the past few decades, and it’s even made record players more affordable overall. While true audiophiles might drop $800 or more for a high-end unit, there are plenty of full-featured and even impressive turntables available in the range of $200 to $500. You can even find serviceable players for under $100, but beware. You get what you pay for, and some cheaper turntables can actually harm your records over time.

Considering that a turntable is basically just a way to get a record to spin smoothly while a needle runs along its surface, there are a surprising array of parts involved. But the main ones you need to worry about are the stylus, the tonearm, the drive and the preamp (or lack thereof).

The stylus is essentially a fancy word for the needle, the pointed part that touches your record and actually “reads” the sound. Most modern styli are made out of diamond or sapphire, so as you can imagine they can make up a good chunk of the cost. The material actually matters less than the shape of stylus, which falls into two main categories: Spherical or elliptical. Spherical styli are the most common, and their wider profile tracks less of the smaller grooves. As a result, you won’t get the most dynamic range in the high frequencies, though the tip itself tends to suffer a bit less wear and tear. Elliptical styli cut deeper and therefore can pick up a wider frequency, at the cost of more frequent replacements. If you get into some high-end turntables, you might find hyperelliptical or Microfine stylus types that combine the best of both worlds — for a price.

The tonearm is the arm that holds the cartridge (the housing mechanism for the stylus), lifting it onto the record. Your main options here are automatic or manual, both of which are self-explanatory. Manual tonearms require you to drop the stylus onto the record (carefully!) and automatic ones will do it for you at the press of a button. While automatic tonearms might be the obvious choice, some vinyl lovers actually prefer the ritual of placing the needle. There are also some who contend the excess weight in some automatic tonearms can harm the vinyl over time.

The drive is the mechanism that actually makes the turntable turn. First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure that drive is capable of playing the record at the correct speed (33 or 45 RPM — or in rare cases, 78 RPM). Then there’s the actual type of mechanism, which can be either a belt drive or a direct drive. Belt-driven players are the old school type still preferred by connoisseurs since they tend to be more silent. As a trade-off, you may have to replace the belt eventually if your player sees a lot of use. Direct drive turntables have a dedicated motor that spins the platter, which is sometimes audible but more convenient.

Finally, you’re going to want a way to get that sound out to your speakers, provided the turntable doesn’t come with its own built-in. That’s where a preamp comes in. Without getting into the audiophile technicalities, a preamp amplifies the signal from your record to a level that allows it to be picked up by the speakers. Many modern turntables do have a preamp built-in, and that’s definitely the case if they come with their own speakers (or if they have Bluetooth connectivity). That’s definitely convenient but be advised that a separate preamp will allow you more control over the sound quality if you plan on investing in a high-end audio setup.

You can expect many modern turntables to also come with Bluetooth connectivity or a USB port. This can open up a whole new set of options if you just want to play music from your smartphone or convert those old vinyl records into digital albums. Either way, you can expect a quality turntable to become the centerpiece for any party, and for a lot of musical nostalgia.

The Turntable Buying Guide

Once you’ve invested in a turntable, you’ll want to care for it properly. if you don’t have a cover for your platter, you’ll want to find a turntable mat to minimize the amount of dust that settles on the surface. Even a small amount of dust can cause pops and even scratches, both of which can ruin your records — not to mention a good musical vibe. Rubber mats will attract less dust than cloth ones, and don’t forget to wipe down your records with a brush or even cleaning fluid before they get played. A little care can turn a record collection into a lasting heirloom, after all.