Who says you can't keep ahold of your vinyl collection while also enjoying modern digital conveniences? USB turntables are a great idea for anyone who wants to make a digital copy of their precious vinyl collection. Why? Well, you may have tracks in your vinyl collection that can't be found on numerous music streaming services or you may simply want to have access to your favourite records on your phone or portable music player when out and about. Enter the USB record player.
The turntables in this list offer the option of ripping your records via USB for digital safe-keeping and sound great for the price. Each deck has been reviewed by What Hi-Fi?'s team of audio experts: we have tested every aspect of the turntable from its build quality and how easy it is to use, to the all-important sound performance. And of course, we've tested how easy it is to rip the vinyl into digital files (and how good these digital rips sound, too).
These USB turntables tend to be on the affordable side, but we only recommend products we think are worth your hard-earned cash. You can also click through to the full, independent reviews of each USB deck for more information should you need it. So scroll down to see our current best picks on the market. Happy listening – and ripping.
USB turntables tend to offer up to CD-quality rips, but the Sony PS-HX500 is unique – it can record up to DSD 5.6Mhz and 24-bit/192kHz WAV files. Ergo, Sony calls it a ‘hi-res turntable’, so it’s not surprising that one of the first things we notice when lifting the Sony from its box is the bright yellow hi-res audio logo, sitting loud and proud on the plinth’s front-facing edge.
The hi-res ripping feature stands out from the crowd and does mean that those buying their favourite LPs won’t also have to head to a download site to get it in glorious high-resolution for their smartphone or portable music player here.
Invariably, some will jump at the chance to digitise their collection while others will be less bothered. If you belong to the second group, however, you’ll be interested to know that elsewhere the PS-HX500 behaves, looks and sounds very much like a typical turntable. Price? £299 (around $365 / AU$544) - and although availability is patchy now, it's worth hunting down if you're dead set on a USB deck.
And it sounds big, clear, insightful and snappy. The Sony is articulate with any track’s offbeat rhythmic pattern, tying the multiple strands together for a coherent and layered delivery, and has the dynamic dexterity to bring fairly tenuous sonic shifts to our attention. The presentation favours a crisp consistency over the full-bodied solidity of some of its rivals – something to bear in mind when it comes to system pairing.
Anything that keeps vinyl fresh and appealing is gold in our eyes, and the PS-HX500 is a good example of that. As always, performance is king, though, and in this instance that only furthers the Sony’s likeability; while it’s not the classiest-looking turntable on the market, it has all the class in the sound suite instead.
Read the full review: Sony PS-HX500
Audio-Technica’s original AT-LP5 turntable was a winner. Launched in 2016, its combination of solid engineering, useful features (including USB output) and fine sound was enough to make it one of our go-to recommendations for anyone wanting a sensibly priced, fuss-free record player with the added bonus of a USB output.
So it’s no surprise to find that Audio-Technica hasn’t changed its winning formula for this new AT-LP5x model (available for £379 / $449, around AU$690). Why would it?
There's a new cartridge that's easier to fit, the built-in phono stage can now cope with both moving magnet and moving coil cartridges and Audio Technica has added a 78rpm speed option. Those improvements aside, the LP5x's sonics mirror its predecessor closely. It sounds a touch cleaner and clearer than before, but without losing any of its composure or dynamically pleasing presentation.
The USB ripping feature remains, so you can digitise your vinyl collection to CD-quality WAV files up to 16-bit/44.1kHz and 48kHz. If you're after a well-executed design that's well-built, easy to set up and sounds great for the money, the AT-LP5x is worthy of a spot on your shortlist.
Read the full Audio Technica AT-LP5x review
This is a semi-automatic, belt-driven turntable with a built-in phono stage. It even supports USB recording. And it's cheap. The Lenco L-85 is designed to be as user- and beginner-friendly as possible, and it succeeds. Everything comes pre-fitted, including the moving-magnet cartridge, and there’s no need to set the counterweight, adjust the bias, or weigh anything. The only adjustment you have to make is to reset the auto-return motion.
There’s no need for special audio software or tricky laptop hook-ups – just plug a memory stick into the front panel’s USB port, hit the record button when you’re ready, and voila – you have an MP3 version of your vinyl record that you can play on your laptop or copy onto your smartphone. It'll only record as MP3 files, but remember this is a budget turntable – it would be unrealistic to expect hi-res FLAC files from it.
Similarly, sound quality is decent if not amazing for the money – now available for as low as £80 (around $100 / AU$150). We’ll admit it’s not the most detailed or articulate performance, nor does the rhythm charge along with pin-point precision and agility, but we weren’t expecting such a likeable, inoffensive sound that’s this easy to listen to for such an affordable price. If you were thinking of buying those trendy suitcase-style turntables from the high street, don't – get this Lenco deck instead.
Read the full review: Lenco L-85
How we test record players
Why you can trust What Hi-Fi?
Here at What Hi-Fi? we review hundreds of products every year, from TVs to speakers, headphones to hi-fi systems. So how do we come to our review verdicts and why can you trust them? Allow us to explain.
The What Hi-Fi? team has more than 100 years of collective experience in reviewing, testing and writing about consumer electronics – and that includes plenty of record players. We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in London, Reading and Bath, where our team of expert reviewers do all our in-house testing. This gives us complete control over the testing process, ensuring consistency across all products. We always ensure we spend plenty of time with each turntable, setting them up correctly, and trying them with different electronics, in different positions and with different music. And with USB turntables, we rip vinyl music onto our laptops to test the process and quality of this feature.
All new turntables are tested in comparison with rival turntables at the same price (and often cheaper and more expensive alternatives, too), and all review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than a single reviewer, helping to ensure consistency and avoid individual subjectivity. That's why our reviews are trusted by retailers and manufacturers, as well as consumers, the world over.
From all of our reviews, we choose the top USB turntables to feature in this Best Buy. That's why if you take the plunge and buy one of the products recommended here, or on any other Best Buy page, you can rest assured you're getting a What Hi-Fi?-approved product.
You can read more about how we test and review products on What Hi-Fi? here.