USB turntables: Sony PS-LX300USB

This week I bought myself a late Christmas present, a Sony PS-LX300USB turntable and there is a story behind that. I have a fairly large LP collection which I acquired mostly in the 1980s, mainly reggae and African music. Most of the about 450 LPs I found in record stores in the UK, others were bought in Harare, Zimbabwe or in Germany.

My friends in Zimbabwe used to joke that I had more Zimbabwean music than was available locally. It was half true: When I went record-shopping in Harare back in 1988/89, I found that the predominant type of music available was Country & Western, because that’s what sold best amongst white Rhodesians who had the money.

Paul Simon’s Graceland album brought Southern African music to a wider audience, but when most consumers in rich countries switched from LPs to CDs in the late 1980s and 1990s, African artists and their music were left behind again. Much of what I bought then never made it onto CD and is unavailable today.

One of my long term projects therefore was to archive my vinyl collection onto hard disk, to keep it from disappearing altogether. Recently, I wanted to continue with that after a pause of about two years, but my trusty old Dual CS-503-1 which I had bought around 1987 had stopped working due to a broken drive belt. Even after I installed a mail-ordered replacement belt it didn’t sound right.

Then I started thinking about USB-enabled LP players. There are models that will record directly onto a USB thumbdrive, but I was more interested in USB turntables that can be connected to a PC using a USB cable because they offer much more control over the recording process. The host operating system sees them as a line input on a sound card. You can record 44.1 KHz 16-bit stereo samples just right for burning a CD, or you can compress to MP3 after whatever editing and digital cleanup you fancy.

I can say that I am quite happy with the sound quality of the PS-LX300USB. There are other USB turntables that are cheaper, but I did not want to get the cheapest player that does the job. I won’t have the time to digitize my large collection twice. Having said that, my old Dual probably was a better player than the Sony. It has an adjustable anti-skating weight on its tone arm and its wow and signal-to-noise values look better on the spec sheet. On the other hand the Sony has start and stop buttons (the Dual’s mechanical controls are more basic), but more importantly the A/D-converter is built into the turntable (along with a pre-amplifier). With the analog Dual I had to use a sound card to digitize the analog line input coming from an amplifier hooked up to the phono output of the turntable. There is bound to be more interference inside a PC and most PC sound cards are cheaply made. Analog cables can pick up some noise too. That’s what makes USB turntables a worthy consideration, apart from the ease of use.

The mechanical setup wasn’t too difficult. I ignored the bundled Audio Studio LE and instead downloaded open-source Audacity off the net, which is working fine for me.

On the first evening after I unpacked the turntable and set it up, my 13-year old daughter looked at the spinning vinyl disk, which she had never seen in action. We listened to old favourites of my wife and me and it brought back many memories. Now I will be able to enjoy those tunes in the car or anywhere away from home, after I gradually record them one by one off a now largely obsolete medium.

14 thoughts on “USB turntables: Sony PS-LX300USB

  1. I have the same turntable but i can not get any sound how did you hook up to the sound card i just used a usb cable can you help me

  2. Hi Phyllis,

    I used a USB cable to hook it up to my PC, but depending on your software setup, the data being recorded may not necessarily be played through your speakers as you record it. It depends on the sound mixer setup.

    What I did to avoid this was to also hook it up to my amplifier.

    I connected the analog cable from the turntable to one of the line inputs (labeled Aux / CD / Tuner) of the amplifier and listen to the speakers hooked up to that.

    Even many cheap portable sound systems have an “Aux” input that you can hook up directly to the turntable.

    When you use the Line input you need to make sure the turntable output is switched to “Line”, not “Phono”. The turntable has a switch for that.

  3. Hi Joe
    I just bought the same turntable for the same reason(Vinyl to MP3)
    my Win vista professional installed the drivers fine but as far as I understand I have to now mess with my creative X-fi sound card to get it to take the tracks from my albums?

    bit confused.

    also I agree with the software Sony packs along with the turntable-very complex for a novice…

  4. Hi Paul,

    to verify that Windows has correctly detected the USB interface to the turntable, start the Device Manager and look under “Sound, Video and Game controllers”. If the turntable is plugged in and turned on there should be a device called “USB Audio CODEC”.

    You don’t have to mess with your sound card at all to record LPs digitally. All you need to do is to select the USB digital input in Audacity:

    Edit / Preferences / Audio I/O
    Recording / Device:
    Microphone (USB Audio CODEC)

    To listen to the LP in real time while I’m also recording it I’m connecting the analog line cable from the turn table to my amplifier, but the only connection to the PC is the USB cable, which plugs into one of the available USB ports on the machine.

    Good luck and enjoy!

  5. All you have to do to listen to the records as you record them is enable the software to monitor the line-in. Just right click on the two horizontal bars on the right in Audacity (with the microphone icon beneath them) and click “monitor input”. You should also make sure that the playback device is set correctly.

  6. yeah… right.. not particularly worried about hearing the record.. but what is the layount for the belt. Mine came with the drive belt taped to the inner lining of the turntable base… not in position I turn the machine on and nothing happend tho the small drivewheel back LHS is spinning from the moment the power is connected

  7. Roger – you need to *shock* read the setup instructions. Obviously, the belt needs to be attached to the spindle. Wow…why don’t guys ever want to read instructions…

  8. @Laura:
    “why don’t guys ever want to read instructions…”

    Hello Laura,

    it’s probably something to do with our Y-chromosomes. At least that’s my excuse 😉

  9. I just brought s a Sony PS-LX3000USB Turntable, and when i plug it into the computer, I lose my speakers . I believe its a conflict with the speakers and the turntable device but i can’t find a way to fix it, Brought it today to copy my vinyls to cd, and can’t get it to work! I need some help here.

  10. The above comment by “Alex” is an exact copy of a question originally asked and answered on Yahoo Answers in 2008:
    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20081004232455AAXDfbG

    So why would anyone ask the very same question again that has already been answered?

    The truth is, the comment is SEO spam, a comment post made only to sneak a link to a site of a customer of the spammer into a blog like this one.

    The poster appears to be an employee of Salt Lake Search Marketing Services (India) PVT LTD., an SEO marketing company.

    Posted link: http : // www . usbturntables . net/needles.html
    Posted from IP: 114.143.185.158
    WHOIS for IP address:

    inetnum: 114.143.185.152 – 114.143.185.159
    netname: ISPCUST
    descr: SALT LAKE SERCH MARKETING.
    country: IN
    admin-c: IO9-AP
    tech-c: IO9-AP
    status: ASSIGNED NON-PORTABLE
    mnt-by: MAINT-IN-HTIL

  11. Joe, I have same picture no sound problem with the turntable connected ….is there any easy fix ?

    Can you help, also does audacity run on windows 7 ?

    Thanks

    Wibbo

  12. I am looking to buy one of these to play some old LP’s i have. If I plug this into my computer, via the USB cable, can I just play the records off it as if it is a normal turntable, through my 3.5mm speakers, or do I have to turn them into mp3 files? I want to have the experience of listening to the records as records, through my computer speakers, rather than as mp3 files.

  13. So I just picked one of these up at an FYE store at my local mall,it was the last one they had and the display model so I got it for cheap but the problem I’m having is getting it to stop spinning and it also for some reason will not spin at the beginning of the vinyl it will just skip I the middle? Any advice? I’m new to this

  14. Jacob, if the needle doesn’t track the vinyl groove as it should but slides ahead, chances are the balancing weight at the rear of the army is set up too heavy. Rotate it to bring it closer towards the pivot to lighten the balance and put more weight on the head and the needle.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.