For people looking to return to the world of vinyl, a turntable is a turntable, yes? Well, actually, no, it isn’t. When some of us were kids, and we got our first turntable, probably called a ‘record player’, it wasn’t a hard choice. You walked into the shop, gave them some money, very little actually, and walked out with it.
It had three speeds, 45rpm for our singles, 33⅓rpm for your first and maybe, only album, and 78rpm for Mum and Dad. And, the speakers were built-in.
It is a bit different these days. The return of vinyl has spawned a new industry of high tech turntables. They have branched off into a couple of production and design options — those that listen to them and those that work with them.
The DJ will want different features than the consumer sitting at home. Companies often specialize in one or the other. Sometimes a company appears to try and combine the two disciplines. Even though the requirements of each are quite far apart, And that you will see is the case with this Numark TTUSB turntable review.
But before we get you spinning, who are Numark?
They are not the first name in turntables that will come to mind if you are buying to use at home. If you are a DJ, though, it might be different. Founded in 1971 in New Jersey, they have become known in the DJ world. They have been servicing the ‘turntablists’ from the hobby users to the pros now for many years.
They have also become known for the variety of equipment they manufacture for DJs rather than what they offer the consumer market. However, what they manufacture is not limited to turntables.
They were one of the first brands to address that rather specialized market and provide the equipment necessary. Therefore, it is interesting then that they have produced a turntable that appears to be aimed more at the consumer than the DJ.
So, let’s have a closer look…
Numark TTUSB Turntable – An Overview
In designing and manufacturing a turntable for the consumer, they have created something that might as well have DJ written all over it. That is what it looks like. Something you are going to see in a club. We are not saying that is a bad thing, but it is certainly a bit different. Just the tapering of the platter and the curved plinth says, DJ.
This is a USB turntable. The USB output offers a simple plug and play option to your computer for archiving your vinyl. In terms of its consumer suitability and practicality, it has some good features. But it also misses out on others that the home user needs and, in most cases, wants.
It does seem to fall in between the two systems at times. We shall have a look at those issues as we proceed. So let’s stop the basic considerations and get down to some specifics.
The very first thing you notice about this turntable is there is an awful lot of plastic around. That makes it lightweight, but it also makes it a little bit vulnerable. We made every effort to identify a location of manufacture for this turntable. Unfortunately, that appears to be a closely guarded secret. However, previous models have been made in Taiwan.
This is a belt-drive turntable with a tapered platter that has a slipmat. It has some standard features – anti-skate control and also a pitch control of plus or minus 10%. The pitch is managed with a large slider control. It has an ‘S’ shaped tonearm with a counterweight. The tonearm has no cueing lever attached for the placement on to a record.
That means you must lower it using the finger elevator on the headshell. Given that this is a manual turntable and not automatic, then we would have thought a cue arm a minimum requirement. Being manual it also means it is going to require a little attention. It cannot be left to raise the tonearm itself and return it to rest – you must do that yourself.
The headshell has a very basic level pre-installed cartridge. If you are designing a turntable for a DJ, then a dust cover is not usually required. For the consumer market, though, it certainly is. This turntable is not supplied with a dust cover, which adds to the confusion over what market it is actually aimed at.
It operates on both 33⅓ and 45 rpm speeds. Here is an interesting issue with this turntable. They say that you can record your old 78s to digital using the software. This can be achieved by playing the 78 track at a different speed and then ‘tweaking’ the result to the correct speed.
As we understand it, playing a 78rpm record using a 33 or 45 stylus is not a good idea. On a 78, the grooves are wider. The supplied cartridge should not be used for 78s. We think it is safer to say that it just plays 33 ⅓ and 45.
There is a built-in preamp, although this can be bypassed to allow you to use an external phono stage. There is a USB port, of course, which is used to transfer music down to computer files for storage. They are saved as MP3 files. You will need iTunes installed before it will operate. More on this later.
There are also a ⅛ inch line input and RCA line outputs. There is no headphone jack, which infers that is designed not for the DJ market but for the home consumer.
The build quality is what you might expect from a very cost-effective budget range product. The problem is, this isn’t really that much of a budget level turntable. It is a little more expensive than that. But we have to admit to being confused, whether it is for a DJ or a home user. The basic requirements for either are not fulfilled at all.
As we briefly mentioned, you can connect the turntable to your computer via the USB and download tracks. The EZ converter software that is provided will send your vinyl to iTunes. From there, MixMeister software lets you organize each track with names, etc.
Once it’s downloaded to iTunes, you can make playlists or burn the tracks to CD. Seems to us rather a long-winded operation. To assist you in editing the files, Audacity software has been included. This is compatible with both Mac and iOS systems.
Controls are basic, and on the top of the turntable are speed changes from 33⅓ to 45. There is also an on and off switch. There is a further master switch for power on the back of the turntable. The slider control for pitch correction we have already mentioned. As this is a manual turntable, there are no other controls.
As you will have read, some basic connections are included. On the rear, there is a gain control and a USB out for connecting to your computer. There is also, as we said earlier, a line-level RCA output with a built-in preamp and ⅛ inch line in.
Some thought has gone into providing some useful extras. Numark has included all the necessary cables to connect to your computer or to a playback system. Some might not think that is very much, and on the face of it, it probably isn’t. But some manufacturers provide nothing, so when compared to them, it is a ‘plug plus point.’
Numark TTUSB Turntable Pros & Cons
- USB port connection.
- Cables included.
- Anti skate control.
- PC and Mac compatible.
- Adjustable pitch control
- Attractive design.
- Not very durable.
- No dustcover.
- No cueing lever.
If The Tables Were Turned?
In our opinion, having options is always a plus! Therefore, starting from lowest to highest, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Turntables under 100 Dollars, or maybe the Best Turntables under 200 Dollars, the Best Turntables under 300 Dollars, the Best Turntables under 600 Dollars, and right at the top, the Best Turntables under 1000 Dollars currently on the market.
What We Think?
In many respects, this has been a disappointing review. This turntable really just fails to satisfy a potential starter DJ, and it doesn’t excel for the home user either. If it is for the home consumer, then a tonearm cue lever is a big omission to make, as is the lack of a dust cover. Consumer turntables have those things.
So maybe it is for a DJ? Although being belt-driven is not something that will attract a DJ. Neither will the lack of a strobe pitch control. The lack of a headphone jack socket is also a letdown.
Somehow it lacks the style and the finesse of turntables that are at a similar price point. The only thing it has really got in its favor is the download to computer option. That will be an asset to some. Not all turntables have that, so that may be a reason to buy this machine.