After I purchased my first CD player and started listening to CDs in the early eighties, my vinyl records were gradually eased out of play. CDs were the hottest item at the time so naturally I did not bother to replace the turntable stylus when it became worn, and the turntable was relegated to the attic.
I was spoiled by the ease of listening to music, and became too lazy to operate a turntable, which involved cleaning the record, playing one side, turning over the record, etc, etc. and of course, purchasing a new stylus (the cost of which would have set me back a few CDs). Contrary to promises made at the time, many of the older albums were never digitized, so that my old LPs were practically lost.
So of course I jumped at the chance to review the ION iProfile turntable which would allow me to convert my precious vinyl records into a more durable electronic format. I would only need to play my old records one more time, and then be able to play them forever after via iTunes (or other media player), into which, I happily learnt, they are imported automatically during the audio signal transfer process.
When recording using a USB cable hooked from the iProfile directly into a computer using EZ Vinyl/Tape Converter 7.4 and iTunes 10 – the turntable will record an MP3 file, with the bit rate being your choice (128-320 kbps for example) and can be adjusted through iTunes > Preferences > Import settings.
When recording directly to iPod /iPhone, the file format created depends on the device being used. iPhones record voice memos to AAC (may show up as M4A on PCs) files. iPods record voice memos to WAV files. Users should be aware that if they record their vinyl as WAVs they do have the option of converting those WAVs to MP3s using iTunes, although they can use other software to do the conversion.
So I proceeded to convert one of my old Ronnie Aldrich (remember him?) albums. And it was a breeze – much easier than I expected. In fact, it took me longer to realize that the computer speaker settings needed to be reset after connecting the iProfile.
The biggest drag – and this is not the fault of the equipment or software – was in having to wait out the complete play time of the LP. After all, I was transferring audio signals.
The user-friendly EZ Vinyl/Tape Converter software (EZ Audio Converter for Mac users) provided with the unit gives you the choice between manually splitting the recording into tracks, and splitting the tracks automatically when it detects silence in the music. Lazy me of course opted for the latter, to my detriment.
It turned out that minor scratches between tracks on the LP were recognized as music, so that, on my first attempt, four tracks were recorded in one file. I then had to revert to the option of manually splitting the recording into tracks. Naturally, this required my being in close attendance throughout the transfer/recording session. Mac users have the manual option only, but I do not consider this a serious drawback in light of my experience. I should have known that cleaning the records prior to recording them would have given me better results.
In addition to the basic function of the unit (i.e. transferring audio signals from the platter to the computer), the iProfile comes with quite a few attractive features (see below for a list), most notably the iPod dock which allows you to record directly to or play from the iPod, and the 1/8″ stereo auxiliary input through which other audio sources (e.g. tape players, reel-to-reel, etc.) can be connected or played.
Honestly, this equipment would be complete if a strobe controlled speed adjustment feature was included. At the offered price ($140 – $200 at various online stores) it is good value for money. That is, if you are prepared to play all your old LPs one more time. I am!
- Contains a standard, line-level output with built-in preamp so you can connect it to virtually any stereo system.
- Capability to transfer your vinyl directly to iPod with no computer needed
- iPod controls (menu, scroll, play, stop, select, fast forward/rewind) provided on the front panel
- USB connection for optional MP3 transfer to Mac or PC
- Can be used with stereo or theater system for listening at home
- Stereo input for converting other music sources (tape players, reel-to-reel, etc)
- Universal dock charges and syncs your iPod with your music library.
- Works with 33 and 45 RPM records
(Disclaimer: Gizmos for Geeks received a complimentary review copy of this product.)