For $100 you usually get “plays crappy.” All the turntables in this range are stamped-out throw-away devices. The music people almost universally hate them because they have tracking problems (different sound at the beginning and the end of the record) and the drive itself isn’t stable enough to maintain speed, so you get wow, flutter and pitch changes in the songs.
See if you can borrow somebody elses–or better yet, find somebody with a good turntable and transfer your record there.
If you are buying a new turntable, check out the build quality - a very light platter (the rotating disk) will probably not keep to a very constant speed. It may be worth looking for a good condition second hand turntable at a very low price, then spending the balance of your budget on replacing the cartridge. With a second hand turntable, if it is belt drive, you may also need to replace the belt, so you will need to check that a suitable replacement is available.
I can’t comment on the Audio Technica or the Pioneer as I have no experience of those.
The portable ION - IMHO because this is a portable player the platter is very small (smaller than the diameter of an LP record) - you will almost certainly get speed variations (wow&flutter) from this turntable. I have a friend who bought one of these - but soon rerned it for his money back and bought a full-sized version instead. The electronics in this are likely to be identical to the larger ION - but the cartridge quality may not be as good.
The ION iTTUSB - I bought one of these a couple of years ago when I started to convert my record and tape collection. I was impressed with the quality of the electronics - and the quality of the cartridge was adequate. But because of the lightweight platter, it’s plastic, I did get far too much noticeable wow&flutter - particularly noticeable on classical and piano recordings - so I retired it to my attic.
Many posters on this forum have problems with USB turntables, but remember we only see the folks who can’t get it to work - we never hear from the others. I never had any problems in getting my ION to work - and in fact I have recently sold it to one of my techie friends who got it working straight out of the box with a quick read of the manual (with my notes in the margins). He is very pleased with it. This ION model has RCA output leads as well as the USB - so if the USB doesn’t work for you, you can plug the RCA leads into your line in on your computer (that is if you have a line in). Also once you have converted the vinyl you can use the RCA leads to plug the ION into an AMP or boombox so you can play the vinyl in future.
One other thing about this ION model - there is no cover. This meant I had to keep packing it away in a cupbaoard to prevent my cats from destroying it …
Also check out the similar Numark device - Numark and ION are basically the same co. - but the Numark deck has a heavier metal platter and an improved arm and cartridge over the ION. It may squeak in inside your budget.
What I did: After I decommissioned the ION - I retrieved my old Technics from the attic, gave it a good home service and treated it to a new cartridge. Plugged it through a pre-amp and an external USB soundcard. Works a treat - but more expensive than your budget.
Whatever you buy - do make sure, before you buy, that you can return it and get your money back if you can’t get it to work for you.
Bought this since the reviews were great overall, and it has a dust cover (go figure, the least expensive has the cover lol) but it has good quality apparently. Either way, in this case, I can easily take it back if anything happens for a full refund unlike Amazon which won’t even let me open it without having some “ReStocking BS fee”. I’d rather take it back to Walmart if anything goes down hehe.
Hope its good.
I’m gonna buy the re-release of Axis: Bold as Love by Jimi Hendrix and the re-release of Brighten the Corners by Pavement on Vinyl → awesome cause both are gonna be rare.
But either way, I’m still gonna play um since they’re my first records but as time goes by, and I get rare ones, I’ll just record them to mp3 and put um away hehe.
On thing I found when I started out with my ION was that the ION helpline (tel. no is in the manual) were extremely helpful in getting me over my initial set up problems - mainly down to some inaccuaracies in the manual at the time. I had occasion to call both the UK and the US helplines - and both were very helpful and stuck with me to get me through setting it up.
I’m using the audio technica ($120 CDN at Costco) - it came with it’s own trial software (purchase upgrade for mp3 export), plus the audacity software. I have recorded numerours albums (using Windows XP and audacity) and I’m very satisifed with the results. Good quality and sound levels.
Your records lay on a non-static rubber mat, and it has a 45rpm adapter as well. This thing is easy to hook up and use. You can connect it into your computer or stereo system, and even connect speakers or headphones directly to it (it has a pre-amplifier built in - you can switch this off if connecting to your stereo system).
Other toggle switchs are for 12" or 7" disc - this is for the Start and Stop buttons that will lift the stylus arm and move it to start playing your record automtically, with return. There’s also a manual lift and set down button.
I got a new Citronic turntable for around NZ $400 (about US $200).
These are made in the UK.
Direct drive, quartz controlled speed also for 50 or 60 Hz networks 110 - 240 Volts.
Great TT and great sound quality.
It provides an output signal for an RIAA phono-input amplifier. (not compatible with a USB)
All amps, older than 20 years have one of those RIAA inputs.
For under $100, you’re options are gonna come with a lot of compromising. Personally, you should look at the Jensen JTA 230 as I think that would be the most bang for your buck. If you want to read more on it, you can look here [Review: http://thebestturntable.com/jensen-jta-230] and see if it would fit your needs. Again, there’s gonna be compromise, especially at a sound quality level, but if you just need something to mess around with and play some vinyl, or mix some tracks, then it can get the job done.