Is it true that one no longer needs a pre-amp to record/rip from a turntable to computer?

You don’t need an RIAA Phono Preamp when there’s one built-in to your USB turntable. Those USB turntables that also have analog outputs typically have a switch somewhere to turn the RIAA compensation on and off. They are triple threats, Phono-In, Aux-In and USB.

Regular analog turntables still need a preamp. The cables from those turntables have raw cartridge sound which is too low and contains the RIAA distortion.

One other item to note with USB turntables is they are throw-away devices – remembering that the cost of a USB turntable is about the same as a good cartridge in a real turntable. You are intended to transfer your record collection and then put the whole thing in the trash. Because of this, their quality tends to be awful. Many people found they could refurbish the analog turntable in the attic and do much better.

It’s also not unusual for a USB turntable to fail before you put it in the trash.


There is the technique of jamming your turntable cables into the stereo Line-In of your computer and try to correct the errors in software. One problem with that is there is no place to put the thin black ground lead that prevents the turntable from having hum on the sound. Another problem is the Line-In of a computer doesn’t match the cartridge leading to fidelity problems.

But the worst problem comes with your Windows Laptop most of which don’t have a stereo Line-In. Mic-In is mono and easily overloaded creating unfixable distortion.

This computer can’t be used for stereo transfer:

So direct transfers can be done to a desktop Windows machine as long as you’re not too particular about fidelity and hum. It’s the desperation method.


Thank you for such a fast reply.
This is why I asked…
“*Recent releases of Audacity include the RIAA EQ Curve (and many other EQ curves) with the Equalization effect by default, so a pre-amp is not necessary.”

And for the audiophiles, I do understand your concern regarding turntables. I have an AKAI APD210 Direct drive turntable, and a JVC 4VC5244 Quadraphonic w/ modulator, both of which I used in my younger years through a system quite up to date at the time. I regret giving the system away. My choice to purchase an USB turntable has more to do with a hearing dilemma than what I really would like. The USB use has provided me with a way to actually hear some music I like and have not heard for some years. I am missing a number of frequencies in my hearing. Hearing aids do not and cannot replace those sounds that I used to hear. Be very thankful if you still do. For some odd reason I am able to hear and enjoy, even though much of the sounds are no longer available to me, when played through my computer via USB and CD.
Yes, I did obtain a pre-amp to use with my old vinyl, the pre-amps(two) was a Behringer and a Pyle, neither did the job for the Akai and I returned them. So for me, A USB turntable was the RIGHT choice. Disposable? Everything is disposable. And not everyone can afford a 500-$1000 turntable, a completely useless item if it cannot give you back hearing loss any better than a $75 one can.