The dreaded USB Turntable with added USB preamp?

Recently I purchased one of those dreaded, evil USB turntables (ION Audio iPTUSB). I know . . . I know. 'Twas a poor choice for archiving my aging vinyl collection. But now that I have it and it seems to work somewhat satisfactorily, I’m thinking of adding a preamp to give it a boost.

I’m considering the USB PhonoPlus V2 by ART preamp.

Anyone know if this unit will interface with the above turntable? Could find no relevant info on respective websites.

I’m using Audacity 1.2.6 to convert files.

Thanks for your assist,

  • Mett

The inputs for the ART preamp/USB soundcard are RCA phono sockets - so provided your ION has RCA outputs as well as the USN then the two should work together. I use the ART preamp connected to myoild Technics deck with the preamp plugged to my external USB soundcard (the combination works well).

You will need to make sure that you can set up the devices so the the RIAA equalization is applied only once (and that will depend on what settings can be made on both devices - you will need to read the specs) - you don’t want both devices applying their own RIAA equalisation to the signal !

I am surprised that the little portable ION works "somewhat satisfactorily - I started out with an ION, the larger iTTUSB, but soon junked it as it gave me far too much wow&flutter (almost certainly down to the very lightweight plastic platter). That’s when I resurrected my old technics TT from the attic, gave it a service and bought it a new cartridge (BTW the new cartridge alone cost more than the total you paid for the portable ION - which also leads me to doubt its quality).

A thought though: you say you want to “give it a boost”. Are you sure that it doesn’t have a gain control (volume control) and that it it is not turned up enough? My ION iTTUSB did have one, but in a non-obvious place - underneath at the back, a little knurled knob …


Thanks for the reply, WC.

Yes, there is an easily accessable gain control on the side of this turntable, (they fixed that). As for my “satisfactory” assessment, that might be premature. I’ve been out of the vinyl recording game since converting to analog tape! Your comment about “wow & flutter” makes me wonder if I just blew $95 on a hunk of plastic. But on reflection, my partner (with critical ears intact) & I were surprised by the quality of sound floating from our Bose home theater system when I hooked up the RCAs to the ION. So I don’t believe the light-weight platter is at fault. There just sounds like there’s some significant loss when hooked up to my pc. (could be many variables, I know)

My question remains: Would it be of any advantage for me to throw another $90 at a PhonoPlus preamp to boost the signal? I’m concerned they may not be compatible and can find no info from either website. Also, I believe this portable ION has sufficient in/out ports to do the job. (the dual RIAA equalization could certainly present a major problem)
My primary concern is that the Ion Audio iPTUSB turntable supposedly has an internal preamp included. As usual, with rather cheap audio tools, the enclosed manual offers little information. I’m wondering if an “added” preamp would only create some ugly dissonance or not add anything desirable?

On futher review, WC - I see the iTTUSB you once owned also came with a phono preamp. Did you ever try connecting the ART preamp to the iTTUSB? Or, I suppose, the ART came later - - after you tossed the ION.

Thanks again for your consideration,

  • Mett


yes you’re right, the ART came later so I never configured it with the ION - can’t test it now either as the the ION is not actually collecting dust in my attic - it’s with a friend who wanted to try it out …

I was actually rather pleased with the electronics of the ION sounded good for a cheap device - it was only the w&f that let it down (and to be fair to ION they did offer me the chance to send it back for replacement - but by then I had already started working with my Technics setup).

The ION preamp and ADC produced perfectly acceptable results - I did use the ION for a while with my tape and minidisc decks plugged in thru the 3.5mm jack on the ION to produce good digital transcriptions. And I suspect the electronics in your portable are exactly the same as in the larger ION that I had. It’s only the mechanicals that I had an issue with.

One thought for you before you even think about blowing another $90 on the ART - since your ION has RCA outputs, have you tried connecting these to the line in (NOT the mic input) on your computer. This will bypass the ADC in your ION and use your computer’s ADC (on its soundcard) so recording quality will then depend on the quality of your onboard soundcard.

The other way to fix the low signal level is to amplify the track (with Effect > Amplify) after recording in Audacity - this will only work well if the noise floor from the kit is relatively low - but you can ascertain this with some testing.

One final comment: if you can’t get the ION to work properly after all this - rather than adding the ART to the ION, I personally would get my money back on the ION if possible - then buy a simple good quality TT and the ART device,


Thanks again WC -

I believe I’ll take your advice on both counts. I’ll try connecting the ION to my soundcard’s line-in using the RCAs; though I need an upgrade on my ancient, yet serviceable SB Live card. Not sure what the ADC on that outdated bugger looks like.

Need to do some more testing . . . and adjusting the Audacity Effects . . . before I even consider another purchase.

If I can’t reach a better result, I think I’ll return the TT and follow your lead.

Thanks again -

  • Mett

Don’t get rid of that card. They may be old, but they’re great for doing music with and work very nicely with Audacity.

Forget about the mic. in on the SB Live, it’s rubbish. Use only the Line in.
Configure the card to play through the rear speakers and plug your headphones/speakers into the rear speaker socket. The rear speakers bypass the SB’s “sound enhancement” and provide better sound quality.

If you are a bit of a music/technology geek and using Windows, upgrade the drivers to the “Kx project” drivers.

Thanks Steve for the heads-up on the card.

I think you’re right about the SB Live card used for AD conversion; and it has worked well with Audacity in my past. Also, I checked out the kX project site for WDM upgrades. Probably more than I require at this time. I’m not a techno geek and some of that GUI Mixer stuff would probably only bring frustration.

You brought up another long term problem I’ve had with configuring my old Boston Digital BA735 speakers and headphones with the Windows XP settings. Over the years I’ve found the best config that works between the speakers and HP is as follows: Speakers are connected to Digital Out (orange code) and HPs connected to Line Out - 2 (black code) - (I think that one’s the analog line level output for rear speakers). In the Sounds & Audio Device Properties Speaker settings I’ve found using only the Quadraphonic setting will allow signal to both speakers and headphones. I guess the 4 speaker setting incorporates the HPs. The problem is many times I don’t receive the HP signal for streaming audio unless it arrives via WMP. Speakers produce, but I can’t figure out how to get signal to HPs. Don’t know why the Rear Speaker jack would default to WMP, if indeed that is what’s occuring. Any suggestions appreciated.

And yes, Line In (blue coded on this card) works well for analog conversion. The Mic In is crap.

Finally, shootin’ in the dark here - any suggestions for better speaker system to replace Boston’s in limited (48"W X 10"H) desktop space?

Any suggestions or comments from others much appreciated.


  • Mett