After some research into alternative USB turntable models following the motor failure of my second Sony PS-LX300USB turntable (also available in store), I chose this model based on good online product reviews as well as its availability in stores. All Best Buy stores in my area carried this product, however they all had 1 in stock and my closest store had difficulty finding it as there was no floor model. I think this product warrants a floor model as it is an outstanding product.
This turntable falls into the "deluxe" category of Audio Technica's turntables, above the budget automated model and below the professional, DJ quality turntable. As a casual vinyl enthusiast, this model in particular fits me best. Unlike the Sony PSLX300USB, it is not automated, and will not operate simply with the push of a button. The platter is operated with a simple push button, and can play forwards and backwards, with adjustable pitch speeds up and down by 20% (for anybody possibly interested in listening to records backwards seeking subliminal messages, ha).
Some installation is necessary, but I found it easy to put together and calibrate, with plenty of instruction for setup right out of the box. The tone arm will have to be calibrated and is fully adjustable to accommodate a large variety of Audio Technica needles, which range from affordable to extraordinary prices. A decent quality needle is included with this package and the sound is excellent. Ultimately, this means a more versatile record player with many more playing options, perfect for a variety of records old and modern, there is even a slot for a second headshaft with backup or alternate needle for older phonograph records (second headshaft and needles are not included and sold separately).
Other favorable quirks that I never expected in any record player, let alone this one includes a small projector light at the push of a button that illuminates the edge of the record in low light conditions so that the listener can locate where to set the needle. The dot series on the edge of the platter visually seem to glide backwards and forwards as a visual indicator of pitch adjustment, a good indicator for me in particular as platter motors may begin to fail or decline in quality over time and the listener can make adjustments to the platter from the pitch shift control. Finally, a complex control series at the base of the tone arm adjusts needle pressure, anti-skating and conveniently lifts and slowly sets the arm upon the record, ensuring that the needle does the least amount of damage to the record as possible. I have noticed that many records that had a difficult time playing on my Sony turntable play without difficulty on this Audio Technica model, and I attribute this to the correct amount of pressure and a good quality needle that it skips far less often than it did before.
I feel the transition from my Sony model to this Audio Technica model has taken me into futuristic territory as far as records go. Many of the same features and accessories are included, a 45 adapter, usb cord and software for USB to MP3 and other media transcriptions. I have not explored the software in depth, but the software is called Audacity (Windows & Mac Compatible) and am looking forward into converting many records over the summer. The software included in the Sony PSLX300USB turntable was not user intuitive and very challenging to use, so I think any change through audacity may be an improvement.
There is a phono and line out option. I have a very basic speaker system for audio output that sits directly beneath this player and the sound is awesome. I would assume that more complex phono outputs could create an excellent soundscape, but I have not explored this option.
Finally, the construction is very sturdy, and this is one heavy turntable... no complaints here, as I feel heavier metals make for a more durable quality turntable (over the plastic body of the Sony model). The rubber feet provide good support with no shuffling and they adjust to accommodate unusually shaped surfaces and furniture. Cool red LED indicators provide a warm glow to this turntable for a vintage, yet futuristic appeal.
I don't often find products that are so soundly designed that there is no room for criticism, but I am very satisfied with this model and think that at $250, it is a great balance of value and quality, and I highly recommend this to anybody in the market for a modern turntable.