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Forums > Computer Market News > TDK USB Belt Drive Turntable Review
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Subject : TDK USB Belt Drive Turntable Review
Much of the appeal of a good turntable is the precision with which it operates. Precision is key, because the vinyl record is a fragile and unforgiving medium that reveals the entirety of its warm beauty only when treated absolutely right. TDK’s USB Belt Drive Turntable looks and sounds great, but it falls short in the precision department.

While it is vastly superior to the many less-expensive—oh, let’s just say it: the horde of universally lousy turntables crowding the market—the TDK’s $400 price tag brings it uncomfortably close to Audio-Technica’s vastly superior AT-LP240-USB Direct Drive model ($500, not including the cartridge).

The USB Belt Drive Turntable's cover features soft leather on the outside, and plush velvet on the inside. TDK’s table is attractive enough, floating inside a bronze, brushed-aluminum frame that isolates the platter and tonearm from external vibration. The deck surface is constructed of glossy black plastic, with the tonearm, speed-control/power knob, and belt cover providing satin-nickel accents. A small window on the front right-hand side of the deck displays a 10-band visual EQ while your music plays.

The table’s non-removable head-shell comes with a pre-installed cartridge (and can accommodate aftermarket cartridges), and the table self levels, which made for a quick set-up. The head-shell also boasts an LED that illuminates the area directly beneath the stylus (a design choice we found superior to that of the Audio-Technica table, which lights up only the edge of the platter).

We knew we’d have to painstakingly adjust the counterweight to balance the tonearm, and then dial in the anti-skate mechanism to match the tracking force—that comes with the territory—but TDK should fire the wizard who instructed the factory to secure the plastic stylus cover to the head-shell with a loop of filament-reinforced packing tape. Extricating this took longer than balancing the tonearm, and the tape left a gooey blob of adhesive behind.

The TDK’s belt encircles the outside of the aluminum platter and connects to a spindle in the left rear corner. An optical pickup underneath the platter monitors its speed and auto-corrects the motor, but there is no strobe to provide visual confirmation. The table can spin its platter at either 33.3 RPM for LPs and EPs, or 45 RPM for singles, but it can’t play 78s.

The table does a great job of blending retro chic with high-tech gloss, but the illusion of precision crumbled the moment we raised the cue lever to lift the tonearm. We expected smooth-as-silk motion, but the tactile feedback was rough as burlap. And as we swung the tonearm over the record, the motor spun up with a grinding noise that had us thinking the belt was rubbing on the cover—it wasn’t. Fortunately, the noise didn’t transfer to the tonearm or to the Onkyo TX-NR1008 receiver we used for our evaluation.

Indeed, listening to Steely Dan’s “Deacon Blues,” from the band’s eponymous Aja album, quickly transported us to a world of audio bliss where worries over precision cue levers and adhesive tape residue can’t follow. We could recommend the TDK USB Belt Drive turntable a lot more enthusiastically if it cost $300—and we’d happily give up the leather cover, the visual EQ, and the high-gloss plastic to get there. Unfortunately, that’s not the turntable that TDK built.

Source: Maximumtech


Posted on July, 20 2011 09:23:22 AM

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