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Numark TTi Turntable review: Numark TTi Turntable

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OVR
6.3

Numark TTi Turntable

The Good

The Numark TTi turntable includes an iPod dock and USB output that allows you to record your old records directly to your iPod, Mac, or PC.

The Bad

Not all iPods are compatible with the Numark TTi; construction quality is sub-par for the price; and the bundled recording software leaves much to be desired.

The Bottom Line

The Numark TTi is an average turntable with a unique iPod recording feature, but it doesn't take the sting out of digitizing your records.

Turning vinyl LPs into digital MP3s is an awkward and time-consuming process, no matter how you cut it. If your ultimate goal is to turn the records on your shelf into files on your iPod, the Numark TTi turntable ($449 list, $250 street) offers the shortest distance between the two music mediums. Using the TTi's built-in iPod dock, vinyl recordings are captured directly to your iPod without the hassle of using your computer as a middleman.

Design
As turntables go, the Numark TTi is designed like a sub-$200 deck. Aside from the platter and tone arm, most of the Numark TTi is constructed from lightweight plastic. It's heartbreaking to think that someone might pay full price for the TTi when they could spend the same amount for a classic Technics SL-1200MK2, but the appeal of ripping your vinyl right to your iPod may prove hard to resist.

At first glance, the Numark TTi looks impressive, with a sculpted, two-tone design that measures around 17 inches wide, 14 inches deep, and 5 inches high. All the usual modern turntable features are right where they should be, including an oversize start/stop button, switches for 33 and 45rpm modes, a pitch adjustment fader (+/-10 percent), tone arm counterweight, antiskate adjustment, and an illuminated power button near the back of the tone arm.

Aside from a universal iPod dock planted in the top-left corner, the TTi's unique features include a USB connection on the back (for those moments when you prefer to rip to your computer), an auxiliary 3.5mm input jack near the front, and a strip of iPod playback and menu controls that run down the right side of the turntable. The iPod control strip seems like a silly idea at first glance, considering that your docked iPod is within arms reach, but they come in handy when it's time to record (see Performance).

On the back of the Numark TTi you'll find hardwired power and RCA audio cables, along with a recording gain-adjustment knob, a switch for line or phono output, and the aforementioned USB jack. Numark also throws in a few extras, such as a felt slipmat and a 45 record adapter, but stops short of including a dust cover.

Features
The Numark TTi is a mediocre turntable with a single killer feature: direct iPod recording. Recording directly onto your iPod makes life a little easier, but if you're a stickler for editing, organizing, and touching up your recordings, you'll need to involve a computer at some point.

Fortunately, the Numark TTi can also be used to capture recordings on your computer (Mac or PC) using a USB connection (cable included). The TTi comes with a CD of bundled software, including Apple's iTunes jukebox software, the open source Audacity audio editor, and a very basic recording application called EZ Vinyl Converter 2, which allows you capture, label, and export your recordings to iTunes, but lacks audio editing capabilities.


The included EZ Vinyl Converter software is useful but basic. We recommend spending a little more for a full-featured program.

The Numark TTi is compatible with most iPod types from the past few years, with the exception of the iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPod Shuffle. Many older iPod models are also incompatible, such as the iPod Mini, iPod Nano (first-generation), and any hard drive-based iPod prior to the fifth-generation model.

As far as the turntable is concerned, the Numark TTi is a belt-drive system with an S-shaped tone arm and a standard removable cartridge and headshell. Typical turntable features such as antiskate control, RCA output, speed control, and a tone arm lock are included, as well.

We're happy to see a 3.5mm stereo auxiliary input included, for those times when you want to capture recordings from sources other than vinyl. We wish Numark had included a headphone output, though, allowing you to monitor recordings without hooking up a pair of speakers.

Performance
To make a recording with the Numark TTi, all you need to do is place an iPod in the dock, get a record playing, and hit the turntable's record button a few times. Recordings are made using the iPod's integrated voice-memo feature (not available on all iPod models), which encodes to either a 44KHz or 22KHz uncompressed 16-bit stereo WAV file. Pressing the TTi's Select button stops the recording process and offers the option to save the recording. Unfortunately, there's no way to name your recordings on the iPod, so you're left with a chronological list of recording times that offer no clue as to the artist or song you've recorded.

When you sync your iPod back to your computer, the included iTunes software will ask you if you wish to import your recordings, at which point you can rename and organize the files as you see fit. Whether the iPod recording process actually saves any time or headaches compared with a computer-based recording setup is debatable. Inevitably, you'll want to transfer your recordings to a computer in order to name and manage the files, but the ability to keep your turntable and your computer in separate rooms will appeal to many users. You can, however, use the Numark TTi to record your vinyl directly to your Mac or PC, but if you're going this route, an inexpensive USB turntable such as the Ion TTUSB05 will get the job done just as well.

Recording quality on the Numark TTi, whether direct-to-iPod or direct-to-computer, is accurate and free from glitches or distortion. The weakest link in the recording quality equation is the bundled software, which doesn't allow an easy way to perform basic editing or sound enhancements. The included Audacity software, while capable, is too intimidating for novice users, while the EZ Vinyl Converter 2 software is too limited for anyone recording more than a handful of records.

Judged purely on its merits as a turntable, the Numark TTi is more flash than substance. The TTi's mostly plastic construction doesn't do much to dampen vibrations or isolate against noise. Sonically, your records will sound no different on the TTi than on a $100 deck.

OVR
6.3

Numark TTi Turntable

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 7Performance 6