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We received a ton of feedback on our reviews of Audio-Technica’s AT-PL50 and Ion Audio’s ITTUSB turntables in our May 2007 issue, but since we concluded that neither of those products was fabulous, we brought in this more upscale Stanton model for a look.
We’re happy we did. The Stanton T.90 USB costs $100 more than the Audio-Technica and is nearly twice as much as the Ion, but it’s jammed with features you won’t find in either of those products. It’s evident that very little plastic is used in this beast, which had us humming the Commodores’s “Brick House” as we hefted it onto the test bench.
The table has a USB interface, so you can digitize tracks in real time and transfer them to your PC in the digital domain, but it also includes an S/PDIF output. If you’d rather perform the analog-to-digital conversion on your PC, there’s both a phono output and a built-in RIAA pre-amp with line-level output.
The T.90 features an S-shaped tone arm with an adjustable counterweight and an antiskate dial, which will reduce record and cartridge wear. Stanton includes its own model 500B cartridge in the removable headshell. A direct-drive motor spins the platter at speeds of 33-1/3, 45, or 78RPM, and a pitch slider enables you to bring the platter to a precise speed (using the strobe dots on the platter, illuminated by a light in the on/off switch, as a guide).
Many of the T.90’s other features reveal its DJ table genes, but we’d gladly trade them for tools that render the recording process easier. A simple cueing lever, for instance, would make it much easier to record individual tracks, and an automatic tone arm would simplify the process of recording entire album sides. Dual start/stop buttons, an electronic brake, reverse play, and pitch-select are attractive to DJs, but they’re not of much value if you just want to archive your vinyl.
Those criticisms are more than enough to withhold a Kick Ass award, but this is the best-sounding turntable we’ve auditioned yet.
Well-built, feature-rich, lots of digitizing and DJ tools
no cueing lever or automatic tone arm. Heavy.