Numark TTi full review
The iPod and a vinyl turntable might be from different generations, but Numark brings them together superbly with the TTi. It’s a USB turntable with an iPod dock tagged on – allowing you to digitize your vinyl collection straight onto the iPod. It’s also laced with other connections so you can link the system to your existing audio set-up. A docked iPod can also be used as a source for music playback, and if a computer running iTunes is connected to the TTi, you can also sync your iPod with this system.
The turntable itself is pretty good. Features of the 45/33rpm vinyl record player include a ±10 per cent pitch control that lets you tweak the playback speed for better fidelity and an integrated line-level output, meaning you can play music from the turntable or your iPod through an existing set-up, just by plugging the system in.
In order to protect the most valuable parts of the device, the system does require a certain amount of assembly on first set-up. You need to connect the needle, the counterweight for the needle arm, and the metal platter to the system yourself. Youthful iPod users may not be terribly familiar with turntables, but we’re sure granddad will help.
We’re impressed with vinyl playback. Numark’s offering is as good – if not better – than the relatively antique Pioneer system we have in our lab. Music playback is warm, and those scratches and crackles that vinyl geeks love so much keep analogue’s charm.
This isn’t just a turntable though – the TTi offers various ways to digitize your ancient records. You can record direct to your iPod (which works pretty quickly), or use a computer and the included USB connection to get MP3 files to iTunes.
The TTi lets you use the Voice Recording feature on a docked iPod, (it works with classic, fifth generation, 2G nano and 3G nano). Put your record on, set the pitch control and speed for best playback, drop the needle and start recording using the controls carried aboard the turntable. This feature has its limitations – recordings are filed as Voice Recordings with no artist or track information, and recordings are made in one chunk. However, it lets you swiftly make a copy of a record for playback later. It’s important that you connect your turntable to a speaker system when doing this in order to ensure what you are recording is as good as possible. How else will you tell the needle is skipping?
To separate and name the recorded tracks you must sync your iPod with iTunes, and the recording will be automatically added to your library. Then you drag the recording out of iTunes, pop it on the desktop, and open the file to separate, clean up, and name the tracks using the supplied software. PC users have it rather better when it comes to software – the TTi comes with EZ Vinyl Converter, which automates many operations and even analyses sound to grab track info from Gracenote. Mac users get Audacity – a powerful but unfriendly open-source application. It could do with a few nips and tucks to improve the user interface to make it accessible to less techy people. The inclusion of built-in wizards for simple digitisation tasks – track separation and re-naming, for example – would help.
Digitising using USB and a computer doesn’t offer the same immediate portability, but does let you separate and name tracks as you record, meaning you won’t end up with orphaned recordings clogging up your library.
If there’s a weak point in the TTi it is the post-recording editing software. However, you aren’t confined to using Audacity – you can use any audio editing application for such tasks, including the excellent CD Spin Doctor software included in Toast 9.