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Vinylwriter Turntable

by Grace Digital Audio
Model Shown: AVPUSB01S
Retail Price: $99.00
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Price last verified: Sunday, December 16, 2018
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It's the ceramic cartridge turntable that destroyed our records (due to a defective needle). The Vinylwriter USB record player is cheap. That's about all it has going for it.

 

Contents

Turntable Quality Checklist
Warnings
Review of the Grace Digital Audio Vinylwriter (AVPUSB01S)
Details and Specifications
Photos and Pictures
Sample Audio Clips

 

 

Turntable Quality Checklist

Score: 0 out of 6
Moving Magnet Cartridge or Better
Adjustable Anti-Skate Compensation
Metal Platter
Upgradable Cartridge/Stylus
2 Grams or Less Tracking Force
Adjustable Preamp Gain

 

 

Warnings

 

 

Review

Review Date: January 28, 2010

Turntable Quick Facts

The Good

  • Cheap. Seen as low as $50

The Bad

  • Shaved record grooves while playing
  • Defective even after warranty repair
  • Skipped often. Profusely in one case.

Overview

This was the worst of the four USB turntables Knowzy tested. It took four needles and two months before Knowzy had a working turntable. Even then, poor sound quality and constant skipping characterized the playback.

We normally try to find three positive attributes to put in the "Good" section. "Cheap" was the only one that came to mind. We're open to suggestions. Platter rotates clockwise, perhaps?

A ceramic cartridge and stylus pressure we measured at 6.75 grams are reason enough to avoid this record player. The damage it did to our records and the hassle of getting the turntable in working order is beyond what even the most patient and understanding consumer would endure.

 

Carved Out Grooves as It Played

The photos speak for themselves- the record grooves turned from black to whitish-gray as the needle passed through them. The dust of groove scrapings coats the tracks that the Grace turntable played.

The problem turned out to be a bent needle, which is apparently a common problem on these turntables, as evidenced by the following:

  • The Grace Digital Audio warranty repair rep instantly knew what the problem was.
  • The repaired unit also had a bent needle.
  • It's not difficult to find others reporting the same problem, like in this Amazon review.

The sound produced from the record-shaving needle was as bad as it looks: An unbearable amount of surface noise overwhelms the music.

It was a long journey to a working USB turntable. Our "repaired" unit came back with a needle bent in the opposite direction of the first. Grace then sent out a replacement needle that took a month to arrive. Read the whole story at Hydrogen Audio.

 

Poor Sound Quality and Serious Skipping

Predictably, the ceramic cartridge produced poor sound. Its tendency to skip, however, earned it the honor of worst USB turntable we've tested.

The Grace turntable skipped on several songs. These are practically new albums that the other turntables had no trouble playing (with the exception of the Crosley turntable, which also has ceramic cartridge).

The skipping was comically bad when we tested the Gorillaz album.

This is an album record "hot" (louder than the average record) and features pounding bass. It seemed to be the perfect recipe for getting the Grace turntable to skip.

Every beat produced a skip in Gorillaz's Dare. It finished the four-minute song in a minute and eight seconds.

After the horrendous skipping, we played the same Gorillaz track on the Audio-Technica turntable. It played through without a single skip.

From a sound quality standpoint, the whooshy-crackle noise that seems to define the ceramic cartridge sound was easily noticeable on the Black Eyed Peas track. You can also hear it on the Crosley turntable.

While we were expecting poor sound quality from this record player, the frequency of skipping was simply unacceptable.

 

Only Freely Downloadable Software Included

Like so many other USB turntables, the only software included is a free, a general-purpose audio editor called Audacity. While it performs many of the tasks required to digitize your albums, it doesn't do them all and it's not easy to use.

Even if you get past the fairly steep learning curve, you will need to rely on other programs to create CDs and to automatically populate your MP3s with album information.

Moreover, Audacity simply isn't designed for the process of recording your LPs, making certain tasks more cumbersome than they need to be.

For example, a program called VinylStudio automatically pulls down album information from the Internet, including track names, song times and album art. It then splits the album into tracks and organizes the recordings based on what it learns about the album from the Internet.

Grace and other USB turntable makers could create a much better vinyl ripping experience for their customers if they included specialized software such as VinylStudio or its chief competitor Acoustica's Spin It Again.

If nothing else, companies like Grace owe a debt of gratitude to the volunteers behind Audacity for creating and freely offering software that keeps the cost of their turntables down. By donating to the Audacity project, these companies could reward the Audacity team's efforts and encourage the developers to consider the needs of vinyl digitizers in future improvements.

 

A Turntable that Goes by Many Brand Names

Grace Digital Audio didn't make this turntable. This is an "OEM" USB turntable, where a company slaps their logo on a complete product made by someone else.

In this case, the turntable comes from a Chinese company called Leetac Electronics. Knowzy found five different companies hawking this same turntable: Memorex, firstStreet, Technical Pro, Innovative Technology and Grace Digital Audio.

JC Penny, Kohl's, Macy's and even Bed, Bath and Beyond, sell the Innovative Technology version. Knowzy first noticed the Memorex version as an insert to a Chevron credit card bill.

$100 is the going price at these outlets. You can find this turntable online much cheaper, as low as $50.

There is no need to settle for this cheap, cookie-cutter record player, though. For $100, you can find many better USB turntables with moving magnet cartridges. And that's exactly what we recommend when asked.

 

 

Details and Specificatons

Turntable Basics
CategoriesUSB
Suitable for 78 RPM?No
Pre-Amp?Not Required
Upgadable Cartridge?No
CD Burner?No
SD Card, USB Flash DriveNo
iPod DockNo
SoftwareAudacity
Tape Player, RadioNo
SpeakersNo
Remote Control?No

 

Connections
USB OutputYes
Line OutRCA
Phono OutNo
Headphone OutNo
Line InNo
Ground WireNo

 

Turntable Construction
Cartridge TypeCeramic
Cartridge MountPermanent
Cartridge Make/ModelNot Specified
Adjustable Anti-SkateNo
DriveBelt
Adjustable GainNo
Speeds33.3, 45 & 78 RPM
PlatterPlastic
Automatic FeaturesSemi-automatic
Tonearm CueYes, Lever
DustcoverVinyl
Tonearm Height AdjustmentNo
Offset Tonearm?Yes
Adjustable FeetNo

 

Turntable Features
Adjustable Pitch?No
Pitch Lock?No
Reverse (Backward) PlayNo
Strobe Light?No
Cue LightNo

 

Specifications
Signal to Noise (S/N)> 50dB
Wow and FlutterNot Published
Vertical Tracking Force (VTF)6.75g1
Tracking ErrorNot Published
Effective Tonearm LengthNot Published
Speed VarianceNot Published
Counterweight RangeNot Adjustable
Cartridge Weight RangeNot Applicable
A/D Resolution44.1kHz, 16-bit
Dimensions (W x D x H)37 x 16.5 x 33"
Weight4.96kg

1  Measured by Knowzy using this tracking force scale*. Figure not from manufacturer.

 

 

Photos and Pictures

Marketing Photo

Idealized marketing photo of the Grace Digital Audio Vinylwriter (AVPUSB01S) USB turntable.

 

Photo slideshow shows a stylus turning the black grooves of a record gray as it plays. Last frame shows a close-up of the stylus which is bent to the left.
Bent Needle Ruins Records

Watch what happens when you use a defective stylus on a nice new record.

 

Close-up photo shows a crooked stylus attached to the Grace Digital Audio Vinylwriter (AVPUSB01S) USB turntable.
First Stylus Bent to the Left

This close-up shows the needle is crooked. The audio sounded awful when played with this needle.

 

Close-up photo shows a second crooked stylus attached to the Grace Digital Audio Vinylwriter (AVPUSB01S) USB turntable.
Second Stylus Bent to the Right

After reporting the defective stylus, Grace shipped a new one. This time it bent to the right and still grinded records as it played.

 

Close-up photo shows a vertical stylus attached to the Grace Digital Audio Vinylwriter (AVPUSB01S) USB turntable.
Third Time's a Charm: A Straight Stylus

The third needle Grace sent finally pointed down. The turntable still skipped frequently.

 

Close-up photo shows a black record with a gray ring starting from the outer edge and continuing through the first track. Damage was from a defective stylus on a Grace Digital Audio Vinylwriter (AVPUSB01S) USB turntable.
Close-Up of Grinded Grooves

This was a brand new Steely Dan 30th Anniversary edition record. It's hardly a collector's item now!

 

Close-up photo shows the style playing a record on the Grace Digital Audio Vinylwriter USB turntable. A fine dust is visible in the vicinity of the needle.
Record Grinding in Process

That dust seen atop the record is freshly ground out vinyl from the record's grooves.

 

Photo shows the front side of the Grace Digital Audio Vinylwriter (AVPUSB01S) USB turntable. The dustcover is up.
Front View

Fully assembled and ready to play. Just make sure that needle is oriented properly!

 

Photo shows the stylus of the Grace Digital Audio Vinylwriter (AVPUSB01S) USB turntable on a tracking force scale. The digital readout shows 6.75 grams/
6.75 Grams of Vertical Tracking Force

Less than 2 grams of stylus pressure is desirable. The Vinylwriter whopping 6.75 grams is tough on your records.

 

The Same Turntable by Many Different Names

The Grace turntable performed poorly in Knowzy's tests. Expect the same on these models- the same turntable sold by different companies.

 

 

 

Sample Audio Clips

Album Cover: The Black Eyed Peas - Monkey Business

The Black Eyed Peas - Dum Diddly

Source: Grace Digital Audio Vinylwriter

Play Button
MP3 (192Kbps VBR)
Duration: 0:30
Album Cover: Michael Franti and Spearhead - All Rebel Rockers

Michael Franti And Spearhead - A Little Bit Of Riddim

Source: Grace Digital Audio Vinylwriter

Play Button
MP3 (192Kbps VBR)
Duration: 0:30
Album Cover: Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon

Pink Floyd - On the Run

Source: Grace Digital Audio Vinylwriter

Play Button
MP3 (192Kbps VBR)
Duration: 0:30
Album Cover: Steely Dan - Aja

Steely Dan - Peg

Source: Grace Digital Audio Vinylwriter

Play Button
MP3 (192Kbps VBR)
Duration: 0:30
Album Cover: Fleetwood Mac's Self-Titled Album

Fleetwood Mac - Rhiannon (Abused LP)

Source: Grace Digital Audio Vinylwriter

Play Button
MP3 (192Kbps VBR)
Duration: 0:30
Play Button

Steely Dan's Black Cow Played with First Bent Stylus

Source: Grace Digital Audio Vinylwriter

Play Button
MP3 (192Kbps VBR)
Duration: 0:30

Listen to recordings from other turntables on our USB Turntable Samples page.

 

 

Disclosure

* Knowzy earns a commission on items marked with a *. We strive to find you the lowest price from reputable retailers but you may find a better deal elsewhere.

Learn how Knowzy puts your best interests before our selfish desire to turn a profit.

We appreciate your support.

 

Originally Published:  Tuesday, December 13, 2011, 5:24 PM PT

Last Updated:  Wednesday, December 14, 2011, 9:52 AM PT

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