Desktop Icon
Home Topics About Us Contact Us
Text Size
0.85x
 

T.92 USB Turntable

by Stanton
Retail Price: $455.00
Buy New
Price last verified: Sunday, December 16, 2018
Turntable Categories
DJ S/PDIF USB
Manual and Other Links

You get an all-metal, full-featured DJ turntable in the Stanton T.92 USB. A cut above "plastic toy" turntables. Upgrading T.92's cartridge may unlock its true sound quality potential.

 

Contents

Turntable Quality Checklist
Review of the Stanton T.92 USB
Details and Specifications
Photos and Pictures
Sample Audio Clips

 

 

Turntable Quality Checklist

Score: 4 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

 

 

Review

Note: Stanton provided Knowzy with the turntable used in this review free.

Review Date: August 9, 2010

Turntable Quick Facts

The Good

  • Heavy metal, no plastic
  • Steady, direct drive motor spins at exactly 33.3 and 45 RPM
  • Upgradable cartridge

The Bad

  • Cartridge holds back the sound quality
  • Records at low volume. Must digitally enhance.
  • Cartridge required 5 grams of tracking force in our tests

Overview

The Stanton T.92 USB is the best of the five turntables I have tested. At $300, it's also the most expensive.

The previous four $100 turntables I tested felt like toys- lightweight and plastic. The Stanton is heavy, 19 pounds, and metal in its body and platter. It has all the features of a real turntable- counterweight, anti-skate and the ability to mount a different cartridge (the unit that holds the needle).

The T.92's major downfall is the cartridge keeps it from reaching its full potential. Using a blind test, I wasn't able to tell it apart from the $100 Audio-Technica AT-LP2D-USB turntable.

Upgrade the cartridge and the Stanton T.92 USB will do a much better job of bringing your vinyl into the digital age than any of its plastic cousins.

 

Better Than "Plastic Toy" Turntables

The point of diminishing returns comes a lot cheaper in the digital world than it does in the analog world. For a simple CD player, the point is around $100. For turntables, the point is around $750.

At $300, the Stanton T.92 is somewhat in the middle of that range and has clear advantages over the "plastic toy" turntables in the $100 range, including:

  • Spins at the proper speed (33.3 RPM): All four turntables I tested in the $100 price range spun their platters too fast. I clocked the Grace Digital Audio Vinylwriter's speed of 34.4 RPM, a 3.3% increase. This alters a musical note's pitch by a half step, according to KAB's turntable specification page. The Stanton T.92 USB spins at precisely 33.3 RPM and the strobe dots on the platter and accompanying light allow you to verify this.
  • Nearly plastic-free: On a $100 turntable, it is rare to find a platter made of metal and even more rare to find a body made of metal. The T.92 weighs in at 19 pounds and its all-metal body helps isolate it from vibrations. Its aluminum platter and direct drive motor helps keep the record spinning at a consistent speed.
  • Moving magnet cartridge: The worst cheap turntables have a ceramic cartridge, which guarantees inferior sound quality and can be rough on your LPs. Listen to the Crosley and Grace Digital Audio samples to hear for yourself. Chart #3 of the comparison guide will show you which turntables feature ceramic cartridges.
  • Upgradable cartridge: The cartridge determines the sound quality of the turntable more than any other component. With the exception of some Ion and Numark models, you cannot upgrade the cartridge on any $100 USB turntable. That said, I recommend that you do upgrade the Stanton T.92's 500.V3 cartridge to get the best sound out of it.
  • Better specifications: The "specs" on the Stanton T.92 beat any plastic toy turntable hands-down. Browse Chart #4 in the turntable guide to compare. Many of the cheap turntables don't publish figures like wow and flutter- a sure sign of either having something to hide or not bothering to find out.
  • S/PDIF Digital Output: The T.92 offers two digital outputs: USB and coaxial S/PDIF. The latter allows you to connect your turntable digitally to your home stereo. Stanton is one of a very few manufacturers to offer this. Learn more about S/PDIF turntables in our guide.

 

Cartridge Disappoints

The Stanton 500.V3 cartridge included with the T.92 USB turntable isn't any worse than you'll find on a plastic toy USB turntable. But for a capable, $300 turntable, you shouldn't have to settle for "isn't any worse."

The music samples tell the story of 500.V3 cartridge's lackluster performance. Using a blind ABX comparison, I couldn't tell the difference between samples produced on the $100 Audio-Technica AT-LP2D-USB turntable from the same samples produced on the $300 Stanton turntable.

While the other three $100 turntables didn't sound as pleasing to me as the Stanton, the Audio-Technica was a tie.

Here are the samples I used in the blind test. Try it yourself.

 

Can You Tell the Difference?
Turntable
Black Eyed Peas
Dum Diddly (Normalized Volume)
Steely Dan
Peg (Normalized Volume)
Audio-Technica AT-LP2D-USBPlay LP iconPlay LP icon
Stanton T.92 USBPlay LP iconPlay LP icon

 

One of the benefits of a more expensive turntable is the ability to set the amount of pressure the needle places on your records. Less is better and the goal for a good "hi-fi" turntable setup is between one and two grams.

The range for the 500.V3 is two to five grams. On the advice of the Hydrogen Audio community, I used the Hi-Fi News Test LP to determine the sweet spot within that range.

I came up with five grams and it still wasn't enough to prevent audible "mistracking" at a loud volume (+16dB), though it could handle +15dB. The test LP notes that +14dB "represents a typical hi-fi standard."

Stanton makes a respected hi-fi cartridge, the 681 EEE MKIII with a tracking force range of .75 to 1.5 grams. However, it's a $150 cartridge, which would certainly make the T.92 more expensive if it were part of the package. Perhaps Stanton should create a bundle or include a coupon for the 681 for its customers that want the best and are willing to pay for it.

 

Spherical Stylus Tip: Curse or Blessing?

Both the tracking issue and the closed off high-end frequencies may be attributable to the shape of the needle tip: "Spherical" (sometimes called "conical").  An "elliptical" shaped stylus tip provides better high and low frequency response tracking.

On the other hand, many people report a spherical stylus is better for worn out records and records from the 50's.

DJs also tend to prefer spherical styli over elliptical. Stanton is a DJ company and the T.92 USB is a DJ turntable. Of the 13 cartridges on Stanton's web site, all but two have spherical needle tips. Therefore, it's not surprising to find a spherical tip on the T.92's cartridge.

Here's a sampling of what the vinyl community has to say about spherical tips:

  • [Ellipticals] yield greater service life, lessened groove wear and...track the HF [high frequencies] better. Many folks prefer conical styli for older and or the more worn recordings. User: Fred J, Vinyl Asylum
  • A conical stylus is the simplest, least expensive type of stylus, and is a major compromise when it comes to reproduction. An elliptical, or better still, a modified elliptical/line-contact type of stylus will be significantly better. No serious audiophile runs a conical stylus under any circumstance, except when playing shellac 78 RPM records. User: Pacific Stereo, Tapeheads.net
  • I find a conical stylus to generally give me less noise and distortion than other stylus types when playing those beat-up, bargain-bin albums; a Stanton 500.V3 cartridge is mounted up and working fine for me at a 3-gram downforce. User: Jrtent, AudioKarma
  • When choosing a new cartridge, especially a less-expensive one, it's important to know which types of stylus work best. The cheapest type is Spherical, and is to be avoided. Turntable Basics Advice Page

 

Other Considerations

Some final thoughts on the Stanton T.92 USB turntable:

  • Cartridge pre-mounted but some assembly required. Mounting and aligning a cartridge is a task that requires expertise and patience. Lucky, Stanton has done this already. You must do a few things yourself, though. Stanton's instructions do a good job of explaining it all. Here's what you need to do:
    • Balance the tonearm. Just adjust the counterweight until the tonearm floats.
    • Set the tracking force and anti-skate compensation. Knowzy recommends setting both to 5 grams.
    • Connect to your computer. That's where the USB cable comes in.
  • No automatic features. Like most DJ and more expensive turntables, the tonearm doesn't return after the record is done playing and there's no button to automatically start the record play.
  • Records softly. Must digitally adjust afterward. One sad thing about most USB turntables on the market is that you cannot adjust the recording volume before the analog audio becomes digital. Each turntable records at a different volume level. The Audio-Technica AT-LP2D-USB records so loud, it occasionally clips. The T.92 has the opposite problem- it records so low that you need to raise the volume afterward. The "Normalize" function in the recording software remedies this in a snap. However, by recording with the volume so low, minute details of the music may have never been digitized in the first place.
  • No tonearm cue. Hope you have a steady hand. The T.92 doesn't have a lever to raise and lower the tonearm. You must carefully place the needle down on the spinning record using the handle on the side of the headshell.
  • Powerful Windows software but not designed for digitizing vinyl. Stanton includes Windows software that offers a great number of features. However, it wasn't designed for recording vinyl, making the task somewhat awkward. Read the complete review of Cakewalk's pyro Audio Creator LE to learn more.

 

 

Details and Specificatons

Turntable Basics
CategoriesUSB, DJ, S/PDIF
Suitable for 78 RPM?Yes
Pre-Amp?Yes
Upgadable Cartridge?Yes
CD Burner?No
SD Card, USB Flash DriveNo
iPod DockNo
SoftwareCakewalk pyro 5, Audacity
Tape Player, RadioNo
SpeakersNo
Remote Control?No

 

Connections
USB OutputYes
Line OutRCA
Phono OutRCA
Headphone OutNo
Line InNo
S/PDIF OutCoax
Ground WireNo

 

Turntable Construction
Cartridge TypeMoving Magnet
Cartridge Mount1/2"
Cartridge Make/ModelStanton 500.V3
Adjustable Anti-SkateYes
DriveDirect
Adjustable GainNo
Speeds33.3, 45 & 78 RPM
PlatterDiecast Aluminum
Automatic FeaturesManual
Tonearm CueNo
DustcoverCloth
Tonearm Height AdjustmentNo
Offset Tonearm?Yes
Adjustable FeetYes

 

Turntable Features
Adjustable Pitch?± 12%
Pitch Lock?Yes
Reverse (Backward) PlayYes
Strobe Light?Yes
Cue LightNo

 

Specifications
Signal to Noise (S/N)> 65dB
Wow and Flutter< 0.15
Vertical Tracking Force (VTF)5g1
Tracking Error< 3°
Effective Tonearm Length230.5mm
Speed VarianceNot Published
Counterweight RangeNot Published
Cartridge Weight Range5.5g
A/D Resolution16-bit, 44.1 or 48kHz
Dimensions (W x D x H)452 x 370 x 143mm
Weight8.6kg

1  Tracking force range for included 500.V3 cartridge is 2 - 5 grams. In Knowzy's tests, the T.92 required 5 grams to avoid mistracking on reasonably challenging test LP tracks.

 

 

Photos and Pictures

Marketing Photo #1

Idealized marketing photo of the Stanton T.92 USB Turntable.

 

Close-up photo shows the Stanton 500.V3 cartridge and stylus mounted on the tonearm of a Stanton T.92 USB Turntable.
Cartridge Close-Up

Comes with a Stanton 500.V3 cartridge. Had to use 5 grams of VTF to avoid mistracking on challenging test LP tracks.

 

Photo of the back panel of the Stanton T.92 USB Turntable. Output jacks, a switch and a power lead are visible.
Back Side

Your connection options: USB, RCA and coax S/PDIF. The PH/LINE switch bypasses the pre-amp when set to phono.

 

Photo shows the Stanton T.92 USB Turntable at eye-level. It appears bare as it has yet to be assembled.
View from the Front

Still unassembled. The platter and cartridge are not yet installed.

 

Photo shows a new headshell with a pre-mounted cartridge secured in styrofoam packaging.
Cartridge Pre-mounted to Headshell

Just screw the locking ring to seat the headshell to the tonearm. No mounting or alignment required.

 

Marketing Photo #2

Idealized marketing photo of the Stanton T.92 USB Turntable.

 

Marketing Photo #3

Idealized marketing photo of the Stanton T.92 USB Turntable.

 

 

 

Sample Audio Clips

Album Cover: The Black Eyed Peas - Monkey Business

The Black Eyed Peas - Dum Diddly

Source: Stanton T.92 USB

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: Stanton T.92 USB

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

Pink Floyd - On the Run

Source: Stanton T.92 USB

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

Steely Dan - Peg

Source: Stanton T.92 USB

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

Fleetwood Mac - Rhiannon (Abused LP)

Source: Stanton T.92 USB

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:  Monday, December 12, 2011, 8:14 PM PT

Last Updated:  Wednesday, December 14, 2011, 9:59 AM PT

Version 4

 


 

 

Mobile View

Small pictures, no script, no sidebars.

Smartphone View

Bigger pictures, some script, no sidebars.

Desktop Icon
Desktop View (Selected)

Full Knowzy experience with script enhancements.

 
Copyright © 2018 Devise Technologies, Inc.