Portable vinyl. That’s the dream, right? The quality of a record, with the convenience of a coat pocket? It looks as if Sony may have cracked it with the PS-HX500, a turntable with the ability to rip vinyl to high-resolution files. It’s due on sale later this year, around May, for £450. We visited Sony HQ in Weybridge and got our first look at the product since it was launched at the beginning of the year at CES 2016.
Why a hi-res ripping turntable? Because, while there has been a significant vinyl resurgence, the demand for convenience remains every bit as strong. This is Sony’s way of handling both. We are no strangers to USB turntables with vinyl-ripping software, but Sony claims it is the first in the world to produce a model that rips to hi-res audio.
From the outside, it looks like any other audiophile turntable. Its sleek, subdued appearance contrasts starkly with the chunky glitz of the new Technics SL-1200G. That means tracking weight and bias compensation (and even a lid with removable hinges) but no flashy lights.
There’s a high-density 30mm plinth, belt-driven by a two-speed motor (33 and 45 RPM). The platter is made of die-cast aluminium. The mat is made of rubber, with a small recess in the centre to accommodate labels so the record couples more effectively to the platter.
The tone arm is a fresh design with an integrated head shell to minimise resonance. We are told its bearings still need some fine-tuning before it will be ready for public consumption.
It holds a moving-magnet cartridge with a standard fitting system for straightforward replacement. The feet are a custom design, intended to minimise vibration.
At the back there are inputs for power, phono left and right, plus USB type B for connection to computers. There is also a switch for bypassing the built-in phono stage.
Now for the unusual part: ripping vinyl to high-resolution audio files. By high-resolution, we mean full-fat hi-res.