Fully featured budget turntable based around traditional Technics 1210 style looks, with a modern USB output that enables the turntable to send a 44.1kHz signal to a computer for encoding. It doesn’t have the same bass response as a more expensive 1210, for example, but for the basics, including vinyl ripping, home DJing and even learning to scratch, it’s a decent start – although but for pro use in clubs or advanced scratching, a definite no-go. Overall, for the money it’s an OK turntable choice.
First Impressions / Setting up
At first glance the TT250 looks like any budget Technics copy. Things are roughly in the same places, but different enough for you to realise it’s not the same as “the real thing”. It weighs a lot less to start with, and the case is plastic. The S-shaped tonearm has counterbalance, height and anti-skate controls, although they’re cheaper feeling than pro turntables.
That said, the platter is die-cast aluminium, and still has the iconic strobe markings around it, the target light is still there (although not as pleasingly damped as the Technics version), and the other stuff – 33/45, start/stop, and decent long-throw pitch slider – is all where you’d expect it to be. There’s even a decent spring-loaded dust cover, something some turntable manufacturers nowadays fail to include.
Differences in the design from that iconic Technics layout: For one, the strobe light holder doesn’t double up as a rotating on/off switch (that’s a rocker top left near the – inexplicably still included – jukebox 45 converter). Also, there are pitch bend buttons by the pitch fader, which are a great idea. And of course (the clue’s in the name) the TT250 USB has a USB socket, for easy ripping of music straight to computer.
Like Technics 1210s but unlike some other brands, the RCA lead and the power lead are hardwired in, and the feet are also height adjustable. Unlike Technics, though, there is no separate earth lead (which is a good thing), and the output is line-level, due to the unit having a built in phono pre-amp.
We tested these with a pile of old vinyl, to rip some vinyl, to DJ with vinyl, with Serato timecode (to check the accuracy of the speed using Serato’s 100th-of-a-second BPM readout), and for some rudimentary scratching.
Playing vinyl they worked fine, and the USB socket meant easy ripping. The software supplied is called EZ Vinyl/Tape converter, and works well enough (it only rips to WAV with PC, but to any format iTunes can rip to on Mac), although frankly Audacity is free and pretty much industry standard for this type of thing.
DJing with them had a bit of a learning curve, as although these are direct drive, meaning there’s no belt between the motor and the platter (something that’s a prerequisite for easy DJing), they have nowhere near the torque of pro turntables, meaning they speed up more slowly, and a light touch on the platter is enough to stop it turning. That means they lack the feel of pro turntables.
Having said that, they are at least better than belt drive turntables for DJing on (anyone remember the pain of that?), and the +/- pitch bend buttons are a great addition to help with manual beatmixing. Testing with Serato DVS we found the +/-10% damped pitch control to be reliable, and the quartz-controlled speed to be fairly accurate.
Numark makes a point of saying these work out of the box, meaning they have a cartridge and needle supplied, but it’s a cheap one. It sounds OK, but the cartridge and needle are held into the headshell with just a small blob of glue, and they come apart easily (one of ours was apart in the box), meaning you’ll have to re-glue them. We’d definitely recommend replacing the cartridge and headshell with something better if you’re serious about DJing on these, especially if you want to scratch.
Our scratch tester Steve Canueto used to hack old hifi turntables and has DJed on all kinds of stuff, and he put them through their paces. His conclusion for scratch DJs was that while they’re certainly not pro, they’d be a good stepping stone as you raised your skills. He again agrees that better cartridges and needles are a good idea, but concluded by saying world champs have learned on gear far less capable than this!
They look OK, to an extent they feel the part, and as long as you don’t want pro-grade materials and high motor torque, they perform well enough. For pro/heavy use or advanced scratching you definitely want to look elsewhere as they’re not up to the task, even if you replace the cartridges.
But if you want a turntable for ripping vinyl, one of these would be fine – results are great. Likewise, if you want a pair of DJ turntables for general DJing at home and possibly the odd gig, they’re fine too, although they will not absorb vibrations as well as better built and isolated turntables in loud situations, doe to their plastic construction and lighter weight. This is true of all turntables at this price point.
Many people want the pleasure of playing and mixing with vinyl and could never justify spending the huge amounts necessary to acquire a pair of pro turntables. Like the turntables from other brands at this point, they fit the bill for this use case – just about. However, the construction quality lacks, and it shows.
Take a look too at the Reloop RP-2000 USB, the Audio Technica AT-LP120-USBHC, and the Stanton T62, which offer similar feature sets at around the same price.