In a previous post here in the TechRepublic Practical Gadgetry blog, I reviewed the Ion iTTUSB Turntable. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the digital recordings I could make of my old vinyl records with the Ion product. But at the suggestion of several readers, including Drew Kaplan of DAK Industries, I tried the DAK GLI Pro system and compared it to the iTTUSB. To my surprise, the DAK system blew the previous turntable out of the water when it comes to sound quality. At about $100 more than the iTTUSB, the DAK is more expensive, but to my ears I think the money is well spent.
The thing the Ion turntable had going for it was convenience — plug in the USB cable, push a button, and start recording. The DAK GLI Pro system is slightly more complicated in that it consists of two parts: the Model BD-1600 turntable and the Model GLX-2800 mixer. The DAK system also requires the services of a dedicated sound card inside of a personal computer. This means having a few more cables to contend with while you are playing and/or recording vinyl media, but it is not unmanageable.
Setting up the DAK turntable system was more time consuming than the Ion turntable, but the DAK system includes several video tutorials on how to set up the system and use the various software applications that came with it. These video tutorials are given by Drew Kaplan and really make the whole process idiot-proof. They also have some entertainment value — Drew seems like quite a character.
Once the system is set up, like the Ion product, all you have to do is push a few buttons to start recording. The wave editing software handles the rest of the process and includes filters and features for removing hiss, popping, and other artifacts common to vinyl media. The video tutorials do a good job of explaining how each filter and feature works. When you get the hang of it, the process is really pretty simple.
For comparison's sake, I made digital recordings of The Who's Meaty, Beaty, Big, and Bouncy and Jethro Tull's Aqualung, both of which I recorded using the Ion iTTUSB before. While the iTTUSB sound quality was adequate for MP3s, it pales in comparison to the DAK system. This is where the two systems begin to separate. The GLI Pro turntable is sturdier, the stylus is better, and it reproduces a much fuller sound compared to the previous product. It appears that both systems are using the LAME codec, but the DAK seems to be tweaked for higher quality sound.
However, there are a couple of points I want to make before the audiophile thugs beat me up in comments to this post: The DAK system will not make the best recordings you could possibly make if money were no object. And, yes, if you already have a turntable, amplifier/mixer, and a way to connect to a computer with a sound card, you don't need to buy the DAK system. But if you don't, the DAK GLI Pro turntable and mixer is an excellent option. One that is better then the iTTUSB we reviewed before, even at around $100 more.
Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.