SONY PS-HX500 - REVIEW
Convert Your Records to High Resolution Digital Music Files

Record-ripping turntables have been around for a while, but the Sony PS-HX500 can record up to DSD 5.6. Ergo, Sony calls it a ‘hi-res turntable’, so it’s not surprising that one of the first things we notice when lifting the Sony from its box is the hi-res audio logo sitting loud and proud on the plinth’s front-facing edge.

While the ripping feature hardly seems necessary to keep the resurgence in full swing, it does mean that those buying their favourite LPs won’t also have to head to a download site to get it in glorious high-resolution for their smartphone or portable music player.

So how does it work? Equipped with an internal analogue-to-digital converter and USB type-B output, the PS-HX500 simply hooks up to your laptop or computer’s USB input and, via Sony’s Mac- and Windows-friendly High Res Audio Recorder software, records the vinyl either as a WAV (up to 24-bit/192kHz) or DSD (5.6MHz) file.

The process is simple enough too: just choose your desired format, hit ‘record’ when the vinyl starts playing, ‘stop’ when it’s finished and hey presto! You have a hi-res song. And of course, you can split recordings into individual tracks too.

Invariably, some will jump at the chance to digitise their collection while others will be less bothered. If you belong to the second group, you’ll be interested to know that elsewhere the PS-HX500 behaves and looks very much like a typical turntable.

On the design front, this turntable hasn’t followed in the fashionable footsteps of Sony’s colourful Walkmans, instead apeing the minimalist approach of rival decks around this price. The straight-edged, angle-cornered rectangular plinth is an understated, all-black affair that leaves nothing to the designer-in-you’s imagination.

The plinth is largely unadorned, save for a dial tucked in the bottom left-hand corner where you can switch speed from 33 1/3rpm to 45rpm, and the low-sitting platter adds to that simplistic aesthetic. While we prefer the more substantial, towering construction of the Audio Technica AT-LP5 (£330), the quality of Sony’s slender, vertically challenged build is fine.

It means you have to bend down a little further to put on a record than you do with the Audio Technica, but the four feet, which are fixed to the plinth, can be screwed to raise the overall height.

Anything that keeps vinyl fresh and appealing is gold in our eyes, and the PS-HX500 is a good example of that. It's a best-of-both turntable that caters for record spinning and hi-res ripping, and to anyone torn between their affection for the nostalgia and tangibility of vinyl, and the convenience and practicality of digital.

VERDICT: As always, performance is king, though, and in this instance that only furthers the Sony’s likeability; while it’s not the classiest-looking turntable on the market, it has all the class in the sound suite instead. A very good buy.

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