Akai Pro responds to market demand with hybrid turntable

The BT-500 turntable from Akai Professional

The BT-500 turntable from Akai Professional.

Though lossy digital music formats like MP3 offer today's music lover many advantages, including the chance to carry whole collections around on one portable device, the listening experience can be less than satisfying. Not surprising then that modern audioholics are fueling an upsurge in analog formats like vinyl, with media analyst Nielsen recording a rise of 30 percent in US sales last year. Singapore-based Akai Professional is looking to tap into this growing market with a stylish new turntable named the BT-500 that's said to offer "no-compromise audiophile performance," together with analog-to-digital conversion and wireless streaming capabilities.

The belt-drive BT-500 turntable features a mechanically-isolated motor designed to eliminate noise and vibration, with Akai promising "vanishingly low" wow and flutter (speed fluctuations) from a drive system that supports 33 1/3 and 45 rpm speeds for album and single playback. The anti-resonance die-cast aluminum platter topped by a non-slip rubber mat have a combined weight of 1.6 lb (0.73 kg), and the low mass straight tonearm with adjustable counterweight and anti-skating control comes with a pre-mounted AT95E dual moving-magnetic cartridge for easy set up straight out of the box.

The deck's MDF base with walnut finish has also been designed to minimize vibration, and Akai has even thrown in an integrated leveling bubble to help users adjust the feet for precision placement. A phono pre-amp has been included so buyers won't have to worry about spending extra cash on an external pre-amp when cabling from the gold-plated RCA jacks to a hi-fi amplifier that doesn't have its own phono stage. The turntable also sports its own headphone jack for private listening.

Like the Air LP from Ion Audio and Audio Technica's recently-announced AT-LP60-BT, the BT-500 features integrated Bluetooth streaming for wireless streaming to any powered BT speaker within range. Though vinyl lovers might consider the inevitable loss in sound quality encountered by streaming over Bluetooth too high a price to pay, the convenience of being able to share tunes using a small portable speaker does have some appeal.

There's built-in analog-to-digital conversion, with a choice of 44.1 or 48 kHz sampling rates, both at 16-bits, which is nowhere near as high a resolution offering as Sony's upcoming HX500 turntable, but probably good enough for most portable music listening needs. The BT-500 connects to a computer over USB, with the buyer receiving a download card for some format conversion software.

The BT-500 is scheduled for release in Q2 2016 for a suggested retail of US$399.99.

Source: Akai Professional

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