Sony PS-HX500 £249
We first tested Sony’s PS-HX500 a couple of years ago and gave it a glowing five star review. At the time it cost £450. At its current price, however, the Sony is easily the best-value turntable of its kind on the market. Not to mention one of the few we’ve listened to that’s able to rip your records in hi-res.
Equipped with an internal analogueto-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 Windowsfriendly 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.
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.
Of course, there’s little advantage in ripping your vinyl to hi-res – or even playing it straight off the deck – if the PS-HX500’S sound quality is poor. But our Awards aren’t dished out merely for innovation or technical wizardry – this deck excels in its own right.
There’s no mistaking the Sony’s penchant for detail, nor how articulate it is with offbeat rhythmic patterns, or when tying together multiple instrumental strands for a coherent and layered delivery. It has the dynamic dexterity to bring to our attention fairly tenuous sonic shifts as well.
Enthusiastic and sure-footed
The sprightly Sony is quick off the bench too, springing into action with a real sense of gusto and agility, putting its foot down when the piece requires, though equally capable of exposing vulnerability.
Each performance is set in a wide-open space, too, comfortably accommodating a full orchestra and helping expose the detail in each line without losing that all-important cohesiveness.
It’s possible to partner the likes of Rega’s Planar 1 with an outboard phono stage that also digitises your vinyl. In absolute terms that would give you an even better sound, but it’s not as neat a solution and will cost around £100 more.
That’s why the PS-HX500 retains this Award. We simply haven’t come across a better-sounding, better-value alternative.
More than just a means of ripping vinyl to digital, the Sony is a greatsounding deck