Are you looking to invest in a new turntable but do not know where to turn? Perhaps you are looking for your very first turntable, or instead just one that you can have in a new room of the house? Have you read another ION turntable review but want to get the real lowdown?
Then step up and hear the good word today as we explore the ION Audio Max turntable/record player, weighing some of the reasons why you might and might not invest in such a thing.
Table of Contents
Before delving right into this review, we thought it best to offer an overview of some of the basic pros and cons of the ION Audio Max LP – why you might or why might not like to invest your hard-earned dollars into such a vessel.
First, what makes this an exciting and worthwhile investment:
- This will be the perfect turntable for someone looking for value for money or otherwise for a turntable that is going to allow them to listen to their vinyl collection without breaking the bank.
- This comes replete with a lot of features that might otherwise be missing from more expensive turntables, namely Bluetooth capabilities and the ability to record the vinyl to mp3, converting vinyls to CD.
- This turntable can play at all three of the main turntable speeds, 33, 45, and 78 rpm.
- The onboard speakers are not so bad, with dual surround sound that features a surprisingly strong bass response considering their meager size.
- Thankfully, there are also RCA outputs, meaning you can connect to a more adept set of external speakers, eliding the need for digital files to boost the sound quality.
Of course, there must almost always be a flipside, and so come the cons:
- The speakers, though great for their size, are no match for a decent set of external speakers. They are purely there to facilitate the listening of the music at a base level – little else should be expected of them in this regard, lest you be disappointed.
- Likewise, the stylus and most other components, while impressive for the price, are no match for more expensive models, no matter how many extra features you lather on top that you might not otherwise be able to get with more expensive record players.
Though undoubtedly unacceptable in a lot of ways, some congratulations has to be lauded on the ION Audio Air LP for not conforming to the ever-burgeoning cult of minimalism that seems to permeate just about every level of the design world. Much like the conspiratorial fears that all logos are slowly becoming more smooth and more minimal, this now feels like a very valid concern.
It sometimes feels like this trend is nowhere more prevalent than in the design of audiophile equipment, though thankfully, ION is trying to do things a little differently. It is, however, not good enough, and we are left wishing that they did things a little differently regarding the quality of the materials and the effort that went into putting them all together, though this makes a decent-enough Bluetooth speaker.
The overall design aesthetic might alienate some, especially when considering how garish the fake wood finish is, but this is entirely subjective at the end of the day.
Considering the price tag, the wealth of features available here is something laud above all else. Something that will no doubt appeal to the millennial collector is the fact that not only can this thing play records, but it can also feed them into a computer via a USB output, meaning that you can listen to records on the go through headphones in your pocket.
Even if you are the kind of collector who is more likely to just collect records, this will no doubt have its uses. Picture, for example, finding a record that you like so much but that you cannot find anywhere on the internet, let alone on YouTube or other streaming services like Spotify. This might sound far-fetched, but you would be surprised how much music still goes under the radar of the internet.
Imagine, then, in this scenario, that you would still like to listen to this record outside of the bounds of your house but that you can’t owing to the previous circumstances. Having a turntable with the ability to convert vinyl to digital media formats through vinyl-to-digital conversion (EZ vinyl tape converter), then, would be a pretty handy way to achieve your dream, eh?
If that was not enough, then there is also the ability to connect the turntable to a Bluetooth speaker or to connect another device to the Bluetooth speakers that are built into the turntable, not to mention the fact that there is already a built-in phono stage that means you do not have to buy one separately for the built-in stereo speakers (or even the headphone jack)
As many other reviewers have already noted, your relative appreciation or feeling toward something is often relative to your expectations going into it in the first place. If you go into an experience with the ION Audio Max LP expecting good sound quality then you are going to be vastly disappointed. The central aim here does not seem to be private listening like an audiophile. It is more like an all-in-one turntable that offers all those things a more expensive LP turntable can do for cheap.
If, alternatively, you expect little else than this from the turntable, then you should be more or less satisfied with your investment. This is a great turntable for those just starting – it gives you a feel for using a record player without losing too much of your money should you decide that this is not quite the right hobby for you.
The stylus is a little too loud, and the detail is very much lacking, making this the kind of turntable that will simply be unacceptable for those with a discerning ear. Praise should be given to the decent balance of high, mid, and low frequencies, especially when fed to a decent set of external speakers that are well suited to the task.
In this price range, there are scarcely any better competitors than the already much-praised Audio Technica AT-LP60. Though a little more expensive than the ION Audio Max, the extra investment is well worth it. Sure, it does not come with a pair of built-in speakers and can only play at 33 and 45 rpm. However, we might argue that the speakers included with the ION Audio Max will only really last however long it takes for you to lose patience with how bad they sound (and no one listens to records at 78 rpm anyway)!
This turntable is fully-automatic and offers superior sound quality thanks to the promises of Audio-Technica to bring affordable brilliance to a mass audience. Audio-Technica has, in particular, been praised over the years for the exemplary performance of its cartridges, which are often relied upon by many other turntable manufacturers who, though good at manufacturing turntables, are not nearly as good at cartridge design.
Hence why many only audiophile resources (ourselves included) would suggest that you can scarcely do much better than the Audio-Technica AT-LP60, especially when limiting yourself to this price range. Indeed, for under $150, you really cannot do better (we dare you). And while it is a shame that you will have to source your own stereo setup and speakers, you are likely to have done so in the future anyhow, so why not start off on the right footing?
So, there you have it! Hopefully, you are now feeling ready and able to make a wise and well-informed decision on purchasing a new turntable, preferably steering clear of this turntable if you can afford to do so.
FAQs ION Turntable Review
Is the ION turntable any good?
This will very much depend on your metric of good – i.e. what exactly good means to you – something that is, in a sense, relative to your expectations. If, indeed, your expectations going into the purchase of an ION Audio Max turntable are to own a turntable or record player that can offer exemplary sound quality and craft a singular listening experience, then you are likely going to be severely disappointed. If, alternatively, you come to an ION Audio Max just hoping that it will allow you to listen to your records easily and without hassle, then you are likely to be satisfied with the overall experience.
Do ION turntables have a preamp?
Indeed they do, though your opinion of their performance will very much depend on the kind of expectations you have going into the experience. If you expect an audiophile-quality of sound from the ION Audio Max, then you are going to be rather disappointed. If, though, you won’t place too many expectations on the turntable and simply want it to spin discs without too much thought, then the ION Audio Max will likely do you some real good.
Why is my ION turntable running slowly?
This could be for one of many reasons. Perhaps you are not giving it enough power, the plug being slightly removed from the socket? Or, perhaps the belt that helps the motor spin the turntable platter is damaged or otherwise completely broken, in which case you will need to source and install a replacement. Alternatively, it might be an issue with the motor itself, clogged as it may be with dirt, dust, and/or debris. Similarly, this could be the kind of issue related to the quality of the turntable itself – these things do happen with relatively affordable turntables that are not built to the highest of standards.
Does the ION turntable have Bluetooth?
Indeed it does, and it can function in two ways, either allowing you to send the phono signal of the turntable to an external Bluetooth speaker or allowing you to connect another device to the built-in speakers. However, your opinion of their performance will very much depend on the kind of expectations you have going into the experience. If you expect an audiophile-quality of sound from the ION Audio Max, then you are going to be rather disappointed. If, though, you won’t place too many expectations on the turntable and simply want it to spin discs without too much thought, then the ION Audio Max will likely do you some real good.