Sony PS-HX500 review: a turntable to revive your collection of classics
Sometimes the simplest turntables, those that have the most sober and clean appearance, without extra additions, hide under their design a statement of intent: "you want to play vinyl, because that's exactly what you're going to do." I must say that the Sony PS-HX500, presented in the background at the last CES in Las Vegas, did not particularly attract attention. What can you do that not many other turntables on the market do?
To my surprise I have verified that this PS-HX500 not only reproduce vinyls with a superior performance, but they allow us to digitize them in high resolution, to listen to them anywhere as they were conceived.
Assembly and design
The first thing that catches your attention when you open the packaging This Sony PS-HX500 is an undeniable feeling of robustness. We are talking about more than 5 kg of base.The assembly consists simply of a couple of usual steps: on the base we have to mount the plate, made of very stable cast aluminum and well finished. Through the hole in the plate we must attach the rubber strap to the transmission system, then mount the mat, a rubber mat about 5 millimeters high; and finally mount the dust cover, using two hinges.
At a glance you can see that we are dealing with a high performance turntable
From here you can see the first details of being in front of something special, in front of a high-performance turntable. The hinges of the cover are carpeted, helping to isolate from the possible redundant vibration that the methacrylate cover receives. That the rubber mat weighs almost twice as much as the aluminum platter also yields relevant information: on this record player it is very difficult to produce distortions or tremolos due to vibration —with a fluctuation of less than 0.25%, according to Sony itself -.
Everything in it is designed to isolate and minimize reverberations. The base is 30 millimeter thick MDF (medium density fiberboard), with thick tinting to prevent dust from sticking, suitable for smoother surfaces. Inside it includes a direct current servo motor and a circuit board made of epoxy resin, providing a further flexibility and stability to the whole.
If we look at the back, we will find the power connection (230V), a USB 2.0 connection, a GND ground connector, unbalanced stereo RCA audio output and an output selector pin, either line or phono . In this way we can choose between the internal phonographic equalizer or an external one, in case we already have an amplifier dedicated to it. The cables, as usual in these cases, are quite short, but at least the power cable is not attached to the structure.
On the front we have an on / off switch, with a 33 RPM or 45 RPM selector. He packaging It also includes a 45 rpm adapter to play 17-centimeter vinyl records. The right side of the table is made up of a manual reading arm —with a safety pin to hold the arm when not in use—, the lever, an anti-slip wheel, which we can calibrate from 0 to 4, and the weight, with a white line that marks the starting point from where to regulate the balance of the arm.
Something that I liked less are the legs. Its rubber dampers absorb vibration and leak it thanks to the small grooves in the structure. However, a classic modular screw-on leg would have been a more correct finish for a product with these characteristics.
Arm, needle and performance
The tonal arm of the Sony PS-HX500 is completely straight, designed to sharpen the precision of the needle reading and that the torsion generated by the aerodynamics itself, while we are playing music, does not affect or cause fluctuations. The needle has a very comfortable mounting and dismounting system. After removing the protective hood, we just have to hold the body of the pickup cartridge and slightly pull down and forward.
The counterweight is robust, slightly oiled as usual, but the calibration of the arm is not exactly intuitive. I spent about 30 minutes blindly testing different pressures, as I had no practical estimate of the weight of the cartridge. The instructions also did not specify any recommendations. For my part I recommend leaving the anti-skate at point 3 and the weight at 3.1.
The first conclusion I get from the PS-HX500 is that this is a turntable on which the stylus floats a bit. As much as I overloaded my arm, at no time did I notice that I was literally pressing on the vinyl. This is a virtue in terms of safety and shelf life for our vinyls, but it also limits the intensity and volume of reproduction. On the other hand, it could be said that another test passes in which many fall: it does not reproduce the light blows on the base, a clear sign that the damping is doing its job perfectly. If you receive, instead, that same tapping on the upper deck, due to fluctuations in air pressure generated by that previous cabin.
Digitizing past and present
Well. Let us now with one of the most suggestive features of this Sony PS-HX500. The Tokyo brand has opted with this turntable for the conversion from analog to digital in a flexible and simple way. At Sony they know that vinyl lives a sweet period, and nothing better to enjoy our collection than taking it where we like and using the highest possible quality.
All we have to do is connect the USB cable to its corresponding output and, from there, to our PC or MAC. For this we need the Hi-Res Audio Recorder application, which you can download for free directly from here (Windows or Mac OSX). As you can see in the image, the recording system is clean and very intuitive. The internal D / A converter supports original 2.8MHz analog to DSD or 5.6MHz (128x) digital conversions.
In PCM we can record both 16 and 24 bit resolution and at frequencies ranging from 44.1 kHZ, the standard of an audio CD, to 192 kHZ. So we can convert our vinyls into resulting tracks in DSF format - high resolution three-dimensional modeling format - or WAV. I performed the test, using a direct line, from a Mac OS X 10.11.5, stopping the recording on each track and entering the author names and others. metadata, in 24 bit / 96 kHZ WAV format.
The result is impeccable: somehow it conserves its own artifacts and oddities, managing to transmit all those nuances that make vinyl a special and characteristic format. The editor, by the way, allows you to cut and delete the parts of the recording that you are not interested in, such as an audio sequencer. Very practical to delete from the app itself the noise bridges between tracks or to clean the beginnings and closing of disk.
The result of digitization is impeccable: a reliable conversion for our vinyls
Then, of course, we can convert those files to MP3 and listen to it in the car, on the mobile, or store them on a hard drive. Although that is not at all the goal of Sony with a turntable with similar characteristics. In this particular I recommend the user to convert the original files - you will find 400 megabyte mastodons - to FLAC, a more manageable format but that at least takes care not to cut frequencies drastically.
Sony PS-HX500, Xataka's opinion
The Sony PS-HX500 is reliable, although not perfect. It lacks a plus of flexibility, to cover greater profiles of users. The needle offers about 3g of pressure on the paper, which is insufficient. I have the feeling that, on the machine, you can still provide elements to beat your competitors. Its analog performance is solvent, within the price range and capabilities, but where it really stands out is in its digital performance. It is the first turntable on the market to offer direct conversion to DSD.
Jazz pieces are heard with a thick, warm timbre
The records sound amazing, the jazz pieces I tried - mostly the classic 'Kind Of Blue' and 'A Love Supreme' - sound thick, with a warm, smooth timbre, without the sweet coloration so typical of the digital format, even translating the most "scratchy" moments of the original. With electronic parts, like Amon Tobin's 'Foley Room', I discovered 'notes' and nuances beyond what I remembered.
In short, it could be said that this record player, which we can buy for 399 euros, arrives at the perfect time to delight those who have a good collection of vinyls to digitize, either for space or practicality, but at the analog and construction level they do not represent a great sound revolution.
The product has been released for testing by Sony. Can inquire our policy of relationships with enterprises
Sony PSHX500 - Turntable (capable of converting vinyl to audio)Today in amazon for € 249.08