You can spend endless amounts of time and money converting vinyl records to digital formats.

My method is to prep records and then lift the signal from a Linn-based system recording directly onto a Mac. Despite the amount of time I've poured into researching, setting up and operating it - not to mention the cost - it's still quite a basic setup.

Budget turntable

Enter the Numark TTi: a bargain-basement, lightweight-plastic, cheaply configured turntable with tone arm, cartridge and rumbling platter that, incredibly, makes fairly decent vinyl recordings.

The quality is a little tinny, but acceptable nonetheless and not nearly as thin as we were expecting. We think most users, except the fussiest of audiophiles, would be happy with the results.

The deck records straight to an iPod or to a Mac (see iPod compatibility in Key Specs, above) but neither method is perfect. In the box is a copy of Audacity, recording software that still looks ugly to us, so we used Sound Studio 3 instead. Performance was not consistent.

Record from your iPod

We experienced a build up in static feedback from some records, so you'll need an anti-static gun if you don't already have one. The boxed stylus and cartridge are cheap as chips, but sounded surprisingly decent.

We experimented by replacing the boxed cart with a Shure Whitelabel cart pilfered from a spare Technics deck and that improved things further. There is no grounding cable on the deck, so it must be grounding through the plug and allowing the static to build up. One black mark there.

Recording to the iPod produced better results. The table has an iPod dock, which is cheap and has no trays to comfortably fit the iPod, but it cleverly uses the same voice memo software on the iPod that iPod dictaphones work with.

Buttons on the right-hand side of the table navigate the iPod controls and recordings are made very quickly indeed. You'll still need to label each track and transfer it to your Mac, but transfers can easily be done in batches and then labelled using iTunes.

You get 33 and 45rpm speeds, a pitch control, and software for recording 78s as 33rpm and converting them.

Simple and speedy

Overall, the system lacks refinement, but the speed at which you can make recordings means you can get through big chunks of vinyl in next to no time.

This system is recommended if you're prepared to upgrade the cartridge soon. If not keep an eye out for the Pro-Ject Debut III/Phono USB.