I have to concur. The entire makeup of that Ion portable is junk. No offense, but objectively speaking, the plinth is resonant plastic, the cartridge/stylus is pretty much as cheap as they come, most likely a conical cut or at worst, ceramic needle. The tonearm is just a bent piece of metal tubing, and the motor is anything but accurate. As I noted, I've owned several of their turntables in the past and am fairly familiar with what materials are used in their construction.
As for space, if you want a fairly small, really good entry level "audiophile grade" turntable, look at the new Pro-Ject Debut Carbon. It's been winning a lot of awards in "best of" catagories this year, it's about as affordable as a good turntable will get, and it comes with a fairly good cartridge already, pre-mounted on a carbon fiber tonearm. It won't take any more space than an Ion would really, and it's of far better quality.
It's also a pretty sexy table.Pro-Ject Debut Carbon on Crutchfield
There's a link to the Carbon model, with or without USB, in any color you'd like. They sell for about $399 retail, or a bit cheaper if you search the net sometimes.
OK I came back to edit this post and add some more info in hopes of helping you turn from the dark side
A few considerations:
-Once you hear a good turntable, you'll wonder how you ever managed to accept that Ion portable, which incidentally, is rated as one of the worst products Ion makes, and that's really saying something since they don't actually make anything "good."
The reason changing your needle won't help, is that a turntable is a mechanical device, unlike an optical device of any sort, that requires no vibration or resonance anywhere but where the needle rides in the groove. This means the base, or plinth needs to remain completely still and damped, the motor has to be quiet, and free from vibration at a steady rate of RPM, and the tonearm and cartridge should not resonate when the cantilever and needle are moving up and down in the groove, else that resonance will reverberate right back through the needle and cause coloration in the sound. The end result is that the entire chain is really only as strong as it's weakest link, and you need a decent table, tonearm, and cart if you want your vinyl (plural of vinyl is vinyl, by the way) to last, and also to sound good when you play it.
Also, please be careful of 180g and 200g vinyl, as there is a well-known issue with the heavier vinyl, wherein during the injection process for producing the albums, due to the added volume of vinyl being injected into the mold, not all of the grooves are fully, and properl;y filled. In short, 180 and 200 gram vinyl isn't always "superior" and often actually has issues that the 120 or 140 gram vinyl does not. Just something to keep in mind. The important thing in any recording honestly, is the mastering, not the medium. A CD has twice the dynamic range of a record *96dB for CD versus about 70dB on virgin, never played vinyl, which degrades as it's been played oover time) but if the record is, for example, a Blue Note LP that's got really exceptional mastering work done before it was cut on vinyl, it will sound ten times better than the same album on CD, if the CD was mastered during the "Loudness Wars" (wiki that) and the mastering is abysmal.
If you'd really like to learn more about vinyl, there is a site called vinylengine.com that has enormous amounts of info about turntables, records, and the like. Well worth looking into, if you plan to enjoy vinyl regularly.Edited by GlassWolf - 8/17/12 at 7:47am