Turntable, record player or phonograph whatever it is that you call the wonderful rotating musical platform are often a great addition to your musical world. So, what is it about this electronic device that audiophiles all over the world rave about?
In a few moments, you see why turntables have completely revolutionized the music industry. Whether you are a beginner or professional, getting to know turntables from its basics, helps you decide what type of record players will best suit you. We always want to get our money’s worth and to do that, it is in our best interest to gain some good knowledge of what components, features and models you want to invest in.
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THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT TURNTABLES
If you look closer turntables are just like any data transferring machine. In this case, the data is music. Basically, it transfers the music data like most other music devices. The technology, however, is different.
This incredible sound engineering process starts off when you place a record on the platter. But what extracts the sound? The stylus which is on the cartridge helps it to move between the grooves of the vinyl. It then spins records at a constant speed to generate and extract the sound waves of the music. Some of the main attraction around turntables is the process of placing your favorite record, lowering the arm and bliss! This ritualistic process along with its high fidelity attracts thousands of audiophiles around the world.
On a practical note, turntables are accredited for its high quality of music. It is able to extract sound data that often get lost in your conventional CD and other digital forms.back to menu ↑
MANUAL TURNTABLE VS AUTOMATIC TURNTABLE
Before we get talking into the more prominent specs let’s talk about the more nitty-gritty features that you might miss. These features are good to know and get a heads up on what you may be interested in. Going in let me you may see that some of these features vary from model to model, company to company but it gives you some clarity on whether or not you are interested in seeking them out in your next purchase.
A manual turntable means the user manually operates that is the act of placing the needle into the groove and returning the tonearm is done by him/her.
In a semi-automatic turntable the user starts off by using the needle into the groove, but at the end of the record playing the tonearm itself automatically lifts and returns and then the turntable shuts off.
Fully Automatic Turntable
A fully automatic turntable will, at the push of a button or lever, start the record and at the end of the record will the tonearm will lift and return and the turntable shuts off.
Let’s get something straight, you probably look at your average turntables and think they are very simple. Well, that would be very wrong to assume since phonographs are a combination and symphony of multiple parts that all come together. Of course, the higher priced ones will perform better than most. One point to note is that better-performing ones will also produce music will the least amount of motor noise. The music is the star.
To better understand turntable we break it down into its basic components. Getting to know about feature and options will help you decide on the one you want to buy in the shop. Now, let’s dive right into the anatomy of a turntable.
The base of a turntable also known as plinth is what holds the entire structure. The plinth has another important function besides being a base. It serves as an isolation part. Mainly helping to, isolate the undesired vibrations from the top structure. The base has feet. They help to provide stability. The plinth can be made from various materials. Some of them are wood, plastic, or metal. Most vintage turntable plinth was made of wood but nowadays other materials are equally popular.
In some context, the star part of your turntable is the platter upon which the records sit. The key feature being that it spins while the stylus extracts the music. Generally powered by the motor it also acts to smooth out vibrations from the motor. The platter spins at various revolutions per minute varying from 33RPM, 45RPM or 78RPM. To play 78RPM it is advised to buy a separate turntable since most play at 33RPM and 45RPM. Platters are most often than not covered by a mat as a cushion. The mat sits on the platter and acts as a layer that buffers out unwanted vibrations. Besides that, it also prevents scratches and helps reduce vibration, provides grip while playing vinyl records with higher-frequency.
One of the most essential and complex part is your tonearm. The cueing device attached holds the tonearm and helps to gently raise and lower it. The device helps the tone tonearm to get in contact with the record as smoothly as possible. Sure you can opt for an automated one than manual but most audiophiles rather go for manual ones, for it lowers the disturbance caused by tonearms motion. Tonearms consist of the cartridge and stylus. At the other end is the counterweight that helps to balance the cartridge. The process begins as soon as you swing the arm containing the stylus over the record. The stylus tracks the groove at a desired force. Straight and S-shaped are the two main arm designs used commonly. These designs help to damp the cartridge vibration. But DJs usually use a straight one while others prefer S-shaped. Most turntables some kind of alloy, especially aluminum to make tonearms. You may also see that some manufacturers often use carbon fiber, graphite, and even wood.
The stylus housed within the cartridge is a needle is what reads the grooves as the record spins beneath it. The term cartridge and stylus are often used interchangeably. The needle is a tiny pointy diamond that is either elliptical or spherical. Mostly these shapes help to trace the grooves in the record. They are polished and shaped properly to fit the record grooves. Each groove represents a different sound wave which acts on the stylus causing vibrations in the cartridge. You want as little force as possible acting on the record without losing any of the sound quality.
The stylus is supported by a phone cartridge which produces music signal when the needle moves. This successfully converts the vibrations into electrical signals that travel through the output to the speakers. To always keep the quality of cartridge and stylus in check it makes sense to make upgrades to keep the sound quality intact. You definitely need to upgrade the stylus as the needle wears down quickly with working hours. Not changing them may result in reduced sound quality. Sometimes even degrading or prematurely damaging your vinyl. The cartridge can be changed if it’s damaged or you just want to upgrade.
There are a lot of cartridge designs with a different range of prices. You may want to look into magnetic ones since cartridges of this kind tend to wear less out over time. Hence effecting less of your sound quality.
The motor spins the platter with the help of the drive systems. There are mainly two popular drive systems. First is the direct-drive system the platter sits directly on top of the motor. Second is the belt drive. Belt driven turntables run using a motor which is on the platter. A belt connects the motor to the platter. Both motor types have their fans. The more precise the bearing the smoother and friction-free is the rotation.
The feet are well-designed adjustable ones that make the leveling of your turntable easier. Besides, they also reduce vibration since they isolate the turntable plinth from shelf and floor vibrations.
RCA and USB output
Most popular turntables feature RCA (phono) outputs. Users can connect it to a receiver or powered speakers. Some turntables also sport USB output and can be paired with the computer.
The cueing lever raises and lowers the tonearm which is located near the end of the tonearm. It offers a safe way to raise and lower the tonearm from the playing surface
Wow and Flutter
Wow being slow variations in speed and Flutter being fast variations. The measurement of it is done in percentage. The calculation is in average. For a belt drive design are less than 0.1% and for a direct drive 0.05%.
The counterweight is used to set a weight like force that the stylus will use on the grooves. It helps to in the process of how well the stylus sits on the record.back to menu ↑
The drive system of turntables can be roughly be divided into three types namely- direct drive, belt drive and idler drive. Though for the sake of this article we won’t go into idler drive since its much less popular then it’s two other substitutes. So, most people will opt for either one of the drive systems. Drive systems are very important for they help in the dynamic movement of the turntable. The direct drive is designed such that the motor connects directly to the platter. The other one is belt drive where the motor is attached to a belt that spins the platter. For better understanding let’s get into the details down below.
The working of the belt drive system is that the motor drives the platter with the help of an elastic-like belt. The belt is wrapped around the platter. The motion is pulley like. It is usually manufactured from a silicone compound such as special polymer. A good belt drive system requires that the platter have a greater inertial mass to maintain speed. Belt drives are less costly and hence at any price range, you may safely assume that you are going to get a quality product. Nowadays most belt drive has electronic speed control. A recommendation would be that while changing records the turntable with this system should remind spinning. However, if torque is your concern, you should go for a direct drive one; as they typically perform better than their belt drive counterparts.
Direct drive turntables simply have the motor located underneath the platter. The rotation is done directly. Direct drive systems usually have greater torque. They typically require less maintenance since there are no belts to replace. Also when it comes to mechanical noise, a good direct drive system perform really well. In general, the direct drive system will be better or equal to any belt drive system when it comes to noise. They are better than belt drive counterparts in terms of wow and flutter. Direct drive turntables have higher torque. It reaches the correct speed so rapidly and is favored by largely the DJs. Since the platter is attached to the motor and as a result vibrations come directly from the latter to the former. So the vibrations are conducted into the cartridge. So there is a degree of distortion when it comes to the final performance.back to menu ↑
Turntables are devices that often attract people’s attention because of their unique design. Whether it’s the classic vintage style or the modern sleek style there is something for everybody.
If you are someone who is looking for a turntable with more physical aesthetic then vintage turntables are something to look for. Whether it’s the nostalgia or the authentic quality there are still some very prominent turntables out there. The more cult following ones are now too expensive but without that, there are good ones at under $200. Buying a vintage doesn’t have to always have to break the bank. The superior build and construction of a vintage turntable will produce better sound. Another thing about vintage turntables is that they are super easy to use. The built is very strong so the possibility of any damage is slim. One difficulty is when it comes to changing parts as certain brands may not focus on making their spare parts.
Some of the vintage turntable making brand are Technics, Audio Technica, Denon etc. You may want to look into Thorens TD180 for more expensive ones.
The great thing about modern turntables is the addition of all the little upgrades such as speakers and preamps that have boomed the DJ culture. The styling of modern turntables is sleeker and well sexy too! And best are the upgrades that can be added to it. The vinyl world is now revolutionized by the modern turntables.
Looking into brands such as Audio-Technica has some of the best starter turntables. Other brands are Denon, Fluance, Pro-Ject etc.
All in One Turntable
In our quest for buying a turntable you often need to consider some extra parts such as speaker. Sometimes are they built in and other times connected through outputs. Pre-amps and cables are also parts to look out for. But of course, built-in speakers are less hassle.
Of all the best-valued ones the Jensen JTA-222, Studebaker SB6052 Wooden Turntable, Crosley Nomad CR6232A Portable USB Turntable.
While most turntables get placed in a study room or shelf others may want a portable one. You may also want to keep it in the office. Portable turntables usually come with fewer features and are not as decorative as the big ones. But, they do present certain advantages when it comes to their usability and improving the vinyl record player quality.
In the widely popular briefcase-style design when not in use simply put down the cover. This design is also easily transportable and has its own handle to help carry it.
Some models are Crosley CR8005D-BK, CMC Vinyl Record Player, Rock ‘N’ Rolla Jr.back to menu ↑
USES: WHO ARE YOU BUYING FOR?
Turntables are used all across the music spectrum. You may just be adding it on as a hobby or a full-fledged professional. You see the beauty is that this device will fulfill your specific requests as long as you understand what use you would like to put it into. A lot of records are either not digitalized or poorly done. The vinyl records are great help to preserve these artworks and sometimes pure masterpieces of music.
It also provides an ambiance, audio-fidelity, and sampling. And as such turntables are classified into various uses.
Turntable for Beginners
A record collection is like personalized furniture. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that vinyl is a physical medium. This is music you can actually hold in your hands. It also has value as a second-hand item. Beginners looking into turntable should stick to the basics. Get yourself a heavy built platter with a strong good tonearm. Other aspects such as budget and space should be taken into consideration
The models from Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Turntable with carbon fiber tonearms are something to look into. Rega Planar 1 Turntable also takes a high place in this list.
Turntable for Audiophile / Professional
Audiophiles love to capture the experience of a live musical performance with good acoustic. They may wish to reproduce it at home. High-end components include turntables, digital-to-analog converters. Professionals like the good designs and great aesthetic. To enjoy a high-fidelity audio track audiophiles like to look into more expensive ones.
Models like REGA RP6, VPI SCOUT 1.1, Music Hall MMF 5.1.
Turntable for DJ / Sampling
DJs use turntables for sampling and other activity. Sampling is a significant portion of any DJ’s work. DJs get far more out of their turntable than your average home listener. The components of a Sampling Turntable have to be durable with a rugged tonearm and a motor that produces just the right amount of torque—and all of these specialized requirements don’t always come cheap.
Models to look into are Technics SL-1210Mk5, Pioneer DJ PLX-1000, Numark TT250USB.back to menu ↑
The price range of most basic and good-sounding record players range from $100 to $500. For the Programmed turntables that start and stop playing at the push of a button area bit higher. But many music purists may want a high priced one. The more costly and more extensively built-in ones are from $1000 above.
Best Turntables Under $2000
The models that are best under $2000 are Edwards Audio TT2SE and Rega Planar 6/ANIA.
Under $1000 the turntables to look into are Pro-Ject Classic or the Elipson Omega 100 RIAA BT Carbon Black. Special mention goes to Funk Firm Gett.
Best Turntables Under $500
The turntables under $500, like Sony PS-HX500 or the NAD 558 are recommended. Special mention goes to Elipson Omega 100 and Dual MTR-75.
Best Turntables Under $200
The $200 turntables are reasonably budgeting friendly. The models such as Lenco L-3808 and Audio-Technica AT-LP3 are good record players.
Best Turntables Under $100
Probably the most budget-friendly turntables are under $100. The best ones are TechPlay TCP5, Ion Audio Max LP, and Pyle PLTTB1.back to menu ↑
BEST TURNTABLE BRANDS
Audio-Technica international group of companies dedicated to the design, production, promotion, and circulation of problem-solving audio equipment. They produce turntables with high-performance sound design. The company was established in 1962. They have made some of the most high-quality professional turntables which are popular turntables worldwide.
Models that are Audio Technica AT-LP60, Audio-Technica-AT-LP60-Bluetooth, Audio Technica AT-LP60-BT, Audio-Technica-AT-LP120-USB , Audio Technica AT-LP120.
Pioneer is a Japanese company that was launched in Nozomu Matsumoto’s garage in 1938. It has grown into a worldwide electronics behemoth. The company introduced laser CDs, car CD players, car direction-finding devices, and much more.
Models to look into are Pioneer PL-30, Pioneer-PL-990, Pioneer PL-990, Pioneer-Pro-DJ-PLX-1000, and Pioneer-Pro-DJ-PLX-1000
Crosley was developed by Powell Crosley, Jr. who was an American inventor and entrepreneur. He started by developing a line of automobile parts in the early part of the 20th century. Even though Crosley eventually sold off his business but his brand name was progressively subsumed into the merchandises of other companies. If you want an antiquated hi-fi experience that won’t break your bank, imaginably Crosley’s record players are something to look into.
Its popular turntables are Crosley CR49 Traveler, Crosley CR6009A Advance, Crosley CR6009A Advance.
Pro-Jet Audio is a more new addition to the world of turntables and its marketing. It is a Austria-based started in 1990. It is embracing the world of manufacturing and marketing turntables. They largely sell moderately prices record players.
Mention worthy are Project Debut III,Project Debut Carbon DC, Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC, Pro-Ject – Debut Carbon Esprit SB.
Pyle was created in the 1960s as a leading producer of high-quality advanced woofers. Pyle Pro is the prominent source of audio gear wide-reaching. Pyle Pro features a huge range of musical devices, DJ equipment, and accessories for your every need.
If you are interested look into are the Pyle Bluetooth Turntable, Pyle PTT30WD Bluetooth Vintage Turntable, and Pyle PLTTB1 Professional Belt-Drive Turntable.
1byone is a relatively new brand when it comes to turntables. It is a worldwide electronic business that sells products stretching anywhere from home security to home decorations and everything in between.
This new brand has already come up with some impressive turntables such as the 1byone Belt-Drive 3-Speed Portable Turntable or the 1byone Belt Driven Bluetooth Turntable with Stereo Speaker.
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We told you about the types, Styles, Brands, Price Ranges; we even brokedown all the nitty gritty details for you. But in the end it is up to you. Only you can decide which one will be the best suited.
We hope that you enjoyed the reading! But we are just getting started. We will be posting detailed reviews and recommendations on popular turntables and their accessories, buying guide on various brands and price range and there will be more to come.
Once again, thank you very much for visiting TurntableToday, we are trying our best to make it a great online destination for the vinyl and turntable lovers!