The turntable was a favorite among music lovers in the yesteryear. It has regained its charm and popularity in the present times. People love to own a turntable and it is a perfect item to gift to someone who values it. However, before you purchase a turntable, read this to know all about it. Here’s a short guide about turntables to help you buy the best. ~ Ed.
These are not just pretty pieces on the table that make you feel nostalgic; these are archives of long lost musicians that you’ve been collecting and putting together for years.
Surprisingly enough, they are regaining popularity in the modern world and look like they’re here to stay for long. A lot of people have admitted to turntables being the ‘perfect’ present for music lovers or vintage collectors.
Vinyl records and turntables are being increasingly sought after and anyone can find one that fits within your budget.
If you’re intrigued and wish to buy a turntable for your collection or to give as a precious present, the following guide will help in choosing an ideal one.
An Overview of Contents
What is a Turntable and How Does It Work
A turntable hoists a vinyl record that is a disc and stays stable, rotating it at a constant speed. A continuous groove, which has minute invisible ridges on the record, begins from the outer edge and ends in the center of the record surface.
The turntable has a built-in needle that slides through the valleys and ridges of the vinyl record surface, causing vibrations and converting them into signals through the cartridge.
After traveling through the tonearm, these are converted into sound waves, which are then deciphered into the music that we hear, after getting amplified, that blares out through the cables.
What Are Its Components
This is the part on which the record is placed. It’s usually accompanied by a mat or is thoroughly polished.
Spindle and Bearing
These are the components that hold the platter from the bottom and are useful for its smooth rotation without making any noise.
A drive is used to determine the attachment and speed of the motor to the platter. Generally available in two types – direct drive and belt drive, this component is variedly preferred.
For instance, a DJ would prefer a direct drive as it is speedy and starts spinning the platter as soon as it is turned on, whereas a few musicians would prefer a belt drive that uses a belt to spin the platter and doesn’t produce any noise.
Tonearm and Cartridge (Stylus)
These are useful for tracking and converting the record groove into signals, respectively. While the tonearm is made of materials like carbon fiber and aluminum, the cartridge comprises magnets and coils. The cartridge also contains a stylus that is the needle.
You can decide to change and upgrade the cartridge to obtain superior performance.
Plinth and Feet
These parts make up the base of the entire system. The plinth is a stable plate that holds all the other components in place and is usually made of high-quality wood or other robust material.
The feet are parts that hold the entire assembly and are placed below the plinth. These are sturdy and help in eliminating any vibrations caused by the system while playing music.
The newly designed turntables are a lot more different than the old ones with their Bluetooth connectivity and wireless plugging in your computer to fetch enhanced results.
You might notice the term ‘PHONO’ on an old stereo system or music player. It indicates the kind of output signal, which is further converted into an AUX signal or a LINE LEVEL signal by a phono preamp.
Now, some turntables are constituted of this preamp and a USB output. It’s either built-in or needs to be accessed externally. To boost the sound, a turntable uses this phono preamp component either within the amplifier or is built within the turntable.
Considering the Price Range
Even though a basic turntable setup can suffice, music enthusiasts still prefer considering the price range before investing in an ideal turntable due to its varying features.
For instance, turntables that are priced below $100 can do the job but would lack a lot of features that could’ve enhanced the sound quality.
Turntable systems that fall in the middle of the price range that sit from $300 to $500 are the most preferred ones due to an optimal assembly and affordability.
Since these are highly sought after, you can read more to find a design that suits your needs and falls within your budget. The systems that fall in the last category of the price range that is above $500 are the cream of the crop.
With the best fitting setting and exemplary performance, these turntables would be the dream of every budding audiophile.
Difference between Automatic and Manual Turntables
The main difference between automatic and manual turntables is the position of the needle and its placement.
To play music on the vinyl record and the turntable, you need to lift the needle and place it on the record surface. In an automatic turntable, you just need to push a button that’ll place the position of the needle on its own.
The motor turns off automatically and positions the tonearm according to the record that is being played. On a manual turntable system, you need to lift the needle, place it and remove it yourself.
A lot of users prefer manual turntables as these do not produce the additional motor noise and thus result in a high-quality sound.
A third type, which is the semi-automatic turntable system, requires the manual placing of the needle, but removes it automatically, along with turning the motor off.
You need to have a gentle hand while doing so, as it could scratch the surface of the vinyl and damage it. It isn’t too difficult though. With the right technique and practice, you can easily use a manual turntable system.
Depending on your need and desire, you can skimp through a myriad of turntables available online and in vintage stores.
Going for a vintage system, however, will affect the sound quality as it would sound a bit ‘rustic’. But due to its great comeback for the last five years, now’s the time to invest in vinyl and a good turntable.
Over to you
Do you own or wish to purchase a turntable? What fascinates you about it? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
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