Turntables: The Ultimate Guide 2023

Getting up and running listening to vinyl records is actually quite simple, but it can be a little daunting if you’re new to the hobby. As a beginner to turntablism, you will learn everything you need to know in this guide.

What Is A Turntable?

A turntable is an electronic device used for playing music on vinyl records. It consists of a platter (also called a spinning disc) which spins at 33 1/3 revolutions per minute (rpm), a tonearm (or stylus) which moves across the surface of the record as the platter rotates, and a belt drive or direct-drive motor which turns the platter. The tonearm is attached to the end of a long arm, which is in turn connected to the main body of the turntable via a bearing assembly. The tonearm has a small magnet at its tip which interacts with the magnetic field created by the grooves in the vinyl record. As the platter spins, the tonearm follows along, moving from groove to groove. When the tonearm passes over the center of a groove, the needle touches down momentarily, allowing the signal to pass through the phono cartridge into the amplifier.

How Do I Use My Turntable?

You can use your turntable to play any type of audio recording, including CDs, LPs, cassettes, MP3s, etc. To do this, simply place the record onto the platter and adjust the volume control until the sound is loud enough to hear. If you want to listen to more than one record at once, you can either put them side by side on the platter or stack them vertically.

Once you have placed the first record onto the platter, you should immediately start turning the platter using the speed control knob. While you are doing this, the tonearm will follow along the edge of the record, passing over each groove as the platter spins. After about 30 seconds, the tonearm should reach the beginning of the next track. 

Once the platter is stopped, remove the record and repeat the process with the second record.

If you want to skip ahead to a specific part of the song, you can use the “skip” button located on the front panel of the turntable. Simply press the button while the platter is still rotating and the tonearm will move directly to the desired spot. Once there, you can continue to spin the platter and listen to the rest of the song.

There are many different types of turntables available today, ranging from budget models to high-end units costing thousands of dollars. For most people, however, a basic model will suffice. These include:

  • Basic Record Players – These are usually made out of plastic and cost less than $100. They come equipped with a built-in speaker and a speed control dial. Some also feature automatic shutoff when the platter reaches the end of the record.
  • High End Record Players – These are similar to basic record players but they often include additional features such as a built-in preamp, tone controls, and a remote control. They may also be able to automatically detect the correct pitch of the vinyl record being played.
  • Portable Record Players – These are smaller versions of traditional record players that can be easily carried around. They typically weigh less than 10 pounds and can hold up to 100 records.
  • HiFi Turntables – These are designed specifically for listening to hi-fi recordings. They tend to be larger and heavier than portable record players.
    • Most turntables sold today are digital, meaning they don’t actually physically touch the record itself. Instead, they rely on a sensor inside the unit to read the information encoded on the vinyl. This means that if the sensor malfunctions, it could cause the entire turntable to malfunction.
    • There are two main types of sensors used in modern turntables: optical and capacitive. Optical sensors work by shining light through the vinyl and detecting the reflection off the backside of the record. Capacitive sensors instead measure the amount of electrical charge stored on the surface of the record. Both types of sensors are susceptible to dust buildup, which can interfere with their ability to accurately read the data on the record.
    • The quality of the playback depends largely on how well the stylus follows the grooves on the record. A poor tracking force can result in skipping, warping, and other issues. In addition, the stylus needs to be precisely aligned with the center of the groove so that it doesn’t hit the side walls or jump across the tracks. If the stylus isn’t properly centered, the sound quality will suffer.
    • To ensure proper alignment, some turntables include an arm that holds the stylus at a fixed distance from the record. Others allow the user to adjust the height of the stylus using a knob. Still others have no moving parts at all.
    • Many turntables offer multiple speeds, allowing users to play slower songs at higher volumes without distorting the audio. Other models only provide one speed setting.
    • Some turntables are capable of playing both 33 1/3 rpm (standard) and 45 rpm records. Others are limited to just one type of record.
    • Finally, there are turntables that can play both standard and 78 RPM records. However, these are rare and generally more expensive than regular turntables.

What is Vinyl?

Vinyl records were originally invented in Germany during the late 1800s. At first, they were used primarily as a way to preserve music. But over time, people began to appreciate the unique qualities of vinyl. It’s lightweight, durable, and has a rich, warm sound. Plus, you can listen to your favorite tunes while relaxing in bed or taking a walk outside.

Vinyl Records vs. CDs

Vinyl records are still very popular among audiophiles. But many people now prefer to use compact discs (CDs) because they’re easier to carry around and store. And unlike vinyl, CDs aren’t prone to damage when dropped.

But even though CDs are much easier to transport, they lack the warmth and depth of sound that vinyl offers. So if you want to enjoy high-quality audio, you’ll probably need to invest in a turntable.

How Do I Choose a Turntable?

There are several factors to consider when choosing a turntable. These include price, size, weight, style, and features. Here’s what you should look for when shopping for a new turntable:

Price

If you’re looking to spend less money, you might consider purchasing a used model. You can often find them online or at thrift stores.

Size

Most turntables come in three sizes: tabletop, console, and tower. Tabletop models usually weigh between 10 pounds and 15 pounds. Console models typically range from 20 pounds to 30 pounds. Tower models are larger and heavier, weighing up to 50 pounds.

Weight

While most turntables are fairly light, some models can get quite heavy. For example, the Technics SL-1200 MK2 weighs about 18 pounds. That makes it ideal for home studios where you may want to place it on a stand.

Style

Some people like to keep their turntables simple. They don’t necessarily care about having fancy knobs or buttons. But others love the sleek design of modern search turntables.

Features

Some turntables feature built-in speakers, which means you won’t need separate speakers to hear your music. Others have USB ports, making it easy to connect your smartphone or tablet to the turntable.

Which Type Should I Buy?

When deciding which type of turntable to buy, think about your lifestyle and budget. Are you planning to use your turntable mainly for listening to music? Or do you also plan to use it to watch movies and TV shows? If so, then you’ll likely want to choose a turntable with built-in speakers.

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