Turntable (Record Players)

The vinyl renaissance is truly a worldwide phenomenon.  People around the globe are crawling through their attics and basement and dusting off crates of vinyl records, rediscovering music they listened to as children or indeed music that was listened to by their parents or grandparents.  The ubiquitous turntable record players that filled just about every home in the 60 and 70 are making a comeback.

 Manual vs Automatic Turntables?

The choice of manual vs automatic turntables is definitely a personal choice.  There is a lot to be said for the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) Principle; there are a lot of moving gears involved in an automatic turntable that can, over time get out of alignment and cause expensive repair bills.  Having said that, a manual turntable does require a certain amount of vigilance to ensure the turntable doesn’t keep spinning in the final groove of the record and damage the delicate stylus needle (styli). Keep in mind that it would take many MANY hours of continuous running in that groove to start doing any damage to anything.

 Belt Drive vs Direct Drive?

Belt drive is much more popular in high end turntables where audio fidelity is the primary concern. The belt will absorb some of the vibration energy the motor produces, hence reducing noticable rumble. Belt drive turntables are usually a much simpler construction, with fewer electronic components to fail.

Direct Drive turntables are much more popular in the DJ scene, where being able to stop and start instantly is a necessity (Back scratching the record). Direct drive turntables tend to be much more sophisticated mechanisms that lend themselves to high speed stability, and high torque. There are some arguments for motor vibration, due to it being mounted directly underneath the platter, but that is an extremely minor concern.

 About Cartridges.

Cartridges are attached to the turntable tonearm to hold the stylus to track the grooves in the record.  The better the cartridge, the more accurately it will track the grooves, picking up more detail in the vinyl recordings.  There are two types of cartridge: moving magnet and moving coil.  Most turntables use the more common and affordable moving magnet design, and the higher audiophile grade turntables tend to use the much more accurate (and expensive) moving coil design.  The moving coil design tend to be a lot more delicate and can be easily damaged if not looked after correctly.

Moving Magnet cartridges are generally a standardised design, meaning no tweaking to the phono pre-amp is necessary. In the majority of cases, the stylus can be replaced without replacing the whole cartridge. Rega is an exception to this.

Moving Coil cartridges vary in electronic design, and some adjustments may need to be done on your phono pre-amp. You will need a phono pre-amp with an MC section. For the most part, Moving Coil cartridges will be more dynamic, and have a better depth of sound than their MM counterparts.

 Balancing Turntables.

It is important to balance a turntable arm correctly as per the cartridge manufacturer’s recommended tracking force, not only will this improve the sound of your vinyl, it will also increase the longevity of both your vinyl and stylus.

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