Can You Play Records On A Turntable? A Beginner’s Guide

Vinyl records have made a comeback in recent years, with many music enthusiasts preferring the warm, authentic sound they provide over digital music.

But if you’re new to the world of vinyl, you may be wondering if all turntables can play all sizes of records.

In this article, we’ll explore the different types of vinyl records and turntables, and answer the question: can you play records on a turntable?

Whether you’re a seasoned collector or just starting out, read on to learn more about the world of vinyl and turntables.

Can You Play Records On A Turntable

The short answer is yes, you can play records on a turntable. However, not all turntables are created equal and not all turntables can play all sizes of vinyl records.

A turntable is a component of a record player that holds and spins the record while it plays. It does not come with built-in speakers or an amplifier, unlike a record player. This means that you will need to purchase external components such as speakers and an amplifier to use a turntable.

When it comes to the size of vinyl records, there are three main types: 12-inch, 10-inch, and 7-inch. The most common sizes are 12-inch and 7-inch records, while 10-inch records are rarer.

All record players can play 12-inch and 7-inch records, but not all can play 10-inch records. This is because 10-inch records require a different speed setting (78 RPM) than the standard 33 RPM or 45 RPM settings for 12-inch and 7-inch records.

It’s important to note that even if your turntable can play all sizes of vinyl records, it may not be able to play them with the same precision as a digital device. Factors such as the speed of the turntable and the condition of the stylus can affect the sound quality.

Understanding Vinyl Record Sizes

Vinyl record sizes vary depending on how much music is stored on the surface of the disc. The three standard sizes are 7-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch. As the amount of music stored on a record increases, the grooves become narrower and require more space to maintain the quality of the audio. This is why records expand in size to accommodate extra music play.

The most common vinyl record sizes are 12-inch and 7-inch records. You’ll come across 10-inch records less frequently, but it’s useful to know that they require a different speed setting (78 RPM) than the standard 33 RPM or 45 RPM settings for 12-inch and 7-inch records.

The terms “EP” and “LP” are also important to understand when it comes to vinyl record sizes. EP stands for “extended play” and usually describes records with between three and five songs on them. LP stands for “long playing” and denotes a full-length album. Generally, all records you would see in a local record store are 33 RPM, 12-inch releases. However, there are some examples of 45 RPM records in the 12” form factor, which are often part of audiophile pressings or special releases.

Single discs are physically smaller, usually 7-inch 45 RPM releases. If you purchased the full-length, 12-inch album, you have an LP. If you purchase that 7-inch single, you have an EP. Bands will often release multiple 7-inch records to support various singles on an album before finally releasing the 33 RPM 12-inch release to stores.

Types Of Turntables: Belt-Drive Vs. Direct-Drive

When it comes to turntables, there are two main types: belt-drive and direct-drive. The difference between the two lies in how the platter is connected to the motor.

A belt-drive turntable has a platter that sits on a bearing and is driven by a pulley-style belt, usually made of rubber. This design allows for the motor to be isolated from the platter, reducing vibrations and minimizing distortion. Belt-drive turntables are favored by audiophiles for their superior sound quality and consistent playback. However, they may not be as durable as direct-drive turntables and may require more maintenance over time.

On the other hand, a direct-drive turntable skips the belt and features a platter connected to the motor directly through the spindle at the heart of the plate. This design allows for higher torque, which means faster start-up speed and less vulnerability to extraneous force such as the weight of the stylus as it tracks the groove. Direct-drive turntables are favored by DJs for their versatility and ability to play like an instrument. They also offer variable pitch control, making it easier to match up beats for non-stop dancing.

However, because the platter is attached to the motor in a direct-drive configuration, vibrations are fed directly from the motor to the platter and then to the cartridge, which can add distortion to the final performance. Additionally, direct-drive turntables may be noisier than belt-drive turntables due to motor noise being transmitted to the stylus.

Ultimately, choosing between a belt-drive and direct-drive turntable comes down to personal preference and intended use. If you value sound quality and consistent playback, a belt-drive turntable may be best for you. If you prioritize durability and versatility for DJing purposes, a direct-drive turntable may be more suitable. It’s important to consider your priorities, budget, long-term needs, and living situation before making a decision on which type of turntable to purchase.

Compatibility Issues: Matching Turntables With Record Sizes

When selecting a turntable, it’s important to consider the size of the records you plan on playing. As mentioned earlier, not all turntables can play all sizes of vinyl records.

All turntables can play 12-inch and 7-inch records, but if you plan on playing 10-inch records, you will need to make sure that your turntable has a 78 RPM speed setting. This is because 10-inch records require a faster speed than the standard 33 RPM or 45 RPM settings for 12-inch and 7-inch records.

It’s also important to consider the quality of the turntable when matching it with record sizes. A high-quality turntable will have precise speed control and a stable platter rotation, which will result in better sound quality. The tonearm should also be properly balanced and adjustable to ensure accurate tracking of the record grooves.

In addition, the cartridge and stylus should be compatible with the size of the record being played. Different sizes of records have different groove widths and depths, so it’s important to use a cartridge and stylus that are designed for the specific size of record being played.

Tips For Playing Records On A Turntable

Playing records on a turntable requires some care and attention to ensure the best sound quality and to avoid damaging your records. Here are some helpful tips for playing records on a turntable:

1. Set up your turntable properly: Make sure your turntable is on a level surface with the tracking force/arm weight adjusted correctly. A heavily worn or damaged stylus can damage your records, so it’s important to keep track of how much your stylus has been used.

2. Remove dust covers before use: Dust covers should be removed before use and replaced after each use to prevent any dust or debris from getting inside the turntable.

3. Handle records with care: When handling and playing records, hold the disk by the outer edge and label to avoid contact with the playing surface.

4. Wait for the platter to come to a full stop before removing the vinyl: Never begin spinning the platter before you place the record, and wait for the platter to come to a full stop before you remove the vinyl.

5. Keep records clean: If your playback sounds crackly or muddy even after using a cleaning brush, your records may need a deeper cleaning. A good record cleaning machine that uses specially-formulated cleaning fluid and vacuum suction to really clear out the grooves can make records sound like new, and add years of listening life by keeping them in good shape.

6. Store records properly: Store LPs vertically, as little lean as possible is the best situation, but don’t pack them too tight, either. Storing records too tightly can cause unnecessary stress to the plastic, resulting in warps or cracks, and also promote ring wear or other damage to the cover. Conversely, 45s favorite orientation is horizontal. That being said, they are also fine stored vertically as long as a lot of lean or pressure is avoided.

7. Use a good support: The ideal support is perfectly level, low resonance and positioned as far away from sources of vibration as possible. On a hard concrete floor, a floorstanding support will work fine – but the same support will emphasise footfall on a suspended wooden floor. If you have such a floor construction, we would recommend investing in a dedicated wall shelf.

By following these tips, you can enjoy playing your vinyl records on a turntable while keeping them in good condition for years to come.

Maintenance And Care For Your Turntable And Vinyl Records

Regular maintenance and care for your turntable and vinyl records are crucial for ensuring that they last a long time and sound great. Poorly maintained turntables can gather dust, impacting sound quality and causing damage to your precious vinyl collection. Additionally, certain parts of your player can become worn out, further increasing the risk of damage to your vinyl discs and to the player itself. Here are some tips for maintaining and caring for your turntable and vinyl records:

1. Clean Your Turntable Regularly: Dust and other dirt particles can affect your turntable’s sound quality. To avoid stuttering and crackling noises when playing music, clean your turntable regularly. Wipe down the platter on a regular basis to get rid of any dust that may accumulate between listening sessions. Denon DP-450USB turntable features a removable dust cover that keeps the platter spotless while avoiding any of the vibration-related issues that dust covers often cause in other record players.

2. Clean Your Vinyl Records: Cleaning becomes particularly important if you buy your records used; as dirt, oil, and dust will undoubtedly be present, causing poor sound quality in the form of pops and clicks. Dirty records will also damage your stylus over time. Use a carbon fibre brush to clean your vinyl before and after every play. Brush lightly along the grooves to help prevent the build-up of dust and other dirt. Highly recommended when you want to give your records a deep clean is a mixture of record cleaning fluid and water (distilled, not tap!) works well. Clean with a micro-fibre cloth and dry with a separate micro-fibre cloth.

3. Handle Your Records with Respect: Always handle your records with respect, and maintain your turntable to reduce wear.

4. Clean Your Stylus: Cleaning your records is important, but it won’t do much good if your turntable’s needle is dirty. Styluses get dirty by picking up dirt from your records, which can build up if you spin vinyl regularly. If you don’t clean it regularly, your stylus may get damaged, and need to be replaced.

5. Change Your Needle: The stylus on your record player isn’t meant to last forever. After about a thousand hours of listening, it’s recommended you change it. How often you change your needle depends on how often you listen to music with your record player.

Conclusion: Enjoying The Rich Sound Of Vinyl Records On Your Turntable

If you’re looking to enjoy the rich sound quality of vinyl records on your turntable, there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, it’s important to invest in a high-quality turntable that is capable of playing all sizes of vinyl records. Additionally, you’ll need to purchase external components such as speakers and an amplifier to ensure that you’re getting the best possible sound quality.

When it comes to playing vinyl records on a turntable, it’s important to understand that the experience is different from listening to digital formats. Vinyl records offer a deeper, richer, warmer sound quality that is unparalleled by digital formats. This is because the grooves on the record allow for an open, resonant quality that cannot be replicated by digital compression.

To get the most out of your vinyl record collection, it’s important to properly maintain your records and perform routine cleaning from time-to-time. This will help prevent deterioration or damage and ensure that your records last for years to come.

In conclusion, playing vinyl records on a turntable can be a truly rewarding experience for music lovers. While it may require more care and attention than digital formats, the rich sound quality and tactile experience of handling physical records make it well worth the effort. So if you’re looking to enjoy music in a whole new way, consider investing in a high-quality turntable and start building your vinyl record collection today.