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

Vinyl records have made a comeback in recent years, and many music enthusiasts are turning to turntables to enjoy their favorite albums.

But if you’re new to the world of vinyl, you may be wondering: can you play vinyl on a turntable?

The answer is yes, but there’s more to it than just placing the record on the platter and hitting play.

In this article, we’ll explore the components of a turntable and how they work together to bring music to your ears.

We’ll also cover the different types of vinyl records and how to properly set the speed on your turntable.

So whether you’re a seasoned vinyl collector or just starting out, read on to learn everything you need to know about playing vinyl on a turntable.

Can You Play Vinyl On A Turntable

As mentioned earlier, a turntable is a major component of a record player. It is the part of the player that holds the record and spins it. But a turntable can also refer to a standalone unit that you can purchase. In this sense, a turntable is similar to a record player, except it does not come with built-in speakers or an amplifier.

To play vinyl on a turntable, you will need to connect it to external components such as an amplifier and speakers. This is because a turntable only has a handful of components, including the turntable itself (which includes the motor and the platter), a stylus, a cartridge, and a tone-arm. It may also have a pre-amplifier, which allows you to connect the turntable to an external component without a dedicated phono input.

The stylus runs in the grooves of the record and transmits the vibrations through wires in the tone arm to the cartridge, which takes that information and transmits it to the pre-amp. The pre-amp then turns it into sound via an external amp and speaker. The tone arm also holds the cartridge and stylus in place.

It’s important to note that not everyone knows how to use a turntable correctly. If you use it incorrectly, you can cause damage to your precious vinyl records. Before using your turntable, make sure you know how to use it correctly.

Understanding The Components Of A Turntable

To fully understand how a turntable works, it’s important to understand its components. The six major components of a turntable include the plinth, platter, drive, tonearm, cartridge, and stylus.

The plinth is the base of the turntable and provides support for all the other components. It is typically made of wood or other materials that provide stability and reduce vibration. The platter is the rotating part of the turntable and holds the vinyl record in place. It is often made of heavy materials like metal or acrylic to maintain consistent speed while playing.

The drive mechanism is responsible for spinning the platter and can be either belt-driven or direct-drive. Belt-driven turntables use a motor to rotate a belt that turns the platter, while direct-drive turntables have a motor directly connected to the platter.

The tonearm is responsible for holding the cartridge and stylus in place and guiding them along the grooves of the record. It is also responsible for transmitting vibrations from the stylus to the cartridge and ultimately to the preamp. The cartridge holds the stylus and converts vibrations into electrical signals that can be amplified and played through speakers.

The stylus is the needle-like component that runs along the grooves of the record and picks up vibrations that are then transmitted through the tonearm to the cartridge. It’s important to note that styluses come in different shapes and sizes, each designed for specific types of records.

In addition to these major components, some turntables may also have a preamp built-in or require an external preamp to connect to an amplifier or speakers.

Understanding these components is crucial when using a turntable as it allows you to diagnose problems and replace any broken components. It also helps when making purchasing decisions as you can choose a turntable with components that suit your needs and preferences.

The Different Types Of Vinyl Records

Vinyl records come in various sizes and types, and it’s important to know the differences between them to ensure that you can play them on your turntable. The most common types of vinyl records are the 7-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch records.

The 7-inch record plays at 45 RPM and is commonly used for singles. It can hold up to five minutes of music on each side. The 12-inch record, on the other hand, plays at 33 RPM and can hold up to 22 minutes of music on each side. This type of vinyl record is commonly used for albums and is known as the LP or long-playing record. It has been around since 1948 and can be found in various genres such as rock, pop, jazz, and classical.

The 10-inch record is a rarer size and is most commonly found in older records that play at 78 RPM. These records have wider grooves, which means you may need to replace your stylus to play them. However, unless you’re planning to collect records pressed before the mid-1950s, you don’t need to worry about 78 RPM.

It’s important to note that all turntables can play 33 and 45 RPM records. However, only those classified as “three speed” support 78 RPM. Additionally, just because a player is set to a certain speed doesn’t mean the record will revolve at exactly that speed. Many factors can affect the speed, so it’s important to get an app like RPM Calculator for Android or RPM – Turntable Speed Accuracy for iOS to test the performance of your turntable.

How To Properly Set The Speed On Your Turntable

One of the most important aspects of using a turntable is setting the correct speed. If your turntable is not spinning at the right speed, it can affect the sound quality and even damage your records. Setting the speed on your turntable requires some patience and attention to detail, but it is a relatively simple process.

First, locate the adjustment screws for your turntable’s speed. These are usually found either under the platter or on the bottom of the device. Turning these screws clockwise will cause the platter to rotate faster, while turning them counterclockwise will slow it down. Always make adjustments slowly and test the speed after each turn to ensure you don’t accidentally turn 33 1/3 into 333 1/3 RPM!

If your turntable has surface knobs or holes that allow you to make adjustments from the top of the deck, use these instead. However, most turntables adjust from underneath, so you will need to block it up on wood or between two tables so that you can get in underneath. Make sure that the turntable is level before making any adjustments.

When adjusting the speed, always start with the 33 1/3 rpm speed first. Use a small, non-metal screwdriver to make the adjustments if possible, as this will prevent any damage to delicate components. The adjustment screws are usually set up so that a clockwise turn speeds up the platter and a counterclockwise turn slows it down.

If you’re not confident with making any of these fixes, it’s best to bring your turntable to a professional for repairs. While there may be a cost involved, it’s worth investing in if you value your listening experience.

Tips For Maintaining Your Turntable And Vinyl Collection

Maintaining your turntable and vinyl collection is essential for ensuring the longevity of your equipment and the quality of your sound. Here are some tips to help you maintain your turntable and vinyl collection:

1. Keep your turntable clean: Dust and dirt can accumulate on your turntable over time, affecting the sound quality. Use a soft cloth to wipe down the surface of your turntable regularly, and avoid using harsh chemicals that could damage the finish.

2. Clean your stylus: A dirty stylus can cause distortion and damage to your records. Use a carbon fiber brush to gently clean your stylus before and after each use.

3. Store your vinyl collection properly: Vinyl records should be stored upright like books, in a cool and dry place. Avoid stacking them on top of each other, as this can cause warping and damage to the records.

4. Clean your vinyl records: Regularly cleaning your vinyl records will help to maintain their sound quality and prevent damage. Use a carbon fiber brush to remove any dust or debris before playing, and consider wet cleaning with a record cleaning solution for a deeper clean.

5. Handle your vinyl records with care: Avoid touching the surface of your vinyl records, as this can leave fingerprints and oils that can affect playback. Only handle them by the edges or inner label.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your turntable and vinyl collection remain in top condition, providing you with high-quality sound for years to come.