Are you new to the world of vinyl and wondering what the difference is between a turntable and a record player?
You’re not alone. The terms are often used interchangeably, but they actually refer to two different things.
A turntable is a standalone unit that requires additional components to play music, while a record player is an all-in-one unit that includes everything you need to listen to your favorite records.
But does a turntable actually play records?
In this article, we’ll dive into the details of what a turntable is, how it works, and whether or not it can play records.
So, grab your favorite vinyl and let’s get started!
Does A Turntable Play Records
Yes, a turntable does play records. In fact, it is the component of a record player that holds and spins the record while it plays.
However, unlike a record player, a turntable does not come with a built-in preamp, amplifier, or speaker. These components must be purchased separately and connected to the turntable using RCA cables.
A turntable typically includes a platter, tonearm, cartridge, and stylus. The stylus runs in the grooves of the record and transmits the vibrations through wires in the tonearm to the cartridge. The cartridge then takes that information and transmits it to the preamp, which turns it into sound via an external amplifier and speaker.
While a turntable may require additional components and setup before it can be used to listen to vinyl records, many enthusiasts prefer them for their customization options and higher quality sound. With external components, you can easily upgrade parts of your system as your budget allows.
So, if you’re looking to get into vinyl and want to enjoy the full experience of playing records, a turntable is definitely worth considering. Just be prepared to invest in additional components and take the time to set up your system properly for optimal sound quality.
What Is A Turntable?
A turntable is a device designed to play vinyl records. It is a standalone unit that typically includes a platter, tonearm, cartridge, and stylus. The platter is the part of the turntable that holds the record and spins it, while the tonearm reads the record as it plays in order to play music. The cartridge, located at the end of the tonearm, uses a stylus (sometimes called a needle) to pick up the signal from the needle going between the grooves as your stylus goes up and down.
Unlike a record player, a turntable does not come with a built-in preamp, amplifier, or speaker. These components must be purchased separately and connected to the turntable using RCA cables. A preamp amplifies the signal from the turntable and feeds it into an amplifier or receiver, which further amplifies the audio signal so that it can be played over speakers.
While a turntable requires additional equipment before it can be used, it is preferred by those who want to pick out all of their equipment and have more control over their sound system. With external components, you can easily upgrade parts of your system as your budget allows. Overall, a turntable is an essential component for anyone looking to enjoy the full experience of playing vinyl records.
Components Needed To Play Music On A Turntable
To play music on a turntable, you will need several additional components. These include speakers, an amplifier, and a preamp.
Speakers are necessary to hear the music that is being played on the turntable. You have two main options when it comes to speakers: passive or powered. Passive speakers require an external amplifier to power them, while powered speakers have a built-in amplifier.
An amplifier is necessary to boost the signal from the turntable and send it to the speakers. Without an amplifier, the sound coming from the turntable would be too quiet to hear.
A preamp is also required to boost the signal from the turntable, but not all turntables require a separate preamp. Some turntables have a built-in preamp, while others require an external one. If your turntable does not have a built-in preamp, you will need to purchase one separately and connect it between the turntable and the amplifier.
In addition to these components, you will of course need a turntable itself. The turntable is responsible for holding and spinning the record while it plays.
While it may seem like a lot of additional components are required to play music on a turntable, many enthusiasts prefer this setup because of the flexibility it offers in terms of customization and sound quality. With external components, you can easily upgrade parts of your system as your budget allows and fine-tune your setup for optimal sound quality.
How A Turntable Works
A turntable works by spinning a vinyl record while a stylus, or needle, runs along its grooves. The stylus is attached to the end of a tonearm, which is mounted to the side of the turntable and sits parallel to the record. As the record spins beneath it, the tonearm follows the groove as it spirals inward, traveling across the record in an arc.
As the stylus runs along the grooves, it picks up vibrations which are transmitted through wires in the tonearm to the cartridge. The cartridge contains coils within a magnetic field, and when the vibrations hit these coils, they are transformed into electrical signals. These electrical signals can then be amplified and broadcasted through speakers.
The platter of a turntable is responsible for spinning the record with the aid of a belt or direct drive system. The platter is typically made of metal and covered in rubber or plastic to protect the record from being scratched.
The stylus itself is cone-shaped and made from diamond, which is one of the hardest natural materials on Earth. It is suspended by a flexible strip of metal and is the only component that touches the top of the record.
The Difference Between A Turntable And A Record Player
Although the terms “turntable” and “record player” are often used interchangeably, they are not the same thing. A turntable is a standalone unit that requires additional components to play music, while a record player is an all-in-one unit that includes the turntable assembly, preamp, amplifier, and speakers.
The turntable itself is the component of a record player that holds and spins the record while it plays. It includes a platter, tonearm, cartridge, and stylus. The tonearm reads the record while it plays in order to play music, and at the end of the tonearm is the cartridge, which uses a stylus to play music. The signal from the needle going between the grooves is picked up by magnets and sent down the tonearm wires to an electronic board where your preamp and receiver amplify it.
In contrast, a record player simplifies the listening experience by including all of these components in one unit. This means that you don’t have to worry about purchasing additional components or setting them up properly. However, built-in speakers on record players often sound underwhelming compared to external powered speaker systems.
Ultimately, the choice between a turntable and a record player comes down to personal preference. If you value customization options and higher quality sound, a turntable may be the better option for you. However, if you prioritize convenience and simplicity, a record player might be more your style.
Tips For Playing Records On A Turntable
If you’re new to playing records on a turntable, there are some tips that can help you get started:
1. Handle your records with care: Always hold your records by the edges and label to avoid getting oils from your fingertips on the grooves. This can cause damage to the record and affect sound quality.
2. Check the speed: Most 12 inch LPs are 33 1/3 RPM and 7-inch singles are 45 RPM, but there are exceptions. Check the center label for the speed indicated. If it’s not specified, assume 33 for an LP and 45 for a single.
3. Use the cue lever: If your turntable has a cue lever for raising and lowering the tonearm, use it! Don’t attempt to raise and lower the tonearm on your records by hand as this can scratch the record.
4. Position the tonearm carefully: With the cue lever set to the up position, slowly pivot the tonearm over to the edge of your record. Make sure the stylus is hovering just inside the disc, but not too close to the edge.
5. Lower the tonearm gently: Use the cue lever to lower your stylus with the record spinning. The stylus will catch the groove and music will start to play.
By following these tips, you can ensure that you’re handling your records with care and getting optimal sound quality from your turntable setup.