How Does A Quartz Lock Turntable Work? A Comprehensive Guide

Are you a vinyl enthusiast looking to upgrade your turntable? If so, you may have come across the term “quartz lock” and wondered what it means.

In simple terms, quartz lock is a feature found on direct-drive turntables that helps maintain a stable speed for platter rotation. But how does it work exactly?

In this article, we’ll dive into the details of how quartz lock turntables operate and why they’re important for achieving optimal sound quality.

So sit back, relax, and let’s explore the world of quartz lock turntables together.

How Does Quartz Lock Turntable Work

Quartz lock turntables use a quartz phase-locked loop circuit to ensure that the motor rotation speed remains consistent with a reference frequency generated by a quartz crystal oscillator. This means that the platter rotation speed, whether it’s 33-1/3 or 45 RPM, is maintained at a stable rate.

The circuit works by comparing the pulse feedback frequency from the capstan to the oscillator frequency. If the pulse feedback frequency is too high, the motor speed is lowered, and if it’s too low, the motor speed is raised. This happens very quickly and ensures that the platter rotation speed remains constant.

When you activate the quartz lock feature on your turntable, it disables the pitch control feature and ensures that the motor speed remains stable. This is important because any fluctuations in motor speed can result in pitch variations and affect the sound quality of your records.

Understanding Direct-Drive Turntables

Direct-drive turntables, like the Audio-Technica AT-LP120, use a direct connection between the motor and the platter to achieve a higher torque than belt-drive turntables. This means that they can start and stop quickly and maintain a consistent speed, making them ideal for professional use.

The quartz lock feature on direct-drive turntables works by using a quartz phase-locked loop circuit to compare the motor rotation speed to a reference frequency generated by a quartz crystal oscillator. If there are any fluctuations in motor speed, the circuit makes fine adjustments to ensure that the platter rotation speed remains stable.

It’s important to note that when you activate the quartz lock feature on your direct-drive turntable, it disables the pitch control feature. This is because any changes in motor speed can affect the pitch of your records, so it’s important to maintain a stable speed for optimal sound quality.

The Importance Of Stable Speed For Turntables

Stable speed is crucial for turntables as it directly affects the sound quality of the records being played. Without a stable speed, the pitch of the music can vary, resulting in distorted sound and a poor listening experience.

Quartz lock turntables are designed to maintain a stable speed by using a quartz phase-locked loop circuit. This ensures that the motor rotation speed is consistent with a reference frequency generated by a quartz crystal oscillator. The circuit compares the pulse feedback frequency from the capstan to the oscillator frequency and makes fine adjustments to the motor speed if necessary.

By activating the quartz lock feature on your turntable, you can ensure that the motor speed remains stable and any fluctuations are minimized. This is especially important for audiophiles or those who appreciate high-quality sound as any pitch variations can be distracting and take away from the listening experience.

How Quartz Lock Works

The quartz lock feature on a turntable uses a phase-locked loop circuit that compares the motor rotation speed to a reference frequency generated by a quartz crystal oscillator. The circuit then makes fine adjustments to the motor speed if there are any deviations from the reference frequency. This ensures that the platter rotation speed remains stable, regardless of whether you’re playing a 33-1/3 or 45 RPM record.

When you activate the quartz lock feature, it disables the pitch control feature on your turntable. This means that any adjustments made to the pitch control won’t affect the motor speed, as the quartz lock feature ensures that it remains constant. This is important because any fluctuations in motor speed can cause pitch variations, which can affect the sound quality of your records.

Benefits Of Quartz Lock Turntables

One of the most significant benefits of quartz lock turntables is their speed stability. Compared to belt drive turntables, which are reliant on more moving parts and are more prone to speed changes, quartz lock turntables maintain a consistent motor speed. This is achieved through the use of a quartz crystal clock, which generates a reference frequency that the turntable’s circuit compares to the pulse feedback frequency from the capstan.

Another advantage of quartz lock turntables is their low wow and flutter figures. These figures are generally an order of magnitude or at least five times better than most belt drive decks. This means that the sound quality produced by quartz lock turntables is clearer and more accurate.

Quartz lock turntables are also great for DJs who want to play with pitch. By selecting between the +/-10 and +/-20 pitch settings, DJs can extend the range of the turntable’s pitch control feature. In this case, the quartz lock feature is disabled, and DJs can adjust the pitch slider until they hit the desired speed.

Differences Between Quartz Lock And Other Turntable Technologies

There are other turntable technologies available besides quartz lock, such as belt-driven and servo direct drive turntables. Belt-driven turntables use a belt to move the platter, while the motor that drives the belt is positioned off to the side. This design can result in lower wow and flutter figures compared to direct-drive turntables. However, belt-driven turntables may require regular belt replacements and are not ideal for DJ use.

Servo direct drive turntables, on the other hand, are similar to quartz lock turntables in that they use a servo-controlled motor to maintain a stable speed for platter rotation. However, they do not have a separate quartz lock or pitch lock button, as the motor is automatically controlled to maintain a consistent speed. This means that there is no need to disable the pitch control feature, as it will not affect motor speed.

Tips For Choosing A Quartz Lock Turntable

If you’re in the market for a quartz lock turntable, here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Consider your needs: If you’re a club DJ, then a direct-drive turntable with quartz lock is a must-have feature. However, if you’re just a casual listener, then a belt-drive turntable may be sufficient.

2. Look for speed consistency: One of the main benefits of quartz lock turntables is their ability to maintain a stable speed. Look for models with low wow and flutter figures to ensure the best possible sound quality.

3. Check the pitch control feature: When you activate the quartz lock feature, it disables the pitch control feature. If you plan on using pitch control for DJing or other purposes, make sure the turntable has a wide range of pitch options and can disable quartz lock when necessary.

4. Consider additional features: Some quartz lock turntables come with additional features such as USB connectivity for digitizing your records or built-in preamps for easy setup. Think about what features are important to you before making a purchase.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can choose the best quartz lock turntable for your needs and enjoy high-quality sound from your vinyl collection.