If you’re a music lover, you’ve probably heard of turntables. But have you ever heard of a dual turntable?
It’s a term that can refer to either a set of two turntables or a specific brand of audio equipment. Dual turntables have been popular among DJs for decades, allowing for seamless mixing and custom effects.
But they’re also highly regarded by audiophiles for their reliability and quality sound. In this article, we’ll explore the world of dual turntables, from their history to their modern-day resurgence.
Whether you’re a DJ or a vinyl enthusiast, there’s something to learn about these unique pieces of audio equipment.
What Is A Dual Turntable
A dual turntable is a type of audio equipment that allows for the playback of vinyl records. As the name suggests, it typically consists of two turntables that can be used in tandem for DJing or mixing music.
However, the term “dual turntable” can also refer specifically to a brand of audio equipment called Dual. Originally a German corporation, Dual was known for producing solid consumer electronics, including many types of phonographs.
Today, Dual turntables are highly regarded by audiophiles and vinyl enthusiasts for their reliability and quality sound. They are often built using an idler drive system, which may not be as high-end as other types of drives but still produces a mid-range performance that suits most buyers.
In fact, a well-preserved or restored Dual turntable can be connected to any stereo system and produce sound so good that new, mid-range turntables will pale in comparison.
The History Of Dual Turntables
The origins of Dual turntables can be traced back to the early 1900s, when brothers Christian and Joseph Steidinger began manufacturing clockwork and gramophone parts in the Black Forest town of St. Georgen. In 1927, the company created the Dual-Motor, which was a combination of a spring-loaded clockwork and an electric motor for portable gramophone units. This invention proved successful, and the company adopted the name Dual in 1935.
After World War II, Dual became the largest manufacturer of turntables in Europe, with more than 3,000 employees working in several factories. Throughout the following decades, Dual introduced audio cassette players, VCRs, CD players, and other consumer electronics. However, Japanese consumer electronics started entering European markets in the 1970s on a large scale, and Dual, like most other traditional German manufacturers, underwent a big crisis. Japanese products usually offered more features at a cheaper price in a much more modern package.
Dual went bankrupt in 1982 and was sold to French electronic manufacturer Thomson SA. In 1988, Thomson sold Dual to German manufacturer Schneider Rundfunkwerke AG. Dual GmbH filed for bankruptcy on November 15, 2022. In March 2023, it was reported that an unspecified consortium of investors had taken over the company.
In 1993/4, Dual was finally split off into two companies: Dual Phono GmbH and Dual DGC GmbH. Dual Phono GmbH acquired the Dual line of turntables and continued to produce them in the Black Forest town of St. Georgen. These turntables are easy to identify with the manufacturing code beginning with CS xxx. On the other hand, Dual DGC GmbH sells mostly rebranded consumer electronics made in Far East, including turntables (production code DT xxx). DGC products are exclusively sold in Europe.
For the American market, after the insolvency of Schneider Rundfunkwerke AG in 2001, TCL Holdings, a Chinese company, purchased the Dual assets and brand and began marketing its own products under the name. In 2002, Namsung Electronics, a Korean company, bought the rights to use the name in the Americas and began selling lower-priced consumer electronics under the Dual marque.
Despite these changes in ownership and production locations over time, Dual turntables have maintained their reputation for high-quality sound and reliability. They continue to be sought after by audiophiles and vinyl enthusiasts today.
How Dual Turntables Work
Dual turntables work by using a motor to spin the vinyl record at a constant speed. The tonearm, which holds the needle or stylus that reads the grooves on the record, is mounted on a gimbal bearing system that allows it to move smoothly and accurately across the surface of the record.
One key advantage of Dual turntables is their ability to directly control the speed and other characteristics of audio playback. This allows for custom and scratch effects, which are essential for DJs who want to mix between songs played on two different turntables.
Dual turntables are also known for their semi or automatic tonearm mechanisms, which make it easy to change the speed or switch between records. Some models even have auto record changers that can play multiple records in succession without needing to manually change them.
Dual Turntables Vs. Single Turntables
When it comes to choosing between a dual turntable and a single turntable, it ultimately depends on the intended use and personal preference.
For DJs, a dual turntable setup is standard practice as it allows for mixing between songs played on the two different turntables, as well as a variety of custom and scratch effects. The ability to directly control the speed and other characteristics of audio playback is also a key advantage for DJs using this type of audio equipment.
On the other hand, for home use and casual listening, a single turntable may suffice. A single turntable can still produce high-quality sound and offer the same control over playback speed as a dual turntable. Additionally, some vinyl enthusiasts may prefer to have multiple single turntables with different cartridges set up for specific types of music.
Ultimately, the decision between a dual turntable and a single turntable comes down to personal preference and intended use. While a dual turntable may be necessary for DJs, a single turntable may be more practical for casual listening at home.
The Benefits Of Using Dual Turntables For DJs
For DJs, the use of dual turntables has been a standard practice for many years. This is because it allows for mixing between songs played on the two different turntables, as well as a variety of custom and scratch effects. The ability to directly control the speed and other characteristics of audio playback is a key advantage of using a dual turntable for DJing.
Scratching, in which records are spun manually in either direction to produce a distinctive sound, is one example of this. A skilled DJ working with a double phonograph can blend together scratches and samples from one track with music played from another. This level of control is hard to achieve with other types of audio equipment, such as CDJs or digital controllers.
Modern DJs have begun to adopt purely digital audio technology. However, they have not completely abandoned the dual turntable. Hardware designed for use by DJs, especially higher-end products, often includes features that allow digital media to be manipulated in the same ways. Many products include turntables that serve as digital control devices rather than physical playback devices. These digital turntables can be used to produce the same effects that a conventional dual turntable can produce.
The Benefits Of Using Dual Turntables For Audiophiles
For audiophiles, the benefits of using a Dual turntable are numerous. Firstly, the brand has a reputation for producing high-quality audio equipment that is built to last. This means that a well-maintained Dual turntable can provide excellent sound quality for many years.
Secondly, Dual turntables are often built with an idler drive system, which provides a mid-range performance that suits most buyers. This type of drive system is reliable and produces a warm, rich sound that many audiophiles prefer over other types of drives.
Thirdly, Dual turntables are highly customizable. Audiophiles can upgrade the cartridge, stylus, and other components to improve the sound quality even further. This allows users to tailor their turntable to their specific needs and preferences.
Fourthly, Dual turntables are great for vinyl enthusiasts who want to preserve their records. The idler drive system used in Dual turntables is gentle on records and reduces wear and tear on the grooves. This means that vinyl records played on a Dual turntable will last longer and retain their sound quality over time.
Finally, Dual turntables are also great for collectors. The brand has a long history of producing high-quality audio equipment, and vintage Dual turntables are highly sought-after by collectors and audiophiles alike. A well-preserved or restored Dual turntable can be a valuable addition to any collection.
Popular Brands Of Dual Turntables
When it comes to Dual turntables, there are several popular brands that stand out. One of the most well-known is the Dual 601, which is considered one of Dual’s best belt drive turntables. However, it is important to note that the Dual 601 has a common problem with its motor that may require fixing.
Another popular brand of Dual turntables is the Dual 1229. This model is often considered one of the best dual turntables ever made due to its meticulous design and high standard of reliability. While it is an automatic turntable, it still produces quality sound and is a favorite among audiophiles.
It is worth noting that some cartridges, such as Grados, may produce disproportionate hum when used with certain Dual turntables, including the 1229. Therefore, it is important to do your research and choose a compatible cartridge if you plan on using one.
Overall, Dual turntables are highly regarded for their reliability and quality sound. While there are many different brands and models available, the Dual 601 and 1229 are two popular choices among vinyl enthusiasts.