What Is A Fully Automatic Turntable? A Comprehensive Guide

Vinyl records have made a comeback in recent years, and with that comes the need for a turntable. But with so many options available, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one.

One of the choices you’ll have to make is whether to go for a manual or automatic turntable. In this article, we’ll be focusing on fully automatic turntables and what they have to offer.

From convenience to potential compromises in sound quality, we’ll explore all the aspects of these turntables to help you make an informed decision.

So, whether you’re a seasoned vinyl enthusiast or just starting out, keep reading to learn more about fully automatic turntables.

What Is A Fully Automatic Turntable

A fully automatic turntable is a type of record player that offers a high level of convenience to the user. Unlike manual turntables, which require the user to manually lower and lift the tonearm onto and off the record, fully automatic turntables do this automatically at the push of a button.

This feature is particularly useful for those who are new to vinyl and may not be familiar with the delicate process of handling records. With a fully automatic turntable, there is less risk of accidentally damaging your records or stylus.

Additionally, fully automatic turntables often come in plastic, which can help keep the cost down. This makes them a popular choice for casual vinyl listeners who are looking for convenience without breaking the bank.

However, it’s worth noting that because fully automatic turntables accommodate extra components, they may produce more unwanted noise than manual turntables. This can impact the overall sound quality of your music.

How Does A Fully Automatic Turntable Work?

A fully automatic turntable works by using a series of mechanical components to lift and lower the tonearm onto and off the record. When the user presses a button or lever, the turntable will automatically lift the tonearm out of its resting position and move it to the correct starting point on the record.

Once the tonearm is in position, the turntable will then lower it onto the record using a mechanism such as a motor or spring. The tracking force and anti-skate are typically pre-set by the manufacturer, which means that the user has less control over these settings than with a manual turntable.

When the record is finished playing, the turntable will automatically lift the tonearm off the record and return it to its resting position. Many fully automatic turntables also have an “auto off” feature that turns off the turntable after the record has finished playing.

While fully automatic turntables offer a high level of convenience, they do come with some compromises in terms of sound quality and control. The extra mechanical components can produce unwanted noise, and users have less control over settings such as tracking force and anti-skate. However, for those who prioritize convenience over ultimate sound quality, fully automatic turntables can be an excellent choice.

Convenience And Ease Of Use

One of the main advantages of a fully automatic turntable is its convenience and ease of use. With just the push of a button, the tonearm will automatically lower onto the record and start playing. This eliminates the need for the user to manually cue up the tonearm and find the right spot to start playing.

This feature is especially helpful for those who may not be as familiar with handling records or may have difficulty with fine motor skills. It also saves time and effort, allowing you to simply sit back and enjoy your music without any extra hassle.

Fully automatic turntables are also great for those who may have a large collection of records, as it allows for quick and easy switching between records without having to manually lift and lower the tonearm.

Potential Compromises In Sound Quality

When it comes to sound quality, fully automatic turntables may have some compromises compared to their manual counterparts. The extra components required for the automatic mechanism, such as cogs, gears, and springs, can introduce mechanical noise and interference that affects the overall sound quality of the music.

Moreover, the plinth of an automatic turntable cannot be as solid or rigid as a manual turntable due to the need to house the mechanisms. This can impact turntable resonance and ultimately affect the sound quality of your records.

Additionally, automatic turntables usually come with pre-set tracking force and anti-skate settings, which limits your ability to adjust or fine-tune the performance according to your preferences. This lack of control may not be a concern for some users, but for audiophiles who are particular about their sound quality, it may be a significant compromise.

It’s important to note that there are always exceptions to these generalizations and that the quality of sound ultimately depends on the specific turntable model and its individual components. However, for those who prioritize sound quality above convenience, a manual turntable may be a better option.

Price Range And Features

Fully automatic turntables are available in a wide range of prices, from as low as $50 to as high as $500. In general, the price of a fully automatic turntable depends on the quality of its components, such as the cartridge, motor, and tonearm.

Entry-level fully automatic turntables can be found for around $250 to $500. These turntables typically come with a built-in preamp, which makes them easy to set up and use. They also often have features like automatic stop and start, which can help protect your records and stylus.

On the other hand, fully automatic turntables in the lower price range, such as those starting at $50, may not have as many features or may sacrifice quality for affordability. It’s important to do your research and read reviews before purchasing a fully automatic turntable in this price range to ensure that it meets your needs.

It’s worth noting that some audiophiles prefer manual turntables over fully automatic ones because they believe that manual turntables offer better sound quality. However, if convenience is your top priority and you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of sound quality, a fully automatic turntable may be the right choice for you.

Manual Vs. Automatic Turntables: Which One Is Right For You?

When it comes to choosing between a manual and automatic turntable, there are a few key factors to consider.

Firstly, if you value convenience and ease of use above all else, then an automatic turntable may be the right choice for you. With an automatic turntable, you can simply press a button and let the machine do the work for you. This is particularly useful for those who are new to vinyl or who may struggle with the delicate process of handling records.

On the other hand, if you are looking for the best possible performance and a fully engaged vinyl listening experience, then a manual turntable may be the better option. With a manual turntable, you have full control over the process of playing your records. You lower the tonearm onto the record to start playing and when the record is over, you lift it off, put it back in the resting position, and turn the table off. This can make the experience more deliberate and engaging.

Manual turntables are also generally simpler in design and have fewer moving parts than automatic turntables. This can make them more reliable and easier to maintain in the long run.

However, it’s important to note that manual turntables require more time and attention from the user. You will need to manually place the stylus on your record groove each time you want to listen to music. This can be time-consuming and may not be ideal for those who want to listen to music casually or while multitasking.

Ultimately, whether you choose a manual or automatic turntable will depend on your personal preferences and priorities. If convenience is your top priority, then an automatic turntable may be the right choice for you. If you value performance and engagement above all else, then a manual turntable may be the way to go.