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 for you.
One of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make is whether to go for a manual or automatic turntable. In this article, we’ll be focusing on fully manual turntables and what sets them apart from their automatic counterparts.
From the benefits of having complete control over your vinyl listening experience to the potential drawbacks of extra maintenance, we’ll explore everything you need to know about fully manual turntables.
So sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of vinyl and turntables.
What Is A Fully Manual Turntable
As the name suggests, a fully manual turntable requires the user to do all the heavy lifting. This means that you will need to manually lower the tonearm onto the record to start playing and lift it off when the record is over. Additionally, you will need to put the tonearm back in its resting position and turn off the turntable.
One of the benefits of a fully manual turntable is that it gives you complete control over your vinyl listening experience. You will know exactly where to place your stylus on your record groove, ensuring that you get the best possible sound quality. This is in contrast to automatic turntables where you would have to rely on the automatic record player to lift the stylus and tonearm off the record surface and return it to its rest.
Another advantage of fully manual turntables is that they are low on maintenance. Since there are no internal mechanisms and fewer things that can break, you won’t have to worry about costly repairs or replacements. Additionally, a good quality manual turntable can be upgraded without having to buy a brand new record player.
However, it’s important to note that fully manual turntables require more dedicated time out of your day to specifically listen to your record collection. This can be seen as a drawback for some people who prefer the convenience of automatic turntables.
The Benefits Of A Fully Manual Turntable
There are several benefits to owning a fully manual turntable. Firstly, it offers the widest range of options for the user. With no extras on the tonearm, there is no interference with the tracking, ensuring that you get the best possible sound quality. This is because the only mechanical link between the tonearm and the platter is the point where the stylus hits the record, resulting in minimal mechanical noise and interference.
Secondly, fully manual turntables are known for their top-notch performance and fully engaged vinyl listening experience. This is because you have complete control over your vinyl listening experience, from placing the stylus on the record groove to lifting it off when the record is over. This makes playing music a deliberate and intentional act, which many vinyl enthusiasts believe is actually the point of playing records.
Furthermore, fully manual turntables are low on maintenance as there are no internal mechanisms and fewer things that can break. This means that you won’t have to worry about costly repairs or replacements, making it a great long-term investment.
Lastly, fully manual turntables offer the ability to upgrade without having to buy a brand new record player. This means that you can continually improve your vinyl listening experience without having to replace your entire setup.
The Drawbacks Of A Fully Manual Turntable
While fully manual turntables offer complete control over your vinyl listening experience, they do come with some drawbacks. One of the main drawbacks is the amount of work required. With a fully manual turntable, you will need to manually lower the tonearm onto the record to start playing and lift it off when the record is over. This can be time-consuming and may not be ideal for those who want to listen to music while doing other things.
Another drawback of fully manual turntables is that they require more attention and care. Since there are no internal mechanisms to help with the process, you will need to be more careful when placing the stylus on the record groove. Additionally, fully manual turntables are more prone to skipping or jumping, especially if you accidentally bump the turntable or if there are any vibrations in the room.
Fully manual turntables also require more skill and experience to use effectively. You will need to adjust the tracking force and anti-skate settings manually, which can be tricky for beginners. This can result in poor sound quality or even damage to your records if not done correctly.
Finally, fully manual turntables may not be suitable for those with physical limitations or disabilities. The process of manually lowering and lifting the tonearm can be difficult for some people, making it hard for them to enjoy their vinyl collection.
How To Use A Fully Manual Turntable
Using a fully manual turntable can be a rewarding experience for vinyl enthusiasts who want complete control over their listening experience. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use a fully manual turntable:
1. Start by making sure that your turntable is set up correctly. This includes ensuring that it is level and that the cartridge and stylus are properly aligned.
2. Select the record you want to play and remove it from its sleeve. Place it on the platter of the turntable.
3. Lift the tonearm and move it over to the record. Carefully lower the tonearm onto the outer edge of the record, making sure that the stylus is placed in the run-in groove.
4. Once the stylus is in place, gently lower the tonearm onto the record, being careful not to drop it or apply too much pressure.
5. Enjoy your music! When the record is over, lift the tonearm back into its resting position and turn off the turntable.
6. It’s important to handle your records with care to avoid damage or scratches. Always handle them by their edges and avoid touching the grooves with your fingers.
7. Additionally, it’s recommended that you clean your records regularly to ensure that they sound their best. There are various record cleaning kits and solutions available on the market.
While using a fully manual turntable requires a bit more effort than an automatic turntable, many vinyl enthusiasts believe that it’s worth it for the improved sound quality and overall vinyl listening experience.
Maintenance And Care For A Fully Manual Turntable
Maintaining a fully manual turntable is essential to ensure that it continues to provide the best possible sound quality for years to come. Here are some tips on how to take care of your turntable:
1. Keep your records clean: To maintain your turntable, it’s essential to keep your records clean. Dust and grime on the record will end up on the stylus, ultimately damaging the vinyl and negatively impacting the sound quality in the long run. To avoid this, pick up records by the edge to avoid covering them in greasy fingerprints and dust. Store them vertically so that they don’t warp. Inner record sleeves lined with anti-static plastic are a good idea – you can buy them separately if your record only came with a standard paper sleeve.
2. Clean your records and stylus: In order to extend the life of your records and stylus, it’s best to properly clean them. The AT6012 Record Care Kit will help keep your records looking and sounding their best. The kit comes with a cleaning solution that is scientifically designed to gently remove dust, dissolve fingerprints, and eliminate static electricity. Cleaning is not a cure-all, however. Cleaning cannot repair damaged records, unfortunately sometimes the vinyl is too damaged to salvage.
3. Set up your turntable correctly: A poorly aligned cartridge can irreparably damage your vinyl, so it’s important to set up your turntable correctly. If you’ve purchased a new turntable, you may be in luck, as many of them now come set up with the cartridge pre-fitted and aligned. A used turntable, on the other hand, will almost certainly require setting up or even servicing. In any case, it’s still best you double-check a few basics before spinning your records.
4. Check the condition of the stylus: Always check the condition of the stylus before playing a record. A worn-out stylus will cause damage to your record and negatively impact sound quality.
5. Check cartridge alignment: It’s important to check that your cartridge is correctly aligned as this can have an impact on sound quality.
6. Check anti-skate (bias) setting: The anti-skate (or bias) setting is often misunderstood but is an important aspect of setting up a turntable correctly. When set correctly, it prevents your stylus from riding up the side of the groove and instead sits centrally for more accurate tracking and less record wear.
7. Store your turntable correctly: It’s important to store your turntable correctly when not in use. Avoid leaving records on the turntable for long periods if not in use and store them vertically rather than horizontally or flat. If possible, store records at average room temperatures and do not permit them near or in contact with heat-producing devices such as radiators or electronic equipment.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your fully manual turntable stays in top condition for years to come, providing you with high-quality sound every time you listen to your favorite vinyl records.
Comparing Fully Manual Turntables To Automatic Turntables
When it comes to comparing fully manual turntables to automatic turntables, there are a few key differences to consider. One of the main differences is in the level of control and convenience that each type of turntable offers.
With a fully manual turntable, you have complete control over your vinyl listening experience. You can adjust the tracking force and anti-skate settings to ensure that you get the best possible sound quality. This is in contrast to automatic turntables where the manufacturer usually pre-sets these settings and your ability to adjust or dial in the performance is greatly restricted.
Another key difference between manual and automatic turntables is in the level of mechanical noise and interference. With a fully manual turntable, the only mechanical link between the tonearm and the platter is the point where the stylus hits the record. This means that there are fewer things that can go wrong mechanically, resulting in a cleaner and more accurate sound. In contrast, automatic turntables have more components such as cogs, gears, and springs that contribute to overall noise and resonance.
Maintenance is also a factor to consider when comparing manual and automatic turntables. Fully manual turntables are generally low on maintenance since there are no internal mechanisms that can break. On the other hand, automatic turntables have more moving parts which can potentially cause technical issues and breakdowns. Additionally, the lifespan of an automatic turntable is typically around 5 years, which is less than that of manual turntables.
Finally, it’s important to consider upgrade possibilities when choosing between manual and automatic turntables. With a fully manual turntable, you have more options for upgrading components such as cartridges and tonearms. This is because there are fewer design limitations compared to automatic turntables where the plinth cannot be as solid or rigid due to housing mechanisms.
In conclusion, while fully manual turntables require more dedicated time for listening and may not offer as much convenience as automatic turntables, they provide greater control over sound quality and are generally easier to maintain. Automatic turntables may offer more convenience but come with more potential technical issues and design limitations. Ultimately, the choice between manual and automatic turntables depends on personal preference and listening habits.