If you’re a vinyl enthusiast, you’ve probably heard the term “plinth” thrown around when discussing turntables.
But what exactly is a plinth and why is it so important?
In short, the plinth is the foundation of your turntable, holding all the electronic components that make it function.
But it’s not just about function – the plinth also plays a crucial role in isolating your turntable from external vibrations and providing a stable base for your records to spin on.
In this article, we’ll dive deeper into what a plinth is, its different designs and materials, and why it’s such an essential part of any turntable setup.
So sit back, relax, and let’s explore the world of plinths on turntables.
What Is A Plinth On A Turntable
As mentioned earlier, a plinth is the base or foundation of a turntable. It’s the part of the turntable that holds all the electronic components, including the motor, tonearm, and cartridge.
But why is it called a plinth? The term “plinth” actually comes from architecture and refers to the base or platform that supports a column or statue. In the case of a turntable, the plinth serves a similar purpose – it supports and stabilizes the components above it.
What Is A Plinth And Why Is It Important?
The plinth is an essential component of a turntable, as it provides the necessary stability and isolation for the electronic components to function properly. Without a plinth, the turntable would not be able to function properly as the electronic pieces that make it work would not have a stable base to sit on.
One of the primary functions of the plinth is to isolate the components mechanically from each other. The plinth is designed to reduce vibrations that can interfere with the playback of records. Vibrations can come from a variety of sources, including external sources such as footsteps or traffic, or internal sources such as the motor or tonearm. A heavy and sturdy plinth can help reduce these vibrations, allowing for a clearer and more accurate sound.
In addition to its mechanical isolation function, the plinth also serves an aesthetic purpose. It’s often made of wood, metal or acrylic and can be designed in a variety of styles to match the overall design of the turntable. The plinth can add a touch of elegance and sophistication to the turntable, making it not just a functional piece of equipment, but also an attractive piece of furniture.
The Role Of The Plinth In Isolating Vibrations
One of the most important functions of the plinth on a turntable is its ability to isolate vibrations. Turntables are highly sensitive pieces of equipment that can be easily affected by external vibrations. These vibrations can result in unwanted noise, distortion, and even skipping of the record.
While plinths can provide a limited low frequency vibration isolation, they may remain limited in their ability to meet required vibration criteria of particularly sensitive tools. However, there are specialized isolation plinths that are designed to isolate individual pieces of equipment from unwanted vibration and resonance. These plinths use high-quality materials such as high-grade acrylic and aluminum legs, combined with nitrile rubber rings to act as a barrier against unwanted vibrations.
The principle used to isolate these specialized plinths is based on minimizing contact between the supporting surfaces within the foot, bearing, and isolating base plate. The contact points are literally no more than a hairline width, which helps to absorb a wide variety of unwanted sound frequencies. The combination of chrome steel, aluminum, and nitrile rubber rings within the foot combine to act as a barrier against unwanted vibrations.
The benefits experienced from using an isolation plinth can be heard in a tighter bass response and improvement in the soundstage when fitted to turntables, and a general reduction of transmission of unwanted noise and vibration within your equipment. This type of plinth is perfect for larger pieces of equipment that need individual isolation like power amplifiers or turntables.
Different Plinth Designs And Materials
There are several different plinth designs and materials used in turntables. The most common materials used for plinths are wood, metal, and acrylic.
Wooden plinths are often found on vintage turntables and are known for their classic look. They can be made from a variety of woods, including oak, mahogany, and walnut. Wooden plinths are also known for their ability to absorb vibrations, which can improve sound quality.
Metal plinths, on the other hand, are often used in high-end turntables. They are typically made from aluminum or steel and are known for their durability and resistance to resonance.
Acrylic plinths have gained popularity in recent years due to their sleek look and ability to reduce vibrations. Acrylic is a dense material that can help stabilize the turntable and prevent unwanted vibrations from affecting sound quality.
In addition to these materials, there are also hybrid plinths that use a combination of materials to achieve the desired sound quality. For example, some turntables use a wooden plinth with an acrylic top layer to provide both stability and vibration reduction.
How The Plinth Affects Sound Quality
The plinth plays a crucial role in the sound quality of a turntable. It is responsible for absorbing and resisting vibrations that can affect the accuracy and clarity of the sound produced by the turntable. The heavier and denser the plinth, the better it is at combating vibration from both airborne and ground sources.
In addition to weight, the material used to construct the plinth also affects sound quality. Common materials include wood, metal, and acrylic. Acrylic is considered to be a superior option due to its high density, which translates to less vibration disrupting the needle’s ability to pick up music and a more consistent play speed.
Furthermore, the platter and slipmat also affect sound quality by affecting how vibrations are felt and the speed at which the record is played. The slipmat acts as a buffer between the vinyl and platter, preventing vibrations from causing resonance in the sound. Materials such as felt, leather, rubber, cork boards, and micro density fiberwood (MDF) are typically used as slipmats. Each material has its own pros and cons, and sound differences vary depending on personal preference.
It’s important to note that finding the right balance between isolation and coupling is key in achieving optimal sound quality from a turntable. While it’s tempting to assume that everything that sounds right is because energy transfers better into it, overly sharp or under damped sound can result from too much isolation. Ultimately, finding the right balance may differ from person to person and system to system.
Tips For Choosing The Right Plinth For Your Turntable Setup.
When it comes to choosing the right plinth for your turntable setup, there are a few things to consider. First and foremost, you want to make sure that the plinth is made of a material that is dense and dimensionally stable. This will help to absorb any vibrations that could negatively impact the sound quality of your turntable. Plywood is a popular choice for plinths due to its versatility, durability, and ability to dampen vibrations.
Another important factor to consider when choosing a plinth is its levelness. A level plinth is crucial for ensuring that your stylus sits properly in the record groove, which ultimately affects the sound quality of your vinyl. Many turntables come with adjustable feet to help you achieve a level surface, but it’s important to also check the platter for levelness as well.
Lastly, you may want to consider the aesthetic appeal of the plinth. While this may not affect the sound quality of your turntable, it can certainly add to the overall visual appeal of your setup. Some turntable manufacturers offer different finishes and materials for their plinths, allowing you to choose one that fits your personal style and preferences.
In summary, when choosing a plinth for your turntable setup, it’s important to consider its material, levelness, and aesthetic appeal. By taking these factors into account, you can ensure that your turntable is not only functional but also visually appealing and capable of producing high-quality sound.