What Is An Automatic Turntable? A Comprehensive Overview

Vinyl records are making a comeback, and with that comes the need for turntables. But with so many options available, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one.

One of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make is whether to go for a manual or automatic turntable. While manual turntables require more work, some vinyl enthusiasts believe it’s part of the charm.

On the other hand, automatic turntables offer convenience and ease of use. But what exactly is an automatic turntable, and how does it differ from a manual one?

In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of automatic turntables, their advantages and disadvantages, and help you decide if it’s the right choice for you.

What Is An Automatic Turntable

An automatic turntable is a type of record player that features start and stop buttons to control the turntable motor and move the tonearm on and off the record. Unlike manual turntables, automatic turntables also turn the motor off and return the tonearm after a side reaches the end.

There are also semi-automatic turntables that only feature the off and return feature. These types of turntables require you to place the needle into the groove, but after the album is done, the tonearm will automatically lift and return to its resting position at the end of the record.

How Does An Automatic Turntable Differ From A Manual Turntable?

When it comes to choosing between a manual and an automatic turntable, there are several differences to consider. One of the most obvious differences is the level of automation. With a manual turntable, you have to manually lower the tonearm onto the record to start playing and lift it off when the record is over. In contrast, an automatic turntable takes care of these tasks for you with the press of a button or lever.

Another difference is in the design and mechanics of the turntable. Automatic turntables have more moving parts such as cogs, gears, and springs, which can contribute to mechanical noise and interference. This extra machinery also means that automatic turntables cannot be as solid or rigid as manual turntables, which can impact their resonance. Additionally, automatic turntables usually come with pre-set tracking force and anti-skate settings, limiting your ability to adjust or dial in the performance.

In terms of maintenance, manual turntables are generally easier to maintain as they have fewer internal mechanisms that can break down. They also offer a wider range of options and upgrades compared to automatic turntables.

Ultimately, the choice between a manual and an automatic turntable comes down to personal preference and listening habits. While automatic turntables offer convenience and ease of use, many vinyl enthusiasts prefer the deliberate and engaged listening experience that comes with a manual turntable.

Advantages Of Using An Automatic Turntable

There are several advantages to using an automatic turntable. Firstly, it eliminates the need to manually place the stylus onto the record, which can be a relief for those who are new to vinyl or have shaky hands. This feature also reduces the risk of damaging the record or stylus, as the automatic turntable’s mechanics ensure that the stylus is placed correctly every time.

Another advantage of an automatic turntable is that it takes care of lifting the stylus off the record and returning it to its resting position after playback. This eliminates the need for you to monitor the end of each side and manually lift the tonearm, reducing wear and tear on your stylus and prolonging its lifespan.

Automatic turntables also offer convenience and ease of use. Once you place the record, all you have to do is press a button or lever to start playback. This makes listening to your vinyl collection a more relaxed and effortless experience.

Finally, automatic turntables are generally more affordable than manual turntables, making them a great option for those on a budget. While some audiophiles may argue that they compromise on sound quality and control, a well-made automatic turntable can still provide excellent sound and performance.

Disadvantages Of Using An Automatic Turntable

While automatic turntables offer convenience, there are some disadvantages to using them. One of the biggest drawbacks is the compromise in audio quality due to the additional mechanical components needed to make the mechanics operate automatically. The mechanical linkage between the platter and tonearm can cause imprecise tracking, leading to a reduction in sound quality.

Additionally, automatic turntables are usually more expensive than manual turntables due to the extra components required to make them operate automatically. The added machinery can also contribute to mechanical noise and resonance, which can further impact the overall sound quality.

Another disadvantage of automatic turntables is that they often come pre-set with tracking force and anti-skate settings, leaving less room for adjustment or customization. This lack of control may be frustrating for audiophiles who prefer to fine-tune their turntable settings for optimal performance.

Is An Automatic Turntable The Right Choice For You?

Deciding on whether an automatic turntable is the right choice for you depends on your personal preferences and needs. If you are a casual vinyl listener who values convenience and ease of use, then an automatic turntable might be the perfect fit for you. With the start and stop buttons, you won’t have to worry about manually lowering the tonearm onto the record or lifting it back up when the record is over. This can be a big relief if you are just getting into vinyl and want to avoid damaging your records or stylus.

Another advantage of automatic turntables is that they typically have an “auto off” feature that turns off the motor and returns the tonearm after the record is finished playing. This can help prolong the life of your stylus and prevent it from scratching or damaging your records.

However, if you are a serious audiophile who values the best possible sound quality and a fully engaged vinyl listening experience, then a manual turntable might be a better choice for you. Manual turntables require more effort and attention to detail but offer more control over the music and allow for easier upgrades and repairs.

Ultimately, whether you choose an automatic or manual turntable depends on your personal preferences and needs. Consider factors such as budget, features, quality, and personal preference when making your decision.