If you’re a vinyl enthusiast or a DJ, you may have noticed a small light on your turntable that shines onto the record.
This is known as the target light, and it serves a specific purpose. In low-light conditions, the target light helps you see the grooves on the record, making it easier to cue tracks or find specific points on the vinyl.
But what exactly is the target light and how does it work? In this article, we’ll explore the history and function of the target light on turntables.
So, let’s dive in and shed some light on this often-overlooked feature.
What Is The Target Light For On A Turntable
The target light, also known as the stylus target light or cue light, is a small light that shines onto the record on a turntable. Its purpose is to help you see the grooves on the vinyl in low-light conditions, making it easier to cue tracks or find specific points on the record.
The target light has been a feature on turntables for many years, and it has evolved over time. In the past, target lights were often built into the turntable itself, and they were typically red in color. Today, many turntables come with removable target lights that can be plugged into a phono socket on the turntable’s plinth.
The target light is especially useful for DJs who need to cue tracks quickly and accurately in a dark club or venue. By shining a light onto the record, DJs can easily see where to place the stylus and start playing the next track.
The History Of Turntable Target Lights
The use of target lights on turntables can be traced back to the early days of DJing. In the 1970s, DJs began using turntables to mix and blend records, and target lights were essential for cueing tracks in low-light conditions.
The iconic Technics SL-1200 turntable, first introduced in 1972, featured a red target light built into the plinth. This light was specifically designed to help DJs see the grooves on the record and line up the stylus for accurate cueing.
Over time, other turntable manufacturers began incorporating target lights into their designs. Some models featured removable target lights that could be plugged into a phono socket, while others had built-in lights that were more difficult to replace.
In recent years, target lights have become a standard feature on many modern turntables. They are often designed to be easily replaceable or customizable, allowing DJs to personalize their setup and create a unique look for their equipment.
Despite the evolution of turntable technology, the target light remains an essential tool for DJs and vinyl enthusiasts alike. Whether you’re cueing tracks in a dark club or simply enjoying your favorite records at home, the target light is a key component of the turntable experience.
How The Target Light Works
The target light works by shining a small beam of light onto the vinyl record, illuminating the grooves on the surface. This allows the user to see where to place the stylus and start playing the record. The light is typically positioned near the edge of the platter, where the record begins.
Most target lights are designed to be adjustable, so that the user can control the angle and position of the light. This is important because different records have different groove patterns, and the light needs to be positioned correctly in order to see them clearly.
The target light is typically powered by a low-voltage DC power source, which is often supplied by the turntable itself. Some target lights may require a separate power source, such as a battery or an external power supply.
The Benefits Of Using A Target Light
Using a target light on a turntable has several benefits, especially for DJs and vinyl enthusiasts who want to get the most out of their records.
Firstly, the target light helps to reduce eye strain and fatigue when cueing tracks or searching for specific parts of a record. This is particularly important in low-light environments, such as clubs or home listening rooms where the lighting may be dim.
Secondly, the target light improves accuracy and precision when cueing tracks. By shining a light onto the record, DJs can easily see the grooves and accurately place the stylus at the start of a new track without having to rely solely on their sense of touch or hearing.
Thirdly, the target light can help prolong the life of your records. By using a target light, you can avoid accidentally scratching or damaging your vinyl by misplacing the stylus or accidentally dropping it on the wrong part of the record.
Finally, using a target light can enhance your overall listening experience. By being able to see the grooves more clearly, you can appreciate the intricate details and nuances in the music that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.
Common Issues With Target Lights And How To Fix Them
While target lights can be a helpful feature on a turntable, they can sometimes experience issues that require troubleshooting. Here are some common issues with target lights and how to fix them:
1. Dim or non-functional light: If your target light is not turning on or is very dim, it could be due to a bad pin connection. To fix this, try disconnecting the pin and checking for any bent or loose connections. If the pin is damaged, it may need to be replaced.
2. Cheap and flimsy construction: Some turntables come with target lights that are made from cheap plastic and are not very durable. If you find that your target light is easily damaged or does not hold up over time, you may want to consider replacing it with a higher quality option.
3. Electrical faults: In some cases, the target light may experience electrical faults that cause it to malfunction. This could be due to a failing power supply circuit or a faulty component such as a regulator or transformer. If you suspect an electrical issue, it’s best to take your turntable to a repair professional for diagnosis and repair.
Target Lights Vs. LED Lights: Which Is Better?
When it comes to target lights for turntables, there are two main types: traditional target lights and LED lights. Traditional target lights are typically red in color and are built into the turntable or plugged into a phono socket. LED lights, on the other hand, are newer and often brighter than traditional target lights.
One advantage of traditional target lights is that they are often included with the turntable and require no additional setup. They also tend to be more affordable than LED lights. However, they may not be as bright as LED lights and may not provide enough illumination in very dark conditions.
LED lights, on the other hand, are often much brighter than traditional target lights and can provide better visibility in low-light conditions. They also come in a variety of colors, allowing users to customize the look of their turntable. However, LED lights may require additional setup and may be more expensive than traditional target lights.
Ultimately, the choice between traditional target lights and LED lights comes down to personal preference and individual needs. If you need a simple, affordable solution for cueing tracks in low-light conditions, a traditional target light may be sufficient. If you need brighter illumination or want to customize the look of your turntable, an LED light may be a better option.