What To Look For When Buying A Turntable – A Comprehensive Guide

Vinyl is back in a big way, and with it comes the need for a good turntable. Whether you’re dusting off your old record collection or starting a new one, finding the right turntable can be overwhelming.

With so many options on the market, it’s important to know what to look for when making your purchase. From size and speed to key components like the counterweight and cartridge, there are several factors to consider.

In this article, we’ll break down what you need to know to make an informed decision and get the most out of your vinyl listening experience. So sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of turntables.

What To Look For When Buying A Turntable

When it comes to buying a turntable, there are a few key factors to consider. First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure that the turntable is the right size and speed for your record collection. Different sized records play at different RPMs, so look for a turntable with adjustable speed switches to ensure compatibility with all of your vinyl.

Next, consider the key components of the turntable. A good turntable should have a counterweight, removable headshell/cartridge, and anti-skate control. These features contribute to accurate tracking and minimize distortion.

Of course, budget is also a major consideration. Entry-level turntables with built-in phono preamps can be found for less than $300, while more expensive models offer higher quality components and materials for better sound quality.

Another important factor to consider is the turntable’s rumble rating. A higher rumble rating indicates better vibration resistance, which is important for minimizing distortion and ensuring accurate playback.

Finally, proper setup and support are crucial for getting the most out of your turntable. Make sure to place your turntable on a level surface away from sources of vibration, and invest in a sturdy support or wall shelf if necessary. Proper isolation and careful placement can also improve performance.

Size And Style: Choosing The Right Turntable For Your Space

When it comes to choosing the right turntable for your space, there are a few important factors to consider. One of the most important is size. Turntables come in a range of sizes, from portable options that are small and lightweight, to larger cabinet models with built-in amplifiers. The size you choose will depend on the size of your record collection and the amount of space you have available.

If you’re just starting out with vinyl and have a small collection, a portable turntable might be the best option for you. These models are compact and easy to move around, making them perfect for small spaces or for taking with you on the go.

If you have a larger collection or want better sound quality, however, you’ll need to consider a larger turntable. Tabletop models are a good middle ground, offering more features and better sound quality than portable models without taking up too much space. Cabinet models are the largest option, and are ideal for serious audiophiles who want the best possible sound quality.

In addition to size, style is also an important consideration when choosing a turntable. Some models have a more vintage look, while others are sleek and modern. Think about the overall aesthetic of your space and choose a turntable that complements it.

Ultimately, choosing the right turntable for your space will depend on your individual needs and preferences. By considering factors like size, style, and budget, however, you can find a model that meets your needs and helps you get the most out of your vinyl collection.

Speed Matters: Understanding RPM And Pitch Control

When it comes to turntables, understanding RPM (Revolutions Per Minute) and pitch control is essential. RPM refers to the speed at which a record spins on the turntable, and it’s important to match the RPM of the turntable with the RPM of the record to ensure accurate playback. Most modern turntables offer two speeds: 33 1/3 RPM and 45 RPM. The former is used for LPs (Long Play Records) which house full albums split over 2 sides, while the latter is perfect for releasing singles that can house a couple of tracks on each side.

Pitch control, on the other hand, allows you to adjust the speed of the spinning platter, usually measured in percentage. This is important because changing the playback speed will inevitably change the pitch of the music. Slow playback speed means lower pitch, while a fast speed means high pitch. Pitch control can also be used to correct playback speed if a turntable’s speed is too fast or too slow.

It’s important to note that different record players have different mechanisms for adjusting RPM and pitch control. Some turntables have switches that allow you to switch between speeds, while others require manual adjustments or specialized adapters for different RPMs. Similarly, some turntables have built-in pitch control knobs, while others require external devices to adjust pitch.

When buying a turntable, make sure to consider your needs and preferences when it comes to RPM and pitch control. If you primarily listen to LPs, look for a turntable with 33 1/3 RPM compatibility. If you’re interested in DJing or want to experiment with pitch shifting, look for a turntable with adjustable pitch control. Ultimately, understanding RPM and pitch control will allow you to get the most out of your turntable and ensure accurate playback of your vinyl collection.

The Importance Of Components: Counterweight, Cartridge, And Tonearm

When it comes to the quality of sound produced by a turntable, the counterweight, cartridge, and tonearm are three essential components to consider. The counterweight, typically located at the end of the tonearm, allows you to adjust the tracking force of the cartridge. This is important because if the tracking force is set too heavy, it can cause the stylus to skip and damage your records. On the other hand, if it’s set too light, it can cause damage to the grooves of the record. Therefore, having an adjustable counterbalance is crucial for achieving precise tracking force.

The cartridge holds the stylus and is designed to attach to a headshell or similar connector that allows the tonearm to support it as it moves towards the record’s center. The height and angle of the armtube are critical for ensuring that the cartridge does not add too much weight on one side of the tonearm. To balance this out, you may need to provide a counterweight on the other side.

Finally, the tonearm reads the record while it plays in order to produce music. At the end of the tonearm is the cartridge, which uses a stylus to play music. The signal from the needle going between the grooves is picked up by magnets and sent down the tonearm wires to an electronic board where your preamp and receiver amplify it.

Wired For Sound: Built-in Speakers Vs. External Amplifiers

When it comes to sound quality, one of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make when buying a turntable is whether to go with built-in speakers or external amplifiers. Built-in speakers are more convenient and generally less expensive, but they often sacrifice sound quality. On the other hand, external amplifiers offer better sound quality but can be more expensive and require additional setup.

Built-in speakers are a great option if you’re looking for a simple and compact setup. They’re typically less expensive and don’t require any additional equipment or setup. However, built-in speakers often lack the power and clarity of external amplifiers, which can result in lower sound quality. If you’re looking for the best possible sound quality, you’ll likely want to opt for external amplifiers.

External amplifiers offer a wider range of options and often produce better sound quality. However, they can be more expensive and require additional setup. With external amplifiers, you’ll need to purchase separate speakers and connect them to the turntable using speaker cables. This can be more complex than simply plugging in a turntable with built-in speakers.

Ultimately, the decision between built-in speakers and external amplifiers will depend on your personal preferences and priorities. If convenience and affordability are your top priorities, built-in speakers may be the way to go. However, if you’re willing to invest in better sound quality and are willing to put in the additional setup time, external amplifiers may be the better choice. It’s important to weigh your options carefully before making a decision.

Budgeting For Quality: Finding The Right Turntable At The Right Price

When it comes to budgeting for a turntable, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you’re looking for and how much you’re willing to spend. Prices for turntables can range from under $100 to over $1000, so it’s important to set a budget that works for you.

If you’re just starting out and don’t want to break the bank, there are some decent options available in the $300 range. This will give you a good quality turntable with some nice features and a trusted brand with a good warranty. However, if you can find a used model from a trusted brand for under $300, that could be a good deal as well.

It’s important to note that there is a lower limit when it comes to budget turntables. Models below $100 are often suitcase record players that use low quality components and can actually damage your records over time. If you’re on a tight budget, it’s better to read up on what to avoid before making any purchases.

In the $300-$500 range, you’ll find good quality turntables with many adjustment features. Most of these models are sold alone, without speakers, but some self-contained and all-in-one options are available as well. Look for models with magnetic cartridges, counterweight, and anti-skate adjustment for the best sound quality.

If your priority is a good sound system with good speakers, with a turntable as a plus, then you can find good options below $500. However, if your priority is to have a good quality turntable, then it’s best to invest that money on a better turntable alone rather than an all-in-one component.

Ultimately, the key is to do your research and find the best turntable within your budget that meets your specific needs and preferences. By considering factors such as size and speed compatibility, key components, rumble rating, and proper setup and support, you can make an informed decision and invest in a turntable that will provide years of enjoyment for both you and your vinyl collection.