When choosing a vinyl player, you should pay attention to its electromechanical characteristics and design.
How to choose a vinyl turntable: basic criteria
The main criteria for choosing a vinyl player:
- The presence of a phono stage;
- The presence of an amplifier;
- Weight of the faceplate or the player itself;
- Needle pressure adjustment;
- Cartridge type;
- Needle sharpening type;
- Type of drive.
- The manufacturer is also important.
Main selection criteria
How a vinyl record player works
To highlight the most important technical characteristics, it is necessary to understand how the turntable works.
- A vinyl record is an information carrier on which waves are applied in the form of surface irregularities – the trajectories of acoustic vibrations. The tracks are arranged in a spiral from the center to the edge;
- The pickup needle (tonearm) moves along the tracks, rising and falling on these irregularities;
- The movements of the needle are transmitted to an electromechanical transducer, where they are converted into current fluctuations;
- The modulated current in the electromechanical converter is fed to the phono stage, where it is converted into ‘pleasant to the ear’, since the music is recorded on the plate in a deliberately distorted form (just to be able to record);
- The signal converted in the phono stage goes to the amplifier;
- The amplifier feeds the signal to the connected speakers.
Thus, the most important characteristics are clear: the geometry of the needle, the presence of a phono stage, an amplifier, as well as a number of other electromechanical parameters.
The presence of a phono stage
Vinyl players can either be equipped with a built-in phono stage or come without it. The first option is preferable for beginner music lovers, as it simplifies the work with the player. However, for the highest quality and – most importantly – customizable sound, it is recommended to choose players without a built-in phono equalizer, and buy it separately.
‘Out of the box’ turntables have a built-in phono stage and amplifier. This, again, makes it easier to use the player, but limits the ability to customize the sound.
But if you want maximum customization of the sound, it is recommended to choose players without a phono stage and amplifier.
Weight of the faceplate or the player itself
Rotating the faceplate (the moving element of the turntable that holds the vinyl record) can vibrate, which negatively affects the quality of the music being played, including causing distortion.
To avoid sound distortion due to vibration, manufacturers deliberately make the faceplate heavier. As a consequence, the heavier it is, the more ‘flat’ the music will be. The optimal weight of the player as a whole is from 10 kg. The mass of the faceplate itself in this case is from 7 kg.
Needle pressure adjustment
The force of pressure of the stylus on the record affects the sound quality and the rate of wear of the vinyl carrier. Therefore, it is desirable that your player be equipped with this function. Especially if you plan to listen to compositions with a lot of used instruments or a dense soundstage.
However, turntables with adjustable needle pressure are quite expensive.
The cartridge is a structural element of the pickup. It is in it that the needle is located. There are two types of cartridges – 1/2 ”and T4P standard.
1/2 ” cartridge for maximum audio customization. However, it is difficult to adjust – it requires setting the needle height, balancing the tonearm, and other operations. T4P cartridges are significantly easier to use, do not require tonearm balancing, and are easy to attach – but limit your customization.
Turntables with replaceable cartridges are recommended.
Needle sharpening type
The type of needle sharpening does not particularly affect the sound quality, but music lovers prefer oval-sharpened ones. But round-sharpened is cheaper.
type of drive
The drive in turntables can be direct, belt or roller. The first option will appeal to fans of scratching (DJ manual rotation of records). The belt drive provides the smoothest rotation, without unnecessary vibration. The roller does not create sound distortion only in expensive players.
Among the manufacturers of vinyl players are:
- Technics. A legendary company, its products are still appreciated by audiophiles;
- Sherwood, Pro-Ject, Rega. Manufacturers of players in the middle price category;
- Pioneer, Micro, JVC. Japanese manufacturers that have established themselves among music lovers.
- You can also highlight the companies Sony and Denon.
In the following articles, our experts will tell you how to choose a radio receiver and the secrets of choosing a portable speaker.