5 tips for choosing your first turntable5 tips for choosing your first turntable
5 tips for choosing your first turntable

5 useful tips for choosing your first turntable

Like any significant investment, choosing a turntable requires careful consideration to ensure a fulfilling listening experience.

Vinyl records have experienced a resurgence in popularity, appealing not only to audiophiles but also to a broader audience of music enthusiasts. Purchasing vinyl, whether at concerts or as gifts, has become commonplace, often symbolizing appreciation for artists. However, many vinyl owners lack a turntable, leading to a growing need for one as collections expand. Like any significant investment, choosing a turntable requires careful consideration to ensure a fulfilling listening experience.

Table of Contents

1.

The first decision to make when choosing a turntable is whether you prefer manual operation or the convenience of fully automatic models. Fully automatic turntables are ideal for those who prefer a hands-off approach, as they require minimal user interaction. Simply press the Play button, and the turntable will handle everything from playing the record to returning the tonearm to its original position.

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On the other hand, if you want to fully immerse yourself in the tactile experience of handling vinyl, including placing and removing the stylus yourself, then Hi-Fi class models are the way to go. These models typically feature a simple, minimalist design without automation, but they offer higher sound quality and a more engaging listening experience.

Many record players are ready to go out of the box
Many record players are ready to go out of the box

2.

The next important consideration for turntables is sound quality, which is directly influenced by the materials used in their construction. While the specifics of how construction materials affect performance can be complex, a basic principle to keep in mind is that the turntable body and platter should be as heavy as possible. This typically includes materials like wood, steel, aluminum, glass, and acrylic, as well as wood composites. It’s generally recommended to avoid plastic, regardless of its aesthetic appeal.

Similarly, the tonearm of the turntable, which is a critical component of the pickup design, should also be constructed from materials other than plastic. Various metals and even carbon structures tend to perform better in this role, contributing to improved sound quality and overall performance.

3.

The third crucial factor to consider is the design of the turntable. Because vinyl is an analog medium where the sound is mechanically read from the record, manufacturers continuously refine the design of the tonearm and drive to enhance sound quality. Typically, higher sound quality is associated with more expensive turntables featuring intricate engineering designs.

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For example, achieving precise balance in a tonearm with a complex system of counterweights or installing a motor separately from the turntable body requires significant expertise and experience. Consequently, these features are often found in more advanced and costly turntable models.

For beginners, it’s advisable to focus on entry-level Hi-Fi models. These turntables feature simpler and more reliable designs that have been proven over decades, offering very decent sound quality. This approach ensures a smoother introduction to the world of vinyl playback without overwhelming complexity.

If you are a beginner at turntables, make sure not to purchase the most complex record player
If you are a beginner at turntables, make sure not to purchase the most complex record player

4.

The fourth consideration is the degree of readiness of the turntable for use. Many manufacturers understand that not every buyer wants to deal with assembling and configuring a turntable from scratch. As a result, most available models come with pre-installed pickup cartridges that are factory-configured. This means that users only need to perform a few simple setup steps, as detailed in the instructions.

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However, it’s important to note that not all brands offer turntables in this ready-to-use state. Therefore, before making a purchase, it’s advisable to clarify the level of readiness of the turntable you’re interested in. This ensures a smoother setup process and enhances the overall user experience.

5.

The fifth consideration to address is how to integrate the vinyl player into your home audio system. Connecting a turntable to a portable or desktop speaker, stereo system, or any other audio device with an analog AUX input requires more than just a cable with the appropriate connectors. The turntable must also have a built-in phono preamplifier, which converts its output into a regular linear audio signal.

If the turntable lacks a built-in phono stage, it’s not necessarily a problem as standalone phono preamplifiers are available. Additionally, phono preamps are commonly integrated into Hi-Fi amplifiers, AV receivers, and even active speakers. Planning for this connectivity in advance ensures that the newly purchased turntable can be easily connected, allowing you to enjoy your favorite albums on vinyl without delay.

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