Most common questions about vinyl players and more
Most common questions about vinyl players and more
Most common questions about vinyl players and more

Most common questions about vinyl players and more

1. How are phono preamps different?

A phono preamplifier is a crucial component of the vinyl audio system and can either be integrated into a player or amplifier, or exist as a standalone device. The primary distinction lies in the type of cartridges they are compatible with: MC (moving coil) or MM (moving magnet). The subsequent signal processing of the pickup is contingent upon this factor. While most phono stages are versatile and can accommodate both MM and MC cartridges, some are designed exclusively for one type.

The nuances in phono stages contribute significantly to the overall sound quality. It is evident that a basic phono module within a player or AV receiver cannot rival the sound quality of high-end individual components. Moreover, it lacks the ability to be tailored to a specific cartridge model. Having switches on the phono stage to adjust for different pickups is often beneficial, a feature typically found only in external devices. Ultimately, similar to other components in the system, the phono stage plays a critical role in determining the quality of analog audio. It influences the level of background noise, the accuracy of RIAA correction, errors in which can distort tonal balance and compromise the purity of the musical signal at peak levels.

2. What are the differences between an AV receiver, a stereo receiver and a stereo amplifier?

A stereo amplifier is a device with two channels that allows you to listen to music from different sources. It is equipped with inputs, which used to be only analog but now include digital inputs as well. It also has all the necessary controls. On the other hand, a stereo receiver has similar functions to a stereo amplifier but with an additional feature – it can receive radio broadcasts thanks to the built-in tuner. Modern stereo receivers also have a network module for streaming music from Internet services.

However, an AV receiver is in a different league altogether. The term “receiver” in its name indicates the presence of a built-in tuner, but that’s not its most important part. An AV receiver is designed with a multi-channel amplifier (at least five or more channels) and a subwoofer output. It also includes surround sound format decoders and other features necessary for creating a home theater system. In addition to audio, the AV receiver allows you to switch between video signal sources. While it can also be used for music listening, the sound quality of an AV receiver is generally not as good as that of a stereo amplifier in the same price range.

3. How do you know how worn a turntable stylus is?

The frictional force that occurs when the stylus of a vinyl player moves along the sound track of a record causes it to wear out over time. The rate at which this happens depends on how frequently you listen to vinyl. If you start noticing sound distortion, unbalanced channels, or an increase in noise level, it is important to assess the degree of stylus wear. This can be done by using a magnifying glass. If the needle tip has become asymmetrical or if the diamond shows signs of damage or darkening, it is time to search for a replacement. For MM cartridges, you can simply reinstall the needle unit with another one recommended by the manufacturer. However, the MC head usually needs to be completely replaced. Typically, needles last between 400 to 1000 hours, but it is advisable to replace them at least once every five years. Even if you rarely play vinyl, the design will still degrade over time, as the cantilever damper (stylus holder) is another component that wears out. The damper is made of a material with specific mechanical properties that allow for smooth needle movement while dampening unwanted vibrations. Over time, the damper’s characteristics deteriorate, resulting in a decrease in sound quality.

To prolong the life of the stylus, it is important to properly tune the player and regularly clean it with a specialized brush. Sometimes, various liquids are used for cleaning as well. However, before using any liquids, it is recommended to ensure that they are safe for your specific cartridge model.

4. My player has a MM head, but the pressing force is not adjustable

If the tonearm of the turntable lacks any adjustable features, it indicates that it is specifically engineered to function with a single cartridge model. Consequently, there is no need for any adjustments as they have already been fully configured during the manufacturing process. Occasionally, these turntables possess an integrated pickup within the tonearm and solely offer the possibility of replacing the stylus unit in the event of damage or deterioration. If the stylus unit is detachable, it is imperative to install an identical replacement in its position.

9 basic questions about turntables

5. How much pressure does vinyl require?

Enhancing your turntable by adding a record clamp is a simple yet highly effective method of upgrading it. This accessory aids in further reducing vibrations by securely pressing the record against the support disk. The use of clamps results in tighter bass, enhanced detail, and a more spacious sound. Moreover, if the record is slightly warped, the clamp can help straighten it to some extent, thereby improving the playback quality.

It is important to note that clamps that rely on their own weight may not be suitable for certain turntable models. Clamps based on a collet mechanism are more versatile, albeit slightly more challenging to use. In general, investing in a record clamp is highly recommended for turntables, even those that are more affordable.

6. Should I keep the stylus protective cover and use it constantly?

1. A stylus protective cover is essential when transporting the player or disassembling the cartridge. It is recommended to attach it when setting up the tonearm initially, but it is not required during regular turntable use. Additionally, some audiophiles opt to remove hinged covers from the cartridge to prevent potential vibrations or resonances.

7. How important is the need for special stands and brackets for vinyl players?

A turntable is a delicate device that can be easily affected by mechanical vibrations. The cartridge not only translates the needle’s movement along the record into an audio signal, but also picks up external acoustic noise. Even a slight impact on the turntable can cause the needle to skip. To prevent vibrations, special racks or brackets are recommended. Mounting the turntable on a sturdy wall is considered the optimal choice. Specialized racks are also effective in reducing vibrations due to their mass and rigidity, which help isolate the cartridge from external disturbances. Furthermore, these accessories often provide the ability to level the turntable horizontally, which is particularly beneficial for models without adjustable feet.

8. Players are characterized by:

  • Output signal level;
  • Signal/noise ratio:

The most crucial characteristics of a vinyl player are responsible for the quality of its sound. The output signal level, determined by the cartridge on the tonearm, typically falls within the range of 4 – 6 mV, allowing the turntable to connect to various MM phono stages, whether built-in or external.

The knock coefficient assesses the consistency of the platter’s rotation, affecting speed fluctuations and resulting in audible distortions. Wow & Flutter, designated in English literature, occur at different frequencies, with values up to 4 Hz causing a “floating” sound and frequencies around 100 Hz leading to midrange overtones. For mid-priced players with a coefficient of about 0.15%, this phenomenon is unlikely to significantly impact sound quality.

In terms of the signal-to-noise ratio, a higher value is preferable as it determines the dynamic range of sound and the level of detail in music. This parameter, measured in decibels on a logarithmic scale, plays a crucial role in the audibility of quiet sounds and overall sound quality.

9. Is it possible to connect two sources to the AV receiver simultaneously?

Stereo amplifiers and AV receivers are typically not suitable for this purpose, as they are specifically designed to transmit a signal from only one source to the speakers. If you require the ability to listen to music from two sources simultaneously, you will need to seek out devices that are equipped with a mixer. This particular device allows you to blend signals from two or more sources, while also providing independent volume control for each of them. These types of models can be found in the professional audio equipment market, or alternatively, you can purchase a separate mixer device. To connect the mixer, simply plug it into the regular input of an amplifier or AV receiver, and the combined signal will then be transmitted to the speakers.

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