Choosing a Quality Turntable

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So how do you know how good a turntable really is regardless of cost?

First, heavy is good! Next, turn the turntable on and have the platter spin.  Then lift the stylus up from the record surface using the lifter and then slowly turn your amplifier up.  The better the turntable the less noise you will hear.

Any noise that you do hear is coming from the turntable or possibly the preamp or amplifier.

To eliminate the amplifier and preamp, disconnect the turntable from the rest of the system, slowly turn up the amplifier and see what noise is left.  Any noise that disappeared is due to the turntable.  Of course nothing is quite that simple but it is a reasonable test.

Another test is to lightly tap the tone arm with a pencil while the turntable is in play mode (with tone arm lifted off the record).  You will hear some thump in most cases. The loudness of the thump indicates how much noise the tone arm has itself could be contributing to ambient noise.  Tone arms can pick up vibrations too and play a very important role in overall quality in how they track, noise abatement, etc, and can cost $1000 or more for extreme examples!

Of course the type of phono cartridge; ceramic, magnetic, etc. is very, very important.

The bottom line regarding a turntable, regardless of how simple they may appear, is an instrument, and just like any other fine instrument you can buy something that resembles a turntable (a “TSO” – Turntable Shaped Object) or you can buy a fine instrument.

There have been literally thousands of turntables devised over the years with fundamentally different approaches to reproducing records accurately with new prices ranging from $30 to $100,000.  They really must be evaluated individually depending on your needs.  And in the used turntable market where the price does not necessarily correlate to its quality you can find some real classic bargains.

Just don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can buy a new turntable for $100 or so and get an instrument.

Get a quality turntable that you will provide you with a device that will last a lifetime, and will allow you to enjoy the true “Classic Vinyl Listening Experience”. You will be very glad that you did.

 

2 comments on “Choosing a Quality Turntable

  1. Charles Williams on

    The discussions about turntables and vinyl records, over the last thfree newsletters has been very good. how to clean vinyl records was extrremely helpful I had been looking for a good and simple way to clean my records. your newsletters are great! Keep it up.

    Reply
  2. david on

    my question for you is, how do you know if the motor is out,or the motherboard is out. my turntable lights are all still on,but platter does not turn. but so curious is it tht the motor is out.or the motherboard. and and all help Much and Greatly appreciated. too. ld love to send a picture of the way it looks but theres no way to upload on this page.
    again thank you for reading and anyhelp appreciated

    Reply

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The Classic Vinyl Listening Experience

  • History

    Intro To The Classic Vinyl Listening Experience

    Welcome to the Sound Exchange reference guide about vinyl records. On these pages we will explore any and all topics that are relevant to the enjoyment of vinyl records. Read more...

    The Emergence of Long Play (1948)

    The Classic Vinyl Listening Experience began with the emergence of the 10” and 12”, 33 1/3 rpm, Long Play, Micro-Groove, Vinyl Record in 1948, and its smaller sibling, the 7” 45 rpm record. Read more..

    Modern Long Play Records

    The modern long play, micro-groove record brought to the market had a tremendous impact on artistic creativity. Read more..

    The Modern Vinyl Record (1960s)

    It has a relatively long playing time and does so while reproducing sound in what is called high fidelity. Read more..

    The Classic Vinyl Listening Experience Timeline

    Let’s put all of this information in the form of a timeline. Read more..
  • Analog Vs. Digital

    Which is better, CDs or Vinyl Records?

    This question can be reduced to studying their differences. Read more..

    How Sound is Created and Heard

    This discussion begins with the creation of sound itself. Everything in nature that creates a sound creates an analog sound, which also happens to be the only kind of sound that we can hear. Read more..

    Analog to Digital Conversion

    The digital process begins at the point where the electrical impulses generated by the microphone are encoded onto a recording device. Read more..

    Playback Pros and Cons

    An analog recording doesn’t attempt to describe the sound as it simply records its input continuously, so it doesn’t have the sample size and sampling rate issues that digital has. Read more..

    What about CDs?

    First you must remember that the specification for CDs was developed way back in 1979. Read more..

    My Thoughts on Digital Vs. Analog Sound

    The vinyl record is my preferred media for active listening to recordings made in the 1950s and into the 1980s. Read more..
  • Stereo Recordings

    Stereo Recordings

    Any discussion about music and sound reproduction will eventually make reference to how it is presented to the listener. Read more..

    Stereophonic Recordings (1960s)

    Regarding stereo recordings, when stereo first came out it was a brand new world and exactly how to represent a recording in a stereo format was very subjective. Read more..

    Mono Vs. Stereo Recordings

    Beginning with the comparison of Mono and Stereo recordings, it was typical that both mono and stereo records were made from the late 1950s until around 1970 when they ceased production of mono records. Read more..

    Quadraphonic Recordings

    Finally let me touch upon quadraphonic recordings as they appeared on vinyl records. Read more..
  • Turntables

    The Record Player

    “For the record,” a record player is generally thought of as a turntable with a built-in amplifier and speaker(s). Portable units are typically record players. Read more..

    Anatomy of a Turntable

    The turntable has several basic components including the plinth (base), the revolving platter, the tone arm, the cartridge and stylus, and the mechanical and electronic components to make it all work. Read more..

    Reducing Unwanted Noise

    Isolating the noise generated from the turntable’s motor from the platter is essential. Read more..

    Choosing a Quality Turntable

    So how do you know how good a turntable really is regardless of cost? Read more..

    Turntable Belt Replacement

    Occasionally, belt drive turntables require turntable belt replacement. Read more...

    All about Phono Cartridges

    At the heart of any turntable system is the phono cartridge. Read more...
  • Other Stereo Equipment

    Classic Stereo Equipment

    Stereo equipment is one more significant variable that can greatly affect the Classic Vinyl Listening Experience. Read more..

    Phono Preamps: Amplification and Equalization

    When the discussion turns to the phono preamps (short for pre-amplifier) we are really getting down into minute details of the record groove in order to understand its role and its importance. Read more..

    Purchasing Quality Preamps

    Like all components of a stereo system there are significant variations in quality in the preamps, which has significant effects on the quality of the playback of your records. Read more..
  • Vinyl Records

    On First Pressings

    Typically, a first pressing is defined as what the actual record album looked like when it first came off the manufacturing line. Read more..

    Grading the Condition of Records

    At Sound Exchange we use visual grading (as opposed to play grading) for our records. We do not grade jackets, only the vinyl itself. Read more..

  • Taking Care Of Your Records

    Record Storage

    Always store your records in a cool, dry, dark environment in an upright position (never flat) that is high off the ground, and that provides some airflow around them. Read more..

    Tips for Handling Records

    Always handle your records by the label and the outer edge and never ever touch the record grooves except when performing a deep cleaning. Read more..

    That’s Not a Scratch on Your Vinyl – It’s Dirt!

    Dirt and static electricity may cause good records to sound “scratchy”. A proper cleaning will remove dirt and static electricity from the vinyl. Read more..

    How Often Should Records Be Cleaned?

    Record cleaning, like most any other type of cleaning, is a matter of degree. Read more..

    Record Cleaning Solution

    Wet cleaning of vinyl records is the best way if not the only way to really get them clean and to get them free of static electricity. Read more..

    How to Clean a Record

    Use plenty of solution and really get the record wet while being very, very careful to keep the solution off of the record label, as it will cause the paper label to “rise” or stain the label, etc, and it will never look like new again. Read more..

    Salvaging Vinyl

    An old trick of “last resort” is to actually play a record while wet. Read more..