How to choose a vinyl player: the main criteria
The main criteria for choosing a vinyl player:
- The presence of a phono stage;
- The presence of an amplifier;
- The mass of the faceplate or the player itself;
- The presence of needle pressure adjustment;
- cartridge type;
- Needle sharpening type;
- Type of drive.
- The manufacturer is also important.
Main selection criteria
How a vinyl player works
To highlight the most important technical characteristics, it is necessary to understand the principle of operation of a turntable.
- A vinyl record is a carrier of information, on which waves are applied in the form of surface irregularities – the trajectories of acoustic vibrations. The tracks are arranged in the form of a spiral from the center to the edge;
- The stylus of the pickup (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 oscillations;
- The current modulated in the electromechanical converter enters the phono stage, where it is converted into “pleasant to hear”, since the music is recorded on the record in a deliberately distorted form (just for the sake of recording);
- The signal converted in the phono stage enters the amplifier;
- From the amplifier, the signal is sent 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
Turntables can be either equipped with a built-in phono stage or supplied 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 stage, and buy it separately.
The presence of an amplifier
“Out of the box” turntables have a built-in phono stage and amplifier. This, again, simplifies the use of the player, but limits the ability to customize the sound.
But if you want maximum sound customization, it is recommended to choose players without a phono stage and amplifier.
Mass of the faceplate or the player itself
During rotation, the faceplate (the moving element of the player on which the vinyl record is placed) may vibrate, which negatively affects the quality of the reproduced music, including introducing distortions.
To avoid sound distortion due to vibrations, manufacturers deliberately make the faceplate heavier. As a consequence, the heavier it is, the more “smooth” 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 pressure of the needle on the record depends on the quality of the sound and the wear rate of the vinyl carrier. Therefore, it is desirable that the player is equipped with this function. Especially if you plan to listen to songs with a large number of instruments used or a dense sound stage.
However, turntables with adjustable stylus pressure are quite expensive.
A cartridge is a structural element of a pickup. It is in it that the needle is placed. There are two types of cartridges – 1/2 inch and standard T4P.
The 1/2″ cartridge provides maximum sound customization. However, it is difficult to set up – it requires setting the height of the needle, balancing the tonearm, and other operations. T4P cartridges are much easier to use, do not require arm balancing, are easy to mount – but at the same time limit the possibility of customizing the sound.
Players 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 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 most smooth rotation, without excessive vibrations. 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 of the middle price category;
- Pioneer, Micro, JVC. Japanese manufacturers who have proven themselves among music lovers.
- You can also highlight Sony and Denon.
In the following articles, our experts tell you how to choose a radio receiver and the secrets of choosing a portable speaker.