Choosing a turntable for beginners

If for some reason you want to buy a turntable, and you are afraid of incomprehensible

terms like "tonearm", "cartridge","Phono stage" or "direct drive", then we will tell you how to avoid mistakes when choosing a player. We do not consider and strongly do not recommend buying models under $ 100, adequate players now cost from $ 100 to $ 300 and are suitable for a novice user. For those who want to get more from the player, we suggest paying attention to the models from 300 to 1000 dollars. It is worth noting that most of the interesting models are not for sale here, but in the era of globalization there is no problem ordering them on Amazon (if you have never done this, we have detailed instructions on how to do this, even if you do not know English).

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First level

Turntables costing from 100 to 300dollars is a great start for those who are still considering whether to seriously delve into collecting records. The low price and ease of use will not disappoint, even if in the end you prefer “digital”, and the vinyl collection is limited to a couple of records with your favorite albums.

Sony PS-LX310BT

The best turntable for those looking to try

By purchasing the Sony PS-LX310BT, you get a modernaustere design, built-in switchable phono stage, auto-stop and auto-return system, perfectly balanced at the factory, vibration-free belt drive and ease of use. “I turned it on and it just works” - this is exactly about this model. A bonus is the ability to digitize vinyl records to MP3 and listen to music via Bluetooth.

optimal start
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Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT

With a simplified design

With characteristics similar to Sony PS-LX310BT,the product from Audio-Technica has a simplified plastic design and not the best materials. Bluetooth and a built-in phono stage are also available, but the function of digitizing vinyl at least in MP3 is no longer provided. But the price will please the most economical beginners.

minimum price
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Fluance RT80

Entry-level Hi-Fi

With this model, Fluance offersFor beginners, a solid wood base, an adjustable tonearm with cartridge upgrade options, attention to detail and a very solid appearance. The built-in phono stage is not forgotten, as well as the hitchhiking, but you will not find children's toys like MP3 or Bluetooth from Fluance - these are still products of a different level, albeit the youngest model in the line.

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Middle level

Turntables ranging from $ 300 to $ 1,000can be recommended to those who have thoroughly decided to collect their favorite music and new releases on records. The price of the devices is still reasonable, but the upgrade possibilities and the thoughtfulness of the design leave room for future improvements.

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO

For confident users

Pro-Ject is perhaps the most famousa European turntable company. The word Carbon in the name of this model is not accidental: it is from this material that its tonearm is made. A Sumiko Rainier cartridge is fitted and adjusted from the factory to the tonearm, and the turntable boasts an electronic switch and speed control. Unfortunately, there is no hitchhiking.

more electronics
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Rega planar 2

Model without protective mat

Pro-Ject and Rega are twins and longtime competitors infight for the sympathy of vinyl lovers. While there are many similarities, the Rega Planar 2 has one very noticeable difference - the glass platter. It is so neatly crafted that records can be placed directly on top of it without using a felt or rubber mat. The disadvantages of the model are the same missing hitchhiking.

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Fluance RT85

Maximum for its price

The RT85 is the oldest model in the Fluance lineup and thisvisible in every millimeter of its polished surface. A powerful plate, an acrylic platter that does not need an additional mat and an Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge - this is not a complete list of the advantages of this device. Add to that hitchhiking, which the competition lacks, and here it is, an almost perfect turntable. Almost - since there is no built-in phono stage in the RT85, which will inevitably force you to fork out for the necessary addition.
Fluance offers customers RT85external PA10 phono stage, which offers ultra-high fidelity conversion of the turntable signal to line level for the most accurate reproduction of the original recording in accordance with the RIAA standard.
phono stage PA10 on

author's choice
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How to choose a vinyl turntable

New turntable or retro?

There is an opinion that as the very firstit is better to buy a retro turntable - they say, even if it breaks, finding a spare part will not be a problem. After all, up to the beginning of the 90s of the last century, vinyl turntables were the main source of music, and this in turn means huge circulation of turntables at the exit from the factory conveyors.

There is a catch in this argument.We here all understand modern technologies and understand the difference between Apple's top-end iPhone and unnamed Chinese consumer goods, which are sold in millions of pieces for a penny, without leaving China, quickly breaks down and is thrown away without regrets. So, if you take the conditional 70s and 80s of the last century, the heyday of vinyl, then the ratio of good turntables and outright consumer goods will be the same. Vintage is not necessarily quality. Often these were pretty bad new turntables, which after about 50 years turned into equally bad, but already very old turntables.

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And you need to turn it on and for everything to work. And it didn't break in a week.

Of course, there is a certain chance that you are inIn principle, you are a fan of all sorts of vintage things and think that a good turntable (and the technology itself is really vintage) must be old. Well, ok, your right. But if you want a vintage turntable in good condition, prepare a lot of money. Believe me, it's really a lot.

But think, and if it suddenly turns out that all thisthe fuss around the records was a momentary rush and is it not yours at all? How soon will you find someone willing to shell out the big bucks for your expensive vintage turntable?

Unfortunately, there is such a thing as the laws of physics andwear of materials. Be that as it may, no matter how ideal storage conditions are, you need to understand one basic principle: vintage turntables 30-50 years old break. Everything. Point. You will be left alone with an expensive problem. In most cases, it is also insoluble. Here it is for you, a beginner, do you want it?

Returning to the thesis about the consumer goods of the 70s, you needto mention one more important detail: the number of manufacturers, which 50 years ago was, relatively speaking, several thousand, nowadays has shrunk to a couple of dozen worthy of mention. And their sales market also shrank. What happens to the competition in such situations? That's right, it is escalating. None of the modern manufacturers (well, almost) will try to produce and sell outright slag. It just doesn't make sense.

Vinyl turntable design

Design is not a matter of howTurntable. In general, they are all arranged in approximately the same way: body, platter, tornarm and cartridge with a needle. The differences begin in the materials from which all this is assembled, and in the electronic filling. These are the parameters that distinguish a good turntable from a bad one.

Design is pure taste. Mostly novice amateurs, especially young people, by default imagine the design of the player with the wording "like the DJ from that movie."

Actually types of vinyl designThere are, believe me, more than one turntable. And they, despite the generality of the design, are very different. But there is one big, very big "but" here. It's called a "portable turntable". Never, do you hear, never buy yourself this pretty "suitcase". Only to the enemy as a gift.

All portable turntables haveone thing in common: they make your records disposable. So it is better to choose a turntable from a budget range, but still something of high quality and stationary.

At the moment, healthy minimalism is the design standard for modern vinyl turntables.

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For some, the appearance of modern turntableswill seem boring, to someone - remarkably strict. But even if this very minimalism is not to your liking, it is also quite possible to find a "vintage" style among modern models.

What's really important is that there is no correlation between the vintage design of a modern, inexpensive turntable. entry level and no one has yet proven it by its sound. The reason is simple - there is none. A similar dependence appears in a completely different price segment.

Turntable device:

Direct or belt drive

Direct drive design where the platterput on, relatively speaking, directly "on the motor", is its main drawback. Why? The answer is simple - vibration. It is transmitted directly to the platter, from it to the record, from the plate to the needle and further along the entire path directly to your acoustics, accompanying the music with quite noticeable background noise.

Of course, this noise is rather conventional.There may be turntables that transmit a 50 Hz background vibration from the power source to the needle, but this only indicates that the device of this vinyl turntable is complete slag and you do not need one at all. In other cases, a competent design and vibration isolation reduce the disadvantages of a direct drive to almost zero.

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However, ensure high-quality sound ondirect drive means additional efforts of engineers and additional financial costs. Including quite noticeable for the buyer, that is, you. And you, a beginner, need it?

At the same time, a turntable with a belt (or, as we say, "pasik") drive is designed by default in such a way that it simply cannot face problems with background vibration.

Automation or manual control

Both player control options havetheir fans and opponents. The author of these lines gravitates towards a semiautomatic device: the record has finished playing, the hitch-stop has worked and the needle has risen into the air. If at the same time there is also an auto return, then it is generally fine, but not necessary.

Why I don't like turntables with completelymanual control? It's simple: I can't always go to the turntable as soon as the side runs out to stop the rotation and put the arm back in place. Therefore, the plate will spin, and the needle will cut it. Perhaps for a long time.

Of course, the resource of modern needles is such that evena few hours in this state would not hurt her. But with the record, unpleasant questions can arise. Practical experience has shown that at 33.3 rpm (industry standard), the needle will take a couple of weeks to cut through the vinyl. Of course, no one will ever do this at home, but all the same, even an extra hour - why?

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Modern manufacturers of turntableshitchhiking is not favored for beginner and intermediate levels. Therefore, the most common mistake here would be buying a vintage hitchhiker turntable. Believe me, statistics say that it is the auto-stop and auto-return system that is the first thing that breaks down in players 30-50 years old. To fix it is unrealistic.

In some cases, bring the turntable back to lifeyou can simply remove the automation from it. But what do we get at the output? That's right - an old and at the same time broken turntable without hitchhiking. And was it worth building a garden? And there are times when all the systems of the player are interconnected and the breakdown of the hitchhiking means the breakdown of the entire player. Forever and ever.

Therefore, despite resistance from the sidethe majority of manufacturers and the widespread opinion that there are no inexpensive players with hitchhiking, there were several companies that approached the issue adequately and released the same entry-level players with simple and reliable automation.

Built-in or external phono stage

You need to understand that the device is vinylthe player does not allow the audio signal to be output directly to the amplifier input. Without going into technical terms, the signal is too weak to be "heard" by an amplifier. To remedy this situation, so-called phono preamplifiers are used - special intermediate devices that amplify the output signal of the player to the desired parameters.

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Depending on the device of the player,phono stage can be either external or built-in. The built-in phono stage brings the buyer closer to the situation “bought a turntable and started using it”, the external one gives room for imagination and emptying the wallet.

Fortunately, most modern turntablesvinyl, especially entry-level, are equipped with a switchable built-in phono stage. This means that if the listener wants some improvements over time, it will be enough to connect a phono stage to the device chain and set the “phono / line” switch to the appropriate position.

What is the bottom line?

Well, let's summarize the basic principles. The novice buyer of a turntable should be guided by the following principles:

  • Right: buy a new belt-driven turntable with built-in phono stage (optional) and auto-stop.
  • Not right: Buy a vintage turntable with direct drive, no phono stage and auto-stop (which will break anyway).

It remains only to decide on the budget and, based on your capabilities, choose the model of the vinyl player to buy.

Of course, there are much more expensive turntables that offer users a lot of upgrade opportunities and additional options, but within the framework of our task - choosing a good vinyl turntable for beginners - looking towards more expensive models is simpleit makes no sense. Start with one of the listed models, slowly collect a few of your favorite records, and there it will already become clear whether this occupation is really yours.

In the end, there is no limit to perfection, sowhere to put the point depends only on the limit on your credit card. Turntables that cost tens of thousands of dollars also exist, but we definitely don't recommend starting with them.

Frequently asked questions about vinyl

Why do we need a vinyl turntable in our digital age?

Among vinyl lovers there are legends about "warm"analog sound and its incredible quality, but we must admit that not everyone is able to really hear the difference between a vinyl record and a quality streaming service. And if it is capable, then it is unlikely that 100% will guess during blind testing which excerpt from which source was included. So why do people buy turntables?

First of all, we are talking about aesthetics.Over the years, vinyl covers have been created by the best artists and designers of their time. Many of these covers have become canonical and are considered real art.

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In addition, in the ritual of attention itself, records fromenvelope and installing it on the player there is a kind of magic that is absent in taps with your fingers on the Apple Music or Spotify interface. Plus, using a turntable teaches you to listen to music with albums as the authors intended. This differs significantly from the culture of playlists, which does not allow you to focus on the complete work.

Finally, buying a turntable andcollecting records, you support your favorite artists much more than the microscopic deductions from listening to music on streaming services. At the very least, this is more honest in relation to the creators.

Why does the article say not to buy a portable turntable?

Turntable structure and setupturntables (if we talk about more advanced models than discussed in this article) are complex enough matters that deserve large separate articles. Therefore, in answering this question, we will focus on only two parameters: downforce and anti-skating.

Downforce, as the name suggests, respondsfor the force with which the needle presses on the plate from top to bottom. If the pressure is insufficient, the needle will bounce and break off the plate at every “loud” moment of the track, and if it is excessive, the needle will press so hard that it starts to destroy the tracks of the records.

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Anti-skating in turntablesis responsible for the same, but with regard to the pressure of the needle to the sides. Excessive pressure to the right or left, firstly, disturbs the balance of the right and left channels, and secondly, it can destroy the wall of the plate track in the same way.

Returning to the question, it can be noted thatmanufacturers of portable vinyl players (those very "suitcases") do not pay attention to these parameters at all. As a result, an unnecessarily "heavy" cartridge with a needle, which is installed in such portable turntables, is guaranteed to destroy the record in 2-3 plays.

Where to put your turntable?

It's very simple: wherever you like. But there are several requirements (or wishes) that are worth considering.

First of all, a turntable, evenentry level, must be placed on a strictly horizontal surface. Any misalignment affects the tracking force and anti-skating parameters, and not all entry-level turntable models are equipped with the ability to manually adjust them.

Secondly, you need to make sure the stabilitythis surface to vibrations. If your floor "walks", even a simple step can lead to "jumping" of the needle, and this does not add to the pleasure of listening. So in some cases it makes sense to think over vibration isolation in the form of special additional legs.

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Well, and thirdly, you need to keep in mind thatinstalling a turntable in the path of sound waves from the acoustics will also not bring any benefit. The needle vibrates under the influence of the irregularities in the walls of the tracks on the plate, these vibrations eventually turn into sound (sometimes quite loud) from the acoustic systems, which eventually hits the needle back, which vibrates under the influence of the irregularities of the tracks on the plate ... Then you can imagine the effect yourself.

Instead of an afterword

Within the framework of one text, it is impossible to talk aboutall manufacturers of turntables and mention all the nuances of both the initial settings and the options for connecting this equipment to a variety of peripherals. We also did not mention a word about how to properly store records and how to care for them, how the types of cartridges differ and much, much more. But we will definitely tell you about this in the near future.

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