The turntable is more popular than ever, and for good reason. A lot has happened since the first record player, called the phonograph, was invented by Thomas Edison in 1877. Back then, the turntable made a mechanical playback of a record made of asbestos and shellac, and the sound went from the pickup into a funnel that acted as a loudspeaker. The recording went the other way, where the music was recorded by the hopper, which sent the music down into a cutting needle that made the grooves that would later be played back.
Fast forward to today, where turntables sound better than ever, have become easy to get started with, and records now consist of completely harmless vinyl. The playback of the groove is the same, but the movements of the pickup now become current, which is made in the pickup and passed on to an amplifier. This makes the sound reproduction so good that it is considered by many to be the best.
How to get started
You can start with a turntable for 400€ and get a really nice all-round reproduction and also an easy setup and easy operation. Some expensive turntables rely on experience and skill to set up, as they come almost as an assembly kit, where you can then make the adjustments yourself, with a headlamp, a wet newspaper and a folding ruler. But you can also choose a top loading player from one of the manufacturers that have the expertise and equipment to deliver the turntable tuned exactly as it should be. The days of complicated turntables are over.
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Why should I buy a turntable?
A good quality turntable can deliver sound you rarely hear on sources like streaming or CD. The turntable has a distinctive warm analogue sound, so you’ll often find your brain relaxes and you get a different and better experience of the music. The turntable is also a faithful and reliable player that doesn’t rely on internet, bluetooth connection or other black magic that we don’t have control over. The turntable plays when you lower the pickup onto the record, quite simply.
With a turntable, you can also dive into millions of LPs from the days when music was in original master quality and not copied. The fact that LPs are available at modest prices today, and that LPs are still being released, all contribute to making the turntable a contemporary and attractive music player.
Finally, there is the concept of focus. Today we can watch TV and listen to music through all kinds of streaming devices, and yet we don’t “hear” the music. It just plays out there in a steady stream, whether we’re exercising, cooking or sleeping. The turntable, on the other hand, requires your attention, and just the fact that you have to find the record and put it on the turntable is often enough to get you into a state of calm and focus, which is necessary for you to get the full experience of what the musicians wanted with the music.
Which turntable should you choose?
You can get an excellent turntable for 400€, just as you can get turntables at absurd prices. Basically, the difference between cheap and expensive turntables should be that the more expensive they get, the more accurate, quiet and well performing they are. And precision is important when operating with groove movements down to a few thousandths of a millimetre. There is a choice between “plug and play” solutions, where the manufacturer has fitted the pickup, or self-assembly solutions, where you are required to know what you are doing when setting up the turntable. Get advice from us before you buy, so you get the right one for your system and your needs.
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What is the difference between an expensive and a cheap turntable?
Typically it will be better tonearm, better motor, better platter and better plinth. Better will mean less blur, less noise, higher accuracy all to read the record without affecting the sound with unoder such as distortion and poor gait. An expensive turntable is not necessarily better than a cheap one, which makes it wise to have them demonstrated in the store. Within a brand, however, one must assume that the most expensive is the best.
A rule of thumb is that the more automation for a given price, the worse sound you get, compared to a manual turntable in the same price range.
Pickups – spoil your turntable
If you want to lift the sound of your turntable, a new pickup can do wonders. A pickup is the small “lump” that sits at the tip of the tonearm. The pickup housing is typically made of metal, plastic or wood and acts as the enclosure for the interior that generates the sound. Mainly there are 2 groups of pickups, namely MM (moving magnet) and MC (moving coil).
Moving magnet will be the cheapest as they are less demanding to assemble. MC pickups will therefore be in price ranges that require a better turntable. Typically turntables in the price range 400-2000€,- will be equipped with a MM pickup and more expensive turntables with MC pickups. There are exceptions and it can pay off, when you invest in a turntable, to buy as good a turntable as the economy allows and then save a little on the pickup, since it anyway, at some point, must be replaced.
Price differences on pickups are often due to the different grinding of the small diamond at the end of the needle tube. The finer the diamond is cut, the better (more accurately) it reads the groove and picks up information that more primitive cuts will have difficulty with.
The RIAA amplifier – an absolute must
In order to play a record at all and get the music into the speakers, you need a preamplifier, which in this context is called an RIAA amplifier. It has two functions, one is to amplify the very weak signal coming the pickup, the other is to correct the frequency curve.
The correction is necessary because when the record is cut, you have to lower the bass (otherwise the pickup jumps out of the groove) and raise the treble (to later remove hiss and noise when it is lowered again). With these steps in the cutting process, it is of course necessary to correct the sound before it can be played back successfully and that is exactly what an RIAA does, it restores the frequency curve and amplifies the signal. Many amplifiers have built-in RIAA and such an input is typically called “phono”. If you do not have a built-in RIAA in the amplifier, it can be purchased separately and connected to a regular line input on the amplifier, e.g. CD, AUX, TUNER. An excellent MM-Riaa, can be purchased for about 140€, whereas an MC-Riaa costs a lot more and works in the same way, except for its even more powerful amplification. This is because an MC pickup typically has a much weaker output signal to send into the RIAA section, and therefore the signal requires a stronger gain.
Come by LYDspecialisten
In LYDspecialisten in Aalborg we always have a large selection of turntables that you can come by and listen to. Here you can hear the turntables in great demo facilities and our specialists are always ready to help you find the right turntable for you. If you need online advice, please contact us on chat or on +45 98 16 14 10 or email@example.com.