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FAQ About Turntables

The feeling of dropping the needle on a spinning vinyl record can be described in one word -- timeless. It's why turntables, first called gramophones, have endured for over a century as a preferred way to enjoy music at home. Today, turntables still thrive in their original concept, but with more sophistication in terms of audio fidelity and how they integrate with our modern listening habits. Let's discuss a few common questions about this increasingly popular music medium.

What are the different types of turntables?

The essential function of a turntable is to spin a record 360 degrees continuously so that the needle can read the record's magnetic grooves. This creates the sounds you'll hear coming out of the speakers. The surface where the record is placed is called a platter and this is controlled by either a belt drive or a direct drive. Belt drive turntables employ an independent motor that rotates the platter, while direct drive turntables have a platter that's integral to the motor.

Both turntable types have their advantages, though belt drives tend to be favoured by audiophiles for their heightened sound quality. DJs meanwhile love direct drive turntables because of the sturdier frame and faster start up times.

What features to look at when buying a turntable?

The basic concept of a turntable has not deviated drastically over the decades. However, modern turntables have adapted to our contemporary listening habits with USB ports that let you connect the turntable directly to a computer. This lets you convert vinyl recordings to a digital environment for transfer to your mobile listening device. Also, some turntables are wireless and connect directly to speakers or amplifiers through Bluetooth technology. This feature alleviates you from a messy cord set-up.

What else do you need with your turntable?

Turntables are not built ready to jam right out of the box. You need a few other components to make that record come alive. The first is a pre-amp, which converts and amplifies the turntable's audio signal into a listenable sound. Some turntables will have this function built in, but most rely on a stereo amplifier to handle the job. It's called a phono selector on the amp. And don't forget you're also going to need a set of speakers to run the amplifier through. That's where your sound ultimately comes from. That last piece of the puzzle is a collection of sweet records. Raid your parents' attic to get started.

Want more info? Check out some of our resources:

How to buy a turntable