Turntables in the early 1920s ushered in the concept of a home audio system. It was the birth of the modern hi-fi two channel stereo system with which the poly vinyl records built in and when played on the turntables, gave decades of listening pleasure till the arrival of the cassette player. After more than fifty years, this sound quality is looking at being revived by the comeback of turntables, with plenty of adaptability to the modern sound system enablers like mp3, compact discs etc.
Why the comeback?
Perhaps it’s the stockpile of thousands of PVC (Poly vinyl chloride) or Vinyl records from those years that contain some precious audio tracks that would be lost if they were not played again or converted to a modern format.
To enjoy the hidden nuances of the hi-fi two channel system through more advanced technology of the modern turntables.
To create a new market for LPs or long playing records as Vinyl records are also known. Listening to analog sound production is becoming way cooler than digital!
What are the features of a modern turntable?
The old needle on the turntable system plus features like a built in speaker, a headphone jack, a USB port for archiving songs onto your computer and RCA lines to your home theater system
What should we look for in a good turntable?
A silent turntable is the best one or one that produces no noise and only lets the music come through.
Manual mode does not detract from the sound quality which may be compromised if more hardware is added to make the player automatic (starts with the press of a button)
Built in phono preamp
A tonearm with adjustments to accommodate a range of phono cartridges. A good quality stylus and cartridge to pick up every bit of music from your record’s grooves without damaging it.
Motors that are physically separate from the plinth to avoid unnecessary vibration.
A lower number of speed variation specification (less than 0.25%)
Playback speed range – should be available between 33 1/3 to 78 (45 rpm included). Remember that 78 rpms would require a different stylus.
How do you buy them and how are they priced?
Like most things today, turntables are available online. The best sites are those that sell turntables of different manufacturers, so that you can compare the prices and features and pick one which suits you. DJ oriented turntables are more robust, and offer features like good pitch adjustment, high torque and true tracking.
Most turntables under 100 dollars offer the 33-1/3 and 45 rpm formats only, though there are some exceptions. Under 100 dollars also come with AM/FM radio, headphones jack, USB support etc.
At higher prices, you have better high-torque direct motors, creative handcrafted designing, built in speakers, wooden turntables etc. DJ turntables cost upward of 200 dollars. The more expensive, the more silent turntables get.
Close to the 1000 dollar range, turntables come with fully carbon tone arms and superior stainless steel bearing enabled belt drive machines.