26th April, 2017

8 Key Features You Need To Know Before Buying A Turntable

Turntable Buying Guide

Whether you’re buying you’re first turntable or even want to upgrade, it’s important to know the key things to look out for. Don’t be fooled by brand and price. Sometimes less is more! Here is a comparison of some of most sought after turntables against those not so well known. Take note of the key factors – these are 8 things to look for in a turntable!


Turntable Comparison Chart

(Scroll across)


Brand  Audio Technica  Audio Technica  Denon DJ Reloop Numark Reloop Stanton  Technics  Pioneer DJ  Pioneer DJ
Model  LP120  LP1240  VL12 RP-7000 NTX1000 RP-8000 ST150 SL1200 MK5  PLX500  PLX1000
Current Price  $449  $649  $999  $549  $599  $799 NA  $1299  $549  $989
Direct Drive  Yes Yes  Yes  Yes Yes Yes  Yes Yes Yes Yes
Torque >1.6kgf / cm >4.5kgf / cm 5.0kgf/cm 1.6 – 4.5kg / cm 4.0kg / cm 1.6 – 4.5kg / cm 4.5kgf / cm   1.5kg / cm  1.6kgf / cm 4.5 kgf / cm
WOW / Flutter <0.2% WRMS < 0.1% WRMS < 0.05% WRMS < 0.02% WRMS  <0.05% WRMS <0.02% WRMS < 0.1% WRMS <0.025% WRMS < 0.15% WRMS < 0.01 %
RPM Speeds  33 / 45 / 78  33 / 45 / 78  33 / 45  33 / 45 / 78  33 / 45  33 / 45 / 78  33 / 45 / 78  33 / 45  33 / 45 / 78  33 / 45
Tone-Arm Shape  S-Shape   S-Shape   S-Shape   S-Shape   S-Shape   S-Shape / Straight   S-Shape / Straight   S-Shape   S-Shape   S-Shape
On-Board Preamp  Yes  Yes  No  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes  No  Yes  No
On-Board USB Interface  Yes  Yes  No  No  Yes  No  No  No  Yes  No
Image  Audio Technica LP120-USB-Black display  audio-technica-at-lp-1240 Denon VL12
RP-7000 Reloop Direct Drive DJ Turntable Top View
 Numark NTX1000  Reloop RP-8000 Hybrid Direct Drive Turntable_top st150hp-large Technics SL-1200mk5 Pioneer PLX-500  Pioneer PLX-1000 Turntable_top

 

*Measured by obtaining signal from built-in frequency generator of motor assembly.


What are the Key Factors?

Drive Type

There are 2 main styles of turntable motor; Belt driven and Direct drive. Belt driven turntables use a belt to connect the motor and platter together, and while this has some benefits for vibration absorption its not ideal for DJs. The main reasons being that they wear down and snap, and provide an inconsistent start & stop time. This is where direct drive comes in.  Direct drive turntables use an electo-magnetic motor that is keeps the turntable spinning at a more consistent speed and have far longer life spans than their belt driven counter parts. This makes them ideal for DJs and turntablists alike.


Torque

Torque is how powerful the motor is, the higher the torque = the faster the start / stop speed. It also helps to keep the platter spinning when back cueing and scratching. Some turntable will have a fixed torque, while others will allow you to customise it to your style.


WOW & Flutter

If you’ve heard a record where the pitch keeps changing or there’s some distortion, then chances are you’ve experienced WOW & flutter. WOW & Flutter is caused by variations in the platter speed with in turn affects the pitch of the playback. Most modern turntables will have a crystal oscillator to keep the motor in time (most common is Quartz) which greatly reduces the fluctuations in playback. Some of these turntables will also feature a ‘quartz lock’ function that disables the pitch control and locks motor to the crystal timing for the best playback performance.


RPM Speeds

RPM stands for revolutions per minute. There are 3 typical vinyl record speeds: 33¹⁄³, 45 and 78 RPM.

Most vinyl records you will come across are 33¹⁄³ RPM and is often referred to as a long-play (LP) style. 45 RPM is rarer these days and used more for ‘singles’, they also have a large centre whole and require a ’45 adapter’ to play. 78 RPM records are much rarer and are generally smaller in size (10″) compared to the 12″ size of a standard 12″ vinyl record.


Tone-Arm Shape

There are two tone-arm shapes; ‘S’ and ‘straight’. Mostly this is aesthetics (providing your cartridge and needle are installed correctly). But the idea is that the straight tone arms are harder wearing and better suited to scratch DJ styles while an S-shape is better suited to playback. Another benefit of the straight arm is it takes up less area on the platter / vinyl giving you more room to manipulate the vinyl for back-cueing and scratching. But is always recommended to use the shape that feels more natural and comfortable.


On-Board Preamp

These are internal pre-amplifiers that transform your turntables output from Phono into a line level. Great for connecting to modern technology that doesn’t support a Phono input. Some turntable will have these and will even give you the option to switch it on/off (like the RP-7000) depending on your set-up.


On-Board USB Interface

This cool little device allows you to digitally record your vinyl directly to your PC or MAC. Typically onboard interfaces will output up to 48kHz at 16-bit (CD quality) whicdh is great for transferring classic and limited pressing songs to an easier to play format.


Hopefully this helps when purchasing your first or next turntable! Look out for these factors when deciding what is best for your needs. If you need any further assistance, feel free to give us a call or visit us in-store.