Turntable Setup for Beginners
Putting together a turntable setup is simple. Read TRC beginner's turntable guide about key turntable features that will help you buy your first turntable in India.
1. What is a Turntable?
A turntable is an assembly that includes the platter, which spins the record and the tonearm + cartridge, that picks up the music which is carved into the record. It is a major component of a record player. It holds the record and spins it. A turntable also refers to a standalone unit you can purchase.
Turntables are of two types:
Automatic and Manual
On a fully automatic turntable, you push the button and walk away. The tonearm moves into position and gently drops the needle to the record’s leading edge. When the last song is over, the tonearm lifts itself up, returns to its resting position.
More engaging experience
|Less engaging experience|
Best for sound quality
|Reduced sound quality|
Widest range of options
|Relatively less options|
Less maintenance required
|Frequent maintenance required|
|Control over tracking force and anti-skate||Built in tracking force and anti-skate|
A record player is an all-in-one device which is composed of the turntable, preamp, amplifier and speakers all bundled into one unit.
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2. Anatomy of a Turntable:
1. The Cartridge:
The cartridge holds the stylus(needle). The cartridge’s job is to convert the movement of the stylus into an electrical signal.
2. The Headshell:
The cartridge is mounted onto the headshell.
3. Pitch Control:
It varies the speed of the platter by adjusting the voltage sent to the motor. Allows the user to fine-tune the speed.
4. The Tonearm:
It is a crucial link between the record and your speakers. It holds the cartridge and allows the stylus to ride in the grooves of the record.
5. Cueing Device:
It lifts and lowers the stylus from the record. It can be automatic or manual.
6. Counterbalance Weight:
It is a rotating tonearm counterweight with which you can independently adjust the tracking force of your stylus. Precise tracking force is important for the quality of sound and to prevent damage to your records as well as the stylus.
It is the spinning part of the turntable on which you place your records.
8. The Motor:
The motor is responsible for spinning the platter. It comes in two configurations - belt drive or direct drive.
9. The Plinth:
It is the base of the turntable.
10. Start Button:
Starts the engines and gets the table ready to groove.
11. Speed Selector:
Changes the speed of the platter between 33 RPM or 45 RPM. RPM stands for Revolutions Per Minute.
3. What is a Pre-amp?
A pre-amp or phono stage receives a very weak signal from your turntable and amplifies it to a higher level where an amplifier can take over. You must have a pre-amp if you are playing a turntable setup. A turntable is connected to the pre-amp with the help of an RCA cable. However, a few turntables are available with an inbuilt pre-amp which can directly be plugged into a pair of active(powered) speakers or a stereo amplifier.
4. What is a Stereo Amplifier?
The purpose of a stereo amplifier is to receive a small electrical signal & enlarge or amplify it. In the case of a pre-amp, the signal must be amplified enough to be accepted by a stereo amplifier. In the case of a stereo amplifier, the signal must be enlarged much more, enough to power a speaker.
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5. What are Speakers?
Speakers are transducers that convert electromagnetic waves into sound waves. The speakers can receive audio input from a pre-amp (active speakers), stereo amplifier (passive speakers) or directly from a turntable.
There are two major category of speakers concerning us:
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6. Means of connectivity:
1. Aux Cable:
A 3.5mm aux cable is a standard for stereo input and output. It can be used with a compatible jack or an auxiliary input to link an audio source to your stereo system.
2. RCA Cable:
RCA jacks are often used in phono inputs, a set of input jacks us usually located on the real panel of a pre-amp or amplifier to which a turntable is attached.
7. Turntable Setup Configurations:
1. Turntable + Active Speakers
2. Turntable + Stereo Amplifier
8. Commonly faced issues:
The lifespan of a stylus ranges from 600-800 hours of playback and past this duration, you are required to change your stylus.
Stretched Out Belt:
An average turntable belt for audiophile use will last 3-5 years before it stretches out. The belt will either go hard & brittle or soft & gooey.
Rumble and Hum:
Rumble is a very low frequency noise introduced to the audio signal by vibrations within the turntable. You can minimize it by placing an isolation mat or rubber feet under your turntable and making sure that the turntable isn’t too close to your speakers.
When it comes to your turntable and record collection, cleanliness is next to godliness!
No matter how clean you keep your home, given enough time, dirt & grime will always build up on your records and stylus.
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