How to choose a vinyl player

equipment Dec 02, 2019

Vinyl players and records are appreciated for their special soft sound. When buying the first vinyl player, many people have many questions at once: if before that you did not deal with this type of audio equipment, it is quite difficult to understand all the intricacies of the choice.

When buying, you need to consider that not only a player is needed to play the records: you will definitely need a phono preamp, amplifier and speakers. A phono stage is sometimes built into the player, but many connoisseurs of good sound recommend buying models without it. When recording on a plate, part of the frequencies is removed from the sound - a phono stage is needed to correct this when playing sound. An amplifier is needed to convert a weak pickup signal so that it has enough power to work with the speakers of the speakers - in other words, to make the speakers sound.

We answer the most important questions about choosing a vinyl player.

What should the player be made of?

When choosing a vinyl player, you should pay attention to what the table is made of, to which all the parts of the player are attached. Best if it is MDF, acrylic, glass or wood. Experts recommend avoiding plastic models: this material can adversely affect the sound quality. In the store you can easily tap on the base - the sound should be deaf and dense. This indicates the absence of internal voids.

The reference disc is the part of the player on which the record is placed. The best materials for making a disc are MDF, acrylic, aluminum or glass. A special mat is always installed on the disk. It is needed to damp the vibrations of the supporting disc and plate. The optimum diameter of the disc is at least 30 cm.

Which type of drive is better

The drive is a part of the player that provides smooth rotation of the plate. Drives are belt-driven, they are also called passikovye, and direct.

In turntables with a passive drive, the support disk is driven by a special drive belt, which is connected to the electric motor. This design allows you to maximally remove the engine from the pickup and significantly reduce the transmission of vibrations from the motor to the plate and needle. In practice, this means a cleaner sound. The only drawback of such a drive is that the belt, or belt, wears out and requires periodic replacement. Finding a replacement belt and replacing it is not so difficult, so this should not be scary when buying.

In models with direct drive, the electric motor is connected directly to the support disk. This ensures stable rotation: the disk begins to rotate at the desired speed almost immediately when the plate starts. Passive drive is characterized by a slower start of the motor. Suppressing additional motor vibrations in a player with direct drive will be very expensive - in this sense, passive players for the home are more optimal.

What is a tonearm and why is its length important

The tonearm is a part of the turntable that holds the pickup head in position with respect to the plate. The length and design of the tonearm largely determines the accuracy of music reading.

It is believed that the tonearm should be no shorter than 9 inches. Some players install 12-inch tonearms. The length of the tonearm affects how accurate the movement of the needle along the sound groove of the plate will be. The longer the arm, the less the angular error when reading the plate.

Why anti-skating is needed

Tonarms can be customized. The final sound depends on the setting, since it is the tonearm that transmits the signal from the pickup to the phono stage.

With the help of the adjustment, the clamping force of the tonearm is regulated - this value is individual for each pickup. Information on the optimum clamping force of the tonearm is always in the instructions for the pickup head.

The problem is that even with the tonearm clamping force set correctly, when moving the pickup needle, the pressure on the groove stacks is uneven: on the inner wall it is always a little more. Because of this, the needle wears out quickly and distortions appear in the sound. To prevent this from happening, the tonearm has a special force compensator, anti-skating. He also needs to be adjusted in accordance with the clamping force of the pickup head. The design of the compensators are different - it can be coil springs, magnets and weights. Of fundamental importance, which one is installed, is not: they perform one task.

What should be a pickup

The pickup is the main part that is responsible for sound extraction. The cartridge is often called a cartridge.

When choosing a player, it’s worth clarifying whether the pickup is included. Some players are sold with cartridges already installed. This is convenient: you can start listening to records immediately after buying a player and not waste your energy on installing a pickup.

The most important thing is to pay attention to which particular pickup is installed. It is best if it is a model from a well-known manufacturer, for example Audio-Technica, Ortofon, Grado. If the characteristics of the cartridge are not indicated on the package, it is better to either look at another player, or immediately buy a higher-class cartridge.

Do I need automatic control

The player can be equipped with manual, automatic or semi-automatic control.

For automatic turntables, the tonearm shifts toward the plate, lowers onto it and rises at the end of playback with the click of a button. In semiautomatic devices, the tonearm must be lowered manually, but it rises automatically.

The advantage of automatic and semi-automatic players is that the needle does not wear out from idle. Minus: such players are quite expensive. If you want to save money, it is better to choose a manual player or semiautomatic device.

It can also be automated speed switching. This option will be useful to owners of a large collection of records of various formats, which depends on the speed of the records - it can be 33 1/3, 45 and 78 revolutions per minute. If you have most of the plates of the same format, you can opt for models with manual switching - to change the speed you just need to transfer the belt from one groove of the drive wheel to another. This is done simply and fairly quickly.