5 tips for choosing your turntable

turntable vinyl close-up

by Jessica Kane

There are many theories as to why records have made a comeback in recent years. Perhaps it has to do with their physical longevity, as you can still find LP’s from 50 years ago that sound amazing, or maybe it’s how the artwork is much cooler than little digital thumbnails. Perhaps it has to do with the ritualistic nature of slipping a vinyl onto a turntable and dropping down a needle, or maybe it’s the crisp, crackly sound of a fresh record. Whatever the reason, the rise in popularity of this vintage way of listening to music has decreased the need of finding a vintage record player; there are many modern alternatives that will fit any music enthusiast’s budget.

Think about Your Needs

Are you mostly wanting to listen to your records alone in your home, or are you wanting something that can be used to entertain lots of people or even use at a club? Knowing this ahead of time can dictate how much you need to spend on the right system and can save you a lot of headache down the road. If you are just getting into collecting vinyl you may want to invest in a more basic model like the Numark PT-01 or even a more portable briefcase-like style that won’t break the bank.

Do your Research

On the other hand, people with more experience owning and caring for turntables or people with a larger budget might enjoy more advanced models like the Thorens TD 235 or the Orbit Plus models. Keep in mind that some turntable models come with built in speakers, but most options will require external equipment and a little bit of knowledge to work properly. Researching the right turntable for your needs can save you a lot of trouble down the line, because buying a good model now might save you having to buy a different one later on.

Thorens TD 235
Know Your Components

The base, or plinth, stabilizes and holds the other components and can be made of a combination of plastic, wood, or metal. The record itself sits and spins on the platter, and it’s rotational speed can usually be altered, although most records are set to 33 or 45 RPM. The tonearm swings over the platter and must be precisely tuned to not slow or damage the record. The cartridge, stylus, or needle is a tiny point that reads the grooves on the vinyl, and spending extra money on just this piece have a drastic impact on the sound and tone.

Set a Budget

Although there are options for decent models under $200, a good range for beginners is between $300-$600, with models like the MMF USB or the Sony PS-HX5000, however, people really trying to maximize their audio quality should consider the spending upwards of $1000. popular high-end models include the VPI Scout or the Pro-Ject Xtension 9. With so many intricate and precise components, it’s easy to see why people spend extra on a machine they rely on for audio integrity.

xtension9_2Get the Right Accessories

What good is a new turntable if you don’t have the right extra components to make it sound good? Consider investing in a good set of speakers such as JBL Studios or a Marantz Amplifier, although these should also meet your spacial and listening needs as well. Furthermore, consider picking up some record cleaning brushes and fluid or extra cartridges in case one gets damaged!

This post was written by Culture Addict guest writer Jessica Kane. Jessica is a music connoisseur and an avid record collector. She currently writes for SoundStage Direct, her go-to place for all turntables and vinyl equipment, including VPI Turntables.