First Turntable Buying Guide

First of all, it is worth considering that one player is not enough to listen to vinyl. The set of necessary devices looks like this: player, phono stage, amplifier, speakers. Without them, it will not be possible to reproduce the records.

Many non-professional players have a built-in phono stage. This model should be taken if you do not expect to upgrade your vinyl audio system in the future.

Direct drive turntable – Buying Guide

There are also players that combine everything you need to play the records. We do not recommend paying attention to them. The fact that all inclusive players, as a rule, is very low class, and the prices for electrophones of acceptable quality are very high. The black list of vinyl music lovers is headed by budget players from ION, WATSON, Crosley.

Save on choosing the player wisely. Remember: by purchasing a budget machine, not having made sure of its quality, you risk ruining your records.

The faceplate (support disk, pancake) is the disc on which the plate is placed.
The tonarm is the lever to which the cartridge with the needle is attached.
Counterweight is a weight that allows you to balance the tonearm and adjust the clamping force of the needle.
Anti-skating – adjustment of the compensator of the rolling force.
The cartridge (pickup head) is one of the most important parts of the player, responsible for reading music from the plate.
Key factors in evaluating the player

The weight

A good player should have a decent weight. Typically, devices weighing less than 7 kg are designed for the most discerning audiophiles. In particular, the faceplate of the turntable must be heavy. Some modern manufacturers began making pancakes and toners from carbon fiber. Carbon is a relatively light material, so these players can keep quality and at low weight.

Adjusting the pressure of the needle and the rolling force (anti-skating)
The presence of these options indicates a high class player.


Cartridges come in two types: ½ inch and T4P. The first kind implies a high class of the device and the possibility of upgrading the player. The downside of these cartridges is the complexity of the setting: if an amateur can correctly adjust the balance of the tonearm and the clamping force of the needle, then the professional help can be needed to properly align the cartridge by the template. T4P cartridges are easier to use: they are fixed with one bolt, have the same weight, clamping force and needle removal.

Type of needle sharpening

As a rule, spherical needles are installed on budgetary options. Fans of vinyl with experience usually prefer needle with elliptical sharpening. There are other options for sharpening needles.

A quality player must support the replacement of the needle and cartridge. After the purchase of the device cartridge should be replaced: as a rule, initially the players are sold with budget (and in the case of buying a used device – worn out) components. It is also worth taking care of the availability of the replaced items, since they are non-universal.

Separate the two types of heads: MM- and MC-heads. We will not delve into the nuances of these types of cartridges, only we will say that the overwhelming majority of audiophiles prefer MC-heads due to softer and more detailed sound transmission. Most of these heads, unfortunately, do not support the replacement of the needle, so that the entire cartridge will have to be changed.

There are three types of drive: direct, belt (passive) and roller. This characteristic is responsible for the mechanical principle by which our faceplate comes into motion when playing a record.

Direct drive is suitable for scratching and other DJ’s stuff.

Melomaniacs often prefer a belt drive: in most cases, it provides a more uniform rotation of the disc and a smaller detonation factor.

The roller drive is the least common due to the high level of vibration transmitted to the drive from the engine. However, there are examples of quality players with a roller mechanism, the work of which does not cause censures, and its fans have all types of drives.


The peak development of vinyl turntables was achieved in the 70s of last century. This is the case when the newer does not mean better. Those who saw the players did not touch the globalist tendencies: devices from Germany were collected by pedantic Germans, from Japan by responsible Japanese. No craze for Chinese components and Malaysian assembly. Two – zero in favor of second-hand devices.

Ease of use

By purchasing a new device, you get a guarantee of replacement or return of the player. With repair also there will be no problems: manufacturers offer service and necessary accessories.

If your chosen second-hand player is not Technics with a lifetime warranty on the motor or a high-end Japanese device designed for years of operation, then after purchasing the device you can expect problems. Reanimation of a used player can bring a lot of difficulties. Not only will it almost certainly have to be cleaned and lubricated after purchase, so also the necessary components (cartridges, needles, capacitors) can be compared at a price with the purchase itself.

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