Turntable

Turntables come handy when you wish to play music without compromising a bit on the quality of the sound. You might have at hand the latest gadgets, a Wi-Fi player, the iDevices, but with the use of turntables, you have a device that lets you mix music seamlessly. Read buying guide

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Buying guide

TurntablesTurntables today & pre-amps

Turntables might seem like old-fashioned pieces of equipment due to the fact that they sport a set of vinyl, but don’t be fooled: these units are more popular nowadays than they have been at any other time since their peak in the days of Grandmaster Flash. Vintage looks, anachronistic media format and the feeling of having music itself at the tip of your fingers are just some of the reasons why these units have been really hot lately. For reference, the number of vinyl records sold jumped from 900.000 in 2006 to over 4.5 million in 2012. Phew!

 

After this resurgence, most turntable units have gained extra muscles with added features, the most prominent of which was the addition of a built-in pre-amp to the most recent units. This pre-amp performs a simple yet vital function in these devices. Turntables by themselves produce weaker audio signals than CDs and MP3s due to their analog nature. This signal needs to be boosted to line levels to come correctly out of the amps, so an aptly-named pre-amp device was conceived for this reason. While many recent units have built-in pre-amps, a lot of the ones manufactured over the past decade and a half don’t. So be ready to either look for a more recent model or also start looking for a good place to find a pre-amp.

What makes a good turntable?

To know what would be a good turntable for you, the most fundamental question is actually a pretty obvious one. How do you intend to use your equipment? Do you want to have it mostly for yourself with a couple of friends’ parties here and there, or do you want to follow the stony professional path? The answer to this question rules all of the other considerations you have to make before making an acquisition. And this is directly related to our next topic.

Price tag

As with everything else, the general golden rule of the market is that to get a better product, you are going to need to spend more money. With that in mind, it is still possible to spend your money in a smart way. For instance, the mechanics and satisfaction of working with vinyls comes even in the most basic setups. As a result, you can get some very cheap (under $100) turntables out there if your intention is to have it as a novelty item or if you just want to get a better hang of the whole process before making a larger commitment. Keep in mind, however, that these models are very limited in their possibility of upgrade and will not offer anything special in sound or features.

 

One step above we can find the prototypical “my first turntable” models, for those who already know what they are doing. The sound difference between these and the previous models is significant, as well as their ability to be upgraded from individual parts. One of the biggest names in this category is the REGA RP1. From $500 on you start getting into the advanced turntables area. These models can be very expensive and very individual, much like luxury, tuned sport cars. Even more than in the previous categories, it is crucial that extensive research and price comparison is held before acquiring these. Shopbot’s tools are your friends here!

Features

The first decision to be taken regarding features is probably whether the model you are seeking is going to be automatic or manual. Most higher-end TTs out there use a manual cueing system, meaning that you have to physically control the arm when switching and turning the vinyl. This gives you a lot more control and admittedly looks a lot more stylish. But If you are just beginning and don’t want to be overwhelmed with these details, then the more user-friendly automatic models might just be your thing.

 

Next up is the integration of the turntable system with more recent technological devices. A feature Case Turntablewhich has quickly become popular in more recent devices is the access to a built-in USB port, which allows you to transfer the recorded music from the turntable to a computer system where you can then convert it to MP3 format. This is actually a crucial feature to look for if you intend digitalizing entire vinyl collections for backup or editing purposes. It is important to be aware that a lot of the charm that comes with using vinyl records is lost in this conversion, as crackling isn’t nearly as pleasant on digital formats.

 

Finally, it is important to be very judicious and discerning when it comes to the basic features of a turntable. Make sure that the sound quality you are going to get when using the intended system with your intended peripherals is adequate to your needs. Scouting manufacturers’ reputation, customer support services and overall product quality is also fundamental. It’s no use having a unit that sports tons of features only to find none of them work adequately. For that reason, keep an eye on both customer and expert reviews here on Shopbot to know exactly what you will be spending your money on. And last but not least, compare prices! Follow these basic-yet-useful steps and you will be flipping vinyls with a smile on your face in no time. Happy shopping!

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