Turntable Beginners Guide

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Turntable Beginners Guide

If you are just getting started with vinyl or just need a refresher on the parts of a turntable, look no further!

Hey there! Are you just getting started in the world of vinyl? Or perhaps, would you just like to know more about your turntable and the parts that make it up? Either way, we are here to share some knowledge with you that will educate and may assist you in finding the right parts for your turntable.

The following is a list of the parts of a basic turntable. You may have something similar to this or maybe even something a bit more advanced, but for now we’ll go over the core components.

Plinth – This is the base of the turntable. It holds all of the components up and usually houses the motor. It can be made of many different shapes, sizes, weights and materials.

Platter – The platter sits atop the plinth and it is what the record rests on. Some turntables require a mat be placed between the record and the platter to protect the record.

Tonearm – The tonearm usually sits to the right of the platter and it holds a headshell or P-mount cartridge. Tonearms can be straight or s-shaped.

On the tonearm:

Headshell – The headshell connects to the tonearm and holds a standard/half-inch mount cartridge.

Cartridge – The cartridge holds the stylus. They come in two types, standard/half-inch mount and p-mount types.

  • Standard/half-inch mount– This type of cartridge must be installed onto a headshell by connecting the wires from the headshell to it and also inserting two vertical headshell screws to hold the cartridge in place.
  • P-mount– These cartridges plug straight into a tonearm that was designed to be compatible with them. No headshell is required but, there is usually a single horizontal screw to hold the cartridge in place.

Stylus – The stylus, also known as a needle, is what moves along the grooves of the record. There are many different types of styli, the most common being: spherical/conical and elliptical, the former being less expensive and the latter being more due to the quality of playback being better.

Counterweight – This balances the tonearm to a horizontal state so that the stylus does not apply too much or too little pressure on the record.

Anti-skating Dial or Weight – As a stylus moves, it is drawn towards the center of the record and to the side of the record’s tracks. The anti-skating dial/weight prevents the stylus from wearing too heavily on the inner wall of the track on the record, which can unbalance the sound produced as well as the wear on the stylus.

Motor – Your turntable motor will usually be a direct drive or a belt drive. Audiophiles prefer belt drive, though direct drive can deliver high sound quality, whereas in the case of DJs, direct drive is the standard due to its higher torque and the fact that over time, drive belts will wear and begin to slip because of excessive back and forth force.

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