Transform your data with a constant speed

Transform your data with a constant speed

Ironically, the better your turntable the less you’ll actually hear it working. That’s because the best sounding turntables simply get out of the way to let your music become shining. The surface of the turntables is deceptively simple devices, designed to spin records at a constant rate of speed and transform the data pressed in their grooves into an electrical signal. But just how precisely a turntable performs that task largely determines how faithfully it can reproduce your music, and to a great extent, how much it may cost.

Transform your data with a constant speed

Manual models:

Automatic turntables that start and stop playing at the push of a button are the easiest to use. But many music purists prefer a manual model because they feel the additional hardware required for automatic operation can detract from the sound quality. We can illustrate the main elements that make up a turntable. We also discuss some common features and options you’ll come across when you shop. The more you know, the easier it will be to decide which turntable best fits your needs. There are plenty of basic, good-sounding record players to choose from in the under $400 price range.

Record players:

Another advantage of record players in this range is their upgradability. Look for detachable signal cords that can be replaced with better-quality cables. If your stereo system lacks a dedicated turntable input, you’ll want to choose a player with a built-in phono preamp, or add an optional external preamp to your system. Finally, turntables with a USB output let you connect your computer and digitize your vinyl collection for playback on a smartphone or car stereo.

Wavering effect:

Any deviation in record speed can affect sound quality by changing the pitch of the music or causing an audible wavering effect that detracts from the listening experience. A lower number is better here, ideally below 0.25%. Some models allow you to replace the stock platter with a beefier model for more dynamic sound. And with their better tone arms, these tables are ready to handle a higher-end cartridge. This upgrade alone can make a huge sonic improvement. This spec tells you how accurately the turntable spins the platter.

Specialized cartridge:

A higher number is better here because you want a lot more music signal than noise. Look for something above 65dB. Be sure to look for a turntable that provides the proper rotation speed for the records you want to play. Most turntables give you 33-1/3 and 45 RPM capability. Also, if you do purchase a ‘table for spinning 78s, make sure you get a specialized cartridge or stylus that’s equipped to handle the wider grooves of these increasingly rare records. Some manufacturers provide this spec to give you a better idea just how much background noise (in decibels) to expect from the turntable for any given music signal level.  But if you have a collection of 78 RPM records that you want to play, pay careful attention to the numbers, since newest turntables lack this speed.