How to choose a turntable?

How to choose a turntable?

See Turntables in the store

This is a question faced by fewer and fewer young DJ adepts. In the era of controllers and digital gaming, we very rarely choose analog equipment. How about combining the possibility of playing from a computer with the feeling of turntables?

Nothing simpler – all you need is a DVS system, i.e. vinyls with a timecode and a sound card with the appropriate number of channels. I deviate a bit from the topic, because in this article I don’t actually talk about it, but about the situation in which we take gloves and decide to buy the above-mentioned analog equipment.

Classification of turntables

The simplest and the main division of turntables is the classification into belt and direct drive turntables. What is it about? I already translate.

Belt drive grammars are usually much cheaper, but that’s not the only difference.

First of all, the belt drive is average for DJs due to the slower start time than the direct drive, it is also more sensitive to dirt, which makes it lose stability in dusty conditions. Direct drive turntables are constructed in such a way that the axis of the platter is the axis of the motor that drives the turntable.

A belt that transmits the torque from the motor to the platter is used to drive the platter in a belt turntable. This construction shows that a direct drive turntable has a higher torque and lower platter inertia. The highest models of HI-FI turntables most often have a belt drive, thanks to which motor vibrations affecting the platter are minimized, but for a less demanding listener, a belt-driven turntable is enough. It is perfect for regular listening to records.

“S” or “J” shaped, transverse or straight arm

The S and J are longer, heavier, and have a universal mounting system.

Curved arms are usually more advanced and characteristic of higher models of turntables, and straight arms are typical of cheap plastic constructions. However, there are exceptions to this rule.

What if we decide on a certain type of arm?

We will certainly have to adjust the turntable we have purchased and place it under ourselves.

At the beginning, adjustment of the pressure of the needle, usually it varies between 1,75 and 2 g. Depending on the pressure, we get a sound with a brighter color (less pressure) or emphasize lower, deeper tones (more pressure). The second important parameter is the anti-skate regulation, i.e. regulation of the centrifugal force. If the centrifugal force is too great or too low, the needle will drop out of the grooves of the plate towards the outside or inside of the plate, respectively.

How to choose a turntable?

Audio Technica AT-LP120-HC turntable with direct drive, source:

Needle and cartridge

The needle is one of the most important elements of our turntable, if not the most important. Why? And because without the cartridge attached to the adapter arm we won’t hear any sound.

There are three types of needles on the market: spherical, elliptical and fine-line. An elliptical needle will be the optimal choice for home use. It enables a more accurate reproduction of the sound and consumes the disc material more slowly. Each phono cartridge has a declared working time, after which it should be replaced with a new or used one, but I personally do not recommend buying used cartridges or needles. Probably none of us wants to find their beloved album scratched.

How to choose a turntable?

Ortofon DJ S cartridge stylus, source:


Here I leave some freedom, because audio equipment manufacturers compete in designing more and more bizarre constructions in terms of design. It is only important that the turntable not only looks solid, it really is. Its base should be solid, durable and heavy.

Ideally, it will be made of wood or metal and mounted on a tripod.

Price discrepancies

Here, the most important thing depends on the use of the turntable, whether it will be equipment for a DJ or only for listening to a collection of records. The second criterion is belt or direct drive, the former will be cheaper, but not always – only in the case of DJ adapters.


If you’re not a DJ, definitely go for a belt drive, be it for the sake of greater stability or for the sake of price. Of course, you don’t need a “pitch” and all those goodies made for playing at parties.

It is becoming more and more fashionable to produce grammars with a built-in USB output, which allows you to download your favorite song to your computer in WAVE format straight from your beloved black disc.

May the popularity of turntables come back so that we can maintain the tradition of fully analog sound, before digital tracks and this whole digital fashion appeared. In fact, only by listening to a vinyl disc we are able to hear some flavors of a given single, not forgetting about the imperfections, which in my opinion is beautiful. Remember vinyl is the top!

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