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Vinyl records and turntables for playing them have become more and more popular in recent years. Compared to previous years, when it seemed that the turntable would be forgotten and replaced by an unrivaled CD player, the situation began to change significantly. Sales of vinyl records began to increase while sales of CDs began to decline. Traditional analog technology has begun to gather more and more fans, and its sonic qualities are appreciated even by the most demanding audiophiles. Of course, in order to enjoy high sound quality, you must first obtain the appropriate quality equipment.
Basic division of turntables
There are many types of turntables available on the market for different purposes and very diverse in their class. The basic division that we can make among turntables are those at home, which are used mainly for listening and enjoying music at home, and those that are used at work by DJs in music clubs. In this article, we will focus on the domestic ones, which we can then divide ourselves into three basic subgroups. The first of them are turntables, which are fully automatic and will do the work for us from start to finish, including placing the stylus on the record and putting it back in its place after the playback is finished. The second group consists of semi-automatic turntables, which will partially do the work for us, e.g. they put the needle on the record, but we have to set the place where the needle is to be placed by ourselves, for example. And the third subgroup are manual turntables, where we have to do all the steps ourselves. Contrary to appearances, the latter subgroup may turn out to be the most expensive, as turntables of this type are most often dedicated to the most demanding audiophiles who not only want to enjoy the highest quality sound, but also want to participate in the preparation for its playback from start to finish. It is a kind of ritual that begins when you reach for the record, take it out of the packaging (often wearing special gloves), put the turntable on the plate, set the needle and take off.
Buying a turntable is similar to buying a musical instrument, e.g. a guitar or a keyboard. You can buy a low-cost instrument for literally PLN 200-300, but you can also spend a few, and in some cases even several thousand on such a purchase. And this is exactly the case with turntables. As on a keyboard for PLN 300, we will not get a sound that is satisfactory for most musicians, also on a turntable, which is often complete with speakers for PLN 300, we will not get the effect we would like to achieve. In the case of the cheapest turntables, you should also be careful, because instead of listening pleasure, you can use a cheap stylus to destroy the record. Therefore, the cheapest productions should rather be avoided. When starting the search for a turntable, beginners should first of all narrow their search to a specific subgroup, e.g. automatic or semi-automatic. I would rather not recommend a manual turntable to beginners who have never dealt with vinyl records. Here you need to be familiar with the handling of such a turntable, because both the vinyl record and the needle are very delicate and if not handled properly, the record can get scratched and the needle can be damaged. As we do not have such a so-called steady hand, it is better to decide to buy an automatic or a semi-automatic one. Then we can do the matter with one button and the machine will direct the arm by itself, lower the stylus to the designated place and the turntable will start playing.
Additional equipment for the turntable
Of course, the turntable itself will not sound us without the appropriate equipment on board or without connecting to an additional device. In order to enjoy good quality and equal levels in music, we will need the so-called a preamplifier, which may already be built into our turntable, and this is the case in many cases, but we can also find turntables without such a preamplifier and then we will have to obtain such an additional external device. The latter solution is intended for those more advanced audiophiles, who will be able to independently adjust and configure an appropriate class of external preamplifier that will best fulfill its role.
Of course, the price of a turntable is influenced by many factors, where the quality of components, such as the type of cartridge, type of drive or the needle used, plays an important role. Technology, quality of materials and workmanship, brand and specification are the elements to which attention should be paid at the very beginning when making a reconnaissance. Remember that loudspeakers play a very important role in the quality of the transmitted audio signal. Even a top-class turntable will give us nothing if we connect it to quality speakers. Therefore, it is worth considering all these factors at the very beginning, in the purchase planning phase.