Turntables Made Simple - A Beginners Buying Guide to Turntable

Turntables Made Simple - A Beginners Buying Guide to Turntable

Vinyl records are back! Many have wanted to join in on the fun but don't know where to start. Today we are going to discuss an important first step in your hifi lifestyle...how to choose the right turntable for you.

There are so many factors to consider when picking out a record player but here at Nostalgic Groove we are going to help guide you through this journey. When it comes to selecting a turntable for you there are 5 main concepts we will discuss; price, tracking force, automatic or manual, pre-amp and ability to upgrade.


#1 Price

First things first, let’s discuss the price. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to get a quality turntable setup. There are some great turntables you can buy for any budget. The key is to simply establish a budget you feel comfortable and leaving enough room for a stereo, speakers and potentially a pre-amp. Whether you can spend $100 or $10,000 that's a GREAT budget. The best turnable is the one you can afford!


#2 Tracking Force

Next we are going to discuss tracking force. The tone arm is the part of the record player that connects the stylus and cartage to absorb the vibrations of the music. The key feature to look for; an adjustable counterweight.

An adjustable counterweight is a small weight attached to the back of a tone arm that is used to adjust the pressure being applied to the record from the stylus. This pressure is known as tracking force. This is EXTREMELY important and maybe the most important feature to have. This simple feature will allow the stylus to apply the proper amount of force on the record to not only play better with less skipping but also not damage the record itself. This is one feature that is truly essential to any decent sounding record player.


#3 Automatic or Manual

There are 2 main types of turntable when it comes to the way you will interact with it. Automatic turntable function by a press of a button. Most if not all functions are automated, meaning the tone arm will move by itself once you hit play and move back to the resting position when the record is done. Automatic record players have super neat functions but overtime they can become problemmatic when parts start wearing out.

That is the big reason why many turntables today are completely manual verses the complex decks from the past. Manual turntables mean...you guessed it, you control the turntable manually. You will have to lift the tone arm and place it on the record yourself. There are no motorized system in place to make the listening experience easy like the automatic turntables provide. Manual turntables also have the ability to help reduce noise that could interfere with the sound quality of the playback due to having less components to potentially make vibrations.

Many modern turntables under $1000 will be manual but it really comes down to preference but here at Nostalgic Groove we suggest a manual turntable for simplicity and improved sound quality.


#4 Pre-Amp

Now when it comes to connecting your turnable to a stereo receiver or amplifier you may need to add an additional pre-amplifier between to boost the sound so you can hear the music. This is necessary due to weak electrical output from the turnable. So in order to have a full and deep sound you must add more energy to the system.

When choosing a turntable there are 2 options turntables with a built-in pre-amp a turntables without. Turntables with a built-in pre-amp will of course not require an additional pre-amp which will save you some money and make your set up simpler. We suggest purchasing a turntable with a pre-amp, definitely if your on a tight budget


#5 Upgradeability

Over time you may want to try to improve the sound quality of your set up and choosing a turntable that will act as anchor in your set up will help you save money over time. Some common upgrades are a better stylus, platter, power source, cartridge, platter mat and more. Over time these upgrades can greatly improve your setups sound quality. We suggest picking a turntable that will allow you to improve the sound quality through simple upgrades.