You’re probably a great music lover if you know what record player is. Or if you’ve just got attracted to that phonograph-like thing your grandfather has, and wanted to buy one for yourself, we’ll guide you how to choose the best record player available in the market.
A record player comprises of a turntable, a stylus, and an amplifier or a loudspeaker. The quality and performance of these elements separate the best equipments from the ordinary ones. A good record player must be capable of running all types of music files, modern or old, smoothly and consistently.
On this website, we’ll not only share some of the best record players, but will give you the real insight of these sound producing mechanisms. As a music enthusiast, you will love to read how record players went through changes and became what they are today.
5 Best Record Player Reviews
- Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB Direct-Drive Professional Turntable in Silver (Recommended)
- Electrohome Signature Vinyl Record Player Classic Turntable Natural Wood Hi-Fi Stereo System with AM/FM, CD, USB for MP3, Vinyl-to-MP3 Recording & AUX Input for Smartphones & Tablets (EANOS700)
- Audio Technica AT-LP60USB Fully Automatic Belt Driven Turntable with USB Port
- Audio Technica AT-LP60 Fully Automatic Stereo Turntable System, Silver
- Crosley CR8005A-TU Cruiser Portable Turntable (Turquoise)
Advantages of Using a Record Player
Demand for vinyl has been moving up year by year with staggering pace. Since 2009, the sales of vinyl records have increased by 260%. That’s a clear advantage within itself. But the question is, why is there such a dramatic increase in demand for the past few years?
Let’s look at some of the advantages of using a record player to find out why people have gone crazy about vinyl records, especially in the era of iPod, smartphones and MP3 players
Listening to the music is one thing and holding it is an entirely out-of-the-world kind of thing. Physical records have beautiful artwork adding value to the physical music library. For music enthusiast, seeing a record with the needle moving smoothly on it, the feeling is beyond description. Needless to mention about the unique sound, that adds up to the satisfaction of the listener.
#2. Physical copies can be preserved.
MP3 players may have an advantage that you don’t have to carry a physical record on the go, they do have a limitation of software malfunction, driver lapse, or an unfortunate virus attack. Then, you have to go all the way back to the starting point and create a whole new library. With physical copies in your music library, you don’t have to deal with such trouble. Some record players offer vinyl-to-MP3 conversion and recording, allowing you to recreate your virtual library with utmost ease.
#3. Audio quality.
There’s no doubt that the sound coming out directly from the physical record is natural, clearer and far better than compressed MP3 files. Ordinary listener cannot identify the difference, but a music lover can. But that’s not too hard to determine, if you can run a record on the turntable then listen to the same music on MP3 player. Sound quality is probably the main reason why vinyl records have been sold more than ever before.
#4. It describes your love for music.
If you’re a true fan of old music, you would rather prefer vinyl over MP3 player in order to get the real sound quality. Moreover, there must be some way to express your love for music and the best way to do that is by showing your friends a library filled with great tracks in LPs.
#5. It creates ambience.
Share the great moments with your loved ones in a room filled with timeless sound. With the best record player in your room, you can create a great ambient atmosphere and share your memories with your friends and family members.
#6. Adds style.
Another benefit of vinyl records and record players is their stylish looks. There is a huge variety of record players ranging from classic wooden style to Hi-tech style. Talking about fashionable vinyl records, they come in storage containers with images of your favorite artists or other artwork. That’s fair enough to make you trendy and stylish.
#7. Warranty and Replacement.
Another advantage of buying record players is, most of them are available with warranties. You can also replace and upgrade some parts of your record player for better sound quality.
Types of Record Players
Record players have been modified and changed a several times ever since they were created, and majority of those transitions deal with turntable operations. Initially, there was an idler-wheel drive that had the rubber wheel.
Then belt drive was introduced as its replacement. Belt-driven turntables produced better sound because of the elastic belt with anti-vibration properties. These mechanisms were replaced by direct drive in which turntables became the part of the motor. This design was modified later with digital controls.
Before moving on to the types, it would be better to understand the mechanism of record player.
How Record Player Works
Turntable and cartridge are the basic components of record players. Alternatively, they may have any other device to hold the needle and the turntable.
- Turntable: it is used to turn the record
- Needle: it is used to read the groves of the record and convert them into sound.
- Sound system: the sound coming out of the record player may be produced via traditional analogue system or digital system. However, there is no significant difference in the reading mechanism of both the systems, except for some players in which laser is used instead of the needle.
The major difference between the types of record player is based on the operation of turntable.
#1. Idler-Wheel Turntables.
A popular mechanism for phonographs in the era of 70’s and 80’s, Idler-Wheel turntables had a rubber wheel attached to a synchronous motor. The wheel can be turned faster or slower by altering the motor.
However, this mechanism had some serious issues, such as:
- The sound quality was affected by the vibration of the motor.
- Rubber wheel wears out with time.
#2. Belt-Driven Turntables.
In this mechanism, elastomeric rope was used instead of the rubber wheel, in order to turn the record. Belt-driven design was more popular than previous mechanism, because of the two main reasons:
- The construction cost was cheaper
- As the elastic belt absorbed much of the motor’s vibration, the sound quality was much better
#3. Direct Drive Turntables.
In Direct Drive mechanism, there was no need of wheels or belts. The motor controls the turntable directly. So, the revolution in motor causes the record to turn. This was more simplistic design for turning the record, involving a flawless motor system to maintain smooth, precise and continuous speed of the record.
#4. Digital Systems.
These are latest systems that are lightweight and portable. Some digital record players are built into other systems, such as computers and laptops. Major features of digital record players include:
- Volume or speed control
- Digital readouts
Digital record players and modern turntables differ in terms of design, operations, compatibility, sound production and quality. Mostly, digital turntables have been used by professionals and DJs. They offer better control and sound mixing as well.
How to Choose The Best Record Player?
Vinyl is arguably the best sound format, even though several different media formats have been introduced for decades. So, what best feature should you look for while choosing a record player?
This buying guide provide all the answers circling the kinds of vinyl records, latest technologies used and the different styles of record players, and of course, record player maintenance tips.
#1. The types of records you will play.
According to experts and manufacturers, majority of records available in the market belong to one of these types; 33 1/3s, 45s and 78s, based on the size and grooves of the records. These types are actually identified by the revolutions covered in one minute (RPM).
#2. Technological advancement.
There hasn’t been to many changes in the appearance and construction since 1970s. However, there have been some major changes that transformed an ordinary record player into something really exciting.
- Motor manufacturing: Experts of the best record player brands say, there has been noticeable improvement in manufacturing of motor. A well-refined motor plays an integral part in delivering high-quality and consistent sound.
- Carbon fiber: Among other modern technologies, carbon fiber arm is considered to be an effective part advancement, because it doesn’t cause scratches and damages to your records.
- USB Connectivity: Manufacturers agree to the fact that USB connectivity has been the best improvement in vinyl record players. This feature enables the record player to convert vinyl to MP3 files so that you can preserve them. The sound preserved in MP3 has the same quality as in vinyl record.
- Other Features: Some record players also offer CD players, AM/FM radio and cassette deck.
#3. Different styles of record players.
Record players also differ in style and capabilities. Here are few things to determine which style fits your criteria of best record player:
- Some record player models have built-in speakers and amplifier, while others only work as a device to convert grooves into sound. Such models need add-ins, like stereo systems and powered speakers to produce sound.
- Some record players are meant to connect to your home stereo, MP3 player, tablet or smartphone.
- Record players also differ in terms of weight and size. Some models are lightweight, run on battery as well as AC output and that’s why they’re portable.
- Construction material is also very important, and wood is considered to be the best exterior for record players. According to experts, wood is naturally acoustic, absorbs shock better than other materials, and helps produce richer and warmer sound. Then there are other materials, such as leather and plastic, but they’re not as good as wood.
#4. Maintaining Your Player
Although, latest record players are almost maintenance-free, yet few things should be replaced periodically.
- Needle replacement and maintenance: Some record players have needle, while some of them have stylus. Here are three things to remember:
- Needle or stylus should be replaced or upgraded from time to time, in order to protect the records from scratches or damages.
- Keep the needle clean with the help of soft brush.
- Mostly, record players have diamond needle that offers a playing time of up to 10,000 hours before wearing out.
- Belt replacement: Some record players have rubber belt which may wear out or get stretched. You can replace the rubber belt with a new one by yourself.
- Record care: For complete record player maintenance, experts recommend that you should keep a care kit and check the equipment at least once in a week.
Things to consider when buying the best record player
When it comes to music-listening experience, record players are right there at the top. Is that all what you need for a classic experience? To play your favorite vinyl record, you need to have the best vinyl record player suitable for it. Why?
Vinyl records vary in terms of size, and your record player should play all varieties of records in your library. So, these are the things to look for while buying the best record player.
Not every turntable is equipped with built-in speakers. So, it is important to check this aspect when you buy a vinyl record player. Otherwise, you have to purchase a set of speakers that can go with your record player and cables for connectivity.
Luckily, majority of modern record players are available with built in speakers, and there is a whole lot of difference in terms of sound quality. Better keep this thing in mind while choosing a record player.
#2. Multiple Speeds.
As mentioned above, vinyl records vary by size due to which they require different turning speeds (RPM). You can find three sizes in the market; 78 rpm, 33 1/3 rpm and 45 rpm. Similarly, your record player should be able to operate at these three speeds.
Latest record players offer all three speeds, except for some cheap ones offering two speeds. So, you should better check the speed feature before buying a particular player.
#3. Auxiliary Output
Before buying a vinyl record player, it is also important to consider how you are going to use it. Will you be using it with home stereo? Will you be listening to the music with headphones on? Are you going to use a record player with your computer?
Modern-day record players offer audio jacks to connect them to external devices, such as MP3 players, stereo system or powered speakers. They’re also compatible with Mac and Windows OS, so that you can connect them directly via USB port, without having to install special drivers.
However, some record players with built-in speakers may not give you an option of USB port. So, you need to see the connectivity options as well.
#4. Vinyl-to-MP3 Conversion
One of the most talked about features of vinyl turntables, has been their ability to play CDs and MP3 files. Multipurpose record players are meant to convert vinyl format into MP3 format. They also give you options to record entire vinyl albums into MP3. So, even if you’re a true fan of vinyl, you can create a variety of formats for your music collection.
You should choose a record player on the basis of your preferences, type of records, and its compatibility with other output sources. If you record player can convert a music file into other format, consider it as a big PLUS.
Although, there is a wide range of music players around, record players have their own significance. They’re still popular among music enthusiasts and vintage-music lovers. Record players offer unmatched sound quality and that’s why they’re being used by DJs all over the world. There are plenty of things to ensure you get the best record player in the market, and here’s a summary of them:
- Choose a record player with multiple speeds, so that you can run all types of records on it.
- Check connectivity options, such as stereo system, speakers and other media devices.
- Choose a multipurpose player, so that you can listen to other music formats as well. A multipurpose record player is perfect for homes where everyone can enjoy the music in his own way.
- USB connectivity is a major advancement in record players, so don’t forget to ensure your record player has this feature.
- Lastly, you’re making a long term investment in record player. Apart from price assessment, comparison and making the right decision, keep your gadget well-maintained and updated.
For more information on record player history : Wikipedia is a great resource too!
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