Intricate Parts of a Turntable
A turntable is a device for playing sounds. It includes a platter that spins and a cartridge which picks up the music from it. For the longest time, turntables have been there to spread the joy of music. No matter how many other gadgets technology has been able to invent, they could not replace turntables.
There is something different about turntables. The way the needle scrapes the music etched into the disc is quite poetic. Turntables are making a way back into people’s homes.
Turntables are often confused with record players. A turntable requires a separate speaker, a phono preamp, and is not portable. Whereas, a record player is portable and comes with a built-in speaker and phono preamp.
One of the many popular users of turntables is DJs. DJ turntables innovate music-making and knowing how it works is imperative in order to improve one’s art.
What are the parts of a turntable?
It is important to get familiar with the components of a turntable. The components are as follows:
- The Plinth
- The Platter
- The Motor
- The Tonearm
- The Stylus
- The Cartridge
The plinth in a turntable is basically the base of it. It serves a purpose as it holds all the electronics up. The turntable rests upon it. Most turntables have a wooden plinth depending on the model. Most vintage turntables have a wooden plinth. The base is what separates the turntables from each other. This is where manufacturers get creative.
The platter is the spinning part of the turntable where records are put. The motor spins the platter. In some turntables, the platter is removable.
There are two motor types available in turntables, both of which produce slightly different sounds. A belt drive motor spins the platter with a belt and so the motor is away from the platter. In a direct drive turntable, the motor is a part of the turntable. For a DJ turntable, a direct-drive motor is suitable as its higher force spins the platter faster.
The tonearm holds the cartridge in a turntable. It is attached to the plinth on one end and balances the cartridge. This ensures that the cartridge moves around the record while it plays.
The stylus is the needle that meets the platter. It plays sounds from the carves etched into the record.
The cartridge holds the stylus and produces an electrical signal as it moves on the record.
How do turntables work?
What makes the whole operation work is the base of the turntable. It holds the motor which operates the platter and spins it. The record is placed on this platter. The motor can either be a direct drive or a belt drive. The platter is important because it is responsible for playing the sound smoothly without any inconsistencies.
What makes a good platter is a material it is made of. Good quality and expensive turntables are made of ultra-weighted aluminum. Heavy materials are used in the construction of turntables. A light platter makes rattling sounds from the speed of the motor as it makes it spin. This ensures that the sound produced is steady without any turbulence. A rubber mat is used on top of the platter to keep it in place and to avoid any scratches.
The tonearm is an interesting part of a turntable. Its contribution to the entire process is valuable. The tonearm works to move the cartridge along the record. To be able to do this, flexibility in the tonearm is required. It should be able to easily move around but heavy enough to remain unrattled by the motor.
The tonearm is built in such a way to remain at an angle otherwise it would damage the record. The design and shape of the tonearm are consistent with every brand, but the weight and angle remain the same. Inconsistencies in the weight and angle lead to long term damage to the record.
The cartridge can be found at the end of the tonearm. There are two kinds of cartridges, one with a moving magnet system and a moving coil system. The moving coil system is present is expensive turntables.
The cartridge is a small rectangle that produces an electrical signal by converting the movement of the stylus (the needle). The signal is amplified and creates sound. The cartridge holds the stylus which is often removable. The stylus is the one component that touches the record.
Importance of a good turntable:
A turntable is expensive, so it is important to invest in one that is of good quality. When picking out a turntable, there are certain things that you should keep in mind.
- Low vibrations: The plinth used in the turntable should be made of materials that contribute to low vibrations. Good turntables are made of parts with low vibrations. This is essential otherwise the cartridge will pick up these vibrations and make unwanted noise
- Stable motor speed: It is important for the motor speed to be stable or the sound quality will be affected. It should be free from fluctuations. It should also make as little noise as possible in order to not interfere with the sound of music.
- Flexible tonearm: The tonearm should be able to move freely across the record. It should have low friction and include high-quality bearings. This ensures the quality of the sound and saves the record from long term damage.
- Good quality cartridge: The cartridge is what causes the magic to happen so it is understandable that it should be of the highest quality. A good cartridge will produce a much clear and precise sound. Moving coil cartridges use lighter magnets and therefore have less moving mass. They produce better sound than moving magnet cartridges.
High-end turntables use better quality materials and parts and so deliver a better performance. Turntables are a onetime investment, so it is important to select one which is of good quality.