The record player is a device that has maintained its popularity from decade to decade. Although digital music has taken over, the vinyl player and the authentic listening experience it offers are still popular with many music lovers.
What is a record player?
The record player plays vinyl records, which have found new popularity in the last ten years at an ever-increasing pace. LPs typically come in two different sizes; 12" and 7". Bigger records are albums (long play) and smaller ones are single or EP releases. Discs are also available at different speeds. The higher the speed, the more data travels from the disc, but also the fewer minutes of music you can fit on one disc. Typical speeds are 45 rpm and 33 1/3 rpm, but there have been several other speeds in history. One 33-round disc can often fit an entire album when both sides of the disc are used.
The record player has an electric motor that rotates the turntable, usually either with direct drive or via a belt. The sound from the disc is carried by the one at the end of the tonearm turntable sound box and the turntable needle in it. A good player can spin discs at a very steady speed, without any changes. Changes in speed are immediately audible and may be a sign of a problem with the motor, control unit or belt stretching, if it is a belt-driven device. The stretching of the drive belt is solved simply by buying a new belt.
A vinyl player usually needs turntable amplifier, i.e. RIAA corrector. It is either built into the player, amplifier (PHONO connection) or a completely separate device. A separate device is usually more versatile in its adjustments. The pre-amplifier, or more precisely the RIAA corrector, restores the filtering applied to the vinyl record to match the original recording. Without an equalizer, the music is only really muffled. Also a vinyl player tannoy you can find in our online store.
Here you can find high-quality turntables from well-known and traditional manufacturers such as Thorens, Luxman and Denon. The best record player for your own music listening can be found when you think about your needs, for example with the help of our buying guide.
Buying a vinyl player - Are you buying a vinyl player for the first time?
It can even seem scary and probably raises a lot of questions. That's where we come in - think about these questions:
Direct drive or belt driven turntable?
There are two main types of LP players: belt drive and direct drive. Direct drive turntables are usually a cheaper option. They have a motor placed directly under the turntable. Thanks to this, the player starts up faster and it is also easier for the disc to spin in both directions. The downside of having the motor directly under the disc is that it is more prone to vibration and distortion as a result.
Belt-driven turntables also have a motor, but it is located further away from the player. The motor is connected to a belt that wraps around the turntable and makes it rotate. The isolated motor and belt help belt-driven instruments produce less vibration, but they are slightly more fragile and slower to start. If you're going to start playing vinyl records, it's definitely worth investing in a belt drive turntable. This way, the cornerstone of your new project is ready.
Manual or automatic vinyl player?
When talking about a "manual" or "automatic" LP record player, it refers to the way the record player lowers the tonearm and the cartridge needle onto the record. A manual player is a little more laborious because you have to manually lower the tonearm onto the record to start playing. You must also raise the tonearm back to its resting position when the disc is finished playing.
On the other hand, an automatic record player does almost all the work for you. Once you have inserted the disc, all you have to do is press a button or lever and the tonearm will automatically lower itself onto the disc. When the record is finished, the tonearm automatically rises and returns to its rest position. This makes the player more of a press and play device.
There's basically no difference in sound quality between the two, but a manual turntable forces you to pay more attention to the record, which many vinyl enthusiasts believe is the point of actually playing a record. You have to choose where to place the needle yourself, which can be tedious and even a bit scientific. You also need to be aware of when the disc has finished, otherwise it will continue to spin and play the end-of-disc crunching sound. Just make sure you don't leave it like that - it's bad for both the disc and the needle.
Is this all or do I want to upgrade?
One of the biggest decisions you'll have to make is whether you want to buy an integrated turntable or one with a built-in phono preamp. These integrated turntables with amplifiers have become incredibly popular recently because they eliminate the need to purchase an external phono preamplifier. So you are practically paying for two components for the price of one.
A phono preamplifier is a vital part of any turntable system. It takes the phono output signal produced by the turntable and converts it to a line level or AUX signal that can be played back by audio equipment (such as stereo systems, computers and speakers). A good phono preamplifier can amplify and smooth the signal so that the record sounds as authentically as possible to the original recording.
The problem is that most integrated turntables don't have quality phono preamps, so you may find yourself wanting to upgrade. Many integrated turntables actually have switchable phono preamps, meaning you can switch them on or off in favor of an external upgrade. These are good because if you later decide to upgrade your hi-fi system, you can get a quality external phono preamp without having to buy a whole new turntable.
However, some integrated turntables won't allow you to turn off their built-in phono preamps, making it difficult for you to upgrade in the future, so check ahead of time.
Do I want to stream to my sound system or is this a pure analog experience?
Many people do not have the opportunity to acquire a true analog system. Sometimes you just want to stream music from your smartphone or computer, and if your sound system can only handle vinyl, it's pretty annoying.
Fortunately, many turntables today are very versatile and have several built-in connectivity options. It's quite common for entry-level devices to have Bluetooth built into the turntable, so you don't even need to plug the turntable into an aux port. This allows you to stream music directly to the record player (and thus to the speakers), so you don't necessarily have to always play records if you don't want to.
If necessary, you can also get a real analog turntable with a built-in phono preamp and connect it directly to a powered speaker that can stream music.
How much money do I want to spend?
However, the most important question when getting a record player is how much you are willing to pay. You can buy a great entry-level turntable with a built-in phono preamp for less than €400, or you can spend a lot more and get a much better turntable.
So what do you pay extra for when you buy a more expensive record player? The simple answer is everything. You pay for higher quality components such as the needle, sound boxes, tone arm, phono preamplifier (if it has one) and higher quality materials. All of these things contribute to the best turntables minimizing distortion and reading the disc as accurately as possible.