Turntables – The alternative to digital sources

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This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)

Also known as the record player, the turntable, invented around 1920, is the successor to the wax cylinder phonograph. Since then, turntables have evolved considerably, notably in the drive system, whether we are speaking about the roller system used until the end of the 1950s; belt drive, which is common on most high-fidelity turntables (Dual, Oracle, Rega, Thorens, Linn, etc.); or the direct-drive system that is found mainly on DJ models.

Analogue pickup on a turntable is accomplished via a diamond stylus that follows the inscriptions present in the groove. The movements generate electrical signals thanks to magnets or coils fixed on a cantilever.

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The rotational speed and stability in the case of the DC motors that are used with belt and direct drives are dependent on electrical voltage. AC or synchronous motors, in principle, are unaffected by voltage fluctuations, since the speed depends on the frequency of the current. They are relatively quiet, especially those powered by 16 or 24 volts.

Tone arms, which guide the stylus through the groove, come in different shapes, lengths and materials. The friction of the horizontal and vertical swivel system should be as low as possible. It should be light and firm, and its resonance frequency should surpass the audible spectrum. Some models are equipped with an automatic or semi-automatic shut-off system.

The mounting and adjustment of the cartridge and its stylus must be calibrated with great precision. Height, angle, tip/pivot distance, weight-adjusted pressure, and centripetal force correction (applied by a spring, weight or magnet) can be adjusted using jigs, a balance or a computerized calibration system such as the one developed by Dr. Feickert.

If your budget is less than $400, CDs, downloading, or online music services remain good options, since cheap turntables are often made of plastic materials that are vulnerable to the Larsen effect, also known as acoustic feedback. They are also often outfitted with tone arms and cartridges that are not of good quality.

Are new turntables better than old turntables? Yes and no. Yes, because tone arms, motor suspensions, phono cartridges and isolation are all generally better in newer models.

No, if you can find a good used turntable. I don’t recommend buying from a consumer unless you know this person well. Remember that belts in belt-drive turntables last three to five years. After this, you get wow and flutter because changes of temperature and humidity make the rubber dry out, crack and warp.

Mario Gagnon has owned the Audio d’occasion store for 36 years as well as the online sales site www.hifipro.ca. He graduated from the Teccart Institute and the Trebas Institute. He collaborated on Class Audio on CIBL and was a co-producer
with singer Bob Walsh.

Also known as the record player, the turntable, invented around 1920, is the successor to the wax cylinder phonograph. Since then, turntables have evolved considerably, notably in the drive system, whether we are speaking about the roller system used until the end of the 1950s; belt drive, which is common on most high-fidelity turntables (Dual, Oracle, Rega, Thorens, Linn, etc.); or the direct-drive system that is found mainly on DJ models.

Analogue pickup on a turntable is accomplished via a diamond stylus that follows the inscriptions present in the groove. The movements generate electrical signals thanks to magnets or coils fixed on a cantilever.

The rotational speed and stability in the case of the DC motors that are used with belt and direct drives are dependent on electrical voltage. AC or synchronous motors, in principle, are unaffected by voltage fluctuations, since the speed depends on the frequency of the current. They are relatively quiet, especially those powered by 16 or 24 volts.

Tone arms, which guide the stylus through the groove, come in different shapes, lengths and materials. The friction of the horizontal and vertical swivel system should be as low as possible. It should be light and firm, and its resonance frequency should surpass the audible spectrum. Some models are equipped with an automatic or semi-automatic shut-off system.

The mounting and adjustment of the cartridge and its stylus must be calibrated with great precision. Height, angle, tip/pivot distance, weight-adjusted pressure, and centripetal force correction (applied by a spring, weight or magnet) can be adjusted using jigs, a balance or a computerized calibration system such as the one developed by Dr. Feickert.

If your budget is less than $400, CDs, downloading, or online music services remain good options, since cheap turntables are often made of plastic materials that are vulnerable to the Larsen effect, also known as acoustic feedback. They are also often outfitted with tone arms and cartridges that are not of good quality.

Are new turntables better than old turntables? Yes and no. Yes, because tone arms, motor suspensions, phono cartridges and isolation are all generally better in newer models.

No, if you can find a good used turntable. I don’t recommend buying from a consumer unless you know this person well. Remember that belts in belt-drive turntables last three to five years. After this, you get wow and flutter because changes of temperature and humidity make the rubber dry out, crack and warp.

Mario Gagnon has owned the Audio d’occasion store for 36 years as well as the online sales site www.hifipro.ca. He graduated from the Teccart Institute and the Trebas Institute. He collaborated on Class Audio on CIBL and was a co-producer
with singer Bob Walsh.

This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)

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