How to Spin a Platter
Many audiophiles love the sound of vinyl records spinning on a turntable. The sound from a stylus in a groove has a quality that no other format can quite duplicate.
How Do Turntables Work?
Despite their differences, all turntables and record players work the same way. The record sits on the platter and spins so that the stylus can ride along the grooves and pick up the tiny vibrations that recreate the music in the player. The difference between the two devices comes after the tonearm in that the record player contains an amplifier and often built-in speakers so that it can play music on its own without the need for a complete home stereo system. There are two main components to any turntable:
- The Base: The base holds both the platter and motor that spins it. A good base should be fairly heavy in order to minimize unwanted vibration, as well as having enough space to hold the motor and its controls.
- The Tonearm: The tonearm has to do a lot of jobs and do them all well. It has to hold the cartridge in place so that the stylus can track the groove with precisely the amount of force it needs to avoid both skipping and damaging the vinyl. Its a delicate balance that has to be maintained even as the arm swings across the surface of the record.
How Do They Spin the Platters?
One of the key factors in getting a great experience from vinyl lies in just how the motor connects to the platter. There are two basic options, direct or indirect. In a direct system the platter sits on top of the motor and rotates with it; in an indirect or belt drive system, the motor is offset with a belt connecting it to the platter. Choosing the right one depends on what youre going to be doing with it:
- Belt: Belt drive works much like the belts in your car or vacuum cleaner. It has the advantage of isolating the motor to reduce vibration, but it trades off speed control and immediate acceleration to do so.
- Direct: Connecting the motor directly allows for precise speed control and even reversing. Its one reason why a DJ is usually better off with a Sony direct drive turntable than a belt-driven one.
Using a Turntable
Audiophiles listen to music for the sound quality, and thats where vinyl really comes into its own. A good stereo turntable system offers excellent analog playback and many Sony models include USB for digital connectivity, so you can more easily digitize your vinyl albums. Its one way to truly enjoy high resolution audio.
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