Expensive Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Better Quality
The standard assumption is that the more expensive record players are more accurate and of higher quality, but this is not always the case. There are record players that can be quite affordable.
There are many great features on a good record player. The turntable or tonearm is the most important component of the player. The head of the player has to be able to cope with the movements required for records.
The head of the player will have a second moving part, which is a damper or “noise”, that helps prevent sounds from escaping from the record. This creates a ring of noise around the edges of the record. This noise also acts as a buffer, reducing the noise that accumulates as the records spin.
The quieter the cartridge or platter of the player, the more accurately the records will spin and the better it will play. This is important in home recording studios or in live concert settings where the sound needs to be precise and crisp.
A record should be spun twice and if it plays back correctly, it should not have any squeaks or pops. It should appear to be completely solid, without a crack, or any other imperfection that may detract from the quality of the sound. There should also be no vibrations, but these may be present in some older record players.
The chances are good that the sound will be affected by dust during a record. The dust may cause the record to spin slower or faster or may prevent it from playing at all. Such disturbance will probably occur as the dust moves and settles. Usually the dust is not so much on the face of the cartridge as it is underneath.
The heads of the turntables are generally grooved. Grooves allow the moving parts of the cartridge to be locked into place, increasing the accuracy of the rotation. The heads of the record player should also be well lubricated. Poorly lubricated parts will tend to slip and cause a record to skip.
The heads of a high quality record player are made from copper, silver plated, bronze, brass, titanium or other materials. Nickel-plated heads are common, but these may be subject to corrosion.
Another feature that makes a good record player is its dream. An amplifier works to boost and amplify the sound of the record, adding distortion. The preamp should be isolated from the rest of the player.
The tonearm is another very important element of a record player.
The stylus is the mechanism that the needle of the needle spins on, providing the tiny, touchy sound that we all enjoy.
Today’s early turntables had a lot of friction, such as those introduced in the 1920s. They were also prone to jamming. The new units are far less likely to jam or lose track of where the needle is.
If you want a quality record player, and a high quality needle, then you will need to spend a lot of money. But if you’re looking for quality music for the best quality record and needle, then there is no substitute for the quality of a turntable with quality cartridges. The best sound is available for less than half the price of a brand new player.