Tag Archives: vinyl

The Klipsch Guide to Record Store Day 2016

Record Store Day (RSD) is treated differently by each independent record store across the country, but it’s safe to say that your local independently owned record store will likely have a whole bunch of activities planned for its visitors.

Our friends at Indy CD & Vinyl are located in Indianapolis, just a few miles from Klipsch HQ, and have a whole slew of fun stuff planned on Saturday: live music, product giveaways, food, drink, and of course, all of the vinyl you would ever need. Indy CD & Vinyl is co-owned by Andy and Annie Skinner, who were gracious enough to give us some additional insight into Record Store Day. (Schedule)

Here’s a taste of what Klipsch is looking forward to on Record Store Day on local and national fronts.

Indy CD & Vinyl Sign

WHY IS RECORD STORE DAY IMPORTANT?

“Record Store Day is important to Indy CD & Vinyl because it gives us a chance to show our appreciation to all our customers that shop here all year long. It is also a chance to show new customers all that we have to offer, both as a retail record shop and as a community center. We are proud of our role in our music community and are thankful for all that our customers do to support us – RSD is a way to give thanks and show off our place!” – Andy Skinner, Indy CD & Vinyl

Indy CD & Vinyl inside 1 social

MOST WANTED VINYL ON RECORD STORE DAY

“We have been getting buzz about quite a few of the limited releases, like Dr. Who, an Iron Maiden picture disc, a David Bowie picture disc, a Twentyone Pilots 7″, and the box set from the band Lush. That box set is beautiful! There also is a unique item from hip-hop legends Run The Jewels, it’s a virtual reality box called RTJVR, it looks awesome and it is nothing we’ve ever seen before! Even a piece from The Monkees will probably go quickly, it’s a really cool, clear die-cut picture disc.” – Andy Skinner, Indy CD & Vinyl

Oreo Jones

MUST-HEAR ALBUMS ON RECORD STORE DAY

“Although not a sanctioned Record Store Day item, local hip-hop sensation Oreo Jones plans to hide a copy of his new album “Cash For Gold” somewhere in the store for a lucky customer to find. He is definitely someone to watch out for nationally this year.” – Andy Skinner, Indy CD & Vinyl

Devil to Pay band

Devil to Pay (Photo via theobelisk.net)

LIVE MUSIC ON RECORD STORE DAY

Klipsch is proud to sponsor the main stage at Indy CD & Vinyl, utilizing our kick-ass graffiti PA speaker system. Some people think it’s too much for a small space, which we don’t really get. After all, there really isn’t such a thing as “too much” speakers.

Regardless, Record Store Day is a great opportunity for you to check out amazing artists in an intimate setting without being price-gouged. Better yet, you may stumble upon some artists you’ve never heard before who will blow your mind. That’s all part of the magic.

The music will be kickin’ from 10 AM – 7 PM with Shoobee Loo, Mr. Daniel, Sweet Poison Victim, Moor.dub, Veseria, Desert Planet, Devil To Pay and U.S. Bastards rockin’ the Klipsch Stage. “Each band is amazing in their own right, but together we can hear music from many genres all in one day,” Andy Skinner said.

It is also a family-friendly affair with kids music available along with face painting, games and crafts for music lovers who would like to bring their little ones.

R6 On-Ear Vinyl

PRODUCT GIVEAWAYS ON RECORD STORE DAY

We’re assuming companies are giving away tons of crap (ok, maybe not only crap) all over the country to help celebrate and promote Record Store Day, but we’re pretty sure you won’t get anything that sounds better than the Reference R6 In-Ear and Reference R6 On-Ear headphones that we’ll be giving away at Indy CD & Vinyl.

You’ll have to be in attendance to enter to win (sorry!), but it’s totally worth it because you have to eat something from Kuma’s Corner Burger in order to be eligible to win. That’s what we like to call a “win-win.”

Unfortunately, we won’t be giving away any of our vaunted new Reference R-15PM powered monitors that have internal amplification and a built-in phono pre-amp (which means no receiver or separate phono pre-amp required). The good news, though, is that the R-15PMs are available for $50 OFF from Indy CD & Vinyl, Klipsch.com and participating dealers through the month of April. The aforementioned Klipsch Reference headphones are also available at Indy CD & Vinyl for a special price.

rocket 88 doughnuts

Photo via IndyStar.com

FOOD & DRINK ON RECORD STORE DAY

No one wants to listen to music on an empty stomach, right? We’re looking forward to loosening our belts and stuffing our faces with burgers from Kuma’s Corner and doughnuts from Rocket 88 doughnuts. Indianapolis has been developing a serious food-scene and it extends into Record Store Day.

Of course, you have to wash it all down with something and yet another Indianapolis company is partnering with Indy CD & Vinyl – Hubbard & Craven’s Coffee. That’ll do quite nicely. (P.S. You’re missing out if you haven’t dipped a glazed yeast doughnut into coffee before eating it.)

To top it all off, Indy CD & Vinyl’s good friends, Dogfish Brewing Company, will be supplying the adult beverages for the evening. We have no complaints on this matter whatsoever.

Reference R-15PM Phono Pre-Amp

WHAT TO DO AFTER RECORD STORE DAY IS OVER

OK, so you have a bunch of new vinyl. What’s next? Well, we would advise that you get yourself a real pair of speakers. Enough of those crappy all-in-one solutions. It’s time to stop vinyl abuse.

While any Klipsch speakers would be suitable partners for a proper audiophile-grade turntable setup, we’ve created a couple of handy guides that will help you make the best decision.

The Best Record Player Speakers

Turntable Setup Guide for Passive and Powered Speakers

What are you doing for Record Store Day? Let us know in the comments below!

Turntable Setup Guide for Passive and Powered Speakers

A growing number of people are investing in the reborn industry of vinyl music. Whether it be the warm and textured sound or the tactile experience, vinyl is having quite the comeback and turntables are popping up in households around the world.

Some people may be content with some cheap all-in-one-solution for their turntable setup. Affordable all-in-ones typically do not have very good reputation as they have the tendency to ruin records from the amount of force that is applied to them by the stylus. However, if you’re reading this blog, you aren’t satisfied with “good enough.” You want audiophile-grade sound from your turntable.

This doesn’t mean that you ought to be intimidated by the prospect of a proper performance-grade turntable setup. We’re here to make things simple (and sound great) with our turntable setup guide for both passive and powered speakers.

First of all, you need to decide whether you are going to go with powered or passive speakers. Powered speakers like the Klipsch Reference R-15PM powered monitors have internal amplification, while passive speakers like the Klipsch Reference Premiere RP-160M bookshelf speakers require external amplification.

From there, it’s really quite simple…

RP Uturn blog

How to Set Up Passive Speakers With a Turntable

You will only need a few things to set up your passive speakers correctly with a turntable: a receiver, phono pre-amp, RCA cables and a pair of speakers. While there are more components to setting up passive speakers than powered speakers, the process really isn’t much more involved. (If you need help choosing a pair of speakers for your turntable, please click here.)

  1. Connect the turntable with the RCA cables to the preamp. (Some turntables require grounding.)
  2. Connect the pre-amp to the amp with RCA cables.
  3. Connect the amp to the speakers.
  4. Drop the needle and enjoy!

Reference R-15PM

How To Set Up Powered Speakers With a Turntable

Not to brag, but the R-15PM power monitors are pretty awesome. Besides having internal amplification, they have a built-in phono pre-amp. Most powered speakers still require a separate phono pre-amp. In any case, internal amplification and the built-in phono pre-amp eliminate the need for two separate components – a receiver and discrete phono pre-amp.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to connect R-15PM powered monitors to your turntable

  1. Connect the RCA and ground cables from the turntable to the R-15PM
  2. Ensure the switch on the back of the R-15PM is set to “Phono”
  3. Plug the turntable and R-15PM into power outlets
  4. Put a record on and enjoy!

This is the easiest way to setup a turntable with quality speakers.

Klipsch Black Turntable CES 2016

Turntable Setup and Configuration

Depending on what turntable you have, the amount of setup and configuration will depend on the specific turntable you select. Some turntables come set up straight out of the box while others involve a great deal of tweaking. Of course, there are also turntables that give users the option to upgrade components like the phono cartridge.

We won’t go into the nitty-gritty of every possible turntable setup because we already dove into the anatomy of the turntable, but there are some basics you need to know.

First of all, there are two primary types of turntables: belt drive and direct drive turntables. Simply put, belt drive turntables are for those listening to records while direct drive turntables are what you would see DJs using.

There are also automatic and manual turntables. Automatic turntables simply require you to press a button and the turntable will lift the tone arm and place it on the record. Manual turntables require you to physically place the tone arm on the record.

You may have noticed that we showed off a Klipsch turntable at CES 2016 and, if you’re in Canada, you can already purchase a turntable bundled with the Klipsch R-15PMs as part of the Klipsch Music Crate. Don’t worry, it will be coming to the United States and rest of the world very soon!

Anyway, the Klipsch turntable is a manual, belt-driven turntable created in partnership with Pro-Ject. It sounds great and also offers an extremely easy setup.

The Klipsch turntable comes set up right out of the box, meaning that you will not have to mess with the tracking force or counterweight adjustments. It comes with a moving magnet Ortofon OM 5E cartridge.

Regardless of the type of speakers or turntable you choose, a proper turntable setup is extremely important in delivering quality sound; however, it shouldn’t be considered a daunting challenge.

What does your turntable setup consist of? What guidance do you have for someone looking to set up their new turntable with quality speakers? Post in the comments below!

 

 

 

Best Speakers for Your Record Player

Vinyl is back in a big way. After all, vinyl made more money than free streams in 2016 with sales rising to their highest level since 1988, according to the RIAA. The record player is becoming practically as ubiquitous as the television in living rooms across the world.

Whether you own one record or 1,000 records, a pair of quality speakers for your record player is exactly what you need. After all, what’s the point of investing in analog audio if you’re just going to push the sound through some crappy all-in-one solution?

We’re here to help you get the very most of out of this new-again medium.

While almost any pair of Klipsch bookshelf or floorstanding speakers would be terrific partners for a record player, we have broken down several situations to find the best speaker for your record player. 

Reference R-15PM Phono Pre-Amp

Easiest Speakers to Set Up With Your Record Player

Reference R-15PM

Some people don’t want to mess around with a bunch of wires and separate devices. We get it. You just want to hear your burgeoning vinyl collection in all of its glory. With internal amplification and built-in phono pre-amp, the new R-15PM powered monitors are the best option for someone looking for the easiest way to hook up their turntable properly. These are the new standards in record player speakers.

RP Uturn blog

Best Passive Bookshelf Speakers for Your Record Player

Reference Premiere RP-160M

One of the biggest reasons why people get into vinyl is the desire to free themselves from overly compressed music. The RP-160M bookshelf speakers over top level performance that provides a true audiophile-grade setup. They feature 90×90 hybrid Tractrix horns, Tractrix ports, Linear Travel Suspension titanium tweeters and spun copper Cerametallic woofers. Old school meets new school in the best possible way.

R-14M blog

Best Budget Speakers for Your Record Player

Reference R-14M

Maybe you haven’t notice – or don’t care – but vinyl isn’t cheap. We completely understand if you want to spend more on your album collection rather than speakers for your record player. The R-14M bookshelf speakers from the Reference series will deliver a surprising amount of output, filling your room with any record you please. Everyone could use a little more copper and black in their life.

70th Anniversary Heresy - 1 social

The Ultimate Speakers for Your Record Player

Heresy III / La Scala II / Cornwall / Klipschorn

You owe it to yourself to listen to a record through Klipsch Heritage Series speakers. Whether it’s the Heresy III, La Scala II, Cornwall or Klipschorn, we can pretty much guarantee that your mind is going to be blown. All of the reasons why people prefer vinyl are put on full display with an exceedingly pleasing, warm and textured sound. You truly aren’t going to find better record player speakers. To top it all off, each of these speakers is handcrafted in our Hope, Arkansas factory.

What do you think are the best speakers for your record player?

Record Store Day: Why It Matters

Record Store Day was created back in 2007 by a collection of independent record storeowners in order to celebrate the unique culture around these stores and, of course, to fight back financially against the Mp3 revolution that caused many stores to shutter.

Andy Skinner, co-owner of Indy CD & Vinyl along with his wife Annie, said “For a lot of stores, especially when it first started, it was a really fun gimmick to maintain the fiscal health of record stores.”

TWICE magazine reports that “vinyl album sales in the U.S. have grown 260 percent since 2009, and in 2014, vinyl recorded its ninth consecutive year of sales growth.” Furthermore, Nielsen found that 9.2 million units were sold which is up 52 percent from the previous year.

There’s no denying the financial benefits of this now-organized annual occurrence. Skinner says that sales on just this one day are so substantial that they can keep his Indianapolis-based store afloat for the entire year.

But it’s so much more than a sales gimmick now, as Skinner and his fellow record storeowners pull off a large-scale event and a party that is truly special for the community.

“People realize that not only did record stores not go away, they’re healthy. It gives people a place to go where there is a strong music community and they’ll come back throughout the year.”

Thanks to artists really getting behind Record Store Day, there are a ton of new and exclusive releases on vinyl that will have fans knocking down the doors of their local record stores. (Click here for the full list of releases.)

“It brings a lot of legitimacy, especially when music fans see their favorite artists giving a lot of attention to independent record stores and letting people know that this is how they make their living.”

People will line around the block for particular releases that come in limited quantities. Luckily, a local coffee shop is providing a much needed a boost for these morning-weary shoppers.

Skinner says that the re-release of Brand New’s “Deja Entendu” is causing the most commotion and resulting in a flurry of phone calls to the store. The Skinners ordered as many copies as they could possibly get their hands on, but they only actually received two copies. Instead of just making people wait in line for hours upon hours, Indy CD and Vinyl will sell raffle tickets for $1 a pop. After they sell more tickets than the album’s list price, they will give the rest to charity. Good stuff.

Beyond new or exclusive releases, Indy CD & Vinyl will have live music outside their store with ten bands performing on a stage in the back of the store. Klipsch is providing the sound for the event using the same gear from WTTS’s Sun King Studio 92Klipsch Professional speakers including KI-396 mains, KPT-684 subwoofers and KI-272 stage monitors. It is going to ROCK.

In addition to the sure-to-be-awesome performances, the store will be giving away a host of awesome audio gear including Klipsch Reference R6 headphones. For a full list of what’s going on at Indy CD & Vinyl on Record Store Day, please click here.

Skinner has made sure all the paperwork is in order to really crank up the volume and the neighbors don’t mind either. Nearby restaurants and stores are excited about the buzz it brings to Broad Ripple Village and couldn’t care less about the noise it generates.

This aspect of community is really what this day is all about – music fans getting together and enjoying the musicians’ magic in an authentic setting.

“It’s a pain in the ass, it’s expensive and it’s a lot of work, but it’s totally worth it when you see so many people who are just stoked for either the hard-to-find releases or saw someone that they thought they would never see in such an intimate setting.”

Rock on, Indy CD and Vinyl.

Are you participating in Record Store Day? Looking for a specific album? Done so in the past? Let us know in the comments below.

How to Set Up a Turntable

How to Set Up a Turntable

 

If you’re under the age of 35, chances are that you have never set up a turntable.

You’re missing out.

Now, we’re not here to tell you that analog is better than digital. That’s up to you, as an individual, to decide. What we will say is that vinyl gives you an entirely different listening experience.

In theory, vinyl offers an infinite sampling resolution because analog waveforms are continuous and smooth, while the sampling done to produce digital audio creates waveforms that are stair-stepped (the higher the sampling rate, the smaller the steps). Many would describe the resulting sound from a vinyl source as warm, inviting and generally pleasing. Some will call BS – let the debates begin. Of course, many other factors go into creating a quality listening experience (mastering, compression, purity of source, etc.) but starting with a good analog revolver is a fantastic way to rock the house while keeping your street cred.

Vinyl music is an experience. Taking the record out of the sleeve, dropping the needle, hearing the brief crackle before the music starts and examining the album art during playback…it’s a palpable experience that offers an emotional connection.

Just give it a try. With more and more records being produced, it is a great time to get into – or get back into vinyl.

If you don’t want to watch the snazzy video above, here are the steps to successfully set up a turntable.

  1. Connect the turntable to the preamp. (Some turntables require grounding.)
  2. Connect the pre-amp to the amp.
  3. Connect the amp to the speakers.
  4. Drop the needle and enjoy!

It’s really that simple. Just grab a cocktail (or whatever beverage that pleases you) and enjoy!

This is just an introductory guide. In the future, we will post a more “advanced” guide that discusses things like proper phasing, left/right channel setup, tonal balance, etc.

If you’re just getting started and are looking for a quality, affordable turntable, we highly recommend a U-Turn Audio turntable, which we used in the video.

Special thanks to the Libertine Liquor Bar in Indianapolis, IN for letting us shoot in their kick-ass establishment. If you’re in town, head on over and say hello to Puck, our favorite bartender there.

Have any tips and tricks for someone setting up their first turntable? Have a strong opinion on analog vs. digital audio? Post a comment below!

U-Turn Audio Orbit Basic Turntable Review

Fun fact: 2014 is the first year since 1996 that over a million vinyl albums were sold.

We aren’t going to argue the merits for vinyl over digital or vice-versa (future blog post, perhaps), but we know a lot of people who purchase Klipsch speakers have a great affinity for listening to music “the old way.”

With this mini-revolution in sales, companies across the world have been quick to pedal products to support this revitalized medium. Of course, that means a lot of these products (we won’t name names) are not quite up to snuff and we wouldn’t recommend them with our speakers.

Peter Maltzan, Bob Hertig and Ben Carter founded U-Turn Audio as a Kickstarter project in 2014 “to make great vinyl listening simple and more affordable.”

Starting with a modest goal of $60,000, the three “vinyl lovers” saw a remarkable demand, almost quadrupling their target by finishing their Kickstarter with $233,940.

So, does U-Turn Audio live up to its mission AND deliver on quality? Read on…

U-Turn Orbit White Turntable

FEATURES

U-Turn has two options in its turntable lineup. At $179, there is the Orbit Basic and for $299, there is the Orbit Plus.

Both turntables are belt-driven and employ moving magnet (MM) cartridges with the Orbit Plus utilizing a higher-end cartridge from Grado Labs. More expensive turntables may use moving coil cartridges and may require a more expensive phono pre-amp, but MM cartridges are standard for recreational use.

One of the other key differences between the two models is that the Orbit Plus has an acrylic platter while the Orbit Basic uses a MDF one. The former will have better speed consistency and tighter bass according to U-Turn.

There are a couple features missing that you may find in more expensive turntables such as automation and programming but the company isn’t pretending to take on that market quite yet.

For the rest of this review we will be focusing on the Orbit Basic model, as it is the one we have put through the paces at Klipsch HQ.

Full lists of specifications and features for both versions are below.

Orbit Basic

Features Specs In the box
Unipivot tonearm Dimensions: 5 x 17 x 13″ Orbit turntable
MM cartridge (Audio-Technica CN5625AL) Weight: 11 lbs Dust cover
Fully manual belt-drive W&F: 0.175% (WTD) Drive belt
Two speed pulley (33/45) S/N ratio:  -79 dBA Felt mat
24V Synchronous motor Rumble: -63 dBA AC adapter
Machined MDF plinth Power supply 115V/60Hz Shielded RCA cables
Vibration damping feet 24V synchronous motor Setup guide

Orbit Plus

Features Specs In the box
Unipivot tonearm Dimensions: 5 x 17 x 13″ Orbit turntable
MM cartridge (Grado Black1) Weight: 12.5 lbs Dust cover
Fully manual belt-drive W&F: 0.125% (WTD) Drive belt
Two speed pulley (33/45) S/N ratio:  -79 dBA Felt mat
Machined MDF plinth Rumble: -63 dBA AC adapter
Precision acrylic platter Power supply 115V/60Hz Shielded RCA cables
Vibration damping feet 24V synchronous motor Setup guide

SETUP

Setting up a turntable (like speakers) can sometimes feel daunting but U-Turn Audio has really made it a cinch with the Orbit Basic.
Place the platter over the spindle, plug in the power cord, slide the plastic shield on, and then attach the belt by wrapping it around the pulley and then the platter. After that, plug the included cable into your receiver or phono pre-amp (which we attached to our Klipsch Reference II Bookshelf Speakers) and you’re good to go!

Simple enough, right? This is about as easy as it comes.

The tracking force does not need to be calibrated as the Orbit Basic (and the Orbit Plus) comes optimized for its included cartridge. You do have the option to upgrade your cartridge

If this sound confusing to you, U-Turn includes helpful instructions with videos on its website.

U-Turn Orbit Basic Turntable Black


DESIGN

The Orbit Basic is quite beautiful in a minimalistic sense. There are no unnecessary materials or “gee whiz” design flourishes that detract from its design. It really is something we would place anywhere in the home or office and it wouldn’t look out of place. Perhaps the greatest compliment we can give it is that it looks way more expensive than it really is.

Both the Orbit Basic and Orbit Plus come in black, white, green or blue. We went with the black version because we are Klipsch after all. (How cool would it be to have a black and copper version?!)

One of our favorite parts of U-Turn’s offerings is that the speakers are assembled by hand in the United States, much like our own Heritage Speakers. Assembly occurs in their Woburn, Massachusetts workshop, just a few miles away from Boston. The majority of parts also come from within the country as the acrylic platters are turned in Ohio and plinths find their way from Minnesota.

Combined with U-Turn’s one year warranty, we really feel like these turntables are something you will use (and love) for quite some time.

SOUND QUALITY

So far, we’ve concluded that the Orbit Basic is affordable, easy to setup and boasts a quality build, but how does it sound?

Pretty darn good.

We tested out the turntable with a variety of albums from Johnny Cash’s The Man Comes Around to a more recent album like Sam Smith’s You’re Not the Only One.

The Orbit Basic really helped deliver a sound experience that we enjoyed and complimented our entire product range. It boasts a beautiful, warm analog sound with crisp highs and good definition.

We played the albums through a variety of speakers including the Klipsch Reference R-15M bookshelf speakers, Reference RB-61 II bookshelf speakers, Reference RF-7 II floorstanding speakers as well as the Klipsch La Scala II speakers from the Heritage Series.

Now, we hear a lot of people asking, “Which one of your speakers is best for vinyl playback?” There really is no right answer. All of our speakers are going to sound great through the Orbit Basic turntable. Klipsch Heritage speakers are a classic pairing with a vinyl setup as they were designed for the format. That being said, you will still get quite a lot of joy with the R-15M speakers, which we used, at the Music City Food + Wine Festival in Nashville.


U-Turn Orbit Basic with Klipsch Speakers

RECOMMENDATION

We won’t mince words here – U-Turn Audio definitely has our recommendation. In fact, we like them so much that we’re bringing a bunch of their turntables to Las Vegas to use in our booth at CES 2015.

Between its design, made in America roots and extraordinary value, the U-Turn turntable is definitely a great pick up for someone looking to get back into their vinyl collection or someone just testing the water with this once-forgotten medium.

The “old way” never sounded so good…especially for $179.

Anatomy of a Record Player

Before there were MP3s, CDs, and cassette tapes — heck, even before eight-track tapes — there was the record player. Although today, unless we have an affinity for vinyl, we think of record players as “old-school”, often forgetting they revolutionized music and the music industry as much as MP3s have today. Record players allowed for listening to music at home for the first time; before the record player, it was live or nothing. It made such an impression, we still call music releases “records” and “albums,” and the spinning album phrase “getting rotation” still means a song is heard on the radio.

Once record players came onto the scene in 1877, they didn’t leave until almost a century later — although they never fully left. Nostalgia as well as preference for the sound quality has kept vinyl alive, and DJs and hip hop artists still use turntables as part of their music-making. We celebrate the beauty of albums with our recent collaboration with Classic Album Sundays – monthly active listening sessions of entire albums in a studio setting with the best equipment available. It’s a truly unique experience.

So how does a record player work? What are the different components, and how do they work together to produce sound? Let’s take a closer look at this amazing game-changing contraption.

The Turntable

Although “turntable” and “record player” today are used almost synonymously, a turntable is technically the part of the record player where the record sits. Sometimes the turntable is also called the “revolving platter.”

The center of the turntable includes a metal rod, holding the record in the center as it turns. The plate of the turntable itself is generally metal, typically covered with plastic or rubber so the record isn’t inadvertently scratched.

The least expensive record players use steel for the turntable. The steel plates used in record players are light and cheap to produce, however, the consequence is that these plates have a low inertia, meaning any instability with the motor speed are quite pronounced.

A more expensive turntable plate is aluminum. Aluminum plates have better balance, reduce vibration, and don’t accentuate motor speed instabilities.

The turntable’s rotation is controlled by the turntable drive system. The two main types of drive systems are the belt-drive system and the direct-drive system. The belt-drive system goes a long way in reducing noise heard from the motor, because the elastometric belt helps to absorb vibrations and other low-frequency sounds. A direct-drive system, by contrast, doesn’t use intermediary gears, wheels, and belts. The advantage of a direct-drive system is later models had stronger motors and pitch control sliders. For this reason, direct-drive turntables were favored by disc jockeys for decades.

The Stylus

turntableThe stylus is the needle that rests against the record. Ideally, a stylus is a cone-shaped component made from diamond, which is the hardest natural material on Earth. Besides diamonds, sapphires are also commonly used for record needles. The stylus is connected to the tone arm by a flexible strip of metal. The flexibility in the middle allows for the stylus to ride up and down within the record grooves.

The stylus can be either spherical or elliptical. Elliptical styli have the advantage of increasing the fidelity of the music by allowing for more contact with the record groove. A spherical stylus provides less fidelity but is more sensitive.

Even a diamond-tipped stylus will need to be replaced after a while. Experts recommend changing the stylus after every 1,000 to 2,500 hours of listening pleasure.

The Tone Arm and the Cartridge

The tone arm is the arm of the record player that holds the stylus and, together with the cartridge, it is responsible for actually producing the sounds. Tone arms can be straight or curved. Which one is better? It depends who you ask. Some people insist curved tone arms produce better sound, but DJs and hip hop artists usually prefer straight arms because they’re easier to scratch with.

As the stylus follows the grooves of the record, vibrations travel through the metal wires inside the tone arm and arrive at the cartridge at the tone arm’s end. The cartridge contains coils within a magnetic field, and when the vibrations hit these coils, they are transformed into electrical signals. These electrical signals can be amplified and broadcasted through the speakers.

Amplifiers and Preamplifiers

Today, most audio receivers are designed for the signals that come out of a CD, DVD, or MP3 player. That means that they are not well-equipped to play the audio signal coming out of a traditional record player. Older audio receivers included what was called a phono preamplifier (also known as a preamp or phono stage) to boost record player signals to appropriate levels, but modern receivers lack phono preamps. Some record players include built-in preamps to solve this problem; talk to a true audiophile, however, and they will insist that you get a dedicated preamplifier for the best sound quality.

The right preamp depends upon the cartridge. Modern cartridges will play well with preamps at the 100pf to 150pf level; older cartridges, such as those from the 1980s, work better with preamps of the 200pf level. It should be noted, though, that if your cartridge hasn’t been changed since the 1980s, you should go ahead and replace it anyway!

Summary

In short, the vinyl record is placed upon the revolving platter. As the record revolves, the stylus bumps up and down within the groove, sending its vibrations along metal wires within the tone arm and into the cartridge. The cartridge converts these vibrations into an electrical current using a magnetic field. This current is sent into the preamp, which boosts the signal on its way to the speaker. When the amplified current hits the speaker — presto! — we hear music or whatever is recorded onto the vinyl.


We hope you enjoyed this short tour of the anatomy of a record player. Did we leave out anything crucially important? Do you still listen to vinyl? Let us know in the comments section below.