We offer more different turntables now than we did in the 80’s. Vinyl records are definitely not dead! Here are a few things to keep in mind as you shop for a turntable.
Some turntables have straight tone arms, and some have curved. The curved arm causes less wear on the record, and provides a more accurate reproduction of the sound. If the turntable is used primarily to play a record from beginning to end, the curved tone arm is the way to go.
A turntable requires a specialized pre-amplifier to boost and properly equalize the signal before it connects to your mixer. (A DJ mixer may not need a separate turntable preamp, but a broadcast mixer will.) Some current turntables have the preamp built in. If you need an external preamp, they are available here.
A heavy platter works to smooth out any irregularities in the rotation of the disc. But a heavy platter takes more energy to come up to full speed from a dead stop. So, if you want the stability of a heavy platter, but need the instant speed, expect to pay more for a more sophisticated motor system.
The low-cost units with lightweight platters often use a belt-drive system. These don’t accelerate quickly, and are best suited to use for recording the disc to a computer for archiving, rather than playing directly on-the-air.
Most turntables include a cartridge and stylus (the “needle” that actually touches the disc.) If you have a choice of stylus shape, elliptical is preferred by audiophiles for accuracy and detail. Conical shape is more often found in broadcast and DJ use, as it tends to de-emphasize scratchy groove noise.
A few turntables have a USB interface built in, which makes for a simple one-step connection to a computer. Just be sure it also includes regular audio connections for the times you want to use it with a mixer.
Standard turntable speeds are 33 and 45 RPM. A few can play 78. (There are software tricks to allow recording of a 78 RPM disc with a 33/45 turntable, if you ever have the need.)