The Turntable is one of those timeless vintage objects that hold a special place in every home for decades. We believed it had been dethroned with the arrival of cassettes and CDs, music players, iPods, and digital downloads. But that was before DJ came into the picture. DJing continued and even amplified the focus on the famous “turntables.” It seems like quite the opposite has happened.
Since the early 2000s, vinyl has experienced a kind of renaissance with vinyl sales worldwide, and the sales are climbing the ladder at a steady pace in recent years. From January to June 2020, over 8.8 million vinyl were sold against 10.2 million CDs! In September 2020, according to the RIAA semi-annual report, vinyl sales exceeded CD sales for the first time since 1986 in the United States.
And today, the turntables are back into business with improved features and advanced technology upgrades. You can find a wide range of the best turntables on the market with updated modern features, such as Bluetooth and USB connectivity. That said, the essential elements that make up a record player haven’t changed since Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877.
Whether you love the classic look of vintage turntables or more modern aesthetic, or simply want to know more about a turntable’s components and their uses? In this article, you will find all the information you need to know about turntable accessories.
It’s time to dust off your old record collection and get ready to spin your favorite tracks with the evergreen turntables.
THE LIST OF THE BEST TURNTABLE ACCESSORIES
1. TURNTABLE PRE-AMPLIFIER
Most of the audio receivers available today are designed to process the signals that come out from a CD or DVD player, MP3 player or streaming services. This means they are not necessarily equipped with components that could play a traditional turntable audio signal or a record player.
Moreover, the audio receivers back then included a phono preamplifier to boost turntable signals, but the modern audio receivers generally don’t have a preamp.
The phono preamplifier is a necessary accessory when it comes to vinyl turntable setup. The main purpose of preamps is to boost the turntable’s weak phono signal to a line-level so that you can connect it to your sound system. Apart from amplification, they provide standard equalization and RIAA imbalance correction.
Preamps come in different shapes and sizes. Whether it’s going to be a tube amplification or transistor amplification, the choice is up to you. But, if you want the classic, warm, silky smooth, and pleasant sound characteristic, then you should go for a phono tube preamp. Some record player models include in-built preamps, and many modern turntables do have a phono stage. So, if your turntable doesn’t include a phono stage, you have to get an external phono preamp to boost the audio signal.
Most audiophiles and experts prefer to use a separate preamp. But remember, whether or not it can make a difference, often depends on the rest of your sound system. If you are new to this turntable world, I would suggest you start with the beginner’s guide to vinyl to get an outline on what is turntable and it works.
2. TURNTABLE AMPLIFIER
- A SLIM SENSATIONAL INTEGRATED AMP – Enclosed in a vibration resistant design, the amp powers the widest range of speakers (70W...
If you are planning to connect your turntable to your HiFi system, then there are certain things you should know first. The amplifiers are the heart of your Hi-Fi speaker system. It receives and processes the signal from a source (turntable), amplifies it, and sends it to the loudspeakers.
The role of the turntable amplifier is decisive. Its quality and characteristics depend on the HiFi speakers and the fidelity of the recording. If you wish to connect your turntable directly to the speakers? Then, In this case, you will need active speakers.
The active speakers are equipped with an integrated amplifier. If you have passive speakers, you will need an external amp or a turntable with a built-in amp, but these are rare. Generally, active speakers have a volume control located on the back. The Bluetooth speaker also belongs to this category and allows you to connect a turntable without resorting to an external amp.
Back to the topic! There are two essential ways to choose an amplifier for turntable.
- Stereo amplifiers for music enthusiasts: specially designed for focused sonic performance.
- AV receivers: Multi-channel receivers that emphasize features over audio quality.
If you don’t have any necessity to choose an A/V receiver, I would recommend you to go for a 2-channel stereo Hi-Fi amplifier for turntable. They offer the best sound quality and the most enjoyable listening experience with a vinyl turntable.
3. PHONO CARTRIDGE
- Orotofon's popular 2M Red MM Phono Cartridge bundled together with Audio Additives' Cartridge Mounting Kit
Turntable cartridges are more commonly known as phono cartridges or stylus cartridges. Cartridges are known as the electro-mechanical part of the turntable. They can read audio data from a record and translate them into an electrical signal that your other audio systems understand.
It includes a transducer that converts variations in the disc’s micro-grooves into electronic signals. This technology is not new, and it was developed over 100 years ago by Thomas Edison.
A cartridge can be split into two or three parts, depending on the manufacturer’s design: a shell, a cartridge, and a diamond. Sometimes the shell and the airframe are combined into one unit. If separated, the shell is the part that connects to the tonearm of a record player and has a small arm to lift the entire device when placed on a disk.
NOTE: Check my article on how to balance a tonearm if you’re new to the world of turntables.
Now talking about the working, when a disc is in motion, the diamond moves vertically and horizontally along its groove. Inside the needle are a small magnet and a spool of thread that helps in generating the audio signals.
Mostly, you get all the three components supplied in one package, but replacement diamonds can be purchased separately when they wear out over time.
4. TURNTABLE RECEIVER
- Works with Alexa for voice control (Alexa device sold separately)
A Turntable Receiver is a device that allows you to connect your Turntable to the speakers. An amplifier can do this job, then why is it necessary to get a receiver for your Turntable? If you have this question on your mind, then here is your answer.
The AV receiver consists of multiple outlet channels and can connect and support many devices through it. So it has got the ability to act as a combination of several instruments at once.
For instance, it can act as:
- Power amplifier when connected to the speakers
- Tuner for Internet and terrestrial radio
- AV processor for multimedia content
The fact is, without a receiver, we can’t connect the Turntable to speakers unless the Turntable comes with an inbuilt preamp or the speakers include a built-in amplifier.
So the choice is quite simple. If you want to listen to music only with your Turntable, then connecting to a preamp or a stereo amplifier is more than enough. But if you want to connect multiple devices to the receiver and do more, like watching movies and listening to music or radio, in that case, it would be better to get an AV receiver.
5. RECORD WEIGHT
- Low Profile-- It fits under the lid of a record player with plenty of room!. Your can play turntable with cover closed.
The record weight is also called a stabilizer or a clamp. Usually, the disc’s vertical movements tend to distort the music played. So to avoid this, a record weight is used. Also, it acts as a counterweight that prevents unwanted vibrations that occur in Vinyl records.
The phono cell, responsible for picking up and transforming all mechanical variations into electrical signals, is very sensitive to the airfoils. So it is important to take good care, especially if the disc has already been damaged before being used.
Benefits Of Using A Record Weight Stabilizer :
- Vibration damping
- Keeps the record flat
- Reduce wow & flutter
However, it has to be handled with proper care as it also has some drawbacks. A heavy stabilizer might put unnecessary pressure, and it can clutter up the disc, thus compromising the quality of the sound emitted. Even though the stabilizer helps to smooth out damaged discs, by exerting significant pressure, its action can have the opposite effect. Instead of balancing the record, it might end up distorting it.
6. RECORD CLEANER BRUSH
- The Only Vinyl Cleaning Kit You'll Ever Need: extreme care & regular maintenance is paramount to every vinyl album collection, big...
Cleaning your records allows you to retain their musical qualities for a long period. Listening to a dirty record can really be very unpleasant. Moreover, the accumulation of dust and impurities on the groove can negatively impact the quality of the sound reproduced. It is, therefore, necessary to take care of your discs.
Indeed, vinyl records cleaning tools are an essential accessory for any turntable. It is necessary to take certain precautions to avoid the risk of damaging your precious albums. Here is there possible ways to clean the records,
- Preserve them using antistatic shielding bags
- Using rags to clean the records
- Cleaning products and kits
- Vinyl record washing machines
Out of the possibilities we have listed, the safest and easiest way is to use record cleaning brushes. Many brushes can be used for cleaning records, turntables, diamonds, and cartridges. The simpler ones only remove the dust that settles naturally on the records while others are used with a cleaning product.
For instance, The Analog Washable Silicone Cleaning Roller is a simple, fast and efficient solution to rid of record dust and dirt. It is washable with water, hence can be reused.
A simple brush like Vinyl Record Cleaning Velvet Brush can be used directly or with a vinyl cleaning product to clean the records. The Velvet Apollo brush and the Clearaudio Pure Groove Brush are soft brushes used primarily for spreading liquid cleaning products.
Anti Static brushes such as the Milty Super Exstatic Record Cleaning Brush are very soft carbon fiber brushes used for dusting, removing impurities that stain the discs, and demagnetizing them by electrostatic effect.
The Furutech SK-III brush, my favorite, has the softest and finest bristles globally, with a natural antistatic effect reinforced by acrylic fibers. Gently hold the sleeve of the brush against the brush when the Turntable is rotating. It is highly effective, clearing the dirt in no time, and listening will become more precise, detailed, and less aggressive.
7. TURNTABLE MAT
- How Silicone Turntable Platter Mats Should Be - A popular choice among lovers of jazz and classical music, our silicone rubber...
Turntable platter mats are thin disc-shaped objects that are placed upon the platter. They are used to enhance the quality of sound and minimize unwanted vibration that occurs between the record and the turntable platter.
The size and shape of the mat will be similar to the turntable platters, but the thickness varies between 1.5mm to 4mm. Design is another important feature to consider, as many people purchase them just for their design and look when no records are placed on them. The mats also protect your record’s surface, thereby avoiding unwanted damage.
The mats are made of different materials, and each material has its advantages and disadvantages. In general, thick rubber, cork, and leather turntable mat
- Rubber: These mats are slightly firmer than the felt mat but still lightweight. Rubber mats help to reduce the impact of any vibration by isolating the platter and record.
- Cork: They are economical and convenient solutions. It absorbs the vibrations of the ambient environment without harming the records and their sound quality.
- Leather: the leather platter covers and adheres much better to the platter, thus preventing resonances. In addition, they do not stick to the discs by static effects! When paired with a quality platter, the sound will be much more precise and cleaner.
- Carbon fiber: This mat is designed to reduce the possibility of static discharge but still present a smooth surface.
- Acrylic: These mats resist resonance well and reduce noise. But the sound can get duller when it is overused.
- Glass: This surface will offer you a very appealing look and smooth surface for your records, in addition to a richer sound. But in some cases, this material is said to cause “ringing” or minor higher-tone feedback.
8. TURNTABLE STAND
- Take it Back in time with the Novogratz Concord turntable stand with drawers
A turntable stand is not just another stand or piece of furniture. Its primary purpose is to isolate your turntable from any external vibrations. This stand consists of storage slots that can occupy every album giving a neat look, and also ensures long-lasting preservation of vinyl records.
Also, getting a Turntable Stand will prevent your precious records from getting damaged or deformed. They are sufficiently flat and balanced so they won’t affect the operation of the turntable.
Things to consider when getting a turntable stand:
- Start by evaluating the space you have to accommodate it.
- The style of a turntable stand should be unique in its kind and cannot go unnoticed, this is an argument of choice for those wishing to stand out.
- Ensure its ability to accommodate the records and turntable, or will it also act as a storage/TV cabinet(if needed).
Little Tip:Always store your vinyl records in a vertical position instead of stacking them on top of each other.
9. TURNTABLE NEEDLES/ STYLUS
- Diamond Ceramic Stylus. This record player needle is by diamond stylus with 4-6 grams needle forces.
The stylus, or needle, is the tiny tip (usually diamond) that traces the grooves driven into your records. It is supported by a phono cartridge, a mini electrical generator that produces a voltage (musical signal) when the stylus moves. The tonearm holds your Cartridge and stylus in place while the record spins underneath.
Most of the stylus are manufactured using diamond, as it is one of the hardest materials. Some also prefer sapphires which are pretty hard enough to endure and eliminate the damage from scratches in the vinyl records.
No matter what material it is made from, every stylus needs to be replaced after a while. Generally, you can expect to get from 1000 to 2500 hours of use out of a single stylus. A stylus takes one of four shapes:
This is the most economical type of tip and generally the most used on entry-level turntables. Its conical shape and spherical section ensure a natural placement in the center of the groove. However, at high frequencies, the reading is neither precise nor very detailed.
The spherical/conical tip is the one that offers the minor contact surface with the groove, distributed equally horizontally and vertically. This stylus is well suited to turntables whose tonearm does not provide the possibility of adjusting the Cartridge angle.
The elliptical point has a greater front radius than its lateral radius (its front face is wide, its lateral face narrow). The horizontal contact area is smaller, and the vertical contact area is higher than on a spherical/conical tip. This tapered profile at the edges offers more precise tracking of high frequencies.
The total contact surface of the stylus with the groove is also greater: it offers greater precision in the restitution of the engraved information. The elliptical tip has a wider frequency response and a lower distortion rate.
The contact tip can take different names depending on the manufacturer, but this high-end stylus adopts a specific profile derived from the elliptical profile. Much more worked, this profile offers a larger surface of contact with the groove.
Listening reveals much more detail and micro-information. High frequencies are reproduced with more finesse. The frequency response is wider, and the level of distortion is lower. At the same time, increasing the contact surface of the stylus with the groove makes it possible to reduce the contact force, and therefore the wear of the disc.
MICRO RIDGE TIP
Also called Micro Line, SAS, Dynavector, or Namiki tip is the most complex diamond cut, therefore the most expensive but also the most efficient. The Micro ridge tip offers the largest overall contact surface.
However, its specific profile gives it a very small horizontal contact area (r) and a larger vertical contact area (R). The frequency response of cells equipped with these diamonds is extremely wide. The level of detail and sense of nuance is heightened, and distortion remains very low.
10. TURNTABLE COUNTERWEIGHT
A good turntable comes with an adjustable counterweight placed on the tonearm’s rear end. It allows you to adjust and fine-tune the tracking force at the tip of the needle (vertical pressure). Since this is an essential factor, the downforce must be calibrated very precisely without reducing the sound quality and avoiding damaging your stylus and records.
- If it is too heavy, your stylus will be too light and may bump.
- If set too low compared to the manufacturer’s recommendations (of the read head), your needle will be too heavy and may cause damage to the grooves on the record.
This is the element that adjusts the tonearm and the supporting force of the phono cartridge. The downforce is specific to each phono cartridge manufacturer and can therefore differ depending on each other. Before adjusting the counterweight and the tracking force, it is important to balance the tonearm as much as you can.
11. RCA CABLES
- IN THE BOX: (1) 4 foot 2-Male to 2-Male RCA audio stereo subwoofer cable
This is one of the most famous cables for its double connector and traditionally comes in red and white. It is found on most HiFi amplifiers and audio sources. The cable called RCA or Cinch carries the analog stereo signal from your source: CD player, vinyl turntable, audio DAC, audio network player, etc., to the receiver or a HiFi power amplifier or an active speaker.
TIPS TO REMEMBER:
- If your Turntable and receiver both have an inbuilt phono preamp, then use the switch on your Turntable that lets you bypass or turn off its built-in preamp. You can also test and see which preamp sounds significantly better than the other.
- Even if your receiver has an inbuilt phono preamp, using a separate phono preamp might still improve your vinyl’s audio quality and give a good upgrade. External phono preamps often come with superior circuit quality and features to make adjustments that can help deliver a better sound experience.
12. STYLUS CLEANER
Taking care of the stylus is as important as taking care of your records. The stylus is the part of the record player that slides back and forth over the grooves of a vinyl record, translating these grooves into sound. If sufficient dust accumulates, the needle may bend, resulting in noise or severe scratching. So cleaning the stylus is mandatory, just like cleaning every side of the record.
If you don’t clean the stylus every time you play a record, any contaminant can get transferred from the record to record. And when the stylus is dragged through the groove, it will melt the vinyl instantaneously and harden it. Hence it is very important to clean the stylus before you play any record.
Cleaning the stylus is very simple. So here are the different ways to clean the stylus.
Use this brush to wipe the stylus brush back and forth against the stylus (or back to front) five to ten times. This will remove most of the clumps of dirt but if you are having trouble getting any stubborn lumps, dip the stylus brush in rubbing alcohol and try again.
It is important not to sweep from side to side as this may damage the needle or cause it to deviate from its position.
The zerodust is a small box that houses a unique and very soft gelatinous substance that precisely removes all the dust and debris from the stylus tip. All you need to do is open the box, place it on the platter and now simply lower the stylus tip onto the zerodust get.
When you lift it back, all the dirt and dust will be left behind in the gel. This is one of the easiest and most effective ways to clean the stylus, and it will last forever. Plus, it comes with a magnifying glass to check your stylus.
USING LIQUID STYLUS CLEANER
If you want to clean the stylus more thoroughly, then you can use a liquid-based cleaner to remove the stubborn grime. So the product comes in a small bottle, more like nail polish, with a brush attached to the cap. It is very simple to use, just open the cleaner bottle and wipe the brush against the bottle’s edge to remove the excess liquid from the brush.
Now carefully brush back and forth on the stylus tip to remove dirt and grime. Do not brush from the side as it can damage the cantilever arm. Leave it untouched for about 10s – 15s. Meanwhile, the solution will evaporate and remove the dirt.
You can also remove the Cartridge from the tonearm to avoid dripping excess cleaning solution on other parts of the Turntable.
13. RECORD CLEANING MACHINE
For more efficient cleaning and a complete renovation of a record, it is necessary to get a vinyl washing machine. There are two types of vinyl washing machines: manual machines and automatic machines.
MANUAL VINYL WASHING MACHINES
Manual vinyl record washing machines are more affordable than automatic ones. Often, they provide an equally effective service.
The principle of operation of a manual washing machine is quite simple. The disc is soaked vertically in a bath of cleaning solution. The disc is passed between two specially designed brushes to remove impurities without damaging the disc. You can spin the disc several times until it is clean to your liking, but you have to rotate the disk manually.
Finally, it is advisable to wipe or dry the disc with a suitable cloth. This last step is to be carried out with great delicacy.
AUTOMATIC VINYL WASHING MACHINES
Automatic washing machines are faster and more prominent than manual ones. Their operation is also slightly different. Place the record on the device and apply the quick-drying record cleaning liquid on the record’s surface. Make sure not to use an excessive amount of cleaning solution. Now switch on the machine, which then rotates the record horizontally as on a vinyl turntable.
The cleaning liquid is distributed with an applicator, then a tube with cleaning bands and a suction system passes over the entire surface of the disc. Thanks to its continuous rotation system, the automatic vinyl record washing machine will deeply clean the surface of the vinyl with guaranteed efficiency.
14. TURNTABLE SPEAKERS
- 2 x AUX INPUT - Convenient connection to any device that has a 3.5mm headphone output or dual RCA output. Connect to two devices...
Usually, the Turntables don’t come with inbuilt speakers. And obviously, you will need external speakers connected to the turntable to play the records. You can connect it to a powered active speaker with an inbuilt amplifier or you can use the passive speaker and connect it with a separate amplifier.
Using a turntable with a separate speaker has many benefits.
- If the turntable has no speakers inbuilt, then there will be fewer vibrations in the Cartridge. The lesser the vibration, the higher will be the sound quality. And the stylus downforce will not need to be at a level where records can be damaged.
- Most of the high-end turntables with high-quality parts do not have amplifiers and speakers built-in.
- And being able to connect an amplifier and speakers of much bigger size and higher quality than the ones built into record players will result in dramatically better sound quality.
15. TURNTABLE BELT
- What you get: 5 pieces turntable belt replacement with 5 Pieces record player needle, complete and enough for meeting your...
The platter rotation mechanism of the belt-drive turntable works quite differently when compared to other modern record players. Understanding the principle of the belt-drive turntable is simple – the belt is used to connect the platter and the motor.
When the motor rotates, the Drive Belt connected to it helps to move the gear, which is how the platter spins. It is generally made of rubber or some other elastic material. This system’s main advantage is that it offers a very smooth reading, prevents any parasitic vibrations, and absorbs any jerks or vibrations generated by the motor.
Belt-driven turntables are therefore particularly popular with audiophiles for their more precise sound reproduction. Lighter and more precise belt plates are very dependent on the quality of the latter. The elasticity of the belt and its tension must be calculated with extreme precision; otherwise, a stable rotational speed may not be maintained.
However, the belt can get wear and tear over time, resulting in requiring a replacement. Modern belts, however, have a very long lifespan.
16. 45 RPM ADAPTER
- 45 rpm record spindle adapter works perfect on any turntable
45 RPM adapter is the centering device for a 7-inch format disc. It is very commonly used with the 70s/90s records and is very well known as 45 RPM. The central hole of the records has a large diameter because they were used in jukeboxes. It is made of plastic or any other material, allowing you to center on the 7 inches record discs in diameter.
17. CARTRIDGE ALIGNMENT PROTRACTOR
- All-Inclusive Kit: Each kit comes with a turntable stylus digital scale and Premium PE Case. With our alignment protractor,...
The process of positioning the stylus relatively with respect to the record grooves is known as Cartridge alignment. Improper alignment can cause record distortion and can also damage your stylus.
To avoid such miscalculations, use an alignment protractor to find the correct positions and distance from the stylus tip to the tonearm.
An alignment protractor is a plastic template on which the null points and tangency lines are printed, against which the cartridge and stylus tip should be positioned.
The template is placed over the Turntable’s platter, and the Cartridge is adjusted until the cantilever comes parallel to the set of printed parallel lines on the protractor. And this should be achieved for both the indicated points.
The tracking error can be minimized once you have aligned the Cartridge’s longitudinal axis parallel with the horizontal lines.
Remember that you have to align the cantilever and stylus only when aligning a cartridge, not the cartridge body.
18. TURNTABLE DUST COVERS
- PROTECTS your turntable against dust, spills, scratches, water, and other contaminants
The purpose of having a dust cover is to protect the Turntable from dust and dirt. It not only prevents the dust from accumulating on the Turntable’s outer surface but also reduces the possibility of dust getting inside its parts. The dust covers come in different sizes, shapes, and materials. Some turntables come with a cover lid that is attached to them by default.
However, there are other alternative covers available in the market. So it’s up to you; based on the turntable setup, you need to choose the dust cover.
Benefits of having a Dust cover/Lid:
- Prevents accumulation of dust and dirt layer.
- Prevents moisture from creating some serious damage to the turntable components.
- Prevents scratches and damage to vinyl records while playing them.
19. LINT-FREE MICROFIBER CLOTH
Microfiber rags are a very soft fabric that is specially designed for wiping and drying LPs after cleaning. These rags are indispensable to prevent dust from accumulating on records. To clean the record, you must start at the center and make circles going towards the edges. If you do daily maintenance, you can do it once with a dry cloth.
However, if you see fingerprints or your reader needs a deep cleaning, you can wet the cloth with rubbing alcohol or ionized/distilled water. When you are finished with the wet cleaning, wipe everything again with a dry cloth.
Make sure your meter is 100% dry before using it again. Avoid using rough cloths because they could scratch the Turntable’s delicate record surface and other parts. Remember that a broken disc cannot be retrieved again.
Honestly, Turntables were thought doomed to disappear in the 90s, with the arrival of new technologies like CD, home theaters, music players, iPod, and much more… but vinyl has made its victorious return with hi-fi, Bluetooth, and USB turntables as well.
The vinyl record differs from its competitors not only by its tactile aspect but also by its easily identifiable sound compared to digital sources. But we have to admit that enjoying the unique sound that vinyl turntables come at a price and the installation and maintenance is essential to achieve optimum results.
We hope that these few explanations will help you better understand the components of a turntable and its use.