Category Archives for Record Player Parts

How Does a Turntable Work – Record Player’s Method Of Operation

Introduction – what are turntables and record players?

Phonographs were the first devices that we used to receive written (programmed) sound. Their invention can be linked to Thomas Edison, Eldridge Johnson, and Emil Berliner. These people literally made the history of music by inventing this remarkable wonder.
Shortly after the invention of phonograph, the first gramophones were made – improved variants of sound-producing units. Gramophones were superior to phonographs in virtually every possible aspect, but they paled in comparison to turntables – the record players we all love and cherish.

Record Player’s Basics

Simply speaking, record players produce sound through data transmission. The vinyl record (which is placed on the record player) transmits data to the record player which tracks it down and reproduces it in the form of a sound.

Each part of the turntable does a specific job – a motor runs the show, the tonearm holds the cartridge and the record player needle which grazes the records, ultimately, producing sound. It’s hard to describe the parts and functions of a standard record player as there are different models, each being supplied with different parts and different method of operation.

It’s important to note that there are also different types of record players, such as versatile record players, all-in-one record players, portable record players, AM/FM record players, and more. Each of these models come with special features and characteristics.

Record Player & Mechanics – Motor

There are different types of record players, and don’t be surprised if you hear the word turntable, as it, basically, mean the same thing. Furthermore, record players come with different motors. These motors are the engines (same as with a standard car), and they run the entire mechanism.

Motors usually run at 45 RPM (rotations per minute), but some record players come with selectable speeds – 33, 45, and 78 rotations per minute.

Why is this speed important? The faster the engines run, the faster the process will be. However, this is in tight correlation with the stability of your record player. Some turntables will skip, scratch, or even malfunction if the speed surpasses the stability. For instance, a turntable with a fast motor should have a heavy platter if you wish to avoid potential problems.

Understanding the basic parts of a record player

Once we understand the parts of a record player, we can easily understand how these contraptions work. Each part is tightly connected with the other. We can see how a record player functions when we know the role of each part as a standalone factor.

There aren’t many parts, so let’s just mention the key elements of every turntable – The Base, The Needle, The Arm, and the Cartridge.

The Base

The base is also called the plinth of the record player. This term is relatively new, but it definitely means the base of the construction. The base of a turntable holds the parts together, and it serves as a sheltering box for other parts. The base should be heavy if it’s to provide stability to the construction. However, there isn’t a rule that will state what the material should be.

For instance, some manufacturers make record player plinths from wood, die-cast aluminum, metal, and other parts.

The Needle

The needle is located on the record player tonearm’s end. This is what actually makes the sound. It grazes the surface of the record and deciphers data written on it. This data is converted into small vibrations (which are later converted to music).
The needle is actually very small, and it’s hard to consider it as a main part. It’s basically a sub-part of the turntable Tonearm, and it can easily get damaged, but it’s also very simple to replace. People still consider it as one of the key elements of a record player because it serves a vital function.

The Arm

The arm (or the Tonearm) of the turntable is often found on the rightmost side of the turntable plinth, and it’s often locked in place – this was done to avoid unnecessary risks of damage, lest it wanders when unused.

The Arm contains the cartridge and the needle. These two parts are crucial for the functions of a record player, as they track down music data from the record player, and convert it to music at a later point. As with the needle, the entire arm is also replaceable, but the price might not be as affordable as the needle itself. Anyway, the tonearm is also a vital element.

How to connect your record player to the computer

If you were listening to your favorite tunes on a record player or perhaps you find it enjoyable to play a song on a record player only now, maybe you have been wondering how to connect your record player to the computer, this will help you do the job easier for sure.

Anyhow, this process isn’t that hard to do and we will help you understand it easily. In the beginning, you must be sure that you have all the parts that are necessary to connect your record player to your computer.

With the little bit of patience, you should enjoy your music tunes on a computer which you connected to a record player.

How to connect your record player Basics #1 – Using the burner

There are many ways of connecting your record player to the computer, but we will show you only three ways that we find most functional and easy to do.

First, you should use an all-in-one turntable/cd burner.

Some people say that this way is the easiest of all ways to do. Every record player features a CD burner and a turntable place on the same machine. You will need to simply burn the CD in the device itself, and then take the burned CD and play it on your computer.

As we said before, this is quite easy and not hard to remember method. With this way of connecting your record player with the computer, you should not have any difficulties in listening to your favorite music.

Be aware that you might not be able to select individual tracks with this method and that can be a little bit of a down side of this way of connection.

How to connect your record player Basics #2 – USB jacks

The second way of connecting your record player to the computer is by using a USB turntable. This way is considered to be a little bit less expensive than the all-in-one units, so most of the people are choosing this way. It may seem to be the first method you will use to do the job of connecting these to machines, but this requires you to interact with the computer itself and install some software in order to do it correctly.

If you happen to have a little bit of knowledge about the software that is used for record players, you should not find any trouble in this method. Otherwise, this will be a little bit harder to do for someone who is new to all these stuff.

How to connect your record player Basics #3 – Audio interface

Third but not the least way of connecting your record player to the computer is by using an audio interface. This method is used by the people who know all the things required to do the connection between the turntable and the computer.

If you choose to go with this method, you first need to understand the difference between the ‘’line-level’’ and a ‘’phono-level’’ signal. That is why this way of connection is used by a fewer number of people. Some turntables have line-level outputs, but most of the turntables have a phono-level output. So in order to do the job here, you need to convert a phono level output to the line-level, and that is only possible with the preamp.

Using the preamp

The preamp is making it possible to balance the level of frequency and bring it to the line-level audio. Some audio interfaces have a unique phono inputs only made for to connect to the other devices. This will help you quite a lot, and it can save you some time as well.

There is also a way of connecting the old record player to the computer as well. If you happen to have a little bit older model of the record player, you should definitely find that it has an output in phono level. This only means that you need to get that phono preamp and connect it carefully to the computer and record player.

Summary and conclusion

This three ways will work on every kind of computers you have, it doesn’t matter if it a Windows or a MAC computer, you will find it very easy and functional. There are perhaps, some other ways to do these connections, but we only chose this method to go with.

Also, there is only one more thing left to do when you finish the connection between the record player and the computer, and that thing is to enjoy the music as much as you want. Use your headphones, or play it out loud on your speakers. That is all up to you to decide, the only thing that is certain is that you will have fun and enjoy it.

Record Player Stylus – When should you change it?

Most record players are built in such a way that they’re able to withstand quite a lot of punishment, but the truth is, some parts are fragile and prone to malfunction if not maintained properly. One of those parts is the record player stylus.

The record player stylus is the turntable needle, the small part which “scratches” the surface of your vinyl records which in turn creates music. Since the process of how record player needles track and create music is quite long, let’s just see what turntable stylus is, how to maintain it, and how will you know when you need to change it.

Record Player Stylus – what’s the worst that could happen?

Before we jump to the section where we will explain how to know when to change the stylus on your turntable, we have to stress the importance of doing so. Now, not only your record player stylus is at stake, the entire record player and your vinyl records could be damaged as well.

  • The best case scenario – only your turntable stylus gets damaged. Since there is a manifold of replaceable parts (which are usually pretty cheap), the best thing apart of no damage whatsoever could be damage on the stylus.
  • The situation would be more delicate if the stylus ended up damaging your record player too. This can easily happen if the stylus damage is neglected. There’s a possibility of some small parts sticking in the construction of your record player.
  • If you’re a real music enthusiast who loves his (or hers) vinyl records, the worst case scenario would be their ruination. As all needles are sharp, record player stylus is not an exception, and it can damage your records if you do not act in time.

When should you replace your turntable stylus?

There are many indicators that something’s wrong with your turntable stylus, but we’ll name only the most common causes of record player needle malfunctions:

Record player skipping parts

This is definitely the most common red alert signal that indicates that there’s something wrong with your turntable stylus. If your turntable skips any song part when you play it, the odds are that it’s the stylus that’s bugging you.

If you have no experience with these problems, let’s be clear on the point. The frequentness of this problems is not important. The parts are also irrelevant – whether it’s the beginning of the song, the middle part, or the ending.

The stylus scratches the surface of the record player, and, if all is well, the song should play out smoothly. However, once the record player needle gets damaged or defective, it will fall out of place. Actually, the only thing you need to know is that every record player needle follows a pre-determined path. The skipping indicates that your record player needle has strayed off the path it was meant to follow.

Odd, irregular sounds and tones

The quality of sound output is usually determined by the quality of the record player itself, but there are cases when defective turntable stylus lowers the overall quality of the reproduced sound. The main method of operation of any record player involves actual scratching, so you might experience odd and peculiar sounds (especially if your record player doesn’t usually hiss or hum).

Again, this is a cause for alarm, and you should definitely consider replacing your record player stylus. Even though this problem appears less frequently when compared to record player skipping parts, it’s one of the top indicators of mild to serious stylus malfunctions.

Peculiar volume shifts

Basically, every turntable comes with a special knob (button, or other settings) that allows you to easily manipulate the volume intensity. If, by chance, the volume shifts, your record player stylus, cartridge, or any other hardware piece might be defective.

This problem is quite peculiar, as there are several possible culprits (which excludes the educated presumption that your record player stylus has malfunctioned). If you want to stay on the safe side, you should take your record player in for repairs.

The turntable stylus scratches the surface of the record at a correct angle. To do so, a proper record player stylus remains balanced by special weights. If the angle is off (possibly due to weight), the stylus could run deeper or shallower, which, in turn, results in unpredictable volume shifts.

How to avoid these problems?

A bad record player stylus could easily ruin your day in as much as a few seconds. Imagine that you just woke up fresh. Now, all you have to do is just put on your favorite record.

Scratching sounds, skipped parts, unpredictable volume shifts – you will have these problems if your record player stylus is defective.

There are various reasons why people want to prevent these problems from happening rather than fixing them when they occur. If you’re that type of person, we offer a solution. Feel free to consult the list of our tips and tricks for general prevention:

  1. Always have a spare replaceable turntable stylus. These replacement parts are usually quite cheap. Most importantly, they would spare you the trouble of taking your record player for repairs
  1. Never stop your records until the song has completely finished playing
  1. Always check the weight ratio of your record player stylus
  1. Use the buttons and locks for your record player rather than forcing the needle
  1. Never, ever use force

Conclusion

We’ve gone through the possible scenarios, listing what could happen if you’re not careful with your record player stylus. If you’ve been paying attention, you will definitely know how to change your record player stylus. You will know when to change it. Most importantly, you will know how to prevent the damage altogether. We hope that this short instructional article was helpful, and we wish your record player all the best.

Top Record Player Upgrades

Introduction

Usually, we think that we’ve hit jackpot when we buy the turntable we wanted, but what if we can improve the sound we already adore? Turntable upgrades are basically superior turntable parts. Since most record player parts can be replaced, this replacement often means an improvement.
You don’t need to replace the parts on your record player only when they break down – the manufacturers are so innovative these days that the market receives a bulk of turntable upgrades on a daily basis.

Literally speaking, each day brings us superior turntable parts, so you should just check what’s on the menu every once in a while, and you can find perfect upgrades for your record player.

What are turntable upgrades and why should you consider them?

As we’ve already mentioned, turntable upgrades are various bits, pieces, and turntable parts that are supposed to improve the overall quality of your record player. There are some parts that are exclusive for certain record player models, but there are also versatile upgrades that can be implemented in the design of any turntable.

This is also the only thing you need to worry about – make sure that you buy those upgrades that can be installed into your record player.

You should consider purchasing vinyl upgrades for many reasons. First of all, you can never be truly satisfied with how your record player sounds. That is, if all the parts are standard issue. Furthermore, some parts are simply better than others. Another reason why you should consider upgrading your turntable involves broken, outdated, and defective parts.

Your record player can always get better. There’s no end to modification once you get hooked onto it, as replacement and upgrade parts are fairly cheap when compared to the entirely new purchase of a record player.

Types of turntable upgrades

The list of turntable upgrades is basically a list of turntable parts – each part serves a simple function which can be upgraded:

  • Turntable Tonearm

The tonearm is one of the crucial parts of every turntable. It’s basically the arm that performs sweeping motions across your vinyl records. It also holds the cartridge and the turntable stylus. You should consider purchasing your tonearm once it slows down, or once the stylus and the cartridge become unstable while attached to it.

  • Turntable Cartridge (Phono)

The cartridge governs the performance of your vinyl records, and by upgrading it you’ll upgrade the overall sound quality of your record player. Cartridges can be purchased cheap, but there are models that cost above $100.

  • Turntable Stylus

The stylus is also called the turntable needle. This part reads the information on vinyl records and performs the process that’s called tracking and reading. A good record player needle means better sound.

  • Mat

The mat of the turntable is basically a record player support. The stability of your turntable largely depends on this factor. Upgrades of record player mats involve more beautiful models, but also the ones that look better than the one you have.

Top turntable upgrade parts

Round Lazy Susan Table Centerpiece – Breadboard with Beech Inlay Stripes 16”


Round Lazy Susan’s Breadboard Table centerpiece is very beautiful, but it’s also quite expensive. This is a matt upgrade, and you should consider it if you want to improve the outward appearance and stability of your record player.

Pro-Ject: Acryl-It Platter Upgrade


Pro-Ject makes some of the best record players on the market. Their Acryil-It can only be compared to their other products. This is a phenomenal platter upgrade which is moderately expensive, but worth the cash.

Tech Play Gold, pack of 2, Diamond Tipped Needle for Turntable – Standard Needle Upgrade


Tech Play’s Diamond Tipped needles are compatible with most Jensen, Teac, Numark, and Crosley record players. Basically, these needles will enhance the overall sound output of your record players. The price is fair, and the quality is phenomenal.

Pro-Ject: Leather-It Platter Mat, Black

Plainly speaking, Leather-It is the same as Acryil-it. The only differences are in the material (which is obvious), and the price. Pro-Ject’s Leather-It platter mat is cheaper than most mat upgrades.

Audio-Technica: ATN95E Replacement Stylus for AT95E & AT-LP120

If you own Audio-Technica AT95E or AT-LP120 (two of audio-technica’s most famous models), the ATN95E stylus is something you will want to have. This record player stylus is simply superior when compared to other models, and it’s fairly cheap too.

This turntable stylus falls into the moderately expensive price point category, but it’s certainly valuable for the money.

Technics Turntable Parts

Turntable parts – introduction

Record players come in a manifold of variations – cheap, expensive, durable, high-end, urban, DJ, and other. Now, we all love these beautiful contraptions. We seldom think about what to do in the case when they start to hum, vibrate, or break down.

The best thing about record players is that you don’t need to be a professional mechanic to fix this. Most of the parts are pretty easy to replace. All you need to do is simply get the part you need, pull out the part that malfunctioned, and replace it.

Most of the record player parts are pretty inexpensive, but we’re mainly interested in Technics turntable parts. This is a very reputable brand that offers a wide catalog of turntables, and their corresponding replacement parts.

How can you best utilize these record player parts?

People often refer to record player parts as the “replacement” parts, but that’s not necessarily true. These parts can be used in a more creative way – there are parts that can actually upgrade the performance level of your record player.

Now, it’s up to you (and the situation you are in) to decide what is the best solution for you:

  • Replacing a record player part

This is a straightforward challenge – with a little know-how and effort you can get your record player back in a working condition in no time. Most parts are very easy to replace, but there are some where the process is not so obvious.

Such is the case with record player counter weight, for example. However, there are parts that simply need to be plucked out from their base – the turntable stylus is the best example for that.

  • Upgrading your record player

There are parts that can easily improve the performance of your record player. If you’re not satisfied with the sound output, you could always get a better record player needle. If your record player used to play flawlessly, but now it’s humming, this might mean that you need a better (and more durable) belt for its motor.

Now, there are some parts that can’t be repaired or upgraded unless you are really proficient with tools. This is the case with the turntable plinth. The record player plinth is usually referred to as the “record player base”, so you’re in quite a trouble if you managed to damage this part.

If that’s the case, you should never tinker with it, and we recommend that you take it to a professional for repairs. This is, however, a standalone case, and nearly all of the other parts can be replaced with minimum effort and time.

Best technics turntable parts review

Platinum Power Turntable Belt for Technics record players

record player output

Belt is one of the most durable parts of the record player, but it still can get damaged or worn from time to time. If the performance of your record player is odd, there are high chances that the belt is damaged (if your turntable is belt-driven, that is).

This turntable belt can replace the one for SL-200, SL-210, SL-220, SL-31, SL-33, SL-B200, and SL-B210. It’s definitely cheap, and replacing it yourself is always a better option than taking it in for repairs. The manufacturers also provide a 1-year warranty on replacement.

Technics Belt for old record players

digital phonograph

Most people don’t possess the knowledge to determine the problem with certainty, and if you’re one of them, you might want to read further. Belt-driven turntables start to hum and vibrate once their belt gets worn, so replacing it might save you some cash when compared to the solution of actually buying a new one.

This turntable belt is extremely cost-effective, and it’s a standard-issue technics belt that could be used as a replacement for worn or damaged belts on most of their record player models.

Technics Belt for old record player
List Price: $6.19
Price: $6.19
Price Disclaimer

Technics P-AM18201K1 original replacement tonearm for SL1200MK2/3 Panasonic

vinyl player usb

This is a replacement tonearm for Technics SL1200 MK II and III. This tonearm is exactly the same as the one that’s supplied to SL1200 MKII, so if yours gets broken down, there are high chances that you couldn’t do much about it except to replace it.

Now, tonearms are pretty delicate – they are the key component in any record player’s structure. Tonearms (with the help of the record player needle) produce the sound, so it’s often wise to replace yours when you notice that there are problems.

This record player needle, however, is quite expensive, but its cost is approximately the same as the stock tonearm that was supplied to the original turntable. The only downfall is that this turntable tonearm can count as a replacement for SL1200 MK II and MK III only.

Technics P-AM18201K1 replacement tonearm is very attractive, it was made in Japan, so it’s safe to say that it’s pretty durable, and it has all the specifications as the original model. Great value for the price.

Technics EPS-24CS Stylus

12 record player

Turntable stylus (or the turntable “needle”) is one of the record player parts that’s the easiest to replace. These parts, however, are also quite prone to breaking down, so there are a lot of ways in which you can benefit from this product.

Since Technics EPS-24CS record player stylus is cheap, you should definitely consider buying it when your turntable needle breaks. If that’s not the case, having one around is always good, as you never know when the disaster may strike.

This record player needle model is neatly tucked inside a small storage compartment where it’s safe from any harm until you need it, so you need not fret about the storage part.

Technics EPS-24CS Stylus only
List Price: $13.23
Price: $13.23
Price Disclaimer

Technics Dust Cover for SL1200 and SL1210 MKII

vinyl turntable with speakers

Dust cover is one of the less important record player parts when compared to the vital components – the motor, record player stylus, the belt, and so on. However, that does not mean that it doesn’t have a crucial role – it guards your record player from dust.

Now, you may think that dust can’t do much damage to your record player. If that’s the case, you would be wrong. Dust particles are so tiny that you can’t get rid of them by simply brushing your record player from time to time, and they form a thin, invisible layer on your turntable over time.

This often has the ruination of the turntable platter as a result, but there are cases of severe damages as well. All you need to know is that record player dust covers come in specific dimensions, which means that you can’t just put any cover on any record player.

This dust cover was made by Technics for their SL1200 and SL1210 MKII models, it’s very effective, quite durable, but it’s also quite expensive.

Technics Replacement Ground Wire SJPB7M

record deck

Ground wire is the part that connects the machine to the electric power supply. Now, this is the very basic definition of what it is and what it does, but the situation with record player ground wires is somewhat different. You can’t just plug any wire in a turntable and expect it to work.

These parts are often layered with a protective tape, and most manufacturers make them to match the needs of their record players. Technics ground wire replacement part (SJPB7M) can only work with Technics SLBD280, Technics SLBD10, Technics SLBD20, Technics SLBD20D, Technics SLDD33, and Technics SLJ33 record players.

Sadly, this replacement turntable ground wire can’t work when equipped to the Technics 1200 record player models.

Technics Replacement foot for Technics 1200 SFGC122-04E

pictures of old record players

The foot (or feet, depending on the model) of a record player provide stability. Without them, it’s pretty obvious that the record player couldn’t stand upright, but there are turntable models that were built in such a way that they are supposed to simply “lay flat” on the surface where you place them.

Some record player models, however, come equipped with a set of “feet” that are pretty durable. Anyhow, these turntable parts are not impervious to damage, and there’s a possibility that they might break.

They are, however, very easy to replace – simply pull them counter-clockwise until they’re out. This might be pretty difficult if your record player is heavy, but that shouldn’t be the case with the models that this replacement foot is compatible with – Technics SL1200 MKII, MKII, MK IIID, and MK5.

Keep in mind that this replacement part is quite expensive, but so are these turntables. The price of these legs is calculated in the bill, so the stock turntable legs of these models are equally expensive as each replacement model.

Technics SL-23 Turntable Platter SFTE023L01

record player supplies

Record platter is the place where you put your records. The turntable needle “scratches” them to make the sound come out, and that’s pretty much all there is to it. Now, different record player models come supplied with record platters of various materials – some are extremely durable but rigid, some are not so durable.

If the latter is the case, you should not be surprised if your turntable record platter gets scratched, damaged, or broken. This is, however, not the cause for alarm. Most manufacturers offer a quick and easy way to replace what’s been broken. Such is the case with Technics SFTE023L01 record platter.

This replacement part should be used with Technics turntables from the SL series, and it’s pretty affordable and valuable for the price.

2SETS Technics P-AM18201K1 Turntable Tone arm

online record player

As we mentioned before, the record player tonearm is a very delicate contraption. In most cases, these record player parts are pretty durable, and most people don’t have the need to replace theirs. However, there are times when these little parts get damaged. It’s best if you replace them straight away so that you may enjoy your vinyl records once more.

This record player set include two Technics P-AM18201K1 record player tonearms.  You could use one to immediately replace the one that has been damaged or broken, and you could use the other to keep it as a spare.

Technics Tone Arm Base Assembly for SL1200MKII black

vinyl record players best buy

The tonearm base is a part that holds the record player tonearm, and it’s often as durable as the tonearm. Now, there’s a slight possibility of this part being damaged, so it’s smart to have a spare at all times.

This tiny contraption is pretty delicate, and it includes various small parts in its design. Technics Tonearm base was made to serve as a replacement part for the Technics SL1200 MK2 turntable. It’s for that record player only. It’s not exactly cheap, but it does exactly the same job as the original part.

Technics RGS0010A turntable sheet Panasonic SL-1200MK3/MK4 DJ item parts audio mixer

technics rgs0010a

Turntable sheet serves the same function as the record player platter. Now, various turntables have different designs. Some use a sheet while some use a platter. Audiophiles across the world have been involved in a dispute which is better of the latte. However, they couldn’t get a straight conclusion.

The only thing that’s for certain is that the platter is more durable while the sheet is more practical. Anyway, this could give you a clear picture on why you should always have a spare at hand. These things are prone to breaking down all the time, especially if the record player is cheap.

This model serves as a replacement part for the Technics SL-1200 MK3 and MK4, and it’s extremely affordable.

Technics Counter Weight/Tone arm balance weight for technics 1200 (SFPWG17201K)

technics counter weight

The Counter weight (or the balance weight) keeps the tonearm in check. This part is used to adjust the weight and the pressure the tonearm puts on your vinyl records. You can only imagine how delicate this contraption must be to have such an important role.

Now, these things are naturally pretty durable and sturdy, but (as with all turntable parts), it could get damaged. If you’re the owner of a Technics 1200 turntable, this is the part you need.

Best Turntable Needles 2016 – 2017

Introduction – What is a turntable Needle?

Every turntable is comprised of various components, and one of the most important ones is the needle. The needle of a turntable is also referred to as “the stylus”, so if you happen to stumble upon this term don’t worry, it means the same thing essentially.

There are two main reasons why you should consider purchasing another needle, and those are:

  • Replacing your old turntable needle
  • Upgrading your existent needle

Both of these reasons are legit for both older and newer versions of turntables as people have different tastes in music. Some turntables are equipped with needles that might provide the sound some people will like while some won’t. Anyhow, we’re here to provide you with the basic knowledge about best turntable stylus models, why to replace them, how, and when, so let’s begin.

When should you replace your turntable needle?

You might not have known this, but most turntable needles actually have a very long lifespan. Most stylus models were made to last for quite a while, but it’s quite obvious that their efficiency will wear off after prolonged usage. Anyhow, every time you tinker with your turntable, you bear the risk of damaging it, so replacing your turntable needle should only be done in several situations:

If the turntable stylus is missing, it’s obvious that it needs replacement

This is the only situation when you absolutely have to replace your turntable needle. It is obvious enough that you won’t be able to enjoy your music unless there’s a stylus, and the risk of damaging your turntable is significantly reduced – most people have a problem of plucking out the needle before they install another one.

If your turntable stylus is physically damaged

We don’t imply that your turntable stylus needs to be broken, per se. Even the slightest damages will result in decreased performance of your turntable, but that’s not the half of it – damaged turntable needles are prone to malfunction, and they might end up scratching your records. You don’t want that to happen, so we recommend that you replace your turntable stylus.

If you want to upgrade your turntable performance

Most people are content with their first turntable because they are unaware of the advantages that superior models offer. Once you’ve listened to music from several turntable models you will know the difference, and you will definitely ask “why is this turntable so good?”.

The answer might not be so easy to give since it could be derived from the turntable design, interior mechanism, or stylus. Anyhow, we can say with certainty that better stylus means better music performance, so this is one of the legitimate reasons why you should replace your former turntable needle.

The cartridge plays an important role in the performance of your turntable stylus

If you’re new to turntables but really want to get the maximum potential out of your model, you should know that the cartridge has an important impact on how your turntable stylus performs. We will be short on this one – the cartridge represents a rectangular object where the needle is plugged.

Since we’re more interested in turntable needles, let’s break it down – the combination of the turntable stylus and the turntable cartridge affects how your turntable will sound. There are more expensive models of both the stylus and cartridge models, but you can compensate for a mediocre cartridge by purchasing a high-quality needle.

There are several reasons why we advocate high-quality needles over cartridges:

  • Turntable needles are usually easier to replace;
  • They are commonly less expensive than cartridges;

However, there’s just one reason why all cartridge models are superior to any turntable stylus model – the cartridges never wear out, which is not the case with turntable stylus models. With that said, let’s look at some of the best turntable needles.

Top 5 Turntable Needles

TechPlay Gold Diamond tipped needle for turntables

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TechPlay package of upgrade turntable needles offers a quick way to improve the performance of your turntable at a bargain price. Each needle has a Diamond head, they’re both very easy to install, and they’re compatible with most turntable products.
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Pros

  • Pack of 2 Diamond tip turntable needles;
  • Ideal way to upgrade your former turntable needles;
  • Compatible with most Jensen, JMC, Teac, Numark, ION, and Crosley turntables;
  • One of the best turntable stylus packs;

Cons

eXuby Record Player Needle with Diamond Tip 3-pack

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These turntable needles are superior to most starter stylus models. These diamond needles ensure the quality sound performance of your turntable device, and they’re capable of lasting for up to 1000 hours. Since they’re able to last this long, they will preserve the quality of your records without laying a single scratch on them.

You don’t require any tools to install these turntable needles and they’re compatible with Jensen, Crosley, TechPlay, Teac, Numark, and other turntable models. Very valuable, but quite expensive.
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Pros

  • High-quality sound performance;
  • They last for up to 1000 hours of playtime;
  • Require no tools to install;

Cons

Crosley NP1 Replacement Needle

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A standard Crosley replacement Needle, the NP1 model is affordable, reliable, and extremely efficient. This replacement stylus is manufactured with high-quality plastic materials, but, sadly, it’s not compatible with the first generation of Crosley Stack-O-Matic and second generation of Cr248 record players.
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Pros

  • Very affordable;
  • Extremely reliable and efficient;
  • High-grade plastic components;

Cons

Pfanstiehl Vinyl Record Player 793-D7M Diamond Needle Stylus

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Even though the package indicates that this replacement needle is suitable for Pfanstiehl products, the measurements and dimensions are quite similar to that of most other turntable needles. It’s one of the cheapest turntable stylus models, and it’s equipped with a metal cantilever.
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Pros

  • Ideal for Pfanstiehl products;
  • Works well at speeds of 16, 33, and 35 rotations per minute;
  • Equipped with a metal cantilever;

Cons

Boytone Pack of 2 Sapphire Tipped Ceramic Replacement Needle for Turntables

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The last model in our review is Boytone Sapphier Tipped Ceramic needle replacements. They offer high quality and decent durability, but they’re mainly focused on Boytone record players (even though you could use them for Crosley and Jensen models). They are able to provide a lot of playtime before they wear out and are extremely affordable.
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Pros

  • Compatible with Boytone record players, Crosley CR6019A up to CR248, and Jensen JTA 22 up to JTA 470;
  • Very affordable;
  • Decently durable and highly reliable replacement stylus;

Cons

Best Phono Cartridge under 200 dollars!

Introduction – What is a turntable phono cartridge?

This little mechanical device is used to convert the vibrations sent turntable needle into a special, electrical signal. This transmission is later received and amplified before it reaches the final stage – sound.

What is a phono cartridge made of – parts and terminology

The cartridge is comprised of five basic components – the cantilever, some magnets, coils, the stylus, and body:

  • The cantilever is commonly made of aluminum (boron material is also quite regular), but manufacturers that boast the best turntable models often equip their cantilever with exotic gemstones;
  • The turntable needle (stylus) is one of the most important parts, and you can find turntable needles in two different shapes – they’re either elliptical or spherical. The Elliptical stylus models are able to pick up larger doses of information. The spherical stylus models are placed in the higher position, wearing down at a slower pace;
  • The magnets and coils combined generate the music signal made by the information gathered from the stylus;
  • The body of the turntable cartridge is affixed to the turntable tonearm, giving the mechanical bits and pieces a solid, stationary platform to operate with the highest precision;

How does a phono cartridge work?

There are a lot of types of magnets and coils that were implemented in the phono cartridges over the past century – in the early 1950’s the magnetic cartridges have replaced the usual ceramic pick-ups (crystal pick-ups were also popular, but they were really expensive). The less common types are Moving Micro Cross & Moving Iron turntable cartridges.

It would take forever to explain how each type works, so let’s get down to the point – how phono cartridges work. The best low-cost cartridges usually implement the use of the moving magnet design. With this design, the cantilever has a small magnet, located between the two sets of copper coils (fixed position), which form a small electromagnetic generator. The magnet then vibrates as it responds to the needle, inducing a small current between the coils.

Mainly because the small magnet has a small mass value (and because it’s not coupled with the generator itself – such was the case with ceramic cartridges), the turntable needle requires less force to follow the groove.

What’s the difference between a premium quality and a mediocre cartridge?

Knowing how a cartridge works and what’s it comprised of tells us the difference between a mediocre one and a premium quality one. It’s important to note that cartridge’s cost does not affect its longevity – they generally never wear.

Those turntable cartridges that are poorly designed produce less amount of electric friction which either burdens the turntable needle forcing it to wear down in a more rapid manner, or causing it to work with reduced accuracy when compared to the more expensive counterparts.

These differences sound grave when we put it down scientifically, but only people with sharp hearing might notice a crucial difference – these are small parts that act in the symbiosis with various other tiny fragments of the turntable, but they do affect the overall sound performance.

What can you expect of a turntable cartridge below $200?

First of all, $200 is a considerable sum of money when it comes to the turntable investment. Most record players that boast quite a value cost this much altogether, but you would be surprised at what an expensive turntable cartridge can give you.

It’s safe to say that $200 “today” isn’t that much when turntable cartridges are in question – most record players come equipped with standard models of cartridges that have only a considerable amount of impact on the overall performance. If you want to upgrade your cartridge, paying $200 or less is a necessity.

These cartridges can offer you more than what you get with your record player, but less when compared to the best cartridge models. It also varies from product to product – some manufacturers have their prices up with no actual reason for that while some genuinely have that value.

Top 5 Picks For Best Phono Cartridge Under 200 Dollars

Audio-Technica AT311EP Universal Mount Phono Turntable Cartridge

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If you remember the part when we mentioned the Moving magnets, Audio-Technica AT95E is the model which implements them in their use. Audio-Technica is well known for the quality they offer with each product, and AT95E is not an exception – it’s quite on the contrary. This model has a needle guard, it’s supplied with high specifications, and it boasts extreme reliability and durability.
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Pros

  • Precision engineering;
  • Frequency of response between 15 and 27000 Hz;
  • Bonded shank stylus construction;
  • Load impedance – 47000 ohms;
  • Channel Balance – 1.25 dB;

Cons

Shure M97xE High-Performance Magnetic Phono Cartridge

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Shure M97xE is a version of V15VxMR cartridge which was discontinued. The earlier version had higher specifications, but a much higher price as well (which was one of the reasons why it was discontinued). It does not put a lot of pressure on the turntable stylus and is able to track down virtually everything. It’s designed with a special side-guard turntable needle protection which limits the needle and cantilevers potential damage. Excellent value for a reasonable price.
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Pros

  • High-performance cartridge with diamond tip;
  • Accurately reproduces musical passages, even if they’re incredibly difficult compositions;
  • Side-guard system;
  • Viscous-damped stabilizer;

Cons

Ortofon – 2M Red MM Phono Cartridge

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Ortofon 2M Red is a product of collaboration between Ortofon and Moller Jensen Design – another perfect example of how moving magnets can change your musical experience. The 2M red offers an improvement in the engine, an elliptical stylus shape, and incredible separation.
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Pros

  • Trademark split pole pins;
  • Elliptical stylus shape;
  • Improved engine – 5.5mV output;
  • Moderate price;

Cons

Sumiko – Pearl MM Phono Cartridge

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Pearl is definitely the best model in Sumiko’s Oyster Series which offers incredible performance at a bargain price. Some of the best features Pearl MM can offer you are the exquisite tracking ability, high-power generating system, and reduced sonic interference.
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Pros

  • Frequency of response between 12hz and 30KHz;
  • Channel Separation – 30 decibels;
  • Elliptical stylus shape;

Cons

Grado Prestige Black 1.5 Mount Turntable Cartridge

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This is one of the six Grado products of the Prestige Series – each model is paired in colors, and each pair gradually increases in performance specs and price. The Black1 is the least expensive (and offers the lowest specifications), but it’s still able to give quite a lot while demanding but a speck of what it can offer you.
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Pros

  • Elliptical Diamond which is mounted in the brass bushing;
  • Frequency of response ranges between 10 and 50;
  • Reconfigured coil;

Cons

Best Turntable Preamp reviews 2016 – 2017

Introduction – What is a turntable preamp?

The Turntable preamp is commonly called the turntable phono stage (or turntable preamplifier), and it’s an electronic form of a circuit that applies amplification to the signals which are coming from the cartridge, sending it further to the power amplifier input (or an audio system).

The signal which comes from the turntable needle is actually extremely low so it needs to be amplified for more than a dozen hundred times before it reaches a standard level (commonly known as AUX). Plainly speaking, the preamp is used to connect your record player to the amp, converting the phono levels to line levels.

How does it work?

Basically, the turntable preamp serves a purpose of amplifying the signal which comes from the needle. Some needles (turntable stylus) can be adjusted, some are heavy while some are light and send signals of the lowest frequencies, but all these signals are so low that they need proper amplification before they can become music.

The preamp is the bridge between your turntable and the amp – if we would observe a theoretical viewpoint where the turntable plays music through the amp alone, we could easily note that the music output would be raw, and maybe even unpleasant for human ears.

The signals sent from the turntable stylus may be somewhat accurate, but the amplification without a preamp is too vehement – preamp can finely and accurately redefine that signal and boost it to the point where it can become a note, a chord, or a song.

Here’s a visual of how to connect a turntable preamp to an amp and turntable:

What to look out for when you search for your Turntable Preamp

Looking for the best record player built in preamp is extremely hard, even if you have some knowledge of turntable tech. There are various models that offer similar features, and most attributes and benefits are not visible by naked eye – each record player built in preamp features tiny parts which work on a micro-scale towards the improvement of performance of your turntable.

By saying this, there are a couple of things you ought to look out for:

  • The first thing you should consider should be compatibility

Some models can only be paired with similar types while some turntable preamp models can be attached to any speakers or turntable models, but with reduced efficiency. Inquire about the type of magnets and coils of your turntable and search for similar preamp;

  • RIAA equalization is extremely important

RIAA equalization determines the sound output at different frequencies, ranging from the lowest to the highest possible. Some models excel in balancing this scale while some are not so proficient.

  • Adding a couple $ more could mean a lot

Record player built in preamp models are usually cheap, but there are some very expensive models. If you are in a dilemma between two models that cost nearly the same, always opt for the one that costs more. These little contraptions will last for quite a while, so by investing a couple of dollars more you will benefit greatly.

Best Turntable Preamps reviews

ART Pro Audio DJPRE II Phono Turntable Amplifier

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ART Pro DJ PRE-II gives you means to boost your turntable performance for a bargain price. It’s exceptionally affordable, and it’s meant for both professional and home usage. It comes supplied with low noise phono (preamplification) circuitry which is very accurate and conforms to all RIAA standards.

Anyhow, one of the most useful features is the low-cut filter. It helps you remove a decent amount of rumble and background noise in your turntable performance, and it’s a great combination with the gain control knob – you can customize your sound with ease.

There’s one small problem, however – DJ PRE-II does not feature a power switch, so you can’t just shut it down or power it up. It will constantly drain energy unless unplugged. This downfall, however, can be avoided if you use it rationally, only when you intend to use your turntable or to tinker with it.

One of the best record player built in preamp models on the market, definitely.
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Pros

  • Very affordable;
  • RCA input and output;
  • Ground terminal;
  • Adapter included;

Cons

Behringer MICROPHONO PP400 Ultra-Compact Phono Preamp

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A small Behringer preamp which purpose is to boost the signal input from your turntable up to the point when it reaches the line level. One of its most important features is simplicity – it serves a single function and it’s doing it great.

The Behringer PP400 is a catalyst that balances the power of the signals which come from turntable stylus, amplifying it just enough so that it can be made audible when received by your turntable’s speakers. It comes supplied with RCA, RCA inputs, and a handy power indicator. This set also includes the DC adapter.
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Pros

  • One of the best record player built in preamp models on the market;
  • Low-noise audio amp;
  • Dedicated RCA;
  • DC adapter included in the set;

Cons

Rolls VP29 Phono Preamp

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Rolls VP29 provides a simple way to effectively boost the signal from your turntable. It’s very compact and reliable, and it comes at a satisfactory price. The circuitry of VP29 provides the RIAA balanced equalization curve, and it operates smoothly and quietly. It comes supplied with two RCA inputs, a ground terminal type of connection, and two RCA stereo outputs.

This model also features increased flexibility due to the separate stereo output (0.125-inch). It’s corded and powered by electricity, but it’s extremely portable and doesn’t take up any space wherever you place it. It definitely deserves the place among the best record player built in preamp models that money can buy.
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Pros

  • RIAA equalization;
  • Noiseless operation;
  • Separate 0.125-inch stereo output;
  • AC adapter comes with the set;

Cons

TCC Tc-750LC Black Professional Moving Magnet Preamp

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The TC-750LC is an improvement of the older model (TC-750) by TCC with more balanced RIAA curve, higher performance, and at a bit higher price. Anyhow, it sounds exceptionally great, and this upgraded added an adjustable output – the overall performance of records raised the bar because it allows calculated setting of the recorded levels.

This improved version also included the 1%-tolerance resistors which give a precise RIAA equalization curve. It’s versatile enough to be useful for PCs, sound cards, audio systems, and turntable models, but the possible field of use for this model stretches even further.
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Pros

  • Remarkably versatile;
  • Pinpoint precision of RIAA Equalization;
  • Ideal for both recording and music listening;

Cons

Music Hall Mini MM Phono Pre-Amplifier

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There’s a couple of things you need to know before we even begin – Music Hall Mini represents a moving magnet preamp that should be used with moving magnet (or moving coil) cartridges. The results could be different if the overall settings were any different.

Anyhow, this magnet preamp amplifies the RIAA equalized signal to the line-level signal in the blink of the eye, and it comes supplied with a 3.5-inch mini-jack output and the usual RCA jacks. The 3.5-inch output lets you connect this preamp to any analog input speakers. Very durable and reliable, but still far from perfect – it’s not too versatile and it costs top dollar.
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Pros

  • Exceptional performance;
  • Great RIAA equalization;
  • Phenomenal when used with high-end technology;

Cons