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Turntables, for the joy of vinyl

Sometimes it’s nice to do things without using digital devices. Using apps for this and apps for that, and using computers all day long gets tiresome.

The tangibility and physical nature of traditional vinyl records has a great appeal. The quality can be fantastic. Leaf through your record collection, pick out a disk, marvel at the cover art, put the disk on the turntable, sit the needle in the groove. Sit back. Listen.

Like an acoustic instrument, turntables are very acoustic in the way they work. A solid well made turntable with a good stylus, will sound better than a flimsy cheap plastic one with a cheap needle. Look for something nicely engineered and well made, and your unlikely to go too wrong.

When the needle rides along in the groove of a record it moves a tiny arrangement of magnets or coils in it’s stylus to produce a very slight voltage. This is not powerful enough on its own for your amplifier to pick up the signal, so you need what is called a phono-stage (also called a turntable pre-amp) to boost the signal to a line-level. Sometimes this is built into the turntable, in which case it can plug directly into your amplifier. Some HiFi amplifiers have one input which is specifically marked ‘phono input’ this means it has a turntable pre-amp built in. If you don’t have a phono-stage built into your turntable or a phono input on your amplifier, you’ll need a separate external phono-stage, which is usually a little box with a power supply.

If you have a phono stage built into both your turntable and amp, using them both together will produce a sound which is horrible and distorted. It’s usually possible to switch one of the built-on pre-amps off. If not, simply use as different input on your amp.

Okay, so we’ve figured out all of our HiFi components, now all we need to do is link them all together…