Turntable FAQ's

HOURS: Sunday-Monday: CLOSED ~ Tuesday-Friday: 10-6 ~ Saturday: 10-5:30

What’s the deal with record players?

If you’re new to vinyl, don’t worry. This page hopes to get you quickly up to speed so you can compare different models of turntables with ease. Follow along with these questions to learn all you’ll need to know to get started.

What are the parts of a record player?

The plinth is the base of the record player; it is usually made of wood or metal and supports all the rest of the components. The platter is the place where you set your record. The motor (just to be pedantic) spins the platter to turn the record. The cartridge is responsible for holding the needle (or stylus) and fits onto the arm (sometimes called a tonearm) that moves across the record as you play through the tracks. The arm is supported by the queuing device that lowers the arm gently onto the record.

What is the deal with direct drive vs. belt drive?

In a direct drive turntable, the motor is connected directly to the platter (usually sits right underneath). Since vinyl produces sound by dragging the stylus over microscopic indentations in the surface of the record, the vibration of the motor gets transferred to the record. In a belt drive, the motor sits of to the side and is connected to the platter by a belt (hence the name). While this does not remove all vibration, since both are still on the same plinth, belt drive turntables have appreciably better signal to noise ratio than direct drive.

What is a phono pre-amp? Do I need one?

As was already mentioned, record players make sound by transmitting the vibrations of the needle caused by the bumps in the record. In fact, if you turn a record player on in a quiet room, you can hear the song even without amplification. The sound, however, is very faint. Before the signal can be put into a receiver, it needs to be converted to what is called “line-level” strength. This is accomplished by means of a pre-amp. Some receivers have a set of “phono-in” plugs and have a built in pre-amp – though any purist will tell you that these tend to be of lower quality than a stand alone preamp. Similarly, some turntables have a built in pre-amp; although this tends to just be another source of noise in the signal coming out of the stylus and is not found on higher quality tables. Thus, whether or not you need a pre-amp will depend on the quality of your table and on your receiver.

Why do some cartridges cost more than others?

The construction of a cartridge can take one of two forms. Moving magnet or moving coil. Moving magnet cartridges often have a replaceable stylus, moving coil do not since the stylus is connected directly to the cartridge. Cartridges can vary in tone quality (warmth of sound etc…) and weight. More money does not always mean better sound; it is a matter of preference.

Why do some tables cost more than others?

Aside from the variation in the stock cartridge quality (some tables are sold without a cartridge), tables have differing qualities of motor and platters. A heavier platter will rotate at a more consistent speed than a lighter one given fluctuations in the power supply to the table. A better motor will turn at a more consistent speed despite being loaded down with a heavier load (either a thicker record or heavier tonearm/cartridge combination.) While this may not sound like it makes much of a difference, to the well trained ear a more expensive table will sound much better.

What is “new-vinyl”?

New vinyl is the latest thing to hit the vinyl world. The records are more expensive, but are quite thick and are pressed right from the master recording that the artist made initially. The sound quality is truly remarkable! Because of the nature of the duplication process many new-vinyl releases occur in limited quantities and, because of this, can hold their value if they are properly cared for.

What else can I do to improve my record-listening experience?

The number one thing to do is to take good care of your records and player. Do not drop or drag the stylus across the record (this includes playing at “DJ” since the turntables we sell are NOT designed to be used in this manner! You (or your child) will ruin your motor/cartridge/record.) Well cared for records can last a long time - brush them off before each use with a proper record brush.

fairview hi fi

892 Brant Street, Burlington, ON
Phone 905-681-1872 or Email