The turntable, also called a record player, is one of the longest-lasting music-playback machines we have. It’s still sold today, both in retro and modern designs. MP3 and streaming services might’ve taken over mainstream music reproduction, but the turntable hasn’t gone anywhere. A lot of music connoisseurs think a turntable’s sound production is richer, crisper and of higher quality than any other sound.
While it might look like a needle-run machine, a turntable has several advanced components. Sure, a needle might scrape across a record’s groove—but there’s much more to sound production. Between mixing, shifting and manipulating sounds, turntable gurus are seemingly masters of the analog instrument.
Below, we’re covering the science behind the turntable. From its base to the needle/stylus, we’re covering the instrument’s sound production capabilities. Stay tuned.
How is a Turntable’s Sound Produced?
Really, the process is simple. A vinyl record has sound data embedded into it. When a record is placed on a turntable, a turntable’s arm and needle depict the sound data. The data is projected, and music is produced. To understand how this happens, you’ll need to understand a turntable’s many parts.
A turntable’s base can be a number of shapes. It can also be made from a variety of materials. It holds the turntable’s motor—which is powered either by a belt, a wheel or a direct drive. This motor moves the turntable’s platter, spinning the turntable’s surface. When the surface turns, the record is rotated.
A turntable’s base can be manipulated on a turntable-to-turntable basis. Turntable manufacturers can use lacquered material, natural wood or other materials to change a turntable’s sound resonation.
The turntable’s platter, meanwhile, maintains a consistent record-spinning speed. It’s situated on top of the base, and it’s normally made from heavy materials. Some high-end turntables have ultra-weighted aluminum platters.
A heavy platter is necessary to produce rumble-free, steady sounds. If a platter is too light, a record can rattle around due to the motor’s speed. A lot of record players are outfitted with rubber mats. These mats keep played records stable—to reduce, or even negate, a record’s jiggle.
Next up, we’re covering the record player’s tonearm. A record player’s tonearm is complex, and it stores a number of complex tools. The tonearm is attached to the base, and it’s situated away from the platter to reduce shakiness. A well-crafted tonearm should be heavy enough to not be affected by the base’s motors. It should also be stiff enough to avoid damaging played records.
While different record players have different tonearm designs, a lot are designed to reduce overall friction. Friction, over time, can damage a record and a record player—and it should be avoided at all costs.
The cartridge is situated at the end of a record player’s tonearm. While small, the rectangular cartridge uses electromagnetic induction to “read” a vinyl record’s grooves. These grooves are translated into sound waves—which are then played elsewhere. A cartridge is comprised of a removable stylus, a soft, plastic casing and a moving magnet. High-end turntables may feature a coil system—which causes magnetic field fluctuations. These changes transmit up the arm, and they’re played through the record player’s speakers.
The science behind turntables isn’t too complex. The basic technology behind turntables hasn’t really changed for decades however there has been a steady refinement to the components of a turntable. As vinyl has returned to the mainstream, music enthusiasts now have some great options for turntables. We’re happy to carry on the vinyl tradition with our flagship turntable the RT81. You can learn more about our line of turntable products here.
RT81 High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable Record Player
Fluance’s RT81 High Fidelity Turntable plays traditional LP and EP vinyl records with stunning quality that achieves the purest sound reproduction.