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Turntables Buying Guide

Explore the wide range of Belt Drive Turntables, Direct Drive Turntables, Manual Turntables, Automatic Turntables and Turntables with USB. Learn more about the different types of turntable with our Turntable Buying Guide.

Whether you're buying your first turntable, or upgrading your system, there are many features you'll want to consider. Turntables can cost anywhere from around £100 to several thousand pounds, and are designed for both home listening and serious DJ-ing. Here are some tips to help you find the right one for you.

Belt Drive or Direct Drive?

Belt Drive

  • A belt-drive turntable is run by a motor that uses an elastic belt to spin the platter that holds the record.
  • The motor of a belt-drive turntable is mounted off to the side and the belt works as a shock absorber, producing less vibration and external noise, meaning you tend to get better sound quality.
  • If you’re an audiophile or just looking for a high-end system, a belt-drive design is probably the best choice for you.

Shop our selection of best-selling belt-drive turntables belt drive turntables.

Direct Drive

  • A direct-drive turntable's platter is located directly on the shaft of the turntable's motor—no elastic belt necessary—giving you consistent speed and high sound accuracy.
  • In contrast with the belt-drive models, direct drives are often sturdier, more reliable and get up to speed more quickly. You can also adjust the record playback speed.
  • Direct drives are perfect for DJs or anyone interested in creating special sound effects or mixes because they let you manually spin records backwards and forwards.

Shop our best-selling direct drive turntables.

Manual or Automatic Operation?

Manual Operation

A manual turntable requires some finesse. In order to play a record, you’ll need to place the tonearm directly onto the record and lift it off when you’re done listening. But you might find it easier than it sounds—and most turntables have a lifting mechanism that keeps the tonearm suspended above the record until you’re ready to lower it into place.

Shop manual turntables.

Automatic Operation

Automatic operation turntables do the work for you—just place the record and press play. The tonearm will automatically move to the edge of the record and return back to place when the record is finished and the platter stops spinning.
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Other Considerations

Turntables with USB

USB turntables allow you to convert your records into CDs or MP3 files by connecting directly to your computer or a memory stick. This process will take some effort on your part, but most USB-equipped turntables come with software to make the job easier.

Shop turntables with USB connections.

Internal or External Phono Preamp

Turntables produce a phono signal, which needs to be converted to a line-level signal to work with your audio system. While many turntables have a preamp built-in, there are some which will require you to purchase an external preamp in order for your turntable to work with your stereo system, computer, or speakers. If your receiver doesn’t have a phono input you’ll either need to purchase a turntable with an internal preamp built in or buy an external preamp. Here are some additional; details to consider with pre-amps:

  • Many turntables with a USB output already have a preamp built in.
  • Many high-end turntable systems will require an external preamp.
  • Turntables with built-in speakers do not require an external preamp.

Shop receivers, amplifiers, and preamplifiers.

Turntable Accessories

Turntable Cartridges

The cartridge is mounted to the end of the tonearm and controls the precision of the tonearm’s movements as it tracks along the grooves of your record. The cartridge affects the sound quality of your LP more than any other component. Better cartridges are gentler and help preserve your records. Most new turntables come with cartridges, but make sure to check. And if you’re going to buy a new one, opt for the moving magnet (MM) over the moving coil (MC), unless you’re an expert user. Make sure to replace your cartridge after 700 hours of listening.

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Turntable Mats and Slipmats

DJs use mats to reduce friction on their records, but they are important for every turntable. They improve sound quality and protect your records from getting damaged. Don’t try to play a record without one. Felt mats are the most common type due to their versatility, cork mats are best for opening up the sound spectrum and rubber mats reduce vibrations for sound clarity.

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Vinyl Records Store

Why buy vinyl? Arguably the sound is better. Analog recordings replicate original sounds in a way that digital (CDs and MP3s) cannot—the grooves of a record actually mirror the audio wave of a recording exactly, offering a sample of the whole wave, which is not compressed in any way. For more detail on vinyl and current vinyl revival trend, check out our Vinyl Store.