“Please don’t stop the music, music, music.”
Well, who does?
This Rihanna’s song may be something each of us want to say about music. Everybody I know has a playlist of songs that sing their lives and they want to hear that music whenever they can; hence, they keep it in their pockets, saved in iPods, MP3 players, or smart phones.
For some, however, they still prefer old-school. The high-fidelity, warm, raw music the younger generation may have no idea about.
Yes. Vinyl records.
You may be here wanting to experience that “warmth” only vinyl records give, but you don’t have your own turntable yet. Hence, you are here. Reading. Reading to know how to buy a record player. Reading to know what makes a good record player.
Well, record players are just like our smart phones. They come in different brands, looks, and features. But we always look for certain specs before we buy one. We check first, ahem, of course the camera. It should be able to capture Instagrammable photos. We also want spacious memory and storage for a smooth interface and storing our, ahem again, selfies.
Similarly, when buying a record player, you have to make sure the following parts are of high quality. You don’t want a record player that randomly skips in the middle of your favorite heartbreak song, do you?
Identifying the Basic Components of a Record Player:
- Plinth. This is the part that holds every other part of the turntable together. The foundation. The base. Plinths can be made of wood, plastic, or metal. All of which have “feet” underneath for stability. But if you are after aesthetics just like any James Bond character, your “Bond Girl” would have to be plinth made of wood. Classic and elegant.
- The platter. As the name suggests, this part serves you your favorite music just by putting the vinyl record on top of it. Its speed must be adjusted according to the record whether 33.3RPM, 45RPM, or 78RPM. When buying a record player, you may once again go against what doctors usually say about weight—lose some pounds—because for the platter, the heavier the better. Heavier platters lessen unnecessary vibration and speed changes produced when the record spins.
- The tonearm. Have you ever wondered what you call that arm that swings from the side to start playing the record? This is called the Tonearm. It is in charge of making sure that the speed of the record will be consistent so that the tempo will remain the same for a whole song. But unlike the platter, this part has to be as light as possible AND consistent in movements. Tonearms can be manual or automatic. Some prefer the manual for the audiophile grade sound. But if you are slow dancing along with the music, automatic may work better for you. Just press start and you can immediately position yourself, ready for that dance.
- Cartridge and stylus. These two are commonly interchanged, but, no, they are not the same. They’re like the barrel and the lead. Together, they are called pencil but each one is distinct from the other in appearance and purpose. The cartridge to the stylus is like the barrel to the lead. It holds it, along with other parts such as the coil, cantilever, suspension, and magnet. There are two technologies used in cartridges, the Moving Magnet (MM) and Moving Coil (MC). The former is the more commonly used one, but rumor has it that the latter gives you a better eargasmic sound. Stylus, on the other hand, usually come in two shapes: elliptical and spherical. Choosing between the two is like choosing between two lovers. One may pick up more information about you; hence, playing your music as accurately as possible. But in turn, it wears you out in the long run. The spherical type may not be able to read you precisely as it sits higher in your groove, but eventually it lets you last longer.
When buying a record player, you have to remember PRECISION. A quality record player is able to play with precision. You have to hear all of the instruments that are being played, all of the elements of the music that you are listening to. If you would purchase the wrong record player, do not expect that you will get to experience this at all.