7 Parts Of A Record Player You Need To Know

Your vinyl record needs a record player. Knowing the basic components of a record player helps to consider what to buy. Find out 7 parts of it in this article.
by Helen Appling | Updated: September 28, 2020

For those who love warm and “raw” music, having a vinyl record in your home is a must.

Vinyl records give you a feeling of nostalgia that no other electronic music streaming devices can provide.

And, a vinyl record always goes with a record player. So, how much do you know about those record players?

What parts are included in a record player? How every component of it works together to produce such heart-touching sound?

To find out the answers to these questions, let’s take a closer look at the seven parts of a record player that we list below!

Basic Parts Of A Record Player

Basic Record Player Parts

The Plinth/Base

This is the base of everything. The plinth is made of a variety of materials, from wood like the classic, original plinth to plastic or metal as the modern one.

It holds every other part together by using “feet” under its surface.

the plinth of a record player

The plinth serves two functions, which respectively are the isolation and cosmetic function.

More specifically, when we spin the record player, its electronics can stick out, so the plinth will isolate other parts, avoid them from interacting with each other.

About the cosmetic function, you can quickly get the idea: it is for aesthetic purposes.

The Platter

This part is the place where your vinyl record lays upon. Depending on the speed of your vinyl, the platter can play 33.3 RPM, 45 RPM, or 78 RPM record.

Also known as the “turntable,” the platter consists of two parts: a metal rod and a plate.

Metal Rod

The metal rod’s position is at the center of the platter. It aims to hold the record when it spins.

Plate

The spinning part that makes the record spins with it is the plate. People use steel as the cheapest material to make the plate.

Due to its lightness, the steel plate has low inertia, which means that it is more likely to have speed instability in the motor.

Usually, the plate is made of metal with plastic and rubber covered around to avoid scratching. Aluminum is a much more expensive choice for plate material, on the other hand.

Aluminum ensures that your record is balanced by reducing vibration, thereby promotes speed stability.

The platter’s ability to rotate is controlled through a drive system. There are two main types of drive systems, which are the belt-drive system and the direct-drive one.

Belt-Drive System

The motor is the one that controls the belt. The belt-drive system is better at absorbing vibration and low-frequency sound than its counterpart, the direct one.

Thus, it helps reduce the noise that can be heard from the motor.

However, along with its advantage, the belt-drive system does have two minor drawbacks.

As the plate is propelled by the belt, it takes more time for the platter to reach its maximum speed.

Moreover, you need to replace the belt now and then. No need to worry; this process is pretty quick and inexpensive!

Direct-Drive System

Motors of the direct-drive record player are right beneath the turntable, which makes it more difficult to reduce unnecessary sound from the engine.

Hence, this type of record player provides worse sound quality.

But, the motor can reach its full speed almost immediately, in contrast to that of the belt-driven system.

Because of this and the ability to spin smoothly, direct-drive record players are more preferred by DJs.

Talking about the platter, go with the motto: the heavier, the better. Since heavy platters reduce more vibrations and changes in speed, they offer a more consistent sound.

The Stylus

The stylus is the needle that slides up and down the grooves in the vinyl record to produce sound.

Coming with the cone shape, the stylus is most likely to be made from diamond.

People also use sapphire to make it. Both of them provide optimum durability for your record player.

The tip of the stylus can be spherical or elliptical. The spherical one is less expensive.

Since its place is high on the grooves, the spherical cannot “read” the grooves precisely, but it lasts longer.

On the other hand, the elliptical stays in contact with the grooves so that it can capture the sound more precisely.

However, it wears out much faster.

The Cartridge and Tonearm

Always mentioned as a duo, the cartridge, and the tonearm are the two parts that are directly involved in producing sound.

The tonearm’s purpose is to hold the stylus by using a piece of metal.

Tonearms can be either straight or curved. DJs seem to enjoy the straight ones though they are easy to scratch with.

However, the curved tonearm produces better sound quality according to most feedbacks.

The stylus’s following of grooves causes vibrations to travel through the tonearm. Eventually, those vibrations will reach the cartridge.

When they hit the magnetic coil of the cartridge, they immediately turn into electrical signals.

Those signals are then sent to the speaker, and music is produced.

The Preamplifier and Amplifier

Preamplifiers and amplifiers (preamps and amps) are the ones that deliver signals from the cartridge to the speaker.

Call the electrical signals to be the goods, then preamps and amps will be the shipper.

There are strong electrical signals, and there are some weaker ones.

Preamps boost those weak electrical signals to reach the appropriate level, a level loud enough so that sound can be heard.

Most of the old audio receivers contain the preamps. The modern ones, however, do not include those. Instead, some of them have a built-in preamp.

Mentioning this with an audio enthusiast, they would recommend going with an external preamplifier so that you can fully enjoy the sound quality.

Meanwhile, amps are responsible for raising the line level, or in other words, they boost the overall volume.

Summary

We hope you enjoy “touring” with us on a “7 parts of a record player” tour.

Those components are the ones that work together to produce beautiful music for you, along with your vinyl record.

A vivid music listening experience needs both a good vinyl record and a well-produced record player.

Enhance your experience by knowing what is what so that you can choose the best equipment out there.

Let us know if you have any questions and ideas to share. Thank you and see you!

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