The vinyl revival is such an exciting time. Music has never sounded this great. However, with hundreds of history to catch up on, the vinyl culture can be quite overwhelming and downright confusing.
The terminologies are puzzling with some people calling the record players “turntables” and vice versa.
Since both words are used interchangeably you might be wonder, is there a difference between a record player and a turntable?
Turntables VS. Record Players: What Makes them Different?
So, let’s start by defining each.
Turntable: What Is It Exactly?
In its simplest definition, a turntable is a major component of a record player. A turntable is the part of the record player which holds the vinyl record and spins it.
However, there are also standalone turntable out there that you can buy,
So, in this sense, a turntable is somewhat similar to a turntable. However, it does not come fully equipped with an amplifier or built-in speakers. You will need to buy these separately and connect them to the turntable via RCA cables.
The standalone turntable offers only a handful of components.
It includes the turntable itself— the platter and the motor. Then it comes with a cartridge, a stylus, and a tonearm. Some models may come with a pre-amplifier. This allows you to connect the machine to an external component without the dedicated phono input.
So, how does it work?
The stylus runs the grooves of the vinyl record. It then transmits the vibrations via wires in the tonearm through the cartridge. The cartridge then takes that information and transmitting it to the pre-amp. From there, it turns it into sound via the speaker and an external amp.
The tonearm will also hold the stylus and cartridge in place.
Turntable Pros and Cons
Turntables are all about simplicity. Therefore, you can customize it to your heart’s content and making your music and sound experience more unique.
The choice of what external amplifiers or speakers to connect to a turntable are endless. Using external components of your own choice means a higher quality of sound according to your likings.
However, turntables are theoretically less portable and more expensive than a record player. Purchasing the amplifier and speaker of your choice can be quite costly and make it a less tempting choice for those on a budget.
In addition, traveling with a turntable along with the heavier speakers and amplifiers can make it inconvenient for you.
Record Player: What Is It Exactly?
Now, a record player is a complete audio setup which includes a turntable, an amplifier and a pair of speakers.
It is a much more elaborate piece of audio equipment and usually includes several features, such as the ability to play various file formats— MP3, CD, radio and more.
Record Player Pros and Cons
The most obvious pros of a record player are the built-in speakers and external amp. This significantly cuts the cost compared to standalone turntable plus all the extras you need to buy.
Not only that, but a modern record player also can play music from other formats such as MP4, MP3 or a CD. Even though it is far heavier than a turntable, it is still more portable since it already has the speakers and amp.
Now, the downside of a record player is that they do not allow the customization that turntable offers. So, you can’t expect high-quality playback that you get from a standalone turntable. In addition, the speaker quality is also limited to the ones built-in to the record player.
Still, there are some models that allow connection to external amplifiers and speakers, for improved functionality.
Record Player VS. Turntable: Which To Buy?
Both a record player and a turntable have their own pros and cons. Which one is better will depend on your needs and wants.
Most people of the modern age prefer record players over the standalone turntable. This is mainly because they are ready to play sounds and music directly out of the box. You don’t have to worry about confusing set up. You can enjoy your vinyl records, in addition to streaming FM/AM radio, as well as playing MP3s and CDs.
So, if you are looking for convenience and overall savings and don’t really have a keen ear on sound quality, then a record player should be enough for you.
However, for the serious vinyl enthusiast and professional DJs, a turntable is the best option.
A quality turntable will always beat any quality record player. The lack of a built-in speaker and amp combo means that you can choose high-quality components to connect to the turntable.
With such pieces of equipment, you will be able to draw out the truest and crispest sound that your vinyl record can offer. Plus, the professional DJ uses only quality turntable for spinning, creating unique sounds than ever before.
So, if you have a pair of sensitive ears and want to hear the best possible sound out of your vinyl records and loves tinkering on an audio component set-up, then a turntable is the right choice for you.