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Curious about vinyl? The most popular format for listening to music in the 20th century remains in a state of continual renaissance. Today there are lots of different turntables — for audiophiles, DJs, and casual music lovers. Some models even have USB for recording and Bluetooth streaming.
Want to get the best sound from your turntable? Check out or expert's tips.
If your turntable has a built-in preamp, or your receiver has an input marked “phono”, the answer is no. You do need a separate preamp if you don’t have one built-in, or if you want the freedom to change your cartridge in the future, which may require some fine adjustments to the amplification. In addition, a high-end component preamp can definitely improve overall sound quality.
Yes. Many turntables have a built-in USB output that allows you to create digital files in your computer as you play an album. You’ll also need software that’s designed for the purpose – some turntables include it, but you may need to download a program if not.
Each type of drive has its proponents. Direct-drive motors start and stop on a dime, and maintain speed reliably, so they’re very popular with DJs and radio announcers. The belt that connects the motor to the platter on a belt-drive turntable helps keep noise to a minimum, and many listeners feel the sound is warmer. It’s all a matter of personal preference, though!
Moving magnet (MM) cartridges are most common. They’re durable and easy to make, and typically require less amplification from the preamp. Moving coil (MC) cartridges are more lightweight, which allows them to read record grooves with extreme accuracy. Some deliver very low output voltage, and require a little extra amplification to sound their best. Many component preamps offer variable cartridge loading, which allows you to adjust to just about any cartridge you wish to use.
Yes, they’re becoming very common, in fact. A turntable with built-in speakers may have a Bluetooth receiver, so you can stream tunes when you’re not spinning vinyl. And many have built-in Bluetooth transmitters, so you can play your album wirelessly through compatible speakers and headphones. Some ‘tables even have features like Wi-Fi and MusicCast built in, so they can be incorporated into a whole-home audio system.
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