Record turntables sales are increasing as more people realize they have records they have not heard for ten years or more. Most people over the age of 40 have vinyl LPs. Replacing hundreds of Long Playing records (LPs) with CDs would cost thousands of dollars. It makes much more sense to spend a couple of hundred dollars on a decent turntable.
Music reproduction technology changes at an ever-increasing pace. 78 RPM record technology lasted for 25 years. 33RPM records have lasted longer than any other format, nearly 90 years. CDs were invented in the 1980s and are now being replaced by DVDs of ever-changing formats and MP3.
Most families had a record turntable from the 1950s until about 2000. If you look in almost every home, even now, you will find a collection of a hundred or so LPs.
Early record turntables were very primitive in terms of engineering, compared to today's models.
CDs were invented so people would spend a fortune replacing their record collections with new digitally recorded CDs. This was a wonderful example of creating a market from nothing. Records worked, but the music companies needed a sales boost, so they sold the music buying public on the idea of digital music, telling them that it was better.
Everyone should listen to the same piece of music played on a reasonable record turntable and on a CD player that costs twice the price. Nobody would buy a CD ever again. You hear more music from the record player than you do from the CD player. The CD actually misses out a significant part of any music track.
Digital music systems like CDs work by taking a series of snapshots of the sound. A movie camera works in the same way, taking 24 pictures every second. When the movie film is played back they eye cannot discern the fast changing image and sees the 24 frames a second as a continual, moving picture.
Analogue music systems work by recording continuously, rather than sampling 44,100 times a second. Music is a vibration in the air caused by vibrating musical instruments, traditionally at least. Any system that records a continuous sound only so often must degrade that sound.
Twenty years after the CD was first launched as the replacement for the record turntable music bosses admitted that they knew when it was launched that the sound quality was inferior to that from a record player. Many people found listening to those early CDs stress-inducing. The music was just "wrong".
Records are now making a comeback, being sold as premium products, mainly in the pop music category. They are now "digitally recorded" or "digitally re-mastered", but, even so, they sound infinitely better than CDs.
As more people have replaced their old-fashioned LPs with CDs they have realized how good their LPs sounded. The low quality CD players they bought have died, even their replacements have died, but their old record player lives on.
Eventually any machine with moving parts wears out and needs repairs or replacement. Old record players are fairly low-tech, with only a slowly revolving platter or turntable. They lasted a long time, but are now reaching the end of their lives.
If you spend $200 on a decent turntable, you will not believe the quality of sound that your old records will give you. Forget cheap $49 record turntables, you will be totally disappointed with the sound quality.
Your turntable is the most important part of your music system. Your amplifier and speakers can only work with the signal quality they receive from your vinyl record. If the signal they receive is distorted by vibration from a cheap, or badly set-up turntable, the distortions are amplified. To hear good music from your $1000 speakers you have to send a good, undistorted signal to them.
A record player turntable works by amplifying minute movements of the stylus and converting those into an electric current. Your amplifier converts the tiny electric current from your vinyl record player into sound. Cheap record players cause musical distortion because of the extra vibrations caused by poor engineering. These extra vibrations cause extra electrical signals to your amplifier, which result in distorted music.
A record player must be engineered to minimize vibration.
Direct Drive record turntables were once very popular. They were sold as eliminating speed variations caused by stretching rubber drive belts; they added vibrations from the motor instead.
Today's top quality turntables are all belt driven. The motor should be in a totally separate unit to minimize platter vibration, as in the case of the superb Linn LP12 Sondek. At the very least the motor should be isolated from the main body of the record turntable by rubber.
There are two other causes of vibration in any turntable, the central spindle rotating in its socket and the movement of the pick-up arm in its socket. The pickup arm movement is very slow and this is not a major vibration source.
Reduction is less where a turntable manufacturer uses a turned, machined spindle of solid steel, rather than a stamped or moulded one of hollow steel or plastic. The machined spindle has none of the microscopic ridges and hollows of the cheap stamped ones, so there is less vibration.
Even in a reasonably priced record turntable you can expect to find oil to put into the central socket that the spindle sits into. Even though the socket has been machined in the same way as the spindle, oil will reduce vibration further, and make the turntable last longer.
You can easily improve the performance of any turntable by thinking about where you place it. The shelf or table the record turntable sits on must not vibrate because any vibrations will be passed on to the stylus and result in a reduction in musical quality. Very lightly rest your finger on the shelf while you are playing a record; is there a tickle?
If there is a tickle in your fingertip then one way to reduce the vibration is to sit your record turntable on a paving slab. This might sound extreme, but it works. Wrap the paving slab in black cloth to improve its appearance and so it does not scratch the furniture.