This typical sound comes out of the speakers when the needle of the turntable descends into the groove. The record rotates on the plate, a faint rustling can be heard for a moment and the music can be heard from the speakers – actually a very simple process. But if you take a closer look at the record and needle and see the tiny dimensions of the record grooves, you will be surprised that it works at all. This is a big part of the fascination with vinyl.
The haptic experience extends to the packaging: record sleeves measuring a good 30 by 30 centimeters have a completely different effect than not even postage stamp images on touch screens. But what to do when the ancient family record player has given up the ghost? The range of new models is huge. The COMPUTER BILD test reveals what to look for when buying and names recommended models to offer
Cheap turntables in the test: simple and good
A look through the microscope at the record and needle shows how precisely such a record player has to work: At a pitch of 10,000 Hertz, the vibrations engraved in the vinyl have a deflection of fewer than 2 micrometers – that’s about one-thirtieth of a human hair! With even higher frequencies, which at least young people can still perceive, the deflections in the groove are even smaller.
As soon as something on the turntable vibrates unintentionally, if the tonearm wobbles in the bearing or motor vibrations reach the record, these disturbances can quickly become larger than the tiny vibrations in the record groove. The turntable has the task of guiding the needle very precisely and smoothly through the groove. The art of omission has proven itself for cheap turntables: Deliberately simple constructions omit everything that could cause acoustical annoyance. Or what would not interfere with playback only with expensive effort?
Record player test: The new Pro-Ject T1 looks simple, but is very recommendable.
The best example of this is the Pro-Ject T1. There is no housing in the actual sense of the word, but a simple, stable, and acoustically dead compressed wood board. The motor is embedded in the board in the back corner on the left, a flat rubber belt drives the turntable made of stylish and also acoustically dead glass. The tonearm is a simple, black aluminum tube with smooth-running, play-free bearings – nothing wobbles, unusual in this price range. The fact that the tonearm rests on a spindly shelf is easy to get over. On the other hand, it is more annoying: the tracking force can only be adjusted after loosening an Allen screw. In addition, there is no scale on the counterweight, instead, a simple tonearm scale is included.
Turntables & Vinyl: You Must Know That!
Good for connection to the stereo system: The Pro-Ject T1, like most of the turntables we tested, has a built-in preamplifier. It can be connected to any stereo system; a stereo input labeled “Aux”, “Line-In” or “CD” is sufficient. In the test, the Pro-Ject brought fine sounds out of the grooves without emphasizing or suppressing certain frequency ranges, and the sound remained clean even in loud passages. The alternatives: The slightly older sister model Recordmaster III USB.
It owes its better grade to the USB connection for digitizing records. If you don’t need that, it’s better to use the T1. The Audio Technica AT-LPW30 is similarly minimalist and 80 euros cheaper, but mechanically a bit wobbly, and its sound is less resolute. If the manual operation of the minimalists is too fiddly, the Dual CS 435-1 is an astonishingly inexpensive fully automatic machine.
Vinyl lives: the best turntables and tips for collecting The Sony PS-LX310 transmits vinyl music to Bluetooth speakers and headphones if you wish. Turntable Test: The Sony PS-LX310 streams music to Bluetooth speakers.
Record player test: Bluetooth and WiFi
New turntables with Bluetooth and WLAN are looking for a connection to modern times. This means that the usual stereo system can be dispensed with and the music is sent wirelessly to the appropriate speakers. However, there can then no longer be any question of analog playback. The chic Sony PS-LX310BT, however, buys this original extra with an otherwise extremely simple construction.
The tonearm wobbles in its bearing, the tracking force cannot be adjusted, and a pickup replacement is not provided. Only the needle can be changed as long as the spare part is available. The Yamaha Musiccast Vinyl 500 looks a lot more solid. With the built-in WLAN module, it also plays Spotify (!), And the music selection works with a smartphone. Music from records can also be distributed to Musiccast speakers via WLAN. The sound is not too transparent, but powerful and warm.
Fantastic workmanship, good equipment, and sound quality: The Technics SL-1500C wins the comparison test.
Record player tested with direct drive
While in most turntables the motors drive the turntables via rubber belts, the Panasonic subsidiary Technics swears by direct drive. The motor axis ends directly in the turntable axis. With this technology, the speed can be kept very constant; In addition, direct-drive vehicles quickly get going – important for DJs. The latest model, the SL-1500C, is being tested – not a contract production with a Technics sticker, but a thoroughly independent, fantastically processed piece.
The SL-1500C is the civil version of the SL-1210 MK7, the current DJ technology. It does without its speed adjustment and display, but a very good Ortofon pickup (2M Red) is included. And it sounds really good: tight and clean, with clear, yet warm highs – great! The AT-LP120XUSB from Audio-Technica looks very similar to the Technics and works like this with direct drive, but costs only a third. You can feel this on the wobbly tonearm and the lower weight of the chassis and turntable. And you can hear it in the duller, significantly less precise sound with less depth. For the money, it’s still well made, better than other Technics replicas. And the extensive equipment brought him way up on the best list.
Audio Technica equips its AT-LP120 turntable with its own VM95E cartridge – an excellent choice.
Well bought: the pickups
There was a great agreement in the test with the pickups – these small components at the front end of the tonearm convert the vibrations of the stylus into electrical currents. All test candidates have pre-assembled cartridges so that even laypeople can use the turntable without any problems and without any knowledge of adjustment. Most manufacturers use Audio Technica cartridges. This is not surprising, because the selection on the market is manageable. Pro-Jec and Technics buy from Ortofon in Denmark – also a good choice. The pickups all work according to the so-called moving magnet (MM) principle. This is the common design in the affordable price range. In contrast to the expensive moving coil (MC) scanners, MM systems have easily exchangeable needles. They cost 20 to 30 euros, an exchange is recommended after 500 to 1000 records have been played.