A Complete Guide to Manual & Automatic Turntables

There are two main types of turntables, manual and automatic. A turntable can be considered as some type of record player that is able to spin the record with the help of some type of motor for automated spinning.

A turntable needs to be manually moved on its axis by the user in order to change the direction or speed it rotates at, this is done by moving like a joystick.

Table of Contents

Manual Turntables:

A manual turntable is a vinyl record player on which you need to manually move the arm of the needle on and off the record, and change its speed and direction. This type of turntable is also called as direct drive.

A manual turntable needs good motorist skills, as it needs to be accurately controlled in order to keep it properly spinning along with changing its speed and direction.

You need some relevant knowledge as well as experience in order to operate this type of turntable properly. This type of device usually takes more time than other types because it needs more time to be operated.


The design for this device is very simple; it is just like an average turntable, except that it has some special characteristics which will enable you to manually operate it.

This turntable has the basic components which are normally found on any other turntable. These components consist of a base attached to its center, the base’s main objective is to support the weight of the entire player.

The next component of this device is known as platter, this part is responsible for spinning the record with the help of motor and needle arm which is placed above it. This device also consists of some other components that will not be mentioned in this article.


  • The only pros of this device are the fact that you will not need any extra components in order to operate it easily.
  • The design for this device is very simple, so it means that no special skill is required in order to operate it perfectly.
  • This type of turntable will save you lots of time because you do not need to worry about its speed and direction changes. It does all these actions for you.


  • The position of the needle arm needs to be precisely controlled in order to keep your record spinning perfectly; if the needle runs out or falls off, then your records will stop spinning after sometime (usually after 20 seconds)

Automatic Turntables:

An automatic turntable is a vinyl record player which does all the duties of spinning your records as well as changing its speed and direction automatically.

This type of turntable is also known as the ‘direct drive’ because the mechanism for spinning and moving is directly within the device.

This device can be either manual or automatic, this means you will have to do all the operations by yourself (if it’s a manual) or you won’t need to do anything (if it’s an automatic).


The design for this device is quite complex and it is based on the same principle used by an automatic CD player. The design consists of a base, then there is a platter which spins around the center at one side and the arm of the needle enters and exits from another side.

Automatic turntables need to be operated in a very accurate manner, otherwise, they will stop spinning. This way of operation must be carried out only by professional persons only.


  • An automatic turntable will save you lots of time because you do not need to continuously change its speed or direction. It does all these actions automatically.
  • This type of device can save you lots of time because no manual operation is needed in order to operate it properly. It instantly operates itself without any help from you.
  • The design of this device is very complex, so it means that no special skill is required in order to operate it perfectly.


  • This type of device has some disadvantages as well. One of its main disadvantages is the fact that the cost of this device is more expensive than that of other devices like manual turntables.

Which Turntable is Better?

A manual turntable is a much better device in comparison to an automatic turntable because it needs less maintenance and it is not expensive in the way of purchasing it. In addition, you can select any type of needle which suits your needs when working with a manual turntable.

On the other hand, an automatic turntable requires a lot of maintenance as well as a special skill in order to operate it correctly. It also needs a high amount of time and efforts in order to be able to operate itself.


In conclusion, manual turntables are better because they have a low maintenance cost as well as they provide a lot of advantages over automatic turntables. Manual turntables are easy to use and they can be easily operated by anyone, even a child. Besides this point, a manual turntable contains no complex parts to manipulate it.

All in all, manual turntables are the best option to select if you want to buy one because you will have no headaches whatsoever using it.


Q: Are automatic turntables any good?

A: Automatic turntables offer much in the way of convenience, but there are compromises in terms of mechanical noise and interference. With a fully manual turntable, the only mechanical link between the tonearm and the platter is the point where the stylus hits the record.

Q: How do semi-automatic turntable turntables work?

A: If you worry about falling asleep while listening and having your stylus sit in the outer groove, a semi-automatic takes that worry away. At the end of the record, a mechanism will lift up the tonearm and shut the turntable off.

Q: Do automatic turntables change the sound of vinyl?

A: An automatic turntable does not change the sound of vinyl once the mechanism is done operating, meaning once the tonearm and needle are settled on the record, the mechanical aspect of the automatic stuff is no longer disrupting the sound, the only time you hear any sort of noise is when the tonearm is descending or ascending.

Q: How many different types of turntables are there?

A: With that said, please allow us to be your guide. Let’s break down each of these three types of turntables and the pros and cons of each. A fully automatic turntable will lift the tonearm out of the resting position and gently lower it onto the record at the right spot.