What do I Need with My Turntable? (Ultimate Guide)

This is an overview of what some of the most important factors are for people who are looking to buy a turntable. It also gives information on some of the different brands that are available.

As today’s music industry becomes more dispersed, consumers are finding ways to enjoy music on multiple platforms and in various formats. Like vinyl records, old-style record players have come back into vogue as an inexpensive way for people with modest means to relive the past.

In addition, record players have become a viable source for purchasing new albums, especially for music lovers who don’t own computers. As a result, the number of record players has increased significantly over the past decade due to the popularity of vinyl records.

Table of Contents

What is a turntable?

The answer depends on who you ask. Technically speaking, it’s any device that converts analog audio signals into an electrical signal; however, there are two types of turntables: Those that play vinyl records and those that play CDs. The following section demystifies this topic by identifying the different types of turntable available today.

Components needed with Turntable:

Before you go out and buy your first turntable, there are a number of things to consider. The following is a rundown on the various components that any turntable will need:

1. Magnetic Pickup:

A magnetic pickup will pick up grooves from a record and convert them into electrical signals to activate the turntable’s motor. The table below shows the general “rule of thumb” for the metal composition required for good tone reproduction. Please note that these values are approximate and depend on several factors such as signal type (audio or video) and record condition (new or old).

2. General rule of thumb:

(Minimum) Maximum Minimum for 90% of recordings on average Fairfield-style tonearm, moving magnet cartridge 100 grams Anti-skating weight 0.5 grams A/D converter 5 grams Cartridge 4 grams “Pitch” adjustment weight 2 grams No. of pins per track 4 or 5

3. Cartridge:

A record player with a built-in decoder will require a special cartridge to be used with it. The cartridge contains a magnet and a coil for reproducing the magnetic field from the stylus, which is attached to it by an elastomeric suspension system instead of being fixed to the tonearm.

4. Tonearm:

The tonearm is the part of the turntable that attaches to the cartridge and holds it in place. Most modern tonearms consist of two parts: a style arm and a moving magnet cartridge. The style arm has an adjustable length microphone or “sleeve” that can be positioned on top of any record to match its circumference with the groove on the disc.

This allows the stylus to follow its path across its surface, thus tracing identical grooves on each side of each record. The stylus’s tip follows an elliptical path in the space between the two gaps of the record.

5. Anti-Skating Weight:

Anti-skating is a process used during manufacturing that makes the stylus float within the cartridge’s groove to minimize distortion. You may hear some people refer to it as “tracking force” or “insert mass.” It is also common practice to use two weights (one on either side of the tonearm) while some companies even make their own weight specifically for anti-skating.

The best way to get more accurate results is by using properly calibrated cartridges and settings, though some argue that vibration caused by anti-skating weights also induces noise; however, this remains unconfirmed at this time.

6. A/D Converter:

An A/D converter is a device that takes the electrical signals from the cartridge and converts it into an analog signal. It is usually a small circuit board that plugs into a small jack on the front of the turntable. The A/D converts signals from cartridge to digital so they can be processed by a computer’s sound card chip.

In addition to being able to play vinyl records, most modern record players can also play CD audiocassettes as well as MP3 files as long as there is a digital input port for this purpose.


There are several factors for people who are looking to buy a turntable. These include choosing the right type of arm, cartridge weight, anti-skating weight, and the use of an A/D converter. The following table presents an overview of some of the most popular manufacturers.

Advancements in the past decade have led to a number of changes in turntable designs. These include magnetic pickup systems, automatic anti-skating technologies, USB outputs, and software control systems. All these advancements have made it possible for people to use an analog turntable in the digital age without sacrificing quality of sound.


Q: What kind of speakers do I need for my turntable?

A: You will need some kind of speakers to play the music from your turntable. Your main choices are passive or powered speakers. Passive speakers do not have their own built-in amplifier and are powered by a separate amp such as an A/V receiver. These speakers are connected via speaker wire to the amplifier.

Q: What do I need to know before buying a new turntable?

A: There are two very important things to know before you start. The tonearm and stylus (needle) are the most delicate parts of your new turntable and need to be handled with care. If you are new to turntables, the tonearm is the straight or curved round piece that is 7-10” long you’ll see on the right side of your turntable.

Q: What are the different components of a turntable?

A: Turntable, preamp, amplifier and speakers. These four components can be separate units or bundled together in different combinations. The preamp can, for example, be built into the turntable. And the amplifier can be built into the speakers. 1. Turntable 2. Preamp 3. Amplifier 4. Speakers

Q: What is the best turntable setup for a beginner?

A: A popular beginner combo is the Audio-Technica AT-LP60X turntable and the Edifier R1280DB powered speakers. This setup is affordable, easy to connect, and easy to use. We’ll look more into simple turntable setups like the one suggested above as well as advanced turntable setups in a second.