There are very important reasons why turntables vary in price.They vary from the quality of the design,the build quality of their components,the materials of which they are made and the engineering expertise that has been incorporated into them.
Back in the 1970's/1980's when turntables were in their heyday,most people owned a mass market turntable that really didn't do justice to playing records and deceived people into believing that CD's sounded so much better.Today,the trend is reversing and because of technology and engineering expertise music listeners are now able to buy a turntable from $395 that sounds as good as a turntable costing $1000 in the 1980's.In doing so,they are rewarded with the warmth,detail and sweet sound that is listening to vinyl.
There are several parts of the turntable that contribute to this superior musical performance.The first is the overall design principles incorporated into the turntable.Rigid design with vibration minimisation is the goal of current turntable design.
The tonearm is a critical part of music reproduction.The stylus has a difficult job of tracking the record groove and extracting all of the musical information.The tonearm is the platform on which this all happens.Basic tonearms on cheap turntables do a relatively poor job of this resulting in poor quality sound and high record wear and tear.In better quality turntables the tonearm and its mounting and bearings improve in their precision and high quality sound is the result.
The turntable platter is also a very important part of attaining quality music listening.Again,on cheap turntables,either a thin plastic or metal platter provides a poor platform on which the record is played.Better quality turntables seek to have a platter that provides a solid platform to help in isolating the record from outside vibration.They are made from various materials including glass,machined aluminium and high density acrylic which are balanced to ensure stabity and speed accuracy.
Then there is the critical point of contact with the record.....the stylus/cartridge.Again,cheap turntables come with a stylus/cartridge worth about $30 and tend to perform a "road-grading" effect on record grooves.They have low quality stylus tips and extract a minimal amount of information from the record.This "road-grading" effect also means that they cause irreversible damage to the record grooves which deteriorates musical enjoyment.Higher performance turntables (starting at $395) come standard with a $80 stylus/cartridge which accurately tracks the record groove retrieving more more music information whilst minimising damage to the record groove.As you go up through the range of turntables the stylus/cartridge combinations continue to improve and so does the musical enjoyment!
A great example of an awful 1980's turntable.
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