9 Features to Look for in a Turntable

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9 Features to Look for in a Turntable

A turntable is another name for a record player or phonograph, and these musical devices play vinyl LPs and records. Vinyl was once the standard format for music playback, and has remained popular even throughout the rise and fall of tapes and CD’s and the current dominance of the MP3 format.

Vinyl is the format of choice for many DJ’s, and buyers interested in pursuing this hobby will need a suitable turntable. The following guide will detail the 9 features buyers should look for when searching a turntable, and will explain how to find an apt model on eBay. It’s recommended that buyers use eBay for their turntable needs, as the site has a large selection for sale at very reasonable prices.


Turntables are used for recording playing, mixing, blending beats, and scratching. All turntables use the same basic components, and the following are 9 features buyers should look for when searching for a turntable:

1 – A Plinth With Feet

The plinth is the base of the turntable that acts as the foundation and supports the rest of the components. The majority of plinths have feet and it is advised that buyers only consider purchasing turntables that do, as this is vital for stability and uninterrupted playback. Plinths can be made from a variety of materials, including wood, plastic, and metal.

2 – A Heavy Platter and a Mat

The platter is the rotating component that the record is placed upon. The heavier the platter the better, as this reduces vibration and stops the record from skipping during playback. Buyers should also look to buy a mat for the platter, and this is placed in between the record and the surface. The mat increases both the grip and the vibration dampening qualities.

3 – A Selection of Speeds

Records are designed for playback at one of three specific speeds, which are 33RPM, 45RPM and 78RPM. The 33 and 45 speeds are the most popular and the majority of turntables made today can play both, but buyers interested in playing the older style 78RPM records will either need to buy a modification kit or a turntable capable of playing all three speeds. These are not as common as those that play 33RPM and 45RPM records and will be more expensive.

4 – USB or Not?

A number of the more modern turntables have USB capabilities that allow users to connect their MP3 player to the turntable and control the music playback the same as if they were playing a record. The USB connector can also be used to convert records into the MP3 format, which can then be transferred to a computer, allowing the user to digitalise their record collection.

However, some believe that the inclusion of a USB port on a turntable results in a lack of quality in the other components, and it is advised that buyers considering purchasing a device with USB capabilities research into the desired model, and read reviews from others who have bought the same turntable.

5 – Manual vs. Automatic

This refers to the cueing system, and turntables with manual cueing systems require the user to lift the arm onto the record when they want to play it, and to remove the arm when the record is finished. This can take some practice to master and on first try buyers will probably find that they have placed the needle on a groove that is mid song.

An automatic cueing system will do this for the user by pressing a button, and the choice between the two is generally a matter of personal preference. However, manual cueing is definitely more suitable for DJing as it gives the user greater control over mixing.

6 – Preamps

Turntables produce a PHONO output signal, and this needs to be converted to an AUX signal to allow for playback through audio equipment, such as speakers or stereo systems. Not all turntables have inbuilt preamps, so buyers need to check for this when reviewing a particular model. DJ mixers are often used as preamps, and all turntables that have USB connectivity have this feature.

Preamps range in price, but can be bought for as low as $30. Buyers will also need to ensure that they have the correct set of cables used to connect the turntable to the preamp, and the preamp to the amplifier. These are generally RCA cables, but always check to ‘Description’ box on the Item page for information regarding cable type requirements.

7 – Stylus and Cartridges

The stylus is the needle that connects to the record, and the cartridge is the component that houses the stylus. The cartridge is regarded as one of the most important components and a well-made cartridge is vital for good quality playback. Most turntables will include a decent stylus and cartridge, but buyers looking for replacement parts should be prepared to spend a reasonable amount of money on these components.

8 – Pitch Control

This controls the rate that the platter rotates at, and is used to increase or decrease the record’s playback pitch. It’s important to note that this only controls the pitch of the record, and will not change the speed of the record. Pitch control is an important feature for buyers who wish to DJ, as it is used for beat matching and mixing two records together. The numbers found on the pitch control relates to the percentage difference of the platter’s speed. 

9 – Belt Drive vs. Direct Drive

The drive controls platter rotation and turntables either use belt drives or direct drives. A belt drive has an independent motor and drives using a rubber belt. Turntables with this feature are not suitable for DJing, but it is generally believed that belt drives result in a better quality of sound due to reduced vibration. Turntables with a direct drive have a platter that is integrated into the motor and are suitable for DJing with. Although a turntable with a direct drive may have an inferior quality of sound, they tend to be better built and have stronger torque and faster start-ups.

Searching for a Turntable on eBay

eBay is an ideal place to search for turntables, and buyers will find a large selection to choose from with the aforementioned features. To begin a search first head to eBay.com.au, and when the homepage has loaded click on the Electronics heading. On the following page click on the Record Players/Home Turntables link found in the Audio tab.

Enter the name of the desired turntable, brand or feature into the search bar and press enter. Buyer’s looking for a used turntable or turntable accessories can click on the ‘Condition’ filter to list Used items only. Buyers interested in doing this should check the ‘Description’ box on the Item page for specific details regarding a product’s condition. 

It’s a good idea to also check out eBay Deals as this potion of the site has a number of turntables and turntable accessories for sale at reduced prices. Simply click on the deals link located at the top of the page, followed by the Audio link in the Electronics heading. The turntables and turntable accessories can be found towards the bottom of the page.


Turntables are generally expensive devices used to play music from vinyl records. Because of the price and the nature of a turntables function, it’s a good idea to buy a model with as many of the above features as the budget allows. Certain features, such the cartridge and platter, will have an effect on the quality of playback, and it’s important for buyers to become familiar with the various brands that specialise in manufacturing the different components that power the features. 

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