How to play a vinyl record?

You need a record player or turntable to play vinyl records. The 1st image is a record player and the 2nd image is a turntable.

What’s the difference between a record player and a turntable?

Its mainly to do with the fact that the record player has inbuilt speakers. The turntable will require external speakers to be connected to the device to enable playback.

Both appliances share common components such as the platter, motor, stylus and tone arm.

Usually the record player will also allow for the connection of external speakers.

Should you buy a record player or turntable?

If you are just starting out then a record player might be the best option.

If sound quality is really important and you’re looking at a more static setup then and you are into vinyl records in a big way then a turntable will possibly be the better option.

If you start to get into building a record collection of 200+ records then a turntable should be considered.

On the other hand if you need an appliance which is more portable then having inbuilt speakers would be particularly important, perhaps you need to pack away your appliance when young children are around, in this case the record player maybe be the better option.

Budget is also an important factor, buying a record player is often a much cheaper option vs a turntable and accompanying equipment.

Have a look at record playersir?t=disla 21&l=ur2&o=2 vs turntablesir?t=disla 21&l=ur2&o=2.

Choosing the correct speed for your vinyl record

There are 3 different vinyl record speeds which are measured by revolutions per minute (RPM).

The majority of the 12″ (inch) records you play called LP for long play will be played at 33 1/3 RPM. Although some 12″ EP and singles may require 45RPM.

7″ (inch) single vinyl records are usually played at 45 RPM.

The 3rd speed 78 RPM is not widely used. These were sold in 10″ and 12″ but records have not been produced since the late seventies.

Second hand vinyl records starting from only £3.00

Where can you find the record speed?

You should be able to find the record speed on the label of the record itself. This is usually on the label on the centre of the record.

Make sure your record player is level

Make sure your record player or turntable is on a level solid surface. If your record player is not level you could have distortion when playing records.

Balancing your tone arm

All record players and turntables have a tone arm, this is the arm with the stylus connected to the end of the arm.

You will find on a turntable the end of the tone arm has a counterweight. This counterweight needs to adjusted so that the tone arm and stylus balance without assistance.

turntable showing the counterweight on the end of the tone arm

One of the main advantages a turntable has over a record player is the counterweight. You can set your turntable up to be a lot lighter on your records and make those records stay in better condition for longer.

To identify components of your appliances please see this image.

The balance and weight will setup will differ per your turntable. Please consult your manual.

How to play the vinyl record

If you have a 7″ 45rpm vinyl record you will need to set the speed to 45 rpm. You will notice the 7″ record has a large circle in the middle of the record, therefore you need to place an insert over the spindle before placing the record onto the platter mat. The 7″ insertion should come with your record player or turntable.

If you have 12″ vinyl record you can place this straight onto the platter mat and set the speed to to 33 rpm.

I highly recommend the detailed turntable setup for beginners video for further information on setting up your appliance. This can be especially useful if the sound quality is not there.

Storing your vinyl records

My final though is on storing your vinyl records to keep them in the best condition.

  • Store your vinyl records upright
  • Store your vinyl records in polyethylene sleeve
  • Invest in good solid storage where records are not leaning.
  • Vinyl records are heavier than most realise so make sure the unit can take the weight. Ikea Kallax units are excellent or build something similar yourself with wood. A lot of the shop bought “record storage” products are very small for any record collector.
  • Keep your records out of direct sunlight, that super hot sun can warp your vinyl records. If your records are in front of a window that catches sunlight, simply covering the records over with a dust cover will prevent this sort of damage.

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