Although setting up a turntable is generally an easy process, there are a few things you need to know when purchasing your turntable.
1) Sound Vs. Portability – Portable turntables such as Crosley’s Cruiser series are attractive entry-level solutions where portability and space are important. The Cruiser’s built-in speakers are ideal for those with little space. However, sound quality can be an issue and those wanting a warmer vinyl-listening experience should consider a stand-alone turntable.
2) Pre-Amp Vs. No Pre-Amp – A turntable produces a Phono level output that must be converted to Line level output before it will work with audio equipment, including stereo amps, computers and speakers. Some older amplifiers also come with pre-amps and those are notated as Phono inputs on the amp. Some turntables such as Audio Technica’s LP60 series come with a built-in pre-amp and don’t require an external pre-amp. Those can be connected directly to speakers. Audiophile turntables such as Music Hall’s MMF-2.2 series does not have a built-in pre-amp and require a pre-amp before connecting to speakers; this will require an extra set of RCA cables.
3) Belt Drive vs. Direct Drive – A belt drive turntable has an independent motor that rotates the platter using the belt. A direct drive turntable’s motor is integrated into the platter. Direct drive turntables are generally used for DJing because the integrated motor allows for quick starting, stopping and cueing needed to DJ. A belt drive turntable is thought to have superior sound because of less noise and vibration.
4) Recording Vinyl Into a Computer – The most ideal situation to record music into a computer involves using a turntable that has a USB connection. Free software such as Audacity can then be used to easily record music into your computer. Audio Technica’s LP60USB has a USB connection and is a great option for recording music.
5) Speakers – What type of speakers used depends heavily on the amp or pre-amp used. Most older amps with Phono inputs use old-school speaker wire. Most newer speakers either use red and white RCA cables or a USB input or sometimes both. It’s important to know what amp/pre-amp setup you plan to use before deciding on speakers.
Our recommended setup that takes all of these factors into account includes:
1) The Music Hall MMF-2.2 turntable – $449
2) The Music Hall Mini Pre-Amp – $79
3) Audioengine 2+ speakers – $499
An alternate setup:
1) Audio Technica LP60USB w/ Built-In Pre-Amp – $149
2) Audioengine 2+ Speakers – $249