Difference Between Record Players and Turntables (With Table)

A record player is a device used to produce sounds which are stored on a record. Moreover, a turntable is more like a rotating disk that will spin the record on a record player.

People often confuse these terms because they both are used to play records, but turntable is a component or a part of the record player itself.

Record Player vs Turntable

The difference between a record player and a turntable is that a turntable is an important component of a record player. In simple words, a turntable is a part of the record player, which can be purchased separately. The record player already has a built-in amplifier, pre-amps, and speakers, and you will have to purchase these separately with a turntable.

A Record player is a machine used to play records. It is used for listening to music or other sounds. Its main components consist of a Turntable, a preamp, an amplifier and a speaker. All the components are bundled into one unit, and it does not need any external components to play records.

Whereas, A Turntable is a flat, circular part of a record player on which a record is placed when it is played. It consists of a plinth, platter, tone arm, cartridge, a stylus and a speed selector. It cannot play music or sounds on its own; it needs a separate preamp, amplifier, and speakers to play records.

Comparison Table between Record player and Turntable

Parameters of
comparison
Record playerTurntable
MeaningIt is an audio machine used to play music and other sounds on records(phonograph disc or Vinyl). It is the prime component of a record player. It is a part of the player that rotates while holding the record.
ComponentsTurntable, preamp, amplifier, speakersplinth, platter, tone arm, cartridge, stylus speed selector
Additions required Everything is included, no extra boxes or cables are required to play records.An amplifier, a pre amp, and a speaker are necessarily required to play records
Adjustments possibleThere are very few options of upgrading or changing the cartridge alignment, track weight (stylus down force) to make the sound quality better.Possible to adjust cartridge alignment, track weight (stylus down force) and anti-scale. *Correct adjustments are necessary for best sound quality, and also to minimize the wear and tear of the records.
Sound qualityNormally low as the components used are low quality because of high costsHigh, and if not it is customizable

What is a Record Player?

Record player is a machine or instrument used to play records(vinyl or gramophone discs). It produces sound by the vibrations of a stylus or a needle. It stores a copy of sound waves as a series of impressions in a curving groove inscribed on its rotating surface with the help of the stylus.

All its components are bundled into one unit, and it does not need any external components to play records.

  1. It is used for listening to music or other sounds. It does not need any external components to play records and is often portable.
  2. It is an entire audio system setup, including a turntable, an amplifier and a set of speakers.
  3. Most record players are not built much meticulously when it comes to alignment, tonearm performance and tracking force. These components and settings are fixed at the factory by design and are not adjustable in most cases. The more precisely one can track the record groove, the more longer will be the life of the record groove.
  4. It can result in excessive wear and tear of the groove, if the device isn’t precisely aligned and the stylus is tracking too heavy (or even too lightly).
  5. It does not need any prior processes; you can simply plug it in and start enjoying your music.

What is a Turntable?

A turntable is a round, flat surface on a record player which rotates at a given regular speed. The record is placed on it to be played. It is an assembly that includes the platter that spins the record and the tonearm/cartridge that picks up the music that is carved into the record.

  1. It needs a separate preamp, amplifier and separate speakers to play records. It is not a self-sufficient record-playing unit.
  2. It consists of a plinth, a platter, a tonearm, a cartridge a stylus, and a speed selector.
  3. When a listener places a record on a turntable, rotating at a regular pace, the record passes under a needle that reads the grooves carved into the record. Initially, the sound vibrations are formed as grooves engage with the needles. They are sent up the metal arm that contains a cartridge. The coils in the cartridge operate within a magnetic field, which convert the vibrations on the record into electric signals that can be magnified and heard by a speaker. 
  4. It is relatively cheaper than a record player, but it needs other components to play, so it becomes a bit expensive if one uses very good-quality speakers, preamp and amplifier. It is customizable, so it is mainly considered by DJs and enthusiasts who insist on good sound quality.

Main Differences Between Record Players and Turntables

Basically, A turntable is an important component of a record player, which can also be purchased as a distinct product, and can be played by adding self-chosen amplifiers, pre-amps and speakers.

  1. We can play various file formats (radio, CD, MP3 etc.) in record player, unlike a turntable which can only play records. Making the record player a more intricate device.
  2. Record player is more expensive than turntables. But, its components are not adjustable or upgradeable, leading to poor quality sound.
  3. A turntable, on the other hand, produces better quality sound, because it is customizable and adjustments can be corrected in it. 
  4. Turntables are more smaller and lighter as compared to the record players, and hence more portable.
  5. In record players one does not need to get any additional components. You can simply switch it on and get lost in the melody. While in turntables, one has to purchase and assemble all the other components then only it becomes ready to work.

Conclusion

A turntable is just one component in a record player. But turntable also implies to a distinctive product you can purchase.

If you just want to play some records without any struggles, then use a record player. And if you want to lure the best possible sound out of your vinyl collection then go for a turntable, with good quality pre amp, amplifier and speakers.

 In the end, regardless of which product you choose to play your records, enjoy the music.

References

  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=diJXZOHv4T0C&oi=fnd&pgPA4&dq=Record+Players+and+Turntables&ots=GtAmOGYzqz&sig=_JqP4stuJ0xb_B1S0VAqsT7CM7
  2. https://asa.scitation.org/doi/pdf/10.1121/1.387599
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