Record Player - Record Deck - Turntable
The following features or parts of a turntable are all designed to eliminate or greatly reduce unwanted vibrations entering the stylus / tonearm assembly.
Internal, structural and airborne vibrations adversely effect how the stylus reproduces the recorded vibrations within the records groove.
There are pros and cons to the various methods and practises used plus many subjective opinions as to the positive and negative attributes of each method or practice.
We hope the following information will enable you to understand a little more about this fascinating hobby and its ability to present the art of music as it should be presented, as a musical and emotional experience.
The Platter (Main Platter or Sub Platter)
The main platter or additionally the sub platter can be manufactured using various materials such as: Delrin Plastic, Carbon Fibre, Acrylic, Steel, Aluminium, Glass. All of these platter materials have individual resonant frequency responses.
The vinyl record when placed directly onto any one of the various platter materials and reproduced by the stylus / cantilever assembly, can have a variable tonal response depending upon the material used to construct the platter.
Some manufacturers insert so called ‘Silencers’, these round metallic inserts are placed into the surface of the platter. They aid in the reduction of hi frequency resonances within the platter.
Heavy or Light Platter on Heavy or Light Chassis
- Light weight platter on a Light weight chassis
- Light weight platter on a Heavy weight chassis
- Heavy weight platter on Light weight chassis
- Heavy weight platter on Heavy weight chassis
The various options above, all have their pros and cons, light weight versus heavy weight.
The discussions and arguments are numerous, the one guaranteed certainty is they all sound different.
Suspended or Rigid Chassis Design
The main goal of any turntable design is to replay the vinyl record as best it can within the parameters of its design.
Each and every turntable has its own sonic signature, no matter what type of design, suspension or ridged. They all reproduce the recorded vibrations captured within the vinyl groove in their own very distinctive and unique ways.
All turntables are susceptible to vibrational interference be it internal or external.
Plinth mounted motors can be the cause of internal vibrations which if not suppressed or reduced can effect the performance of the Stylus / Tonearm assembly.
External vibrations be they Structural & Airborne can also adversely effect the turntable as a whole.
Various types of structural vibrations such as infrasonic, (vibrations below 20Hz) as well as vibrations caused by city centre traffic, road works, construction of buildings, foot fall on suspended wooden floors all play their part.
Airborne vibrations such as the music emanating from your hifi speakers can feedback through the air into the Stylus / Tonearm assembly effecting its performance.
It’s impossible to say which one is better Suspended or Rigid, as each design has its pros and cons and although based on physics, each design is subjective to the individual ear.
Some platters are CNC machined or fitted with a Platter Bearing Axle which sinks into a lubricated bearing well or housing, positioned within the centre of the plinth of the turntable. The bearing well or housing can be made from steel, brass or a ceramic material.
Another design is the Inverted Platter Bearing Axle, this design is the reverse of the design previously mentioned. Housed within the centre of the platter is the bearing well insert, the platter with its bearing well insert is now placed onto the inverted platter bearing axle and spins freely and smoothly upon the bearing axles pivot point. The end of the bearing axle is described as the bearing pivot point, this pivot point can be CNC machined into a dome shape or utilise a stainless steel ball bearing within its housing.
Some manufacturers use a ceramic or precious stone bearing, ruby for example, due to these materials having very smooth surfaces which greatly reduce friction, allowing the platter to spin freely and smoothly at the correct speed with reduced wow and flutter. Various oil or synthetic lubricants are recommended to lubricate the bearing pivot point. Check with the manufacturer of your turntable for their recommended choice of lubricant.
These can be manufactured using various materials such as: Felt, Rubber, Cork, Leather.
You can choose whether to use a Felt mat, Rubber mat, Cork mat, Cork & Rubber mat, or a Leather mat. They each offer various levels of resonance reduction and dampening of unwanted vibrations.
The vinyl record when placed directly onto any one of the various platter mats and reproduced by the stylus / cantilever assembly, can sound either bright or dull sounding depending upon the material used to construct the platter mat.
Record Clamp or Weight
Along with clamping the vinyl record tight to the platter, reducing movement of the disc as the stylus tracks the record groove, the record clamp also helps reduce internal and external structural vibrations effecting the platter and vinyl record.
A clamp can also help flatten warped discs improving stylus tracking. The clamp operates by clamping onto the spindle applying a downward force onto the vinyl disc. The weight as its name implies adds weight rather than a clamping downward force to the disc.
When using either a clamp or weight, the individual weight of these units needs to be considered, as the extra weight applied to the platter can add strain to the belt and the platters bearing pivot point.
Outer Ring Clamps
Less common than Spindle clamps and weights, Outer Ring Clamps are used to flatten the outer edges of the vinyl record onto the platter, reducing resonance and warps at the edge of the disc.
When using either a clamp, weight or outer ring clamp, the individual weight of these units needs to be considered, as the extra weight applied to the platter can add strain to the belt and the platters bearing pivot point.
They are all round, but the body of the belt can be Flat, Round or Square.
Some belts depending upon the material used to manufacture them (usually rubber) are more tactile or gripping than others and so aid with controlling the speed of the platter.
Belts do stretch and crack overtime, when they stretch there is less tension and slight cracking due to the rubber drying over time, this can be seen when the belt is stretched slightly also speed deviations become more audible.
Always replace the belt with the same shape and size of the original.
It is not possible to change a flat belt with a round or square one or vice versa.
The various shapes are specific to the motors pulley and will effect the speed of the platter if not fitted correctly.
Belt Drive / Direct Drive
A Belt Drive motor assembly offers less transmission of motor born vibrations to the platter but with very slight deviation with regard to controlling the speed of the platter.
A Direct Drive motor assembly offers increased control with regard to controlling the speed of the platter but there is a compromise it also increases transmission of motor born vibrations to the platter.
Plinth Mounted Motor / Outboard Motor
Plinth Mounted Motor assemblies do reduce the overall space required to position the turntable and most if not all manufactures try their best to reduce motor borne vibrations as much as they can but the Outboard Motor design offers far less transmission of motor born vibrations to the turntables structure and platter.
Remember the less vibrations getting into the structure of the turntable be it structural or airborne, the less getting into the Stylus / Tonearm assembly.
The Plinth can be manufactured using various materials such as: MDF, Wood,Plastic, Carbon Fibre, Acrylic, Steel, Aluminium. All of these various materials have individual resonant frequencies which can either dampen or increase the level of vibrations within the structure of the turntable.
Once again the less vibrations getting into the structure of the turntable be it structural or airborne, the less getting into the Stylus / Tonearm assembly.
Where to Place Your Turntable
Place your turntable on a structure that is totally level and is free from transmitting as much as possible structural vibrations into the structure of the turntable.
There are various dedicated tables which are totally fit for this purpose.
Also available are dedicated equipment racks and shelf supports if space is a premium.
Never place your turntable on top of other equipment along with it not being a solid and level surface on which to place your turntable, the individual pieces of equipment all contain mains transformers which generate structural vibrations which in turn vibrate into the structure of the turntable and on into the stylus / tonearm assembly.
Hifiology - Quicklinks
Record Player, Record Deck, Turntable
The Stylus - Shapes, Types
The Stylus - Needle in the Groove
The Cartridge - Moving Magnet or Coil
The Cartridge - The Assembly
The Tonearm - Shapes & Sizes
The Tonearm - Geometry & terms