Why purchase a Bluetooth turntable?
Among the many modern turntables you’ll come across, one of the most popular is the Bluetooth turntable. There are many factors that make this turntable desirable, not the least of which is the ability to connect to devices wirelessly. If given the option to choose between a wireless device and a device that uses a wired/cable connection, most people would go for the wireless device. The neat, minimalist look with no cables crisscrossing each other is a definite attraction.
Plus, you can connect it to any smart device, as long as it is Bluetooth-enabled. And which smart device isn’t? Goes to show the greater versatility in use you get to enjoy with this turntable vis-a-vis non-Bluetooth turntables. You can store your music anywhere – in the iPhone, iPad, iPod, Android phone, tablet, and any other portable device, and pair this device with the turntable for crisp, clear music when you need it.
Features to consider before buying a Bluetooth turntable
A Bluetooth turntable, no matter how basic, isn’t a 10-dollar purchase. At the very least, you’ll spend $100 on one, possibly much more. You want to make your money count by making this a worthy purchase, and you do that by considering important features, as outlined below.
There are generally three rotating speeds: 33-1/3 (often referred to simply as 33), 45, and 78 RPM. The rotation speed depicts the level at which the turntable enjoys peak performance. The earliest records developed, around 1925, performed optimally at 78 rotations per minute and were big compared to later versions. Even so, they could only offer 3–4 minutes of playback time. This is because the faster the record rotated, the smaller the amount of information it could hold. They were also brittle and prone to damage. Later, a smaller version, the 33 RPM record and which came to be famously known as the LP, was developed. It had a higher playback capability than the 78 RPM record and was also more durable. The 45 RPM record was the last to be invented. It offered a similar playback amount to the 78, but it was smaller and more durable.
Before further improvements on vinyl records could be made, advancements in radio technology were made, and thereafter, the tape and CD players were invented. That marked the end of vinyl records as these latter music formats became more popular, given they could pack more music information than vinyl records. Still, vinyl records continued to be used, especially by record companies.
The 78-RPM record was overshadowed by the 33 and 45-RPM records, but it’s still available in older, pre-1930 records. However, it’s not as widely in use or common as the other two.
When looking to buy a turntable for your records, check that it is compatible with the rotating speed of the records. Some turntables support only two speeds, while others support all three rotation speeds.
While the Bluetooth experience is generally the same in all devices, the Bluetooth range that’s supported in the turntable dictates the distance within which you’ll be able to connect to the turntable. If the indicated distance is 30 feet, it means you can get a connection, provided the Bluetooth device you’re using to connect to the turntable is within a 30-foot radius of the turntable.
Again, newer versions of Bluetooth may have faster data transfer speeds compared to older versions. So in two turntables with two Bluetooth versions, you may experience a faster connection in the turntable that has a newer Bluetooth version.
As you evaluate the Bluetooth capacity, check also whether the turntable only supports Bluetooth In or has both Bluetooth In and Out functions.
When only Bluetooth In capabilities are supported, it means you can only play music from Bluetooth-enabled devices.
When both Bluetooth in and out capabilities are supported, it means you can play music from your Bluetooth devices and listen to the turntable music on Bluetooth speakers of any kind.
Type: direct-drive vs. belt-drive
Turntables are usually of two types: direct-drive and belt-drive. Each type has its pros and cons. Understanding what these are in each will help you make a choice that’s right for the kind of experience you want from the turntable.
In both types, the record sits on a component known as a platter. It is this component that spins as the record plays. The difference between the two types is how the motor is located in relation to the platter.
In direct-drive turntables, the platter is in direct contact with the motor. As a result, the platter enjoys a more constant playback speed. Direct-drive turntables also have a higher torque, which causes less noise distortion. It’s also possible to spin the platter backward, DJ-style, for those scratch sound effects.
In belt-drive turntables, the platter is attached to an elastic belt, which is in turn attached to the motor. These turntables have less torque and, consequently, less accurate speeds. However, because the platter is insulated from the motor, very little noise from the motor reaches the tone arm. As a result, these turntables have better sound quality.
Stylus and platter
The stylus, also known as the needle, is the cone-shaped, diamond-tipped component that rests against the record and moves up and down between record grooves. It’s fitted into the cartridge and is fully removable. To allow for mobility, the stylus is connected to the tone arm.
The platter is the platform on which the record sits as it plays. In addition to holding the record in place, it also maintains the playback speed and serves as a cushion against noise – most notably motor vibrations – blocking this noise from reaching the stylus or tonearm and distorting the sound quality.
The platter should be firm and rigid. Choose a platter with a good weight because the heavier it is, the better it is at insulating the stylus against noise.
The denser the platter is, the less resonant it is, and this means little vibration filtering through to the stylus.
Similarly, when the platter is dense, it provides better consistency in speed playback. The platter is usually made from acrylic, metal, or MDF. You only need to weigh the advantages of each material over the others and pick what you feel would offer the best sound experience.
The tonearm is connected to the stylus and is responsible for producing sound in the turntable. It’s the component that balances and moves the stylus across the groove as needed. As the stylus comes into contact with the record grooves, it transmits vibrations through the wires inside the tonearm and onto the coils of the cartridge, where they are turned into electric signals.
Choose a turntable with a tonearm that is rigid and yet light enough to move freely, well-aligned, and fully adjustable.
The pre-amplifier, also known as phono stage, phono preamplifier, or simply preamp, is a type of amplifier specifically designed to boost record player signals. It’s typically available as a built-in component in record players or as a stand-alone unit for use with record players. You won’t find in modern audio receivers, however, as these are not built for record player signals.
If your record player doesn’t have an inbuilt pre-amplifer, you’ll need to search for a special amplifier for turntable.
Additional features that are useful include:
- Anti-skid weight to hold the stylus and tonearm in place
- Quality plinth with the ability to successfully isolate vibrations
- Sturdy counterweight to balance the weight of the tonearm and regulate the weight on the stylus at any given time
It may be important to consider the materials used on some of these key components, for example, things like carbon fiber for the tonearm and acrylic for the platter, as some materials are considerably better than others.