If you are new to vinyl records, it is very easy for you to be tricked into buying a cheap turntable. The first one that you buy might even work fine. However, the lack of quality in cheaper turntables becomes apparent after some time. Therefore, it is important for you to be aware that a cheap turntable will not only reduce the quality of sound but will also damage your records and cause excessive wear on the stylus.
You see, there are two types of turntables. Those with ceramic cartridges and those with magnetic cartridges. The latter is a much better choice for you to buy, but most cheap turntables feature a ceramic cartridge.
What is the problem with ceramic cartridges?
The damage that a turntable with a ceramic cartridge can cause is vast. Firstly, the cartridge will do all it can to vibrate as little as possible, which means no tracking. This results in loss of quality, and you need to re-align your stylus often enough.
Secondly, the spherical needle used on most cheap turntables can damage the vinyl. A spherical needle has a rounded tip, which means it slides over the grooves instead of actually “digging” into them. The result is that your records will be damaged, and the stylus will lose quality very quickly.
What are the other disadvantages of cheap turntables?
Another problem with cheap turntables is that they usually do not have a counterweight. Without the correct weight on your tonearm, you cannot correctly balance it. This will cause too much pressure to be applied to the needle and lead to damage.
The platter is also very important as it affects how quickly vibrations die down. The heavier the platter, the better. Cheap turntables usually have very lightweight platters. As a result, the turntable does not have an even rotational speed, which can cause warbling in your tracks.
What is the solution?
If you want to use your records on a cheap turntable, you will need to buy a magnetic cartridge as that is less damaging for them. You can then attach it to the tonearm and balance everything correctly. This is not ideal though as it involves a lot of time and cost without guaranteeing the longevity of use. Besides, some models of turntables just do not allow such a modification. Sometimes the number of contacts in the connectors of ceramic and magnetic cartridges are not the same, so they are not interchangeable.
In addition, turntables with ceramic cartridges do not always have pre-amplifiers because the signal from those cartridges is more powerful than from magnetic ones. If you put a magnetic cartridge in such a turntable, it will not work properly, and there is nothing you can do about it.
The best solution is to buy a good quality turntable that features a magnetic cartridge. This way, you will enjoy playing records without causing damage to them or spending too much time maintaining your equipment.