In this day and age, there are numerous audio sources available for our listening pleasure. As we are quite Turntable minded, that seems a logical place to begin. Reminded that we are using the basic principles of the Edison wax cylinder from the early 20th century, it is worth making the observation that from these simple beginnings, reproduction from an LP via a turntable has become quite sophisticated and extraordinarily capable.
As this blog unfolds, we will endeavour to outline the basic operation of a turntable and the numerous ways of attaining and maintaining good performance. We will track (pun intended) the path of musical information, from your LP to your amplifier and subsequently to your loudspeakers, and to offer some basic setup principals to ensure best performance from your playback system. Following some basic (and inexpensive) guidelines will reward you well.
As Jim has covered in previous detail, audio signals are basically generated through a system of wires, configured with magnets, to generate an electrical signal from a sound source, and then to generate audible information delivered by a loudspeaker or similar (headphones). Without going into the production of LP’s, a record groove, which the stylus tracks, is made up of tiny undulations which generate tiny electrical signals through the stylus/cartridge. These tiny signals, are routed through the tone arm wiring, and fed out of your turntable into your amplifier. That is the basic function of a turntable.
The level of accuracy attained, is however affected by the methodology and materials which the manufacturer has embraced. Hence, the level of performance is quite related to the sophistication of manufacture. In a nutshell, better materials and engineering all come at a price and it is no surprise that turntables at the pinnacle of sophistication and performance are expensive. It also should be pointed out, that excellent performance can come from turntables that are NOT necessarily expensive. Indeed, many old performers, being liberated from sheds and cupboards, and some of the modestly priced new models, are showing superb capability when serviced and set up well, with stylus cartridge system given close attention.
Following blogs will detail the basic guidelines of turntable set up and performance. We welcome questions and suggestions always, and without going into matters like tonearm/cartridges resonance problems and other such “ Masters” Degree subjects, are happy to answer your enquiry via phone or email.
We will expand ongoing on the following items of importance. They are in the order of first extracting the detail required, to the point of delivery into your amplifier, and will be in the following order, bearing in mind updates and changes will be ongoing.
1 Location and basic setup of your turntable:- reducing external vibration, correct speed and different drive systems
2 Extracting the music from the LP via cartridge and stylus, Stylus profiles, Wear factors, Cleanliness close to godliness
3 Delivering the audio signal, via the tonearm and line level cables
4 The tonearm
5 The geometry
6 The phono stage