The Anatomy of the Turntable
For DJs this feature is a necessity, the pitch fader is used to adjust the speed of the spinning platter within a specified range (-/+) measured in percentage. Different turntables offer altering pitch settings, ranging from +/-8% to +/-16% and even going as high as +/-50%. The control is primarily adjusted in order to match the beat of another record thus creating a seamless mix. Beat-matching was first adopted by NYC DJ Francis Grasso as he attempted to prevent party goers from leaving the room between songs.
Records are delicate and so is your precious stylus, so a perfectly calibrated counterweight is essential if you want to ensure listening longevity. The counterweight determines how well your stylus sits on the record as it plays. It should dance rather than drag through the grooves of the record, applying as little friction as possible without reducing the sound in any way. It’s important that the counterweight is calibrated correctly, otherwise it can do damage to both the record and the stylus. Different styli means different settings so make sure you check what settings your equipment necessitates. One of the many benefits of vinyl playback is that it allows the user to exercise minute control over each aspect of the process. The turntable itself is comprised of many moving parts, most of which will need adjustment, maintenance, and...
Perfect anti-skate calibration maximises the longevity of your records. Ideally the stylus needs to sit in the middle of the groove rather than pressing too hard on one side. With each side representing either the left or the right channels you don’t want the stylus to wear away and damage one channel to be left with an unequal distribution of sound. How to set the anti skating on your sl1200
The cue lever allows you to gently raise and lower the tone arm. This is useful when positioning the stylus on a desired groove of the record you want to play. Placing the stylus on the record freestyle can be damaging both to the stylus and the record in the long run. The same applies with removing the stylus from play, always try and use the cue lever.
Pretty self-explanatory, not only is the tone arm supposed to rest on this plastic protrusion whilst idle, but it is usually accompanied by a retractable clip that holds the tone arm in place, preventing it from wandering and swivelling mindlessly.
This is the connecting arm between the pivoting mechanism and counterweight to the stylus. It’s used to guide the stylus along the grooves of the record that ultimately lead toward the spindle in the centre of the platter.
Mostly a redundant feature, but can be useful for cueing a record in dim light, a task which would otherwise be a menace for DJs in a scarcely lit booth. It can also be used to detect the collection of dust on the record playing.
These determine the amount of rotations per minute that the platter will spin at. Most turntables offer a choice of 33 and 45 RPM, and some also spin at 78RPM. Different records require different speeds, these are usually stated on the label. Generally speaking, 7" singles play at 45 RPM, and LPs play at 33 RPM.
A separate entity altogether, this round piece sits in the corner of the turntable base, ready to play one of your 45s. The adapter enlarges the centre spindle to fit the larger hole that many 7” records have.
These are a useful indicator of how efficiently your motor is running. As the platter spins, a strobe light flashes and lights up the dots. If the motor is functioning properly then you should be able to make out the dots even as the platter spins; each row of dots should appear frozen at certain pitch settings. Watch the video for more guidance on this. If they aren’t frozen then it can mean that your motor or pitch control needs servicing. How should the dots move on your technics SL1200
This is where the record lies; the platter is powered by the motor and spins clockwise, with the slipmat in place and the record sitting on top. The spinning of the platter means that the stylus can follow the grooves and read the sound waves.
This metal protrusion is where you align the corresponding hole of the record you want to play. It fastens the record in place allowing for a smooth listening experience.
This is essentially the foundation which supports and conceals all the internal components. A heavy base is desirable for durability as well as reducing the likelihood of different components within the base from getting damaged, and generally just doing a better job at holding it all together.
On/Off basically. The switch is usually quite sensitive, so try not to brush it in the middle of your mix.
Nice and big and highly responsive, this button gets your motor moving and allows you to stop the platter just as easily.
Direct drive turntables are driven by a motor which is directly attached to the platter, allowing for a quicker start up than belt drive. Many believe that the motor from a direct driven deck causes vibrations, affecting the overall sound, and so making the belt driven players a favourite amongst audiophiles. Having said that, the introduction of slipmats has meant that less vibrations are picked up from the driving motor beneath. Moreover, the torque on direct drive decks is usually much higher than their belt driven counterparts, meaning that the platter is less susceptible to external variables like a hand or even a stylus.
Belt driven turntables run using a motor which is positioned off-center to the platter. A belt connects the motor to the platter. Advantages include a significant reduction in vibration compared to direct drive turntables. It's also the cheaper option of the two. The belt is more susceptible to wear, however, and the lack of immediacy between motor and platter means that the platter is slower at reaching the necessary RPM. Torque is generally lower on belt driven turntables, and so they are commonly avoided by DJs due to the limitations that surface when cueing a track.
The power cable plugs into the mains and allows you to use your turntable, not much explanation needed there. The ground wire however is what you attach to the back of a preamp in order to divert feedback that would otherwise create an undesirable humming sound.
These are the cables responsible for transferring the electrical signals created by the cartridge, transporting them through to the preamp/mixer and out to the speakers where they are converted into sound. The cable is a phono connection or RCA and is split between one red end and one white, representing either the right and left audio channels respectively.
The headshell holds the cartridge in place, connecting the cartridge and stylus with the tonearm.
This is one of the more important aspects of the turntable. Without it, the grooves on the records would be useless. The cartridge is responsible for translating the vibrations picked up by the needle into electrical signals that are then fed through the phono output and out to the speakers where they are converted into sound. It's often advised that users buy magnetic cartridges rather than ceramic ones, though this isn't crucial.
The stylus or needle is what reads the grooves as the record spins beneath it. Each groove represents a different sound wave which act on the stylus causing vibrations that are then converted into electrical signals by the cartridge. Being the fine, knife-like, implement that it is, your records can be worn away very quickly if the whole turntable isn't calibrated correctly; you want as little force as possible acting on the record without losing any of the sound quality, so it's important that you calibrate the counterweight and anti-skate correctly in order to ensure maximum longevity of your records.
Unlike the traditional rubber mat, the slipmat is designed to slip on the platter, allowing DJs to manipulate the record playing on the turntable while the platter underneath continues its rotation.

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