Vinyl Record Player Turntable Glossary of Terms

 Glossary of Terms

As we grow more familiar with the genre, vinyl record enthusiasts can seem like they are speaking a different language. So here at Vinyl Records Accessories, we have put together a Turntable Glossary of  Terms to explain some of the terminologies.

Turntable Parts and Components

The list below indicates a typical arrangement for parts and components on most quality turntables.

  1. Platter – The spinning surface where you place your vinyl record, the belt spins it for the stylus/needle to track the record groove. Whether it is a belt-drive, idler-wheel, or direct-drive system is governed by the relationship of the motor turning the platter.
  • Direct-drive: A motor is used instead of a belt and is connected directly to the platter; this provides higher torque than a belt-drive model, which in turn allows the turntable to reach the correct speed more quickly and keeps the speed less prone to interference from the stylus or a DJs hand. This is the preferred type of turntable for vinyl DJs.
  • Belt-drive: The belt drive platter is turned by a motor connected by a rubber band, called the drive belt. These turntables are usually found in studio and home listening setups. DJs prefer to use direct drive turntables as the drive belt can slip off the motor or platter spindle, which makes it difficult for DJs to scratch or mix records
  • Idler-wheel: These turntables became less familiar with the introduction of the belt drive. In an idler-wheel turntable, the motor is coupled to the platter with a wheel
  1. Spindle– A protruding rod attached to the platter’s bearing keeps your records in place.
  2. Middle adaptor– most turntables will have store an adaptor for 7inch records that have the middle missing
  3. Turntable Mat– A protective surface to isolate your records from platter vibrations while also protecting your records from scratching. Usually made of felt, rubber, or cork, slipmats allow the DJ or selector to manipulate a vinyl record on a turntable. At the same time, the platter continues to rotate underneath the mat lays between a record and the platter. It can reduce unwanted vibrations, protect the vinyl record, and may contain anti-static properties.
  1. Speed Selection/On Button– Knob to change speeds from 33 1/3 to 45 RPM. Different models of turntables have other methods for selecting rotational speed.
  2. Power LED– Indicates if power is on.
  3. Isolation Feet– This allows for damping environmental vibrations preventing those vibrations from reaching the plinth.
  4. Counterweight– Adjustable weight to balance your tonearm specifically to your selected cartridge.
  5. Cueing Lever– This keeps your vinyl and stylus fresh as it eases the headshell and stylus onto the record and lifts it off carefully to keep them in their best quality.
  6. Anti-Skating Control– Adjustable knob that allows you to select an anti-skating measurement to prevent your vinyl records from being pulled toward the center of your platter too aggressively during playback, avoiding skipping or distortion.
  7. Pitch control– a mechanism that allows you to control the speed of the equipment. Altering the speed will change the record players’ pitch
  8. Tonearm– A pivoting metal arm of the record player that holds the headshell and stylus and allows it to hang over the record and track the vinyl records groove while it spins toward the centre of the vinyl record.
  9. Headshell & Stylus– The cartridge containing your stylus is what generates an electrical signal from the tracking of the grooves of a record.
  10. Platter light – this little extension throws an LED light onto the platter while the record is playing
  11. Isolation Feet– This allows for damping environmental vibrations preventing those vibrations from reaching the plinth.

Turntable Parts & Lingo

RPM – This means Revolutions Per Minute, which indicates the platter’s speed. The most common speeds for modern turntables are 33 1/3 and 45 RPM.

RCA – Wires/connections for connecting analog audio components. Often seen as wires with white and red connection ends.

Tonearm Balance – You calibrate your tonearm to adjust the weight of the tracking force.

The video below will assist with the Turntable glossary of terms.


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