How to Buy an Audio Turntable on eBay

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How to Buy an Audio Turntable on eBay

An audio turntable is used to play vinyl records. Vinyl records are analogue means of storing sound and they have been around for many years. Even though newer mediums have been introduced, such as CDs and MP3s, vinyl records have remained the first choice for many audiophiles, who believe that they offer supreme quality sound and performance. Audio turntables have gone through numerous developments throughout the decades and are still considered to be a good way to play audio.

Audio turntables are often used by professional DJs as well as music enthusiasts who wish to play their vinyl collection at home. Audio turntables are available as complete sets, but they can also be bought as separate components. When buying the turntable, the tonearm, and the cartridge separately, buyers are able to fine tune their audio turntable to best suit their requirements. Casual listeners can rely on buying very good ready made sets. eBay lists both old and new audio turntables models, as well as the accessories required to create the perfect vinyl sound.

Components of an Audio Turntable

Audio turntables are composed of several components that combine to play vinyl records. The primary components are the drives, tonearm, and cartridge.

Audio Turntable Drives

The type of drive the audio turntable uses is the most significant difference between various models. The drive refers to the way that the turntable spins the platter on which the record is placed. There are two designs that on the surface look identical, but are quite different: direct and belt drive.

Direct Drive Audio Turntables

Direct drive turntables spin the platter directly from the shaft attached to the motor. So, the spinning can be done without a belt. This design is reliable as it reduces flutter and provides a consistent speed for accurate sound. Direct drives allow the possibility of spinning the platter backwards, so scratch DJs can create special sound effects. Therefore, direct drive turntables are commonly used by music professionals.

Belt Drive Audio Turntables

Belt drive turntables have a rubber drive belt that surrounds and spins the platter. The platter is positioned on an engineered bearing so that it can rotate and the motor is placed separately to one side. The belt is able to absorb shock when the platter starts spinning. This means that vibration and noise originating from the motor are minimised and the sound has a good quality. Belt drive audio turntables are the first choice of audiophiles who listen to vinyl records at home.

Audio Turntable Tonearms

The tonearm on an audio turntable is one of its variable features. The tonearm is a long attachment on the turntable that controls the stylus, often referred to as the needle, and transmits the signal that it produces. The stylus is the pointed tip on the tonearm that tracks the grooves in vinyl records. A good turntable tonearm delivers pure sound. Many different styles of audio turntable tonearms can be bought on eBay in order to upgrade an existing component.

Audio Turntable Cartridges

The turntable cartridge is connected to the tonearm. The stylus is held by the cartridge. Although the cartridge is small, it influences the sound quality a great deal. If the audio turntable is purchased from eBay for casual listening, then the cartridge that comes as standard with the device should be sufficient and provide a good listening experience. If the turntable is going to be used by a DJ, it may be necessary to invest in a harder wearing cartridge. Audio turntable cartridges are usually replaced after 500 or 1,000 hours of music playback. Better quality cartridges can last for longer and maintain the state of the vinyl records better because they produce less wear on the grooves. Cartridges are available in two types: moving magnet and moving coil. They also have two different mounting types: standard or P-mount.

Moving Magnet Cartridges for Audio Turntables

Moving magnet cartridges have small permanent magnets. These magnets are positioned between two coils and vibrate when the stylus tracks the groove in a vinyl record. This generates a current in the coils. The moving magnet cartridge does not need much amplification because of the high voltage output. Moving magnet cartridges are suitable for cheaper and mid-budget turntables.

Moving Coil Cartridges for Audio Turntables

Moving coil cartridges form a small electromagnetic generator. They usually require pre-amplifiers. Moving coil cartridges are expensive devices. They cost more than moving magnet cartridges because producing them is a much more complex process. However, audiophiles consider them to have better performance. They deliver bass power and musical details better than other cartridges. However, moving coil cartridges cannot make a low quality turntable much better, so they should be used with high quality turntables.

Standard Mount Cartridges for Audio Turntables

The standard mount is the most popular style for phono cartridges. Cartridges mounted in this way are attached to the tonearm with two screws and four wires are connected to its back.

P-Mount Cartridges for Audio Turntables

The P-mount is a simpler way of attaching the cartridge to the audio turntable's tonearm. The P-mount uses only one screw, which goes through the side of the cartridge. This mount system is also known as T4P and audio turntables that use it often have this written on them.

Operating an Audio Turntable

Audio turntables can be operated either manually or automatically. eBay also lists semi automatic options that combine both operating types. Professionals tend to prefer the manual models because of their better sound quality. Automatic audio turntables are simple and anyone can use them easily.

Manual Audio Turntable

Manual audio turntables work by having all of the actions performed by the listener. However, levers on the turntable help with lifting and lowering the tonearm to get the stylus into the record's groove properly.

Automatic Audio Turntable

A fully automatic audio turntable performs all of the actions required to get the vinyl record playing. With the touch of a single button, the tonearm lifts and drops to place the stylus into a groove on the record. When the record is complete the tonearm is returned to its original position. These turntables usually switch off by themselves too.

Semi Automatic Audio Turntable

A few audio turntables models are semi automatic. These perform some of the tasks automatically and leave some to the listener. For example, they may turn off automatically, but the listener needs to adjust the tonearm.

Buying an Audio Turntable on eBay

When searching for audio turntables on eBay, there are many options to choose from. To start, you can type "audio turntable" into the search box on the main page and browse through the list of results. As the main types of turntables have either belt or direct drives, you could also use these keywords in your search terms. You can sort the initial results by price in order to find turntables for a specific budget. The results can also be filtered by condition if you are particularly interested in new or used audio turntables.

Audio turntables can be found as a complete sets, and this works really well if you are not familiar with the individual components. However, if you are an experienced audiophile, you can construct your own turntable by selecting components, such as the tonearm, stylus, and cartridge. In order to ensure that you purchase compatible parts, you should ask sellers questions about their products. They should provide details about each component or the full audio turntable, in the item listing. There should also be photos which can be checked for features and signs of wear. Sellers can be contacted directly using the "Ask a question" link. They should be able to tell you whether or not the part they are offering fits your turntable.


Audio turntables are devices for playing vinyl records. They are used both by professional DJs and music enthusiasts who wish to enjoy their vinyl collection at home. Audio turntables can be bought as complete sets or can combined from separate parts, all found on eBay. The most significant feature of the audio turntable is its drive, which refers to how the platter that contains the record is spinned. Listeners can choose between the direct drive or the belt drive. Other components of the audio turntable include its tonearm, stylus, and cartridge. The cartridge is a small part that holds the stylus, or needle. There are different cartridges types, each with their own features. Buyers can shop eBay either for a moving magnet or moving coil cartridge. They should also consider the different mount types.

Audio turntables can be operated either manually or automatically. Beginners may find it simpler to use an automatic turntable to protect the stylus and the vinyl records. Professionals, such as DJs, may prefer manual models which deliver better sound quality and allow them to change the spinning rate of the record. There are also semi automatic models. The different audio turntables and their components are widely available from eBay sellers.

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