What to Consider When Buying Turntable Replacement Parts

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What to Consider When Buying Turntable Replacement Parts

The last few years have seen a rise in turntable sales, as the old records seem to be coming back into fashion. Not to mention the old LPs are now a cheaper option to CDs and even downloadable music formats. Children of the original turntable audiophiles are probably blowing the dust off of their parents' or grandparents' record players and figuring out how to play them. One other reason for the increase of interest in turntables is the growing youth enthusiasm for the DJ profession. In any case, prolonged non-use, as well as regular use, of these turntables often means that parts need to be replaced.

Replacement parts for turntables can be acquired in record shops and even in some consumer electronics shops. Online retail shops, like eBay, also sell replacement parts, and if all else fails, there are always specialty shops, which are harder to find but are more likely to have the part needed. For people who want to listen to LPs or those who want to mix music, sound is important. To acquire turntable parts that produce top-quality sound, a buyer needs to know a little bit about the turntable itself, what kind of parts are normally replaced, and what options are available for a satisfactory purchase.

Turntable Parts

A turntable has many parts, however, those most replaced are moving components and parts that frequently contact other parts. The basic turntable has several major areas that a person should be interested in if he or she is looking to refurbish or replace parts. The base, which holds the motor and bearing; the platter, which is the revolving disc that the record is placed on directly; the tonearm, which moves across the record as it plays; and the cartridge and needle assembly at the end of the tonearm are all important turntable parts.

Turntable Assembly

Description

Parts that May Need Replacing

Base

Biggest part of the turntable

Holds and carries all the other parts

Platter

Belts

Idler wheel

Motor

Tonearm

The most visible moving part of the turntable

Headshells

Cartridge mounts

Preamplifiers

Cartridge

Located at the end of the tonearm

Cartridge

Needle or stylus

The parts of the base, tonearm, and cartridge that may need replacement are discussed below. In any case, they should also be checked when a turntable is pulled out of long storage or when the turntable has been in use for a long time.

Turntable Drive Belts

The turntable belts are generally made of rubber, and as they are used more, they dry out and become stretched. When the turntable is stored long enough, the belts also become hard and cracked, which would be useless for a smooth operation of the turntable wheels. Note that there may be different belt models for different manufacturers. For example, a Bogen turntable may require a Tire STC 2.58 belt and a Kenwood table may require an SCX 2.45, so make sure the belt and turntable are compatible.

Idler Wheels

Many turntables are friction drive mechanisms, which means they have a basic setup made of an idler wheel mounted on an arm that forces the wheel against the platter to make it move. The constant grinding of these parts wears them down after a while. Damaged wheels slip and create heat, which can ruin even more parts of the turntable.

There are turntables that have a single disc idler wheel setup and tables that have a double disc wheel setup. The latter is identifiable because of the cylindrical protrusion at the centre of the wheel build. A buyer can acquire idler wheels in specialty shops, although there are places where damaged wheels can be rebuilt.

Headshells and Cartridge Mounts

The term headshell can be used to refer to the cartridge assembly, and also used to refer to the mounting platform where the cartridge is installed or interchangeable with cartridge mounts. The terminology can be confusing, so in this instance, assume they are the parts of the tonearm where the cartridges are inserted. There are different types of mounts, like the H-4 bayonet mount, which is standard in a number of turntables.

When looking for headshell replacements, it is best to carry around the old one to compare with tonearm connections or cartridge connections. This helps a buyer to choose headshells that are surely compatible with the turntable parts that they have already.

Cartridges

There are three different types of cartridge connections that a buyer has to look out for: half-inch mounts, P-mounts, and universal mounts, which can accommodate either of the other two. Again, carrying a headshell example ensures that the connections on the cartridges match up with those on the headshell.

Remember that it is important to align the cartridge correctly or both the stylus and the record may be damaged. There are cartridge alignment tools that are available at any good record shop.

There are several types of cartridge, namely moving coil (MC), moving magnet (MM), and moving iron (MI). It is a good idea to buy a replacement of the same type, but catridges are not exclusive to turntables, so it is possible to get a higher quality cartridge than the one that is being replaced. The sound output of the turntable depends a good deal on the quality of the cartridge, so a little digging into the types of cartridge that are ideal for particular record players helps.

Styluses

Cartridges and styluses change all the time, so more often than not, it is a waste of time to try to look for original cartridge and stylus replacements for old turntables. In any case, many modern styluses are often better. Styluses come in pure diamond or diamond tipped, but the thing to really consider is the shape of the stylus because the shape affects how complex the vibrations are that form the sound. Good-quality stylus types have shapes that contact the widest surface area of the groove walls in the record. The most common shapes are elliptical and conical.

Which shape is chosen depends on its use. Elliptical styluses have better quality sound output than conical styluses. Those buying styluses for DJ equipment choose conical styluses because they impact the least surface area. They do not damage the record as much, and DJ tricks are less concerned with subtle sound anyway.

There are cartridge and stylus combinations being sold, which could solve the problem of compatibility, but it is probably cheaper if they are purchased separately.

Buying Turntable Replacement Parts on eBay

You can find turntable replacement parts in record shops, although more variety can be found on online sites that cater to audiophiles. Still, retail sites, like eBay, have more than enough selection to keep a buyer happy. Simply typing "turntable parts" into the eBay site search bar and thousands of items are populated. It is better to keep the keywords a little more specific, like "turntable stylus" or "Technics turntable cartridge". After all, you should know which parts you want to replace before looking at places from which you can purchase them.

There are site tools on eBay that make it possible to narrow down larger selections into lesser and more relevant ones. You are able to browse turntable parts by brand, condition, and location. You can also reorder your lists to show them by highest or lowest price first, by distance from your location, by how much time is left before the listing expires, and so on. When you have found the item for which you are looking, remember to do a little digging into the seller background; read the feedback afforded to them. It is a good idea to evaluate the product as thoroughly as possible. Check the pictures and read the product description critically.

Turntable parts need to be precise, so check the shipping policies and return policies of the seller as well. Make sure that the shipping company that the seller uses has a history of reliability.

Conclusion

Turntables were the main source of good music before cassette tapes and CDs eclipsed them because of portability and greater storage space. Still, there are many people who use turntables today, most visibly the DJs in the contemporary music scene. Still, whether the turntable is used for DJ equipment, a home audio system, or unearthed after a decade in storage, sooner or later, there are parts that need replacing. Many turntable manufacturers have certain designs and specific component styles that they put into their turntables, so when looking for replacement parts, compatibility is one of the major concerns.

Good quality sound is produced by quality components, so look for parts that are functional, durable, precise, and are of excellent craftsmanship. Cheap replacement parts only hinder the enjoyment of a record, and in some cases, damage the LP itself. Replacement parts can be acquired at both online and offline shops, although it is more productive to visit specialty shops first, as mainstream electronic or music shops lean more towards MP3 players and CD/DVD devices than turntable parts. For additional turntable maintenance, it is also a good idea to look into cleaning kits for both LP records and record players. Proper maintenance ensures that turntable parts remain in good shape longer, necessitating fewer replacement hassles.

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