Open Music, DJ Lessons

"DJ, your way ! "

6.1 Vinyl

Vinyl Turntables

Vinyl turntables are expensive to maintain. This is especially true for a professional setup. The older and more robust turntables use different needles, but the pro-DJ turntable uses a diamond tipped needle that must be replaced every so often.

Gone are the days where you have to lug around a thousand poly vinyl records and as a result of what is called time-coded vinyl. You can now use your computer in conjunction with a vinyl turntable to instantaneously transfer, manipulate  and even scratch in real time.

Vinyl Turntable Standards

We will start by explaining the Vinyl Turntable as it is one of the older methods and is not as common today. The company Technics set the standard for direct drive turntables. Direct drive defines a turntable that uses magnets for motion and is accepted to run smoother and more consistently than belt driven turntables, that use physical rubber belts for their rotation motion. There are also other reputable brands including Stanton and Numark, which are slightly cheaper versions. A good DJ turntable will have “Quartz Lock”.

“Quartz lock” uses a crystal to regulate the speed and it will ensure that the turntable stays at a constant pace and direct drive means that the motor is powered by magnets which makes the rotations constant. If the rotations varied slightly, we would hear small discrepancies in the music in the form of pitch changes.It may be challanging to mix the more than one source of music. 

The alternative consumer grade turntable is belt driven. This can still work, but most professional DJ’s prefer to use Direct drive also because it starts and stops more efficiently. Belt Driven Turntables generate noise from its moving gears and components. This can sometimes be transferred to the needle and cause unwanted noise.

Revolutions per minute 33 v 45

Turntables usually have buttons labeled 33 and 45 RPM. RPM stands for revolutions per minute and it will be the actual Poly Vinyl Record that will dictate what setting you will need to use. If using time coded vinyl you will need to ensure your RPM are in alignment on the computer. If the RPM setting is wrong, the song will sound unusually fast or slow.

Components of a DJ Vinyl Turntable

A cartridge is a transducer used for the playback of records on a turntable or phonograph. It converts mechanical vibrational energy from a stylus (needle) riding in a spiral record groove into an electrical signal that is subsequently amplified and then converted back to sound by a speaker system.

The stylus fits into the cartridge, which is bolted to the Head shell. The head shell holds the cartridge, and includes the proper weight, height, and wiring to transfer the signal of the media source.

This all leads to the tonearm. The tonearm holds the pickup cartridge over the groove, the stylus tracking the groove with the desired force to give the optimal compromise between good tracking and minimizing wear of the stylus and record groove. At its simplest, a tone arm is a pivoted lever, free to move in two axes (vertical and horizontal) with a counterbalance to maintain tracking pressure.

Normally turntables come with a head shell to fit into the tonearm. A tone arm is a pivoted lever, free to move in two axes (vertical and horizontal) with a counterbalance to maintain tracking pressure.