You might want to get into in the world vinyl or might already have a history in collecting records, in any case, a good turntable is needed. And while turntable models come with a wide range of features, materials and therefore prices some are wondering: Why are turntables so expensive?
For starters, within a turntable there are a lot of delicate and precise parts that need to convert and boost the signal of the vinyl record to a standard audio signal without causing resonance. Because of this, a lot of good turntables are not machine manufactured but put together by hand. Secondly, the market for good turntables is relatively small and undercut by low-quality suitcase turntables. ‘Expensive’ however is relative as a great turntable can be bought for around $250 which is way cheaper than most smartphones.
Components and Build
One of the reasons why turntables are so expensive is because they contain intricate parts that are sensitive and must be made to exact standards. The main components found in the typical turntable include:
- Bearing: This is what ensures that the platter stays level and rotates consistently. It also helps ensure that the stylus correctly tracks the record. In other words, items such as these have to work together to make playing a record easy to do.
- Cartridge/stylus: The stylus is the needle that sets on top of the record and tracks the grooves. It has to be the exact weight in order not to chip the record and destroy it. It is part of the cartridge that allows the stylus to move freely and do its job.
- Motor: There are many types of motors and they are required to make sure that the turntable actually turns. These include both AC and DC motors and each has its own set of pros and cons.
- Platter: This is what the record is placed on. It is usually made with a felt or rubber mat on top to protect the record from resonating too much and make sure that it doesn’t slip around while it’s being played.
- Tonearm: This is a radial or pivotal arm that helps keep the record in place as it maneuvers its way down to the platter. Tonearms are made with bearings that must be the perfect weight and design so they don’t damage your records.
As you can see, all of these parts are intricately designed and must work together not just to play your records correctly but to keep those records safe from danger and destruction each time you play them. It takes a lot of experienced technicians and the right machines to make each component properly because if just one part is made incorrectly, it can ruin the design of the entire turntable.
Manufacturing and Maintenance
If you’ve ever asked yourself why are turntables so expensive, you now have some idea of why this is so. With very small and precise parts — not to mention so many of them — as well as parts that have to each meet certain requirements and specifications, it is easy to understand how difficult and complex the manufacturing of these parts is. One of the most difficult aspects of the entire process is making sure that you don’t get too many vibrations and too much resonance as the record is playing. This is the main reason why the creation of each part is so crucial as well as putting these parts together to form a solid build.
You also have to keep in mind that when the manufacturers of turntables make the products, they make them to last a long time. This is true whether you spend $200 or $2000 on it and it is also why all of the turntable’s parts have to be made in a certain way. If for example the tonearm or the counterweight is not well aligned and adjusted to the stylus, the stylus will get too much or too little pressure on the record which will cause either wearing out to fast or stuttering sounds.
This is why so much time and attention are devoted to the making of the components of a turntable but it is also why turntables tend to be expensive. Of course, you have to do your part as well, which includes alligning the turntable properly and when needed replacing the components such as the stylus or tonearm in time.
The turntable market
Vinyl and turntables are a rising trend again since the about 2007, the hunger for a material feel in the digitized music industry together with a retro-style form the 80’s and 90’s under youth created a new market. Now brands like Crosley with their suitcase turntables can be found in a lot of hip stores jumping into this new market.
It is really fun to see so many new people discover the world of vinyl. However, unfortunately, the average quality of one of these suitcase turntables is rather poor where in some cases the stylus, for example, will only last you 40 hours playing time. A decent turntable will simply cost a bit more where about 300 is optimal for the average vinyl enthusiast in terms of quality and features. The right turntable is always worth the price that you pay for it and it will provide you with many years of enjoyment once you find the best one.
What do you mean turntables are so expensive?
In general, we think the majority of turntables in today’s market are not that expensive for what you get in return. The sound quality, design and longevity can give you a nice hobby, design centerpiece and can last a lifetime of listening to records. However, if you feel decent turntables are too expensive we are here to prove you wrong. A decent turntable can be bought for around $150. Of course, this is not up to the audiophiles standard but it will provide decent sound quality, simple usage and quite a few features. It will be way better than any suitcase turntable you will find in a clothing store. Take look below in of our buying guides to see what would suit your needs the best.