Very cool. I've owned a Technics turntable with a whole whack of Pink Floyd, Beatles, and Led Zeppelin LPs. There's something rewarding that comes from spinning the black circle.
Here's what I know about turntables.
- You should be able to buy a decent turntable for $200 or less, but since turntables are often associated with audiophilia don't be surprised if you see turntables listed for tens of thousands of dollars.
- turntables are divided into two broad catetories: 1) home audio, and 2) DJ turntable use.
- they come with one of two drive mechanisms: 1) belt drives (motor is connected with a rubber belt), and 2) direct drives (connected with gears). There are advantages to each.
- you need a receiver with a phono pre-amp, since turntables output a signal at about 1/10th the power of a typical CD/DVD/MP3 player
- records degrade over time and with each subsequent listen
- they can be susceptible to 60 Hz hum. It's caused be electrical interference that gets picked up by the electronics in the turntable and amplified to your speakers
- turntables use cartridges with needles to pick up the recording from the record. If you're buying an old player, the needle can cost more than the player itself.
- common record speeds are 33 1/3 rpm (LPs), 45 rpm (EPs, singles) and 78 rpm (singles usually, more rare). Most turntables have a switch between 33 1/3 and 45. You can also fine tune the pitch with the aid of a built-in strobe light. 45s are higher quality than 33 1/3 because there is more audio information spread over a longer length in the groove.
- some good brands: Technics (most common), Stanton, Vestax, Numark, Audio-Technica
I recommend you start by looking at these turntables: Technics SLBD20D ($130), Stanton T.60 ($200), Vestax Handytrax ($120). Here's the full list (ordered by price) that we've got on PW. There are some pretty craze turntables in that list.