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Manual & Automatic Turntables: Which Is Right for You? July 29, 2019

Nashville-Davidson, Davidson
Manual & Automatic Turntables: Which Is Right for You?, Nashville-Davidson, Tennessee

If you’re thinking about building a collection of vinyl albums, it makes sound sense to invest in how you listen to them. That’s where a high-quality turntable comes in. Two main categories are manual and automatic, terms referring to the manner in which the needle is positioned on the record. Here’s all you need to decide which is right for you.

Choosing Between Manual & Automatic Record Players

What’s a Manual Turntable?

Manual models are completely controlled by the user. You must position the tonearm—in which the stylus, or needle, is situated—directly onto the vinyl record in order to play it. When the music ends, you lift the tonearm and return it to its original position on the rest.

What’s an Automatic Turntable?

turntableBy contract, automatic machines perform all of these maneuvers for you. After you position the record and push start, the tonearm automatically shifts and lowers onto the record. When the record is finished, the tonearm moves back to its original position.

What’s the Best Choice for a Beginner?

Consider how confident you feel operating the equipment. In general, beginners who aren’t familiar with record players will likely be most comfortable with the ease of an automatic device. They’re great for vinyl album collectors who want to make sure they don’t damage their records—the tonearm moves automatically and there’s no danger of accidentally scratching the surface, which is something that could occur if you accidentally drop it using a manual machine.

But if you love the idea of immersing yourself fully in collector culture and want to learn the fine art of using a manual, you may want to go with this option instead. Because it has fewer moving parts, there’s less interference with the sound produced by the turntable, so there’s a purity that can’t be matched elsewhere. Fewer parts also mean it’s less likely to require repairs or maintenance.


Music lovers throughout Nashville, TN, know there’s nowhere better in the city to find quality vinyl records than Alison’s Record Shop. The store is owned by a music-loving couple that understands how important it is to enjoy the full record-listening experience. That’s why they have a stock of unsealed vinyl available for you to enjoy in the store. If you don’t yet have a turntable, come by and have a chat with Brian’s Custom Theaters & Hi-Fi to find an excellent selection of products. Visit the shop online for information or see if something’s in stock by calling (615) 356-0180.

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