What’s The Difference Between A Record Player And A Turntable?


As technology gets more and more advanced, sometimes people decide to go back to older forms of music technology; after all, anybody can stream or download music off their phone, so why not explore different ways to listen to music? There are a number of options for curious music fans, such as CDs, cassette tapes, 8 tracks, or record players. Record players are one of the most popular alternative ways to listen to music; many say they offer increased sound quality and they also reward accumulating a large collection of records.

However, there is a lot to know before you dive into the world of vinyl. The first question many people ask is this: what’s the difference between a record player and a turntable? This article will tell you everything you need to know to pick the best equipment to play your records.

What is a Turntable?

Some people might think that the terms “record player” and “turntable” are interchangeable. Although they certainly are similar, there are a few key differences that are worth exploring. Turntables are the most common, so let’s examine those first. In the simplest terms possible, a turntable allows you to play records either through a speaker system or your headphones.

However, a turntable oftentimes only refers to the actual equipment that plays the record. Most standard turntables do not feature any built-in amplifiers or speakers.

So, if you decide to buy a turntable, you should know that you will probably need to purchase some additional equipment in order to actually play and listen to your records. But a turntable will play any kind of vinyl record; if you want to play smaller, 45rpm records, all you will need is a small insert for the turntable.

What is a Record Player?

You may be wondering what the difference is between a record player and a turntable. While a turntable requires some degree of outboard equipment to truly work, a record player is very different.

Although every brand and manufacturer is different, a record player often includes some kind of onboard speaker and amplifier that will allow you to hear your records. This makes it a better all in one solution for many music listeners; in fact, many styles of record players feature a number of other features, such as the ability to play CDs, connect mp3 players, or even listen to the radio. This degree of flexibility is one of the many strong points of record players.

Some manufacturers also make fully portable models, allowing you to pick up your music and take it with you wherever you go. So while a record player and a turntable are both remarkably similar, and both of them will certainly play all of your records, they both serve a specific set of needs, so it is important that you know and understand these qualities before you decide to make a purchasing decision.

Do I Need a Record Player or a Turntable?

So which one should you spend your hard-earned money on- a record player or a turntable? As we have been discussing, although they are both similar enough, it is important that you do not think of them as interchangeable in any way. One may serve your needs better or worse than the other one; making an informed decision is crucial.

For many experienced vinyl collectors and players, a turntable will be the best choice. They often offer better sound quality and cable connectors and are often better for your records in the long term. Many more dedicated record collectors also tend to already have a dedicated sound system and/or speakers that they can connect their turntables to.

If you already have an audio set up you can drop your turntable into, it could be the best choice. And for any aspiring DJs out there, a turntable is also probably the best choice. Most turntables feature a particular kind of belt drive that will allow you to scratch records and do other tricks without damaging the turntable’s motor.

So, who should purchase a more all-in-one record player? If you are just getting into the vinyl world, or are not totally tied to vinyl as your primary way to listen to music, it might be a good idea to try out a record player.

The built-in amplifier means that no matter what kind of audio set up you have, you will be able to play your records right away. You won’t have to worry about hooking up a million and one cables to an expensive speaker system- just plug the record player in and you will be good to go.

Although many portable record players are an affordable starting point for new vinyl collectors, you should remember that they aren’t really good for long term use. A number of record players can often degrade your records with repeated use; so if you are looking for a cheap, temporary solution this is a good idea, but if you plan on playing records consistently for a long period of time, you should invest in a turntable and speaker system.


Getting into the world of vinyl and record players can often seem intimidating. There are so many styles of turntables and speakers that it can be difficult to tell where to even start. Many people do not even know what’s the difference between a record player and a turntable.

Hopefully, this article provided you with all the information you may need to make the proper purchasing decision. It’s not something that you want to rush in to by any means; its a good idea to take the time and assess your needs before you jump off the deep end with a piece of expensive equipment that you do not truly need.

If you are an experienced vinyl collector with a dedicated sound system, a turntable is probably your best bet, but if you are only just starting to get into the world of vinyl, it might be a better idea to start small with a record player as you decide if it is a hobby you want to pursue.


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