How have record players modernized?

DJ Turntable Technology

The turntables used by DJs today come with an array of upgrades and features such as speed adjusters and pitch controls.
The turntables used by DJs today come with an array of upgrades and features such as speed adjusters and pitch controls.

Not all record players are created equal. And that's a good thing. Want to buy a turntable for home use, just to relive the joy of listening to some old records? Don't break the bank buying a pricey one. Want to DJ in a club? Get ready to spend some money. DJs need direct drive turntables because of their higher torque; records can be manipulated by hand without throwing off playback speed. The adjustable tonearm mentioned on the last page is obviously a must -- alongside performance, DJs need options to adjust playback on the fly.

Speed adjustments, pitch controls, reverse play, adjustable feet and strong anti-skate performance are also important. DJ turntable platters need slipmats, which are made of a smooth material, rather than rubber mats, to allow records to effortlessly glide back and forth. High torque motors are unimportant for regular record playing, but vital for DJs. While it's possible to find an inexpensive entry-level turntable in the $100 range, turntables with the above features required by DJs often cost about $500.

The type of stylus used matters here, too. Elliptical styli -- which have a shape like a knife edge -- are recommended for pure playback, as they supposedly produce a better sound and don't wear on albums as much as other styli. A wider, rounded-edge spherical stylus is recommended for DJ club usage, as they stay in a record groove better. That's important for DJs who are scratching records.

Modern DJs have access to much newer technologies than record players, of course, but those technologies can actually be paired up with turntables to make music. For example, the Vestax PDX-3000mkII Professional Turntable has a mini input that allows the vinyl turntable to be controlled by sounds from a MIDI device. That's just one example of the record player adapting to new technology.

Overall, the vinyl business hasn't changed too much since the height of its popularity decades ago. Technics turntables, now more than 30 years old, are still highly recommended DJ equipment. And as we'll explain on the next page, the production process for vinyl albums hasn't changed too much over the years, either.