Manual vs Automatic Turntables – Which Is Right for You?

Manual vs Automatic Turntables - Ooberpad Guide

The differences between manual turntables and automatic turntables are the first thing to pop in your mind, once you have decided to buy a new turntable. A comprehensive understanding of both can help you see the drawbacks and benefits of both. For people falling in love with vinyl and looking forward to purchasing their turntable, we have curated a guide that breaks down each of these three types along with factors like price, features, quality, and personal preference.

If it is your first foray into vinyl, let us get down to the fundamentals first

Manual Turntables - A Quick Overview

As the name suggests, with a manual turntable, you do all the heavy lifting. You lower the tonearm onto the record to start playing and when the record is over, you lift it off, put it back in the resting position, and turn the table off. The designs are simpler, and there are no extras on the tonearm, which ensures there is no interference with the tracking.

Besides, they give you the widest range of options. With a manual turntable, you will know exactly where to put your stylus on your record groove as opposed to an automatic turntable where you would have to rely on your automatic record player to lift the stylus and the tonearm off the record surface and return it to its rest and turn off.

They are low on maintenance as there are no internal mechanisms and fewer things that can break. A good quality manual turntable is a great pick for anyone who is looking for top-notch performance and a fully engaged vinyl listening experience. However, be mindful that you will have to take out a lot more dedicated time out of your day to specifically listen to your record collection.

The best bit? You can always upgrade it without having to buy a brand new record player. The common verdict is that most serious record collectors favour manual turntables. (if you can put aside the mild frustration of a little hard work).

Automatic Turntables - A Quick Overview

An automatic turntable will lift the tonearm out of the resting position and lower it onto the record at the right place. That way they offer much in the way of convenience. If you are new to vinyl and building up your collection, you would surely want to opt for automatic turntables, as they will give you all the power to avoid accidentally damaging your records or vinyl. A fully automatic table will eliminate all your worries.

Think you are likely to fall asleep while listening to your records? With an automatic turntable, you won’t have to stress over having your stylus stuck in the outer groove for hours at length, while you are dozing off. The tracking force and anti-skate are usually present, so there is hardly any work to put in. Automatic turntables often come in plastic which can help keep the cost down. It can get tricky to drop a delicate stylus onto a record with consistent force, thus the automatic turntables can be a pretty useful option.

But, it is also worth mentioning that because an automatic turntable accommodates some extra components, it will produce more unwanted noise than a manual one. Remember, with an automatic design, you are paying for functionality and convenience. So, for a casual vinyl listener looking for convenience, automatic turntables win hands down! (But for the best sound, fewer mechanisms the better, which is not the case with the automatic ones.)

Drawbacks and Benefits of Manual and Automatic Turntables at a Quick Glance 

 Manual Turntables

Automatic Turntables

You need to operate it manually

Starts and stops automatically

There is a potential risk of damage if you were to drop the stylus

Less risk of you either damaging the vinyl or the stylus

Fewer mechanical parts mean fewer breakdowns and low maintenance

More mechanical parts mean they require maintenance and run the risk of failing

You need to turn it on, line up and later lower the tonearm with the stylus

Once set up, it is convenient and user-friendly

They give you the best sound

Lower quality in terms of sound

You need to lift the stylus off and return it to the rest position

Eliminates the stress of the stylus staying on the record after it has finished

Less expensive

More expensive than their manual counterparts

A wider choice at every price range

Less choice at every price range

Our Top 3 Recommendations

1. Denon DP-29F Analog Turntable 

Denon DP-29F Analog Turntable

 Key Features:

  • High-precision die-cast aluminum turntable
  • Built-in phono equalizer to connect the unit to an integrated amp
  • Powered by a DC servo motor and belt-drive system
  • Operates at 33 1/3 or 45 rpm speed
  • Ships with an MM cartridge for easy speaker connectivity
  • Priced at ₹ 17,900.00

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2. Denon DP-400 Hi-Fi Turntable with Speed Auto Sensor 

Denon DP-400 Hi-Fi Turntable

 Key Features:

  • Unique curved horizontal tracking tonearm design with auto lift-up and playback stop
  • Built-in phono equalizer with on/off toggle
  • Multi-speed selector (33-1/3 rpm, 45 rpm, 78 rpm)
  • Includes quality MM cartridge for precise sound
  • Exclusive, removable dust cover with included base
  • Priced at ₹ 58,900.00

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3. Pioneer PL-990 Automatic Stereo Turntable 

Pioneer PL-990 Automatic Stereo Turntable

 Key Features:

  • Two speeds so you can play LPs and 45s
  • Fully automatic operation
  • Low-mass straight tonearm
  • Universal-type cartridge connector
  • Built-in phono Equalizer
  • Low-vibration, belt-drive design
  • Vibration-absorbing feet
  • Priced at ₹ 15,900.00

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* Prices recorded on 31st August 2021. 

Consider checking out our wide array of turntable options, expertly curated by the experts at Ooberopad, as a place to start shopping!
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