5 Major Reasons You Should Buy a Manual Turntable

Hey guys, it’s Michael from Devoted to Vinyl.  And in this video, I’m going to give you my top 5 reasons to buy a manual turntable.

  • If you’re in the market for a brand new turntable, please check out the interactive guide below, where you can compare some of the best record players available:

Technics SL-1200 MK7
Marantz TT-15S1
Audio Technica AT-LP140XP
Rega Planar 1 Plus
Audio Technica AT-LP7
Clearaudio Concept Black

So in a previous video, I gave you my top five reasons to buy an automatic turntable.  But today, I wanted to focus on my five reasons to buy a manual turntable because, automatic and manual turntables are a little different.  And they appeal to different audiences.

Now unlike an automatic turntable, where you’re gonna feel comfortable knowing that your record player has a mechanism built inside that’s going to be able to lift the tonearm up and down and even turn off the record player when it gets done playing the album.  A manual record record player requires you to do absolutely everything. 

Like anything in life, there are advantages and disadvantages.  But I really want to focus on my top 5 favorite reasons to buy a manual turntable if you’re in the market for a new record player.

Okay, let’s start with number one, which is a more interactive experience.  Now, when you buy a manual turntable, you’re making a commitment.  You’re making a declaration that says that you’re willing to be more involved in the process of playing music.

Instead of being able to rely on an automatic mechanism that’s going to lift your tonearm, you have to do it.

Instead of being able to rely on your turntable to know exactly where to put your stylus on your record groove, you have to do that. 

And instead of being able to rely on your automatic record player to be able to lift the stylus and the tonearm off the surface of the record, return it to its rest, and turn off the motor.

You.  Have.  To.  Do.  That.

At the end of the day, using a manual turntable means that you’re playing records with a purpose.  Instead of spinning records while you’re cooking or cleaning, or [when you’re] about to fall asleep, you’re probably taking a lot more dedicated time out of your day to specifically listen to your record collection because you know you have to be involved in the process from beginning to end.

Okay, coming in at number two is the fact that you now have more options at your disposal.

Now there’s no doubt that there are a lot of people that like to use automatic record players.  But the fact is, there are way more manual record players to be had on the market.

Manual turntables are for those that are ready to get a little more serious about playing vinyl records.  They can range from anybody who’s finally ready to upgrade from their automatic turntable to somebody that’s been spinning records for 20, 30, 40 or 50 years and absolutely loves the options that manual turntables provide.

Whether it’s Pro-Ject or Rega, Music Hall or Clearaudio, the great thing about manual turntables is that there’s a wide range available at your disposal.

While automatic turntables tend not to creep past a certain price point, manual turntables can be anywhere from $400 to $4,000.

So ultimately, no matter how much money you’re willing to spend, you’re likely to get a manual turntable gonna be anywhere from good to really, really excellent. 

Okay, so coming in at number three is your ability to be able to upgrade.

So one of the great things about manual turntables is that, if there’s something about your turntable that you’re not quite loving, you likely are going to be able to upgrade it without having to buy a brand new record player.

Not happy with you’re steel platter?  Buy an acrylic one.

Something happened to your RCA cables?  Swap it out and get a new one.

Not happy with your cartridge or your tonearm?  You can usually upgrade those, as well. 

Usually, the more money you invest in your turntable upfront, the more ability you have to upgrade in the future. 

Now, you might be thinking, why would I want to upgrade certain parts of my turntable, instead of buying a new turntable.  Why would I want to buy an acrylic platter…rather than just buying a new turntable with an acrylic platter?

Why would I want to buy a new cartridge or a new tonearm rather than just buy a turntable with that new cartridge, or with that new tonearm?

Well, you have to think about it in terms of price.  It would never make sense to invest hundreds of dollars in a new cartridge, or a new tonearm, if your record player only cost half that amount of money. 

But if your turntable was pushing $1,000, or it costs several thousands of dollars, then buying a new cartridge or a new tonearm for a few hundred dollars is really a bargain, rather than having to buy a brand new, expensive turntable.


Gosh…only done three so far, huh?   

So coming in at number four on my list is the fact that manual turntables will give you tracking force and anti-skate control.

A lot of automatic turntables have tracking force and anti-skate control built in or preset by the manufacturer.  And that means you can’t make any adjustments—even if you need to.

Let’s first tackle tracking force.  Setting the stylus tracking force is very important.  If you set the tracking force too heavy, the stylus can start digging into the groove of the record and causing a lot of wear and tear on both your record and your stylus. 

So when it comes to stylus tracking force, you want to make sure you make your adjustments properly so that you can ensure the condition of your record, your stylus, and your overall music listening experience. 

Now let’s move onto anti-skate. 

Anti-skate is a mechanism that applies a force to the tonearm to counteract the natural tendency of your tonearm to drift towards the center of the record.

When you properly adjust your anti-skate, what you do is you allow for the volume in the left and right channels to be balanced, and you can also minimize if not outright eliminate inner groove distortion, which I will tackle in an upcoming video.

Okay, so coming in at number five is the fact that you’re ready to finally, finally, get serious about playing your vinyl records. 

Not just collecting, but playing them.

So as I mentioned before, automatic turntables are great if you’re looking for convenience.  But the thing with vinyl is that…it ain’t convenient.

At all.

In any way, shape or form.

Yes, if you move from an automatic turntable to a manual turntable, you’re going to have to put in a little more work.  You’re going to have to be a little more mindful when you play your records. 

But you’re also going to be getting better quality when it comes to the turntable, and in turn, when it comes to the sound. 

Manual turntables will often come with a solid foundation, as opposed to automatic turntables, which tend to come with a lot of cheap plastic, so that it can help keep the cost down and keep things convenient for you.

Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if you’re ready to finally start taking vinyl records a little bit more seriously…you care about the condition of your vinyl records…you care about protecting them for the long term…and you care about being able to have the best listening experience possible…you really need to start considering a manual turntable.

So that’s it, guys.  Those are my top 5 reasons to buy a manual turntable.  Hopefully you found this video to be helpful, and if you did, I would love it if you could hit the “like” button down below.  And don’t forget to Subscribe to my channel, Devoted to Vinyl, because I’m going to be coming out with weekly videos pertaining to turntables, vinyl records, and music in general.

And don’t forget to comment below this video, because I have a question for you: Would you recommend buying a manual turntable, a fully automatic turntable, or a semi-automatic turntable?

Do you prefer complete convenience, a little bit of convenience, or no convenience when it comes to your record players?

Make sure you sound off and let your thoughts known down below.  I’m gonna reply to as many people as I can.  And I will see you guys next week with a brand new video. 

Thank you for watching.


Guess that’s about a wrap.

That’s it—no more show.

I’ll see you next week.

Get outta here.  Go play some records.

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