Belt Drive: Motor and centre spindle decoupled and the platter rotates via belt around the platter or sub platter (mostly associated with high fidelity listening).
Direct Drive: Motor is directly connected to the centre spindle rotating the platter (mostly associated with DJ turntables).
Automatic: Inbuilt mechanism to automatically cue the record and return the tonearm to its cradle position once the record is finished.
Manual: No inbuilt mechanism to cue record or return tonearm to cradle position (mostly associated with audiophile quality sound reproduction)
RPMs: Vinyl records are pressed at three different speeds, 33 1/3, 45 and 78 revolutions per minute.
• 33 1/3 is the most common speed for contemporary records.
• 45rpm are generally the speed of smaller single records, but are common in special edition albums. They are known to sound better as more musical data fits into the grooves, compared to 33 1/3 RPM records.
• 78rpm is used exclusively with early 20th century records made from different composite materials.
• All new turntables offer both 33 1/3 and 45rpm speeds, with a select few catering to 78rpm.
How it works:
Needles and Cartridges create music, not turntables. The turntable’s job is to house the needle/cartridge, enhance their ability to draw information from the record while reducing the damaging affects of vibration.
This can be done in two ways: better design principles and better quality materials. As the design principles and materials getter better so too does the sound quality and the cost of the turntable.
Often it's the case with turntables that you pay for what you get. But there are things to consider and things look out for before you fork over your hard-earned cash.