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What Is a Record Player? (With Images)

A Record Player which some people also call a turntable or phonograph is a mechanical device that can be used to reproduce sound from vinyl records. Depending on how you look at it, the terms record player and turntable might be interchangeable, but we would get to the actual difference in a second.

Record Players comprise a turntable that spins the record at a constant speed and a stylus that slides along in the groove and picks up the sound, this would typically work with an amplifier and a loudspeaker to produce the actual sound to an acceptable level.

The amp and the speaker might be built-in or attachable depending on how flexible you want your record player to be.

Although, record players aren't that common among young audio consumers, however, I bet most audio consumers might have come across Vinyl records that look like the below image:

A Vinyl Record

The Vinyl Record is placed on the record player's turntable and the recreation of sound is done by the surface rotating while a playback stylus traces the groove and thus, produces the recorded sound faintly. You would need an amplifier to boost the audio signal to an acceptable level, most modern audio record player already has a form of an amp, so, you would typically not need anything extra.

The below gif is a demonstration of a traditional record player spinning at a constant speed:

Animation of record player spinning at a constant speed

The record player invention was credited to Thomas Edison (an American inventor and businessman) with improvement from Alexander Graham Bell's Volta Laboratory. In the 20th century, the record player was the most used commercial audio record player, although it was relatively surpassed by other technology such as 8-track cartridges and cassette tapes, it was still a great alternative among classical audio consumers.

While we are at it, below is a video on how to use a record player:

Having understood a glimpse of what a record player is, let's see some terminology and their differences:

What’s the Difference Between a Turntable and a Record Player?

Most people use the terms turntable and record player interchangeably, while I really wouldn't say they are wrong, they are subtle differences between the two-term.

A turntable is a record player without a built-in amp and speaker, to enjoy a full experience of a turntable record player, you'll need to manually attach an amp and a speaker yourself, this might be a good idea if you know what you are doing, I personally want things to be plug and play, which is where we come into a...

Record player, this is an all-in-one player that required no external component, it has a built-in amplifier and a speaker. The good thing is you might even get a suitcase to carry it around if you are all in for portability.

A Record player has its own downside in that it mostly comes with a cheap amp and speaker which wouldn't really be noticeable for real but isn't the best for modularity, so if you are nitpicky you can go with one that is designed to be modular, this way, you decide what amp or speaker you'll need, nevertheless, it should never be a problem for the casual audio consumer.

Do Turntables Sound Better Than Record Players?

It depends!

An All-in-one audio record player has more moving parts and as such it might produce unwanted artifacts, unlike a turntable where you have the flexibility of hooking an amp or speaker of your choice.

To be honest, modern record players have been designed to mitigate most of the problems, so, it is only a matter of getting something of high quality, though it might be a bit pricy.

What is the difference between a vinyl player and a record player?


A record player is used for reproducing sounds in the vinyl plate and a vinyl player is a record player that plays vinyl records, so there aren't differences.

Although, things might differ if you are playing records on a turntable or an all-in-one record player which I have covered above.

Do you need a record player to play a vinyl?


You'll need a record player to play vinyl, without a record player you won't be able to play a vinyl disc.

Do record players need speakers?


A record player is an all-in-one player that already has an amp and a speaker built-in, if you got a record player that doesn't have a speaker, then that is a turntable that would require you to hook the amp and speaker manually which might be a good idea if you already have an amp or speaker

How long does vinyl last?

Vinyl records can last anywhere from 2 to 100 years, as long as you handle it with care, you should have any problem.

If you are looking for the top best vinyl record player that is built to be rugged, durable, and produce pristine sound, then check our Best Turntables- The Best Top Record Players For Vinyl Records Guide.

Let me know if you have any comments, thanks and I hope you enjoyed the guide.

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