Thomann's Cool Online Guides: DJ Record Decks

4. Common Terms

This section explains some of the most common terms used in this article and that you may come across when researching the turntable you would like to buy.

  • Tone Arm – the arm that holds the cartridge. In nearly all cases it is mounted on a universal joint to allow movement in both vertical and horizontal planes. Two types of tone arm exist - straight and curved. Both types are claimed to have advantages for stability and resistance to skipping – make your own mind up
    Examples of Straight and Curved Tone Arms
  • Platter – the rotating platform on which the record is placed. Normally made from aluminium, it should be stiff and fairly weighty.

  • Cartridge – the device that holds the needle and converts its movements into electrical signals.
    A Cartridge and Needle Setup
  • Needle – the needle makes contact with the grooves on the record and passes the movement to which it is subjected on to the cartridge.

  • Pitch Fader – the control fader that allows the user to vary the speed of the platter, and therefore the pitch of the sound that is reproduced. For a DJ, this is the most important control on a deck. Look for as long a ‘throw’ fader as possible, as this will allow you to adjust the speed of the turntable more accurately for better control during long beat matches. Other things to look out for are no click or recess at 0% pitch, which will allow for more accurate adjustments when the pitch is close to 0%, and the inclusion of a ‘pitch lock’ button.

  • Pitch Lock Button – sets the speed of the platter to 0% or ‘standard’ pitch, regardless of the position of the pitch fader.

  • Pitch Range Control – some turntables include the ability to vary the range over which the pitch fader operates. As standard, most turntables have a pitch range of ±8%, but a turntable with a pitch range control might also be able to switch to ±12% and ±50% for example.

  • Platter RPM Selector – these switches allow the turntable to play records cut for different base speeds. The three standard speeds are 33, 45 and 78 RPM. 78s are becoming very rare however, and this speed is not always included.

  • Pitch Bend – some newer designs of turntable may include pitch bend buttons that allow the user to adjust the sync of the two records without touching the vinyl. This can facilitate a much smoother mix as there are no sudden changes in the speed of the record creating undesirable audio effects.

  • Startup and Brake Speed Adjustment – gives the user control over how long the record takes to spin up to the set platter speed, and how long the record takes to stop when the brake (start/stop button) is applied.

  • Slip Mat – these mats are not normally included with the turntable, but are essential for DJing purposes nonetheless. They allow the platter to continue spinning although the record is being held still. This enables the record to get up to full speed very quickly when released, minimising unwanted audible effects when doing so.

  • 45-RPM Adapter – a metal ring that can be placed in the centre of the platter over the spindle to accommodate old 45-RPM records that had a larger centre hole.

  • Stylus Light – this casts a narrow beam of light over the record at the point where the stylus makes contact. In dark situations such as nightclubs, this can be a very useful aide when cueing up the next tune.
    Here the stylus light and strobe can be seen in action - the blue light is the strobe. Note also the control set and the ‘Battle Orientation’ start button.
  • Strobe – allows the user to get a very accurate reading of the speed of the platter if a certain record needs to be played at an exact RPM. The strobe light illuminates dots on the edge of the platter that are spaced equally to correspond to a specific RPM. When the platter is at the right speed, the dots appear to be stationary.

  • Battle Mode Start Button – hip hop DJs (or ‘Battle’ DJs) prefer to have their turntables arranged vertically so that the short side is closest to them, thus reducing the distance between the two records and giving a larger area to control the record. This means that the start/stop button on a standard deck is in an awkward position, and so some companies include a secondary button in a more convenient position.
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DJ Record Decks overview

Alesis Vortex Wireless 2 Alesis Surge Mesh Kit Adam T5V Roland R-07 black Subpac M2X Yamaha Stagepas 600BT Arturia Minibrute 2 Heritage Audio HA-73 EQ Elite Focal Listen Professional Focal Shape Twin Sound Devices MixPre-3 Yamaha Stagepas 400BT
Alesis Vortex Wireless 2

Alesis Vortex Wireless 2; USB/MIDI Keytar Controller with Accelerometer; Portable Performance Keyboard with Shoulder Strap, 37 touch sensitive keys with aftertouch; Eight touch sensitive RGB illuminated Performance Pads, Eight illuminated faders for volume or parameter control; Programmable tilt sensor with...

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Alesis Surge Mesh Kit

E-Drum Set 385 Sounds, 40 kits, 60 songs, Additional input for a fourth tom and a second crash pad, 2 Master outputs 6.3 mm mono jack, Headphone output 3.5 mm stereo jack, Aux input 3.5mm stereo jack, MIDI input...

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Adam T5V

Active Nearfield Monitor Equipped with: 5" woofer and 1.9" U-ART ribbon tweeter, 2x Class-D amplifiers: 50W RMS woofer, 20W RMS tweeter, Frequency range: 45 - 25000 Hz, Crossover frequency: 3 kHz, Maximum input level: 106 dB (1m/pair), Rear bass...

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Roland R-07 black

Portable MP3 / WAV Recorder with Bluetooth Functionality Stereo recordings up to 24 Bit / 96 kHz in WAV format or up to 396 kbps in MP3 format on microSD / SDHC card, Built-in stereo microphone, Integrated hybrid limiter,...

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Subpac M2X

Subpac M2X, Mobile tactile bass system, SubPac adds real depth, connection and enjoyment to whatever you play through it - your music and media comes to life with the added dimension of physical bass. Frequency Response: 1hz-200hz, Wired Input: 3.5mm...

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Yamaha Stagepas 600BT

Mini-PA System with Bluetooth Function Consisting of 2x passive 2-way boxes and 10-channel power mixers, Power mixers and speaker cables can be stored in the boxes for transportation, Successor of the Stagepas 600i, Including 2 speaker cables, each 6...

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Arturia Minibrute 2

Arturia Minibrute 2; analog semi-modular Synthesizer; Combination of classic and modular Synthesizer; 25 note Keyboard with Aftertouch; Brute-Oscillator; Steiner-Parker-Filter; additional Loop-Envelope; linear FM; Hardsync; two free assignable LFOs; integrated Step Sequencer; Arpeggiator; 48 point Patchbay; Pitch- and Modulation Wheel; Connections:...

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Heritage Audio HA-73 EQ Elite

Heritage Audio HA-73 EQ Elite; 1-Channel Mic-Preamp wit EQ; based on the 1073; hand wound Carnhill Transformers; 3 stage fully discrete class A mic preamp; max. Gain: 80 dB Mic and 50 dB Line; -20 dB Pad; LO-Z switches the...

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Focal Listen Professional

Headphones Closed, Circumaural, Conversion technology for acoustic transparency and dynamics, Impedance: 32 ohms, Sensitivity (@ 1 kHz - / 1 Vrms): 122 dB SPL, THD (THD, @ 1 kHz / 100 dB SPL): 0.3%, Frequency range: 5 Hz to...

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Focal Shape Twin

Active Near Field Monitor Tweeter with low directivity for flexible listening position, Closed design with two passive membranes for easy installation near the wall, 2.5-Way concept for optimal control of the bass and lower mids, Optimal integration through extensive...

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Sound Devices MixPre-3

Sound Devices MixPre-3; portable audio recorder with USB audio interface; 5 tracks: stereo mix + 3 isolated tracks; Kashmir microphone preamp with 76db gain; equivalent Input Noise: 128dBu max (A-weighting, gain=76dB, 150 Ohm source impedance); limiter per channel; low cut...

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Yamaha Stagepas 400BT

Mini-PA System Bluetooth Function Consisting of 2x passive 2-way boxes and 8-channel power mixers, Power mixers and speaker cables can be stored in the boxes for transportation, Successor of the Stagepas 400i, Including 2 speaker cables, each 6 m...

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