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Do Record Players Need Electricity?

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There is nothing quite like a record player to listen to music or dance to. If you are brand new to record players you might have seen crank record players and wondered if all record players are like that or if some of them need electricity. Well in this article we will answer that question.  

Do record players need electricity? Almost all record players need electricity or power of some kind. The only players that don’t require electricity are hand crank players and those use a “horn” for the sound to come out and not speakers. Even all of the old record players require electricity to run! 

A record player needs electricity for the platter to rotate. It needs electricity for the transmitter to transfer the sound waves from the record to the speakers. It needs electricity for the tonearm to move automatically on and off the record. For all these things and many more a record player needs electricity. 

In the past, when people used only the phonograph, they could crank the handle on the player and it would work without electricity. Of course a phonograph player didn’t have modern speakers like we have now and the sound quality was also quite poor in comparison to what we are able to get from electric powered record players today. 

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What needs electricity on a record player? 

If we know the way a record player works then we will better understand why a record player needs electricity or not. 

If you want to have speakers with your record player for listening to music, then you need to power those speakers. The speakers connected to a  record player required electricity to make the sound. Without power to the speakers the platter might turn but no sound would come out. 

At the same time, four other musical parts are mandatory for the record player on top of the speakers. These are:

· The stylus

· The cartridge

· The preamplifier

· The amplifier

How does the record store music?

The record allows us to listen to music through the use of the grooves on the record’s surface. The grooves on the record are tiny, smooth ruts that hold the audio information. The wall of the grooves of the record put in and out the data by the zig-zag format. These small grooves are the formation of audio waves that are read by the stylus (also known as a needle).

What does the record player do?

The record player works requires four basic parts to function properly. They are: 

  • Turntable: This is what you place the record on top of and it turns with the record on it. It is also known as a platter. 
  • Tonearm: The tonearm is the little metal/ plastic arm that moves on and off the record. The tonearm will hold the cartridge and will also apply the pressure on to the record that keeps the needle in the grooves.
  • Cartridge: The cartridge is the thing on the end of the tonearm that the stylus sits in. The cartridge is what takes the information from the record and turns it into an electronic signal that can then be amplified and turned into music.
  • Stylus: The stylus or needle is fixed to the cartridge and goes into the grooves of the record. The stylus must be in good condition so that it doesn’t damage the record and doesn’t come out of the grooves.

At the end of the tonearm, the cartridge can move back and forth to create an electric current. When the needle detects the grooves of the record, the magnet used in cartridge moves back and out for producing current. The current needs to be set with wires in the arm and then goes into the next step done by the preamplifier.

What does the preamplifier do?

When the current is supplied via the cartridge, electricity needs to move to the phono preamp. The job of the preamp is to modify the electricity to the amplifier by the minimum input level. 

The preamplifier is one of the most vital parts of the record players. It helps to complete the process of getting the music from the record to the speakers. 

The electric signal can record both the vibration from its surroundings or from the air created by sound or tracks. Remarkably, the preamplifier can remove the noise and sound distortion from the signal. The preamp then passes the modified signal on to the amplifier. 

What does the amplifier do?

Every single electrical signal needs to be amplified inside the record player before it gets to the speaker. Once the signal has been amplified then it is sent over to the speaker/speakers. This is the sole job that the amplifier does.

Typically, the amp does the following two jobs:

  • Accepts the electrical signal from the preamp
  • Sends output to the speakers after amplifying the signal

What do the speakers do? 

Finally, the amplified electric signals have been sent to the speakers to turn into the music. In some cases the speakers are a part of the record player setup while other times the speakers are connected separately. 

The record player is nothing without its speakers. Similarly, the speakers wouldn’t have any sound to put out without the other parts of the record player.   

Now I know that everything above got quite a bit technical and you probably skimmed over some of it (I know I would have) but it really is kind of cool how a record player works. SO instead of going back and trying to read that again, why not watch the video below on how record players really work. 

You will probably learn more from it then you would have reading the above information anyway! 


Basically all of those different parts of the record player require one thing… electricity! Yes, a record player needs electricity to function properly. 

Without electricity the platter would not be able to spin. Without electricity the tonearm would not be able to move on and off the record (although some players do this manually).  Without electricity the cartridge wouldn’t be able to send the signal to the preamp, the preamp wouldn’t be able to send the signal to the amp and the amp would not be able to send it to the speakers. 

Every step along the way requires the use of electricity. Now record players don’t use a ton of electricity but they do use some. That small amount of electricity goes a long way and makes listening to your records happen.  

If you happen to have a phonograph player instead of a record player it might have a crank instead of using electricity. That crank allows you to produce the required work to make the table turn and to produce the sound out of the horn like attachment. Of course since there are no speakers on that style of player then you are stuck listening to the music or audio at whatever volume it happens to come out at. 

For most people, an electric record player is all that you will ever have or ever need. Just plug it into the wall outlet, put your record on the turntable and press the button to start (or move the tonearm off its rest depending on your model). 

The small amount of electricity that is used by a record player is well worth the cost considering that you don’t have to crank a handle everytime that you want to listen to some music.