Turntables, also known as record players, have been making a comeback. As one of the first means of playing recordings, turntables have truly stood the test of time. They have withstood the invention of the radio, television, Walkman, and iPod. They have made it through the Great Depression, World War I and II, and plenty of economic downturns and recessions.
Today’s turntables are often sleek, compact and technologically advanced. Some models include Bluetooth capabilities, direct-to-computer connections, built-in speakers and fully automatic functionality. They range in looks – from retro models and classic pieces to technological wonders and disc jockey (DJ) instruments.
If you are in the market for a turntable, there are hundreds of models to choose from. Because of this, it can make finding the right turntable for you overwhelming and frustrating. Today, we review the Marantz TT42P.
What to Look For in a Turntable
If you are new to the world of turntables, some of the terms and features may be a bit confusing. Before we evaluate the Marantz TT42P, let us take a look at what some key features of a turntable are.
Your turntable is primarily powered through a drive, of which there are two distinct types.
A direct-drive is a motor that sits directly beneath the platter. By connecting the platter directly to the drive, most experts agree these turntables reach the required speed more quickly. However, direct drives are also known for increased vibrations, which may impact the song you hear.
A belt-drive, on the other hand, refers to a motor that is offset from the center of the player. It uses a belt to connect the motor to the platter. The lack of direct connection to the platter offers both an advantage and disadvantage. Wear and tear on the belt can mean it needs to be replaced more frequently. It also causes a delay on startup. However, the belt helps to significantly reduce vibrations, meaning the quality of your music is much better.
The sound produced by a turntable is actually called a “phono output signal”. This signal needs to be converted in order to be able to play through your speakers, computer or stereo system. A phono pre-amplifier, also referred to as a phono pre-amp, converts a phono signal to an auxiliary, or line level, signal. Built-in phono pre-amps help ensure your AV receiver or integrated amplifier will work with your turntable. However, not every turntable includes a built-in phono pre-amp. Check your turntable manual to verify whether it has one. If you do not have a built-in phono pre-amp, you will need to purchase one.
Tonearm & Cartridge
The tonearm, cartridge and stylus are important because they transcribe the bumps, dips, and grooves on your record into the phono signal your pre-amp converts into sound. The stylus is the fine diamond or sapphire tipped needle that contacts the surface of your record. As it flows over the record, the stylus detects every dip and bump and conveys them to the cartridge. The cartridge, in turn, converts those grooves into a phono output signal. The tonearm supports the cartridge and stylus, keeping it perfectly positioned over the record.
Manual, Fully or Semi-Automatic
As you review turntables, you may find the phrases “fully automatic” or “semi-automatic”. These are some of the key features most appreciated by entry-level and advanced hobbyists alike.
A fully automatic turntable is one that plays at the touch of a button. When you hit the “play” or “start” button, the motor starts, the tonearm automatically moves into the correct position and the music begins. When the record finishes, the tonearm lifts and returns to the starting position.
Semi-automatic turntables do not have the play button feature. They do, however, reduce wear on your record by automatically returning the tonearm to the start position once the album has finished playing.
Manual turntables are a bit more complicated for an entry-level hobbyist. While you will have a start bottom for the motor, all other components are manual. You set the tonearm to begin the record. You return the tonearm to the start position once the album has finished playing. (In the case of a belt-drive, you may have to remove the platter and switch between 33 1/3- and 45 RPM modes.)
Every turntable should come with the basics, but bonus features may enhance your turntable’s output and value. Aside from your AUX line, there are plenty of new features that can be found on turntables today. This includes Bluetooth technology, universal serial bus (USB) ports, and RCA cables. Built-in speakers, radio tuning, and compact disc (CD) players are also included in some models. Dust covers are also nice as they help keep your record player free of contaminants that could potentially damage your record.
Marantz – A History of Entertainment
Marantz has been producing premium home entertainment equipment since the 1950’s. Saul Marantz, the founder, found his passion in music and wanted to produce better quality “hi-fi” home entertainment systems. While turntables were not the first products issued by Marantz, the constant evolution of “hi-fi” systems soon lead to their incorporation. With decades of innovation, technological advances and dedication to providing quality products, Marantz has become one of the most recognizable names in home entertainment. Their turntables are on exception. With several different models of turntables, the Marantz name is regarded as one of the most reliable brands on the market today.
Marantz TT42P Specs
The Marantz TT42P is the upgraded version of the Marantz TT42. It is a ready-to-play model that comes complete with a pre-installed cartridge and built-in phono pre-amp. (The highly regarded Marantz TT42 does not include the phono pre-amp feature.)
Appearance wise, the TT42P is rather simple, aiming for a more classic look than typical of Marantz products. It consists of a flat, black plinth topped with a platter and tonearm. The Marantz TT42P comes with a clear plastic dust cover to help protect your turntable while it is not in use. It will play 33 1/3- and 45-RPM records. The Marantz TT42P measures 14 ¼-inches deep, 16 9/16-inchs wide, and 5 3/16-inches tall with the dust cover in place. RCA jacks and a 35-inch ground wire complete the Marantz TT42P package. (Please note that the Marantz TT42P does not include USB ports. This is not an all-in-one unit and does not include built-in speakers either.)
The Marantz TT42P strives to provide distortion-free, beautiful sound quality. To help reduce vibrations, the Marantz TT42P includes a DC servo motor and belt drive. It also helps to keep your record spinning at a constant speed, eliminating any hiccups with playback. The low-coloration tonearm is coupled with a matched magnetic cartridge to further reduce any potential distortion that may occur.
With the built-in phono pre-amp, the Marantz TT42P can be played through any of your line level audio inputs. The easy playability of this fully automatic turntable makes the Marantz TT42P a favorite amongst vinyl fans. Simply take it out of the box, plug it in, connect your speakers and you are ready to play your favorite albums with the touch of a button.
Marantz TT42P Review
Most user reviews for the Marantz TT42P rave about the sound quality and easy play features. The sound quality remains stable and clear throughout the various tempo ranges. Being fully automatic, the Marantz TT42P makes playing records easy and effortless. (Just remove it from the box, plug it in, load up your record and hit play!) There is no need to reposition anything, balance the counterweight, or worry about whether your receiver will work with it.
Users have also noted that the DC servo motor and belt drive ensure operation is smooth, quiet and consistent. With the perfectly weighted tonearm, silent motor, and smooth belt drive – the only sound you will hear will be the crisp, vibrant tones coming from your vinyl record. When coupled with top-of-the-line speakers, the rich tones demonstrate why vinyl continues to remain a popular choice.
A few users, however, do note that the cartridge cannot be upgraded. While the attached cartridge provides quality sound, if you want to upgrade the cartridge, this unit is not for you. Additionally, several users noted that the power cord is oversized and a bit sensitive. These users recommend you do not have other plugs attached to the same outlet due to the size and keep it on a flat, stable surface.
The Bottom Line
While the bells and whistles may be nice additions, at the end of the day, the purpose of a turntable is to play music and play it well.
The Marantz TT42P is a quality turntable at a mid-range price. Aside from the fact that you cannot upgrade the cartridge, plenty of users have found this turntable exceeds their expectations. The perhaps understated appearance makes the sound quality even more impressive. Because of the user-friendly fully automatic playability, the Marantz TT42P is a great find for anyone new to vinyl records.
If you are ready to invest in your record hobby, the Marantz TT42P is a great choice. With few complaints, but plenty of positive reviews, we find the Marantz TT42P to be worthy of all your basic record playing needs.