Vertical Record Players – How Do They Work? Are They Any Good?

Vertical record players have been available for a long time, but are they more of a gimmick than anything else?

Just recently, a few companies have begun producing pretty high-quality vertical turntables…

…which has piqued the interest of many who enjoy both vinyl and simply owning unusual stuff.

Let’s take a little look at just how these players work and try to figure out if they are any good…

…and if there is actually any point to them.

vertical record players written in black text on yellow and green background

Vertical Record Players

There are several vertical turntables on the market and they all work in basically the same way.

But, there is a lot of ambiguity surrounding this type of record player.

It’s hard to find any raving advocates out there!

And there doesn’t seem to be any technical, or scientific reason, why a vertical record player would deliver better sound than a horizontal turntable.

How do vertical record players work, and do they sound good? Let’s find out!

TL;DL Summary: 

Vertical record players function as regular turntables. The platter is affixed vertically, and the record is held on with a specialised bolt. A mechanical belt-drive mechanism is usually used to rotate the record. The stylus functions as normal but is calibrated for the vertical orientation.

How Vertical Record Players Work

Vertical record players work in the same way regular horizontal turntables work.

The same basic principles apply.

The record is mechanically rotated at a consistent speed, the stylus holds the turntable needle in the grooves of the record as it rotates…

…and the stylus transfers the vibrations from the needle, through an amp, and on to a set of speakers as an electrical signal for conversion into a sound signal.

However, the difference is that these records perform this complex action while the record is set up vertically.

The record is held in place on the vertical platter with a specialised mat called a slip mount, which helps to prevent it from slipping on the platter.

A purpose-built thumb screw is used to clamp the record down in the centre, by screwing it onto the centre of the platter.

This keeps the record in place and keeps it locked into the platter as it rotates.

The platter itself is usually rotated using a belt-drive mechanism, rather than direct-drive.

This works by looping a rubber belt around the platter and attaching it to a drive motor that turns the belt, which, in turn, rotates the platter…

something like this:

Some vertical turntables have a direct drive motor behind the vehicle platter, but these are significantly more expensive.

The rest of the turntable works in exactly the same way as you would expect.

The stylus arm is held in place by tensioners, which keep it tracking true in the grooves of the record, and across the record in the typical fashion to play the entire record.

Do Vertical Record Players Sound Good?

Vertical record players have an unfortunate reputation for not sounding very good in comparison to regular turntables.

But just how good, or bad, do they actually sound?

Vertical record players only sound good if they are exceptionally well-made.

These turntables tend to produce significant extra noise, vibrations, and hum, due to the mechanisms that keep the record upright.

So that’s not good!

The turntable needle does not have gravity to help it stay true, and the calibration of the stylus arm goes out of alignment very easily on these machines.

And that’s even worse!

If the turntable is very well made and calibrated perfectly, vertical record players can sound good…

…but most of them do not sound any better than a very cheap standard record player.

So in short…don’t waste your money.

And if you are an audiophile who takes you’re vinyl seriously…don’t waste your money, and don’t enrage yourself!

Wrapping it Up!

Vertical record players work in the same way as regular record players, except with a few extra parts to keep the record upright and to rotate it in this orientation.

Vertical turntables must be exceptionally well made to have any chance of sounding good.

And those that are not exceptionally well made, do not sound anything anywhere near good.

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