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What Is a Dual Turntable?

By Gregory Hanson
Updated May 16, 2024
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A dual turntable may be either a set of two turntables or one of a series of turntables manufactured and marketed under the brand name Dual®. The use of two paired turntables is standard practice among disk jockeys (DJs). This allows for mixing between songs played on the two different turntables, as well as a variety of custom and scratch effects. The Dual® line of products does include some that are suitable for use as DJ equipment, but products that are part of this line are targeted at many other market niches as well.

A DJ will typically employ an audio setup that includes two or more source decks and a mixing unit to blend between them. Dual® turntables were the preferred source decks for many years, and are still popular among many club DJs. The popularity of turntables was originally a matter of necessity, as magnetic tape was the only viable alternative to vinyl records. Records were much preferred, as they allowed far greater control over how songs were played and mixed and tended to produce superior quality audio.

A key advantage of the dual turntable stems from the ability of a DJ using this type of audio equipment to directly control the speed and other characteristics of audio playback. Scratching, in which records are spun manually in either direction to produce a distinctive sound, is one example of this. A skilled DJ working with a double phonograph can blend together scratches and samples from one track with music played from another.

Modern DJs have begun to adopt purely digital audio technology. They have not, however, completely abandoned the dual turntable. Hardware designed for use by DJs, especially higher-end products, often includes features that allow digital media to be manipulated in the same ways. Many products include turntables, which serve as digital control devices rather than physical playback devices. These digital turntables can be used to produce the same effects that a conventional dual turntable can produce.

The second meaning of the term “dual turntable” derives from the name of a particular brand of consumer electronics. The Dual Corporation was originally a German corporation with a reputation for producing solid consumer electronics, including many types of phonograph. A collector and audiophile market exists for Dual® turntables produced by the original Dual Corporation.

The brand name Dual® was sold to a Chinese corporation in 2001. The brand name is now used to market a variety of mid-range consumer electronic products in the United States and elsewhere. These product lines continue to focus on turntables that are predominantly for home use.

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