While the Philips 312 turntable was not considered "high end" in its day it was, and is, a very good entry level TT. Not only that, but it is built well and looks fantastic. It almost has a retro IKEA look to it. The 312 was made in Holland and is a semi-automatic two speed turntable. At the end of the LP the table stops and the arm lifts but does not return to the holder.
Philips also made a model 212 turntable which looks almost exactly the same as the 312 but does not lift the tonearm at the end of a record. It does stop however. The 212's also used bulbs to light the touch controls instead of the LED's that were used in the most of the 312's. Early 312's have been found to have bulbs as opposed to LED's though.
The Philips 312 is a belt driven TT and features electronic speed control. The platter and the pick up arm are mounted on to a spring suspended sub-chassis to reduce or eliminate noise from vibration. The sub-chassis is dampened and connected to the main chassis. The power switch for the TT's is known to fail from time to time and there have been some who have used computer power switches to replace the broken one. Some modification is required but it can be a very effective fix. HERE is a link to a thread covering one such replacement.
Another couple weaknesses of these tables are the RCA connectors and tonearm bearings. The RCA connectors are not very high quality but fortunately they are fairly easy to replace. The tonearm bearings are nylon and can crack with age if they dry out. So, be aware of those problems if you're looking at 312's to purchase.
Here you can see the cool lit touch controls that the Philips 312 and 212 are known for. Just a light touch of the button and the turntable will start spinning. If your 312 has bulbs and they are burned out it can be a reason for the touch controls to not work. Bulbs are available from time to time on eBay.
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If you're just getting into vinyl or are on a budget the Philips 312 can be a good choice. It's easy to use, easy to maintain and has the auto stop function. Plus it will look very cool in your audio setup. When looking at them be sure to check the belt, the bulbs and touch controls, as well as the power switch. Overall, this is a great TT (I have two of them) if you can find one in good working order or one that has been serviced and/or restored.
The 312 can reach $300 in fully restored condition but can be found for around $100-$200 in good working condition.
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