Are you setting up your turntable and wondering how long your ground wire should be?
There’s a lot of information out there, but it can be overwhelming to sift through.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about turntable ground wires and their length restrictions.
Whether you’re a seasoned audiophile or just starting out, this guide will help you get the most out of your turntable setup.
So sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of turntable grounding.
How Long Can A Turntable Ground Wire Be
When it comes to turntable ground wires, there is no set length restriction. In fact, any convenient length will do the job just fine.
The main purpose of a grounding wire is to connect your turntable to the earth and provide a wire that doesn’t carry its own signal. Technically, any insulated wire can do the job, but ideally, you should use 18 to 20 gauge stranded wire.
It’s important to properly connect your grounding wire to the amplifier’s grounding terminal or create a connection using gaffer tape. If your turntable doesn’t have a grounding wire, you can attach one that is about 5 feet (1.5 meters) long.
However, it’s best to keep your phono cable as short as possible, typically around 1 meter. This is because the signal carried by your phono cable from your tonearm/cartridge to your phono preamplification stage is very small and can easily be affected by noise or loss of signal integrity if the cable is too long.
Once the signal has been amplified by your phono preamplifier, you can use a much longer pair of interconnects to pass this line level signal on to your preamplifier or amplifier.
If you need to extend your grounding wire, you can simply add more wire to it. Just make sure it’s insulated along the length except at the ends where it connects to your equipment. Some speaker cable would work, just use one conductor.
It’s important to note that if all of your pieces of audio gear had a three-prong power cord, then you wouldn’t need a ground wire because they would all be grounded through the AC line. However, most audio equipment uses a two-prong power cord with a floating ground, which is why you may need a ground wire to tie your turntable’s ground to your pre-amp/receiver’s ground.
What Is A Turntable Ground Wire?
A turntable ground wire is a wire that connects your turntable to the earth and provides a wire that doesn’t carry its own signal. The primary purpose of a grounding wire is to prevent unwanted noise and interference from being picked up by the turntable’s cartridge and tonearm.
Technically, any insulated wire can be used as a grounding wire, but ideally, you should use 18 to 20 gauge stranded wire. It’s important to properly connect your grounding wire to the amplifier’s grounding terminal or create a connection using gaffer tape.
If your turntable doesn’t come with a grounding wire, you can attach one that is about 5 feet (1.5 meters) long. However, it’s best to keep your phono cable as short as possible, typically around 1 meter, to avoid any noise or loss of signal integrity.
The Importance Of Grounding In Turntable Setup
Grounding is a crucial aspect of setting up your turntable. Without proper grounding, you may experience a ground loop, which can cause a 60-cycle alternating current to pass between your turntable and amplifier along your audio cables. This can result in an audible 60-cycle hum with the phono input selected. To avoid this, a grounding wire can be attached to your turntable chassis and amplifier, which puts them at the same ground potential.
Grounding is also important for safety measures. All of your hi-fi boxes are electrically isolated from the metal exterior or chassis, but if for some reason, the safety measures fail and electricity comes into contact with the chassis, having a ground will mean any unwanted electricity will travel through the wire back to your electrical panel, tripping the circuit-breaker and stopping the flow of electricity.
When it comes to turntable setup, grounding is especially important because turntables handle sensitive signals from a delicate cartridge. A turntable suffering from a ground loop will produce a hum through your speakers, which can greatly affect your overall sound quality.
Factors Affecting Ground Wire Length
There are a few factors that can affect the length of your turntable ground wire. The distance between your turntable and amplifier is one of the most important factors. If the distance is short, a shorter ground wire will suffice. However, if the distance is longer, you may need a longer ground wire.
Another factor to consider is the quality of your audio cables. If you have high-quality cables, you may not need a very long ground wire. On the other hand, if you have lower quality cables or longer cables, you may need a longer ground wire to ensure proper grounding and prevent noise interference.
It’s also important to consider the layout of your audio setup. If your turntable and amplifier are stacked on top of each other or placed close together, you may not need a very long ground wire. However, if they are placed far apart or in different locations, you may need a longer ground wire to bridge the gap.
Tips For Properly Installing And Maintaining A Turntable Ground Wire
Proper installation and maintenance of your turntable’s grounding wire can help ensure that you get the best sound quality possible. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Check for a ground wire: If your turntable comes with a ground wire, make sure to use it. If not, you can easily attach one yourself using a fine insulated 18 to 20 gauge stranded wire.
2. Connect the grounding wire: Connect one end of the grounding wire to the turntable’s grounding terminal, which is usually located under the turntable. If your turntable doesn’t have a grounding terminal, you can attach the wire to any metal surface on the unit using gaffer tape.
3. Connect the other end of the grounding wire: Connect the other end of the grounding wire to your amplifier’s grounding terminal. If your amplifier doesn’t have a grounding terminal, you can attach the wire to any metal surface on the unit using gaffer tape.
4. Ensure proper connection: Make sure that both ends of the grounding wire are securely attached and that there is no damage to the insulation.
5. Keep it short: Keep your phono cable as short as possible, typically around 1 meter. This will help to prevent noise and signal loss.
6. Use high-quality wire: Use high-quality stranded wire for your grounding wire. This will help to ensure that you get the best possible sound quality.
7. Regularly check for damage: Regularly check your grounding wire for any signs of damage or wear and tear. If you notice any damage, replace the wire immediately.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your turntable is properly grounded and that you get the best possible sound quality from your vinyl records.
Common Grounding Issues And How To Troubleshoot Them
Even with proper grounding, turntables can still experience some common grounding issues that can affect the sound quality. Here are some of the most common grounding issues and how to troubleshoot them:
1. Humming or buzzing sound: If you hear a humming or buzzing sound coming from your turntable, it’s likely due to a ground loop issue. This happens when there are multiple grounding paths between your turntable and amplifier, causing a loop in the signal. To troubleshoot this issue, try disconnecting all other audio equipment from the amplifier and see if the hum goes away. If it does, then you can try adding each component back one at a time until you find the one causing the ground loop.
2. Noisy signal: A noisy signal can be caused by a poor ground connection between your turntable and amplifier. To troubleshoot this issue, check that your grounding wire is securely connected to the amplifier’s grounding terminal and that there is no corrosion or dirt on the connectors.
3. Interference: Interference can be caused by nearby electrical devices or cables that are too close to your turntable. To troubleshoot this issue, try moving your turntable away from other electrical devices and cables or shielding your cables with foil or copper tape.
4. Ground wire too long: If your ground wire is too long, it can act as an antenna and pick up unwanted noise. To troubleshoot this issue, try shortening the length of your ground wire or using a shielded cable.
By troubleshooting these common grounding issues, you can ensure that your turntable is properly grounded and producing high-quality sound.