How To Adjust A Turntable: A Step-By-Step Guide

Are you a vinyl enthusiast looking to get the most out of your turntable?

Proper calibration is key to achieving the best possible sound quality and preserving your precious records.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the essential steps to adjust your turntable, including:

– Levelling

– Tonearm calibration

– Anti-skating adjustment

– Pitch correction

Whether you’re a seasoned audiophile or a newcomer to the world of vinyl, our easy-to-follow instructions will help you get the most out of your turntable and enjoy your music to the fullest.

So let’s dive in and learn how to adjust a turntable like a pro!

How To Adjust A Turntable

1. Levelling

The first step to adjusting your turntable is to ensure that it is levelled. This may seem like a simple task, but it is crucial for the smooth and precise operation of your turntable and the preservation of your records.

To level your turntable, use a level to check the positioning of the turntable on the axis of the width and depth. Adjust the height of the legs of the furniture or add wood slats under it until the turntable is levelled. On some models, it is possible to adjust the feet to get the device levelled.

2. Tonearm Calibration

The tonearm of your turntable needs to be calibrated before the first use, after moving the device or after replacing the cartridge, even if it is the same model. The calibration of the tonearm is done by displacing a counterweight behind the pivot, according to the specifications by the manufacturer of the phono cartridge – the component that holds the stylus.

To calibrate your tonearm, follow these steps:

– Unlock and remove the tonearm from the armrest.

– Move the counterweight so that the arm gets horizontally balanced.

– Align the graduated dial near the counterweight at “zero” position, without touching the counterweight.

– Position and lock the tonearm on the armrest.

– Move the graduated dial and counterweight to the mark specified by the phono cartridge manufacturer.

In general, optimal calibration of the tonearm is set between 1.5 and 2 grams of tracking force.

3. Anti-Skating Adjustment

During use, a record player’s inner face exerts pressure on the stylus, causing drifting or “skating.” Anti-skating adjustment involves adjusting a graduated dial that moves a spring, magnet or fixed counterweight, or by moving a counterweight suspended by a nylon thread on a lever arm with graduated notches.

The adjustment value of anti-skating in grams is similar to that used to adjust tonearm. Set your turntable’s anti-skating dial to zero, then turn the weight on the back of the arm just up until point where tonearm floats on its own. Then, by turning part of weight with gauge but not entire weight, set gauge back to zero to “re-zero” weight. Turn entire weight to number (in grams) specified by your cartridge’s manual. If it specifies a range, stick it in middle.

4. Pitch Correction

On some record players equipped with direct-drive mechanism, it is possible to correct playback speed or “pitch.” Record players used by DJs are usually equipped with such pitch control.

To correct pitch, use a stroboscope calibrated at 60 hertz and a disc specially made for this purpose. Move pitch control back or forth until bars drawn on disc are aligned under light of stroboscope.

Levelling Your Turntable

Levelling your turntable is an essential step in adjusting your turntable. Having a turntable at level is often underestimated, but it is crucial for the smooth and precise operation of your turntable and the preservation of your records.

To level your turntable, start by using a level to check the positioning of the turntable on the axis of the width and depth. If the turntable is not levelled, adjust the height of the legs of the furniture or add wood slats under it until the turntable is at level. On some models, it is possible to adjust the feet to get the device levelled.

Once you have levelled your turntable, it is important to ensure that it stays that way. One way to do this is by loosening the turntable feet and screwing them back in place until they are balanced. Most turntable feet can be unscrewed and screwed back, in cases where it is still unbalanced, and then you can easily adjust each of the four pegs till they align with themselves.

By levelling your turntable, you are ensuring that it operates smoothly and precisely. This will help to preserve your records and ensure that you get the best possible sound quality from your turntable.

Calibrating The Tonearm

Calibrating the tonearm is a crucial step in adjusting your turntable. It involves adjusting the counterweight behind the pivot to achieve the ideal tracking force of the stylus on the record. The tracking force depends on the cartridge in use, and it is usually between 1 and 2 grams.

To calibrate your tonearm, start by putting the counterweight on the end of the tonearm wand. Ensure that the anti-skating weight is removed at this point. Move the tonearm off its rest and adjust the counterweight so that the tonearm balances horizontally. Now turn the counterweight scale to indicate zero.

Next, turn the counterweight (and the scale) to the correct tracking force specified by your cartridge’s manual. If your cartridge manual specifies a range, stick it in the middle. Once you have set the tracking force, adjust the anti-skating weight to correspond with it.

In some record players, the tonearm has a graduated dial for positioning the counterweight. However, this is rarely found on high-end tonearms. In this case, a mechanical or electronic balance must be used to calibrate the tonearm.

Calibrating your turntable may require some setup knowledge, but it is worth it for improved sound quality without breaking out your wallet. Make sure to follow all of these steps to achieve optimal performance from your turntable.

Adjusting The Anti-skating Mechanism

The anti-skating mechanism is an important feature in a turntable that helps to maintain the quality of sound and preserve your records. The anti-skating force counteracts the centripetal force that pulls the tonearm and cartridge towards the center of the LP, causing distortions. Adjusting the anti-skating mechanism requires precision and attention to detail.

To adjust the anti-skating mechanism, you need to set and balance the tonearm according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Ensure that the position of the anti-skate weight floats the stylus above the record. Next, adjust the anti-skating knob to the manufacturer’s recommended setting.

To test if the needle is skating inwards or outwards, play a record and watch for skating and skipping of the stylus. If you notice that the needle is skating inwards, tighten the anti-skating knob. Conversely, if you notice that the needle has a tendency to drift or skip outwards, then the anti-skating level is too high, and you need to loosen the knob.

If you do not want to risk damaging your records, there are other options available to test out your device’s anti-skating level. You can use test records that run various assessments on your turntable’s components, including tracking, channel balance, and anti-skating resistance. Alternatively, you can use singles with nothing pressed on the backside to test your machine’s settings without risking scratching something with audio on it.

Correcting Pitch Issues

If you’re experiencing pitch control problems on your turntable, don’t worry, as it is a common issue that audiophiles face. The good news is that there are ways to fix the problem. Here are some steps you can take to correct pitch issues on your turntable:

1. Clean the pitch control potentiometer (fader) with contact cleaner. Dirt and grime can cause scratchy and unreliable operation. Spray the contact cleaner onto the fader and move it back and forth to distribute the cleaner.

2. Check the wiring to the pitch control for loose connections or frayed wires, and repair if necessary. Make sure all connections are secure.

3. Calibrate the pitch control using a strobe disc, which will help you set the correct speed for the turntable. Play the record at 33 1/3 rpm and take note of the edge of the platter where there are raised bumps. As the record is spinning slowly, adjust the slider or knob for pitch control and watch the lights hitting these bumps carefully, making sure to stop adjusting when there are finally some straight lines present. The line should be completely still. If the lines are moving to the right, the platter is spinning too fast, and if the lines are moving to the left, then the platter is spinning too slow.

4. Check the turntable’s belt for looseness or signs of wear and replace if necessary. Boil a cup and a half of water and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, turn off the stove and let the belt soak in the hot water for about 5-8 minutes. After the hot water soak, your belt should shrink back down closer to its original size.

5. If the turntable has a ground wire, make sure it is securely attached to the phono preamp or amplifier, as this can cause issues with the pitch control.

If these steps do not resolve your pitch control problem, you may need to seek the services of a professional repair person or consider purchasing a new turntable.

By following these steps, you can be confident that your turntable is spinning just right and producing high-quality sound for your listening pleasure.

Fine-tuning Your Turntable For Optimal Sound Quality

Once you have completed the initial adjustments, fine-tuning your turntable can help you achieve optimal sound quality. Here are some steps to follow:

1. Speed Accuracy

Even slight issues with speed accuracy can be audible. To test your turntable’s speed, play your record at 33 RPM and watch the edge of your platter with the raised bumps. The bumps are spread out in such a way that they will appear to be in line when your platter is spinning at exactly 33 1/3 RPM. As the record spins, slowly move your slider or knob and watch the lights hitting the raised bumps on the edge of the platter. Watch for the lights to create straight lines. The lines should not move left or right and should be completely still. If you notice the lines moving to the right, your platter is spinning too fast. If the lines are moving to the left, your platter is moving too slow, and the speed needs to increase.

If these tests show that your platter speed is off, you can fine-tune the motor speed or replace a worn-out belt to make that adjustment.

2. Tracking Pressure and Anti-Skating

To realign tracking pressure and anti-skating, set your anti-skating to 0. Then, adjust the counterweight until the tone-arm is balanced and floating just a little. Adjust the tracking pressure to the manufacturer’s recommended setting, and then readjust the anti-skating to the same setting.

In order to help alignment, you can also test your sound quality when setting the anti-skipping measure 1/4 of a gram (.25 g) less than the tracking pressure. If you think that your tracking pressure setting is somehow compromised, you can purchase an add-on gauge, which would help you make sure of the pressure your stylus is putting on the record at all times.

3. Cartridge Alignment

The alignment of your cartridge can also affect sound quality. To align your cartridge, use a protractor tool that matches your turntable’s cartridge mount. This tool will help you align your cartridge correctly with respect to both overhang (the distance from stylus tip to center spindle) and offset (the angle that stylus makes with respect to a line drawn perpendicular to record). A protractor tool is an essential piece of equipment for any serious vinyl enthusiast.

By following these steps and fine-tuning your turntable, you can achieve optimal sound quality and enjoy your records in their full glory.