Are you looking to get the best sound out of your turntable?
Then it’s time to pay attention to the little details, like balancing your tonearm and platter.
In this beginner’s guide, we’ll focus on how to balance a turntable platter and why it matters.
Whether you’re a seasoned audiophile or just starting out, this guide will help you achieve high-quality sound and give your hi-fi gear a long shelf-life.
So, let’s dive in and learn how to balance your turntable platter like a pro!
How To Balance A Turntable Platter
Balancing your turntable platter is an essential part of turntable maintenance that can make a significant difference in the quality of sound you get from your vinyl records. Here’s how to do it:
1. First, make sure your turntable is turned off and unplugged.
2. Take a close look at the platter and check for any visible signs of imbalance, such as wobbling or shaking.
3. If you suspect that the platter is unbalanced, you can use a strobe to check its speed accuracy.
4. Next, check if there are any balancing weights on the rim of the platter. Some turntables come with balancing weights attached to the rim, while others don’t.
5. If your platter doesn’t have any balancing weights, you can still balance it by adding weights to the underside of the platter.
6. To add weights, you’ll need to remove the platter from the turntable and flip it over.
7. Once you have access to the underside of the platter, you can add small weights to balance it out. You can use adhesive weights or tape them on with double-sided tape.
8. Be sure to add weights evenly around the circumference of the platter for optimal balance.
9. Once you’ve added the weights, reattach the platter to the turntable and test it for balance again.
Why Balance Your Turntable Platter?
Balancing your turntable platter is essential for several reasons. Firstly, an unbalanced platter can cause unwanted vibrations and resonance, which can negatively affect the sound quality of your vinyl records. These vibrations can also cause unnecessary wear and tear on your turntable’s components, leading to a shorter lifespan for your equipment.
Secondly, an unbalanced platter can cause tracking issues with your tonearm, which can lead to skipping and distortion during playback. This is because an unbalanced platter can cause the stylus to skip or jump across the record grooves, resulting in a loss of sound quality.
Lastly, balancing your turntable platter is crucial for ensuring that your turntable operates at its optimal speed. A balanced platter will spin evenly and smoothly, allowing for accurate playback speed and pitch.
Tools You’ll Need
To balance your turntable platter, you’ll need a few tools to ensure that you get the job done right. Here are the tools you’ll need:
1. Torpedo level: A torpedo level is an essential tool for leveling your turntable. It is a small, compact level that is easy to use and can be used for other tasks around the home as well.
2. Strobe: A strobe is a tool that allows you to check the speed accuracy of your turntable. It’s especially useful if your turntable doesn’t have any balancing weights attached to the rim.
3. Balancing weights: If your turntable doesn’t come with balancing weights attached to the rim, you’ll need to purchase them separately. These weights are usually small and can be attached to the underside of the platter.
4. Adhesive or double-sided tape: If you’re using weights that don’t have adhesive backing, you’ll need to purchase adhesive or double-sided tape to attach them to the underside of the platter.
5. Screwdriver: You may need a screwdriver to remove the platter from the turntable and to attach any balancing weights.
6. Masking tape: Masking tape can be used to hold the platter in place while you’re working on it, preventing it from rotating and causing damage to the stylus.
With these tools in hand, you’ll be able to balance your turntable platter with ease and enjoy high-quality sound from your vinyl records.
How To Remove The Platter
If you need to remove the platter from your turntable, here’s how to do it:
1. First, ensure that your turntable is turned off and unplugged.
2. Check if there is a retaining ring or part that needs to be removed first. This is usually hidden under a trim ring at the center of the turntable. Remove it with a small screwdriver and reuse it.
3. Locate the access holes on the platter and use your fingers to pull it up until it moves. You can also try tapping the center spindle using a piece of wood while pulling it up. If the platter feels stuck, give it a gentle tap with a rubber mallet.
4. If the platter still won’t budge, try tapping harder on the center spindle with the handle of a screwdriver or other tool. Don’t be afraid to tap hard – “don’t tap it, whack it” as the saying goes.
5. Follow these steps, and you should feel the platter lifting – it will eventually lift straight off. This method works on almost all Technics turntables that use this motor design, including most of their SL-Q series and most (if not all) of their direct drive linear tracking decks.
By following these steps, you should be able to remove your turntable platter safely and easily for maintenance or repair purposes.
Checking The Balance
Checking the balance of your turntable platter is an important step in ensuring that your records sound their best. To do this, you’ll need to balance the tonearm over the platter, with the tonearm level. This will ensure that when you put a record on the platter and lower the tonearm onto the record, the tonearm (and hence cartridge) will be parallel to the record surface.
To begin, make sure that the anti-skate adjustment is set to “0” (no compensation). Carefully remove the stylus protective cover by sliding it straight forward off the front of the cartridge, exposing the stylus. While gently holding the sides of the headshell to stabilize the tonearm, release the tonearm locking clamp to allow the tonearm to swing freely.
Continue to stabilize the tonearm while rotating the counterweight in the direction needed to balance the arm in the horizontal plane. Check for balance by temporarily releasing the headshell after each adjustment of the weight. Ultimately, the arm should float freely just above the tonearm rest – not touch the rest. A properly balanced tonearm will float parallel to the turntable chassis.
Once you have achieved proper balance, place the arm into the arm rest and secure it using the locking clamp. To set the proper stylus tracking force for your cartridge, locate the black stylus force gauge ring that is semi-attached to the front of the counterweight. Without turning the counterweight itself, carefully rotate the ring until the “0” on the ring lines up with the centerline marked along the top of the tonearm.
Your tonearm is now properly balanced and calibrated so you can accurately set the tracking force for your stylus. The recommended tracking force for most cartridges is between 1.5 and 2 grams, but be sure to check your cartridge’s specific recommendations. To set the tracking force, rotate the counterweight, along with the ring, in a counterclockwise direction and stop when you reach your desired tracking force.
By following these steps, you can ensure that your turntable platter is properly balanced and your records sound their best.
Adjusting The Balance
Adjusting the balance of your turntable platter is a crucial step in getting the best sound out of your vinyl records. Here’s how to do it:
1. Start by turning off and unplugging your turntable.
2. Remove the platter from the turntable and flip it over to access the underside.
3. Check for any balancing weights on the underside of the platter. If there are none, you’ll need to add weights to balance it.
4. To add weights, use small adhesive weights or double-sided tape and place them evenly around the circumference of the platter.
5. Once you’ve added the weights, reattach the platter to the turntable and test it for balance again.
6. If the platter is still unbalanced, you may need to adjust the position of the weights. Remove them and try placing them in different positions until you achieve optimal balance.
7. Another way to adjust the balance is by using a bubble level. Place the level on top of the platter and adjust the weights until the platter is level.
8. Once you’ve achieved optimal balance, test your turntable again for any signs of wobbling or shaking.
By following these steps, you can ensure that your turntable platter is properly balanced and get the best sound possible from your vinyl records.
Reinstalling The Platter
To reinstall the platter, first remove the clamp and lift the tonearm lift control lever.
1. Determine the hole drilling position of the tonearm fulcrum (mounting screw part) using the mounting template enclosed with the product.
2. Insert the left end hole (φ7mm) describes as Platter Spindle of the mounting template to the center shaft (spindle) of turntable platter.
3. Rotate the template sheet and fix the position of the mounting hole of the arm base at 45 degrees when viewed from the top.
4. The distance between the center spindle to the center of mounting hole is 214mm (9 inch) and 239mm (10 inch).
5. Place the platter on top of the center spindle, making sure it is aligned properly.
6. Then place the mat on top of the platter to protect your records from scratches and dust.
7. Wrap the belt around both the pulley and platter, ensuring that it is tight enough to maintain tension but not too tight that it causes damage to the belt or motor.
8. Rotate the platter as you install it to maintain tension on the belt.
9. Slide the dust cover onto its hinges, making sure it fits securely.
10. Connect the power adapter to the power jack on the back of the turntable, and then use included RCAs to connect to your amp or powered speakers.
11. Gently remove the stylus cover, being careful not to touch or damage it.
12. To change speeds, move the belt from one pulley groove to another. The smaller groove is for 33 RPM, while the larger one is for 45 RPM.
13. If you have a built-in preamp, you can turn it on or off using the switch on the back of your turntable.
By following these steps, you can ensure that your turntable platter is properly balanced and ready to provide high-quality sound from your vinyl records.