How To Calibrate Turntable Speed – A Step-By-Step Guide

Are you tired of listening to your favorite records slightly out of time?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many turntable owners experience issues with speed calibration at some point. But fear not, there are ways to fix it!

In this article, we’ll explore two options for calibrating your turntable’s speed: fixing it yourself or taking it to a professional. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced audiophile, we’ve got you covered.

So sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of turntable calibration.

How To Calibrate Turntable Speed

Option 1: Fix It Yourself

If you’re feeling brave and want to try fixing the speed calibration yourself, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, make sure you have a belt-drive record player, as this method won’t work for direct-drive turntables.

One common issue with speed calibration is a stretched or cracked belt. To check if this is the problem, remove the platter and inspect the belt. If it’s only slightly stretched, you can try shrinking it back to size by boiling it in water for 5 minutes. Once it’s dry, put it back on your turntable and test the speed again.

If that doesn’t work, check for any blockages or gunk that could be affecting the speed. You can also try adding a couple of drops of fully synthetic and non-detergent oil to the rotor shaft where it exits the motor.

If all else fails, it may be time to take your turntable to a professional.

Option 2: Go To A Professional

If you’re not comfortable fixing the speed calibration yourself, or if you’ve tried and it’s still not working, taking your turntable to a professional is the best option. Prices vary depending on where you go, so shop around for places near you or ask for recommendations from fellow vinyl enthusiasts.

A professional can perform a cleanup and belt replacement, or even a full service to prevent future issues. While it may be more expensive than fixing it yourself, it’s worth it to ensure your turntable is working properly.

Understanding Turntable Speed And Why Calibration Is Important

Turntable speed is a crucial aspect of vinyl playback. The standard speeds for vinyl records are 33 1/3 RPM and 45 RPM, and accurate speed calibration ensures that the music sounds as it was intended to. A turntable that is not calibrated properly can result in pitch variations, distortion, and even damage to the stylus and records.

There are two main methods for checking turntable speed: using a strobe disc or a mobile app. Strobe discs can be downloaded for free from many sites on the internet and require a strobe light to determine if the turntable is spinning at the correct speed. On the other hand, mobile apps such as ‘RPM Speed & Wow’ can be used to measure the RPM of the turntable.

If you find that your turntable’s speed is off, it’s important to calibrate it properly. Turntable calibration involves adjusting the tonearm balance, cartridge weighting, and counterweight behind the pivot. This ensures that the stylus tracks the record properly and reduces wear and tear on both the stylus and records.

In addition to tonearm calibration, speed calibration is also important. Turntables can have adjustment screws or knobs for both 33 RPM and 45 RPM speeds, which can be tweaked as needed. It’s important to make sure that the turntable is level before making any adjustments.

Proper turntable calibration also involves minimizing wow and flutter. Wow refers to slow variations in pitch caused by inconsistencies in turntable speed, while flutter refers to fast variations caused by mechanical vibrations. A good setup should display a wow and flutter reading of below 0.2%, while a very good setup should be below 0.1%.

DIY Calibration: Step-by-Step Guide

Calibrating the speed of your turntable can seem daunting, but with a little patience and attention to detail, it’s a task that can be accomplished at home. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the process:

Step 1: Level the Turntable

Before you begin calibrating your turntable, make sure it is level. Use a spirit level to check the positioning of the turntable on the axis of the width and depth, then adjust the height of the legs of the furniture or add wood slats under it until the turntable is at level.

Step 2: Calibrate the Tonearm

The tonearm of your turntable needs to be calibrated to ensure optimal tracking force on your records. To do this, 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 the counterweight to the mark specified by the phono cartridge manufacturer.

Step 3: Adjust Anti-Skating

Skating is a phenomenon where pressure is exerted on the stylus due to inner face groove while playing records. Adjusting anti-skating will help correct this issue. To adjust anti-skating, follow these steps:

– Determine if your turntable has a graduated dial that moves a spring, magnet, or fixed counterweight or if it has a counterweight suspended by a nylon thread on a lever arm with graduated notches.

– Adjust this value in grams, which should be same as that used for adjusting tonearm.

Step 4: Correct Pitch

On some direct-drive turntables, you can correct pitch by using a stroboscope calibrated at 60 hertz and a disc specially made for this purpose. Move the pitch control back or forth until the bars drawn on the disc are aligned under the light of the stroboscope.

Step 5: Check Speed Calibration

To check if your turntable is calibrated correctly, you can use either a strobe disc or mobile app.

– Strobe Disc: Download and print off a strobe disc with markings from many sites on the internet. Depending on your country, lines on your strobe disc will either be set for 60hz (North America) or 50hz (Europe). You will also need to purchase a strobe light for this method. Start spinning platter and direct strobe light at revolving strobe disc. If turntable hits correct speed (either 33 1/3 or 45 RPM depending on what you are testing), strobe lines/markings will appear stationary instead of moving.

– Mobile App: Use an app like ‘RPM Speed & Wow’. Open app and set it on stationary platter whilst making sure counter on phone screen says zero. Then start spinning! When it’s up to full speed, check phone display which will show RPM of your record player (hopefully 33.3 or 45 RPM respectively).

By following these steps carefully, you can calibrate your turntable speed at home and enjoy accurate and smooth playback of your vinyl records.

Tools You’ll Need For DIY Calibration

If you’re feeling up to the challenge of calibrating your turntable yourself, there are a few tools you’ll need to have on hand. Here’s a list of the essential items:

1. Your turntable’s manual: This will provide you with the precise adjustments recommended by the manufacturer. If you don’t have a physical copy, you can usually find older manuals online.

2. A cartridge alignment protractor: A turntable protractor helps you precisely adjust the alignment of the cartridge. When the alignment is poor, the sound quality will quickly degrade. Some protractors are cartridge-specific, but if you can’t find one for your exact turntable, the universal version of a protractor works for any device.

3. A 2mm Allen wrench or flathead screwdriver: You’ll need this if you’re going to be adding a new cartridge to your vinyl player. Some models use Allen screws, while some use standard screws that you can unscrew with a flathead screwdriver.

4. Tweezers or needle-nose pliers: These are for phono cartridge replacement. They’re for hooking up the tiny wires inside the housing.

5. A stroboscope: This is a solution that helps you check and set turntable speed. You can purchase one online or at a music equipment store.

With these tools on hand, you’ll be equipped to tackle the task of calibrating your turntable speed on your own.

Finding The Right Professional For Turntable Calibration

When it comes to finding the right professional for turntable calibration, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, look for a technician who specializes in turntables and has experience working with your specific make and model. You can ask for recommendations from local record stores or vinyl enthusiasts in online forums.

Before committing to a technician, ask about their pricing and what services they offer. Some technicians may only offer basic repairs, while others may offer full servicing and upgrades.

It’s also important to ask about their turnaround time. Some technicians may have a long waitlist, while others may be able to complete the calibration quickly.

Finally, make sure the technician is trustworthy and reputable. Look for reviews online or ask for references from past clients.

Maintenance Tips To Keep Your Turntable Running Smoothly.

To keep your turntable running smoothly and avoid speed calibration issues, regular maintenance is key. Here are some tips to follow:

1. Clean and Lubricate: Clean and lubricate every piece of your turntable to ensure that everything is working as well as it can be before you do any tweaking. Use a small drop or two of high-quality synthetic oil on the motor shaft and where the spindle enters the housing.

2. Check the Belt: Make sure that your belt isn’t rubbing on anything. Belts can stretch to the point where they slip on the pulley, which would cause the turntable to turn too slowly. On the flipside, if particles of the belt have worn off and have gunked up the motor pulley, your turntable will rotate too rapidly due to an increased effective diameter. Remove the belt and clean the pulley with a Q-tip dipped in denatured alcohol.

3. Keep Your Turntable Level: A level turntable will help ensure that your records play at the correct speed. Use a spirit level to check that your turntable is level.

4. Store Your Records Properly: Store your records vertically in a cool, dry place to prevent warping and damage.

5. Use a Cover: When not in use, use a cover to protect your turntable from dust and other particles that can affect its performance.

By following these maintenance tips, you can help ensure that your turntable stays in good condition and avoid speed calibration issues.