Are you tired of hearing that annoying howling sound coming from your turntable?
That’s called feedback, and it can be caused by a variety of factors, including vibrations, unstable power, and improper grounding.
But fear not, because in this article we will explore some of the most common causes of turntable feedback and provide you with practical solutions to fix it.
Whether you’re a seasoned audiophile or a beginner, these tips will help you get the most out of your turntable and enjoy your music without any unwanted noise.
So let’s dive in and learn how to fix turntable feedback once and for all!
How To Fix Turntable Feedback
There are several ways to fix turntable feedback, and the first step is to identify the root cause. Here are some common causes and solutions:
Understanding Turntable Feedback
Turntable feedback occurs when external sources of vibration interfere with the cartridge’s ability to accurately track the grooves on a record. The most common cause of feedback is the proximity of speakers to the turntable. When speakers are too close or on the same surface as the turntable, they can cause vibrations that result in a feedback loop. This loop can get louder and louder, resulting in distortion and other unwanted sounds.
To properly understand turntable feedback, it’s important to know how a cartridge works. The cartridge translates vibrations into sounds, and for it to work properly, the turntable needs to be isolated from external sources of vibration, like speakers. Speakers are typically the most significant source of vibration in a stereo system. If you hear feedback or distortion when you turn up the volume, then your speakers and turntable might not be sufficiently isolated from each other.
Feedback can also be caused by the shelf or lid that the turntable rests on, or by an energy hotspot in the room. Moving the turntable a few feet away from where it is sitting or repositioning the speakers by even a few inches can help alleviate these issues.
Another important factor to consider is the levelness of your turntable. Turntables perform best when they are completely flat and level, which allows the stylus on the cartridge to drag evenly across a record’s grooves without favoring one channel over another. Adjusting the feet of your turntable or using a record weight with a built-in spirit level can help you achieve this.
Ultimately, investing in a decent turntable support is essential if you want to hear how good your records can sound. A good support will help isolate your turntable from external sources of vibration and improve overall performance. By understanding the root causes of turntable feedback and taking steps to address them, you can enjoy your vinyl collection without any unwanted noise or distortion.
Common Causes Of Turntable Feedback
1. Vibrations from the Shelf or Lid: Feedback can often be caused by vibrations coming from the shelf or lid on which the turntable rests. To fix this, try removing the lid during play or placing sponges under the corners of the turntable. You can also try placing a large cutting board under the turntable and putting sponges under its corners.
2. Ground Loop Hum: Turntables often have a ground wire located next to the RCA cables. If your turntable has a built-in preamp, you may not need to ground it to a receiver. However, if you do need to ground it, attach the ground wire to the GND screw on the rear of your receiver. If your turntable doesn’t have a ground wire, try connecting a piece of speaker wire from a metal screw on the turntable to another metal screw on the receiver to get rid of the hum noise.
3. Speaker Interference: Feedback can also be caused by low-frequency output sources, such as speakers, being too close to the turntable. To fix this, move all speakers as far away from the turntable as possible and angle them away from the platter. You can also place your turntable and speakers on separate surfaces to prevent speaker vibrations from reaching the turntable.
4. Uneven Surface: Keeping your turntable level is important in preventing tracking issues and excess tonearm friction. Make sure to level the surface under your turntable to avoid any unevenness.
5. Environmental Factors: Keep your turntable in a climate-controlled indoor space and isolate it from sources of electrical noise such as amps, high power electronics, and anything with a wireless transmitter.
By identifying and fixing these common causes of feedback, you can improve the sound quality of your turntable and enjoy your music without any unwanted noise.
How To Properly Ground Your Turntable
Properly grounding your turntable is crucial to avoiding feedback and improving overall sound quality. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:
Step 1: Check for a grounding wire
Before making your own grounding wire, check if your turntable already has one. If it does, simply connect the unconnected copper spade connector of the grounding wire to the amplifier’s grounding terminal. Make sure the connection is tight.
Step 2: Make your own grounding wire
If your turntable doesn’t have a grounding wire, you can make your own using insulated 18-22 gauge AWG wire. Use needle-nose pliers to strip off about 6mm to 8mm of the insulated wire on both ends. Then, use gaffer tape to attach one stripped end to the metal cover of the turntable and the other stripped end to the amplifier’s metal box.
Step 3: Find the grounding terminal
The grounding terminal is usually located on the back of the amplifier or receiver and marked “ground.” Disconnect it before proceeding.
Step 4: Attach the grounding wire
If your turntable already has a grounding wire, attach it as described in Step 1. If you made your own grounding wire, attach one end to the chassis of the amplifier and the other end to the chassis of the turntable using screws.
Step 5: Test for feedback
After properly grounding your turntable, test for feedback by playing some music and listening for any unwanted humming or buzzing sounds. If you still hear feedback, try adjusting the placement of your turntable or checking for other potential causes.
Step 6: Enjoy improved sound quality
With your turntable properly grounded, you should notice a significant improvement in sound quality with no unwanted feedback.
Tips For Reducing Vibrations And Unstable Power
Vibrations and unstable power are two common causes of turntable feedback. Here are some tips to reduce these issues:
1. Speaker isolation: If you live in an apartment or can’t install shelves or drill holes in your wall, you can still separate your speakers and turntable to help reduce feedback and vibration. Speakers vibrate even with quiet sound, and the louder you play your music, the more aggressively your speakers will vibrate. Separating your speakers from your turntable is an easy, cost-effective fix for vibration. Just be sure to keep the safety of your speakers in mind.
2. Level the surface under your turntable: Keep your turntable level in order to prevent tracking issues and excess tonearm friction.
3. Avoid interference: Isolate your turntable (especially the tonearm and cartridge) from sources of electrical noise such as amps, high power electronics, and anything with a wireless transmitter. Unstable power is another common cause of various hums, pops, and clicks in audio systems. If you suspect that this is the issue, try moving your system to another room and plugging it into a different circuit. If this solves the issue, move your turntable back to your preferred location, and use an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) or an inverter to clean up the power into your turntable system.
4. Environmental factors: Keep your turntable in a climate-controlled indoor space. Solid concrete floors are ideal for reducing interference from footfall. If your house has suspended wooden floors and footfall vibration becomes a problem, you might want to consider investing in a secure wall fitting to isolate the turntable.
5. Upgrade the turntable feet: In some cases, you can upgrade the turntable feet for a model with better isolation or vibration absorption properties.
6. Use isolation pads: For circumstances where you absolutely can’t place your speakers on separate stands or on another surface, you can mitigate the problem by placing isolation pads under the speakers.
7. Subsonic filter: Subwoofers are a huge problem for turntables especially if you have them set where they should be. The low frequencies will vibrate the tonearm directly through the air. It is very important to use a subsonic filter and digital filtering is the only way you can do this effectively without injuring the bass. I roll off at 18 Hz 80 dB/oct.
By following these tips, you can significantly reduce vibrations and unstable power that cause feedback in your turntable system.
Troubleshooting Turntable Feedback
If you’re experiencing feedback or a humming noise coming from your turntable, there are a few things you can try to troubleshoot the issue.
First, check to see if your turntable has a ground wire. This is a small wire located in the rear of the unit next to the RCA cables. Attach this ground wire to the GND screw on the rear of your receiver. If your turntable has a built-in preamp, you may not need to ground it to a receiver. Look for a switch on the back of the unit that says Phono or Line to see if your turntable has a built-in preamp.
If your turntable doesn’t have a ground wire, try locating a metal screw on the turntable and connecting a piece of speaker wire to another metal screw on the receiver. You want to get a good metal-to-metal connection from the turntable to the receiver to eliminate the hum noise. Another method is to tape a metal wire from your receiver to the turntable using gaffe tape.
It’s important to note that hum is caused when there is a problem with the wiring somewhere in your audio system. If you’re experiencing hum when your amplifier is set to all inputs, not just the one that your turntable is on, then you have a different problem than what this article discusses. If hum only occurs on the input which the turntable plays through, it’s likely that the turntable is the source of the problem.
If you have another turntable lying around, try plugging that into the same preamp. If there is still hum, then the phono preamp is likely the source of the problem. Faint hum may be an issue with cheaper turntables, and if you can’t perceive the hum when playing music, you may have to learn to live with it.
Lastly, make sure your turntable is isolated from any vibration coming from your speakers. This can be done by placing it on a wall shelf and as far away from speakers as possible. You can also use Tema Isolator absorbers or place it in a sand box for further isolation.
By following these troubleshooting tips, you can effectively eliminate feedback and enjoy high-quality sound from your turntable.
Maintenance And Care For Your Turntable
Taking proper care of your turntable is crucial in preventing feedback and ensuring the longevity of your equipment. Here are some tips for maintaining and caring for your turntable:
1. Keep your turntable away from large speakers: Sound consists of air molecules vibrating through space, so it’s important to keep your turntable away from any large speakers to prevent trace amounts of feedback from distorting the original sound. Placing the turntable on a heavy table behind or adjacent to the speakers is fine.
2. Clean the stylus regularly: Dirt, dust, and other contaminants can significantly shorten the lifespan of your needle and damage your records. Use a stylus brush to clean the needle from back to front in between plays. For a deeper clean, specialized stylus cleaners are also available.
3. Replace the needle regularly: The needle has the most involved and toughest job out of all the components on your player, coming into close contact with dirt, debris, and whatever else crosses its path. Frequent playback and hours of use can also take its toll on the stylus. Replace the needle every thousand hours of playing time or based on sound quality.
4. Properly ground your turntable: Make sure to ground your turntable properly using a ground wire to prevent feedback caused by electrical interference.
5. Move wires and speakers away from each other: Move other wires from audio components away from each other and move your speakers to a different surface to prevent feedback caused by electromagnetic interference.
6. Consider purchasing a standalone preamp: A standalone preamp can help boost the signal and prevent feedback caused by low signal strength.
By following these tips for maintenance and care, you can prevent feedback and ensure that your turntable performs at its best for years to come.