Vinyl records have made a comeback in recent years, and it’s no surprise why.
The warm, rich sound of a record spinning on a turntable is a unique and nostalgic experience that many music lovers crave.
But if you’re new to the world of vinyl, you may be wondering how to actually play a record on a turntable.
Don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it may seem!
In this article, we’ll guide you through the process step-by-step, so you can enjoy your vinyl collection to the fullest.
From gently pulling the record from its sleeve to adjusting the speed and lowering the tonearm, we’ve got you covered.
So sit back, relax, and let’s get started!
How To Play A Record On A Turntable
Step 1: Gently Pull the Record from Its Sleeve
The first step in playing a record on a turntable is to gently pull the record from its sleeve. It’s important to be careful not to touch the record grooves, as oils from your fingertips can dirty up the record. Always hold your records by the edges and label.
Step 2: Place the Record on the Platter
Next, place the record on the platter so the spindle goes through the center hole of the record. Each side is labeled A & B (possibly C & D also if it’s a double LP).
Step 3: Adjust the Speed
Check the speed of your record. Most 12 inch LPs are 33 1/3 RPM and 7-inch singles are 45 RPM. However, there are exceptions, so check the center label where you’ll usually find the speed indicated. If the speed isn’t specified, then assume 33 or an LP and 45 for a single. Most record players and turntables have a simple switch somewhere on the plinth to adjust speed.
Step 4: Check the Cue Lever
If your record player has a cue lever for raising and lowering the tonearm, use it! Don’t attempt to raise and lower the tonearm on your records by hand if you don’t have to – you’ll undoubtedly risk scratching a record eventually.
Step 5: Position the Tonearm
With the cue lever set to the up position, slowly pivot the tonearm over to the edge of your record. Using your eye, look down to ensure the stylus (or needle if you prefer) is hovering just inside the disc. You don’t want to aim too close to the edge, or the stylus will fail to catch the run-in groove and slip off the side.
Step 6: Lower the Tonearm
You can now use the cue lever to lower your stylus with the record spinning. The stylus will catch the groove and music will start to play! Congratulations. That was easy and the process is really interactive; it’s all part of the experience and joy of music on vinyl.
Step 7: Return The Tonearm After Playing
After playing your record, return the tonearm to its original position. You can physically lift it from the record. If your record has a B side, then you should gently remove it and follow these steps again to play it.
Preparing Your Turntable And Record
Before you start playing your record, it’s important to prepare your turntable and record. Firstly, make sure your turntable is placed on a sturdy surface. A wobbly or tilted table can produce an annoying hum that will spoil your music. If your furniture isn’t as solid as you’d like, consider investing in cheap isolation feet that can be stuck to the bottom of your deck to dampen any unwanted vibration. Additionally, consider using a platter mat for extra noise dampening.
Next, read the instructions carefully to balance the tonearm correctly. This is the trickiest and most important part of setup, and all turntables will vary slightly. Start by attaching the belt (if there is one), placing the platter on the spindle, and attaching the headshell – the bit that holds the cartridge and stylus. If it’s not already there, you’ll need to install the counterweight on the back end of the tonearm, usually by screwing it on. Set the anti-skate dial (the small numbered wheel next to the tonearm) to 0. This provides a small force to stop the tonearm naturally skating towards the center of the record.
While gently supporting the headshell, move the tonearm into position above the platter. Adjust the counterweight at the back of the tonearm, usually by rotating it until the tonearm can float on its own, parallel to the surface of the platter. At this point, it has a tracking weight of 0g. Tracking weight tells you how much force is being put on the stylus. Next, set the arm tracking weight dial to 0, which you’ll probably find on the counterweight.
Now rotate the whole counterweight to the correct tracking force – this will be given in grams in the manufacturer instructions and varies according to the type of cartridge being used. Lastly, lock the tonearm back into its rest and adjust the anti-skate dial to match the tracking weight.
Finally, hook up your cables according to instructions provided with your turntable. There’s usually a diagram that tells you what goes where, which can be especially useful if you’re hooking up a separate pre-amp for the first time. Don’t forget to plug in your power cable.
By following these steps and preparing your turntable and record correctly, you can ensure a high-quality listening experience without damaging your equipment or records.
Setting The Speed And Adjusting The Tonearm
Setting the speed and adjusting the tonearm are crucial steps in playing a record on a turntable. Before you start playing, make sure to adjust the speed of your turntable to match the record you want to play. Most turntables have a switch on the plinth to adjust the speed. Check the center label of your record to see if it’s 33 1/3 RPM or 45 RPM.
Next, it’s time to adjust the tonearm. This is the trickiest part of the setup process, but it’s essential for getting the best sound quality from your records. First, read the instructions carefully, as each turntable will have slightly different instructions for balancing the tonearm.
Once you’ve attached the belt and headshell and installed the counterweight on the back end of the tonearm, set the anti-skate dial to 0. This will provide a small force to stop the tonearm naturally skating towards the center of the record. Move the tonearm into position above the platter and adjust the counterweight until the tonearm can float on its own, parallel to the surface of the platter.
Now it’s time to set the tracking force and anti-skate resistance. Tracking force is the amount of weight that a turntable cartridge can handle, and too much or too little force can damage your record. Anti-skate helps keep the needle in the middle of the groove, preventing skipping.
Check with your cartridge manufacturer for recommended tracking force and then rotate the counterweight until it displays that weight. Adjust the anti-skate dial to match this tracking force. Once you’ve done this correctly, you should be ready to play your record with optimal sound quality.
Remember, it’s important to take care when handling your records and turntable components to avoid damaging them. With these steps in mind, you can enjoy playing your favorite records on your turntable with ease and great sound quality.
Placing The Record On The Turntable
When placing a record on a turntable, it’s important to handle it with care to avoid damaging it. Start by gently pulling the record from its sleeve, being careful not to touch the grooves. Always hold your records by the edges and label.
Next, place the record on the platter so that the spindle goes through the center hole of the record. Make sure to check the label on each side of the record to ensure that you’re placing it correctly. If it’s a double LP, there may be additional labels for sides C and D.
Before playing the record, check its speed. Most 12 inch LPs are 33 1/3 RPM, while 7-inch singles are typically 45 RPM. However, there may be exceptions, so check the center label where you’ll usually find the speed indicated. If it’s not specified, assume 33 for an LP and 45 for a single. Most record players and turntables have a simple switch somewhere on the plinth to adjust speed.
If your turntable has a cue lever for raising and lowering the tonearm, use it! Don’t attempt to raise and lower the tonearm on your records by hand if you don’t have to – this can scratch your record eventually. With the cue lever set to the up position, slowly pivot the tonearm over to the edge of your record. Using your eye, look down to ensure that the stylus (or needle if you prefer) is hovering just inside the disc. You don’t want to aim too close to the edge, or the stylus will fail to catch the run-in groove and slip off the side.
Once you’ve positioned the tonearm correctly, use the cue lever to lower your stylus with the record spinning. The stylus will catch the groove and music will start to play! When you’re finished playing your record, gently lift the tonearm from the record and return it to its original position. If your record has a B side, then repeat these steps again to play it.
Lowering The Tonearm And Starting The Music
Lowering the tonearm and starting the music is a crucial step in playing a record on a turntable. First, make sure the cue lever is set to the down position. This will disengage the switch or lever, allowing the tonearm to gently lower itself onto the record’s grooves. If your turntable doesn’t have a cue lever, you’ll have to manually lower the tonearm onto the record.
Once the cue lever is set, carefully lower the stylus onto the vinyl. Be sure to lower the tonearm onto the outer grooves of the record, and avoid aiming too close to the edge. You should hear a small clicking sound when the needle engages with the grooves. This means that the record is ready to play!
It’s important to note that you should never touch or bump the tonearm while it’s playing. This can cause skipping or damage to both your record and stylus. If you need to stop or pause the music, use the cue lever to lift the tonearm off of the record.
Removing The Record And Properly Storing It
After you’re done playing your record, it’s important to remove it from the turntable and store it properly to ensure its longevity. The first step is to use the cue lever to lift the tonearm off the record, making sure to avoid dragging it across the surface of the record. Once the tonearm is raised, you can gently remove the record from the platter.
It’s important to avoid stacking records on top of each other or leaning them against each other, as this can cause warping and damage over time. Instead, store your records vertically on a shelf or in a record crate, making sure to keep them separated by at least 1 inch to avoid pressure and potential damage.
To further protect your records, consider investing in proper storage solutions such as inner and outer sleeves. Inner sleeves will protect your record from dust and scratches while outer sleeves provide an extra layer of protection against wear and tear. Additionally, storing your records in a cool and dry environment will prevent warping and damage caused by humidity.
By following these simple steps, you can ensure that your vinyl collection remains in excellent condition for years to come. Properly storing your records not only protects your investment but also ensures that future generations can enjoy the music of your days.