Are you new to the world of vinyl records and turntables?
Putting a record on a turntable may seem like a simple task, but there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure you don’t damage your precious vinyl collection.
From choosing the right type of turntable to properly cleaning your records, this step-by-step guide will help you confidently play your records and get the best possible sound.
So, let’s dive in and learn how to put a record on a turntable like a pro!
How To Put A Record On A Turntable
Step 1: Choose the Right Turntable
Before you can put a record on a turntable, you need to choose the right one. There are two types of turntables: direct drive and belt-driven. Direct drive turntables are favored by DJs because they offer instant control over the spinning speed of the disc. Belt-driven turntables, on the other hand, use a rubber belt to rotate the platter and cut down on vibrations from the motor that can add unwanted noise to your music.
When choosing a turntable, consider whether you want a manual or automatic model. With a manual turntable, you’ll need to tee up the tonearm, move it over the record, and drop the needle onto the disc yourself. Automatic turntables do this for you at the push of a button and return the tonearm when it’s finished.
Step 2: Clean Your Record
Before playing your record, it’s important to clean it properly. Use an anti-static brush to remove any dust or debris from the surface of the record. This will help prevent any unwanted noise or damage to your record.
Step 3: Place Your Record on the Turntable
Once your record is clean, place it on the turntable platter. Start the turntable and use the cueing lever to raise the tonearm. Move it across to the record and line up the stylus with where you want to start playing.
Step 4: Lower the Tonearm
Next, carefully lower the tonearm onto the outer grooves of your record. The needle will engage with a small clicking sound, and your record should start playing.
Step 5: Enjoy Your Music
Congratulations! You’ve successfully put a record on a turntable and are now ready to enjoy your music. Remember to take care of your equipment and records by properly cleaning them and handling them with care.
Choosing The Right Turntable
When it comes to choosing the right turntable, there are several factors to consider. One important factor is whether you want a direct drive or belt-driven turntable. Direct drive turntables offer instant control over the spinning speed of the disc, making them a popular choice for DJs. Belt-driven turntables, on the other hand, use a rubber belt to rotate the platter and reduce vibrations from the motor that can add unwanted noise to your music.
Another factor to consider is whether you want a manual or automatic turntable. With a manual turntable, you’ll need to manually place the tonearm, move it over the record, and drop the needle onto the disc yourself. Automatic turntables do this for you with the push of a button and return the tonearm when it’s finished.
It’s also important to consider the quality of the turntable’s components. Look for a turntable with a high signal-to-noise ratio (above 65dB), which measures how much background noise you can hear. Additionally, pay attention to playback speeds – most turntables offer 33-1/3 and 45 RPM capability, but if you plan on playing 78s, make sure you get a specialized cartridge that can handle the wider grooves of these records.
Finally, consider your budget and personal preferences. There’s no single right way to set up a vinyl-friendly stereo system, so it’s important to listen to what sounds good to you and what works well with your listening habits. Keep in mind that there are plenty of second-hand options available that can help you build a top-notch system on a budget.
Preparing Your Record For Playback
To prepare your record for playback, there are a few important steps to follow. Firstly, make sure you are handling the record with clean hands to avoid any dirt or oils transferring onto the surface of the vinyl. Gently remove the record from its sleeve by holding it by the edges and avoid touching the grooves.
Next, place the record on the turntable platter, making sure that the spindle is going through the hole in the middle of the record and that it is lying flat. Check the speed of the record and adjust the player accordingly. 12-inch records usually play at 33 1/3 RPM, while 7-inch singles play at 45 RPM. Look for a switch on the plinth that you can use to change the speed.
Once you have set the correct speed, use the cue lever to raise and lower the tonearm. Carefully place the needle at the beginning of the record’s grooves for the first track. If your turntable is automatic, it will do all of this for you.
If you want to skip tracks, it’s not as easy as playing an mp3 or CD track. You’ll need to carefully look at the record’s surface for the darker, flatter sections of the record, which indicate the silence in between each track. Using the cue lever, raise the tonearm and lower it in one of these sections. It takes practice to get just right, so be patient and gentle so you don’t accidentally scratch or damage your record.
Lastly, find the record player’s on button and switch it on. Now sit back and enjoy your music! Remember to always handle your records with care and keep them clean to ensure they last a long time.
Placing The Record On The Turntable
Now that you’ve chosen the right turntable and cleaned your record, it’s time to place the record on the turntable. Start by gently pulling the record from its sleeve, being careful not to touch the record grooves. Always hold your records by the edges and label so as not to dirty up the record with oils from your fingertips.
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). Make sure to 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. Once you’ve adjusted the speed, check if your record player has a cue lever for raising and lowering the tonearm. If it does, 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.
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.
Now it’s time to lower your stylus with the record spinning. You can use the cue lever to do this. The stylus will catch the groove and music will start to play! Remember that this process is interactive and all part of the experience and joy of music on vinyl. Enjoy listening to your favorite tunes and take care of your equipment and records for years of enjoyment.
Adjusting The Tonearm And Stylus
After placing your record on the turntable, it’s important to ensure that the tonearm and stylus are properly adjusted for optimal audio performance. To do this, we need to set the alignment to ensure that the stylus correctly tracks the record groove.
Firstly, make sure that your cartridge is attached and balanced. If your cartridge is a factory-fit, it should already be correctly aligned, but it’s always a good idea to check just in case. Record grooves are cut in a linear fashion, but with a standard pivoted tonearm, the stylus traces across the record in an arc, meaning only an approximation of the cutting head’s tangential path is possible. Correct alignment will ensure that we minimize tracking errors across the record surface.
To align your cartridge correctly, we recommend using a cartridge alignment protractor. Place the protractor on the platter and carefully drop the stylus tip onto the first alignment null point. The metal cantilever holding the stylus tip should be parallel with the guidelines on your protractor – if it isn’t, carefully adjust the headshell screws until everything lines up. Use the second null point to check your results. If all is well, the cartridge should align correctly at both points. If not, you’ll need to make further adjustments.
It’s important to note that if your headshell allows for overhang adjustment (that’s the distance between your center spindle and the stylus tip), make sure you adjust the length in agreement with your turntable manual. Also, make sure to check your tracking force and overhang after adjusting your alignment to ensure they’re still correct.
By properly adjusting your tonearm and stylus alignment, you’ll achieve the best possible result from a pivoted tonearm and enjoy optimal audio performance from your turntable.
Starting And Stopping Playback
Starting playback on a turntable is a simple process, but it’s important to do it correctly to prevent any damage to your records. To start playback, place the tonearm over the outer grooves of the record and lower it gently until the stylus makes contact with the vinyl. The platter should start spinning automatically, and you should hear the music start to play.
When you’re finished listening to your record, it’s important to stop playback carefully. Never lift the tonearm while the record is still spinning, as this can cause damage to both the record and the stylus. Instead, use the cueing lever to raise the tonearm and move it back to its resting place. If you have a fully automatic turntable, the tonearm will return to its resting place on its own.
Before stopping the platter from spinning, make sure that the tonearm is already back in its resting spot. The tonearm should never be left resting on the vinyl since this can apply pressure to the grooves, which can lead to serious damage.
If you want to listen to the other side of the vinyl, just flip it over and use the same process as before. And when you’re finished playing music, replace any dust covers on your turntable to keep it clean and protected. By following these simple steps, you can enjoy your vinyl records without worrying about causing any damage or wear and tear.
Properly Storing Your Records After Use.
After you’re done listening to your record, it’s important to store it properly to ensure its longevity and sound quality. The first step is to remove the record safely from the turntable by holding it by the outer edge of the record. Avoid touching the surface of the record with your fingers as this can leave fingerprints and smudges.
Once you’ve removed the record, place it back into its sleeve as soon as possible. Leaving it out on the turntable for an extended period of time can allow dust and dirt to accumulate on the record, which can impact its sound quality. It’s also important to store your records upright to prevent warping over time. Records lying flat or horizontal can increase the chance of warping, especially if they are stacked on top of each other.
When storing your records upright, make sure they don’t lean to one side and aren’t squashed together tightly in your record shelf or crate as this can cause damage. Consider using a dedicated crate or shelving unit for your records, such as the Ikea Kallax range, which is designed specifically for vinyl storage.
If you need to store your records in a self-storage unit, make sure to use a climate-controlled unit to protect them from extreme swings in temperature and humidity. Optimal climate control is necessary for long-term storage of your vinyl records, and failure to do so can result in unplayable records.
By properly storing your records after use, you can ensure that they remain in good condition and sound great for years to come.