Are you a music lover who’s always been curious about using a turntable?
Maybe you’ve inherited one from a family member or stumbled upon a great deal at a thrift store.
Whatever the reason, learning how to use a turntable can be a fun and rewarding experience.
But where do you start?
In this article, we’ll cover the basics of setting up and using a turntable, including:
– How to properly lower the stylus onto the vinyl
– How to convert the phono output signal to a line level signal
– How to ensure your turntable is level for optimal performance
So grab your favorite vinyl record and let’s get started!
How To Use A Turntable
Step 1: Lowering the Stylus
Before you start playing your vinyl record, you need to properly lower the stylus onto the vinyl. This is done by gently lowering the tonearm onto the outer grooves of the record. You’ll hear a small clicking sound as the needle engages with the grooves, and then the record should start to play.
It’s important to handle the tonearm with care and avoid touching the stylus with your fingers, as this can damage it and affect the sound quality.
Step 2: Converting the Phono Output Signal
A turntable produces a phono output signal, which needs to be converted to a line level signal in order to work with audio equipment such as stereo systems, computers, and powered speakers. This is where a phono preamp comes in handy – it converts the phono signal to a line level signal.
If your turntable doesn’t have a built-in phono preamp, you’ll need to purchase one separately and connect it between your turntable and audio equipment.
Step 3: Ensuring Your Turntable is Level
For optimal performance, it’s important to ensure that your turntable is completely flat and level. This allows the stylus on the cartridge to drag evenly across a record’s grooves without favoring one channel over another in the stereo signal.
Many turntables have adjustable feet that you can use to level them, but you’ll need the right equipment to do so. We recommend using a torpedo level, which can also come in handy for other tasks around the home. Alternatively, you can use a record weight with a built-in spirit level, which sits on top of the spindle and makes it easy to see how to adjust the turntable for perfect leveling.
By following these simple steps, you’ll be able to enjoy your vinyl records on your turntable with optimal sound quality. Happy listening!
Setting Up Your Turntable
Setting up your turntable properly is crucial for getting the best sound quality out of your vinyl records. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Find a Good Spot
First, find a sturdy surface to place your turntable on. If the surface is wobbly or tilted, it can cause vibrations that produce an annoying hum that will spoil your music. If your furniture isn’t as solid as you’d like, you might want to get yourself some cheap isolation feet that can be stuck to the bottom of your turntable to dampen any unwanted vibration. It’s also worth considering a platter mat for extra noise dampening.
Step 2: Balance the Tonearm
Balancing the tonearm is the trickiest and most important part of setup, and all turntables will vary slightly. Start by reading the instructions carefully. Attach the belt (if there is one), place the platter on the spindle, and attach 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. You’ll probably find this 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.
Step 3: Hook Up Your Cables
A lot of turntables come with RCA or phono cables – with red and white plugs on one end – for hooking up to stereo speakers. If you’re using a smaller all-in-one speaker, you might need to invest in a phono-to-3.5mm jack cable. Once again, read through your instructions carefully – there’s usually a diagram to tell you what goes where, which can be especially useful if you’re hooking up a separate preamp for the first time. Don’t forget to plug in your power cable.
Step 4: Choose Your Speed
Make sure you select the correct speed for your record – too slow and it’ll sound like it’s running out of battery; too fast and it’ll sound like Alvin and The Chipmunks! For most 12-inch records, you’ll need 33 RPM, while most 7-inch discs play at 45 RPM. Some older 10-inch records play at 78 RPM (usually referred to as 78s). Only three-speed turntables can play these.
By following these simple steps, you’ll be able to set up your turntable correctly and enjoy optimal sound quality from your vinyl records.
Lowering The Stylus Onto The Vinyl
When it comes to lowering the stylus onto the vinyl, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that you don’t damage your record or your equipment. First, make sure to handle the tonearm with care and avoid touching the stylus with your fingers. This can cause damage to the delicate needle and affect the sound quality.
To lower the stylus, gently lower the tonearm onto the outer grooves of the record. You’ll hear a small clicking sound as the needle engages with the grooves, and then the record should start to play. It’s important to ensure that the tonearm is properly balanced with the cartridge in place so that the tracking force is applied evenly to the record.
If you have a stylus pressure gauge or precision scales, these can be very useful tools for ensuring that your turntable is properly calibrated. However, if you don’t have access to these tools, you can still set the tracking force fairly accurately by using the markings on the counterweight which indicate grams of tracking force.
Before playing any records, it’s also important to ensure that your turntable is level. This allows the stylus on the cartridge to drag evenly across a record’s grooves without favoring one channel over another in the stereo signal. You can use a torpedo level or a record weight with a built-in spirit level to ensure that your turntable is perfectly level.
By following these simple steps, you’ll be able to properly lower the stylus onto your vinyl records and enjoy optimal sound quality from your turntable.
Understanding Phono Output Signal
A phono output signal is a specific type of audio signal that is produced by a turntable. Unlike other audio devices, such as CD players or smartphones, turntables produce a weaker signal that requires additional amplification in order to be properly heard through speakers or headphones. This is because vinyl records are recorded with a specific equalization curve that must be corrected during playback, and the phono output signal reflects this curve.
To convert the phono output signal to a line level signal, which is what most audio equipment is designed to accept, a phono preamp is required. This preamp boosts the signal and applies the necessary equalization curve correction in order to produce a clear and balanced sound. Some turntables have built-in phono preamps, while others require an external preamp to be connected between the turntable and the audio equipment.
It’s important to note that attempting to connect a turntable directly to audio equipment without the use of a phono preamp will result in very low volume and poor sound quality. This is because the line level inputs on most audio equipment are not designed to handle the weaker phono output signal produced by turntables.
By understanding the unique characteristics of the phono output signal and how it can be converted to a line level signal, you can ensure that your turntable produces high-quality sound that can be enjoyed through any audio equipment.
Converting Phono Output To Line Level Signal
When using a turntable, it’s important to understand that the phono output signal produced by the turntable needs to be converted to a line level signal in order to work with most audio equipment. This is because the phono output signal is much lower in level and requires additional equalization.
To convert the phono output signal, you’ll need a phono preamp. If your turntable has a built-in preamp, you can connect it directly to your audio equipment using RCA cables. However, if your turntable doesn’t have a built-in preamp, you’ll need to purchase one separately and connect it between your turntable and audio equipment.
The phono preamp will boost the phono output signal to a line level signal and apply the necessary equalization, such as RIAA equalization, which is required for vinyl records. Once the phono preamp has converted the signal, you can connect your turntable to any audio equipment that has a line level input, such as a stereo system or powered speakers.
It’s important to note that if you’re using a turntable with a built-in preamp, you’ll need to make sure that the PHONO/LINE switch is set to LINE. This will ensure that the built-in preamp is engaged and the correct equalization is applied.
By following these steps and understanding how to convert the phono output signal to a line level signal, you’ll be able to enjoy your vinyl records with optimal sound quality on any audio equipment.
Checking The Level Of Your Turntable
Checking the level of your turntable is crucial to ensure that your stylus can sit correctly in the record groove. A small spirit level can be used to measure this. Start by measuring the plinth, which is the main body of your turntable. If you need to make adjustments, most turntables enable you to tweak the feet until it sits just right. Check the turntable at multiple points using the spirit level to achieve an even surface across the desk.
To check if your turntable is level, you will need a bubble level indicator and a flat surface or platform. The other necessary thing is the peg, and it comes with your turntable. The bubble indicator will help check if the turntable is at the center after screwing and unscrewing the pegs, while the flat surface is the platform needed to place the turntable on for balance.
It’s important to ensure that your turntable is level to prevent any uneven wear on your records and stylus. This can also affect the sound quality of your vinyl records, so it’s worth taking the time to get it right.
Once you have adjusted the feet of your turntable and achieved a level surface, you can move on to setting up your tracking force. This describes the amount of pressure the phono cartridge puts on your records and is essential for optimal performance. By following these simple steps, you’ll be able to enjoy your vinyl records on your turntable with optimal sound quality. Happy listening!
Troubleshooting Common Turntable Issues
Despite the joy that comes with playing vinyl records on a turntable, sometimes issues arise that can affect the sound quality and overall performance of your player. Here are some common issues that may arise and some troubleshooting tips to help you get back to enjoying your music.
1. Stylus Not Lowering Properly
If you find that the stylus isn’t lowering far enough to make proper contact with the record on the platter, it’s likely because the tonearm bridge isn’t lowering enough when the cueing lever is used. Look for an adjustment screw that can be tweaked to adjust the bridge’s height, which should solve this issue in most cases.
2. Turntable Platter Not Spinning
If your turntable platter isn’t spinning, it could be because the tonearm is improperly placed on the turntable. Make sure the tonearm is properly secured in its armrest before turning on your record player. Additionally, it’s important to reset the tonearm back into its armrest each time a record has ended. Some turntables have an automatic function that returns a tonearm to the armrest after a record has ended. If your player doesn’t have this feature, make sure to hang around your turntable when the album is about to end so the stylus doesn’t dig into the center label.
3. Distorted Sound
Perhaps the most common and easily fixed cause of distorted sound is a dirty stylus. The stylus is the tiny diamond tip that tracks the record groove, and as it travels across the record, it will occasionally pick up dirt and dust from the surface. Slowly but surely, this grime will gather on the stylus tip and hinder its ability to trace the groove accurately. The result? Your records will sound distorted.
To fix this issue, invest in a stylus cleaning kit and use it regularly. You can reduce the amount of stylus cleaning required by keeping your records clean as well, as dirt, dust, and grime will accelerate wear on your stylus.
In conclusion, some basic troubleshooting techniques can help you keep your turntable in top shape and ensure optimal sound quality for years to come. By following these tips and taking good care of your player, you’ll be able to enjoy your vinyl collection for many years to come.