Vinyl records are making a comeback, and with that comes the need for a good turntable. But what happens when your turntable starts to wobble?
Is it normal, or is it a sign of a bigger problem?
In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why a turntable might wobble and whether or not it’s something to be concerned about.
From belt drives to poorly made machines, we’ll cover it all.
So, if you’re a vinyl enthusiast or just starting out, keep reading to find out if your turntable should wobble or not.
Should A Turntable Wobble
When it comes to turntables, the industry standard is zero wobble. However, in reality, most turntables will have some degree of wobble. A slight movement is usually nothing to worry about, but excessive wobble can cause problems with the tracking ability of the tonearm and cartridge, affecting the sound quality.
There are a few reasons why a turntable might wobble. One common cause is a belt drive that has become weaker and less reliable over time. If the belt is too loose or not operating at a consistent speed, it could cause a platter wobble effect. This can be fixed by replacing the belt, which can easily be done with online tutorials or by taking it to a shop.
Another reason for wobbling could be due to a poorly made machine or a warped spindle. While a perfectly flat platter is ideal, studies suggest that it’s not very common. Each individual will have their own level of wobble tolerance, but as long as the movement isn’t causing the stylus to jump or skip, a little bit of wobble won’t hurt the audio quality or the records themselves.
However, if the wobbling motion causes the stylus to slip out of the grooves completely, it may scratch the record and wear out the stylus over time. It’s important to ensure that your turntable is as stable as possible and remains still while a record is playing.
Understanding Turntable Wobble
Turntable wobble is a common issue that can affect the sound quality of your vinyl records. While a slight movement is normal, excessive wobble can cause problems with the tracking ability of the tonearm and cartridge, resulting in inconsistent volume levels or sound quality coming through the speakers.
There are several reasons why a turntable might wobble. One common cause is a belt drive that has become weaker and less reliable over time. If the belt is too loose or not operating at a consistent speed, it could cause a platter wobble effect. Another reason could be due to a poorly made machine or a warped spindle.
To determine if your turntable is wobbling, place the platter on a flat surface and check if it appears to wobble. If everything works as expected so far, try another record to ensure the record itself is not warped. If you notice excessive wobbling, it’s important to address the issue.
Replacing the belt is one solution to fix the wobbling caused by a weak or loose belt. This can easily be done with online tutorials or by taking it to a shop. Checking the innards of the turntable, such as cleaning them of any dirt, dust, or debris, can also help reduce wobbling.
While zero wobble is ideal, studies suggest that it’s not very common. Each individual will have their own level of wobble tolerance, but as long as the movement isn’t causing the stylus to jump or skip, a little bit of wobble won’t hurt the audio quality or the records themselves. However, it’s important to ensure that your turntable is as stable as possible and remains still while a record is playing to prevent damage to your records and stylus over time.
The Importance Of A Stable Turntable
A stable turntable is crucial for a high-quality listening experience. If the surface under your turntable is unstable, it will never work properly. The turntable should be placed on a sturdy surface that does not wobble or vibrate, as any movement will transfer to the record layer when it plays a record. A decoupling mat or isolation feet can also be used to absorb vibrations and wobbling.
Visible wobble may be normal for cheaper turntables, but zero wobble is the industry standard for quality machines. Any sign of wobbling or movement indicates a problem with how the record player is balanced on a surface. Alternatively, a component in the turntable may have moved out of place, causing it to wobble.
If a record is stored incorrectly or exposed to extreme temperatures, it can become warped and cause the turntable to wobble as it revolves. This can also affect the audio quality of the record. It’s important to safely store your vinyl collection in an upright position to avoid warping.
In addition, excessive weight or strain on the belt and bearings of a turntable can cause it to wobble. It’s important to check with the manufacturer before using record weights on cheaper turntables or those with suspension systems. Cleaning the innards of the turntable can also help prevent wobbling caused by dirt, dust, or debris.
Common Causes Of Turntable Wobble
There are several common causes of turntable wobble that you should be aware of. One of the most common reasons is an uneven surface upon which the record player is placed. If the turntable is not sitting on a level surface, it can cause the platter to wobble as it rotates. To fix this issue, use a level to make sure that the turntable is even. If it is not, adjust the surface beneath the record player to make it level, or adjust the turntable feet themselves.
Another possible cause of wobbling is a damaged or out-of-position platter. The platter is essential for keeping the records rotating at a flat angle. The center point of the platter, which is the part that protrudes upwards and is placed through the hole in the vinyl record, may be causing the movement if it has been bent to one side. This would make the record rotate off-center, which could create a wobbling effect. To troubleshoot this issue, visually inspect the platter for any signs of damage or misalignment.
A third common cause of turntable wobble is a warped record. If a record is warped, it can cause the needle to be knocked off course, resulting in a wobbling effect. To avoid this issue, make sure that your records are stored properly and are not exposed to extreme temperatures or humidity.
Finally, the belt drive in older turntables or those that haven’t received proper upkeep can also cause wobbling issues. Over time, these belts can become weaker and less reliable, leading to inconsistent speeds and a platter wobble effect. To fix this problem, replace the belt with a new one.
Belt Drive Vs Direct Drive Turntables
When it comes to choosing between belt drive and direct drive turntables, there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to each. Belt drive turntables are popular for their isolation from motor noise and vibration, which can result in a cleaner sound quality. However, they have a lower torque than direct drive turntables, which can be a deal-breaker for some. Belt drives may also need to be replaced over time, as the elastic can wear down and eventually break.
On the other hand, direct drive turntables offer full control for manipulating music and prioritizing audio manipulation and speed control. They tend to be more difficult to operate than belt drive turntables due to the complex mechanisms within. However, when well executed, direct drive turntables can be just as quiet as belt drive turntables and have better wow and flutter specs.
Ultimately, the choice between belt drive and direct drive turntables depends on personal preference and how you plan to use your record player. While direct drives can be more reliable and durable, they may not matter as much if you’re not going to use them heavily. Belt drives are ideal for those who prioritize isolation from motor noise and vibration, while direct drives are better suited for those who prioritize audio manipulation and speed control.
Tips For Fixing Turntable Wobble
If you’re experiencing excessive wobble on your turntable, there are a few things you can do to fix it. Here are some tips:
1. Check the surface: Make sure your turntable is placed on a sturdy and even surface. Any unevenness in the surface can cause the turntable to wobble.
2. Replace the belt: If your turntable has a belt drive, it may be the cause of the wobble. Over time, belts can become weaker and less reliable, causing inconsistencies in speed and wobbling. You can easily replace the belt yourself with online tutorials or take it to a shop.
3. Check the spindle: A warped spindle can also cause wobbling. If you suspect this is the issue, take off the rubber mat and check underneath it. Make sure the platter is sitting properly on the bolt.
4. Balance the tonearm: A poorly balanced tonearm can also contribute to wobbling. Make sure your tonearm is properly balanced and adjusted according to your turntable’s instructions.
5. Upgrade your turntable: If all else fails, it may be time to upgrade to a higher quality turntable that is less prone to wobbling. Look for turntables with high-quality components and sturdy construction.
By following these tips, you can reduce or eliminate wobbling on your turntable and enjoy your vinyl records with optimal sound quality.
When To Seek Professional Help
If you have tried adjusting your turntable and still notice excessive wobbling, it may be time to seek professional help. A professional technician can diagnose the issue and provide a proper solution.
It’s important to note that attempting to fix the turntable yourself without proper knowledge or experience can cause further damage. A professional can also help prevent future issues by providing maintenance and upkeep advice.
If you’re experiencing audio issues or abnormal volume levels, it’s best to seek professional help rather than ignoring the problem. A professional can properly diagnose the issue and provide a solution that will ensure optimal sound quality for your listening pleasure.