If you’re new to the world of vinyl, you may have heard the term “cue lever” thrown around. But what exactly is it and why is it important?
In short, a cue lever is a mechanism that helps you safely and precisely cue your records. It allows you to lower and raise your stylus or pause your record with ease.
While it’s technically possible to operate a turntable without a cue lever, it’s not recommended as it can lead to damaging your stylus.
In this article, we’ll dive deeper into what a cue lever is and why it’s an essential component of any turntable setup.
What Is A Cue Lever On A Turntable
A cue lever, also known as a tonearm lifter or cueing mechanism, is a device that controls the vertical movement of the tonearm on a turntable. It allows you to gently lower the stylus onto the record and lift it off with care to keep both your vinyl and stylus in their best quality.
Without a cue lever, you would have to manually guide the tonearm onto the record, which can be difficult and risky. Not only can it damage your stylus, but it can also scratch your records.
The cue lever is an essential component of any turntable setup as it ensures that your stylus makes proper contact with the record and produces high-quality sound. It’s like the baking powder in a cake recipe – without it, you won’t have a cake at the end.
What Is A Cue Lever And How Does It Work?
A cue lever is a lever that is used to lower and raise the tonearm on a turntable. It is typically located near the base of the tonearm and is used to control the vertical movement of the tonearm.
When you want to play a record, you first need to lift the cue lever to raise the tonearm from its resting position. This prevents the stylus from falling onto the record when you move it over the vinyl. Once the cue lever is up, you can then move the tonearm over the record and gently lower it onto the vinyl using the cue lever.
When you’re done listening to a record, you can use the cue lever again to lift the tonearm off of the record and return it to its resting position. This helps to protect both your records and your stylus from damage.
Some cue levers are designed to be silicone-damped, which means that they have a small amount of silicone inside them to help cushion the movement of the tonearm. This can help to prevent any jarring movements that could damage your records or stylus.
Why Is A Cue Lever Important For Vinyl Enthusiasts?
For vinyl enthusiasts, a cue lever is especially important because it helps to preserve the quality of your records and stylus. Vinyl records are delicate and can easily become damaged, even with the slightest mishandling. The cue lever allows you to place the stylus onto the record with precision and care, minimizing the risk of scratches or other damage.
Additionally, for those who enjoy listening to vinyl records on a regular basis, the use of a cue lever can help to prolong the life of your stylus. The stylus is a crucial component of any turntable setup, and it can be expensive to replace. By using a cue lever to lower and raise the stylus, you can avoid unnecessary wear and tear on this important piece of equipment.
How To Properly Use A Cue Lever On Your Turntable
Using a cue lever on your turntable is a simple process that requires a few basic steps. Here’s how to properly use a cue lever on your turntable:
1. Start by lifting the cueing lever to lift the stylus from the record. This will prevent any accidental scratches or damage to your vinyl.
2. Next, move the tonearm above the track you want to hear. Make sure that the cueing lever is up so that the tonearm doesn’t accidentally fall straight onto the vinyl as you move it from its resting spot.
3. Once you have positioned the tonearm above the first groove, slowly lower the cueing lever to drop the stylus onto the record. This should be done with care and precision to avoid any damage to your stylus or record.
4. Enjoy your music! When you’re done listening to one side of the record, lift the cueing lever again to lift the stylus off the record.
5. Lift the tonearm and return it to its cradle before stopping the record. This will ensure that your stylus and vinyl are not damaged in any way.
It’s important to note that you should never stop the record while the stylus is down as it can cause damage to both your stylus and vinyl. Instead, always lift the tonearm while the record is still spinning and let it come to a complete stop before removing it from your turntable.
Using a cue lever on your turntable is an easy and effective way to ensure that your vinyl sounds great and stays in good condition for years to come. With these simple steps, you can enjoy your music collection without any worries or concerns about damaging your equipment.
The Potential Risks Of Not Using A Cue Lever
Not using a cue lever on your turntable can result in several potential risks. First and foremost, it can damage your stylus. When manually guiding the tonearm onto the record, you risk dropping it too hard or at an awkward angle, which can cause the stylus to break or bend. This can lead to poor sound quality and the need for expensive repairs or replacements.
Another risk of not using a cue lever is scratching your records. Without the precision of the cueing mechanism, you may accidentally drag the stylus across the surface of the record, causing scratches and scuffs that can affect sound quality and reduce the value of your vinyl collection.
Furthermore, not using a cue lever can make it difficult to properly position the stylus on the record. This can result in poor sound quality, skipping, or even damage to your records.
Choosing The Right Turntable With A Reliable Cue Lever.
When shopping for a turntable, it’s important to consider the quality and reliability of the cue lever. A good cue lever should be smooth, precise, and easy to use. It should allow you to lower the stylus onto the record with control and lift it off gently without any sudden movements.
If you’re a beginner or looking for a hassle-free setup, consider getting a turntable with automatic tonearm return. This feature will automatically lift the tonearm and return it to its rest when the record finishes playing. Some turntables also have an auto-stop feature that stops the platter from spinning when the tonearm reaches the end of the record.
The Denon DP-400 is a great option for those who want a reliable cue lever along with other user-friendly features. It has an integrated phono preamp and offers above-average adjustment flexibility. The turntable performs very well with the standard cartridge, but if you attach an upgraded cartridge like a premounted Ortofon Red or Blue, you’ll have a system that’s so good that you’ll never feel the need to upgrade further.
For those on a budget, the U-Turn Orbit Basic is a solid choice. Although it doesn’t have an automatic tonearm return or an auto-stop feature, it has a smooth and reliable cue lever that allows for precise stylus placement. It’s also highly customizable and can be upgraded with a built-in phono preamp or a cue lever later on.
In summary, when choosing a turntable with a reliable cue lever, consider your budget, desired features, and overall sound quality. Look for turntables with automatic tonearm return and auto-stop features if you want a more hassle-free setup. The Denon DP-400 and U-Turn Orbit Basic are both great options that offer reliable cue levers along with other user-friendly features.