Why Is My Turntable Volume So Low? Experts Share Their Insights

Are you experiencing frustration with your turntable’s low volume?

You’re not alone. Many vinyl enthusiasts encounter this issue and wonder what could be causing it.

The good news is that there are several potential reasons why your turntable volume is low, and most of them can be easily fixed.

In this article, we’ll explore the common causes of low turntable volume and provide you with practical solutions to help you get the most out of your vinyl listening experience.

So, let’s dive in and discover why your turntable volume is so low.

Why Is My Turntable Volume So Low

The most common reason for low turntable volume is an issue with the preamp and amplifier. It’s important to make sure that everything is set up correctly in this regard. If you’ve checked and everything seems to be in order, then it’s likely that one of the other causes mentioned below is the culprit.

Another possible cause of low turntable volume is a faulty or worn-out cartridge. If you’ve been using the same cartridge for a while, it’s possible that the needle has gathered dust or has other defects like scratches, which can affect its output. To fix this issue, you can either clean the surface of the cartridge or replace it with one that has a higher output level. This will increase the sound quality and produce a much louder sound.

It’s also worth noting that vinyl records have some natural limitations on how loud they can be pressed before the needle has difficulty tracking the record. This means that vinyl recordings will generally have a lower volume level than digital recordings. Additionally, mastering engineers will use a digital limiter to bring down peak levels before they happen and compressors to help reduce the louder peaks and raise lower volumes in digital recordings. This gives them more control over the overall volume of the track and allows them to raise the overall track volume without exceeding 0 dB.

If you feel that your turntable volume is still too low after checking the preamp, amplifier, and cartridge, you could consider upgrading your receiver/amplifier or speakers with higher sensitivity. Another option is to change your phono preamp to one with higher gain.

Check Your Turntable’s Connections

When troubleshooting low turntable volume, it’s important to check your turntable’s connections. Standard turntables require a specific amplified PHONO input on the Audio/Video (A/V) receiver in order to operate correctly. Without amplification of the turntable signal, low volume or distorted audio will occur. If your A/V receiver does not have a PHONO input, you can connect the turntable signal either via an AUX input or through an available audio input on the A/V receiver. However, a pre-amplifier will be required in order to achieve a suitable volume level. The pre-amplifier can be added by using one of the following methods:

– A turntable that has a built-in pre-amplifier.

– If the turntable does not have a built-in pre-amplifier, connect an external pre-amplifier from the turntable to the input you are using on the A/V receiver.

It’s also important to note that the phono cartridge used in the turntable can also determine overall volume level produced from the turntable. Some cartridges will require an external amplifier even when they are connected to a designated PHONO input. By checking your turntable’s connections and ensuring that everything is set up correctly, you can troubleshoot and fix low turntable volume issues.

Verify The Phono Preamp Settings

One of the first things to check when troubleshooting low turntable volume is the phono preamp settings. It’s important to make sure that the phono preamp is connected correctly in your system and that it’s set up to work with the type of cartridge you have.

If you’re using the phono stage in your amplifier, make sure that the switch under the platter on the turntable is set to the Phono-out position. You’ll also need to connect the ground wire from the turntable to the GND terminal on the back of the amplifier.

It’s also important to double-check the wiring on your cartridge. Make sure that the red wire is connected to Right+, also known as Right Signal or Right Hot, and that the green wire is connected to Right-, also known as Right Ground or Right Cold. Similarly, make sure that the white wire is connected to Left+, also known as Left Signal or Left Hot, and that the blue wire is connected to Left-, also known as Left Ground or Left Cold.

Finally, it’s worth noting that turntables generally have a lower output level than other line-level sources like CD players. This is normal, and it’s due to the fact that vinyl records have some natural limitations on how loud they can be pressed before the needle has difficulty tracking the record. So, don’t be alarmed if your turntable volume is lower than what you’re used to from other sources.

Inspect Your Cartridge And Stylus

A faulty or worn-out cartridge can be one of the main causes of low turntable volume. Over time, the needle can gather dust or develop scratches that affect its output. This is especially true if you have been using the same cartridge for a while. To determine if this is the issue, inspect the surface of the cartridge closely to ensure that it is not fully functional. If you find that it has defects, clean the surface or replace the cartridge with one that has a higher output level.

It’s also important to check the stylus, which can also cause low volume. A stylus that is not seated correctly can result in muffled sound, distortion, unequal channel balance, harshness, or softness. Ensure that the stylus is inserted properly, making sure that the round part goes into the hole all the way, and that the surrounding plastic is snug against the body.

If you’re experiencing low volume on one channel only, it’s possible that there is a problem with the wiring and connection to the headshell pins. Inspect these connections closely when checking your cartridge and stylus.

Alignment is another factor to consider when inspecting your cartridge and stylus. Most cartridges come pre-aligned on new turntables, but poor playback sound can be caused by a cartridge that isn’t correctly aligned. Alignment is a relatively simple process but requires attention to detail. Refer to our guide to replacing a cartridge for more information on how to check and adjust your cartridge alignment.

Clean Your Records

One often overlooked cause of low turntable volume is dirty records. Dust and dirt can accumulate on the surface of the record, causing the needle to skip or not track properly. This can result in a lower volume level or no sound at all. To clean your records, you can use a record cleaning brush or a record cleaning machine.

A record cleaning brush is a simple tool that can be used to remove dust and dirt from the surface of the record. To use it, simply place the record on a flat surface and gently brush the surface in a circular motion. Be sure to use a soft-bristled brush to avoid scratching the record.

If you have a large collection of records or want to clean your records more thoroughly, you may want to consider investing in a record cleaning machine. These machines use a combination of cleaning solution and suction to remove dirt and dust from the grooves of the record. While they can be expensive, they can significantly improve the sound quality of your records and increase their lifespan.

Adjust Your Turntable’s Tonearm And Counterweight

One of the most crucial factors that can affect the volume of your turntable is the tracking force. The tracking force is the weight at which your turntable’s stylus sits on the record. If the tracking force is too light, your cartridge will not be able to pick up all the sound information on the record, resulting in low volume. On the other hand, if the tracking force is too heavy, it can cause distortion and even damage to your records.

Adjusting your turntable’s tonearm and counterweight is a simple process that can help you achieve optimal tracking force. First, remove the anti-skating weight from the tonearm wand and place the counterweight at the end of it. Next, move the tonearm off its rest and adjust the counterweight until it balances horizontally. Then, turn the counterweight scale to zero and adjust it to the correct tracking force based on your cartridge’s specifications.

It’s important to note that different cartridges have different tracking force requirements, usually between 1 and 2 grams. Once you’ve set the tracking force, adjust the anti-skating weight to correspond with it. This will help prevent any skating or skipping issues when playing your records.

Upgrade Your Turntable’s Components

Upgrading your turntable’s components can be a great way to improve the overall sound quality and volume of your turntable. Here are some components that you can consider upgrading:

1. Cartridge: As mentioned above, a faulty or worn-out cartridge can significantly affect the volume and sound quality of your turntable. Upgrading to a higher-quality cartridge can make a noticeable difference in the output level of your turntable.

2. Preamp: If your turntable does not have a built-in preamp or if you’re using an external preamp, upgrading to a higher-quality preamp can help boost the signal and increase the volume of your turntable.

3. Amplifier: Upgrading your amplifier can also help increase the volume of your turntable. Look for an amplifier with a higher power output and better signal-to-noise ratio for improved sound quality.

4. Speakers: The sensitivity of your speakers can also affect the volume of your turntable. Upgrading to speakers with higher sensitivity can help produce a louder sound without having to increase the volume on your amplifier.

5. Platter: The platter is another component that can affect the sound quality of your turntable. Upgrading to a heavier platter can help reduce vibrations and improve the overall sound quality.

By upgrading one or more of these components, you can significantly improve the volume and sound quality of your turntable. Keep in mind that these upgrades can be costly, so it’s important to do your research and choose components that fit within your budget and meet your specific needs.