The goal of this blog is to show people how to get the best sound quality possible from their turntable.
In order to achieve this goal, we’ll discuss the following:
• Turntable Setup
• Record Cleaning
• Vinyl Record Storage
• Tone Arm Tracking Force
• Cartridge and Stylus Selection
• Cartridge Mounting
• Phono Preamplifier Selection
A quick disclaimer: I’m not an audiophile, and I’m not a turntable expert. However, I have spent a lot of time trying to improve the sound quality of my LPs. This is what worked for me, but your mileage may vary.
I recently started buying vinyl records again (after a 15 year hiatus), and I decided to get serious about it. I wanted good sound quality in my home entertainment system. But I was also frustrated with how difficult it is to find information on how to set up the turntable properly.
So after some trial and error, I discovered some tips that can help you get the best sound quality out of your system.
Last time we talked about the basic setup of a turntable, this time we’re gonna talk about getting the best sound quality out of it.
The first thing you want to do is clean your records. Most records are not dirty but if you have some old ones or you bought some off Craig’s List, then you might have some dust and other crap on them. The simplest way to clean your records is using a carbon fiber brush, a record vacuum cleaning machine or just wiping them with a cloth. There are also products out there such as Discwasher and Nitty Gritty that cost around $15-$30 which can help keep your records clean too. I prefer the brush method myself because it’s cheap and effective, though the vacuum cleaner will work better if you’re in a hurry to get your records clean, but it costs more.
Next up is vibration control. Vibration is bad for sound quality because it causes vibrations in itself and will cause the needle to jump. You’ll want to use some kind of soft mat on top of your turntable like felt or rubber ones made by Audioquest (I’m not affiliated with them in any way) which will reduce vibrations coming from the speakers and help dampen vibrations from the turntable itself
Setting up a turntable is a fairly inexpensive way to obtain better sound quality from your system and can make a major difference in improving the overall quality of your sound. Follow these steps to properly set up and adjust your turntable for optimum performance:
1. Make sure that the cartridge and stylus are correctly mounted.
2. Make sure that the overhang is accurate and that the cartridge is parallel to the platter.
3. Set the tracking force (this will vary depending on the requirements of each cartridge).
4. Make sure that the anti-skate mechanism is adjusted properly.
5. Check azimuth, if it is adjustable on your turntable.
6. Adjust antiskating equal to tracking force (if there is no scale, start with zero).
A turntable is a very simple device. In essence, it’s just three components: a motor, a platter, and a stylus (needle) in an arm. The motor spins the platter, which in turn spins the record; the stylus sits on the record, vibrating as it goes along the grooves. Those vibrations are then converted into an electrical signal, which is amplified and sent to your speakers.
Because of this simplicity, setting up a turntable properly can make a huge difference in performance compared to other sources; because of its design, even small things like where it sits or how level it is can have an effect on sound quality. So with that in mind, let’s go over how to set up your turntable for best performance.
Make sure you’re using good cables
The signal coming out of your turntable is incredibly weak; for example, my Cambridge Audio 640P has an output of only 2mV. This means that any interference along the way from phono stage to amplifier to speakers will be audible (i.e., turn into noise). To get around this problem, use well-shielded cables as much as possible. I’d also recommend avoiding anything with RCA connectors at
A basic guide to setting up a turntable. This is not meant to be an exhaustive guide on the subject, rather, it is intended to serve as a general reference for the initial setup and adjustment of a turntable. The basics are simple and easy to perform, but they are also the most important part of getting good sound from the turntable.
After an introduction of some basic concepts, this guide covers four main areas:
4.Adjustment of Azimuth and VTA
1. Critical Listening
The first thing you need to be able to do is listen critically. You need to be able to sit down and listen to your music and pick out what’s good and what’s bad about it. If you don’t have a set of reference tracks that you know inside and out, then it’s going to be very difficult for you to figure out how good (or bad) your system sounds.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to buy recordings that are of super high quality, just something that you know well enough so that you can tell if your system isn’t giving you the quality that the recording is capable of producing. For example, I listen to a lot of rock music. One of my favorite albums is The Wall by Pink Floyd. The album was recorded in 1979 using analog tape machines and has several layers of instrumentation on many songs as well as several sound effects (that were actually made by the band). This makes for a great testing album because I know exactly how each instrument should sound during the course of each song and I also know exactly when the sound effects should appear in each song. The point here is that you need to be able to sit down, listen with your eyes closed, and pick out any problems with