Essential Guide to Setting up Your Turntable

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Record players are known to be temperamental. Amongst the various hi-fi components, they are the most temperamental. Even the best can easily get annoyed and upset due to poor adjustment, inadequate support and inconsiderate positioning. Get the tasks right and perfect though, and they can stand out in a way that makes you amazed why we ever opted for digital. Most affordable turntables available on website come pre-packaged. They usually come with the complete parts which include the arm and cartridge. So the product is ready for use.

For those who wish to take a chance, a decent tool kit is a necessity. The least product that you can opt for is an excellent set of small-sized Allen keys, two long-nose pliers coupled with a good precision of spirit level as well as a set of precision screwdrivers. With these, you can install most decks, which includes fitting and adjusting the cartridge and tonearm.

It is quite tricky and difficult to set up a turntable so here are some guides to help you make the best use of your deck.

The first step to take is to get a durable support. Do not be in a hurry to get a turntable if you have not considered the support it will sit on. This has to be on the same level. Any deviation will have an effect on your record player. The support should also have enough strength and perfect control as regards internal resonances.

Be sure to pick the right turntable

Blind buying is, of course, the wrong way.

For turntables are just too sensitive devices and just when they are particularly favourable, it can be assumed that parts are damaged. Best of all, it is the used turntable to undergo a complete functional test before buying it.

Unfortunately, this is often not possible on the internet and eg on classified ad sites. Nevertheless, you can ask the seller beforehand with questions and at least find out the most important things.

Here are the things that you should definitely find out from the seller. Does the turntable still work? Is it a turntable with a belt or direct drive? Is there still original accessories or the manual available? These are sure to be a few of the most important questions that you ask the seller before you buy a turntable from a seller.

Check the pickup

Next, take a look at the pickup. The easiest way is to simply remove the component from the tonearm. Check first and always if the needle is straight. If it is crooked and bent heavily, this is almost over, because with a broken needle you cannot check the sound.

If in doubt, ask the seller if he has another spare needle lying around. Is the needle straight? Then gently pull the needle over your fingertip. So you can feel if the diamond is still felt. With a magnifying glass, you can also easily see if it is still there.

Check cable connections, this is the next important step you should do if the needle is straight and the diamond is still intact. A pickup usually has four small connection cables. A quick glance shows quickly if all cables are there and properly connected so nice firmly pushed on the ports.

Check the engine

Is everything okay with the pickup?

Then just turn on the turntable. If you are not sure what a device it is, belt drive or direct drive, just pick up the turntable. You will then see pretty soon whether a belt is present or whether it is a direct-drive model. If there is a strap, just pluck it gently with the finder to see if it still has tension or is completely worn out.

A worn-out belt must, of course, be replaced, otherwise, you will have little fun on the device. When everything has been clarified, simply plug the turntable into the socket, loosen the tonearm and move it towards the turntable. The engine should start then. Is nothing wrong? Then there may be an engine failure or just missing completely the whole belt.

Check tonearm

To test the tonearm and all weights and settings, first of all, issue anti-skating. The weights and wheels should all be easy to run.

Now balance the tonearm in such a way that it stands horizontally above the turntable. Then set the counterweight scale to zero and set the bearing force to match the built-in pickup.  Now everything is prepared and you can finally see if you get to hear music from your newly setup turntable.

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