How To Get The Best Sound From Your Record Player: A Step-By-Step Guide
Step # 1 – Check everything before you proceed
Preparation is the key, so it’s quite obvious why checking for possible errors and malfunctions is the very first step. There are times when your record player under performs because there’s something missing.
Other situations include warped, dirty, and damaged vinyl records. Apart from that, there are cases of damaged parts, wrong turntable positioning, bad ratios of anti-skating and cartridge tracking force, and such. If you want to get the best sound, you should check everything before you proceed to other steps.
Step #2 – Upgrades, replacements, and parts
Most people are quite content with how a record player sounds when they make a purchase, but what if you can get even further? There are cheap ways to improve the overall sound quality of your record player, and we recommend purchasing upgrade parts.
The record player needle that’s attached to your record player can easily be replaced – more specifically, you can upgrade it by replacing it with a superior one. Furthermore, you can replace and upgrade nearly any part (with the exception of plinth, but that can be done too, even though it’s not highly recommended).
Step #3- Positioning your record player
Where you put your vinyl record is of much importance when it comes to the sound quality of your vinyl records. A hard surface will ensure the stability of your turntable while a soft surface will provide more resonance. There’s also the matter of weight of your turntable, and the question of the overall construction.
There are a lot of things you should consider when positioning your record player, such as the record player plinth construction, is there any special material at the bottom, and such. Most record players come with a rubber mat at the bottom, in which case you won’t need to worry about the stability.
How your record player performs is also influenced by the things you put on top – more precisely, the lack of things on top and near your record player. Turntable emits sounds and vibrations, so the noise will deflect of any material and object in the vicinity. Make sure that the room you make for your record player is isolated if you want to get the best sound.
Step #4 – Adjust the Anti-Skate System (Bias)
The groove of your vinyl records travels slower on the inside when compared to the outside. There’s a force that performs a pulling motion toward the centre of the record – this force requires an offset and compensation, else the vinyl might pop out.
The Bias (or the anti-skating system) compensates for this pull, but it won’t do much good if you simply turn the power on. You’ll have to tweak the anti-skating system a bit if you want the best sound of your vinyl records and your turntable.
To do so, you should adjust the tracking force of your turntable cartridge. What we’re aiming here at is the correct ratio between the cartridge tracking force and the anti-skating force. They should always be near, but the cartridge tracking force should be stronger (by a bit).
If the cartridge force is set at 2.00 grams, the anti-skating force should be set at 1.75 – 1.8 grams, and if the cartridge force is set at 1.75, the anti skating should be set at 1.5 grams, and so on. This will greatly improve the sound quality of your vinyl records.
Step #5 – Adjust the VTA – Vertical Tracking Angle of the Turntable Stylus
If you’ve done everything correctly so far, the overall sound of your record player is improved greatly. Anyhow, there are still things you can do to further improve the sound quality of your vinyl records and your turntable.
The VTA (as in Vertical Tracking Angle) represents the angle of your record player stylus when placed in the groove (perceived from the side). Most people think that simply inserting the stylus in the groove will suffice, but that’s not entirely accurate. Loosen the bolt in the tonearm’s base, and the height will increase (or decrease). The angle you’re looking for should look parallel when you compare the surface of the vinyl and the arm tube.
The main reason why this is the final step is because some record players don’t allow this option. The VTA adjustment is only possible when you can easily loosen the bolt without affecting the overall construction. Those record players that offer this option will have this explanation in the user’s manual.