Vinyl Record Player
The Vinyl Immortality
Vinyl has persevered. Even in this internet age, when this massive wave of digitalisation has threatened everything vintage, vinyl has not only persisted but also prospered. Why should it not? It is a format capable of a terrific sound. And unlike its digital counterparts, if you don’t properly set it up the lack of care during installation can cripple this beautiful sound. Audio Technica, Pioneer, Stanton and Numark have produced some amazing turntables.
Setting up the Turntable
If you take a closer look at a record, you can notice that the spiralling groove is packed with tiny bumps which cause the needle to move. This movement is converted into an electrical signal via an electromagnetic mechanism present inside the cartridge body. When the bumps to be traced are as tiny as a micron, any external vibration degrades the cartridge’s ability to track grooves accurately. For your turntable to work well, you want it to be free from the external vibrations which muddy the reading of the grooves.
But those external vibrations are not the only things bringing your turntable quality down.
The following is a guide on how to get the best out of your turntables.
1. The Set-Up: To begin with minimise the vibrations. Put the turntable on something that is not going to vibrate with the music. This means that large pieces of furniture are out of the equation. And don’t even think about putting the speakers on the same table as your turntable. Something light and stiff will be your best bet. Most decks have a built in isolation. Better isolations go a long way in minimising vibrations but a better placement works wonders. Using a spirit level, make sure that the surface you place your turntable on, the plinth and the platter are perfectly level. Many turntables have adjustable feet if you need to make adjustments for many, but, ideally, your surface should preferably be in a perfect level.
2. Alignment: The next step is to ensure that the cartridge is right angled in the arm when viewed from the front. A poorly aligned cartridge sounds bad and can damage your vinyl in the long run. Cartridge set-up is another important business. This will require an alignment protractor. The idea is to angle the cartridge so that the stylus is in line with the grooves for the largest portion of the vinyl.
3. Adjusting the bias: The groove on the outside travels faster than the groove on the inside. This causes a centripetal force on the stylus which pulls it toward the middle of the disc. This needs to be compensated for and this is what is known as “adjusting the bias”. Anti-skate or bias systems consist of a thread with a small weight or, instead, have a sliding marker. The easiest way of setting this up is putting the anti-skate just below the tracking force. In the thread and weight systems, the midpoint is usually right.