How to adjust the arm of your turntable?
Vinyl is a format that in recent times is experiencing a second youth. Turntables are the nerve centre of vinyl technology. If you own one, you will know that the arm is a fundamental part of its operation. In this blog post, we'll show you how to adjust the arm of a turntable so that you can enjoy your music in the best possible way.
Before we begin, it's important to note that every turntable is different and some models may require a specific approach to adjusting the arm. If you are unsure about the process, we recommend that you consult your owner's manual or look for tutorials specific to your turntable model.
Preliminary steps before calibrating the turntable stylus
Before calibrating the needle itself, we must have some of the turntable's parameters properly levelled and have the necessary tools to carry it out.
A key element is to ensure that the parts that make up the turntables are sufficiently accurate and stable.
Levelling the turntable:
The first thing we are going to do is to make sure we have the turntable on a solid and flat place. The platform on which we place our turntable must be stable and free from external interference. For this purpose, a top shelf or a custom-made base with decoupling spikes is usually used. If we do not have the aforementioned accessories, under no circumstances should we place the turntable on the same shelf as the loudspeakers or in a place likely to be affected by vibrations of any kind, as these would be picked up by the capsule and could have a catastrophic effect on the final sound.
To check that our turntable is stable and flat, we will use a turntable spirit level.
Check the vertical plane and azimuth:
The second check we will have to make is to check that the turntable arm is completely parallel to the vinyl record. Many turntable models do not allow the height of the arm to be altered, so this adjustment will be optimal in these cases unless there is a factory error. We will also check the azimuth, observing that the capsule and needle when resting on the record are perpendicular to it.
The essential requirement to calibrate the needle of our turntables is to have a protractor, a measuring tool used to measure angles. It consists of a semicircular scale graduated in degrees and with a movable cursor that slides along the scale that will help us with the adjustment of the cartridge and the needle of our turntable.
How to adjust the tonearm of your turntable?
The tonearm is the element that communicates the vinyl with our turntable. Nowadays many turntables, by simply pressing "play" via remote control, the needle starts to read the vinyl from the first track to the last. However, turntables where the arm is adjusted manually are usually more precise.
If you have bought a turntable for the first time and want to install it in your equipment to ensure that it works as well as possible, we recommend that you follow the advice below:
The first step would be to mount the pick-up capsule on the arm. It may be that the capsule is already installed as standard in the arm of our turntable or that we have chosen to acquire one ourselves. In the first case, we don't have to do anything. In the second case, with the help of a screwdriver and a small spanner, we can mount the capsule in the area of the arm provided for it, after connecting four small cables that come out of the inside of the arm.
This process requires great care to avoid breaking the connectors that hold them in place. We recommend using small tweezers that allow you to hold the tab at the end of each connector and push it so that it is fully inserted into the connector.
Once the cartridge is mounted on the arm of your turntable, the next process is to mount the arm on the chassis of your turntable. Many turntables on the market already have the arm mounted, so you only need to check that the height of the arm is correct and adjust the weight of the arm.
The height of the arm is essential to ensure that the turntable needle is in the right place to read the grooves of the vinyl. First of all, we must make sure that the needle is in the raised position. Then, you should use the height adjustment dial (usually located at the base of the arm) to adjust the height so that the stylus is level with the surface of the vinyl.
The weight of the arm is another important factor to consider, as improper weight can cause damage to the vinyl or affect the sound quality. Many turntables have a weight adjustment knob on the back of the arm. Consult your owner's manual for the recommended weight range for your turntable and adjust the weight accordingly.
Finally, check the "anti-skating", a feature designed to prevent the needle from moving towards the centre of the vinyl. This setting is key to a perfect vinyl reading.
With these adjustments we would already have our turntable perfect in terms of mechanical adjustments. It remains to connect it to our equipment with the best possible phono cables, as a low quality cable will surely bring more noise.
Adjusting a turntable arm may seem intimidating, but it is actually quite simple once you know the steps. Be sure to follow the specific instructions for your turntable model and make adjustments carefully to ensure an optimal listening experience.
Enjoy your vinyl music with your turntable properly adjusted!
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