If the word "platinum" evokes images of the old record player of the 70s of your father, it is high time that you become familiar with the modern turntables of the market.
Today, the best turntables have all the useful features, including Bluetooth connectivity for pairing wireless headphones and USB outlets for extracting your LPs to your computer.
Whether you've bought a state-of-the-art turntable or swept one that has accumulated dust in your attic in the last few years, it's important to know how to properly install your turntable.
That's where we come in: we've created this handy guide for setting up your turntable. It should be noted that many cheaper modern turntables are already pre-assembled. So you must be ready to play your music right away. However, the higher you go in the price range, the more likely you are to install your new turntable yourself.
For the purposes of this guide, we have assumed that you need to assemble your new turntable from scratch – and do not worry, it's not as tedious as it sounds.
Whether you need to assemble your turntable or not, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the different parts of the turntable.
The base or "support" is the base of the turntable. In addition to serving as a base for everything that sits, the base is designed to dampen or absorb vibrations that negatively affect the sound quality of the turntable.
It is important that the base rests on a perfectly flat surface. Indeed, you will have to balance your tone arm when it comes to installing the turntable. An inclined surface can unbalance it. Some decks are equipped with adjustable feet for this reason.
The tray is the circular part of the rotating turntable and where you put your disc. Most trays come with a rubber or felt mat to reduce vibration and protect your precious vinyl.
The two most commonly used types of turntables are the belt drive decks and the direct drive decks. These are generally used by DJs who must be able to "scratch" and play back their discs, while the turntables are normally used for home listening.
The tonearm is the part of the turntable that guides the stylet (also called a needle) through the grooves of the vinyl. It must be carefully balanced so that the stylus is properly positioned in the groove, without bends.
The cartridge attaches to the end of the tone arm and contains the stylet, which is located in the micro-grooves of the disc. As the platter rotates the disc, the vibrations pass through the stylet and enter the cartridge, where the coils in a magnetic field convert the kinetic energy from these vibrations into an electrical signal.
The stylet typically consists of a tiny diamond glued to a flexible metal band, although materials such as ruby, sapphire, boron and even cotton fiber can also be used.
The preamplifier (also known as phonostage) amplifies the electrical signals of the cartridge, amplifying the signal so that you hear music when it finally reaches the speakers. Many consumer disc players come with a built-in amplifier, but high specification audiophile decks usually require the connection of an external preamplifier via RCA cables. according to Turntable laboratory, "If your turntable has a USB output, it has a built-in preamp".
How to configure your turntable
First of all, you will have to connect together the different parts of the configuration of your turntable. If you are using an external preamplifier, you will need to plug it into the turntable's output port using an RCA cable.
If the preamplifier is integrated with the turntable, you can connect your speakers directly to the back. Check out our list of the best stereo speakers if you need inspiration.
Fasten the belt
If you have a belt-driven turntable, you will need to attach the belt to the engine block and pulley – this is what turns the deck (and therefore your recordings). Lift the dust cover, remove the protective mat and remove the tray; turn it over and slip the belt around its underside.
Then place the tray on the pin (the drill that goes through the hole in your vinyl) and pass the strap through the square opening of the tray.
You will need to hang the belt around the engine pulley – most belts will come with a small piece of tape attached to help you pass it through the hole and secure it securely.
It is important that the belt is not twisted so that the tray rotates easily. Put the rug back on the tray.
How to balance the reading arm
It is now time to balance the tonearm. Start by unplugging the turntable so that it does not begin to spin unexpectedly.
Next, set the anti-skid control (a small numbered dial next to the tone arm) to "zero" and gently lift the tone arm, being careful not to drop it, as this may damage the stylus.
Our friends at What HiFi? "The height of the tone arm must be adjusted so that the arm is parallel to the surface of the disc when the cartridge is in the groove". To do this, move the counterweight at the bottom of the tone arm forward and backward until the arm rests at the same level without your support.
Setting the tracking weight
This means that your tracking weight (the force exerted by the stylus on the microrillons of the recording) is now at 0 g.
Once this is done, you can adjust the tracking weight based on the recommendations of the cartridge manufacturer.
Too high, the stylus will jump out of the grooves and damage your discs, while a low tracking weight will attenuate the sound and cause distortion. Take your time with this step and use the manufacturer's recommended tracking weight to avoid damaging your valuable vinyls.
Now that your tracking weight is actually 0 g, you can set the tracking weight gauge to "zero" to reflect this reality. The tracking weight gauge is another numbered dial that is part of the counterweight itself.
You can now adjust the tracking weight to the manufacturer's recommendations by moving the entire counterweight up and down the tonearm.
Once you are satisfied, return the tone arm to its support and set the anti-skate control switch to the same number you just set.
Balancing the tonearm is the hardest part of the process. Therefore, if in doubt, we recommend watching the video below on Vinyl TV:
You turn me around
You are now ready to start playing your records! Simply turn on the turntable, place your disc on the tray, and select the correct speed setting. A button on the base should allow you to do it.
If you play a 12 inch, you must select 33 rpm (revolutions per minute). For 7-inch vinyls, select 45 rpm.
Press play and raise the tonearm tracking lever – the tonearm should now be up. Align the tone arm with your disc and lower the selector lever until the tone arm slides smoothly and the stylus sits in the grooves of your disc.
If you have followed all the steps correctly, you can relax and enjoy the warm analogue sound of your vinyl music.
- Still looking for the perfect record player? Read our tour of the horizon of the best turntables