How to Improve Your Turntable Sound February 15 2016, 0 Comments

turntable mat

No matter what kind of turntable you have, taking proper care of it ensures lasting sound quality. We've broken down a few simple steps you can take to improve your turntable sound quality. Some are free and some are reasonably priced fixes, but all of them are sure to make a noticeable difference in your vinyl sound.

 

5 Ways to Improve Your Turntable Sound for Free (or close)

Level your turntable – Probably the most important adjustment that you can make without spending any money. Use a bubble level if you have one to make sure your table is level front to back and side to side. Most turntables have adjustable feet to make this easy but if yours does not simple shimming will do the trick.

Clean your stylus – A dirty stylus will degrade sound quality significantly. If you do not have a stylus cleaning device just use a small soft paint brush with some isopropyl alcohol. It is critical to clean by brushing from back to front. If you do it in the opposite direction you can break the cantilever.

Clean your records – Even a brand new record should be cleaned before you play it for the first time. The best way is with a commercially available vacuum system or a mechanical one but these can be expensive. Washing with warm distilled water, a mild detergent and a microfiber cloth does the trick inexpensively with great sounding results. Tamp lightly with terry cloth and let the record air dry. You will be surprised how much quieter a clean record is.

Isolate your turntable – Vibration is another of quality sound’s natural enemies. It can be introduced into your system from floor coupling to your shelf by bass energy or even walking on a soft floor. Mounting the turntable shelf to studs on the wall is the best way to start. Inserting another material between the shelf and the turntable will also work. The only issue here is that different turntables respond better with different materials. You may have to experiment with wood (hardwood is better than soft), rubber, sorbothane. Many turntables respond well to corian while others prefer granite or quartz.

Slightly reduce the anti-skating force – The natural tendency for a tonearm is to want to move to the center of the turntable. Unabated this would put more pressure on the inner part of the record grooves. That is why turntables have an anti-skating adjustment to exert a force in the opposite direction keeping the pressure equal on both sides. Generally, the tracking force and anti-skating are matched. In practice however, the anti-skating should be set slightly lower than the tracking force. For example, if your recommended tracking force is set at 1 ½ grams you should set the anti-skating should be set at 1 ¼ .

 

4 Reasonably Priced Tweaks to Improve Your Turntable Sound

Mooo Mat Turntable Platter ($75 + free shipping) – It should probably come as no surprise that the Mooo Mat blog would recommend replacing your rubber or felt mat with one made of cowhide and cork. We talked above about external vibration being the enemy. Another source of vibration is from the turntable itself. No matter how expensive the turntable the spinning platter has some degree of vibration. The job of the turntable mat is to prevent it from getting to the phono cartridge. We believe the Mooo Mat accomplishes this better than any other mat through the use of 2 dissimilar materials. This translates into better imaging, greater detail and better bass response. Mooo Mats also reduce static electricity, improving the sound of every record .

Audioquest Carbon Fiber Record Brush ($15) – Once you have washed your records, this brush does a great job of keeping them clean for right around $15.

Pro-Ject Puck It Record Clamp ($85) –Tightens the grip of the record to the mat eliminating slippage. Also reduces minor warping.

AudioquestSorboGel Isolation System ($98) – Set of 4 feet to help isolate your turntable.