Advice from your favorite record store can help you resolve vibrations, pops, and hisses.
Even if you buy a high-quality record player, you need to pay attention to how it vibrates. The only vibration should be coming from the needle or stylus of your record player as it registers the sound cut into the record. Any other vibration that the stylus picks up can compromise sound quality.
Having a high-quality record player certainly helps. Things like maintenance, proper cleaning and storage, and even how you handle your records and the turntable also matter.
What causes unwanted vibration, and how can you fix it?
Simply walking across the room can cause your record to skip. Footfalls, uneven floors and surfaces, and speakers that are cranked up too loud can all produce skips, acoustic feedback, and other problems. Feedback is also caused by insufficient isolation of the turntable from external vibrations, placing the turntable too close to speakers, and the strong bass coming from your subwoofers.
Why Isolation Is a Common Solution
One of the most common cures of bad vibrations is isolating your stereo gear.
The job of your speakers is to turn signals into music, a function that necessarily causes the speakers to vibrate. But if your stylus doesn't enjoy a smooth ride, the sound will suffer. So to make sure that the turntable and speaker can both do their jobs well and get along peaceably, they must be kept apart from each other.
Of course, how much this matters and how far apart these two components should be depends on the size of the speakers, their quality, how loud you want your music and bass, and the evenness of your home surfaces. Usually, though, isolating the speakers and turntable to some degree is a good idea.
You can make or buy products to reduce the wrong kind of vibration.
- Heavy-duty isolation pads. Usually made with cork, foam, or rubber, these pads are cheap, widely available, and effective. Placing a few under an unstable piece of furniture can stop it from moving around and perturbing your turntable.
- Wall-mounted shelves. Steel works best, and these shelves are usually inexpensive. Assembly is required, though; if you are not good at putting screws into walls, you could ruin the view.
- Consider making a platform for your turntable. You can use any piece of wood or other sturdy material big enough to support it. Even a cutting board or a serving tray may work.
- Commercial solutions like cones, spikes, and isolation platforms are more expensive, but will do the job.
Other Record Player Problems
Why do records skip, pop, and hiss?
Whether your turntable and records are new or old, they collect dust. It accumulates on needles, on the surfaces of records, and inside the grooves of records. After prolonged use, records also tend to collect scratches and collect oil from your fingers -- no matter how careful you may be. When the stylus hits even a speck of dust, it causes an auditory disruption. The bigger the obstacle, the bigger the explosion.
Dust and oil aren't the only possible culprits. The grooves themselves may be defective, and tonearm pressure may be inadequate. If a groove is defective, the record will skip. It's not easy, but you can repair the groove by pressing the needle down as it passes over the damaged area.
An improperly balanced turntable or a tonearm that exerts too little pressure on the record may also cause skipping. If your record player lacks a knob for adjusting tonearm pressure, you can add a small weight, like a coin. You can also rebalance the tonearm. (See these step-by-step instructions.)
Drop by the longest-operating independent record store in New Orleans to talk about all things vinyl. We're always eager to compare notes on LP storage, cleaning, and maintenance, and we have an amazing selection of quality record players. We're open every day from 10 a.m. to midnight, and it's worth the trip!
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