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You have a turntable that is not or is no longer working? Being a specialist technician in the turntables cannot be improvised but thanks to this FAQ, you can effortlessly identify technical problems and sometimes repair your turntable very easily. We therefore hope that you will find some answers here that will allow you to resolve your problems.
First of all, you must be aware that the level of output coming from a turntable cartridge is very low. So, for the same volume level on your amp, the analogue sound will always be lower than digital sound. So feel free to increase you amp's volume before performing the checks described below.
First, we would recommend that you make sure that your have all the equipment you need to use your turntable in the best conditions.
Ensure that you have a phono preamp as this is a component that many of you forget. Indeed, you will simply not hear anything in a system with no phono stage. Indeed, the role of the phono preamp is to correct the RIAA curve that comes from your cartridge and to preamplify the sound.
Several options: either it is directly integrated into the turntable (e.g. Debut Carbon USB turntable), either it is built into your amplifier with a phono stage, or you will have to purchase it separately. Hence, you need to check the references of your Hi-Fi equipment before buying a turntable or phono preamplifier.
A picture is worth a thousand words, which is why we have drawn you the following diagram explaining exactly how to connect your audio system and the other parts that are needed for your turntable to function properly.
By using this configuration, you ensure that your turntable will have the best possible operation.
If the sound from your turntable only comes out of one speaker, this means that you can have a cut-off channel (or a false contact). This problem can occur at any level of your Hi-Fi system, in other words, everywhere there are wire contacts. You may be faced with a cut-off channel at the level of the speaker cables, the phono cable, interconnect cable, tonearm cables, headshell leads, and even at the level of the phono cartridge!
To find the source of this problem, iterative tests must be done for each of these levels and proceed by elimination before replacing the faulty cable/connector.
If your music lacks bass and treble, you should check the cables of your Hi-Fi system! You must indeed pay attention not to confuse the modulation and phono cables. Although these types of cable all have RCA terminals, they are not manufactured for processing the same type of signals. A phono cable can only process small output levels, unlike an interconnect cable. So if you connect an interconnect cable between your record player and phono stage, you will create this problem of lack of bass and trebles.
Distortion is a deformation of the audio signal, which leads to a distorted and unpleasant sound. This problem can have several causes.
All USB or digital turntables come with a built-in phono preamp. It is therefore utterly not recommended on a phono preamplifier, since putting two RIAA corrections in the same system leads to the saturation and distortion of your sound.
The same thing will happen if you have an amplifier with a phono input, this means that the amp has a built-in phono preamp and you don't need to purchase an additional one. Three configurations are therefore to be considered:
- If you have a turntable featuring a built-in phono preamp (USB turntable or digital turntable), it is not recommended to connect it to the phono input of your amp at the risk of distortion. Therefore you have to connect it to a 'LINE' input (CD, AUX, Tuner, Video, DVD, TAPE etc.)
- If you have a non-USB or digital turntable and you don't want to invest in/can't afford a phono preamp, then you'll need to plug it directly into the phono input.
- If you have a non-USB or digital turntable and you invest in a phono preamplifier, then you must connect your phono stage to a 'LINE' (CD, AUX, Tuner, Video, DVD, TAPE, etc.).
We can never repeat this enough so check your system to prevent distortion problems.
If your phono preamp is not properly set up, this may lead to distortion. The MM/MC phono stages are, as their name indicates, able to support very high output levels (MM cartridges) or on the contrary, very low ones (MC cartridges). Depending on the model of your Hi-Fi cartridge, you must therefore ensure that your phono preamplifier (MM/MC; impedance; gain, etc.) is correctly configured by referring to the instructions.
A worn down Hi-Fi cartridge can also lead to distortion. The lifetime of a cartridge/stylus is between 300 and 600 hours of listening depending on the models. The longevity of the phono cartridges therefore depends on their manufacturing quality, the setting of your turntable or the condition of your records.
Browse our tips on the correct way to set up a turntable.
Browse our tips on how to take care of your records and keep them in mint condition.
If the tracking force is too strong, your cartridge will most probably generate distortion. Therefore, you must make sure that your turntable is set up properly and that it is compatible with the phono cartridge.
If the antiskating is not set correctly, this can generate strong distortion during playback or a difference in volume between the left and right speaker. Once again, ensure that your turntable is set correctly.
In Hi-Fi, the source always prevails. With regard to the source, it is the turntable and the cartridge that you will add that will determine the quality of your system. However, you must check that the investment in each component is coherent. No component of your system must be neglected (phono preamp, phono cables, modulation cables, amplifier, speakers, etc.).
When choosing your equipment, you must ask yourself the right questions: What music am I listening to? What sound quality am I looking for? Do I prefer energy, warmth, detail? To answer these questions and better guide you, our technicians can be contacted by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you hear buzzing or a whirring noise, there are several possible causes. This can come either from a ground looping, or from the cartridge of your turntable or even your phono cable.
When wiring your system, make sure that the ground cable is always connected to your phono preamp and your turntable. Otherwise, you will notice significant whirring. The ground cable is generally supplied with the phono cables.
If the ground cable is properly connected, it may be that it is damaged and that the audio ground located in the phono cable is cut, you will then notice some whirring.
Whirring can also be generated by your audio system and, more specifically, by the elements with a DC power supply (turntable, phono stage, amp, etc.). With a Hum Block plug, you can directly connect your Hi-Fi system to the ground and fix this whirring problem.
Hi-Fi cartridges act as genuine antennas and microphones. A very low sound captured by the cartridge will be amplified and come from your speakers. Electromagnetic waves emitted from your internet box can therefore be captured and transmitted in your system creating disturbances and this buzzing or whistling.
If you are a 'victim' of this capture, you must first determine what device sends out the captured waves. Next, and if it is possible to do so, you must move your Hi-Fi system farther away from the source of interference. This phenomenon is fairly rare but it is not always easy to isolate the cause of the buzz to be able to remedy this.
Grado's Moving Iron cartridges are sensitive to it and they easily capture the waves generated by the motor of the turntable and thus create whirring or buzzing!
Here again, the issue of cables and the difference between the interconnects and phonos is important. Hence, if you connect a phono cable at the amp output, you will get a strong whirring. Indeed, the output level of the amp will be too strong for this phono cable specially manufactured to process small output levels.
A damaged phono cable can also cause a whirring phenomenon. So thoroughly inspect your material and feel free to do tests with another cable.
The belt of your turntable wears out over time and due to its environment. Indeed, an environment that is too cold or too hot can damage your belt and thus affect the rotation speed of your turntable.
A badly positioned belt can also affect the rotation speed of the motor of your turntable.
Motor speed issues are often caused by the mains frequencies that supply your turntable.
If your turntable is a Pro-Ject and it has an AC supply (alternating current), we strongly recommend that you invest in a speed controller/Speed box that will adjust the frequency of the mains so that it arrives continuously and uniformly to your turntable. The motor rotation speed will therefore be stabilised and you will also increase the sound quality.
Ensure that a Pro-Ject Speed Box is compatible with your turntable by consulting our technicians via e-mail (email@example.com).
It may seem obvious, but your belt may jump and not connect your platter with the motor pulley. Rotation is not possible… All you have to do is replace it and enjoy your music.
For best protection during shipment, some turntables have their suspension locked with screws. On receiving and unpacking your equipment, these screws must be removed for the turntable to spin. If you do not remove these screws, the motor pulley will not be at the same level as the platter and your belt will not remain in place. You might also damage your turntable.
Your turntable's power supply can fail, so you must contact your after-sales service if the product is still under warranty or else purchase a power supply compatible with your turntable.
When you see that the turntable's tonearm 'skips', this means you have a problem with the set up. Indeed, if the counterweight is badly positioned and it causes too weak a tracking force, this will cause varying degrees of oscillation. You must therefore repeat the entire set up of your turntable at the risk of irreversibly damaging the cartridge's stylus.
If you note that the turntable's tonearm does not track the groove of your records and has a strong tendency to skate towards the centre then you have a problem with antiskating (antiskating too low). antiskating weights counter the centripetal force that irreversibly draws the tonearm to the centre of your turntable.
If, on the contrary, the tonearm pulls to the outer edge, then the antiskating is too strong.
On some turntables, such as Debut Carbon by Pro-Ject, the antiskating is in the form of a small weight suspended to a fishing line. Following incorrect handling, it can skip easily. Just reposition it in compliance with the instructions supplied with your turntable.
Your turntable's tonearm moves abnormally over the record if the stylus of your cartridge is damaged. Indeed, as the stylus is worn down or damaged, its profile can no longer track the groove of your record and leads to abnormal movement of the tonearm.
If you want to play a record and the tonearm of your turntable does not lower enough such that the stylus of your cartridge is not touching the record, then there are several possible causes.
- The tonearm lift is too high
If your tonearm lift is not adjusted properly, you will have a problem with the tonearm height. If the tonearm of your turntable is not lowering far enough, this means that the tonearm lifter is too high, you must, if possible, lower it and set the pump height of the lifter.
- The tonearm of my record player is too high up
For entry level turntable models, the tonearm is not adjustable in height (VTA). Hence, if you forget to place the mat or platter mat that comes with your turntable, there will be a gap that will cause the tonearm to not come in full contact with your record.
The tonearm lift may be blocked and not be lowered completely. To remedy this problem, and only if you're comfortable doing this, you can remove the tonearm lift to adjust it so that it lowers properly. This requires utmost care, so you are advised to contact your after-sales service first for assistance.
The compatibility of analogue Hi-Fi products is essential and often falls under quite basic laws of physics. Hence, if you fit a phono cartridge that is too light for the tonearm of your turntable, the tracking force will be too low and the tonearm will not go low enough in the groove of your record.
Check the user manual of your turntable and the technical specifications of the Hi-Fi cartridge that you want to use before making a purchase decision.
We hope that these explanations will answer your questions and will help you fix your turntable. If, however, you're still having issues, feel free to contact us by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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