How to Set Up a Turntable – Principal Things You Need to Know

How to Set Up Your Turntable – Principal Things You Need to Know

One of the most popular ways of playing music, turntables have never gone out of fashion. More and more people are buying turntables for use at home or as a means of a hobby or sideline.

Despite digital becoming one of the simplest ways of accessing music instantly, nothing quite matches that unique sound quality that a turntable emits. And this is just one of the reasons why they remain in demand.

How to Set Up a Turntable Correctly the First Time

Turntables can be quite awkward to set up the first time. If they are poorly adjusted or don’t have the correct support, you won’t get the best overall sound quality.

Take note of these suggestions, and you’ll soon be experiencing some incredible sound quality, leaving you in no doubt of the turntables popularity in an age of digital music!


Most people believe it’s the turntable itself which should take priority when setting up. However, the support is key to the entire set-up, so you need to consider it first.

This is about where the turntable will be positioned. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure the turntable has a place to sit securely throughout use. The base needs to be perfectly level, and anything other will mean your turntable won’t work to its full capacity.

This support extends to the feet on your record player and any suspension. A spirit level is often the best tool to help you ensure level support here.

Tonearm and Cartridge

tonearm-cartridgeNext, it’s the tonearm and cartridge, and if you are looking at typical turntables under $1000, you will generally find that the tonearm and cartridge are already preassembled.

However, as you move upwards in price, you may find that you’ll have to assemble the tonearm yourself and look at attaching the cartridge before you begin.

Attaching a cartridge to the tonearm is simple enough. It merely requires you to release the cartridge holder from the tonearm and center the cartridge, by aligning it in this holder. You can then tighten the screws to keep the cartridge in place.

To fit the tonearm yourself, you will need an arm board which is suitable for your make of turntable. You’ll then need to check that when balancing the tonearm and setting tracking force, you ensure that the height of the tonearm is parallel to the surface of the record when your cartridge sits in the grove.

This is made possible by a tracking weight which sits at the rear of the tonearm and is adjusted until the tonearm is balanced correctly.

Anti-Skating Control

The next step may not apply to all turntables. But on some, there is a setting that allows you to set the anti-skating control. This ensures that you control the amount of force that pulls your turntable's tonearm towards the center of your records. Our top pick among the best turntables under $500 boasts this feature, by the way.

This force is known as a skating force. By setting this anti-skating control, you prevent the unequal pressure skating places on the sides of the grooves of your records.

Connecting to Audio Equipment

Finally, when you have completed this basic set-up, all that is left to do is the sound control.

Connecting to audio equipment is perhaps one of the easier and straightforward parts of setting up a turntable. All it requires is that you take the connectors, left and right channels, and place the output of the turntable to the amplifiers or receivers output.

You are then ready to start making some beautiful music through your completed turntable set-up!

How Much Does Your Turntable Cost?

how-much-does-your-turntable-costUltimately, the cost of your turntable will significantly determine the ease of its set-up. For example, record players under $100 or usually not pricey portable record players and vintage turntables are already preset by the manufacturers and ready for you to directly plug in and go.

However, if you can spend more on your chosen turntable, you'll definitely find it a better-quality product overall. Look closer at the turntables under 200 dollars, for instance. Record players in this price range often boast fancy features like a USB port or Bluetooth compatibility. Turntables under $300 may have an even wider range of characteristics such as an inbuilt preamp or an elegant cabinet. Moreover, you’ll see that setting up your turntable from scratch allows you to get that perfect sound quality, which is more suited to your personal preferences.

Understanding Your Turntable

Get to know how your turntable operates and what works best. For example, does a belt-driven turntable produce a better sound quality? Or do you find that a direct-driven turntable is a sturdier build and offers more in the way of consistent speeds?

Questions such as this usually only begin to crop up when you take part in setting up a turntable yourself.

Once you know how to set up a basic turntable, you’ll be able to cope when changing any necessary parts as they need replacing or updating, without losing that perfect sound quality you have come to know, and love from this most popular of music systems.

Check out this extended guide on how to set up a turntable.

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