If you’re not happy with the sound of your turntable, it’s easy to assume that the whole thing just sucks. And with that logic, you might believe that a new turntable will magically solve your problem. But you should focus on another upgrade – your speakers.
Warning: This article is intended for beginners.
Why does your turntable sound bad?
Turntables and turntables contain dozens of components. And as you’d expect, each of these parts contributes to the overall sound quality of your setup. That’s why die-hard audio nerds are obsessed with cartridges, turntables, tonearms and motors.
But here’s the thing; If you’re an inexperienced record collector, your speakers are probably the weakest link in your setup. And until you have a good pair of speakers (plus a decent amp), upgrades to your turntable aren’t going to provide any appreciable increase in audio quality.
This is especially true if you’re using a turntable’s built-in speakers. Turntables are prone to vibration, so their built-in speakers can’t be very loud or bass-heavy. Of course, built-in speakers tend to be very cheap and small.
But what if you’re using a set of external speakers? If that’s the case, I suggest quickly testing those speakers with your phone – obviously a phone sounds different than a turntable, but that gives you a good idea if your speakers are the problem. (Note that a turntable’s headphone jack is not designed for large speakers. You must use the turntable’s LINE or PHONO outputs.)
If your turntable isn’t playing records properly, there’s obviously a mechanical component to blame. Belts, tonearms and cartridges are the most likely suspects – belts and cartridges wear out and tonearms need to be balanced when they don’t run properly.
Speaker upgrades are easy and worth the money
A new speaker set is always a good investment. Not only do they improve the sound quality of your turntable, but you can use them with other audio sources including your TV, phone, cassette player or radio. And if you don’t abuse a set of speakers, they should last for decades – you can’t say that about other audio upgrades!
Well if you are on a budget I suggest finding a bunch of driven Speaker; that’s a fancy way of saying “speaker with built-in amplifier.” Modern turntables only offer PHONO and LINE outputs, both of which need amplification – if your turntable only has a PHONO output, you will also need a preamp (or powered speaker with a PHONO input).
There are many active speakers to choose from. Most people buy bookshelf speakers, but you should also look at soundbars, which tend to offer more bang for your buck. Finally, soundbars often have multiple audio inputs (including Bluetooth) and can even come with a subwoofer. (Be sure to check that the inputs on a powered speaker match the outputs on your turntable.)
However, if you want to build a more “professional” listening environment, skip the powered speakers. Instead, buy a set of passive speakers and a dedicated audio receiver — the receiver includes an amplifier, radio tuner, multiple inputs and outputs, adjustable EQ settings, and other key benefits. It’s basically an all-in-one controller for your HiFi setup.
Note that audio receivers can be very expensive and wiring a proper hi-fi system is not always easy. That said, if you’re trying to do this on a budget, you can find a set of passive speakers and receiver for under $100 at almost any thrift store, flea market, or flea market. (I use a nice Onkyo receiver that a walk-in clinic left near their dumpster. This stuff is easy to find if you have the time to hunt it down.)
Edifier R1280T Active Bookshelf Speakers – 2.0 Stereo Active Nearfield Monitors – Studio Monitor Speakers – Wooden Cabinet – 42 Watts RMS
These bookshelf speakers from Edifier offer two sets of RCA inputs, perfect for your turntable and any other audio source. They have built-in controls and a convenient remote control.
VIZIO V series 2.1 soundbar and wireless subwoofer
This affordable VIZIO soundbar comes with a wireless subwoofer. Connect it to your TV via HDMI and connect your turntable via an AUX cable. It even comes with RCA to AUX cables perfect for your turntable!
Don’t neglect cleaning or maintenance
This article is intended for beginners and I don’t want to give wrong ideas. Your speakers (and amplifier) are important, but your turntable still has a huge impact on sound quality. That is why cleaning and care are so important.
You should clean your records to preserve their fidelity and Keep dust away from your turntable’s stylus. Over time, a stylus will wear out and you’ll have to replace the entire cartridge – dirt, dust and sand will speed up the process. A stylus brush will help you keep the “needle” clean, and when your stylus wears out, see this as an opportunity to buy a higher quality cartridge. (Just make sure you find a cartridge that fits your turntable’s tonearm.)
And unless you own a direct-drive turntable, you’ll need to replace your turntable’s belt every few years. A worn or stretched belt can lead to all sorts of problems such as: B. Jumping, stopping or strange changes in playback speed.
Note that while small upgrades to your turntable are never a problem Poorly idea, they can be a bad investment. If you’re using a really cheap turntable, upgrading to a higher quality turntable will provide a more significant improvement in sound quality. (Again, this boost is only noticeable if you’re using decent speakers.)
How to clean your records
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