10 Tips For Tuning Your Turntable: From Maintenance to Upgrades and Tweaks

Gold Note Valore 425

The weather is improving, the raccoons are spilling your compost bins again, and snowbirds are returning from Florida. Time to tune up for your stereo. Actually, unless you’ve got a tube amp, there’s only one component that needs regular attention, and that’s your turntable.

C Audioquest-CarbonFiberBrush-Detail4-500x500

C Milty Zerostat

1. Clean Your Records
My advice is to keep them clean in their dust jackets, and avoid putting your finger prints on them by holding from the centre and the rim, never touching the playing surface. Sure you can get an expensive record cleaning machine and use the recommended cleaning fluids, but if you’re careful, as I have been, this is seldom necessary. All you need then is an inexpensive anti-static brush like the one pictured on this page from Audioquest.  Another tool in my collection is a Milty Zerostat anti-static gun. If you really need a cleaning machine, I recommend the Nitty Gritty Model 1 (pictured on the right).

Nitty Gritty Model 1aClearaudio Diamond Elixir

2. Clean Your Stylus
If you keep your records clean, you will rarely need to clean your stylus, but if you must, you may use your record brush or a dedicated stylus cleaner such as Clearaudio Diamond Elixir. Always brush gently from back to front.

Camco Bullseye Level

3. Level Your Turntable
You need an inexpensive spirit level for this check, like this Camco Bullseye Level (pictured above). If you cannot adjust the turntable or the rack, you can always use pennies as spacers below the feet of the turntable.

Stereo Lab Turntable Bearing Oil

4. Top Up Bearing Oil
You may need to add a drop or two of oil to the main bearings. Read your manual or contact the manufacturer for advice. You can buy oil designed for this purpose like this Stereo Lab Turntable Bearing Oil (pictured below) or sewing machine oil. I’ve only needed to do this 3 times in 36 years on my Linn Sondek LP12 but different designs may have very different requirements. You need to remove the platter and drop the oil in where the platter spindle fits.

5. Check Your Belt
Most of today’s turntables use belt drive. Is the belt slipping or squeaking? You can try cleaning it with isopropyl alcohol. If that doesn’t fix it, it’s time for a new belt. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. I’ve replaced the belt on my Linn just once, but your mileage may vary. Avoid stretching the belt and use gloves to prevent the oil from your fingers touching the belt surface.

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After completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science in 2002, Suave turned his attention to his passion for audio, video and technology in general. Through hands on experience with an extensive number of audio video products, Suave provides a real world, expert perspective on the latest products and the technology surrounding them. As an enthusiast, he shows a true passion in his writing that is easy to understand by all consumers. Aside from contributing to NOVO, Suave has also written about audio for special sections of The Toronto Star, Son et Image Magazine (FSI Guide) and appeared several times on television. More recently Suave was interviewed and quoted in articles for the Globe and Mail and MSNBC.com. In 2010, Suave launched the Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show (TAVES), an annual consumer trade show that has witnessed tremendous growth year after year.  In 2014, the show was expanded to include a new technology & innovation pavilion and rebranded as the TAVES Consumer Electronics Show.  As of 2016, the show attracts over 7,600 attendees and exhibitors from around the globe.  TAVES showcases cutting-edge technology and innovation in the most exciting categories: virtual reality, drones, wearables, health & fitness, gaming, audio, home theater, robotics, 3D printing, personal transportation, smart devices and electric vehicles.  For more info, please visit www.taveshow.com.

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