How To Set Up A Turntable?

Music is a universal phenomenon that makes people happy and helps them to enjoy peace. There are many types of music records in the market such as CD’s, cassettes, etc. The vinyl record is also a music record that is in use from the olden days.

Setting Up A Turntable

The only device or equipment used to play these records is the turntables. Turntables offer complete support to the vinyl records and play their music efficiently. This equipment is totally different from the normal record players and they require a different mechanism for their set up.

Turntable Basics

The setting up of the turntable can be done effectively by knowing the basics of the turntable. So, here are some basics of the turntable.

Operation Mechanism

There are three important types of operation mechanism present in a turntable. They are manual, automatic, and semi-automatic. The automatic turntable is very easy to use and it does not require any manual functions to be performed in it. This turntable works effectively as soon as the switch is turned on.

In the manual mode of operation, the user controls all the function in the turntable. The tone arm should be placed in the correct position by the user. The user should place the tip of the needle effectively and correctly. Any improper alignment will affect the quality of the music. Coming to the semi-automated turntable, the tonearm is automated and it lowers itself at the time of cueing.


The plinth is referred as the base of the turntable. A stronger base will provide effective results in working. The base should be made strong with wood, plastic or steel.


The platter is considered as the spinning region of the turntable and it is connected with motor either directly or indirectly. If the platter is connected to the motor directly, then it is referred as direct drive method and if the motor is connected indirectly with the help of belt, this is referred as a belt-driven method.

Tone Arm

The important part of the turntable is the tonearm. This region holds the needle and the cartilage. The tonearm is designed in the movable form and this will support all the users. In an automatic turntable, the tonearm is designed to move automatically. The tonearm holds the cartilage and the cartilage holds the needle. The needle is made up of a high-quality material as it comes in contact with the vinyl record to play the music.

Turntable Setup

The setting up of the turntable is very important to hear the music easily and effectively. The following points should be followed by the user while setting up a turntable.


The key factor you should focus on setting up a turntable is its support. The support should be selected and maintained well. Any deviation in the support will lead to resonance. The base of the turntable should be equally balanced for a complete support. Some turntable will require the need of a strong base and some will need a light base. Check the manual and determine the base of the turntable before setting up the system. Check the stands as the improper stabilization of stands may affect the results.

Balance The Tonearm

After the support, the tone arm should be balanced. This can be done by installing cartilage in it. After installing the cartilage, place the vinyl record on the platter. Now make the anti-skate setting to zero. Then lower the cueing mechanism and remove the tonearm from armrest position. After this, place one hand in the headshell of the tone arm, move the other hand over the counter weight and rotate the counterweight slowly.

Now carefully check the headshell, whether it has to be tilted up or down. Check the tone arm carefully until the needle floats slightly above the record surface. Note that the needle should not touch the record surface. After this, move the tone arm to its original place.

Adjust The Counterweight And Anti-Skate

After setting the tonearm in its rest position, adjust the cartilage. The force of the cartilage should be known by the user to adjust the counter weight. If you have a new one, then check it’s force in the manual. If you have an old cartilage, then check the cartilage force in the vinyl database. Now adjust the counterweight dial to zero. After adjusting it, move the counterweight until the force equals the cartilage force. Moving counterweight dial will never move the counterweight but, moving counterweight will move both the dial and weight. Now, tune the anti-skate value similar to that of counterweight value.

Align The Cartilage

The next step is to align the cartilage. This can be done simply by moving cartilage forward or backward in the headshell and also by rotating the cartilage at a precise angle. Aligning cartilages properly will reduce the inter-groove distortion. The needle tracks fewer record grooves in the middle than the outer edges and this leads to ISD. Other than reducing ISD, a properly aligned cartilage will offer accurate channel separation.

There are three important ways to align the cartilage; they are Lofgren, Baerwald, and Stevenson. Among the three, Barewald is considered to be a common option in many turntables. For aligning the cartilage the user should have a protractor. Check the alignment once in every two months for obtaining efficiency.

Adjust The Vertical Tracking Angle

Not all the turntable needs this adjustment. Only a few turntables need this adjustment and this will offer high resolution in music. This can be done easily by adjusting the height of the pivot point. This process can also be done by keeping the needle in the record and taking it back to rest and by moving the arm up and down along with placing the arm in the needle until it becomes parallel. This will help you to align your tracking angle.

Isolate Your Turntable

The property and features of the turntable get affected with the external vibrations. So, isolate your turntable from external vibrations and keep it safely. Common vibrations are obtained from the footsteps and speakers. The vibration will cause the needle to strip and reduce the function of the turntable.

These are the various steps to be followed while setting up a turntable. Hope this article is useful to you. If you have any queries, comment in the box given below.