When in the 90s, the CD format became the main format for listening to music; there was fear that record players could become a thing of the past. Most people had the misconception that Vinyl could not compete with CDs, and with the launch of streaming platforms, these could be forgotten. However, everything turned out to be the opposite.
The records not only remained in high demand among DJs and audiophiles, but people also bought them for use at home. No matter how advanced the music equipment has transformed over the years, adherents of a cool and moderate approach to life will always use the turntable.
Without a doubt, not even Spotify will replace the sensations of tactile contact with a recording of your favorite artist. To listen to music calmly and wear out records to a minimum, you need to configure the player properly. Without further ado, here is a step-by-step guide to building a DJ turntable setup. Keep reading.
A turntable is an electromechanical device in which each component has its function, which ultimately affects the quality of the sound reproduced. For correct and accurate installation of the player, let’s analyze its design.
The turntable comprises of the following features;
· A table or chassis
· Support disk
· Drive unit
· Pickup head
For the turntable to play the music, the platter on the chassis rotates with a drive. In addition, the tonearm hangs over the disc with the cartridge mounting pad along with the pickup head. Subsequently, the pickup furrows along the grooves of the record, and the stylus reads the tracks. Next, this converts the vibrations into a signal that goes to the built-in or external phono stage, and from there to headphones or speakers.
Manufacturers’ assurances about fully pre-configured devices are partly true but should still be taken with a pinch of salt. Manufacturers of entry-level plug-and-play audio equipment often strive to free the user from setup. But keep in mind that the limited adjustment options mean that everything will sound mediocre too.
How to place the player
The turntable requires careful handling, which begins the moment it is positioned. The player must be in a horizontal position. You can do this by placing the player on a flat surface, isolated from external vibrations. This is necessary so that you do not have to calibrate the device before each listening.
Ideally, you need a separate shelf attached to the main wall. Equip yourself with a bubble level to align the tilt of the platter and the four corners of the table. Next, you should open the instructions that are attached to your player model or its accessories. If there are methods other than those described below, follow them.
The pickup head, or cartridge, is a sensor that converts mechanical energy from the movement of the stylus along the recording groove into an electromagnetic signal. The cartridges are also equipped with needles of different sharpening shapes and are attached to the shell with screws that must be properly tightened. Notably, a loose connection will cause unwanted vibration and sound distortion.
The area and angle of contact with the plate depend on the location of the needle. As a result, the dynamic response and sound quality. Correct adjustment of the lateral tracking angle is carried out using a special template.
Next, place the template on the platter, and when tuning, ensure it’s aligned with the dots on the template. The tip of the needle needs to hit exactly at the center of the outer and inner zero recording radii.
If the geometry does not match, carefully loosen the screws that secure it to the shell and, with light movements, make sure that the head is pointing straight at each point. This brings the stylus closer to the Vinyl relative to the position of the recording cutter when grooving.
Do not be surprised that even with a complete hit, the sound quality of different records may differ – the recording methods and other variables are slightly different from each other.
Then follow the given sequence, adjust the azimuth and correct the misalignment of the needle. Azimuth is the horizontal angle of the pickup relative to the surface of the vinyl record when viewed from the front. Lower the small mirror onto the platter, move the tonearm toward it, and gently lower the cartridge onto the mirror surface.
At this point, the head must lie exactly at right angles. If it is not perpendicular, loosen the retaining screws and adjust the position so that the angle between the platter and the needle is 90 degrees.
Adjusting the tonearm
The tonearm is a high-precision mechanism that holds the pickup over the vinyl record and ensures smooth movement during playback. It consists of several elements, including a tube, a leg, or an arrow. On one side, it’s equipped with a headshell with a cartridge, whereas on the other side, there is a clip for fixing and a lever that allows you to smoothly lower and raise the tube.
A well-tuned tonearm will noticeably improve the quality of the reproduced sound and extend the life cycle of both the stylus and the Vinyl. You can adjust the tonearm at the place where you plan to use the turntable. The challenge is to find the correct zero position for the tonearm.
To do this, use a weighing scale and set the downforce according to the instructions for the cartridge. Please note that all manipulations are performed with a needle without a protective cap, so be careful not to damage the diamond.
To make the records last longer, do not hesitate to clean the needle in time before and after playing. Maintenance does not require special skills. Gently brush the tip of the cartridge back and forth several times with a brush.
But treat the accessories carefully. You shouldn’t use cotton wool and self-made cleaning solutions. It is recommended that you use original cleaning products from the same manufacturers as the needles themselves or companies supplying accessories.
There is no limit to perfection, and even more so in sound. Prepare for the fact that you will not be able to calibrate the player the first time perfectly. Follow the sequence of actions and handle the equipment carefully. Be sure that all the time spent will be fully compensated when you hear how much better your records sound.