In This Series
- 1 How Do Vinyl Records Work?
- 2 Components
- 2.1 The Platter
- 2.2 The Bearing
- 2.3 The Motor
- 2.4 The Tonearm
- 2.5 The Cartridge
- 3 Phono Stages
- 4 Should You Buy an All-In-1 Turntable?
- 5 The Current Market
- 6 How to Setup a Turntable
- 7 How to Install and Align a Turntable Cartridge
- 8 Optimising The Sound
- 9 Purchasing a Used Turntable
- 10 Turntable, Tonearm and Cartridge Specifications
- 10.1 Tonearm Specifications
- 10.2 Turntable Specifications
- 10.3 Cartridge Specifications
- 11 Turntable Drive Systems
- 12 Recommended Tools
- 13 Free Protractors and Strobe Discs
- 14 Conclusions
The below tools will ease the task of setting up and maintaining a turntable, while enabling greater setup accuracy and vinyl enjoyment, keeping your records and styli in optimal condition and achieving the best possible sound quality. Most are relatively inexpensive and also make great gifts for anyone new to or passionate about vinyl. Naturally several versions of each tool exist from any number of manufacturers. The below are the tools I personally recommend, and they’re the ones we’ve referenced in this series.
For day-to-day use, I recommend the Milty Super Exstatic Carbon Fibre Record Cleaning Brush. While a little on the expensive side, these brushes work well and don’t shed fibres like some of the cheaper models do.
If you’ve a large collection or frequently purchase used records, a cleaning machine is a worthwhile investment. If you’re on a tight budget the Knosti Disco Anti Stat is a great place to start. If you’ve a little more to spend, the Project VC-S Record Cleaner is probably the best value cleaning machine currently on the market.
In terms of stylus cleaning, the Vinyl Passion DustBuster is, in my opinion, the best stylus cleaner currently on the market. Discussed in the Stylus Care section above, this cleaner uses a polymer gel to quickly and safely clean your stylus.
Tracking Force Gauge
At less than £10, these Neoteck Digital Turntable Stylus Force Scales are a must-have accessory which will enable you to calibrate your tracking force to within 0.1 grams, which is more than adequate in all situations. The Pro-Ject Measure It is better made but operates on the same principle, and at almost £100 is a tool for the most dedicated vinyl fan with a serious turntable. It’s up to you to decide whether or not the investment is justified. In reality the Pro-Ject is nothing more than a rebranded Chinese OEM gauge, also sold under the Roksan and other brands. If you’re prepared to import one direct, they can be had for £20.
- A simple spirit level to ensure your turntable is, well, level.
- Large centre hole adapter
– This adapter is used to play records with a large centre hole, for example, 45RPM singles taken from a jukebox and missing their centre adapters. This adapter centres them perfectly on the turntable.
- Milty Zerostat 3
– This is a bit of a luxury item and is a little overpriced, but it does come in handy. The zerostat will effectively discharge static from the record or the turntable, resulting in less pops, clicks and crackles on playback. It’s useful for records which have been contained in paper sleeves and haven’t been cleaned.
- Analogue Studio Mirrored Cartridge Alignment Protractor
– Here’s a simple alignment protractor for those who don’t with to print their own. This protractor from Avid is more precise, while this protractor is supplied by Rega with all of their tonearms.
A by no means exhaustive list of retailers, hand-picked for their outstanding customer service and product ranges.
This article is part of our Guide to Turntables and Vinyl series. Continue reading: Part 13, Free Protractors and Strobe Discs.