How to Setup a Turntable: Top Helpful Tips

How to Setup a Turntable
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All the older folks out there have been rejoicing lately as turntables have again been gaining more and more popularity, thanks to musicians releasing their music in vinyl. In fact, the sale of vinyl is now much higher than it was almost two decades ago.

Because vinyl records are now available once again, many people are interested in knowing how to setup a turntable. Let’s face it, though. Unless you are a sound engineer, setting up a turntable is not a piece of cake.

While setting up a turntable all by yourself is not impossible, we can say this right away that it can be quite tricky. If you are interested in doing so, we can help you out by offering some top tips that will help you get the best out of your turntable.

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What You Need to Know Beforehand

Turntables can undoubtedly be one of the most temperamental of the hi-fi components. Even the best can get easily upset by poor adjustment, inadequate support, and inconsiderate positioning. Then again, if you do get all of it correct, it will shine through like a diamond and will leave you wondering what on earth are you wasting your time with the digital ones.

If you buy a budget-friendly turntable, it is most likely going to come to you pre-assembled. These will typically come with the cartridge and arm adjusted and attached, which means that you are good to go right from the start.

However, the second you decide to splurge over $500 on a higher quality turntable, then be prepared as it will definitely come with some amount of assembly required. Of course, you can get the dealer to do it for you. On the other hand, if you wish to set it up by yourself, it is not impossible.

If you do decide to do it yourself, keep in mind that a good tool kit is an absolute must. To list the bare requirements of the tools, here are the essentials:

  • Small Allen keys
  • A pair of long-nose pliers with an accurate spirit level
  • A set of precision screwdrivers

Having all of these with you will ensure that you will be able to set up most turntables, including the fit and the adjustment of the cartridge and the tonearm.

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How to Setup a Turntable

Once you have got all your tools in hand, it is time to set up the turntable. Below, we will list some top tips that will help you to do so.

  • Support

When setting up a turntable, it is easy to assume that the very first thing you need to get correctly would be the device itself. However, that’s not the case. Before anything else, you need to find a support wherein the turntable would be placed on. The support should be exactly in level because even the slightest deviation will affect the way it works.

Additionally, the support should be very well controlled and be rigid when it comes to internal resonances. Do keep in mind that certain decks tend to respond well when they are placed on supports that are heavy. Then, there are some that require lighter supports.

Finding the right support typically will depend on the structure of the deck itself, and knowing which works best might require you to experiment on different options. And it does not end there.

If the turntable has suspension, ensure that the platter is in level too. If it has adjustable feet, then make sure that it is sitting flat. You may think that this is common knowledge, but it is common to make mistakes. Ensure everything is sitting properly so that the turntable works the way it should.

  • Tonearm

Typically, turntables have a tonearm that is pre-fitted. However, if you wish to replace it or if you have purchased a deck that is more esoteric, which is arm-less, then you will require an arm board that is appropriate.

Most turntable makers supply a large range of options of arm boards, so it will most likely suit any tonearm. There are quite a few adjustments that need to be made on the tonearm as well.

The height has to be set in a manner in which the arm and the surface of the record are parallel when the cartridge sits in the groove. It is possible to fine-tune the performance by altering it so that the bearing of the arm is slightly lower or higher.

What this does is that it will alter the angle at which the groove and the tip of the stylus meet. That being said, always begin with all of it being in level.

  • Tracking Weight

Now comes the weight of the tracking. This can be adjusted by simply moving the counter-weight that is at the rear of the tonearm. You need to set the down-force according to the recommendation made by the cartridge’s manufacturer, at least to begin with.

Although, sometimes, the sound will be too dull if the tracking weight has been set too high. If the tracking weight has been set too low, then the presentation will turn thin, and the cartridge will not track the groove correctly. 

  • Bias

The final adjustment on the tonearm is of the bias. Bias is basically a sideways force on the cartridge, which balances out the record groove’s inward pull. Typically, the tracking weight and bias are set at the same amount.

Just like the tracking weight, even the bias setting can be played around with. The smallest of changes can make the biggest and most noticeable difference.

A majority of the cartridges are mounted with a few bolts on the arm, which is easy to accomplish. It is tricky to align it as accurately as possible so that the tip of the stylus can sit correctly in the line of the record groove.

The smallest of errors in the alignment will massively increase the distortion, so take your own sweet time to ensure you are getting it right. It is also important to ensure that the tonearm lead is not stressed and in a position that is far away from anything that runs on the main voltage. This will ensure that there isn’t any humming.


Learning how to setup a turntable can be a tough task, so you must ensure that you are sticking to the user manual or online guides as much as you can. These top and helpful tips we have talked about above will prevent you from making errors. We strongly advise that you follow them to a T.

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