What is the acceptable turntable speed variance, and how to know?

Today I am looking at something that some people like to get really scientific about and that is your turntable speed variance and what is deemed acceptable. The thing with something like this is that you can get an app for your phone that lets you determine exactly what the RPM of your turntable is. I have dabbled in these and to be honest with you I feel that these should be used more as a guide than anything else.

A short while back I did actually write a piece on if your turntable speed is just right and I think that much of what I said there applies here if I am being honest with you. Still, I thought today that we could have a look at turntable speed variance and I could give my thoughts and opinions on it.

What Is An Acceptable Turntable Speed Variance?

Hmm, I was all gung-ho to come in here and just slam what I feel are facts, but I did a little digging online to see what other vinyl collectors had to say and was surprised at the difference of opinion. There is a great discussion on What’s Best Forum which I found a fascinating read. Not so much the “advice” part of it, but the way people were so different in their opinions.

What is meant by speed variation is if it speeds up or slows down slightly? Let’s say you have 33.3./45 RPM and that on every fourth turn it jumps up to 46 or a 35 then that could be enough for you to notice it considerably. Now that figure I used is just an example, but I would say anything in the 3 percent range (faster or slower) is going to be something that you do notice and, in some cases, can be quite jarring.

On the flip side of this, I must admit that I do have some friends who collect vinyl but are very casual about it. I have been at their place when they have had a record on and I have noticed something off with the sound, but they do not. So, a lot of this I do feel is a personal preference.

How Can I Keep My Record Player Spinning Just Right?

If you do have a bit of a speed variance with your turntable, you are not completely out of luck. If you find that it is running a little slow on certain rotations then you can check out a guide I wrote a while back that can help you stop your record player from being so slow. This is easy to follow and maybe just what you need to keep your turntable spinning at the right speed.

If you are unsure of if your turntable is spinning right then you can check out an app like this one here in this video guide and give that a go. Many people swear by these, but I am not sure they are 100 percent accurate, but hey that could be just me!

When it comes to what is the acceptable turntable speed variance, for me personally anything that is 3 percent fast or slow is a no go and most certainly noticeable. Any less than this then I think that in some cases you would really have to be listening to it in order to know for sure that it is a problem. Be sure to check out some of my past posts about keeping your turntable running as it could be a very simple issue that a bit of a spit clean can help with!

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