Wow and Flutter might sound like the name of some kind of dynamic team that fights crime! The fact of the matter is wow and flutter is something that can ruin your vinyl listening experience and today we are taking a closer look at it. I have done a few articles such as this one about a muffled sounding turntable which may be worth reading if you are having problems with your sound quality.
Wow and flutter I know is the kind of thing that can sound pretty darn scary and like something that is going to be a massive issue to deal with. However, all record player enthusiasts need to know a little about it and that is what we are taking a look at today.
What Is Wow And Flutter?
Let’s start by taking a look at what is wow and flutter. Even if you have a newer turntable such as the Teac TN- 300 or 350 Turntable wow and flutter may be an issue for you. Look, I know that most people do not care about the actual “science” behind this so let’s keep things nice and simple here. Think of wow and flutter as a distortion of sound, all turntables have some kind of wow and flutter.
The thing is, our human ears can only detect it at a certain point. Most modern turntables have a wow and flutter range of .10 to .20 and unless you have spider-sense kind of hearing, you will never notice it. This is what is referred to as an acceptable amount of wow and flutter. The thing is, just a tad more, let’s say .25 can actually be quite noticeable for some people and so much so that it can be like nails on a chalkboard! If you want to see for yourself what wow and flutter sounds like check out this wow and flutter video that will give you an idea of exactly what it is!
Can I Buy A Turntable Free From Wow And Flutter?
Some might claim to do this, but it is simply not possible. There are some out there that can have under .10 which is probably as good as you can get it. Let’s take the Rega Planar 1 which is a very popular turntable and one that is of a very solid quality. Even a turntable that is at around the 500 bucks’ range like this will have a tiny bit of wow and flutter, but chances are you will never notice it. Staying with Rega for a second, the Rega RP6 Turntable has very low wow and flutter and is a great example of a high end turntable that is built with keeping it to a minimum in mind.
You may think that things were made better in the olden days (and I am probably there with you actually) however when it comes to record players. Father time can cause problems even with the most high end turntable. For example, you could buy a modern turntable that is modestly priced that has .15 wow and flutter and have it actually sound better than one from the 80s that was top of the line back in the day. This is because time and wear and tear can cause problems.
How To Fix Wow And Flutter
There is no magic wand that you can wave to make your records sound as great as possible, but here I am sharing with you a few ways you can keep wow and flutter to a minimum.
Check The Belt: If you look online at places like Reddit you can clearly see that the belt is the first thing people will tell you to try and check out. I actually wrote a piece about belt drive turntables that talks a bit about this. When we are talking about checking the belt, the belt can have stretched due to age and this is going to have a really negative effect on the sound that you are hearing.
You can fix a belt or you can even replace it which is what I would probably recommend that you do actually. It could even be that there has been something like a big bit of dust or something like that gotten under your turntable and is causing problems.
Check The Power Supply: This is especially true for older turntables and getting a new power cable can be just what you need to make sure that your turntable is getting the right juice that it needs to ensure that it keeps spinning just right. I looked into the whole do audio power cables make a difference to sound thing a while back and it is worth a read. I do though think that older turntables with “janky” power cables can lead to them not working as they should so it is certainly a theory that is worth exploring if you ask me.
Check Your Vinyl: Ok, I am of the opinion that wow and flutter is not really caused by the state of your vinyl, but it certainly will not hurt to make sure that your vinyl collection is in tip-top condition. Things like dust, dirt and even hair can get into your record player and cause all kinds of problems. So, making sure that your vinyl is well looked after is certainly not going to hurt things. If anything, it will ensure that your music listening is as good as it can be.
While we have had a look at what wow and flutter is and how you can fix it. It is the kind of thing that you can go super in-depth with if you want. There are some vinyl collectors out there that will not accept anything less than .5 when it comes to wow and flutter and I say more power to them. For the average joe (which I certainly am) .20 is an area where you should not notice a difference. Some record players will specifically state what their wow and flutter is so that could be something to look into.