There is nothing worse than taking one of your favorite records off the shelf. Placing it on your turntable, slowly putting down the arm and then getting ready to rock out and the sound being flat. The thing with talking about “flat sound” is that it is very hard to describe what it is, but when you hear it you know. The sound is just not as good, punchy, raunchy or however, you want to describe it as you would like.
Today I am looking at a few of the reasons as to why the sound you are getting from your records is not as good as you would like. Also, we are looking at a few ways you can make sure that you are listening to your records in the best way you can. I am a real stickler for audio quality so I can promise you these are all things I would do myself if my turntable sounded flat.
What To Do When Record Player Sounds “Weird”
The first thing I want to suggest that you check out is another article I wrote about strange-sounding records. Here I looked at many reasons as to why your record player may not be sounding as good as you would like and ways you can fix them so be sure to check this one out here.
CD’s Sound Better!!!!
WHAT!!!!! Is what many of you may be saying here, but let’s face it you know there is an issue with your sound when a CD of the same sound has more punch and personality to it than a record. There is a great debate about this over at the AV Forums and it is certainly interesting to see what people are saying. I would suggest if you do think there is something “off” with your sound try playing a CD and see if that gives you the sound you think the record should be doing and then you will know for sure your ears are not playing tricks on you.
I would recommend that you try your speakers and receiver with other devices. I know I already mentioned CDs, but there is no harm in testing out your other devices such as a DVD player and games console for example. If the sound is still flat with these other devices then you know that the problem may not be the actual turntable.
Slap In Your Cartridge!
No, I am not talking about Nintendo here, but the cartridge of your turntable. I have reviewed so many cartridge reviews that I do not know where to start! The point I am making here is that perhaps the sound is not to your liking because you need a new cartridge. Maybe the cartridge no longer meets your needs as what you consider good sound quality has changed? Perhaps the cartridge is the one that came with your turntable and it needs upgrading? No matter what, be sure to check out these reviews on cartridges and I have reviewed them at every end of the pricing spectrum!
Is Your Cartridge Aligned Right?
Ok so your cartridge being aligned right may not be the reason the sound is flat, but it certainly could be the reason your ears are not happy with what they are hearing! Aligning your cartridge can be a pain in the butt I will not lie. However, you can buy a Turntable Phono Cartridge Stylus Alignment Protractor like this one on Amazon for pretty cheap. I would recommend having one of these if vinyl collecting is something you are serious about. If you do not want to spend money, The Vinyl Engine has a free one you can download and print.
If you are unsure how to do this there are many video guides like this one here that teach you how to do it. It is not hard, just more time consuming and annoying if I am being honest with you, but it is something that is well worth doing.
Could It Be Your Speakers?
I have reviewed so many speakers over the last few years that if one more big box arrives at the house and I am not home to sign for it my wife may kick me out and I may have to live in it! I touched on this just up above, but the flat sound you are experiencing may not be your turntable, there is a chance it could be your speakers. If you are using your stock speakers that came with your hi-fi or if you have an all in one system, chances are these are not the highest-grade speakers.
Many people buy these lower-end turntables that are an all in one kind of deal and then are shocked that the sound is not like they thought it would be. These companies have to save money somewhere and many do with the speakers. Check out our speaker reviews to see my thoughts on the best speakers. However, before this see if you can borrow some from a friend or something so that you can test tour turntable with a different set of speakers.
Tinker With Your Dials
I have three kids and while they are an age now that they can walk past the stereo without moving the dials on the front! It used to drive me nuts the way they would treat it like it was a control panel for a shuttle. Most receivers have their dials right on the front so it is easy for kids to mess with them or someone knock them by accident.
I am not going to sit here and tell you the exact levels you want your bass and treble at as we all have different things we like. However, I will tell you that fine-tuning your hi-fi or receiver is key to getting the sound just the way you want it. The sound of your records could be flat because you have not got the treble and bass just right. So have a play around with the bass and treble and see if that makes a difference. To be honest, this is probably the first thing I would do if the sound was a little off.