There are many things that come with the territory when you get into vinyl and one of those is the weight of your tonearm. If it is too heavy it can not only affect the sound you are getting which let’s face it is the most important thing when it comes to vinyl. It can actually damage your records too. We have a ton of great turntable reviews here on the site and you will find that even the more expensive turntables, as well as the cheaper ones, need to be set up properly!
Today we are looking at how you can tell if your tonearm is too heavy and a few of the things that you can do to make sure it is at the right weight.
Too Much Is Better Than Not Enough
One thing that I want to get out of the way right now is that it is actually better to have too much force than not enough. You may think that too much force will cause the needle to damage your records, but it is actually too little force that will do this. Chances are even if your counterweight is set to the highest, it will not be able to dig in deep enough to scratch the vinyl.
However, if it is too light, it can bounce around and scratch the surface of your vinyl! Many people still do not think this is true and would rather their record player have a lightweight counterweight than a heavy one, but that is worse!
Listen For Distortion
The most notable way that you will be able to tell if your tonearm is too heavy for your vinyl is with the sound. We have looked before at how to fix a weird sounding record player, but here we are really focusing on if the tonearm is too heavy. You need to use an album that you know inside and out. The kind of album that you have listened to so many times, you know right away when things are off.
If the sound is off in any way, it could be because your tonearm is too heavy and is pressing into the record too hard. Try a few records out to make sure that it is not the actual record that has a problem.
Tinkering With The Counterweight
Many record players will have a counterweight at the far end of the tonearm. If you take a look at this Victrola Pro Series USB Record Player with 2-Speed Turntable you can clearly see the dial located at the bottom of the tonearm. In my experience, most turntables these days will have a counterweight dial for the user to set. They will also have in the instruction booklet a guide on what you should have it set at. If this is not in the booklet or if you have lost the booklet, chances are you can find the information online.
Some cheaper turntables that are designed with being a first turntable are made to be as easy to use as possible and these may not allow you to change the weight of the tonearm. First of all, set it to what the manufacturer suggests. If the sound is still not quite right, you should then start to tinker with the dial in small increments. This can be all you need to do in order to make sure that the tonearm is at the correct weight so your records are sounding great.
Use A Stylus Force Gauge
There are many of these on the market, but this Neoteck Digital Turntable Stylus Force Scale Gauge has a great reputation and can let you know exactly how much weight your stylus is pressing down with. This can help you get the weight exactly what it needs to be as the dial on your turntable may be in grams, but they are not always 100 percent accurate to what the dial says.