Today we are going to try and answer the question of, why does my turntable hum only when the needle is on record? We have many guides and articles of suggestions for ways you can fix your turntable and I would suggest you take a look there. However, if you are having this particular issue, we are going to try and figure out what is causing it and give you a few suggestions for how you can fix it.
When Does This Happen?
The reason that I decided to take a look at this issue today was that a friend of mine who is also a vinyl collector had this issue. He noticed that whenever he placed his stylus onto a record there would be this very faint hum. You would have to really listen for it, but once you noticed it you could hear it.
This hum we could not tell if it was or if it was not present when listening to a record as it was so quiet that even when played at the lowest volume, we could no longer hear it. Still, we decided that there must be some kind of issue so we had a look and tried these fixes.
Unplugging It All
In my not so expert opinion, the first step of fixing any kind of “technical” problem no matter if it is with a turntable or any other piece of electrical equipment is unplugging it and plugging it back in. Whenever, you ring any kind of tech support this is 99/100 the first thing they will tell you to do.
So, we unplugged everything (the turntable he was using was a very nice Pro-Ject Xpression Mk III) we then made sure it was all plugged in nice and tight and the hum was there. While this did not get rid of the hum on my friend’s turntable. I would still suggest you try this first if your turntable hums when the needle is on a record.
Trying Different Cables
Ok, I will admit that my buddy and I are kind of weird in that we both have tons of cables, needles, belts, and other accessories for our turntables. My wife will often get mad if she goes up into the attic and there are boxes of cables and turntable stuff all over the place. Anyway, after we tried unplugging everything, we decided to try and use a different set of turntable cables to see if that would get rid of the hum. It did not! The hum was still there which made us think it had to be something on or in the actual turntable.
Moving The Turntable
Ok, so we did not actually move the turntable, but we unplugged all of the other stuff that was near it. My buddy had his turntable in an entertainment center and there was a PlayStation 4, a soundbar, and some other stuff. We tried unplugging it all to see if anything was causing some kind of interference and it was not!
Trying A Different Cartridge
I will be honest and say that my money was on the issue being something to do with the cartridge. We have done a ton of cartridge reviews here on the site, but my friend has a few “spares” we decided to try a couple and the damn hum was still there. What was weird was that the hum was the same no matter the cartridge we used and we actually tried three different ones, not including the one he had on there at the start!
I was sure that his pretty new Audio-Technica VM520EB Dual Moving Magnet Elliptical Bonded Stereo Turntable Cartridge was going to get the job done and fix this issue, but that hum was still there even with this which he had only used a few times!
Getting Under The Hood
Ok, so I would never in a million years suggest that you start opening up your turntable if you are not confident in doing so. We actually have a few different articles about fixing turntable hum which looks at the more usual and common reasons there could be some humming coming from your turntable. Check those out, as well as what we have looked at here today before you start acting like a mad scientist with your turntable. However, as I say that the problem my buddy was having was under the hood!
As we were trying to fix this, we were both looking on Google for people with a similar problem. We came across one post where this dude said that you could add rubber grommets to the thing that gives your motor the suspension it needs, change the belt and do all this other stuff. Once, we had the turntable “exposed” we both noticed that there was a fair bit of vibration and movement coming from the motor. We removed it, put it back on, and BAM no more humming! Our best guess is that it had come loose after many years of use and just making sure it was reattached firmly fixed the issue.
Should I Ignore It?
I would have to say no. At the end of the day, you could not hear this hum when music was playing. However, who knows if this could have caused problems down the road, problems that would have been much harder and more expensive to fix!
It is one thing if you have spent like 50 bucks on a record player like this Wockoder portable record player I would probably not want to crack this open and mess around with the insides if all I paid for was 50 bucks and the humming was not noticeable when I was listening to music. As at this price, it would be more hassle than it was worth.
On the flip side of this, that turntable my buddy had was very expensive, and even if you have a modern turntable like an Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB that thing will have cost you over 200 bucks! At that price range, I would always suggest that if something does not sound quite right, you try and fix the problem sooner than later before it ends up becoming a bigger issue!
You might also want to check out what to try if your tube amp hum increases with volume.