How to set and adjust turntable speed for beginners

How to set and adjust turntable speed for beginners

Collecting vinyl is awesome, I was lucky in that I grew up with a dad who loved music and would collect it pretty seriously and that was passed down to me. I still like to reminisce about the late 90s and early 00s when you could pick up records for next to nothing, people literally could not give this stuff away. Of course, that is greatly changed now and vinyl has become insanely collectible leading to many new people getting in on the hobby and that is awesome. However, it is not always as easy as just throwing a record on your turntable and putting it on. Kiss Alive III springs to mind as I had a buddy who bought this and said that it sounded way too fast and weird!

That is why today we are looking at your turntable speed so you have a better understanding of why certain records need to be played at certain speeds.


Different Speeds

Most record players have multiple speeds these days, the most commonly used speeds are 33 1/3 RPM and 45 RPM, however, most record players also have 78 RPM which was more commonly used back in the day. You need to look at your record player to see what speeds it offers. This Audio-Technica AT-LPW30TK Fully Manual Belt-Drive Turntable for example has two speeds, but this much cheaper,  Vinyl Record Player Turntable with Built-in Bluetooth Receiver offers three speeds. To be honest 78 RPM is not going to be required for the modern day vinyl enthusiast, only those who are into collecting really old stuff need to be concerned about this.


Why Are There Different Speeds?

Another friend who got into vinyl did not care about the reason why, he just wanted to know how to make sure his records sounded good. However, I wanted to give you a little bit of history as to why we have different speeds on our record players. Ok, so this is a basic summary, but it may give you a better idea. A 12 inch record which is usually a full album like this Bon Jovi Cross Roads: The Best Of for example. Usually, you get around 22 minutes of music on one side of a 12 inch 33 ½ RPM record, you may have also heard these referred to as LPs (long play records). On the flip side of this, we have the 45 RPM 7-inch records which are mainly used for vinyl singles as they were much cheaper to produce. I recently just added Miracle by Bon Jovi (I am going for a complete Bon Jovi single collection!) to my collection and this is a great example of a 7-inch 45 RPM record.


How Do I Set And Adjust The Turntable Speed On My Record Player?

Ok, so now we get to the real meat and potatoes of today’s article and that is making sure your record player is making your records sound as good as possible. It does not matter if you spend over 300 bucks on this Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK Direct-Drive Turntable or under 40 bucks on this ByronStatics Vinyl Record Player. If you try and play a 12-inch record on either of these at 45 RPM, it is going to sound crazy fast, like Alvin and the Chipmunks!

Now, changing your turntable speed could not be any easier and I feel that modern record players (actually all record players to be fair) make it as easy for people to change the speed as they possibly can. It will differ from record player to record player, but the basics are you either flip a switch, push a button or even slide up a slider. That is all you have to do, just check each time you put a record on that it is at the right speed and you will be fine.


What If My Turntable Speed Is Off?

Ok, so you have just bought a new record from the store, you have made sure your record player is at the right speed, but there is something off about the sound you are hearing. Do not worry as we are going to look at a few basic fixes for you to try and get your music just the way it should be.


Testing Your Turntable Speed

If you want to make sure your turntable is spinning as it should there are many ways that you can actually find out if your turntable is functioning as it should be! You can actually buy things to test it, but for me using an app on my phone is how I test all my record players. There are many out there, but I have mainly been using this RPM Speed & Wow app and I have never had a problem with it.


The Belt, Chicks Dig The Belt!

Ok, so that was clearly a Batman Forever reference, but I am not suggesting you need to wear a Batman Utility Belt while playing your records, although that would be awesome if you did. I am talking about the belt that is driving your turntable. Over time this can get stretched, cracked, or even complexly ripped! I have seen some absolute messes of turntable belts over the years of picking up record players from thrift stores, flea markets, and places like that. The thing is, you can get this awesome 5 Pieces Turntable Belt with 5 Pieces on Amazon (there are many others all priced similarly) and if you are into collecting vinyl, having a few spare belts is always a good idea.

You can fix a belt, I have had a stretched-out belt or two in my time that I have gotten back into shape by boiling it, but to be honest with you, it is a pain in the butt! You are much easier just buying a new one for a few bucks.


Regular Maintenance

I am not saying that you need to clean your record player once a week. However, making sure there is no gunk, dust, or whatever around the motor, the belt, and so on can go a long way to keeping it running nice and smooth. A product like this Vinyl Record Cleaner Kit 5-in-1 is going to work wonders in keeping your record player spinning as good as it can. There are many kits like this and they all pretty much offer the same thing. Keeping your equipment clean is an essential part of being a vinyl collector. I actually always have a lot of fun keeping my turntables and records in good shape.


Speed Adjustment Screws

Some turntables will have speed adjustment screws that let you turn them so that the turntable is spinning at the right speed. You would do this along with using the speed app to make sure your record player is performing as it should be. A great example of this is the Sony PS-LX310BT which is probably my favorite turntable that I have in my collection. Sony has made it as easy as possible to change the speed via adjustment screws as you can see in this Adjusting Sony PS-LX300 USB Turntable Speed video.


Taking It To A Pro

If all else fails and you are not comfortable removing the platter to check the drive or playing with the adjustment screws. The best advice I can give you is to take it to a professional who can have a look at it for you. Although, if you have a more modestly priced record player like this Crosley CR8005F-WS Cruiser Plus Vintage 3-Speed Bluetooth in/Out Suitcase Turntable, you may as well just buy a new one as the price of taking it to a pro and them fixing it will probably cost as much as just buying another cheap record player!


Final Thoughts

I am someone that feels collecting vinyl is not as much hassle (apart from the insane prices some records are going for these days) as some people think that it is. Most modern record players make it as easy as possible to change the speed and if all else fails, just play around with the settings until it no longer sounds like Alvin and his brothers are performing in your living room!

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