When it comes to playing vinyl records, the tonearm of your turntable is an essential component that is responsible for maintaining the correct tracking force and ensuring that the needle stays in the groove. One of the most critical aspects of setting up your turntable is balancing the tonearm correctly. In this article, we will explain what balancing your tonearm means and provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to do it.
What does it mean to balance your tonearm?
Balancing your tonearm means adjusting the weight of your tonearm so that it is neutral, or in other words, it floats in a horizontal position when placed on its base. This is important because if the tonearm is not balanced, it can put too much pressure on the stylus, causing it to wear out faster and damage your vinyl records. Additionally, if the tonearm is not correctly balanced, the tracking force will not be accurate, leading to distortion and poor sound quality.
How to balance your tonearm:
Step 1: Start by turning off your turntable and removing any vinyl records that are on it.
Step 2: Make sure your tonearm is in the resting position and remove any dust or debris from the stylus with a stylus brush.
Step 3: Adjust the counterweight on the back of the tonearm so that it is set to zero or neutral. You can do this by rotating the counterweight until the tonearm floats horizontally.
Step 4: Next, adjust the anti-skate control on your turntable to zero.
Step 5: Gently lift the tonearm and move it towards the center of the platter.
Step 6: Release the tonearm and observe whether it floats horizontally or not. If it does not, you will need to adjust the counterweight. To do this, rotate the counterweight until the tonearm floats horizontally.
Step 7: Once you have achieved a neutral balance, you will need to set the tracking force. This is the amount of pressure that the stylus exerts on the vinyl record. You can find the recommended tracking force in the user manual that came with your turntable or by checking the specifications online.
Step 8: To set the tracking force, rotate the counterweight until it matches the recommended tracking force for your cartridge. You can use a tracking force gauge to ensure that the tracking force is accurate.
Step 9: Finally, adjust the anti-skate control to match the recommended setting for your cartridge.
Balancing your tonearm is an essential step in setting up your turntable correctly. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can ensure that your tonearm is neutral and that the tracking force is accurate. This will result in better sound quality and a longer lifespan for your stylus and vinyl records. If you are unsure about any aspect of balancing your tonearm, consult your turntable’s user manual or seek advice from a professional.