Vinyl records, renowned for their analog warmth and tactile experience, have experienced a resurgence in popularity in recent years. For both seasoned collectors and newcomers to the vinyl scene, the experience of playing a record is often associated with its unique charm, but it can also raise questions about the potential for skipping during playback. In this article, we’ll explore the factors that can contribute to record skipping, how it can be minimized, and whether new vinyl records are more prone to this issue.
The Mechanics of Skipping
Record skipping occurs when the turntable’s stylus (needle) skips across the grooves of a vinyl record, causing a brief interruption in playback. Skipping can be frustrating and can disrupt the enjoyment of the music. It typically happens for the following reasons:
- Surface Imperfections: Surface imperfections, such as dust, dirt, or small scratches on the record, can cause the stylus to jump out of the groove.
- Turntable Issues: Poorly calibrated or worn turntable components, such as the tonearm, cartridge, or stylus, can result in tracking problems and skipping.
- Warped Records: Records that are not perfectly flat due to warping or uneven storage can cause tracking issues.
- High Tracking Force: Excessive tracking force, which is the pressure applied by the stylus to the record, can increase the risk of skipping and groove wear.
- External Vibrations: External factors like vibrations from speakers, footsteps, or nearby appliances can also lead to skipping.
New Records and Skipping
New vinyl records, in general, should not be prone to skipping if they are manufactured to industry standards and handled properly. However, there are some considerations to keep in mind:
- Surface Imperfections: While new records should be free from major defects, minor surface imperfections can still occur during manufacturing or shipping. A quick visual inspection before playing can help identify any visible issues.
- Cleaning: New records can have manufacturing residues or dust from packaging. It’s advisable to clean new records with a soft brush and antistatic brush before playing to remove any contaminants.
- Turntable Setup: Ensure that your turntable is correctly set up, with the tonearm and cartridge properly aligned and tracking force within the recommended range.
- Tracking Force: Avoid using excessive tracking force, as it can lead to skipping and cause unnecessary wear on the record and stylus.
- Handling: Always handle new records with care, holding them by the edges and avoiding direct contact with the playing surface.
To minimize the chances of skipping, follow these tips:
- Keep Records Clean: Regularly clean your records and stylus to remove dust and contaminants that can cause skipping.
- Correct Turntable Setup: Ensure your turntable is set up correctly, with the tonearm, cartridge, and stylus aligned and calibrated to the manufacturer’s specifications.
- Optimal Tracking Force: Use the recommended tracking force for your cartridge to prevent excessive wear and minimize skipping.
- Stable Surface: Place your turntable on a stable surface to reduce the impact of external vibrations.
- Replace Worn Components: If you notice skipping issues, consider replacing worn or damaged components, such as the stylus or cartridge.
While skipping can be an occasional concern with vinyl records, new records, if properly manufactured and handled, should not skip excessively. By adhering to best practices in record care and turntable setup, you can ensure a smooth playback experience and enjoy the unique charm and audio quality that vinyl records offer.