There is something always magical when listening to vinyl records. Today, more and more people are rediscovering vinyl because they are looking for something more tangible and of better quality than low-bitrate MP3s.
The segment that seems booming right now is the rock market, specifically metal and indie rock. But all genres seem to be developing as more and more people are doing like me.
You just have to realize one day that you only keep your CDs for art, covers, and better quality for the home. So remember that all of this gets better with vinyl.
Getting a vinyl record is not just about sound quality and listening to music but also involves preserving a part of history captured on a vinyl record. They are available for everyone who wants to re-live the magical journey.
But many of us did not grow up with a vinyl turntable /record player in our house. So some of us might not have any idea how to use it. Don’t worry! We got you covered. I have decided to explain the basics of vinyl and how to play a vinyl record on the turntable.
BASICS OF VINYL RECORD
SPEED OF TURNTABLE
To read the content of the grooves, the disc must be placed on a motorized turntable rotating at a constant speed. And this one is able to evolve between 33, 45, or 78 revolutions per minute for the most seasoned collectors.
By entering directly inside this groove, the read head, made up of a needle (or a diamond) connected to a mechanical arm, decodes the information contained in the groove.
It is the roughness of these grooves that define the musical content of the vinyl record, and these are reproduced in the form of an electrical signal connected to an amplification system.
SIZES, SHAPES, AND GROOVES
Now let’s see about the different sizes of Vinyl records. Your standard discs are round with diameters of 7″ 10″ or 12″ s. Some also make disks of various shapes, and I don’t know much about those.
Most rock singles come out on 7″, usually play at 45 RPM, for the superior sound quality at that speed.
On the other hand, most dance, hip-hop, and R&B singles tend to use 12 ″ vinyl because of its ability to space the grooves a bit more.
Since there is generally less music on a 12 ″ single than an LP (long player), the grooves can be spaced out, making them easier to handle for those DJs who like to “mix and scratch.”
We strongly recommend you limit the amount of music you put on a disc to ensure you get a quality product. Scrambling too much music on one side can lower the quality of your disc and increase the possibility of damage or sound problems.
It is generally said that a 12 ″ record can hold up to 18 minutes of music per side at 33 1/3 RPM and up to 12 minutes per side at 45 RPM. A 7 ″ 33 1/3 RPM record can hold up to 6 minutes per side.
However, if your music is serious enough, you can choose not to shoot more than 4:30 per side to ensure optimal sound quality. At 45 RPM, a 7 ″ record can hold up to 4.30 hours per side or 3.30 hours per side for heavy bass recordings.
HOW TO PLAY VINYL RECORD: STEP-BY-STEP
Before playing the record, ensure that you have a proper turntable setup, including a turntable, phono preamp (either that comes inbuilt or a separate one), amplifier, and speakers.
Let’s proceed with steps to play a vinyl record,
Step 1: Turntable Dust Cover
Remove the dust cover of the turntable. If your turntable’s dust cover is hinged, just lift the cover, place the record and lower it when the record is playing. If the dust cover is not hinged, simply remove the cover and keep it aside.
Step 2: Clean The Turntable
Clean the turntable platter, needle, and vinyl record. It is highly recommended to clean turntable with cleaning tools before and after every use.
Step 3: Place The Vinyl Record On Platter
Place the vinyl record on the platter. The records should be handled with extreme care.
- Once you are done with the cleaning, choose the record you would like to play. Carefully remove it from the sleeve and place it on the turntable’s platter.
- Place the center of the record of the spindle and flush it with the platter. Also, make sure you have adjusted the speed of the turntable.
- When handling the record, always take them by holding their very outer edges and avoiding touching its grooves. This is to avoid any contaminants from your fingers as they might stick to the grooves and cause distortion over time.
Step 4: Set The Platter In Motion
Once all the necessary setup and adjustments are made, turn on the turntable and set the platter in motion.
Step 5: Tonearm Cueing
The process of lifting the tonearm is called cueing. Many turntables have automatic cueing features while others require manual cueing.
- If your turntable has an automatic cueing feature, then all you need to do is simply use the cueing switch; it will automatically lift the tonearm from its resting position.
- If your turntable doesn’t have that automatic cueing switch, use the cue lever to lift the tonearm.
Step 6: Place The Stylus On The Record
Place the stylus on the outermost groove of your vinyl record. Make sure the stylus engages on the record, or else you need to adjust the tonearm and stylus configurations.
If everything is fine, then the recording should begin shortly after placing the stylus.
If your turntable doesn’t have a cueing switch, then you have to manually lift and lower it tonearm on the record. Be as slow and steady as you can when lowering the stylus. If the stylus is not lowered properly, it might cause some serious damage to both stylus and vinyl.
After listening to the record, lift the tonearm and place it in its resting position.
I have covered pretty much the basics that you should know how to play a vinyl record. After reading this article, I hope you are clear on how to play vinyl records on your turntable.
Remember, change the turntable’s speed based on the vinyl record size you are playing. Handle the needle properly when you land it onto the records’ surface to avoid scratching it. Most importantly, always clean and maintain your vinyl for high sound quality.