How to Set Up a Turntable

Listening to music from a stereo system rather than a tiny MP3 player can be a real listening experience. Not only do you really feel the music from real speakers but you also get to share your music with others too. It was only a couple of decades ago that everyone knew how to set up their own stereo systems for work or home, but with the advent of the MP3 player and headphones, that skill has been lost through time.

When the first CD came on the market in the early 80s, they were a bit slow to catch on. People loved collecting their vinyl. We could look at the artwork on the front and back covers, and some albums even opened up to display song lyrics inside, or photos of the bands. By the 90s everyone was ditching their turntable and buying a CD player.

Surprisingly, CDs have been around all these years. Many people believed a smaller disc would replace the CD, but when Apple came out with their first iShuffle in 2005, suddenly CDs grew out of favor for electronic devices. Then smart phones suddenly had the capability to play music. You could even buy cheap little speakers to play your MP3 or smartphone music to your friends.

Around 2010 vinyl made a resurgence. DJs were never quick to discard it, and their fans soon caught on. Today, even the most popular electronics store still sells vinyl. This has made the popularity of the actual stereo system have a resurgence in popularity too.

While it may seem a bit daunting at first to be presented with several different stereo components and a variety of cables, it’s actually fairly simple to set up a turntable.

1. Unpack it from the box. Remove any protective packaging or tape.

2. Insert the cartridge. If your turntable doesn’t already have it installed, you’ll need to remove the cartridge from the box and insert it yourself. Some music enthusiasts may also choose to buy a better cartridge. Generally, the more expensive the cartridge, the better the sound quality, power output, frequency range, and tracking.

3. Add a slip mat. Some turntables will come with a non-slip rubberized mat, but you may wish to do an upgrade. A good mat will protect the record, give better sound improvement and provide friction reduction for the DJ. The best mats are actually made from felt. A felt mat will help to improve sound quality as well as allowing the DJ to hold the record while the platter still spins around. The rubber mats will dampen vibrations while a cork mat provides a different listening experience.

4. Connect audio cable to turntable. Connect the red plug and the white plug to the pertinent spot at the back of your turntable. These slots are marked by color.

5. Connect audio cable to preamp. Match the colors to the slots in your preamp.

6. Connect grounding wire. Your turntable may or may not have one. Turntables that will need the grounding wire are the ones that do not have a built-in preamp. If you do have a grounding wire on your turntable but don’t attach it, you will hear an obvious humming noise, so it’s essential that it’s connected. This is a long narrow black wire with a two-pronged tip. If you do have one on your turntable, connect it to your preamp. There will be a silver screw that loosens. You insert the wire under the screw and then turn the screw so that it holds the grounding wire down.

7. Connect preamp to amp. You’ll use the same type of audio cable. Match up the colors again.

8. Connect amp to speakers. Plug another cable into the amp and then connect the other end of the cable to the speakers. Don’t forget to do the other speaker too.

9. Connect components to power. Connect turntable to power, as well as your other components. Some will draw their power from the amplifier. If you have no power slots left, you can add a good surge protector to your set up.

10. Keep your packaging. If you discover that your turntable isn’t working properly it’s a lot easier to return an item if you have kept both the receipt and the packaging.

Once you do it the first time you’ll discover how easy it is to set up a turntable, and you’ll be able to do it at any location. Now you’ll be able to hear for yourself how you can have a totally immersive listening experience for your friends or customers.