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Video: How to set up a belt-drive turntable

Follow our guide and get the best sound from your vinyl

Proper setup of your turntable helps you get the best performance and sound quality. By carefully setting up your new component, you'll ensure that it is operating under ideal conditions. In this video, we show you how to set up a manual belt-drive turntable, using the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon as an example.

Video Transcript

Voiceover: Proper setup of your new turntable will make sure that it sounds great and lasts a long time. Our expert Rocky will show you how to set up your new record player.

Rocky: The first thing you want to do is set up a place where you want to install and set up your turntable. You probably want to do this where you want to actually have the record player. It should be someplace that's low-resonant or minimizing the vibration. But for today's purpose we're gonna put it on a table.

Take out the floating motor screws. Taking the screws out allows for the springs to work naturally. The next step is putting the belt on. Go ahead and do that now. You're gonna have two speeds here. You have 45 and 33. 33 is going to be on top, 45 is on the bottom. When you put it on make sure there's no flip in the belt.

Putting on the platter. The heavier the platter the better. Heavy platters will reduce vibration, giving you better sound. At this time you want to put on the slip cover. The next step is installing the counter-weight. I like to install mine backwards, that way I'm not confused by the numbers when I'm using the tracking force gauge.

Removing the stylus cover. The Shure tracking force gauge is a necessity for your more higher-end tables. Every cartridge is going to come with its own specific weight. Set it to that. It only goes up to 1.5, so you have a doubling line that makes it a little bit easier to use. The idea is that we're aligning these two parts here. You can use the mirror to make sure that it's aligned perfectly.

Now this turntable recommends using a weight of 1.75 downforce. As you can see this only goes up to 1.5, so there's an area where you can double the amount of weight, so we're gonna set it to about .85 which should be right in this ballpark. And as you can see that's far too much. What you're trying to do is get these two pieces to measure up perfectly in the mirror. We're gonna make some adjustments.

Each independent cartridge is gonna come with its own recommended weight. This is for two reasons. One, making sure that we have the best sound quality of that cartridge, and number two, making sure that the needle isn't burying itself too deeply or too lightly into the groove. The next part is installing the anti-skate weight. We want to use this because the natural tendency for the tone arm is to kind of wobble back and forth. This is gonna allow for this to stay right in the groove.

One of the last steps is making sure that the table itself is balanced. The easiest way to do that is to download an app for your phone and see if it's on balance. This is on three feet, which actually makes it easier to balance correctly. So you can see we're a little bit off, we'll go ahead and re-adjust that back down to where it should be.

On this turntable and many others the cartridge already comes pre-aligned so there's no need to make any sort of adjustments. However, if you do need to make adjustments, there is a protractor that comes ready in the box. For the last step we're gonna go ahead and put on the dust cover. It should slide right over top of it, and to be honest with you, it's gonna be probably the least used item. You should only leave it down when you're not playing. Always leave it up when you are and get the best sound quality that you can possibly get.

Voiceover: If you have any questions about turntables please give Crutchfield a call.

  • Clyde Barrow from Dallas TX

    Posted on 2/5/2018

    You might want to level the turntable before you set the tracking force, it will give you a better number. Also anti skate is to counteract the centrepital force which wants to pull the tonearm toward the center of the record. Anti skate helps center the stylus in the record groove. A good rule of thumb is to start out with the same setting as your tracking force, then adjust by listening.

  • Marie from Toronto

    Posted on 3/19/2017

    Do I need to plug it into my amp or the wall? It was plugged into my amp originally, but I have now moved my turntable so that it is more accessible, but the plug that fed into the amp is now way too short to reach the amp........

  • Gregory Hall from New York

    Posted on 12/12/2016

    I believe the reason that people have so much of a problem hooking up their music system is that they really do not understand the difference between an input and an output , and what they do ; Nor do they understand that depending on the unit being connected , the directions in which the signals are traveling to and from the receiver , pre-amp or integrated amplifier. Once they understand that devices such as Turntables and CD players are output or (Play devices only) and can only be connected to an input on the (Receiver or Amplifier) labeled Phono , CD, and sometimes Digital , will they no longer have a problem in connecting external components to their system.

  • Dan Haydon from napa

    Posted on 4/16/2016

    I have a Pioneer vsx9700s. I would like to hook up my Turntable A Pioneer PL-777AZ. Is this possible?

  • Letitia Winquist from Granbury , Texas

    Posted on 2/27/2016

    I have a Yamaha 1994-95 natural sound stereo turntable p31 full automatic the play / ustop button on front is at an odd angle and I think that is what's keeping it from playing. I have original manuals but do not have the manual on the turntable may be not needed back then?

  • John from Blue Ridge, TX

    Posted on 10/23/2015

    More detailed demonstration of EVERY feature would be very helpful rather than just mentioning them in passing. I got the feeling there was a time constraint on the length for this video. Newbies like myself like to see everything in detailed demonstration.

  • James. Green from Baltimore

    Posted on 10/18/2015

    Good selection and most of all very informative