How to upgrade your turntable
Turntables and Vinyl sales have soared in recent years, and it's easy to see why. Nothing can beat that truly authentic vinyl sound. For us, it is great to see that vinyl is living on through generations, and to see younger people getting a chance to truly experience high-quality recordings. We get asked by many people what the best upgrades are for their turntables and what is the "best" or most cost-effective upgrades to make. So we decided to put together this post outlining some of our favourite and most popular upgrades.
Drive Belts are something which gets overlooked by many people, but they are an essential part of any turntable. Without the belt, the turntable cant spin, so it is hugely important to keep an eye on the condition of your belt, as well as changing them roughly every 3-5 years depending on the amount of use. There are several companies that offer upgraded versions of the original belts. Products such as the Rega Performance Pack offers an upgraded belt, cartridge and felt mat, both of which we will discuss later in this article. Simple OEM replacements are also available for the majority of turntables, all of which can be found here.
Upgrading your cartridge is probably the most popular option. When it comes to cartridges there are several criteria you need to consider. First and foremost, what fitment you need.
- Plug & Play
Plug & Play cartridges are a very simple option to consider if your turntable is compatible. As the name suggests, you simply unplug the old cartridge and plug in the new one. That's it!
- MM& MC
Deciding if you would rather use an MM (Moving magnet) or MC (Moving Coil) firstly will depend on your phono stage. Most budget phono stages or amps with built in phono stages (phono input) will be MM only, however, some of the more advanced phono stages will give you the option to select MC or MM. MC cartridges will generally require a little more technical knowledge for set up then an MM cartridges, so most people looking to make upgrades will stick to MM for simplicity purposes. MM is probably the most popular option. When it comes to MM Cartridges there is a large range at various price points which will give you added performances without the need to worry about changing phono stages, or learning more about turntable set up. One of the most popular ranges on MM cartridges is the 2M Range from Ortofon,Audio Technica also have a stunning range of MM & MC cartridges which are definitely worth considering as a potential upgrade.
Upgrading the platter on your turntable has two advantages. Firstly it will improve the sound reproduction of your system, and secondly, it looks absolutely fantastic. Acrylic platters in simple terms offer better isolation than wooden or plastic alternatives and it also integrates perfectly with your vinyl. Acrylic platters are a relatively inexpensive option for an upgrade and certainly will set your turntable apart from the rest.
Positioning on your turntable
The positioning of your turntable is extremely important as you want to isolate the turntable from vibration. Therefore you should never place the turntable on top of another piece of equipment like an amplifier. If possible place the turntable on a separate shelf or even better on a wall mounted shelf.
To get the best performance from your turntable the better the isolation the better it will perform this holds true regardless of the price.
There are of course various isolation feet and platforms you can buy to set your turntable on such as the Pro-Ject Ground-It and if you are unable to put it on a separate shelf then these can be used instead.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Cleaning and controlling the amount of dust around your turntable & vinyl is critical. Even small amounts of dust will affect the sound of your system, and it's pretty simple to stop. Vinyl brushes, vinyl cleaning fluid, stylus cleaners are all standard items which are used to deal with these kinds of issues. Always bear in mind that turntables are fragile, so always take great care when doing any kind of cleaning, particularly with the stylus!
We always recommend that you ask for help & support before tackling any of these jobs. It's always worth getting in touch to make sure that your chosen upgrade will be compatible with your current setup.